Manic Monday Markup 6/15/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in South Africa, where an inquiry has been opened after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir defied a court order and left the country as judges determined whether he should be arrested. The Sudanese leader has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes related to Darfur.

Times is running out for Greece to reach a deal with European officials over its debt with European governments being told to brace for Greece’s default.

Britain celebrates the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, though some historians these days are poo-pooing the venerable document.

Elsewhere in the UK, the Labour leadership contest is heating up with Jeremy Corbyn being certified to get on the ballot. Some view Corbyn, a solidly leftwing member of the Labour party as way to make Andy Burnham, the left’s erstwhile preferred candidate look more moderate. He might also split the leftwing vote to the benefit of the other two candidates in the race Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

British officials are also under pressure to explain allegations anonymously fed to the press from Downing Street and elsewhere that both Russia and China got access to the documents Edward Snowden absconded with in 2013.

Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan gives his Justice & Development Party (AKP), which lost its majority is last week’s elections, but still won the largest share of the seats in Parliament, a chance to form a coalition government. The oppposition Republican People’s Party would have a chance to form a government if the AKP failed, but, elections would ensue if the second round were unsuccessful.

Israel releases a report justifying its actions in last year’s war in Gaza (Operation Protective Edge), but at least some observers in Israel are less than impressed by the defensive document.

The Mexican Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, but to actually wed, couples still face a labyrinthine process among the lower courts.

The Feds:

In the POTUS race, Jeb announces today, complete with explanation point. Meanwhile Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, pins his hopes to best Hillary Clinton on the Iowa caucuses. Speaking of Clinton, her big kickoff on Roosevelt Island in New York has largely gotten positive reviews and, according to Power Post, dominated the news coverage for a whole day. Politco Magazine’s Glenn Thrush has some more, written before Saturday, on the making of that kickoff and Clinton’s platform. Vox chimes in by noting that Clinton has long been to her party’s left on economic issues, including that of her former boss and colleague, one Barack Obama.

While the press continues to criticize Clinton’s media relations (see below), she did grant interviews with local outlets, The Des Moine Register and Iowa radio.

The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser scores an interview with Secretary of State John Kerry, recuperating at home in Boston from leg surgery after fracturing his femur during a bicycling accident in the Alps. Definitely worth a read.

The New York Times does an in-depth review of the events leading up to and after the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner, who died after being put into a chokehold the Medical Examiner ruled, allegedly by an NYPD officer.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy released a plan to scale back the tax increases included in the new budget set to begin July 1. While some debate the actual nature of the state’s favorable/unfavorable business climate, accusations are now flying among legislators including the Senate chair of appropriations about what led to this situation. For what it is worth, The Hartford Courant editorial board, while bashing the tax increases, slaps down Republicans hard for attacking Malloy’s plans to visit Aer Lingus officials in Dublin and the Paris Air Show to promote Connecticut business.

Appointed San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor won a full term this weekend after a bloody race in the Texas city. Though the race is nonpartisan, Taylor was viewed as the conservative choice. Her opponent Letitia Van de Putte is a former Democratic state senator. Taylor had been serving as the City Council’s appointed replacement for ex-mayor Julian Castro, who was appointed US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development last year.

The State of Things:

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court sides with the state Senate and its president Stanley Rosenberg in the dispute over the change in income tax policy included in the state budget. The House of Representatives had included tweaks to the film tax credit and the Senate took that as an invitation to freeze the income tax to pay for an expanded earned income tax credit. House Speaker Robert DeLeo decried the move and asked the SJC to declare the Senate’s move (in an advisory opinion) invalid. Advantage Rosenberg.

If you’re ambitious, the full opinion is here (in PDF).

The wife of former Easthampton Mayor Michael Tautznik died after falling down while at a recent charity event. She was 60.

The long-awaited reopening of the Willamanset Bridge linking downtown Holyoke and Chicopee happened last week.

Holyoke City Councilors who voted to establish a Polish Historical District in the city were honored at the annual banquet of the Friends of Mater Dolorosa church. The closed church lies within the borders of the not-to-be historic district.

The Fourth Estatements:

The Sunday Times in London is under scrutiny after it dropped five words from a story about allegation’s Edward Snowden’s documents were obtained by China and Russia. The Times claimed, in words now scrubbed from its article, that David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald, one the journalists who broke the Snowden story, had met with Snowden in Russia. This allegedly happened just before Miranda was detained by British officials while changing planes at Heathrow Airport.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s publisher is out and on his way to The Union-Leader of New Hampshire. This comes amid further doubts about the former paper’s future after its most recent sale.

Some uber-beltway inside baseball here with complaints among the press about pool reporters. For those who don’t know. Pool reporters, often one for print, TV and radio each, will write produce reports at events where attendance by the full press corp would simply be impractical. The reporters’ likel media then share when writing about the event. One complaint was about the exclusion of a British publication’s reporter and another was over the placement of a pool reporter at one event. Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill’s response, summed up, is the pools are a work in progress.

City Slickers:

The City Council’s review/approval of the budget begins today in Springfield.

Both historic preservation and a labor contract will confront the Council at its regular meeting tonight.

In a blow for Mason Square, Q Smoking Good Food closes.

ICYMI: Our editorial on MGM’s slower timeline to build its casino.

Twitter Chatter:

With so much in the world near and far to consider this week, it seems hard to pick just one thing to zero in on in the Twitterverse. However, Matt Viser’s interview with Kerry stands out because of the background of international events to which John Kerry still must and plans to attend. Iran is at the top of the list, but in isolating one of Kerry’s quotes about managing the non-relationship between the United States and Iran, Viser perhaps distills the essence of both why these talks matter and why they are so difficult.


Manic Monday Markup 6/8/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in Turkey where amid possible voter fatigue, President Recip Tayyip Erdogan suffered a major political setback when his Justice & Development party failed to obtain a majority in Parliamentary elections this weekend. Erdogan, who was prime minister from 2002 until last year, had hoped to elect a Parliamentary supermajority that would approve to voters constitutional amendments intended to strengthen his presidential power. Instead, his party faces the prospect of forming either a minority or coalition government with the specter of early elections hanging over whatever government forms.

One the most notable features of the election was success of the People’s Democratic party, a left-leaning Kurdish coalition of women, gays and other groups, which crossed Turkey’s high 10% threshold and entered Parliament for the first time.

President Barack Obama, in Germany for the G-7, works to mend fences with his hostess, Chancellor Angela Merkel, step up his commitment to fight ISIS and counter “Russian aggression.”

Poles may be suffering from higher rates of disease due to their country’s reliance on coal to produce electricity.

A gubernatorial election in Mexico in which a first-time independent candidate appears to have trounced the opposition suggests voters south of the border are tired of the traditional parties widely viewed as corrupt.

The US Supreme Court has sided with the State Department in a case as to the president’s power to recognize foreign governments. In a 6-3 decision, it invalidated a law passed by Congress that required passports for US Citizens born in Jerusalem to read “Israel.” The executive branch has opposed this as the government does not recognize the city as Israel’s capital, a position dating back to the nation’s founding.

The Feds:

Over the weekend in Delaware, President Barack Obama offered a powerful eulogy for Beau” Biden, son of Vice-President Joe Biden, underscoring the bond between POTUS & Veep. Watch it in full here.

While further appeals remain possible, a Virginia court again invalidated the state’s congressional districts. If the ruling stands, Virginia legislators will have to approve new maps that unpack the African-Americans concentrated in one Richmond-based district, perhaps making more seats competitive for Democrats in the process. The maps skews heavily for Republicans now and Republicans control the legislature, but any new map would need to be approved by Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is a rising star in Garden State politics and could make a run for governor, but an opinion piece by a Star-Ledger editorial board editor suggests the reform-minded mayor also engages in some more classic Jersey politics.

Staying in the Garden State, David Wildstein, one of the figures in the Bridgegate scandal says Gov. Chris Christie broke grand jury secrecy rules.

The South Carolina police officer who allegedly shot and killed Walter Scott has been indicted.

A former George W. Bush staffer warns his GOP friends not to attack Hillary Clinton over scandals as it almost never works. As Clinton prepares for a big liftoff in New York City, she has aligned herself with fast food workers promising to be their champion. Meanwhile, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley tries to woo young voters.

The State of Things:

Did The Globe catch Charlie and Massachusetts Republcians with their hand in the federal campaign cookie jar?  A new reports says Gov. Charlie Baker and the GOP are at least shirking state law by using a federal campaign account to be pay of state campaign activities.

The Globe also looks into the row developing between Senator Elizabeth Warren and SEC Chair Mary Jo White.

ICYMI: WMassP&I was the first to report that West Springfield Town Attorney William Reichelt plans to run for mayor.

Holyoke Ward 1 School Committee member Mildred Lefebvre drops out of mayoral contest citing conflicts in her work schedule.

Congressman Richard Neal and his colleague Joseph Kennedy (D-Newton) tour sites in Springfield and Berkshire County today.

Also on WMassP&I, our interview with Longmeadow School Committee member Katie Girard up for reelection tomorrow.

City Slickers:

Bay State Medical Center is laying off 24 and leaving open positions unfilled.

The Springfield Historical Commission does not budge in its refusal of an owner’s requiest to demolish a historic Elliot Street property gutted by fire.

Twitter Chatter:

With the prospect of new elections again soon, it may be too early to close the book President Erdogan’s ambitions, but the success of the Kurdish-rooted People’s Democratic Party (HDP) cannot be overlooked. Not only did it empower an ethnic sector of the Turkey’s people that are somewhat disadvantaged politically, but it did so by empowering other underrepresented segments of society including the LGBT community and women. For this we award the tweet prize to the party’s English account, which featured a snippet of its co-chair victory remarks. In his speech, co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas, a human rights attorney, recognized, among many others, Turkey’s women, who were big part of the HDP’s bloc.


Manic Monday Markup 6/1/15…

The Feds:

We begin today in Washington, where two events have rocked the political world in very different ways. On Saturday night, Joseph “Beau” Biden, III, son of the Vice-President, died at the age of 46, losing a battle with brain cancer that was largely out of public view. He had been expected to seek the governor’s office in his home state of Delaware. The Washington Post, in its obituary of younger Biden, noted that in context the Vice-President’s commencement speech at Yale this spring was particularly poignant as he likely knew his son was losing the battle with cancer.

Elsewhere in the nation’s capital, the Patriot Act expired at midnight today after days of wrangling between Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a presidential candidate, and his state’s senior senator, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell. McConnell had hoped to force through a temporary extension of the existing law, while dozens of other senators wanted to approve the House-passed USA Freedom Act, which would curtail some, but not all of the Patriot Act’s excesses. But Paul demurred on that, rankling colleagues willing to compromise by passing the Freedom Act, too, although its passage seems likely, even inevitable by about Tuesday.

…And the World:

Fighting in Eastern Ukraine may be starting to heat up again, NPR reports.

Reuters reports that members of the UN Security Council (plus Germany) have reached an agreement on a snapback provision for sanctions against Iran agree to a deal on its nuclear program and later renege.

Despite the growing scandal within FIFA and recent arrests, its leader, Sepp Blatter was reelected this weekend.

Dozens in Bangladesh are charged with murder related to the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013.

Following the disappearance of one aircraft and the destruction of another, ostensibly by Ukraine separatists, Malaysia Airlines is considered “technically bankrupt.”

Interim UK Labour leader Harriett Harman rejects a suggestion by one leadership aspirant, Liz Kendall, to hold an election for leader in three years’ time after a sort of trial run with the new leader. Meanwhile, the leadership struggle itself appears centered around whether and how much the party will reject the ideas of its previous leader, Ed Miliband.

The Feds (cont’d):

Even with expiration of some of its provisions, there are ways around this for the NSA and there are fears the agency may undermine any reforms that receive approval.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham officially launches his presidential bid today.

Twin analyses by The Washington Post and The Guardian on civilians killed by police in the United States. The Post found that nearly 400 Americans have been killed by police officers in 2015, while The Guardian found black individuals killed by police are twice as likely to be unarmed as white people.

Connecticut legislators and Governor Dan Malloy reached a deal on taxes that will slightly increase the marginal income tax rate on the wealthy while avoiding any sales tax increase for now, although some of it will be earmarked for new uses like transportation and municipal property tax relief. Business representatives panned the agreement while conceding it was better than previous iterations.

Springfield peer city watch: Amid a spat of recent violence, the race for mayor of Hartford is reaching a full boil.

MORE CONNECTICUT! The legislature approved what now looks to be a multi-step multi-year process to expand casino gaming to compete with MGM Springfield.

Maine Governor Paul LePage’s effort to eliminate the income tax appears dead, although new restrictions on increasing it may still go before voters in 2016.

The State of Things:

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office held a hearing in Springfield on regulations necessary to implement the commonwealth’s new paid sick-leave law. The law goes into effect July 1.

With opposition to marijuana legalization prevalent among pols, but appetite to campaign not so much, “Mahty” will step up. Boston’s Marty Walsh, a recovering alcoholic himself and still personally active in the recovery community even as mayor, said he views cannabis as a gateway drug and would, if asked, lead the fight against an anticipated referendum next year to legalize the plant and its derivatives.

ICYMI: Elizabeth Warren was in Springfield last week to tour Suit Up Springfield. In other Warren news, The Globe reports her book released last year was a hit.

Ex-Hampden Register of Deeds Thomas Moriarty dies.

Check out last week’s “What’s Goin’ On?” on NEPR featuring Daily Hampshire Gazette managing editor Greg Saulmon and WMassP&I Editor-in-Chief Matt Szafranski.

It’s Working:

Writers and some editors will be voting this Wednesday on whether to join the Writers Guild of America, East, in what is one of the most significant unionization votes of a digital media company.

City Slickers:

Opponents appeal of the Land Court’s decision in favor of Palmer Renewable Energy is today.

On the four year anniversary of the tornado that ripped through Western Massachusetts and the South End, Maple Heights/Six Corners and East Forest Park neighborhoods of Springfield in particular, Mayor Domenic Sarno says city response could be national model.

Hungry Hill senior center in the former Liberty Branch library opens.

Twitter Chatter:

There is no shortage of tributes to Beau Biden since his death this weekend. To die so young, but also dying after barely surviving an accident that took his mother and sister just before his father join the Senate. Still there was an apparent selflessness to him that was also broadly celebrated. Today we award the tweet prize to Christine Pelosi, who tweeted a quote from Beau Biden that personified not only his relationship with this father, but toward others as well. RIP Beau.