Manic Monday Markup 3/23/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in Singapore, where the death of the nation’s first premier has prompted remembrances and assessments. In some quarters, his rule has been praised for fostering the tiny city-state into an economic powerhouse and some Singaporeans wonder wants next. Some, like China, point to the authoritarian reign of Lee Kyuan Yew, but tributes are global. Though a fair point, such complaints are probably more about deflecting China’s own rep.

A poll says the UK’s Labour party faces a wipeout in one of its traditional bastions: Scotland.

Richard III is reburied.

Having won last week’s elections indisputably, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now in the process of cobbling together his coalition for his fourth term in office. In the latest updates, President Reuven Rivlin had wanted Yesh Atid, a centrist party that sat in government last term, to join the coalition. But as of today, Yesh Atid says it plans to sit in the opposition. Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu has recommended Netanyahu putting him over the top to form the next government.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, in an interview with the Huffington Post expressed his disgust concern with the arguably racist rhetoric Netanyahu employed in the closing hours of the Israeli election. He also said he does not think Netanyahu’s walkback of his opposition to a two-state solution is sincere.

NPR interviews Afghan Presisdent Ashraf Ghani, who is on a trip to Washington this week.

Syriza, the new governing party in Greece headed by Alexis Tsipras is finding governing a lot harder than campaigning. Meanwhile, Tsipras will be meeting with the world’s most powerful women, Angela Merkel, as his country’s funds dwindle yet again.

The French far-right National Front does well in the first-round of local elections, but former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right party comes in first in more ways than one.

The Feds:

Texas Senator Ted Cruz becomes the first major candidate in the 2016 race for president. So far, he’s getting plenty of media attention from flip-flops to how unlikely it is he can actually capture the nomination. Many believe Cruz announced early in part to head off momentum of Scott Walker and the establishment’s growth around Jeb Bush. Even his choice of Virginia rather than his home state speaks to this. Greg Sargent notes that Cruz’s positions are not much different from that of GOP leadership, however. It begins.

A less than flattering account of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s life is due out soon.

In Connecticut potpourri: As the budget sinks into the red again, taxes are being considered anew. A joint legislative panel approves the state’s expanded gaming bill, although other committees are expected to weigh in before either the House or Senate vote on the proposal.

Democratic Florida Congressman Patrick Murphy, who represents the northern edges of the South Florida Metro area, announces for US Senate, apparently prepared to take on Marco Rubio too, in the unlikely event he declines a bid for president.

The Times reports on a batch of emails from Hillary Clinton circa the attack on the consulate in Benghazi. Nothing incriminating. No surprise.

The State of Things:

Is Massachusetts ready to pass the bowl? Legislators are looking at preempting a likely ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. While some earnestly support the measure, part of the reason is to keep a steady hand on the legislative process and also let the public weigh in.

The Globe also looks at how every member of the six-person GOP Senate caucus on Beacon Hill has a leadership position…and a $15,000 stipend to match.

Boston’s Olympics says it will only proceed with public’s backing.

Historic, but empty, former Worcester courthouse finally sold about six years after it was vacated by the state. Worcester Magazine says it will become apartments.

Amtrak’s rerouting of the Vermonter through Northampton and Greenfield is widely popular, but its impact on business remains uncertain NEPR’s Henry Epp says.

Obligatory note on Holyoke St. Patrick’s parade.

Longmeadow’s Rebecca Townsend launches bid for Town Moderator.

Wilbraham snatches East Longmeadow’s Town Administrator Nick Breault.

City Slickers:

Sal Circosta formally confirms his mayoral bid launch this Thursday.

Meanwhile city leaders, police brass, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni and community groups will be on hand for the city’s expansion of its C3 initiative.

Masslive reports that $21,000 could not be recovered from the Springfield Police Department evidence room.

The City Council will consider several items tonight including a new police overisight ordinance sponsored by Councilor Tim Allen.

MGM’s groundbreaking is tomorrow, but the City Council is holding off on a vote on changing the casino overlay district until a final plan is submitted to the body.

Twitter Chatter:

And thus the 2016 presidential contest can be said to truly begin. Of course what electoral contest would be complete without trolling, particularly of the digital variety. There are so many tweets to choose form on this front. Today we award the tweet prize to the website Mashable who cleverly combined the fact that is not owned by the Texan, but rather by Obama supporters. The site redirects to a site that urges support for the president and immigration reform. But what wins Mashable the day is the reference to the common Internet error message HTTP 404. Not technically accurate because it pops up when no site is found, but perhaps Cruz’s disciples wish no website rather than the trolling by the’s owner, was the result.


Manic Monday Markup 3/16/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in Israel, where voters will go to the polls tomorrow and decide both the country’s fate and that of its second-longest serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli election law prohibits polls from being published less than five days before the polls open, and last minute shifts are not uncommon. However, the polls in on Friday showed Bibi’s Likud’ about four seats behind the Zionist Union headed by opposition leader Isaac Herzog and former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer has a rundown of possible scenarios after the polls close tomorrow at 10pm (4pm Eastern) and an Israeli Knesset-watcher games out his final predictions for Tuesday.

As Pfeffer observed, anecdotally, Bibi could be shifting the tides in his favor by cannibalizing votes from the Jewish Home party, which largely represents the settler movement (Jews living in West Bank settlements). After reports surfaced last week on Netanyah’s concessions on the West Bank, he now says there will be no Palestinian State on his watch. Others suggest that the rally Netanyahu attended over the weekend was a farce, perhaps helping Moshe Kahlon more, who has steadfastly refused Netanyahu’s overtures. The New York Times profiles the leader of the potentially influential Arab Joint List and NPR interviews Ari Shavit, who profiled Herzog last week and explains how Bibi’s political career may have stumbled into its current existential crisis. Meanwhile, Livni says she will no longer hold Herzog to their deal about rotating the premiership if it proves problematic in forming a government.

After a 10 day absence, Russian President Vladimir Putin resurfaces.

Amid new unrest and a corruption scandal at the state oil company, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is facing perhaps her biggest test as leader of South America’s largest country. Many protesters are calling for her ouster.

In Britain, Labour shuts the door on a coalition government with the Scottish National Party amid efforts by the Tories to imply such bargaining between the two leftist parties.

The UN has reopened the investigation into the crash that killed former Secretary-General Dag Hammerskjold.

The Feds:

Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the vote to confirm Loretta Lynch is on hold until the Senate acts on a human trafficking bill.

The New York Times profiles Robby Mook, the campaign manager-in-waiting for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid.

Polls show Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel still in the lead against Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, whose sunny disposition is not hiding his vague platform. Their first one-on-one debate is tonight.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is shaking up his campaign after what he apparently described as a less than perfect rollout.

New Hampshire could feature a titanic US Senate battle if Gov. Maggie Hassan takes on Senator Kelly Ayotte.

The State of Things:

Obligatory link to stories on the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day breakfast. WGBH’s Scrum has a recap.

A district Worcester city councilor wants to go citywide.

Efforts to update Massachusetts Public Record laws are underway and now even Secretary of State Bill Galvin is getting into the act, promising to propose a ballot initiative in 2016 if the legislature does not act—which he expects it won’t.

Legislators looking at bill that would allow marijuana to be sold and taxed in the commonwealth.

City Slickers:

Still no answers on the sudden revelation last week on Police Commissioner John Barbieri’s call for help from outside government on missing money from the department’s evidence room.

City officials want state legislation that would require the PVTA to clear out snow from bus shelter.

Twitter Chatter:

With tomorrow’s news bound to be dominated by the Israeli election, it seems only fitting that we turn to a veteran winner of the tweet prize this week. In our estimate, some Israeli commentators have rightly considered the country’s democracy itself at stake in tomorrow’s elections. With those free and fair elections come the right to opine and analyze them. Today we award the tweet prize to Chemi Shalev, Haaretz’s New York correspondent, who in a pair of tweets mocked Netanyahu’s flip-floppery and, perhaps one of the most classic byproducts of democracy: punditry! Netanyahu’s opposition to a Palestinian state flies headlong into his comments to the contrary in 2009, unless he meant some other second state as part of the two-state solution.

His second tweet, analyzing the meaning of Tzipi Livni’s backing down on the rotation of the premiership by noting that “nothing” is a possible outcome, dings the whole commentary-industrial complex which is as alive in Israel’s democracy as it is in the US’s.


Manic Monday Markup 3/9/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in Syria, where the Islamic State appears both on the ropes and not. US-led forced bombed a key refinery and in neighboring Iraq, pro-government forces are gaining ground as well. The setbacks appear to be undermining IS from within according to news reports, but news out of Nigeria would appear to counter that narrative, at least in the public relations war. The militant Islamist Group Boko Haram has declared allegiance to IS.

Russia has arrested five and charged two of them with the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. The Kremlin ties them to Islamic groups. Elsewhere in Russia, President Vladimir Putin reveals his country had plans to annex Crimea weeks before the referendum in which the peninsula broke away from Ukraine.

President Barack Obama issues sanctions against Venezuela following increased repression there. The New York Times analyzes how President Nicolas Maduro’s embrace of the late Hugo Chavez may be his undoing.

In Israel, while the polls remain close, the pressure is clearly ratcheting up on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. An anti-Bibi rally in Tel Aviv drew upwards of 40,000 people and, under pressure from his own right flank, Netanyahu appears to be pulling away from his prior commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians. And Israelis don’t seem to want Bibi anymore (but who then?) President Reuven Rivlin, who will be charged with choosing someone to form the next government after the election, has said he will push for a national unity government in the event results are close. Meanwhile, Ari Shavit pens a rather in-depth piece for Haaretz on Opposition Leader and he-who-would-be PM Isaac Herzog.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been ducking a one-on-one debate (and debates in general) with Labour leader Ed Miliband. Labour and Miliband has been attacking Cameron’s evasiveness for days, but does the public care?

South Koreans seem divided over the reaction to slashing attack against the US ambassador there.

The Feds:

In Selma, Ala., President Barack Obama marks the 50th anniversary of the march that changed history. Five decades ago this past Saturday, voting rights protests were attacked by police, mostly on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Obama used the occasion to note the march is not over and voting rights remain under threat.

The race to succeed Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski is primed to kick into high gear—and a titanic battle. Montgomery County Democratic congressman Chris Van Hollen has already announced, setting up a major battle for his safe Democratic seat. Donna Edwards, in neighboring Prince George’s County, is expected to dive in tomorrow and was seen filming something near the Woodrow Wilson bridge last week. Her seat is also safely Democratic.

This cues up a major battle in “the counties” of Maryland that surround Washington, DC and along the fault lines of the national party, if in a somewhat exaggerated way, prompting Van Hollen in particular to burnish his liberal credentials. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is also looking at the race. Others could still enter the fray and while Republicans hope to be competitive here, in a presidential year that seems doubtful.

Over the line in DC, questions about whether after massive sums spent, a streetcar line will even open.

After a fatal shooting of a black teenager by police in Madison, the state of Wisconsin is drawing international scrutiny for its incarceration of young black men.

Florida, the state most imperiled by climate change, bans both that term and “global warming” from government documents.

The State of Things:

The Boston Globe takes a deep dive into the MBTA’s numbers and finds, no, it doesn’t have a spending problem when compared to its peers. Its spending on pensions and wages are about average and while Gov. Charlie Baker’s implied critique that its budget has risen by 50 percent over eight years, The Globe found that was entirely in line with peer agencies, perhaps even below in some cases. But if pols and taxpayers are not willing to pay for the system, it will have to cut service, perhaps dramatically.

The Globe’s editorial page is more overt in its criticism of Chas, but in this case it is about hiring, which the paper pans his management skills after several appointments drew scrutiny.

In other Massachustts political bric-a-brac, an unsuccessful foray by “Mahty” into Eastie (his preferred candidate, Joe Ruggiero, did not win the special state rep primary, Adrian Maduro, who worked for the last holder of the seat, did).

A lengthy five seven-part series appears in The Republican about a year after Holyoke City Solicitor Heath Egan resigned and Mayor Alex Morse signed a separation agreement with her. Highlights include allegations that Egan was becoming a problem, Morse regrets not including the City Council in the separation agreement process (although odds are, not really) and the tightness of Holyoke political and governmental circles borders on incestuous. Overall, while not the details revealed are not terribly surprising and the title, eh, a worthwhile read.

Cost overruns for the renovation of the former Chicopee High School approved by the City Council.

The Fourth Estatements:

Whether you think we are part of the vast left-wing conspiracy or not, a link to Brian Stelter’s interview with Fox News’s former media analyst Eric Burns. The topic: O’Reilly.

A thoughtful column from New York Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan on the Hillary Clinton email story.

City Slickers:

New homes for the city’s health department have been proposed down Main Street in the South End.

The Historic Commission and MGM remain at odds over several sites within the casino’s footprint.

Last week Mayor Domenic Sarno signed the casino ethics ordinance the Council passed last Monday. The ordinance proposed by several councilors including President Michael Fenton bans city employees and elected officials from working for MGM for 2-3 years after leaving city service. Fenton called on Sarno to appoint his member of the Ethics Commission to ensure enforcement of the ordinance.

In a related vein, Attorney General Maura Healey called for a beefed-up presence in Springfield both by her own office and the Gaming Commission as construction and operation of MGM begins.

ICYMI: Our profile of Fenton.

Twitter Chatter:

With the 50th anniversary of the March from Selma this past weekend, it seems only fitting that we focus on that in this week’s tweet prize. With the passage of time, fewer and fewer of those who were there in Selma remain, but Rep. John Lewis, who was nearly killed as the police beat the marchers, is among them. Today we award the Tweet prize to Rep. Lewis. There is no shortage of tweets we could choose and really those he posted over the weekend all deserve a review. We have chosen one that notes the optimism he still holds given the progress that has been made (not the least of which was Obama’s election. The one also underscores the fact that march is not over. In one he affirms progress has been made, but in the other, he calls on people to continue the struggle by [dedicating] yourself to nonviolent social change, and we shall overcome.”