Manic Monday Markup 1/28/13…

…And the World:

We begin today in Egypt where protests continue against President Mohammed Morsi following the second anniversary of revolts that brought down former President Hosni Mubarak.  Morsi has declared a state of emergency, which suspends some judicial and civil rights processes.  Morsi has offered talks with the Opposition, but they have thus far rejected those overtures unless Morsi meets certain conditions.

Across Africa in Mali, French and Malian forces are reported to have entered Timbuktu and possible taken the city from rebels and Islamist fighters.  France sent in military forces to repel an advance on Mali’s capital Bamako, and has shown some success.  However, in fleeing the city, the retreating fighters set fire to a building holding precious manuscripts.  Damage to historical artifacts is not new for the fighters.

To the North in Canada, Ontario, the nation’s most populous province and home to both Toronto and Ottawa, is on course to have its first woman and its first gay Premier.  Kathleen Wynne won party leadership elections over the weekend.  Wynne’s predecessor will inform Ontario’s Lt. Governor of the change in leadership after which, Wynne will form the government.  New elections are expected soon, too.

The Feds:

The item grabbing the most attention nationally this morning is the announcement of a bipartisan framework upon which immigration reform will proceed.  The framework, reached among a group of eight senators, four from each party, would include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but also includes a few giveaways to conservatives.  Marco Rubio, Florida’s junior Republican senator, appears to have driven any of the plan’s rightward turn, although it may only be window dressing.  Jamelle Bouie, writing at the Plum Line, notes that the GOP’s willingness to deal, driven by the drubbing the party received among Hispanics, is unlikely to turn a substantial portion of the demographic to Republicans.

Until last night, the other big story was how the DC Circuit ruled that President Obama overstepped his authority by recess-appointing nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.  If the ruling is upheld, and Senate Republicans refuse to allow votes on any NLRB members, the agency essentially shuts down.

Connecticut begins hearing testimony on gun laws following Newtown under heavy guard.  The Legislative Office Building, adjacent to the Capitol itself, has metal detectors.  Those testifying include victims of last summer’s theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. Daniela Altimari, a Courant reporter, tweeted the heart-wrenching testimony of Veronique Pozner, whose son, Noah died at Sandy Hook.  Pozner’s full testimony is available here.

America’s two biggest cities will have new chief executives next year.  In New York, the field for mayor is clarified a big more as the city’s Public Advocate Bill de Blasio formally launches his campaign.  Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has a piece on how former LA County District Attorney, Gil Garcetti is hoping he will soon be the father of a mayor.

The State of Things:

The Senate is poised to vote on John Kerry’s nomination to be Secretary of State and by all accounts, everybody is poised for the next step.  Secretary of State William Galvin is prepared to set a primary for April 30 and a general election on June 25.  Congressman Markey, the only declared candidate has called upon any candidates, Democrat or Republican, to back a no-outside advertising pledge similar to the one adopted last year.  Congressman Stephen Lynch, who may announce his plans this week, had called for that earlier in the month.  Meanwhile, under the radar of the below story, there is good reason to think former Senator Scott Brown IS NOT running.  If Kerry is confirmed tomorrow, Gov. Deval Patrick will name Kerry’s interim successor Wednesday.

And if you have not heard about this, Bqhatevwr!

The Republican reported on the continuing saga between Northeast Realty and Peter Picknelly over in Palmer.  Picknelly claims that he left the group and is now working with Penn National’s plan in the North End.  Northeast says Picknelly still has a fiduciary responsibility to the group in Palmer.  Legal action is possible.  However, the Republican claims that Northeast Realty is developing a casino in Palmer.  Our sources say that Northeast is merely the landlord and has no role in Mohegan Sun‘s pursuit of the license or the operation of the casino.

City Slickers:

Mike Dobbs at the Reminder looks at how the City Council’s meddling in development projects in the city have lead to no development in some cases.  Dobbs mentions two projects, including the redevelopment of the Mason Square Firehouse we have previously mentioned.  However, Dobbs focuses on another nearby project that was scuttled at at-large Councilor Bud Williams’ behest, because the sale price was too low.  In the article, the proposed developer explained the low price was due to the large amount of work necessary to repair the building.

Back in Casino-world, Mayor Domenic Sarno has said the city needs more times to review proposals, pushing off the negotiating process until after February 11 according to Northeastern Public Radio’s Paul Tuthill.

Twitter Chatter:

Under normal circumstances, the winner of this week’s tweet prize would be obvious.  However, Senator Scott Brown deleted his infamous tweets, which many think Brown produce while drunk-tweeting.  At the same the response to the ensuing hash tag phenomenon produced so many tweets it is impossible to pick just one (although this one is good).  So, instead, we will go with one of the first.  Slate Magazine’s Dave Weigel caught Brown’s tweets in picture form just before the Twitterverse went mad with “#Bqhatevwr.”  This week we aware the tweet prize to Weigel, for getting their first, but also pairing that photo with among the most classic of hash tags.  Bqhatevwr had yet to catchon in those early few seconds.  Instead, Weigel paired it with “#winning,” a mainstay of Charlie Sheen’s epic meltdown not too long ago, and ultimately others to call Brown’s situation his own “meltdown.”



Tardy Tuesday Takedown 1/22/13…

We took yesterday off for Martin Luther King Day, but it just so happens there was an Inauguration, too…

…And the World:

We begin today in Israel where, as the Washington Post had predicted, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s electoral scheme has, indeed backfired.  Right-wing parties are expected to win about 61-2 seats to the center-left’s 58-9.  Haaretz, a left-leaning paper, had predicted the polls might be wrong and indeed, the left came in much stronger than expected.  Netanyahu’s merged Likud-Beiteinu party got the most seats, but less than each party had separately in the current Knesset, a bad sign for the PM.  Netanyahu is expected to be the next Prime minister, but he must form his government from parties that are, in some cases, diametrically opposed to each other, and he may try to do just that.

Yesh Atid’s, Yair Lapid, a former journalist came in second.  His surge was unexpected, but not wholly a surprise to others.  It is not even clear if Netanyahu can form a government, but either way a certain reelected American president is probably laughing right now.  Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer has the winners and losers of this elections.   The Guardian looks at the issues the new government will face.

Australia’s Julia Gillard, herself facing an uncertain election later this year, has appointed an Aborigine, the party’s first, to be a candidate for Senate from the Northern Territory.  The seat is considered safe for Gillard’s Labor party, suggesting the candidate, Olympian Nova Peris, will join Parliament after this year’s elections.  While the decision came at the expense of a sitting senator (who is also a supporter of Gillard’s intraparty rival, former PM Kevin Rudd), it is being hailed as a benchmark in Australia.

Rahul Gandhi scion of an Indian political dynasty says that political power in his country is concentrated in too few people.  Gandhi, who recently moved into the number two spot of the Indian National Congress party (behind his mother, Italian-born Sonia), is positioned to take over the party soon, in what is generally seen as an opportunity for the next generation.  While Sonia Gandhi leads the party, she is not Prime Minister.  Manmohan Singh is, and he is not expected to seek another term as Prime Minister in 2014’s elections.  However, it is unclear whether Rahul Gandhi could lead his party to victory.  Rahul Gandhi, is the son of Rajiv (Sonia’s late husband), the grandson of Indira Gandhi, and the great-grandson of the country’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Feds:

President Barack Obama offered some surprises in his Inaugural yesterday highlighting both gay rights and climate change unexpectedly.  The Plum Line’s Happy Hour Roundup Yesterday goes into the details of the speech and here is the address as prepared for delivery.  And is the speech too liberal? Well, MSNBC says majorities support Obama.  Hardly a fringe.

On the issue of gay rights, the President favorably compared the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the starting point of the modern gay rights movement with Seneca Falls and Selma, Alabama.  Politico noted that it was the first use of the word “gay” in an Inaugural address in reference to sexuality.

On Climate, environmentalists were equally happy.. NPR reports that the president is expected to act, probably through the Environmental Protection Agency to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  The move on climate appears to be part of an emboldened president’s effort to use political pressure to pursue his agenda, even on issues that were scarcely discussed in the campaign, even as they were thrust forward by Super Storm Sandy.

And Virginia Republicans push through a gerrymander of the State Senate, set to take effect in 2015 while a tie-inducing Democratic State Senator was in Washignton attending Obama’s Inauguration.  Republican Governor Bob McDonnell has not taken a position and may jeopardize the legislative agenda of his last year in office.

The State of Things:

Do Democrats have an issue to use against Scott Brown if he runs in the special Senate election?  Some think that gun control could be an albatross around his neck, despite coming out for a federal ban on assault weapons following Sandy Hook.  However, as recently as after the Aurora, Colo. shooting Brown opposed federal gun laws.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party in Massachusetts faces a contested race to lead the organization.  Two individuals, Kirsten Hughes, a former Brown staffer, and Rick Green are racking up votes from the State Committee Members in an effort to give the party direction as it heads into the special election and next year’s state elections.

Holyoke government in flux again.  The City Solicitor is resigning after little more than a year in office.  Elizabeth Rodriquez-Ross had been caught in between Mayor Alex Morse and the City Council’s battles.  Meanwhile, the City Clerk has been on leave for seven months, but as an elected official, she cannot be formally replaced.  Councilors look at possibly appointing a temporary clerk until this year’s election for the post.

City Slickers:

Good news for Springfield’s retail heart.  The intersection of Boston Road and Parker Street is (finally) due for upgrades from the state, after being found to be one of the most dangerous in the Pioneer Valley.

Chris Maza at the Reminder looks at Council President Ferrera’s decision to create a Special Committee on Residency.

Meanwhile, Pete Goonan at the Republican updates us on Joseph Conant’s nomination as Fire Commissioner.  Following the City Council’s vote to change the qualifications for the position last Monday, Conant is due to be formally installed on Thursday at 1 pm.

Twitter Chatter:

Tonight’s results in Israel proved to be a hell of a comeuppance for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Yes, he is poised to be Prime Minister again, but a terrible cost.  He may either form a broad centrist coalition that will dilute his brand or he will be stuck with a super far-right government that actually won the election with the slimmest of majorities.  Today we award this week’s tweet prize to Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev for capturing Netanyahu’s dilemma, and implying that this is all of his own making.  Shalev tweeted that Netanyahu still has an option of forming a right-wing government, something made possible by his own political scheming.  However, depending on how things shake out with government negotiations and final vote tallies, Netanyahu may not have an option.  A right-wing government will be his only choice.


Manic Monday Markup 1/14/13…

…And the World:

We begin today in Mali where French fighter jets have attacked Islamist fighters that were advancing on the capital Bamako.  The attack, which the US was reportedly wary about, may not have stopped the fighters, however, who had seized control of the north for the east African country.  Some gains, have been reported, too.  Some have speculated that the attack was ordered by French President François Hollande who perhaps may have seen his image shift as a result.

Meanwhile, in a surprise move, French unions back changes to labor laws that would loosen up the nation’s strict laws regarding hiring and firing.

Could Greece finally be doing better?  Christine LaGarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund says yes along with the broader Eurozone.  Greece remains in turmoil, but the Prime Minister has proposed a new tax on the rich, which might placate things a little and none too soon, it seems.

India remains in crisis after the brutal rape and murder of a young woman even as other gang rapes are reported.  However, the solutions remain as elusive as ever as the New York Times looks into the plight of women in the world’s largest democracy.

The Feds:

President Barack Obama appeared before reporters today to discuss, among other issues, the debt ceiling.  He said that he would not negotiate over the debt ceiling, and, well, he shouldn’t.  Why are we debating paying bills we have already agreed to?  Greg Sargent at the Washington Post says the Democrats may have more leverage than Republicans think.  More to the point, Obama has already presided over deficit reduction, but the GOP wants more and some in the media are plainly complicit.  And Dems do not take hostages like this either.

Republican governors are, you guessed, cutting taxes.  Or are they?  Not really.  Some like Virginia’s governor proposed eliminating the gas tax, but will make up for it with other taxes that will…equal more revenue?  Others like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and North Carolina legislators want to can the income tax and raise fees and the sales tax.  Of course, this will fall harder on the poor because they spend almost all of their income on things that are usually taxed or would be, whereas the wealthier (and corporations)…not so much.

And on 2016 watch, while Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden’s moves will likely dictate more, there is already some jockeying in the event neither runs.  Shortly after Newtown, New York governor Andrew Cuomo moved the strengthen his state’s already strict gun laws.  In fact, legislation is already moving.  Now, Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is moving to do the same.  This mirrors O’Malley push, after Cuomo to legalize same-sex marriage.  Both faced hurdles to get it done, but Cuomo got their first forcing O’Malley to really twist arms (and get GOP support, too) to get it done.  O’Malley is getting praise from his hometown paper for his moves and meeting with gun control advocate New York City Mayor Micahel Bloomberg. But it is quite clear that Cuomo will get there first

The State of Things:

Governor Deval Patrick unveiled a bevy of proposed revenue measures to invest in the commonwealth’s infrastructure.  The proposed measures, which would plug a funding gap for transportation include a payroll tax (assesses on employers, but generally economists agree that that is actually borne by employees), a sales tax increase, a gas tax increase, and interestingly, a special assessment on registration on higher-polluting cars.  David Bernstein games out how this will go down in the legislature.

Will he or won’t he?  If there is one thing that reporters and pundits can agree on, it is that the landscape for former Senator Scott Brown seeking election to fill John Kerry’s seat.  However, there appears to be increasing speculation that Brown might opt for governor instead.  Politico reports that Brown is leaning toward a Senate run, there are incentives for a gubernatorial run.  In the Senate, he will face election again in 2014, and Massachusetts has a long history of electing Republican governors.  Meanwhile, Cong. Ed Markey, the only declared candidate in the special has made some high profile hires for campaign manager and finance.

Not sure what the full implications are, but the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court just ruled on foreclosures again, apparently against the banks.  More from the Boston Globe, too.

Longmeadow School Committee passed its social media policy tonight.

City Slickers:

Council President Jimmy Ferrera doled out his Council Committee appointments today.  Not catastrophic, but still plenty to criticize.  Maureen Turner’s concerns about what would happen to some councilors appear to not have panned out.  Full report on that from us tomorrow, for now check out our tweets on the subject.

With casino fever gripping Massachusetts, both remaining Springfield plans were turned in, reports the Reminder.  For what it is worth Mohegan Sun, in Palmer, has also submitted their application.  The Springfield City Council approved a citywide vote when a host agreement is negotiated with the city instead of a ward vote.  Meanwhile, opponents of a casino urge the city to set the date of the referendum to November to coincide with city elections for City Council and School Committee.

Twitter Chatter:

The events in Mali today are a stark reminder of the danger that still exists around the world on a day to day basis.  Mali may seem like a place far, far away, but the danger was and it great enough for the nation to ask for help from other nations, specifically in this case, France.  There are, however, very important Libya parallels.  Perhaps the most important, is that the UN works.  The institution is not perfect (see: Syria), but it can get the job done.

We award UN Ambassador Susan Rice the tweet prize today for a pair of tweets that show the US backing up France now and how this all came down.  Mali asked for help from the international community and France stepped up.  This is just one reason why we have a UN and why we should be glad it is there.