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Manic Monday Markup 8/27/12…

…And the World:

We begin today in France, where President François Hollande has called upon the Syrian opposition to form a government.  Although many countries have effectively withdrawn their recognition of Bashar al-Assad’s government, this move is a step much further.  It also rejects a notion, still supported by the US and UK, of Assad forming a provisional government to which he could hand over power.  Meanwhile, the refugee situation on Syria’s borders worsens.

In Australian, the man who would be Prime Minister, if he can lead his party to a majority, is facing some ghosts from the past.  Tony Abbott, the leader of the Liberal Coalition that opposes the Labor government, is face calls from the last Liberal Prime Minister John Howard to talk about WorkChoices again and not focus so heavily on the Carbon Tax.  Abbott often needles the government of Julia Gillard over the tax on carbon the country is to impose, but Howard argued that attacking the tax only hurt business by created uncertainly.  However, WorkChoices is fraught with its only political implications and held partly responsible for the fall of Howard‘s government in 2007.  The law, a reform of the nation’s collective bargaining laws for employees, remains hated by Australians as it gutted many employee rights.  Labor subsequently repealed it.

Meanwhile back in Europe, Germany and its chancellor Angela Merkel appear committed to keep Greece in the Euro, although they are not prepared to give into the debt-ridden countries pleas for more time yet.  Still this is a good sign for Greece, which also received praise from French leaders for the work it has undertaken and the pain it has suffered.

The Feds:

Hurricane Isaac has already postponed the GOP convention by a day and politics could actually cancel the convention if the storm reaches New Orleans or causes massive flooding elsewhere along the coast.  However, the storm is not the only surprise for the GOP in Florida.  The state’s former Republican governor, Charlie Christ, once a rising star in the party, but became a pariah when he insufficiently hated President Barack Obama is coming out for the president’s reelection.  Christ is also expected to speak in Charlotte next week at the Democratic convention.

Meanwhile, Canadians appear bemused as Republicans shift their stance on our neighbor to North from Socialist Hellhole to Economic Utopia.

A bizarre coalition in California.  Once and again Governor Jerry Brown is trying to hold his state’s precarious finances together with both hands.  Due to the state’s supermajority requirement for tax increases, Brown had to turn to a referendum to get a tax increase needed to preserve critical programs.  He is getting help from an unlikely place.  California’s businesses many of which are backing the taxes or not fighting against them in exchange for Brown dropping taxes on oil and alcohol.

Rhode Island Public Radio has a history of voting frauds in the Ocean State.  Looking into the past, the spurious claims of voter impersonation are nothing compared to the whoppers of the old days.

The State of Things:

Scott Brown is stumbling over his own supporters as he receives the endorsement of Massachusetts Citizens for Life while been-a-longtime-since-he-endorsed-a-Democrat Ray Flynn calls Brown “pro-life” at heart.  Despite Brown’s quick move to hit Todd Akin last week, the issue presents a serious problem for Brown who only has his wife’s biased assurance that he is pro-choice to back up Brown’s credentials among women.  Warren’s campaign is wasting no time capitalizing on both Akin and the implications of a Republican takeover of the US Senate.  Complicating matters further for Brown, after saying the GOP should have a big tent approach to abortion rights, the senator said he WOULD NOT argue for the inclusion of different language in the party platform.  That became even more ironic when the campaign trotted out former Governor Bill Weld and former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey to defend Brown.  Weld famously DID push for such language in 1992.  Abortion groups are not falling for it either.

This is not a storyThis is.  Listen carefully to Lowell Mayor Patrick Murphy’s words about where Brown is going.  They couldn’t be truer.  Transcript of Murphy’s remarks here.

On Thursday this week Young Professionals from throughout the valley will get together in Holyoke to encourage voter participation and fortify their position as a demographic in need of attention by state leaders.  A continuing problem in Massachusetts, particularly Western Massachusetts, is the failure to establish policies that encourage younger worker to stay and thrive in the Pioneer Valley.

City Slickers:

MGM rolled out a massive proposal to remake the city’s South End.  However, it comes at a time when the City Council is fighting with the mayor over control of the process.  Meanwhile, the Springfield Intruder casts doubts on MGM’s promises.  Our concerns were similar, especially on movie theaters, but we don’t think the existing ones are suffering that much.  Add another multiplex in the mix and maybe they would be.  Complicating matters further, other developers are crying foul on the process with the owners of the proposed Page Boulevard casino threatening to withhold their application fee until the city clears up its process.  Whether this was resolved by today’s meeting with casino officials and subsequent rollout of selection process remains unclear.

WWLP is reporting that a vote on a casino could come as early at spring.  This could suggest either a rushed process, but also would encourage an abysmally low turnout in either the city or the ward in which the casino is to be situated.

Twitter Chatter:

Today we look at more somber things in awarding the tweet prize.  For the first time in a while, we have tie winners.  The White House wins today’s tweet prize for recognizing the death of Neil Armstrong, who died this week.  He was of course, the first man on the moon and feet that, in many ways goes unequaled.  Their recognition, which is only one among countless others, links to photographs of the astronaut.

Elsewhere, we also award the tweet prize to the Boston Globe’s Matt Viser.  A reporter for the Globe’s Washington bureau, Viser is in Tampa for the Republican national convention.  His tweet, noting that President Obama has already made a disaster declaration for Louisiana, is packed not only with recognition of the political consequences of Hurricane Isaac.  It is also loaded with the more sober reality that real human lives are at stake and many were lost when a nation paid too little attention to its own people.  Of course this should all happen on the cusp of the seven year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall.  For these reasons, he also wins the tweet prize this week.

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Manic Monday Markup 8/20/12…

…And the World:

We begin today in Burma, where the nation’s censorship laws are about to fall away almost completely.  Burma, now often known as Myanmar, has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last couple of years.  Although problems remain, the country has released some political prisoners, reduced press controls and held elections that brought activist Aung Sun Suu Kyi into Parliament.  These changes have been hailed as another sign that the changes are legitimate although the nation still has a long way to go before becoming fully open society.

War-torn Somalia took a major step this weekend when its Parliament met for the first time in ages.  Amid tight security at the Mogadishu airport, the caretaker, albeit unelected government came together in an attempt to steer the country toward civil governance and stability.

Striking mine workers in South Africa continue to defy the facility’s owner, Lonmin, and have refused to return to work.  The strike over wages and other benefits has already resulted in deaths.  Last week 34 were killed when the strikers tried to overcome a police line.  Ten others died a week earlier.  The violence is said to be highest perpetrated by the state since the end of Apartheid.  Miner were warned that they return to work immediately or face termination, but miners have been defiant and have said that they’d rather die than back down.  The violence during the strike, although said to be illegal, has also led some to point fingers at the African National Congress-led South African government.  Some have gone as far to say President Jacob Zuma and his party have blood on their hands.

The Feds:

The Political story opening this week is not on the Presidential election, but rather in the Show Me State’s Senate race, which went full boil.  This weekend when Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee to challenge incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, said that in cases of “legitimate rape” a women’s body would not allow itself to get pregnant.  The biological lunacy of such a statement notwithstanding, it has created a torrent of criticism aimed at Akin from several Republicans.  The story has gone around the world getting airplay on BBC’s world service and appearing on news sites elsewhere in the world.  Even Senators Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, the Republican Senate Leader and Campaign Chair, are calling on Akin to drop out.

However, Akin remains defiant and has thus far brushed aside calls to end his bid even as Karl Rove‘s outfit Crossroads, which often bombards the airwaves on behalf of candidates, is apparently pulling its ads.  Should Akin drop out, the Missouri Republican party would pick a replacement…pending some paperwork.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is not letting up on Paul Ryan (GOOD!).  Aside from tying Ryan to Todd Akin via the bizarre personhood law the Vice-Presidential nominee sponsored with Akin, they using the Ryan budget and hitting the airwaves with different messages in different swing states.  The Akin comments also allow the Obama campaign more ammunition to paint the Republicans as out of control radicals on women’s health.

Last week’s brutal campaign in Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District has led to some soul searching for Democrats and labor.  Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan lost his bid to be the Democrats nominee to replace Chris Murphy who is running for Senate (he won the nomination).  Instead, Democrats chose Elizabeth Esty to take on Republican nominee Andrew Roraback.  However, Donovan has yet to formally endorse Esty and he could still appear on the ballot under the Working Families Party line.  That would all, but hand the contest to Roraback.  Esty and labor, by far the largest of Donovan’s supporters, are now in a process of conciliation, although one that will necessarily need Donovan’s blessing.  Donovan’s bid fell apart after members of his campaign were arrested for influence peddling for donations.  After the indictments, Esty had engaged in a behind the scenes efforts to woo labor as its second choice for the seat with hopes of a reconciliation should she win.

The State of Things:

The Boston Globe has a look at Elizabeth Warren’s rise in academia.  It includes interviews with people who saw her rise from the University of Houston all the way up to Harvard.

Meanwhile the chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party is getting sued!

Representative Richard Neal sparred with Middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds Andrea Nuciforo and Activist/Humorist Bill Shein in a debate.  All three men are vying for the nomination for the new 1st Congressional District.  The debate itself took on campaign finance and job creation.

And the Republican looks at the candidates for the Governors Council seat left open by Thomas Merrigan.  The paper looks at both the Democratic and the Republican races.

City Slickers:

Domenic Sarno is meeting with casino developers soon according to the Republican.

And Springfield makes moves to alert parents about its new condom policy.  The Springfield School Committee instituted the controversial policy on a 4-3 vote several months ago.  Now with the school year beginning soon the city is working to implement it.

Twitter Chatter:

We have long recognized parody Twitter accounts in this space and a recently established one gets to the heart of the problems of Congressman Paul Ryan and his positions create.  Actor Ryan Gosling got caught up in the “hey, girl” meme after a tumblr blog and an MTV were connected with Gosling speaking the phrase.  A meme was born and all kinds of blogs about it were created.  A new one surfaced after Rep. Ryan was selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate, “Paul Ryan Gosling”.  The tweets consist largely of recognition of Paul Ryan’s anti-woman record in Congress.  This week we award the tweet prize to Paul Ryan Gosling who tweeted about the Todd Akin flap.  The parody account noted not only the connection between the actual Paul Ryan and Todd Akin on abortion, but the fact that although Akin went too far by articulating his belief, that Ryan’s records speaks for itself as to where the Wisconsin Republican stands.  He wouldn’t say it.  He’d just legislate it!