Tardy Tuesday Takedown 1/20/15…
…And the World:
We begin today in Yemen, where Houthi rebels have taken the presidential palace, sounding a warning to the Western-backed president. A truce between the rebels and the government has collapsed. The New York Times tells us who the Houthis are.
The Islamic State is demanding $200 million in exchange for the release of two Japanese citizens they hold captive. Canada exchanges fire with ISIS in Iraq.
NPR provides an update ahead of Greece’s upcoming elections this month and The Times looks at the impact on tourism.
A piece in The Jerusalem Post profiles the image transformation that Labor party leader Isaac Herzog underwent from the nerdy “Bougie” to top contender for Israeli Prime Minister. Haaretz notes that the higher threshold to enter the Knessett has not brought parties together. Meanwhile, The New York Times says Israel has opened an inquiry into the conduct of last year’s Gaza war in an attempt to head off the International Criminal Court’s investigation. Israel’s reaction the ICC may be driven by election fever. The country says it was unaware an Iranian general was in the Hezbollah convoy it attacked, which could prompt retaliation from Hezbollah.
Australia’s Prime Minister faces criticism for not taking advantage of the country’s low borrowing rates to clear out the infrastructure deficit.
British Chancellor George Osboune says Scottish MP would not be able to vote on English taxes under a post-Scottish independence proposal. Meanwhile polls show Labour losing ground to the Greens and the risk of another hung parliament (no party has a majority) grows.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says his country cannot afford to become an apartheid state by isolating its immigrant communities.
The State of the Union is tonight. President Barack Obama is expected to tout his tax cuts and community college tuition break as part of a break from austerity politics and a focus on middle class issues. The GOP are calling it class warfare and will respond to the State of the Union with newly minted Senator Joni Ernst, probably by criticizing everything. If nothing else, Obama’s polling numbers are—gasp—improving! That and many of the above SOTU links via Greg Sargent.
The White House is trying to widen the audience of the State of the Union with aggressive use of digital tools like social media and Youtube.
Check out the guests the Obamas are bringing to the State of the Union, including a mom who researches climate change.
Republicans will translate in Spanish the response given by Ernst, who supports English-only legislation. Wonkette has a take on the sexism (or not) leveled at Ernst.
The New York Times profiles White House speechwriter chief Cody Keenan.
The US Supreme Court ruled today that Alabaman prison officials cannot prohibit an inmate from growing a beard consistent with his religion. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her concurrence, notes a key difference between this case and Hobby Lobby. The Court also rejected an attempt by Halliburton and its former subsidiary KBR to avoid liability as contractors for the death and injuries of soldiers. The Court heard oral arguments today on a judicial election case on campaign financing, which will probably unleash more money into elections.
Today in 2016 potpourri, Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal sticks to comments about so-called Islamic “no-go” zones that Fox news repeatedly mentioned (and later issued a correction for). Prime Minister David Cameron condemned these claims when asked about Fox News’s repetition of them.
New York patrolman union head Patrick Lynch will face a challenge to his leadership in the upcoming union election after his combative tone following the deaths of two officers.
The State of Things:
Gov. Charlie Baker puts a number on it. The state budget deficit is $765 million, though neither he nor his budget director announced a plan to bridge it yet.
A doctor was shot before the gunman turned the gun on himself at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. The gunman appeared to be motivated by his family’s hospital bills.
WWLP reports on Holyoke on the Council’s efforts there to cut the Treasurer’s salary.
Senator Eric Lesser releases the first few bills he filed including ones on a Springfield to Boston rail study, tax credits for high-tech firms in gateway cities and two aimed at curbing both the abuse of and the fallout from prescription drug abuse. Shira Schoenberg writes about the rail study, echoed by Bostinno.
On eve of her last day as AG, Martha Coakley speaks with WBUR. Maura Healey will be sworn in as Attorney General tomorrow, as will new Treasurer Deb Goldberg and the other incumbent constitutional officers Bill Galvin and Suzanne Bump.
Speaker Robert DeLeo spent $100,000 on legal fees in 2014.
Bishop Mitchell Rozanski reiterates the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield’s inability to continue supporting Catholic education, probably casting a dim outlook for the fate of Cathedral.
The City Council’s General Government Committee amended the proposed casino ethics ordinance to apply to city elected for three years instead of five as originally proposed.
It remains unclear what the next step is, but here is our take on Mayor Domenic Sarno’s condemnation of the state housing homeless families in the city.
Barowners look to lift rule that requires 1 a.m. cessation on entertainment.
As President Obama gives his first state of the union before an entirely Republican-controlled Congress. Had they controlled it last month, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy likely would not have been confirmed because of comments he had made about public health and gun violence. In lieu of a State of the Union subject, this week we award the tweet prize to someone who noted the connection between Murthy and the shooting at the hospital in which he worked. There is no connection other than coincidence, but in noting that Murthy worked at Brigham & Women’s, Forbes contributor Dan Diamond highlights that Murthy’s nomination was almost derailed by his opinions on gun violence. Today’s shooting probably hits home for the surgeon general.
Remember how Dr @vivek_murthy got attacked for speaking out on gun violence? As @celinegounder points out, the Brigham is Murthy's hospital.
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) January 20, 2015