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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) March 7, 2015
Our march continues. There is great work still to be done. Dedicate yourself to nonviolent social change, and we shall overcome. #Selma50
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) March 8, 2015