Manic Monday Markup 12/28/15…
…And the World:
We begin today in Iraq, where government forces say they have liberated most of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province from Daesh. The extremist group, also known as ISIS/ISIL, had captured the city in May, but lost it to Iraqi military forces and anti-Daesh Sunni tribal groups after a fierce battle over the last few weeks and days. Should Baghdad hold the city, it would represent a tremendous blow to the vicious fundamentalist regime based out of Raqqa in neighboring Syria. It could also prove a boon to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Historic floods in the north of England have put Prime Minister David Cameron on the defensive over proper controls to protect areas at risk. Floods in Yorkshire have prompted accusations that Cameron allowed cuts to the North of England’s defenses that would never be contemplated in and around London.
Japan and South Korea have reached an understanding over the so-called “comfort women” from World War II. Japan, which then ruled the Korean peninsula, impressed Korean women prostitution. The agreement between the two East Asian economic powerhouses (and US allies) includes an apology and reparations from Japan and possibly closer, less strained ties down the road.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a surprise visit at the latter’s home in Lahore. The rare visit by an Indian premier to Pakistan, was the first of its kind in 11 years and took place on Sharif’s birthday. Despite continuing tensions between the two nuclear powers, both Modi and Sharif have long shown an interest in a more positive relationship. For example, Modi invited Sharif to his swearing in last year.
Watch that smartphone! Haaretz’s Yossi Verter describes how a selfie may have prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to move up his Likud party’s leadership elections so soon after winning this year’s polls. Meanwhile, Likud swears in its first openly gay member of the Knesset. Amir Ohana becomes the second of two openly LGBT lawmakers currently serving in Israel. The Zionist Union’s Itzik Shmuli, who has served since 2013, came out last summer.
Is the Russian Orthodox church taking a page from the Kremlin by sacking a high-ranking priest?
Argentine President Mauracio Macri is making moves to turn around his country’s moribund economy.
The officers involved in the shooting death of 12 year-old Tamir Rice will not face charges. A grand jury reviewing the case refused to indict.
As Barack Obama’s presidency enters its twilight, those in Obamaworld are partaking in a bit of schadenfreude as the GOP scrambles for a solution to Donald Trump, a force Republicans helped create along their path to undermine the president.
The Los Angeles Times reviews the Donald’s impact on Atlantic City
The New York Times writes about how Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s wife may be the second most politically experienced would-be First Spouse of 2016—after Bill Clinton.
Elswhere in The New York Times: when Hillary Clinton went undercover.
Politico observes that New Hampshire could be where “moderate” Republicans’ presidential hopes live—or die.
The State of Things:
A review of all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns found that more than half failed to properly follow the commonwealth’s already meager public records laws. The review conducted by Northeastern University students and their professor, a WCVB reporter, found some officials complied, but many essentially shrugged when confronted about their poor responses…or non-responses. Gov. Charlie Baker, who has supported reforms, said municipalities “need to abide by the law.”
Elsewhere in Mass GOP land, the state party finished paying off Republican gubernatorial also-ran Mark Fisher.
Inauguration plans are in place for mayors in Chicopee, Holyoke and Springfield on January 4.
On January 1, the minimum wage in Massachusetts rises to $10 per hour.
A Boston Chipotle linked to a strain of norovirus that sickened 136 reopens.
The Longmeadow School Committee selected Wilbraham-Hampden Regional District superintendent Martin O’Shea as the town’s new schools chief.
The Fourth Estatements:
Concerns remain about Sheldon Adelson and his family’s purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Poynter lists the top public records stories of 2015.
ICYMI: Our review of Zaida Luna’s career as a councilor after her last meeting.
Also last week, the City Council approved a zone change that allow MGM to begin demolition. Last week’s meeting also yielded a new historic district.
The civil trial against 2014 gubernatorial candidate Scott Lively gets attention in The Boston Globe.
In an era of precarious economics underpinning journalism, the ability of media—both professional journalists and citizens simply doing a public service—to access public records is paramount. The study Northeastern students conducted is a reminder of how bad the situation is and that the bill the House passed is woefully inadequate. Today we award the tweet prize to Winchester senator Jason Lewis who, after the twin Globe/WCVB reports, reaffirmed his support for a stronger public records bill. Speaking to WCVB, Lewis said he expected the senate will pass legislation that curbs more of the abuses and closes the loopholes rampant under the current law. He signaled the issue as a priorityin a tweet. We hope the whole legislature will ultimatley concurs.
Reforming our #PublicRecords law for the 21st century will continue to be a top priority in 2016. https://t.co/4L3q72aiAK #mapoli @TWallack
— Jason Lewis (@SenJasonLewis) December 27, 2015