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Manic Monday Markup 4/9/12…

…And the World:

We start off today in South Africa where tensions within the ruling African National Congress among party leaders and its youth leader Julius Malema continue to rock the party that is credited with ending Apartheid.  The BBC World Service (Starts at 26:35), has an in-depth look at the ANC, its tensions with Malema and the alternatives for South Africans.  For what it is worth, it does not look like Malema will be leaving the ANC for the Democratic Alliance, the largest opposition group in South African.  He is being sued by its leader, Helen Zille for slander.

By next week’s markup it will be too late!  On Sunday, the world will mark 100 years since the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage.  In what will likely be only the first of many, the New York Times has a story on how ice alone did not doom the so-called “unsinkable” vessel.  Also worth a read is a story about the wreck as a tourist attraction, but one at great risk from the visitors who seek it out.  Fun fact: The International Ice Patrol formed after the sinking remains in operation to this day!

The Feds:

In the midst of the recession, food stamps may have kept countless families out of poverty a startling achievement during a period of incredible need in our nation’s history.  The study, which looked at nine years of data, looked at the impact mostly for those already under the poverty threshold.  The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, the actual name of the food stamp program, remains under attack, perhaps in part because its means test of income and legal residence is largely intact compared to other anti-poverty programs that have adopted more complicated eligibility programs.

Last week in an historic vote, the Connecticut Senate voted to end the death penalty for all future cases.  The Senate was largely seen as the biggest obstacle to repeal as the House has a healthy majority interested in repeal and the governor publicly supports the end of death penalty.  Today, the Connecticut Mirror takes readers behind the scenes of the process that may very well make the Land of Steady Habits the 17th state to end capital punishment.

An interesting political twist in a fight to the political death in California.  Due to redistricting, long time Democrats Howard Berman and Brad Sherman got drawn into the same district.  The result is a titanic primary battle between the two.  Endorsements and supporters have lined up on both sides and now a new ally for Berman has emerged: Republican Darrell Issa.  Yes, Darrell Issa, the inquisitor-extraordinaire of the House Government Oversight Committee.  The comments were not publicized by the Berman camp or Issa.  Due to California’s top-two primary system, a Republican is unlikely to reach the general election meaning this battle between two Dems will likely go until November.

The State of Things:

Last week Scott Brown announced he raised $3.4 million in the first quarter of 2012.  Your move, Ms Warren? BOOM!  Warren announced today she raised $6.9 million in the first quarter doubling Brown’s numbers and sending reverberations throughout the national political establishment.  Based on emails from Warren’s camp she has approximately $11 million banked, or four million less than Brown.

Elsewhere, Martha Coakley may be trying for a second act…or is she.  Although she has announced plans to run for another term as Attorney General, speculation is rampant that she may try to graduate to governor.  Announcements of indictments against Tim Cahill and oral arguments before the First Circuit over the Defense of Marriage Act (which Coakley has challenged on behalf of the commonwealth) have raised more eyebrows.  Then again maybe she really is doing her job well!

On Beacon Hill legislators look skeptically at proposals to give the MBTA $51 million to stave off draconian budget cuts.  Legislators from outside the Boston area were upset that the MBTA is looking for more money as non-Boston transit agencies continue to take in on the chin.  Sad fact is that while the MBTA has continued to fail fiscal management tests, legislators across the state have not done enough to protect regional agencies, monitor agency behavior and maintained tax policies inadequate to maintain services (no we do not mean the 1% of sales tax that goes exclusively to the MBTA).

City Slickers:

Bar owners are crying foul over license denials for late-night entertainment.  For a refresher of our position, here’s our editorial from earlier this year.  Clearly our speculation about Sarno’s thinking was too generous.

While the meeting has already happened by the time you will read this, Maureen Turner sums up the stakes nicely as Springfield wrestles, once again, with math and its budget.

Meanwhile, in a bit of good news, the Paperboard Packaging Council, which is based in the Sovereign Bank Building in downtown is donating free tree saplings in an effort to replant lost trees following last year’s tornado.  Among the tree donated will be one meant for Court Square which lost a few large trees following the storm.

Twitter Chatter:

As long as we are talking about fundraising, now seems like as good as any to point out the latest gimmick.  Scott Brown is touting a “Spend the Day w/ Scott Brown contest.”  Make a donation and you might win a day with Scott Brown (no donation actually required, though).  While riding in a truck pretending it is not used to pull a horse trailer sounds tempting, what we find most compelling is the irony.  No it is not the contest itself, Barack Obama does the same thing.  Rather it is that this seems to be a perfect example of the way Brown only meets with constituents when paid to.  That may be why his constituents at State Street Bank and Wall Street always have access to him.  Today we award the tweet prize to @3January2013, the semi-parody Scott Brown twitter handle for their well executed tweet highlighting this absurdity that defines Scott Brown.