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Manic Monday Markup 1/14/13…

…And the World:

We begin today in Mali where French fighter jets have attacked Islamist fighters that were advancing on the capital Bamako.  The attack, which the US was reportedly wary about, may not have stopped the fighters, however, who had seized control of the north for the east African country.  Some gains, have been reported, too.  Some have speculated that the attack was ordered by French President François Hollande who perhaps may have seen his image shift as a result.

Meanwhile, in a surprise move, French unions back changes to labor laws that would loosen up the nation’s strict laws regarding hiring and firing.

Could Greece finally be doing better?  Christine LaGarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund says yes along with the broader Eurozone.  Greece remains in turmoil, but the Prime Minister has proposed a new tax on the rich, which might placate things a little and none too soon, it seems.

India remains in crisis after the brutal rape and murder of a young woman even as other gang rapes are reported.  However, the solutions remain as elusive as ever as the New York Times looks into the plight of women in the world’s largest democracy.

The Feds:

President Barack Obama appeared before reporters today to discuss, among other issues, the debt ceiling.  He said that he would not negotiate over the debt ceiling, and, well, he shouldn’t.  Why are we debating paying bills we have already agreed to?  Greg Sargent at the Washington Post says the Democrats may have more leverage than Republicans think.  More to the point, Obama has already presided over deficit reduction, but the GOP wants more and some in the media are plainly complicit.  And Dems do not take hostages like this either.

Republican governors are, you guessed, cutting taxes.  Or are they?  Not really.  Some like Virginia’s governor proposed eliminating the gas tax, but will make up for it with other taxes that will…equal more revenue?  Others like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and North Carolina legislators want to can the income tax and raise fees and the sales tax.  Of course, this will fall harder on the poor because they spend almost all of their income on things that are usually taxed or would be, whereas the wealthier (and corporations)…not so much.

And on 2016 watch, while Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden’s moves will likely dictate more, there is already some jockeying in the event neither runs.  Shortly after Newtown, New York governor Andrew Cuomo moved the strengthen his state’s already strict gun laws.  In fact, legislation is already moving.  Now, Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is moving to do the same.  This mirrors O’Malley push, after Cuomo to legalize same-sex marriage.  Both faced hurdles to get it done, but Cuomo got their first forcing O’Malley to really twist arms (and get GOP support, too) to get it done.  O’Malley is getting praise from his hometown paper for his moves and meeting with gun control advocate New York City Mayor Micahel Bloomberg. But it is quite clear that Cuomo will get there first

The State of Things:

Governor Deval Patrick unveiled a bevy of proposed revenue measures to invest in the commonwealth’s infrastructure.  The proposed measures, which would plug a funding gap for transportation include a payroll tax (assesses on employers, but generally economists agree that that is actually borne by employees), a sales tax increase, a gas tax increase, and interestingly, a special assessment on registration on higher-polluting cars.  David Bernstein games out how this will go down in the legislature.

Will he or won’t he?  If there is one thing that reporters and pundits can agree on, it is that the landscape for former Senator Scott Brown seeking election to fill John Kerry’s seat.  However, there appears to be increasing speculation that Brown might opt for governor instead.  Politico reports that Brown is leaning toward a Senate run, there are incentives for a gubernatorial run.  In the Senate, he will face election again in 2014, and Massachusetts has a long history of electing Republican governors.  Meanwhile, Cong. Ed Markey, the only declared candidate in the special has made some high profile hires for campaign manager and finance.

Not sure what the full implications are, but the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court just ruled on foreclosures again, apparently against the banks.  More from the Boston Globe, too.

Longmeadow School Committee passed its social media policy tonight.

City Slickers:

Council President Jimmy Ferrera doled out his Council Committee appointments today.  Not catastrophic, but still plenty to criticize.  Maureen Turner’s concerns about what would happen to some councilors appear to not have panned out.  Full report on that from us tomorrow, for now check out our tweets on the subject.

With casino fever gripping Massachusetts, both remaining Springfield plans were turned in, reports the Reminder.  For what it is worth Mohegan Sun, in Palmer, has also submitted their application.  The Springfield City Council approved a citywide vote when a host agreement is negotiated with the city instead of a ward vote.  Meanwhile, opponents of a casino urge the city to set the date of the referendum to November to coincide with city elections for City Council and School Committee.

Twitter Chatter:

The events in Mali today are a stark reminder of the danger that still exists around the world on a day to day basis.  Mali may seem like a place far, far away, but the danger was and it great enough for the nation to ask for help from other nations, specifically in this case, France.  There are, however, very important Libya parallels.  Perhaps the most important, is that the UN works.  The institution is not perfect (see: Syria), but it can get the job done.

We award UN Ambassador Susan Rice the tweet prize today for a pair of tweets that show the US backing up France now and how this all came down.  Mali asked for help from the international community and France stepped up.  This is just one reason why we have a UN and why we should be glad it is there.