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Manic Monday Markup 3/24/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in the Indian Ocean, where Malaysian officials now believe the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 ended.  In a press conference, Malaysian authorities essentially extinguished all hopes that any survivors would be found.  The Sydney Morning Herald writes about Chinese journalists’ difficulty in reporting the story in Malaysia.  China has been particularly critical of the island nation’s response to the situation.  The search is now focused hundreds of miles off the western coast of Australia.

President Barack Obama is in Europe talking Russia and Crimea, hoping to firm up allies’ support in the face of Russian aggression toward its neighbors.  British Prime Minister David Cameron says there will be no G8 meeting in Sochi and indeed, there may not be a G8 much longer.  Russia is on the outs.  But it is not all bad news for Vladimir Putin.  Outgoing Afghan president Hamid Karzai backs the Russia seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula.  Meanwhile, those in Crimea opposed to a union with Russia are finding it unsafe to stay amid public pressure and bullying from pro-Russian mobs.

Obama also announced new measures to track down African warlord Joseph Kony.

Turkey’s ban on Twitter continues and the government there is pressing to make work-arounds difficult while journalists and lawyers worked to lift the restriction in court.  Whether successful or not, one expert says Turkey is fighting a losing battle and people are still using it.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agrees to extend peace talks…if Israel freezes settlement development.

The Feds:

The New York Times considers three presidents’ confounding efforts to woo Vladimir Putin.

Colorado’s Supreme Court may be taking on a case that could begin reversing the longstanding legal right to terminate employees who test positive for marijuana despite a doctor’s prescription.  Meanwhile, this week’s US Supreme Court case over contraception and Hobby Lobby could implicate more than just birth control including women generally, gays and beyond.

In Rhode Island, Gordan Fox, the history-making speaker of the House of Representatives resigned his leadership post, triggering a scramble to fill what is considered the Ocean State’s most powerful post.  Federal and state officials raided office and home last week of the twenty year veteran of the legislature, he was the first openly-gay speaker of a state House.  Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello says he has the votes to be speaker (including a few from the body’s six Republicans), but Michael Marcello, the other rep jockeying for the position will force a floor vote.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appears unconnected to the George Washington Bridge Scandal…or so says his lawyers.  The firm that conducted the interview has long had ties to the governor’s administration and seems unlikely to end the legislative and federal probes into the matter.

A prominent Connecticut State Senator Ed Meyer announced his retirement.  However, Meyer, the Senate chair of the environment committee has a successor in mind: Edward Kennedy, Jr.

Officials scramble to reopen a Houston shipping channel after a devastating oil spill.

The State of Things:

Opponents of the commonwealth’s casino bill have filed their first court papers with the Supreme Judicial Court in hoping to reverse the Attorney General’s decision that the ballot initiative to repeal the law is disallowed under the constitution.

Massachusetts Republicans held their convention in Boston over the weekend to select their nominees for statewide office.  Everything other than governor was anticlimactic and establishment-preferred nominee Charlie Baker seemed to narrowly nudge Tea Party challenger Mark Fisher off of the primary ballot.  Except that Fisher is now going to challenge the decision, including possible legal action.  The academics as Mass Politics Prof’s try to figure this mess out.

Sorry folks.  While maybe Senator Richard Ross should have found a way to avoid filing this bill, he was actually facilitating a right  of citizens under the commonwealth’s constitution to file legislation.  This one’s a misfire.

Obligatory note on the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Worcester Polytechnical High School is getting an A-list commencement speaker: POTUS.

City Slickers:

The Mayor’s Community Review Board released a report last week that called for some changes in how the department deals with the public, something Commissioner-designate John Barbieri will have to consider when he takes the reins in the June.  The mayor is adamant as ever about not instituting a board with final authority to issue discipline and the Council is adamant as ever, to press for a new board with that very power.

The Reminder expands on the impact of Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera’s resignation and, what it means that the seat will not be filled until January.  Mike Dobbs also reached out to the now four individuals looking at the race.  Carlos Gonzalez and Sal Circosta have already been reported as running.  We noted Melvin Edwards at the time of Coakley-Rivera’s announcement, but it appears former mayoral aide Thomas Walsh is eyeing the seat too.

A light agenda for the City Council tonight, but at least it includes Facebook!

News of a possible new factory at the former Westinghouse site is gaining momentum among local officials reports Northeastern Public Radio’s Paul Tuthill.

Twitter Chatter:

Democrats are frequently criticized for their maneuvers at conventions to keep certain people off the ballot.  While Marissa DeFranco came nowhere close to making the ballot in 2012, that Elizabeth Warren marched past the primary unchallenged did not go without criticism from the Massachusetts GOP.  So it is especially notable that the Grand Old Party’s own convention this year should be so fraught with Fisher now contesting the results after apparently getting enough to win.  Today we award the tweet prize to Stephanie Ebbert, one of the Boston Globe’s political reporters who covered the state Republican convention, observing with photographic evidence, that the event was oddly packing up even before the results were revealed, perhaps foreshadowing the questions about the count.  Also, runners up goes to Ebbert’s noting of the bizarre-world praise her paper was getting at the convention.