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Manic Monday Markup 4/7/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Afghanistan, where amid relatively little violence, voters cast ballots for president. Hamid Karzai is not on the ballot this time and the vote could prove to be an event that lets the beleaguered and war-torn country’s move on as US troops begin to withdraw.  Turnout was high and promised violence by the Taliban failed to materialize and did not intimidate voters. Ethnic complications remain, however. Should no candidate get 50% +1 of the vote, a runoff will be held. Counting the final results is expected to take weeks.

Not too far away in India, the world’s largest democracy begins its multi-week voting process. Polls suggest the Congress Party, run for years by descendants of Jawaharlal Nehru will lose as India’s middle class considers its options. The New York Times looks at the controversial career of Narendra Modi, whose party could win the elections and make him Prime Minister.

Quebec, too, goes to the polls, amid  separatist undercurrents that have hurt the ruling Parti Quebecois. Costa Rica elects a center-left President. Indonesia votes Wednesday.  The world’s largest Muslim country, Islamist parties appear set to do poorly.

Pro-Russian protesters, although representing too sizable a minority of the city to be taken seriously (yet), declared the Ukrainian city Donetsk independent and urged Russian president Vladimir Putin to send troops as he did in Crimea. Donetsk is one of the Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine’s east, but far less ethnic Russian than Crimea. The Washington Post reports that officials in Kiev are scrambling to contain the unrest, including sending top officials to the east.

Officials in Rwanda remember the genocide twenty years ago.  NPR has some good stories on how it began, the search for justice in France and where Rwanda goes from here.

While victory was probably unlikely this year, the main opposition party in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance, suffers another defection to the ruling African National Congress.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman seems to hold all the cards in Israel these days. The Russian-born head of the Yisrael Beinteinu party, also seems bullish on immigrants’ prospects in the Israeli politics saying there may be a Russian-speaking Premier soon. Watch out, Bibi!

The Feds:

Gallup says the uninsured rate in the United State is at its lowest level since 2008. That damn Obamacare strikes again!

Maryland follows Connecticut, raises the minimum wage to $10.1.

An awesome profile of US Ambassador to the United Nationa, Samantha Power,.

Edward Kennedy, Jr., the son of the late US senator from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy, will announce for State Senate in Connecticut. He would be seeking the seat held by retiring State Senator Ed Meyer.

Candidates in Long Beach, Calif. are squaring off to fill the mayor’s office. Mayor Bob Foster is calling it quits as a crowded field competes to run the city in need of a turnaround.

On the one hand, Governor Chris Christie may have some good news. New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney says the legislative committee investigating the Bridgegate scandal may need to pause if its effort to subpoena documents fails (or nevermind). On the other hand, the Christie administration paid nearly half the value of a Sandy relief contract after the state fired the contractor—a third of the way through the job. And Christie’s spokesman appeared before a grand jury…looks more bad than good.

The State of Things:

Congressional and state leaders gathered in Boston to promote a drug take-back event. Meanwhile Boston may close its only public methadone clinic.

Congressional leaders are urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to swiftly approve a plan to reopen North Adam’s emergency room.

In potpourri, Worcester’s quest for a permanent City Manager goes on. Interim manager Edward Augustus says he does not want the job permanently. Commonwealth Magazine asks if casino support is slipping.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved its own minimum wage bill.  Markedly different from the Senate’s, it sets up a confrontation on the issue that could force proponents to go to the ballot instead this Fall.

Westfield’s newly minted State Rep John Velis and three other Democrats elected last Tuesday are expected to be sworn in April 16 per The Boston Globe. State Senator-elect Jason Lewis has yet to have his swearing in scheduled.

City Slickers:

Police Commissioner-designate John Barbieri has a contract signed with the city and he will present his plans to residents tonight at a meeting at Van Sickle school. The Republican interviewed Barbieri at a meeting of the paper’s Editorial Board. Ron Chimelis (who we thought was a sports columnist) also chimes in.

Meanwhile, Mayor Domenic Sarno and club owners are trading insults and complaints after a shooting near a club downtown. Dog bites man.

Twitter Chatter:

Twenty years ago, a rising tide of ethnic violence led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans in one of the world’s worst failures to stop a genocide. As innocents were slaughtered the world did not do nearly enough to stop the bloodshed until it was too late. No one knows how much  earlier intervention could have stopped the death, but that kind of humanitarian intervention is fittingly also one of the things Ambassador Power subscribes to. Today we award Samantha power the Tweet prize for her tweets marking 20years since the massacre. Rightly, she notes in the tweet we have highlighted that the remembrance is not just about recounting the horror, but summoning the determination to move forward. Power is leading a US delegation to Kigali, Rwanda to mark the anniversary.