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Manic Mondary Markup 12/15/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Australia where a standoff at a café in Sydney has ended with several dead. The gunman holding upwards of 30 people hostage was an Iranian refugee and self-proclaimed “sheik.” Muslim authorities in the Land Down Under say he is nobody of any authority. The “siege” as it has been called, has been held up as an example of the danger of lone wolf attacks perpetrated by disaffected Muslim youth, but also criticized as an exercise in how to give such terrorists exactly what they want: attention. On the bright side, Australians have put forward the #illridewithyou hasghtag to show solidarity with their fellow Muslim citizens and neighbors.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a convincing victory over the weekend after calling a snap election last month two years ahead of schedule, in part to confirm his mandate for “Abenomics.” However, it remains unclear what exactly Abe wants to do with his mandate, having so far eschewed further reforms of the economy, especially as Japan faces recession and a demographic crisis. Nor is it clear Abe has much of a mandate with turnout at the lowest level since World War II.

Negotiators in Lima, Peru have agreed to a framework ahead of major climate talks in Paris next year. While significant, they have been criticized as the absoluate bare minimum countries can do and will no arrest the temperature rises of 3.6 degrees, which would lead to potentially irreversible ecological damage. But The Guardian reports India and the US will announce climate action when President Obama visits the World’s Largest Democracy next month.

Haaretz has daily updates and a page on the Israeli election slated for next March, including Likud rebuking its own leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu will also be meeting with John Kerry about the Palestinian Authority’s latest bid at the UN. Apparently Israel has its own Daily Show and/or Real Time with Bill Maher because Hatnua Party leader and former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni went there. By implication, she called Bibi “impotent,” “trash” and a “zero.” Conservative lawmakers were incensed, proving not only American conservatives who have no sense of humor. Meanwhile, the Labor Party agreed to running with Hatnua in the election.

The leak at Sony has been fodder for news organizations (see Fourth Estatements), but it may also point to international intrigue. North Korea was not happy with Sony’s new movie about an attempted assassination of Kim Jong-un.

The Scottish Labour party has elected a new leader amid concerns the national Labour party could lose seats in Scotland it would need to take over Westminster in the upcoming May general election, among his enormous tasks.

The Feds:

Emperor Palpatine Former Vice-President Dick Cheney has become the loudest and most ironic voices staunchly defending enhanced interrogation techniques torture used on those in CIA custody. Other Republicans are also continuing to criticize the report. The New York Times also profiles CIA Director John Brennan who has defended the agency if with Obama’s reluctant blessing.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act after reaching a deal with federal authorities. Interesting detail. Hospitals in the Volunteer State will cover what the feds don’t.

James Hohmann at Politico writes about the executive directors of both the Republican and Democratic Governors’ Associations going into business together.

Asian Americans making fresh push to gain a foothold in Los Angeles’ City Council.

After reelecting the man who destroyed the state’s finances, Kansas’ budget problems grow more grim.

The Senate is expected, after a longer-than-necessary delay, to confirm Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General.

The State of Things:

Really it is hard to view the Elizabeth Warren presidential speculation as anything other than Beltway fantasies. It seems plausible if Hillary Clinton does not run, but once again reporters are talking up how Warren’s passionate speech over the weekend is something that should make Clinton worried. Alex Seitz-Wald at MSNBC gets it right about Warren: she is not running, but it serves her purpose to let people think it’s possible. For what it is worth, a Warren spokesman affirmed to The Boston Globe she intended to serve out her term. Sure, this is all not airtight, but it is hardly the tea leaves of a run the Beltway wants it to be. Make no mistake, though. Warren’s speech raised her standing in the party. That doesn’t mean Clinton is in trouble or Warren will run for president.

The Boston Globe tries to divine what Charlie Baker’s makeover from 2010 suggests about how will he govern. Meanwhile his predecessor’s plans are far from certain.

The Globe also looks at what is next for the Bay State’s only outgoing Congressman this year.

Holyoke is hoping to expedite the demolition of the Essex House after last week’s partial collapse. We noted the collateral political damage from the derelict building’s self-demolition.

Worcester debates the gap between its commercial and residential tax rates.

The Fourth Estatements:

Screenwriter Aaron Sorking came to the defense of Sony Pictures after the hacker leak exposed the studio’s dirty laundry. The New York Times also writes about Sony’s efforts to rally other studios behind its cause and its request that the media stop reporting on the contents. The Times’s Executive Editor Dean Baquet offers no firm declaration of the hacked eamils’ newsworthiness. The Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, while admitting these are not at the level of Snowden documents, they do concern appropriate subjects of interest to readers.

It’s Working:

The National Labor Relations Board struck a blow for workers in two instances last week. First they overturned the Register-Guard decisions that allowed employers to prohibit use of email accounts for protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act. The AFL-CIO challenged the ruling and won. Then the Board finalized rules to avoid delays in union elections, which employers often seek–and abuse.

City Slickers:

With its middles schools in the danger zone under the state’s education laws, a public-private partnership has been formed in Springfield to take over the schools.

The Springfield City Council will vote on bonding to expedite renovations at Union Station, but it is not altogether clear how critical the expedited parts of the project are to the station’s short-term success beyond the parking garage.

Springfield’s incoming reps attended a primer on business hosted by UMass.

Twitter Chatter:

Not surprisingly, some are criticizing the #illridewithyou hashtag as unnecessarily preemptive without any Islamaphobic incident. That, of course, misses the point. Preemption in this case is essential (especially since Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s anti-ISIS efforts have been accused of being a tad discriminatory). Bringing the world together is how you counteract both the hate of individuals like the man responsible in Sydney and incidents of discrimination that may or may not rise up after. Today we award the tweet prize to two individuals who underscore this well. The first goes to Rachael Jacobs of Australia whose initial comments on Facebook were credited with starting the hashtag. Modestly declining the press attention, she tweets that anybody who embraces the sentiment of the hashtage is inspiring.

Meanwhile Chris Cuomo, a CNN anchor, knocks down the criticism of the preemptive effort rightly noting, there is nothing wrong with taking a step out to stop hate with love. To quote Inception, “positive emotion trumps negative emotion.” Indeed.