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Manic Monday Markup 2/9/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in Israel, where a new poll has dimmed some of the edge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has show in recent polls. For the first time in a few weeks, Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog appears to have a shot at becoming PM. Meanwhile, the Associated Press checks in with Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, which has disowned some of its lofty rhetoric from the last election in exchange for some realpolitik. Critics say the unified Arab slate has not been doing so well in the campaigning department. And Bibi is attacking a rival to Sheldon Adelson.

But stateside, Israeli politics continues to percolate. The Prime Minister’s office is considering changing his speech before Congress, after being pilloried in Israel for prying open partisan fissures in the US. Democeratic-aligned independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who once lived on a kibbutz, is skipping the speech, for example. The Prime Minister may move his speech to AIPAC’s conference or request a closed session of congress (no cameras) with possibly meetings with senators on the sidelines. Depending on what Bibi does, Herzog may yet accept AIPAC’s invitation to speak as well.

The Thai junta that took power last year is trying drown the party of the former prime minister is paperwork.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott survived a challenge to his leadership of the Liberal-National Coalition, but few believe he is out of the woods. Meanwhile, the Labor party in the state of Queensland, having apparently secured 44 of 89 seats in the state parliament, will likely form a minority government with the help of an independent MP. Therefore, Annastacia Palaszczuk is expected be the next Queensland premier pending the outcome of the Ferny Grove seat, although she is moving to form a government in the interim. But the new LNP leader in Queensland hopes to thwart Palaszczuk’s attempts to form a government.

Nigeria postpones its upcoming election amid attack by Boko Haram, but others wonder if a fear the opposition might win is behind it.

Greek Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras promised to fulfill his campaign pledges in a speech to Parliament, but the new premier is also keen on reaching a deal with a EU.

European countries put off new sanctions against Russia while renewed efforts to find a way to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine are considered. German Chancellor Merkel met with President Barack Obama amid a split as to whether or not to arm Ukraine.

The Feds:

Same-sex marriages have begun in Alabama, although unevenly after the state’s chief justice, Roy Moore ordered local probate judges not follow a federal court’s ruling facilitating the nuptials. Moore is best remembered for similarly defying a federal court ruling to take down a 10 Commandments statue. Some see ghosts of George Wallace.

Mitch McConnell’s “regular order” in the Senate not all its cracked up to be.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand talks up paid family leave, which the US is the only industrialized country to lack.

The LA Times considers whether California’s top-two primary system has been working.

A key Democrat in Connecticut’s Senate says a bill to expand slot machines will not reach the floor of the Assembly’s upper chamber this year.

E.J. Dionne questions criticisms of Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast speech. The president, in his remarks, acknowledged Christian evil even as he condemned the Islamic State’s perversion of Muslims’ faith.

The State of Things:

More snow, mostly for Boston. The MBTA will shut all rail service at 7PM as it becomes unable to cope with the volume of snow yet again.

ICYMI: The Right is mad at Charlie Baker’s appointments. Meanwhile, his proposed cuts to Medicaid have some worried.

With a proposal to rejigger Holyoke government to head to voters, Council President Kevin Jourdain gets some of the first good press he’s received in weeks. Mayor Alex Morse and others in the city had long pursued many of these changes, however.

The Reminder’s Mike Dobbs pans the elimination of term limits for House Speaker.

MassDOT bought the rail line to Pittsfield that goes into Connecticut.

The Fourth Estatements:

As the Brian Williams saga continues at NBC, David Carr reflects on what Williams did wrong that led to this debacle. Brian Stelter at CNN has this report. Politico has a brief survey of NBC’s decline.

City Slickers:

No Council meeting again in Springfield.

The Springfield Redevelopment Authority is checking in with Opal Management on its plans for the former Court Square Hotel.

The State has named a board to oversee Springfield’s struggling middle schools.

Twitter Chatter:

There is a major problem with mass transit in America. While the weather Boston has endured is nearly unprecedented, it is not alone in having a creaky, old system. However, that is not necessarily an excuse. The shutdown of New York’s subway for a storm two weeks ago was widely panned as an unnecessary political stunt by the governor. But, the experience of the MBTA these past few storms, would, on a surface level appear to vindicate New York’s decision. Not so fast. Today we award the tweet prize to NYC transit blog Second Avenue Sagas, who rightly cautions against comparisons. Clearly, SAS is condemning the MBTA’s management of the system, but there is a broader point. Every system is different and just because one is failing does not mean that voluminous winter manual’s like New York are worthless. Perhaps, the MBTA’s problem is it lacks preparedness, whereas New York does not (all the more reason closing the NYC subway was unnecessary).