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Manic Monday Markup 10/31/16…

The Feds:

We begin today in the United States, under our especially fitting subheading, where the Presidential election has gone haywire after Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey sent a cryptic letter to Congress about Hillary Clinton’s emails. He said new emails that might be related to the inquiry into Clinton’s email server were found on a laptop seized from former congressman Anthony Weiner. Weiner, Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband, is under investigation for sexting a 15 year-old.

The controversy, which had been essentially settled in July after Comey’s unorthodox press conference announcing no charges would be brought—or rather that he was so recommending to the prosecutors who make those calls.

Aided by the media, Republicans tactically miscast Comey’s letter—while short on details, he did not say the FBI had evidence of anything. Shock and disbelief gave way to an aggressive pushback from Clinton and her campaign.

Early GOP Spin^

Leaks quickly followed and many sources have suggested, altneratively, that none of the missives were to or from Clinton and that they may duplicates of those Abedin already surrendered to the bureau. The FBI only obtained a warrant for the emails Sunday after discovering them much earlier this month amid a broader feud within the bureau about the Clinton investigations. The DOJ pledges to work quickly. If most of the emails are duplicates, that information may be released this week.

For his part, Comey has been raked over the coals for releasing the letter in the first place. Even avid fans of real estate tycoon and provocateur Donald Trump have criticized the decision as unfair to Clinton. Former Attorney General Eric Holderreleased an Op-Ed criticizing the decision as did former Democratic and Republican Justice officials. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, while displaying public support for Comey generally, was lukewarm about his actions.

Friday’s letter was also unusual. Attorney General Loretta Lynch conveyed a reminder to Comey that such announcements so close an election are against Justice Department rules. Critics, while generally respectful of Comey and his service, suggested his dribbling out of information was in response to Republican criticism over his decision to not recommend charges for the former Secretary of State. CNBC reports that also earlier this month, Comey kept the FBI out of an announcing that US believed Russia was interfering with the election, ostensibly to benefit Trump. The report says Comey feared tainting the election against Trump so close to Election Day.

So far polling does not seem to have changed after the revelation. Minimal numbers of Democratic voters say the decision will change their vote and the Clinton camp is projecting confidence. The candidate herself ordered full-steam ahead on existing plans. It has said the FBI’s slipshod behavior had galvanized supporters in the closing days of the election. The onset of early voting may also blunt any damage.

…And the World:

An evangelical bishop is elected mayor of Rio de Janeiro. Marcello Crivella emerged victorious amid a nationwide collapse of the Workers Party, which often does well in cities. Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and removal as president and a broad corruption probe have hobbled the party that ruled Brazil for over a decade.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the presidential election has been “downright embarassing” and have affected his credibility abroad.

Women win 30 seats in Iceland’s parliamentary elections. The Pirate party also made strong gains, but does not appear headed into government.

In British politics and business, the government won’t publish the assurances it made to Nissan to keep the car maker in Britain. Meanwhile, Bank of England head Mark Carney gets an extra year at the helm of Britain’s answer the US’s Federal Reserve. He will step down in 2019. Prime Minister Theresa May offered her confidence in Carney, who has become a boogieman for the British right-wing.

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s for attempting to smother the state’s new public broadcaster before it goes on air. As Herzog noted, Netanyahu is also Communications Minister, who oversees broadacsters in Israel. Bibi says he’s just trying to save shekels.

Pope Francis offers a show of unity  and hope for reconciliation with Lutheranism on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s historic split from the Roman Catholic Church.

* EN: Let us be moved by God’s watchful gaze; the one thing He desires is for us to abide like living branches in his Son Jesus * PT: Deixemo-nos comover pelo olhar de Deus; tudo o que Ele deseja é que permaneçamos como ramos vivos unidos ao seu Filho Jesus. * ES: Dejémonos conmover por la mirada de Dios; lo único que desea es que permanezcamos unidos a su Hijo Jesús como sarmientos vivos. * ITA: Lasciamoci commuovere dallo sguardo di Dio; l’unica cosa che egli desidera è che rimaniamo uniti come tralci vivi a suo Figlio Gesù. * FR: Laissons-nous émouvoir par le regard de Dieu ; la seule chose qu’il souhaite, c’est que nous demeurions comme des sarments vivants unis à son Fils Jésus. * DE: Lassen wir uns durch den Blick Gottes innerlich anrühren – das Einzige, was er sich wünscht, ist, dass wir als lebendige Weinreben mit seinem Sohn Jesus verbunden bleiben. #apostolicjourney , #Sweden

A photo posted by Pope Francis (@franciscus) on

After two years with the position vacant, Lebanon finally has a president. The country’s religious divisions make politicking a complex ballet, one the country had failed to execute for some time. With Michel Aoun in place, attention may now turn to issues both complex and mundane, like garbage collection.

The Feds (cont’d):

Donald Trump is trying to make the most of the new FBI regulations, but he seems to be a bit off the mark. Polls had shown some consolidation of wayward GOP support for Trump, but no breakaways. Meanwhile, in Colorado, the GOP nominee cast doubt on the mail-in ballot syste. One Trumpist Iowan, alarmed by such doubts, was caught doing voting twice.

Today Trump trained his cannons at Comey implicitly saying he must either find Clinton to be a criminal or he is crooked. Also not helping: Trump won’t pay his pollster.

Clinton goes on offense, invoking the Daisy ad.

The less certain aspect of the FBI’s news is the impact down ballot. Spotlight on two congressional races. The Washington Post looks at Florida Republican Congressman John Mica’s fight to hang on in a district that court redrew underneath him. His challenger is Stephanie Murphy (note photos in Power Post of Mass AG Maura Healey and Salem Congressman Seth Moulton). Meanwhile, in Orange County California, one-time Obama nemesis Darrell Issa tries to nuzzle POTUS, but Democratic opponent Doug Applegate is having none of that.

JUST IN: CNN has obtained audio of North Carolina Republican Richard Burr quipping about shooting Hillary Clinton. The Senator, who is in a tough reelection fight against State Rep Deborah Ross, expressed remorse. He echoed remarks of other Republicans promising to oppose any Clinton appointment to the Supreme Court, and, while condemning Trump’s behavior toward women, said the development and outrage baron aligned with his party’s ideology.

The Boston Globe‘s big report on political donations from the partners of a Boston law firm has already led to cascade of givebacks from candidates. It’s a complicated situation and not necessarily illegal, but worth a read.

The State of Things:

In the final stretch of the 1st Hampden & Hampshire Senate district race, the big names are coming out. President Barack Obama endorsed Democrat Eric Lesser, the incumbent. Yesterday, Gov. Charlie Baker was here for Republican James “Chip” Harrington.

The dream has died for Evan Falchuk…well not really. He failed to register the three percent of voters needed for his new United Independent Party to maintain its major party status. The UI’s will endure, but will not hold state-funded primaries as they did this year.

Toll plazas along the Massachusetts Turnpike are already being demolished after the state switched to open-road tolling handled through gantries spread out along the Pike.

Holyoke City Clerk Brenna McGee reports that 1155 people have already voted in the Paper City. Turnout for early voting turnout, which began last Monday, has been strong across the commonwealth. Though in small towns like Mount Washtington, voting early may be by appointment.

Unions want a new pro-charter school ad taken down alleging the funds that paid for it came from individuals that manage the state’s pension funds.

The Fourth Estatements:

Noted Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit, author of the poignant Zionist book My Promised Land, has resigned from the paper and an Israeli television station amid accusations of sexual harassment. Pointedly, Shavit, who has outspokenly criticized Trump, has taken responsibility for his actions. One of his accusers, Danielle Berrin who wrote about her encounter with Shavit in the context of Trump, accepted his apology,

Net neutrality warrior Al Franken takes on the AT&T-Time Warner merger. Also meet AT&T’s chief Randall Stephenson.

It is local journalism that is taking it in the throat, but  Masslive reports steady audience growth. Only and its sister site have more traffic among New England news sites.

Behind the Financial Times’s paywall: New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet defends his paper’s coverage of Trump. Sneak peek via Politico.

CNN has severed its ties with Donna Brazile after a hacked email that Wikileaks released more conclusively shows she passed along a debate question to the Clinton camp. Brazile, the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, had been on hiatus while she led the party in the wake of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation. CNN has been criticized for hiring supporters of campaigns like Brazile (Clinton) and Corey Lewandowski (Trump)>

Turkey arrests the editor of the last remaining opposition newspaper among other journalists.

It’s Working:

Indiana labor unites behind Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg in the hopes of stemming setbacks felt over the last few years.

The AFL-CIO says its efforts have drawn down union members’ support for Trump.

Southwest Airlines flight attendants ratify a new two-year labor pact. The airline’s pilots are voting on a four-year pact retroactive to 2013 now.

City Slickers:

Last week The Republican told the story of the cop who did resign amid the Bigda controversy. New England Public Radio asks US Rep. Richard Neal what he thinks about reconstituting a police commission in Springfield. He demurs…sorta.

Don’t forget to read our assessment of the politics amid the Bigda case. Short story: Mayor Domenic Sarno has perhaps the least leverage he has had since becoming mayor.

Condos are planned for the former Springfield Lincoln-Mercury/Mutual Ford dealership.

Sen. Lesser and State Rep. Jose Tosado endorse Question 5 in Springfield, which would enact the Community Preservation Act in the city.

Twitter Chatter:

In the tempest unleashed by James Comey’s letter, a lot of good tweets will come out. Politics are in flux meshing with media and legal whirlwinds. While the preponderance of leaks in wake of Comey’s letter is problematic, it also undermines a fair concern the media has had about the Obama administration. Today we award the tweet prize to New York Times reporter Alex Burns who observed that Obama’s crackdown on leaks has not exactly deterred the wave of FBI and Justice sources from talking to reporters about what was on Comey and other law enforcement officials’ minds. There are legitimate concerns about such leaks, as some have noted, but it is gratifying that the press was in fact wrong and the media remains robust and hungry to get the truth…for now.