HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!
...And the World:
Fresh protests broke out in Europe, not so over German-imposed austerity or the alleged break down of democracy, but against a more explicit break down of democracy in Hungary. The ruling party has used its 2/3 majority to make historic changes to the constitution inhibiting the independence of the press and the judiciary. An measure was recently passed to weaken the independence of the Central Bank.
In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron has said his country can only secure "some protection" from coming debt storm. While Cameron received plaudits at home for refusing to go along with a new Euro treaty, the poor state of the British economy continues to haunt him going into 2012. Cameron and his Conservative Party do not face reelection until 2015, unless his coalition partners the Liberal Democrats call it quits and force a no-confidence vote.
Iowa beckons! Romney looking good, but ever paranoid. Ron Paul looks to New Hampshire already, while Rick Santorum hopes Iowas love him as much as he is sure God hates homosexuals. Certainly his surge may prove the former. Should Santorum score a coup and come in first in Iowa, it could end the certainty Romney has enjoyed for sometime. While a Romney nomination remains the most likely, a longer primary battle is hardly something Romney wants to live through, especially with a touch fight in South Carolina expected.
Over the weekend, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which included some chilling detention provisions for non-Americans and Americans alike. However, President Obama issued a lengthy signing statement that could calm some short-term fears among civil libertarians. Essentially the president promised to maintain due process for prisoners consistent with the American legal tradition and history. The fear of course is not that Obama would actually indefinitely detain Americans (although many do fear just that), but rather with this law on the books a future president would do just that.
The State of Things:
Lots of swearing-in goings on this week. While Springfield swore in its City Council and mayor for another term, Boston also did the same. That city council only welcomed one new member, Frank Baker, who replaced Maureen Feeney, a one-time city council president. Baker's election was something of a surprise as his opponent was backed by the politically powerful mayor, Tom Menino.
Tomorrow, Agawam, Holyoke, Northampton, West Springfield will swear in their municipal governments. Chicopee also swore in its municipal government today.
WBUR in Boston documents how, despite a rosier economy in the Bay State than the nation, the income gap is widening here in Massachusetts. Not an altogether surprise considering the disparity between Boston and other regions in the state. However, even on a micro level, there is immense disparity between say Beacon Hill and Mattapan, both neighborhoods of Boston.
Springfield swore in its City Government today. Mayor Domenic Sarno began the city's first four year term for mayor. The Springfield City Council welcomed former councilor Bud Williams as an at-large member and Ken Shea as the new councilor from Ward six. At-large councilor Jimmy Ferrrera was sworn in as president and Ward 8 Councilor John Lysak was sworn in as Vice-President. Until our report is up, enjoy the Republican's fairly decent write-up.
We will leave you with this tweet from the Boston Globe's Politics Desk. In the story by Globe Reporter Matt Viser, linked therein, we find Mitt Romney engaged in a bit of irony. A Mormon rallying his troops in a dance hall? Hmmmm. It may be wrong to dislike Romney for being a Mormon, but it sure may lead to awkward headlines like this.