News

Ryan King / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy revealed a 30-year $100 billion transportation plan Wednesday, preluding his annual budget presentation to the General Assembly later today, according to The Hartford Courant

Malloy will release a $10 billion buildup for the next five years, the Courant reported, to get several transportation projects started. These projects, however, are focused primarily on design rather than construction. 

Jmabel / Wikimedia Commons

The Historic District of Litchfield Connecticut is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a lawsuit regarding the rejection of plans for a synagogue in 2007. Chabad Lubavitch of Northwest Connecticut cited the Litchfield Historic District Commission for religious discrimination over the denial of modifications to their building. 

The commission and the Borough of Litchfield asked the Supreme Court on Monday to hear the case. The move comes after the lawsuit was at first dismissed by a federal judge, then reinstated by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan in September.

Gloda/iStock / Thinkstock

The state legislature's higher education committee is exploring the possibility of adopting an outcome-based funding model for Connecticut's public colleges and universities.

Thirty states currently tie funding of higher education to performance indicators: things like graduation rates, course completion, and retention of minority and low income students. The goals and amount of funding vary widely from state to state.

North Dakota, for example, ties nearly all of its base funding for higher education to number of credit-hours completed by students, while Illinois ties less than one percent of its funding on institutional outcomes.

PublicDomainPictures / Creative Commons

Parents in the town of Fairfield are locking horns with public school teachers over the best way to keep kids with food allergies safe. Part of that controversy is over who is responsible for reading food labels.

If you have a kid in public school, chances are you might have gotten a note from your teacher about what foods are okay to bring to class, like fresh fruit, and what foods aren't, like peanuts or cheese. But what about packaged or store-bought foods, where sometimes the food labels aren't so clear?

City of Hartford

The ceremonial groundbreaking for a new $56 million minor league baseball stadium in Hartford happened Tuesday. The park for the New Britain Rock Cats has to be completed in just over a year.

The effort build a minor league baseball stadium began last June, when Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announced a plan to build the stadium in the city. He called it a done deal, though it was anything but.

The next series of months saw the fundamentals of the proposal change several times over. What began as a stadium project is now a $350 million development to remake an entire neighborhood.

Bortoletto family

Ten million uninsured people nationwide have enrolled in private health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. But it doesn't cover everyone living in the U.S., like undocumented residents. This includes the Bortoletto sisters who live in Connecticut.  

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

A century ago, in April 1915, an event began that’s come to be known as the Armenian Genocide. One scholar believes that massacre should remind us of the long-term implications of events playing out in our own time. 

It’s thought that up to 1.5 million people may have been massacred or expelled from their homes in the Ottoman Empire during the worst atrocity of World War I. For almost a century, Turkey has denied the enormity of the event, but that may be changing. 

Thomas de Waal works for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Recently, he returned to Turkey with a group American Armenians -- descendants of those who fled the genocide in the early 20th century. 

Think you have a knack for names?

The folks behind minor league baseball in the city of Hartford want you to try your hand at naming an entire team. The only catch: the name has to include the word "Hartford."

Denise Chan / Creative Commons

White House officials are worried that proposed legislation from House Republicans would transfer money from poor school districts to wealthy ones. But this is already happening across the country after changes made under the current administration.

The funding program called Title I was created to give federal money to the poorest schools in the country, yet, for at least the last two years, wealthy schools have been getting Title I cash.

Mixed Bag for Gov. Malloy's Budget Proposal

Feb 17, 2015
Sage Ross / Creative Commons

In preparation for his two year state budget proposal, Governor Dannel Malloy has warned Connecticut residents the budget is "tough."

During an interview with WFSB-TV's "Face the State" broadcast on Sunday, Malloy said he will be proposing to reduce the state sales tax from 6.35 percent to 6.2 percent on November 1, then dropping it to 5.95 percent by 2017.

New England Public Radio/Naomi Volain

A Springfield public school teacher is among ten finalists for a lucrative international award often called the Nobel Prize for teachers.

Naomi Volain has taught environmental science at Central High School for 17 years; she said she uses hands-on teaching methods, and often holds classes outside.

The Hartford

Liam McGee, former CEO of The Hartford has died. McGee, who was 60, passed on Friday after a fight with cancer.

Though McGee resigned last July as CEO of the insurer because of his health, he served as executive chairman up until early January of this year.

Ted Murphy / Creative Commons

A study co-authored by Yale University finds a link between problem gambling and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Over the years, it's been difficult for psychiatrists to classify problem gambling. It was once considered a impulse control disorder.

In the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, problem gambling is classified as an addiction.

A new study by Yale University, St. Louis University, and the VA finds an overlap between problem gambling and obsessive compulsive behaviors. 

Governor Dannel Malloy / Twitter

An executive at a Connecticut vaccine manufacturer said it is difficult to consider expanding in the state because the governor's administration won't commit to buying the vaccine for state workers.

Dan Adams, executive chairman of Meriden-based Protein Sciences, which makes the Flublok vaccine, said he was frustrated that Governor Dannel Malloy received a flu shot made by an overseas company. A Malloy spokesman said the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District administered the vaccine to the governor last Friday, using what was available.

Hazel Motes / Creative Commons

State environmental officials are setting out their legislative priorities for 2015, and there's at least one unexpected issue that's being addressed: jet packs.

The legislative proposals are wide-ranging, covering everything from stricter labeling requirements on farm products made in Connecticut to a program requiring that tire companies assume more responsibility for disposing of their products after consumer use.

Then there are water jet packs. "It's basically a James Bond-style jet pack that uses the thrust of a personal watercraft to send the rider 20 or 30 feet in the air," said Rob Klee, head of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Office of Gov. Malloy

Connecticut passed several laws in recent years to address the growing problem of addiction to opioids and the rising number of overdose deaths. Governor Dannel Malloy will unveil a package of proposals this legislative session to further prevent abuse of painkillers and overdoses.

The state has a Good Samaritan law that encourages people to call 911 if they are with someone overdosing. Doctors can also write a prescription for anyone to obtain Narcan, a drug that reverses opiate overdoses. 

Malloy's proposals will include allowing pharmacists to prescribe Narcan after being trained and certified through the state Department of Consumer Protection.

Aundrea Murray / WNPR

America is growing older, and so is its population of HIV-positive adults. This year, for the first time ever, half of Americans living with HIV are 50 years old and older. For many of them, like Michael Hawkins of New Britain, Connecticut, life presents a unique set of challenges, including increased social isolation. I visited Hawkins recently to learn how he's been coping with HIV. 

Coney Island and Bushnell Park's Carousel Artistry

Feb 13, 2015
Reginald Marsh Wooden Horses, 1936 Tempera,Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

The Wadsworth Atheneum's "Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008" exhibits a multitude of objects -- paintings, statues, films, music, drawings, photographs, comic strips -- all of which are inspired by Coney Island, an American landmark which has captivated the mind of the public consciousness for over a century. 

One of the highlights of the exhibit are the collection of antique carousel horses which have been preserved from the park's golden days at the the turn of the century. 

http://www.ecuavisa.com/

Netflix announced this week that it has begun offering a special package of films and television series to Cuban viewers. With very few homes on the island connected to the Web, limited bandwidth, and costs for the streaming service beyond most families' budgets, big challenges remain.  

But the announcement is seen as another step in the continuing thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Rob.Wall, creative commons

If you’re a poor, black, and disabled student, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be suspended, expelled, or arrested, especially if you live in an urban area.

A new study by Connecticut Voices for Children found that while student arrests and expulsions have declined across the state, there are still high numbers of poor students, minorities, and students with disabilities being arrested or expelled.

What's most alarming, the study found, is that poor kids were arrested nearly 23 times more often than their wealthy peers. 

Red Grooms, "Weegee 1940," 1998–99, acrylic on paper, Private Collection. Image Courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York; © 2013 Red Grooms/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum has inaugurated its newly renovated exhibition space with an ambitious project. The exhibit, "Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008," examines why this iconic seaside park has inspired so many artists through the years.

The exhibit is huge -- 140 objects -- including paintings, drawings, photographs, film clips, posters, cartoons, even artifacts from old Coney Island attractions.

The exhibit's curator, as well as the Wadsworth Atheneum's chief curator, Robin Jaffee Frank, grew up going to Coney Island. She believes that for artists in this exhibition, Coney Island was more than just a strip of sand in Brooklyn.

"Rather it's about a singular place in the American imagination," said Jaffee Frank. "What I have found looking at the works we've put together is that many of these artists seem to see in Coney Island-a prism of the American experience."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine have resulted in a cease-fire which is set to begin Sunday. But there's still a long ways to go before a lasting peace can exist between the two countries.

Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman doesn't think the cease-fire will hold. He told CNN that the U.S. should send weapons to Ukrainian fighters to help counter Russian-backed troops and President Vladamir Putin.

"I think if we give them the weapons to defend themselves, it actually raises the prospects that the cease-fire will hold because it creates a little more balance on the ground and creates a bit of a disincentive for Putin and the separatists to keep moving through eastern Ukraine," said Lieberman.

LDProd/iStock / Thinkstock

Anthem announced that customers will be able to sign up for credit monitoring services starting Friday.

Responding to a letter sent Tuesday by Connecticut’s attorney general, the health insurer said anyone who had a health plan with them in the last ten years will be allowed to access the protection. 

Olivia Drake / Wesleyan University

You may not think there are a lot of stellar wonders visible from Middletown, but astronomer and professor Wesleyan Univeresity Meredith Hughes disagrees.

"It's actually pretty amazing that in the middle of a city, we can see a ton of beautiful things in the night sky," Hughes said. Her observatory, located on a hill at Wesleyan, is now opening its telescope to the public every Wednesday night.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A panel created by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy in the wake of the Newtown school shooting has issued a set of draft recommendations aimed at avoiding another tragedy like Sandy Hook.

The 256-page report from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission was posted online Thursday.

The report offers recommendations in the areas of school design and operations, mental health, and law enforcement.

wlscience / Creative Commons

The final results of an audit into Darien Public Schools' special education program has uncovered an assortment of problems that go beyond Darien and imply a nationwide system riddled with deceptive practices. 

Darien got over $200,000 in state and federal money for special education services that never existed. The audit found that one of the wealthiest towns in the wealthiest nation had horrendous record-keeping. There were no time logs to see if consultants were actually doing their jobs. There were poor directions written into students' educations plans. There was no proof that kids with disabilities were actually being educated.

Sean Marshall / Creative Commons

Connecticut's commissioner of transportation, James Redeker has cautioned legislators against attempting to replace Metro-North Railroad as the operator of the New Haven line.

Some Senate Republicans say it's time for the state to have a choice on who runs the commuter railroad.

I am old enough to know better, but I still make a point of watching the Grammy Awards every year, in the quaint belief that I should be keeping my finger on the pulse of American music.

After last Sunday’s headache-inducing show, I feel like Groucho Marx in “A Day at the Races,” as he placed his thumb on the wrist of an ailing Harpo: “Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped.”

White House

President Barack Obama is asking Congress to formally authorize war against Islamic State militants.

The request is limited to three years, with no restriction as to where U.S. forces could pursue the threat.

Obama's proposal bans "enduring offensive combat operations," an ambiguous term intended as compromise between lawmakers who want authority for ground troops and those who don't. In a statement delivered Wednesday, Obama said his request "does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground forces to Iraq or Syria." He said local forces are in the best position to fight a ground war.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy is one of those opponents to ground forces.

"We’ve got to be smart about this fight," he said. "A smart strategy recognizes that combat troops, in the end, are just going to become bulletin board material for terrorists to bring even more forces to the fight in the Middle East, and across the globe."

Westfield State University

No trial date has been set yet in the federal lawsuit involving ex-Westfield State University president Evan Dobelle. Dobelle is the former president of Trinity College in Hartford.

In the 2013 federal complaint, filed three weeks before he resigned, Dobelle alleges that his constitutional and contractual rights were violated when he was placed on administrative leave and forced to resign from his post as president of WSU.

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