WNPR

John Bender

John Bender is RIPR's Morning Edition Producer; he researches stories, interviews newsmakers and writes scripts for the morning news.  He also does additional reporting throughout the day for general reporting and special projects.

Tropical Storm Jose is just grazing New England, but it’s creating unsafe conditions for fishermen out at sea. Even as the storm moves north, many commercial fishermen remain in port, waiting for the storm to pass further away.

This week, Newport is hosting a first in the sailing world: the J Class world championships. J Class yachts are rare, and they’re huge. 

A legislative commission studying the use of solitary confinement in Rhode Island prisons reported back to lawmakers Thursday. The group also made recommendations to reform the practice, which critics say can create lasting mental health issues in the prison population.

Local immigration lawyers say questions remain about portions of the president’s temporary ban on travel from six majority-Muslim countries, reinstated this week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Gina Raimondo's position statement came as a welcome surprise to dozens of protestors gathered at the Statehouse Wednesday.

Residents and lawmakers had crammed into the Statehouse rotunda to protest federal plans to move rail infrastructure in parts of Charlestown and Westerly. Then, Charlestown Town Councilor Virginia Lee told the crowd the governor agreed with them.

The federal government is offering official approval for Rhode Island’s plan to toll commercial trucks on state bridges. The toll has generated opposition from the trucking industry and some businesses concerned about how the new tolls might impact the economy.

State Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti says the go-ahead from the federal government is the final step needed to move forward with the project.  The tolls will be installed in 13 locations, and 34 bridges so far are slated for repairs from the toll revenue.

  A judge in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island began hearings Wednesday in a lawsuit against the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, spurred by a local journalist.

Providence-based writer Phil Eil, says he’s fought for more than five years to obtain access to thousands of pages of public evidence from a pill-mill trial, about which he plans to write a book.

“I think it’s long overdue that the press and the public have access to the evidence, and I hope the judge will agree with that and say this has gone on long enough,” said Eil. 

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was in the Ocean State Wednesday. He toured the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and addressed students at the Naval War College in Newport.

Carter spoke in a large hall to naval officers, and some high school visitors. During a question and answer session, Carter discussed the difficulty of managing military obligations in Russia and the Middle East, while Asia rises in power.

Travel forecasters are predicting busy highways this Memorial Day weekend. AAA expects more than 38 million people to travel over the holiday, the highest volume in a decade.

State lawmakers and local supporters showed up Thursday for the opening of the Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters in Providence. Many of the state’s Democratic leadership, including Governor Gina Raimondo are backing the former Secretary of State.

Warwick resident Justine Lutzel-Caldwell voted for Clinton in 2008 and favors her positions on women’s health.

Weeks after students staged a sit-in over allegations of racism on campus, Providence College has detailed plans to address the students' concerns. In a letter, college officials outlined proposed changes to faculty training and the college curriculum.

In Rhode Island, Brown University has announced that it will use one-hundred million dollars to diversify its campus, to try to make the school more inclusive for students of color. This comes after weeks of protests over racial insensitivity on campuses across the country.

Brown University President Christina Paxson is out with a plan to address racial and class inequity on campus. 

The new PawSox leadership group is no longer ruling out McCoy Stadium as the permanent home of the triple-a baseball team. However, the group offered scant details on any new stadium deal during a media introduction to their new leaders in the club house at McCoy Stadium Monday.

PawSox chairman Larry Lucchino declined to discuss plans to either keep the team in Pawtucket or move to a new city.  He focused instead on introductions for new PawSox President, Dr. Charles Steinberg. He steps in following the unexpected death of former President Jim Skeffington.

The Volvo Ocean race is coming back to Newport in 2018. The international sailing event drew more than 100,000 people to the city by the sea this summer.

According to state officials, the final tally was nearly 130,000 spectators, who came for the races at Fort Adams State Park.

Newport was the only North American stop on the grueling international sailing race, which spans some 40-thousand nautical miles and takes nine months to complete.

At Brown University, a campus-wide survey shows one in four female undergraduates said they had experienced some type of unwanted sexual contact. Further, the survey found ten percent of female undergraduate students had experienced attempted rape. For female graduate students, that number was eight percent.

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