government

The Connecticut Mirror

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has selected former Chicago schools CEO and 2002 gubernatorial candidate Paul Vallas as his running mate in 2014.

The Chicago Democrat announced Vallas as his pick in an email Friday.

Quinn says he's known Vallas for 30 years and "he's never been shy about fighting for education, reform and opportunities for working people."

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It’s a municipal election year, and voters throughout the state hit the polls to vote for their town officials and usually they hit those polls in pretty small numbers. Our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse discusses the results from around the state plus a casino referendum in Massachusetts. How'd you vote? And how busy were the polls?

Chion Wolf

Superior Court Judge Julia Auriemma ruled to reinstate Middletown Realistic Balance Party candidates Stephen Devoto and Steven Smith to the ballot on Monday, October 21, two weeks before Election Day. Devoto and Smith, candidates for Middletown's Planning and Zoning Commission, had been removed from the ballot by Middletown Town Clerk Linda Bettencourt in September for failing to comply with an election law unfamiliar to several municipalities around Connecticut.

The U.S. Navy's first "supercarrier" is being sold for just 1 cent to a ship breaker.

The USS Forrestal, launched in 1954 and decommissioned in 1993, is the first of three conventional (non-nuclear) carriers due to be scrapped in the coming years. The Forrestal is best known for a devastating fire in 1967 that engulfed the ship's flight deck, killing 134 sailors and wounding 161 others.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut is preparing to undertake a searching review of state regulations. Governor Dannel Malloy sees it as a way to kickstart economic growth.

Saying "American workers and families will have a champion in Janet Yellen," President Obama officially nominated her to chair the Federal Reserve, once Ben Bernanke completes his term in January.

Yellen "is the kind of person who makes everybody around her better," Obama said, adding that Yellen is "extremely well qualified" and "renowned for her good judgement."

Obama made the announcement at the White House on Wednesday, flanked by Yellen and outgoing Fed chief Ben Bernanke. If confirmed, Yellen will be the first woman to head the American central bank.

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Wednesdays are usually reserved for our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse. Just like last week, the big story is the federal government shutdown. From outside Washington, it doesn't look like Congress and President Obama is any closer to reaching a deal. We talk with political observers about the shutdown and what needs to be done (or will be done) to resolve this.

Who do you think needs to budge to reach a deal? House Republicans? Or President Obama and Senate Democrats?

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Connecticut’s federal public defender, Terence Ward, said money to fund his office may run out early next week if the government shutdown continues. "The shutdown, it’s a nightmare," he said. During the first ten business days of the shutdown, his office of 17 employees is operating on funds money from court fees.

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The state of Connecticut's Department of Revenue Services is offering a amnesty program for individuals and businesses that owe back taxes. Those who take advantage of the program will get a 75 percent reduction in accrued interest, and all other penalties waived. But there are a few catches.

The work that Shaun O'Connell does is required by law, yet now he's sidelined by the government shutdown.

O'Connell reviews disability claims for the Social Security Administration in New York, checking that no one's gaming the system, while ensuring people with legitimate medical problems are compensated properly.

Billions of dollars are at stake with this kind of work, yet O'Connell is considered a nonessential employee for purposes of the partial government shutdown.

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The effects of the federal shutdown have begun to ripple across Connecticut. In Bridgeport, 13 Head Start sites have been closed, leaving needy families scrambling.

From Acadia in Maine to Zion in Utah to the North Cascades in Washington, America's 401 national park areas have gates blocking entrance roads.

The last remaining campers and hotel guests in the parks must leave Thursday, and park rangers will patrol to keep others out.

The national parks "belong to the American people, and the American people should have the right to come in," says National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. "But the only way I can protect these places during this period is to shut them down."

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The federal government shutdown does not (directly) affect our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse. But it sure does give us something to talk about tomorrow. We'll be joined by Wheelhouse regulars to talk about this shutdown -- or, as Rep. David Schweikert called it on NPR's Morning Edition, a "government slowdown."

When a government shutdown loomed in 2011, the Twitterverse had some fun with #govtshutdownpickuplines.

They're back!

Here are some of the better, slightly naughty ones we're seeing (we also also checked #shutdownpicklines):

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy on Friday defended state borrowing that will help finance the opening of Bass Pro Shops at Steelpointe Harbor in Bridgeport. The state will invest more than $30 million to bring the sporting goods retailer to anchor the long-delayed commercial development.

Update At 3:50 p.m. EDT.

President Obama on Friday praised the Senate for passing a spending bill to keep the federal government operating and called House GOP efforts to tie approving the measure to defunding the Affordable Care Act "political grandstanding."

He said that despite Republican hopes that Obamacare will be repealed, "That's not going to happen," accusing Republicans of threatening to "blow up the entire economy."

No one has the right to precipitate such a crisis, he said, "just because there are a couple of laws you don't like."

Is the National Security Agency collecting cellphone tracking information on millions of Americans?

After a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, we still can't be sure. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has been trying to get intelligence officials to confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of such a program.

Remember, records of where your cellphone is located give a pretty good idea of where the owners are. Wyden asked NSA Director Keith Alexander about that at Thursday's hearing, and Alexander said, no — not under "the current program."

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Connecticut is launching a new online health exchange, Access Health CT, where residents can shop for and purchase health insurance. The unemployed or uninsured may be able to receive health insurance under the new federal law. To see how it affects you, and whether you can take advantage of the health exchange, try the helpful tools below.

After a dramatic 21-plus hours in which Republican Sen. Ted Cruz stood to express his opposition to President Obama's health care programs, the Senate early Wednesday afternoon voted 100-0 to move ahead and take up legislation that would avert a government shutdown next Tuesday.

As expected, the move by the Democratic-led Senate sets up what promises to be another showdown with the Republican-controlled House.

US Department of Justice

People who lost money in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme after investing in feeder funds could get a share in more than $2 billion recovered by the government. So far, feeder fund investors have been shut out of compensation.

Well, it's almost Oct. 1, the day of a threatened government shutdown and the day state health insurance exchanges are scheduled to begin operations.

Those are the online marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act where people can compare health plans and sign up for coverage.

Would closing down the government delay the opening of the health exchanges?

There's a showdown underway in Congress.

The Republican-controlled House has voted to keep the government running only if the Affordable Care Act is defunded, and the Democratic-controlled Senate isn't likely to go along with that plan. If the two sides can't resolve their differences by Oct. 1, the U.S. government will shut down.

We asked you what you wanted to know about the potential government shutdown, and journalists from NPR's Washington Desk tracked down the answers:

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Whether it's the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Connecticut, the head of a nasty-looking anvil cloud, or the head of a horse you're looking to avoid: today's Wheelhouse Digest has you covered.

First in a series about small businesses in America.

Small businesses are celebrated and exalted as the hard-working, most deserving members of the political economy. They get tax breaks, and they're touted as the engines of job creation.

But a basic question: What is a small business? It turns out there is no one definition.

Classifications Of Small

Scientists and government representatives are meeting in Stockholm this week to produce the latest high-level review of climate change. It's thousands of pages of material, and if it's done right, it should harbor very few surprises.

That's because it's supposed to compile what scientists know — and what they don't — about climate change. And that's left some scientists to wonder whether these intensive reviews are still the best way to go.

The National Security Agency won't say exactly when it will fully rev up its newest and biggest data farm in the Salt Lake City suburb of Bluffdale, Utah. There will be no "grand opening" or celebratory barbecue outside the sprawling facility, which is five times the size of the Ikea down the road.

But, according to NSA spokeswoman Vanee' Vines, "We turn each machine on as it is installed, and the facility is ready for that installation to begin."

Secretary of State John Kerry plans to meet his Iranian counterpart this week for the highest-level face-to-face between Washington and Tehran in six years.

The meeting with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and representatives of five other world powers — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — would come as newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the United Nations in New York. The talks would center on Iran's nuclear program.

The Republican-controlled House has voted to keep the government funded but its "continuing resolution" comes with a poison pill to defund the Affordable Care Act that Democrats have vowed is dead on arrival in the Senate.

Ana Radelat / The Connecticut Mirror

Congress is heading into a major fight over food stamps. The battle highlights sharp ideological differences over a program that helps to feed about 220,000 people in Connecticut.

Conservative House Republicans, especially members of the Tea Party, say the food stamp program has become bloated and discourages people from finding jobs. They propose cutting $40 billion over the next decade from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for food stamps.

If you are trying to buy a home, you just got good news: The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it is not going to try to drive up long-term interest rates just yet.

Stock investors are happy for you. They like cheap mortgages too because a robust housing market creates jobs. To celebrate, they bought more shares, sending the Dow Jones industrial average up 147.21 to an all-time high of 15,676.94.

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