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The Senate voted Thursday, 56-43, to approve the nomination of Loretta Lynch to serve as U.S. attorney general, ending a more than five month-long political impasse that had stalled her bid to become the first black woman to lead the Justice Department.

Lynch, 55, grew up in the shadow of the civil rights movement in North Carolina, where her family had preached for generations. Most recently, she prosecuted terrorists, mobsters and white collar criminals as the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, a district that covers 8 million people.

Saying that Google has abused its dominant position in the search market "by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product," the European Commission has sent a list of antitrust charges to the search giant. The European Union has also opened a new inquiry into the Android mobile system.

"I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service" and broken European law, says the EU commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager.

Updated at 6:21 p.m. ET

Lawmakers in Indiana and Arkansas have approved changes to their respective "religious freedom" measures designed to answer critics who charged the laws were meant to discriminate against gays and lesbians by allowing businesses to refuse them service.

The amendments were passed by Legislatures in Indianapolis and Little Rock after a day of wrestling over the details of amendments to the measures.

Starwood

Connecticut’s Starwood Hotels and Resorts is one of the companies condemning efforts by state legislatures to pass discriminatory legislation. 

Ryan King / WNPR

After years of debate, controversy, and construction, commuters can finally take CTfastrak (aka, the busway). It's less than a week old, but how's it going so far? This hour, our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse discusses the long road to opening day for this bus rapid transit system.

Also, Governor Dannel Malloy is making the rounds on national television shows after he signed the first executive order banning state-funded travel to Indiana after recently passed "religious freedom" legislation. The self-described "porcupine" governor is showing his quills to the country.

Despite criticism and protests, Arkansas legislators passed a religious freedom bill on Tuesday that is similar to the one passed by Indiana.

NBC News reports:

"Protesters gathered outside the governor's mansion in Little Rock on Tuesday morning. A final vote in the state House could come later in the day.

Gov. Malloy Office / Twitter

Governor Dannel Malloy signed an executive order Monday, banning all state sponsored travel to Indiana.

The Scramble Goes Clear

Mar 30, 2015
Aaron Stroot / Creative Commons

This weekend, HBO premiered a documentary about the Church of Scientology that has been generating headlines and controversy for months. What new information was learned from the film? This hour, we talk with someone who has written extensively about the church.

Also, a "religious freedoms" bill was signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Some businesses in the state are already receiving backlash from customers who won't do business in the state because of the law. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is expected to announce an executive order that will ban state-funded travel to Indiana. However, Connecticut is one of 19 other states with similar religious freedom laws on the books.

Update, 11:17 p.m. ET

The Indianapolis Star's editorial board is weighing in on the matter, rather loudly, in tomorrow's edition.

Update, 8:55 p.m. ET:

Two Democrat-dominated state governments, Connecticut and Washington state, joined the boycott against Indiana on Monday.

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A high school science club wants Connecticut lawmakers to name titanium as the state’s official element.

Sage Ross

    

Over 100 people testified before the legislature's Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

They spoke for and against a controversial bill to allow Connecticut doctors to prescribe medication to help terminally ill patients to end their lives.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A public hearing on Monday heard residents' input on a proposed bill that would clarify state laws on police officers' authority to make arrests outside of their jurisdiction. 

Speaking on WNPR's Where We Livepanelists broke down the origins of the bill and the issues surrounding it. 

dailyjoe / Creative Commons

Ask an environmental regulator what they do -- and they're likely to say this: making sure people don't break the law and don't pollute. But as a WNPR investigation found out, getting people to obey environmental rules can be tricky.

U.S. Congress

Former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords visited Connecticut to push for new gun control legislation designed to help domestic violence victims. 

The divide between Republicans and Democrats on pot politics is narrowing, President Barack Obama said in an interview Monday.

Julia Pistell / WNPR

A public hearing on Monday at Hartford Public High School heard residents' input on a bill that would clarify state laws on police officers' authority to make arrests outside of their own towns.

Two days after a federal regulator approved powdered alcohol, there's already an attempt to ban it.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said today he is introducing legislation in the Senate to make the production, sale and possession of Palcohol illegal.

hjl / Creative Commons

From the Bridgeport ballot shortage of 2010 to fiasco in Hartford this past November, Connecticut’s had its fair share of Election Day mishaps. Now, Secretary of State Denise Merrill is saying enough is enough. She’s introduced a controversial proposal to change the way the state runs its elections. 

This hour, the Secretary of State joins us along with some local and national experts to review that proposal. And later, WNPR’s Jeff Cohen gives us the latest on the Hartford City Council’s efforts to remove its registrars of voters.

City of Middletown / Middletowneyenews.blogspot.com

Zoning may not be the sexiest topic when it comes to headlines, but it sure has been in the news a lot lately, and it tells us a lot about what matters in our cities and towns.

This hour, we hear about some recent zoning stories making waves in different parts of the state, and we hear from you -- what has zoning law done for you lately?

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A group representing automotive dealers in Connecticut said it will continue to oppose Tesla selling its cars directly to customers, but if the legislature does decide to move forward with a bill allowing direct sales, car dealers are calling for a two year moratorium on it.

Around 4 million unauthorized immigrants are stuck in legal limbo more than two weeks after a federal judge in Texas suspended President Obama's move to temporarily protect them from deportation.

Sage Ross / Creative Commons

Last week’s Congressional wrangling over Homeland Security funding temporarily ended House debates in Washington on the GOP’s version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind.  

Republicans would take away much of the federal government’s authority over how states and local school districts spend federal education dollars. Some conservative critics say the bill doesn't go far enough in scaling back the federal role in education.

Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro spoke out last week against the GOP version of the bill.

Derek Gavey
Creative Commons

We incarcerate more people in this country than any other country in the world, a shift that started over 30 years ago with punitive sentencing policies that disproportionately targeted non-violent, mostly black, drug offenders caught in President Reagan's war on drugs.

Now, decades later, we're dealing with the fallout. The costs of incarceration are high. Sure, the economic cost is astronomical, about $52 billion dollars in 2011, but the human cost is staggering. 

The Federal Communications Commission approved the policy known as net neutrality by a 3-2 vote at its Thursday meeting, with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saying the policy will ensure "that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet."

The Open Internet Order helps to decide an essential question about how the Internet works, requiring service providers to be a neutral gateway instead of handling different types of Internet traffic in different ways — and at different costs.

"Today is a red-letter day," Wheeler said Thursday.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill wants to change the way Connecticut runs its elections, having one professional registrar oversee elections in each city and town. 

Current state law provides for two registrars in every town: one Republican, one Democrat. But Hartford's failure last year to get all of the polls open in time for voting enraged officials across the state. 

Alaska's voter initiative making marijuana legal takes effect Tuesday, placing Alaska alongside Colorado and Washington as the three U.S. states where recreational marijuana is legal. The new law means people over age 21 can consume small amounts of pot — if they can find it. It's still illegal to sell marijuana.

"You can still give people marijuana, but you can't buy it — or even barter for it," Alaska Public Media's Alexandra Gutierrez reports. "So, it's a pretty legally awkward spot. That probably won't stop people from acquiring it, though."

kidscounsel.org

Starting Wednesday, legal advocates will be driving around Hartford to connect with homeless youth. The Center for Children's Advocacy has purchased a van to create a mobile legal aid office.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A state representative has asked for a study of laws and policies governing vaccine exemption to determine if waivers intended for genuine religious objections are being used by parents personally opposed to vaccinations.

The Hartford Courant reports that State Representative Matt Ritter, House chairman of the Public Health Committee, wants a study of exemption laws and policies in states with the same waivers as Connecticut.

Eggstrordinary Eggs!

Feb 5, 2015
Shawn Zamechek / Creative Commons

Just about all of us eat eggs and when we say that, we mean chicken eggs. But, there are all kinds of other eggs you can eat. I cook occasionally with duck eggs and I've tasted goose and quail.

Today on the show, we talk to a farmer who ranches exotic eggs, including emu, and a chef who cooks with them.

bloomsberries/flickr creative commons

You probably think of yourself as a voter. Maybe, in one way or another, you think of yourself as a public servant. But do you think of yourself as a juror?

More than one in seven Americans will be called for jury duty this year. More than one in three of us will actually serve on a jury in our lifetimes.

The fact is that almost every one of us is, almost all of the time, a potential juror. We’re all just one dreaded summons in the mailbox away from deciding matters of life or liberty or property for another person.

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