New England

With Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains behind him, Sen. Bernie Sanders officially kicked off his presidential campaign Tuesday afternoon at Waterfront Park in Burlington.

Two men are sliding nine pine coffins into a vault in the ground on Chestnut Street in downtown Portsmouth, N.H. The remains were disinterred in 2003, part of a long-forgotten burial ground for African slaves discovered during routine road work. Now, they are being reburied among 200 other long forgotten men and women as part of Portsmouth's new African Burying Ground Memorial Park.

The future of Vermont’s health insurance exchange depends on the Shumlin administration’s ability to meet a looming deadline. Still unanswered, though, is the question of how to proceed if the milestone goes unmet. Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and top lawmakers think the solution might be in Connecticut.

The problem of opiate addiction in Maine is one that state Rep. Barry Hobbins knows something about. "One of my family members has been struggling with this dreaded addiction of opiates for six years," he says.

So when pharmaceutical company Pfizer — which makes opioids that have abuse-deterrent properties — asked Hobbins to sponsor a bill that would require insurance companies to cover these more expensive drugs at the same level as other opioids, he agreed.

Sport may be dismissed as inconsequential child's play, but there is, in counterpoint, the ideal that sport is our best model for human fairness and equality — a Garden of Eden with competition. But, of course, there are snakes in this athletic garden. Rules will be broken.

To my mind there are, in ascending order, three kinds of transgressions. The first is the most simple: transgressions committed in the heat of the action, instinctively, because of frustration, failure or anger. There are referees to tend to that misconduct.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said his team will accept the punishment handed to it by the NFL in connection with the "Deflategate" scandal.

Days after a lengthy report found it was "more probable than not" that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady knew of rule-breaking, the NFL has issued its punishment: a four-game suspension for Brady and a $1 million fine for the Patriots.

Brady will sit out the first four games of the 2015 regular season without pay, the NFL says, citing "conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL."

Update, 8:17 p.m. ET

During a live interview at an Patriots-fan-filled event in Salem, Mass., New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady refused to comment on the NFL's report, saying he hadn't had time to digest it yet.

Brady did tell the audience that the controversy hadn't detracted from his enjoyment of the Patriots' Super Bowl win this past February, and that the team fairly earned "everything we got this year."

Original Post:

Two members of the New England Patriots' staff probably violated the NFL's playing rules by tampering with game balls, according to a lengthy review of the scandal that's come to be known as "Deflategate."

The report names two Patriots workers who had access to footballs before a pivotal game; it also states, "it is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The chairmen of the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots made overtures to the Hartford-area business community on Monday, taking questions on their plans for a third Connecticut casino. 

VPR News has learned from several sources that Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday.

Sanders will release a short statement on that day and then hold a major campaign kickoff in Vermont in several weeks.

Creative Commons

Several governors from New England visited Connecticut on Thursday to talk about regional energy infrastructure challenges. 

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Five of New England's governors met in Hartford on Thursday to speak about energy issues facing the region. At the top of the agenda was the price of electricity.

Courtesy of Tom Gray

The remains of a sailor killed at Pearl Harbor are coming home to New England.

Laura Hubers
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

When you think about plants, you probably picture individual trees or your favorite type of flower, but you probably don't think of them in a bigger way: as habitat.

The New England Council

New England can reclaim its title as a manufacturing hub by working together to nurture the development of the advanced manufacturing industry. That's the conclusion of a new report being released Wednesday by the nonpartisan New England Council

Tom Barnes / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Hike through any forest in Connecticut and you're bound to encounter a relic of the state's agricultural past: stone walls. Decades ago, the walls enclosed large tracts of open pasture and farmland, which was ideal habitat for animals like the New England cottontail rabbit.

But as farms were abandoned and that open space turned into mature forest, those rabbits disappeared. Now, federal efforts are underway to recreate some of that open space, and bring the New England cottontail back.

Ep Huj / Flickr

Massachusetts doctors have seen an increase in the number of pregnant women addicted to opiates. Dr. Rachana Singh from Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield has said the number of babies withdrawing from opioids in their NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) has tripled since 2012. 

Backers of a renewable energy bill making its way through the Vermont Legislature say a draft ruling from regulators in Connecticut effectively endorses the Vermont legislation.

Around Christmastime, Vermont resident Erin Wagg had a problem. Her family had received a card from a friend in Italy — someone from an old exchange program — and it was written in Italian. "I don't read Italian at all," says Wagg. So she posted about it on a network called the Front Porch Forum, asking if anyone could read and translate the card for her. From her town of Richmond, Vt. (population 4,000), she received more than 20 offers of help.

One way to test your mettle in winter is to take one of those quick penguin plunges in icy water. But some stoic swimmers actually carve pools out of frozen lakes and race each other.

The sport of winter swimming is popular abroad, especially in Russia, Scandinavia and China. But last weekend, a newly formed organization to promote winter swimming in the United States held its first national competition on the Vermont-Quebec border.

A Bennington, Vermont manufacturing plant is closing, putting 62 people out of work.

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 Vermont Health Department says for the first time it has found the radioactive isotope Strontium-90 in ground water at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon.

Update at 8:13 p.m. ET. Lots Of Snow:

As it continues to move up the Northeast Coast, a potent snowstorm is already a record breaker. Take these two highlights, for example:

-- NBC Chicago reports that Feb. 1, 2015, is now the snowiest first day of February in history. And with 19.3 inches of snow recorded, this is the fifth-largest snow event in city history.

A day after a monstrous winter storm spun its way across the Northeast, life is slowly getting back to normal.

Some residents of Massachusetts are digging out of almost 3 feet of snow. The AP reports that a travel ban has been lifted and Boston's highways are filling up with traffic.

Still, the AP adds:

Kate Ter Haar / Creative Commons

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night? Not exactly. The U.S. Postal Service said it won't be delivering mail to a large swath of the northeast. 

First the good news: Forecasts of a historic winter storm for the country's most populous city have failed to materialize.

Forecasters had called for up to 30 inches of snow in New York City, but as a new day dawned, meteorologists had downgraded the system to a winter storm from a blizzard and tempered their forecasts, saying when it was all done, the city would have about 12 inches of snow on the ground.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for southern Connecticut beginning midday Monday, and blizzard watches remain in effect for eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island ahead of a storm with heavy snow and high winds.

Winter storm warnings are in effect for northwestern Massachusetts, where winds will be lower.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said Sunday it is preparing for a "potentially historic and destructive winter storm."

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

Parts of the U.S. northeast are bracing for as much as 2 feet of snow as a blizzard-like system bears down on the region.

The strong system could leave significant snowfall on the ground from Philadelphia to Maine beginning late tonight and continuing through Tuesday.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents of the city to expect unusually icy conditions and to "look out for your fellow New Yorkers ... check on them." Long Island could get 24 inches of snow, forecasters said.

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