New England

New Hampshire is in the political spotlight years before its first-in-the-nation primary. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders visits this weekend, fueling speculation over a possible presidential run. That happens just days after former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown officially kicked off his campaign to become Senator of the Granite State.

Customers chat, read the paper and order sandwiches and espresso drinks at the counter of August First Bakery & Cafe in Burlington, Vt., but there's something different here. Where there used to be the familiar glow of laptop screens and the clicking of keyboards, now the devices are banned.

"I was here working on my laptop when I looked over and saw that there's a sign that says 'laptop-free,' " says Luna Colt, a senior at the University of Vermont.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new report on sustainable agriculture policy recommends that New England build its own regional food system with locally-grown products. Cris Coffin, New England director of the American Farmland Trust, a co-author of the study, said consumers in the region want to buy local. 

At Green's Sugarhouse in Poultney, Vt., visitors are gathered around four squeeze bottles of maple syrup, sampling the each under brand-new labels.

Vermont recently replaced its syrup grading system and now uses new names that make different syrups sound more like wine or expensive coffee.

Gone is the former system, with names like "Fancy," "Grade A Dark Amber" and "Grade B." The new labels give both the color — "Golden," "Amber" or "Dark" — and a flavor description: "Delicate," "Rich," "Robust" or "Strong."

If you didn't know any better (or you got confused about what year it was), you might think Vice President Biden was back on the campaign trail, kissing grandmothers, slapping guys on the back and borrowing a woman's phone to razz her son about a basketball game.

Biden returned Tuesday to the familiar campaign grounds of New Hampshire for the first time since October 2012. And he swears he made the trip not to stake out ground for a presidential run, but rather to check out how the statewith the nation's first presidential primary helps match the unemployed with jobs.

Daniel Oines / Creative Commons

An environmental advocacy group is challenging how energy policy is coordinated by New England's six governors. The Conservation Law Foundation has submitted public records requests to the region's six states.

Parades, social clubs and awards dinners are part of the routine of political campaigns everywhere. But if you're running to be Rhode Island's next governor, then there's one more stop you just can't miss.

Namely, the makeshift studios of Latino Public Radio, which is housed in a two-story, single-family home complete with a living room, dog and cat.

This local Spanish-language radio station based in Cranston, R.I., was co-founded almost a decade ago by Pablo Rodriguez.

Kevin Burkett / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. senators from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island are among 28 lawmakers who are preparing to hold the Senate floor all night long to urge congressional action on climate change.

Maureen O'Reilly beams with pride as she shows a visitor around Grafton, N.H., a town so small it doesn't even have a traffic light.

"Have a look at this," O'Reilly says, pointing to a postcard view of hilly rural New England. "How beautiful is this? It's really pretty in the fall, really, really pretty."

But behind the beautiful view, locals are dividing into opposing camps. About 50 Libertarians have moved into Grafton from around the country, splitting the town over their push to shrink its government.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

President Barack Obama came to Connecticut on Wednesday to push for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. He spoke to a friendly crowd at Central Connecticut State University this afternoon telling them, "It's time to give America a raise."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued its preliminary 2012 census of U.S. agriculture. Taken every five years, the census released Thursday indicates that there are more farms in New England.

The Northeast is in for another winter punch, with the National Weather Service calling for more than a foot of accumulation in many areas through early Sunday. The double-whammy comes even as many areas are still digging out from the last assault a mere two days ago.

Here's the good news: The weather's about to get better from the Mid-Atlantic up through New England.

"The big nor'easter which recently delivered heavy snow and ice to much of the southern and eastern states will bring heavy snow and coastal rain to New England before exiting the region by Friday afternoon," the National Weather Service says.

(We're adding details to this post as the day continues.)

The forecasters said it would be "crippling," "mind-boggling" and historic.

Well, this time around we can't complain about them getting it wrong.

Jupiterimages/Photos.com / Thinkstock

A climate scientist said that ski resorts in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island may not continue to be economically viable at the end of the century, as the region sees warmer winters.

Ask locals to describe the landscape in the tiny town of Stockholm, up near the tip of northern Maine, and more than one will call it a winter wonderland. Woods dot the landscape of rolling white fields, and snow-covered spruce trees nestle roadways.

Winter is a long season, and you've got to find something fun to make it through — like skiing.

While many of us may prefer to never again see temperatures drop below zero like they did earlier this week across the country, the deep freeze is putting warm smiles on the faces of many entomologists.

That's because it may have been cold enough in some areas to freeze and kill some damaging invasive species of insects, including the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

The deaths of at least 21 people are now being blamed on the winter storms and severe cold weather that have gripped much of the nation since late last week, The Associated Press reported early Wednesday.

At least half have been attributed to weather-related traffic accidents. The wire service adds that:

The blast of winter weather that dumped 2 feet of snow in some parts of the Northeast and New England was being blamed for at least 13 deaths as of Friday afternoon.

Updated 11:30 p.m. ET

The Associated Press reports: "The National Weather Service said 21 inches of snow had fallen in Boxford, just north of Boston, by Thursday night, while other parts of the state had 17 or 18 inches. It said parts of upstate New York had 18 inches."

The New York Times reports:

A massive post-Christmas package of precipitation is headed up the East Coast today. The storm is predicted to dump snow and ice from Boston on up and promises to vex residents already a week without power since the last winter storm.

The storm is carrying drenching rain through the Carolinas, Mid-Atlantic and southern New England during the day. The downpour will reduce visibility and make travel difficult, according to Accuweather.com.

Ice Storm Leaves Tens Of Thousands In The Dark

Dec 23, 2013

About 200,000 households are in the dark across the country, after a massive ice storm swept through Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard.

The Associated Press estimates that some 95,000 households are without power in New York, Vermont and Maine. MLive.com reports that 155,000 are without power in Michigan.

Winter won't officially begin for nearly two more weeks, but a winter storm continued to plow across much of the eastern part of the U.S. on Monday, bringing a dangerous mix of snow, ice and freezing rain. The storm knocked out power in some areas, fouled morning commutes and caused more than a thousand flights to be cancelled.

"Heavy snow fell Sunday in the Mid-Atlantic, with more than 8 inches reported in Philadelphia and a foot in nearby Newark, Del.," The Associated Press reports.

A former lab technician at a New Hampshire hospital, who prosecutors say infected at least 46 people in four states with hepatitis C, was sentenced to 39 years in prison on Monday.

As NPR reported back in July, David Kwiatkowski crisscrossed the country as a medical technician and landed at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital.

Rick Mastracchio / NASA

Last week, NASA astronaut and Waterbury native Rick Mastracchio blasted off into space and boarded the International Space Station. On Wednesday afternoon, he tweeted a photo of his home state from the ISS. He said the station's altitude is around 400 km, and the view is magnificent.

The news for moose is not good across the country's northern tier and in some parts of Canada. A recent and rapid decline of moose populations in many states may be linked to climate change, and to the parasites that benefit from it.

In Minnesota, moose populations have dropped from a high of more than 12,000 two decades ago to fewer than 3,000 now. Moose in some parts of Manitoba have declined by 50 percent and more.

Oregon Department of Transportation

The state of Connecticut is choosing two clean energy projects to help diversify its energy portfolio. Governor Dannel Malloy announced Friday that a solar installation planned in Sprague and Lisbon, and a wind energy farm in Maine, have signed long-term contracts with electricity distributors Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating. The contracts require regulatory approval, and together will provide 3.5 percent of Connecticut’s total energy load.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

After years of litigation and political jousting, Vermont is set to close its only nuclear power plant by the end of next year. As John Dillon of Vermont Public Radio reports, the plant's closure is a sign of how much the country's energy market is changing.

"Look for a house, barn, paddock, barking dogs and screeching peacocks."

Those were Heidi Feldman's instructions to me to find Down Island Farm in Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

She forgot to mention the ram, free roaming chickens and miniature horse. But I managed to find it anyway.

UConn Chesterfield Field School

When you think of early Jewish life in America, you usually think of immigrants who settled in urban centers like the Lower East Side of New York and in Baltimore. But archaeologists and historians are abuzz about recent findings at an excavation site in rural Connecticut.

Old Chesterfield is home to the remains of a 19th century Jewish farming community. There is a synagogue and, surprisingly, a ritual bath called a 'mikveh', which is rarely seen outside of cities.

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