Political news from WNPR

After meeting with his national security team, President Obama made a public statement that there is no specific, credible threat against the U.S. at this time, urging Americans to go about their Thanksgiving activities as usual.

Obama acknowledged that the deadly attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 struck a deep chord with many Americans.

"Given the shocking images, I know Americans have been asking each other whether it's safe here — whether it's safe to fly or gather," the president said, a fear he called understandable.

The Trouble With Changing Your Mind

5 hours ago
Jose Maria Cuellar flickr.com/photos/cuellar / Creative Commons

Changing our mind on an issue is something we're all free to do. But that doesn't mean it comes without a cost. What would it cost a lifelong liberal to suddenly turn conservative, or a career scientist to suddenly start denying climate change? As we typically associate with others of like mind, chances are the costs could be high.

John Phelan / Creative Commons

Connecticut's legislative leaders said they're considering a possible special legislative session during the second week of December to address Connecticut's budget shortfall.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said he wants an investigation into a federal agency after a Haitian national was accused of killing a Connecticut woman shortly after his release from prison.

Ruocaled / Creative Commons

Will state lawmakers have a budget deal in place to be thankful for on Thursday? Our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse will bring you updates from the state capitol where time ticks away for an agreement on how to fix the state budget. 

One of two crew members survived the shooting down of a Russian warplane by Turkey on Tuesday, Russian officials say, and was rescued by a Syrian commando unit in an operation that ended early Wednesday.

Bill de Blasio / Twitter @deBlasioNYC

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is siding with his son who wants Yale University to drop the name of a U.S. vice president who defended slavery from a residential hall.

Dominic Chavez / World Bank

In a 289 to 137 vote last Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would tighten the vetting process for refugees from Syria and Iraq. The measure passed despite a veto threat from President Barack Obama -- a threat Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan says "baffles" him.

Back9Network flickr.com/back9network / Creative Commons

The federal Securities and Exchange Commission wants to know more about the relationship between Hartford Treasurer Adam Cloud and the off-the-air, state-funded golf channel called the Back9Network. 

Mohamed Azakir / World Bank flickr.com/photos/worldbank / World Bank

Connecticut Representative Joe Courtney has been pressed to defend his vote last week with the Republican majority in the House to strengthen the vetting procedure for Syrian refugees entering the U.S.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards beat Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter in Saturday's election, marking a change in the political landscape in the conservative South.

Edwards will be the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, where Republicans dominate politically.

You could almost have predicted the outcome of the race based on the candidates' election night parties. Sen. David Vitter was set up at a hotel near the airport, while John Bel Edwards lodged in the historic Monteleone Hotel in the French Quarter.

State Senator Elaine Morgan (R-Hopkinton), who attracted national criticism for an email in which she condemned Muslims, released a statement Friday defending her concerns about admitting Syrian refugees into the US.

Some Americans have taken to Twitter and threatened to move to Canada if the U.S. welcomes Syrian refugees. Perhaps they haven't been paying attention to news north of the border.

Justin Trudeau's campaign pledge to resettle refugees in Canada helped sweep him into the prime minister's office last month. His new government is adamant it will go through with an ambitious plan to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of the year — just six weeks away.

shadyart87 / Creative Commons

Two members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation voted with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives Thursday to strengthen the vetting procedure for Syrian refugees entering the U.S.

The House of Representatives has easily passed a GOP-authored bill to restrict the admission of Iraqi and Syrian refugees to America by requiring extra security procedures.

The bill — called the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015, or the American SAFE Act of 2015 — would require the secretary of Homeland Security, the head of the FBI and the director of national intelligence to sign off on every individual refugee from Iraq and Syria, affirming he or she is not a threat.


Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy is calling for the U.S. to demand higher security from its European partners around the visa waiver program.

At every turn, this year's presidential campaign has proved conventional wisdom wrong. The aftermath of the Paris attacks might be another example.

As soon as the attacks were over, a chorus of (establishment) Republican voices predicted that the new focus on national security and terrorism would change the dynamic of the Republican race. This was the tipping point, they declared, that would finally usher out the outsiders leading the polls — Donald Trump and Ben Carson — in favor of more serious, experienced candidates.

Protesters in Minneapolis clashed with police Wednesday night, as demonstrations over the police shooting of a black man intensified.

Minnesota Public Radio reports:

"A gathering of hundreds of protesters at a north Minneapolis precinct grew tense Wednesday night, after police cleared the entrance of the station where some had camped since Sunday after Jamar Clark was shot by police.

Did Vladimir Putin just trick himself into solving Syria's war?

A leading U.S. diplomat contends the answer is yes. Russia, he says, has so badly mangled its intervention in Syria that it may have little choice but to favor settling the conflict.

The diplomat, Tony Blinken, tells me that's the only honorable way for Russia to get out.

Listen here:

China's President Xi Jinping has condemned the Islamic State for killing a Chinese man held hostage by the extremist group. But in keeping with China's long-standing policy of not intervening in distant conflicts, he did not specify what action, if any, China might take.

Gage Skidmore flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore / Creative Commons

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he expects to do "great" with Muslim voters. Trump told reporters before a rally in Worcester, Massachusetts that he's confident he'll win over Muslims in addition to Hispanic voters because he's talking about security issues. 

When the French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle reaches its position near Syria's coast, it will find what until recently might have seemed an unlikely ally: a Russian guided missile cruiser. A U.S. official says Russia is newly receptive to cooperation in Syria.

The Islamic State's claim of responsibility for a trio of major attacks, including the assault on Paris, has led to a rapid reassessment of the extremist group and its aspirations.

Until a couple of weeks ago, ISIS appeared focused on building its self-declared caliphate, or Islamic empire, in its core areas of Syria and Iraq. But it now says it was behind attacks in France, Egypt and Lebanon that killed nearly 400 people in a two-week span.

Basic questions — like the group's goals or whether it's getting stronger or weaker — are being examined anew.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Hartford Mayor-elect Luke Bronin is gearing up to take office in the early morning hours of January 1. He announced his transition team on Wednesday morning.

The Re-Emergence of Socialism in America

Nov 18, 2015
Andrew Walsh / Flickr Creative Commons

After decades of being dismissed as a radical movement, socialism in America is back in the spotlight. What's fueling the newfound attention? Some point to Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign, while others say it's an increasing public distaste for the economic inequality our capitalist system has lead to.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

A proposal by Democratic state legislators to suspend Connecticut’s public campaign financing system for the 2016 elections was criticized by election reform advocates this week. Republican legislative leaders, too, expressed their skepticism that it would make a difference during an appearance on WNPR.


It was a day of contentious exchanges at Hartford Superior Court Tuesday over whether the State Elections Enforcement Commission can subpoena materials from Connecticut Democratic Party which it believes illegally paid for campaign materials last year. 

The Obama administration is working to stem the backlash against its plans to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States.

As of late Tuesday, 30 governors — 29 Republicans and 1 Democrat — had expressed opposition to bringing in refugees after European officials confirmed one of the terrorists who attacked Paris last week was a Syrian who had registered with E.U. officials while traveling through Greece seeking asylum.

Paul Morigi / Brookings Institute

In a special edition of our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we are joined by reporters from Vermont Public Radio to discuss their new radio documentary Becoming Bernie, which will air on WNPR. We discuss the rise of Bernie Sanders and how the Democratic party is responding to his popularity in the 2016 race for president.

Updated at 3:32 p.m. ET

Governors in 30 states across the country have now publicly asked for the resettlement of Syrian refugees to stop until security concerns can be addressed.

Those states include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.