Political news from WNPR

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

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Lawmakers are gearing up for a special session later this month as leaders continue to discuss a new budget agreement. The whole process is plagued by uncertainty though. How much is the budget shortfall? What corporations will have a presence in the state? Our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse will have its own budget talk.

Also, a trial resumes concerning the use of campaign funds by the state Democratic party. And down in Bridgeport, Joe Ganim is no longer the "former mayor."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Pentagon has announced it will send additional Special Operations forces to Iraq and Syria to help defeat the so-called Islamic State. The news shouldn't be a surprise according to Connecticut's U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, but he said it is concerning.

Amid growing criticism, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has dismissed police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

After announcing that he was appointing a task force to look at police accountability, Rahm said that "public trust" in the city's police force has been "shaken" and "eroded" and so he had asked McCarthy to resign.

Seeking to calm growing criticism about his administration's handling of police misconduct cases, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has appointed a new "police accountability task force."

In a press release, the mayor's office said the task force "will review the system of accountability, training and oversight that is currently in place for Chicago's police officers."

Chris Christie was giving thanks this weekend for one of the biggest prizes in Granite State politics: the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

It's a notable get for the New Jersey governor, who has struggled to catch fire both nationally and in the early states. Christie had a good performance in this month's GOP debate despite dropping down to the undercard faceoff. He has gotten some momentum after that performance and has been playing up his national security experience in the aftermath of this month's deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

The Obama administration has announced some changes to the visa waiver program, which allows travelers from some 38 countries including France, Belgium and other European countries, to come to the U.S. without a visa.

The White House announced several steps, including attempting better tracking of past travel, fines for airlines that don't verify passport data, assisting other countries on the screening of refugees and with border security.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Joe Ganim is to be sworn in as mayor of Bridgeport this week. On the eve of the transition, the outgoing mayor made a re-appointment that drew a strong reaction from the Ganim camp.

strugglevideomedia / youtube.com

Opponents and supporters of plans to accept Syrian refugees into the United States held dueling but peaceful rallies in Hartford.

Saying his country will not apologize for downing a Russian warplane, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu struck a defiant note after meeting with his NATO allies.

The Associated Press reports that Davutoglu said his country was simply defending its airspace last week when two of its F-16s fired at a Russian Sukhoi SU-24.

Edit note: Since this story was first published, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty of taking nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks. We have updated the story to reflect this change.

Las Vegas has The Mob Museum. Washington, D.C., has the International Spy Museum. And if a concerned citizen has his way, there will be a Museum of Political Corruption in Albany, N.Y.

It has become de rigueur to write about the woes of Thanksgiving-table political arguments. If you are unlucky enough to actually experience these, you may have noticed that the fights at the Thanksgiving table have grown more heated in recent years. That would make sense — after all, we keep hearing that Capitol Hill is growing more polarized (and, relatedly, paralyzed).

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

Nov 25, 2015
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

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.

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