Politics

Rich and Poor
4:48 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

President Obama Outlines "Opportunity Agenda" in Connecticut Speech

"No young person should be priced out of an education," President Obama said at CCSU.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

During his speech at Central Connecticut State University today, President Obama touted his "opportunity agenda," a four-point plan to bridge the gap between rich and poor Americans. Most of the President's speech focused on raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, the cornerstone of his agenda.

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Minimum Wage
4:27 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

President Obama: "It's Time to Give America a Raise"

President Barack Obama speaking at CCSU.
Credit 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."

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Barack Obama
2:12 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

President Obama Visits Connecticut, in Tweets

President Barack Obama speaking at CCSU.
Credit whitehouse.gov

President Barack Obama visited Connecticut on Wednesday to urge an increase in the federal minimum wage. He arrived at Bradley International Airport via Air Force One, accompanied by a Connecticut delegation, and drove down I-91 with a motorcade.

Below is a collection tweets from around the state as the president arrived, and then came to New Britain with great anticipation to deliver his speech. 

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The Colin McEnroe Show
11:30 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Raising the Minimum Wage

Raising the minimum wage will put more money on the plates of those who need it most
Credit Tax Credits / Creative Commons

Minimum wage in Connecticut is higher than the federal minimum, $8.70 an hour instead of $7.25. In fact, the federal minimum is so ridiculously low that not many people are earning it. Maybe as few as 1.5 million, according to one study. 

So, what happens if it goes up to $10.10 an hour here, or less likely, nationally. Some minimum wage workers will tell you that is still ridiculously low, $15 an hour is more like it. And, there are movements to help fast food workers bargain collectively for that kind of raise.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Wed March 5, 2014

The Wheelhouse Awaits a Presidential Visit

President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Hartford in 2013.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

President Barack Obama visits Connecticut on Wednesday, and Where We Live host John Dankosky is in Washington! Colin McEnroe is guest-hosting a conversation on the presidential push for a minimum wage increase, and the new Quinnipiac University poll on Connecticut's gubernatorial race.

Why do you think Obama is visiting Connecticut, when the state already has a minimum wage higher than the national rate? Have you already made up your mind about who you're supporting for governor this year?

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U.S. Economy
7:46 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Obama's Budget: Magic Wand Or Club?

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on his 2015 budget plan Tuesday at Powell Elementary School in Washington.
Pool Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 11:02 am

Think of the budget plan released Tuesday by President Obama as a magic wand. If he could wave it and make every line come true, how would the U.S. economy look?

Like this:

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Ukraine Crisis
2:47 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Ukraine: From Breadbasket To Basket Case

Ukrainians line up to get money from a bank machine in the western city of Lviv on Feb. 20. The country's political crisis has also created economic turmoil. The international community is expected to pump billions of dollars into Ukraine's struggling economy.
Yuriy Dyachyshyn AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine was known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union for its fertile fields of wheat. Now it's just a basket case. The outgoing finance minister said the country needed $35 billion to stave off bankruptcy over the next couple years.

Some analysts say that figure may be on the high side. Still, such admissions usually send potential donors dashing for the exits. Yet one thing Ukraine has in abundance these days, in addition to political turmoil, is a long line of financial suitors.

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Unfunded Liabilities
12:15 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Connecticut Wrestles With "Financial Tapeworm"

Credit Simon Cunningham / Creative Commons

Warren Buffett has added his voice to the growing chorus of concern over public pension obligations. In his annual letter to shareholders, the legendary investing guru calls underfunded public pension plans a "gigantic financial tapeworm."

Buffett said he anticipates lots of bad news in the coming decade about public pensions, and he stresses the need for prompt remedial action where problems exist.

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Minimum Wage
10:12 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Majority Supports Minimum Wage Hike, According to Q Poll

Credit Creative Commons

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that a majority of Connecticut residents want to see a raise in the minimum wage. The poll comes as the City of New London voted to raise the minimum wage for its own workers to $10.10 an hour, the governor's statewide target for 2017.

The Q Poll shows that 71 percent of Connecticut residents support raising the minimum wage, while 25 percent oppose the change. 

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Foley Leads GOP, Ties Malloy
7:50 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Q Poll Shows Dead Heat in Race for Connecticut Governor

Tom Foley, left, and Dannel Malloy.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy has consistently dodged questions about whether he'll run for re-election in 2014. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, if he does run, he'll have a race on his hands.

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Ethics
3:10 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Auditors: No State Law Violation By Merrill's Office

Secretary of State Denise Merrill.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut's Democratic and Republican auditors said Secretary of the State Denise Merrill's office did not violate any state laws by emailing a monthly newsletter highlighting activities from her office. 

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Ukraine Crisis
3:05 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

U.S., EU Threaten Russia With Sanctions Over Ukraine

President Obama answers a question regarding the ongoing situation in the Ukraine, during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 8:28 pm

(We updated this post at 8:28 p.m. ET.)

The United States and the European Union are threatening Moscow with sanctions over Russia's move to dispatch troops into Ukrainian territory.

During short remarks at the Oval Office, President Obama said the U.S. was examining a wide array of steps that include putting "economic and diplomatic" pressure on Russia.

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Ukraine Crisis
12:35 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Russia Denies Issuing Ultimatum Or Warning Ukraine Of 'Storm'

Armed men in military uniform, believed to be Russian soldiers, were outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in Bakhchisaray, on the Crimean Peninsula, on Monday.
Maxim Shipenkov EPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 4:21 pm

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: "Total Nonsense," Russian Official Reportedly Says:

Any claims that the Russian military has warned Ukraine to surrender in Crimea or face an assault on Tuesday are "total nonsense," a Russian Defense Ministry official says, according to The Voice of Russia.

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Massachusetts Casinos
9:15 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Public Hearing Scheduled On MGM Springfield Casino

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 10:26 am

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will be in western Massachusetts on Monday for a public hearing on MGM’s casino project in Springfield.

   The hearing that will take place at the West Springfield Middle School is one of two that will be held in the region as the gaming commission moves closer to awarding a license to develop and operate a resort casino. MGM is the only applicant in western Massachusetts.  The hearing will afford casino opponents, like Ted Steger, a chance to make a case against MGM’s project.

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Ukraine
8:08 am
Sun March 2, 2014

Kerry Will Travel To Kiev Amid Escalating Crisis

Ukrainian military personnel stand guard in the Crimean port city of Feodosia on Sunday. Ukraine is mobilizing for war, calling up reserve troops.
Thomas Peter Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 8:12 pm

This post was updated at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who has described Moscow's military intervention in the Crimea an "incredible act of aggression," will travel to Ukraine's capital on Tuesday to meet with the country's embattled government.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement late Sunday that Kerry "will meet with senior representatives of Ukraine's new government, leaders of the Rada [Ukraine's parliament], and members of the civil society."

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Ukraine
8:42 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Russia's Parliament Approves Putin's Call For Troops In Ukraine

Young people look at pro-Russian armed men blocking access to the Ukrainian frontier guard base in Balaklava, a small city not far from Sevastopol, on Saturday.
Viktor Drachev AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 6:32 pm

This post was updated at 4:50 p.m. ET.

Russia's parliament has unanimously approved a request by President Vladimir Putin to authorize the intervention of Moscow's forces in Ukraine until "the normalization of the political situation" there. In response, Ukraine put its own forces on alert and warned that a Russian invasion would spark war between the two countries.

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Ambassadors
8:32 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Chinese Paper Calls Outgoing U.S. Envoy 'Yellow-Skinned, White-Hearted Banana Man'

The Chinese media may not like him, but Gary Locke, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to China, was praised by ordinary Chinese.
Kin Cheung AP

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 12:05 pm

Gary Locke may have won over ordinary Chinese with his conduct in the country, but not everyone was impressed with the first Chinese-American to serve as the U.S. envoy to China.

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WAMC News
9:38 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Harness Racetrack Gets Nod For First Massachusetts Casino

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 12:21 pm

A harness racing track has been chosen by Massachusetts gambling regulators as the site of the state’s first casino.  If all goes according to schedule, the casino that will have up to 1,250 slot machines, but no table games, will open just over a year from now.

       The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, in the most significant decision of its two years in existence, voted 3-2 on Thursday to offer a license to Penn National Gaming to operate a slot machine parlor at the Plainridge harness racetrack.  The track is in Plainville on the Rhode Island border.

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White House
5:39 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Obama Warns Russia Against Using Force In Ukraine

President Obama spoke about the Ukraine crisis Friday afternoon, saying, "The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine."
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 10:46 pm

Saying that the United States is "deeply concerned" by reports that Russia is taking military action in Ukraine, President Obama urged Russia not to intervene in the destabilized country, where tensions have reached new highs this week.

Obama said that he had spoken to Russia's President Putin in recent days, to foster cooperation in coping with the situation.

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Wake of Newtown
9:42 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Hears From Law Enforcement

Scott Jackson, commission chair and mayor of Hamden.
Credit CT-N

A state panel reviewing the Newtown school shooting heard from law enforcement professionals on Friday, including Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, about incident management. 

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WAMC News
6:43 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Approves State's First Casino License

An artist's rendering of the Plainridge Park Casino, a slots machine parlor in Plainville, MA. Penn National Gaming plans to open the casino in Spring 2015. It can have up to 1,250 slot machines, but no table games.

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 2:45 pm

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has voted to award the first casino gambling license in the state.

   The gaming commission voted 3 to 2 Thursday to award a license to Penn National Gaming to operate a slot machine parlor at a harness race track in Plainville on the Rhode Island border. Penn beat out two competitors for the lone slot license allowed by state law. Commissioner Bruce Stebbins said the vote is a milestone.

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White House
1:18 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Pentagon Cuts Promise Political Pain

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel briefs reporters at the Pentagon on Monday. Hagel and President Obama will need to fight through a wall of resistance to their proposed defense budget cuts, say former members of a defense base closing commission.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 2:17 pm

Cutting defense spending in Washington is about as popular as proposing Social Security cuts. In other words, not very.

Which explains why, following Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's announcement Monday that the Obama administration's new budget would propose shrinking the Army, closing bases and ditching weapons systems, the responses from Capitol Hill lawmakers have been some version of "over my dead body."

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Transportation
12:45 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Metro-North Executives Say Efforts to Improve Are Underway

MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast before the state's Transportation Committee.
Credit CT-N

Two Metro-North Railroad executives said on Thursday that the rail line has slowed down its trains, installed new technology, and changed internal management, all in an effort to make commuter rail service better.

MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast and new Metro-North president Joseph Giulietti met with members of the state legislature's transportation committee to talk about reliability and safety with state lawmakers. 

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Diplomacy 101

Should American politicians have the power to appoint diplomats?
Credit 123ArtistImages/iStock / Thinkstock

Whenever we hear that a new U.S. ambassador has been nominated, it’s not unreasonable for us to assume that the nominee has been to his or her appointed country. But, as we learned from President Obama’s most recent ambassadorial appointments -- in America, at least -- that's not always the case. 

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Ukraine
7:10 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: New Government Takes Shape As Crimea Simmers

Flags fly outside the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol on Thursday during a rally by pro-Russian protesters. Gunmen seized government buildings in the city.
David Mdzinarishvili Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 1:58 pm

  • On the NPR Newscast: Peter Kenyon reports from Kiev
We're adding updates throughout this post as the day continues.

Tensions continue to rise in Ukraine, where months of public protests led last week to the downfall of President Viktor Yanukovych's government. His opponents are now installing pro-Western ministers to replace the pro-Russian leaders who worked for Yanukovych. The interim government is expected to be in charge at least until new elections can be held, perhaps in late May.

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Legislature
1:32 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Senate President Don Williams Retiring This Year

Senate President Don Williams at WNPR on December 28, 2010.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Ten years after being elected President Pro Tempore of the Connecticut State Senate, Don Williams announced he will not seek re-election this fall. The Brooklyn Democrat has served in the state senate since 1993.

Williams is the longest-serving president of Connecticut's Senate chamber and took the job during the political shuffle following Governor John Rowland's resignation.

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Special Election
10:28 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Holder-Winfield Wins State Senate Special Election

Gary Holder-Winfield thanked supporters at the The Greek Olive in New Haven alongside his wife, Natalie Holder-Winfield, and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, far left.
Credit Thomas MacMillan / The New Haven Independent

Democratic State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield of New Haven won a special state senate election on Tuesday. He succeeds veteran Toni Harp, who's now the mayor of New Haven.

The New Haven Independent reports that Holder-Winfield defeated Republican Steven Mullins with 76 percent of the vote. Holder-Winfield had the backing of top state Democrats for the 10th District seat, including state Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, and U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. 

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Wed February 26, 2014

The Wheelhouse Goes From D.C. to Hartford: Politics, Investigations, and Feuds

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy outside the White House on Monday.
Credit C-SPAN

For months, reporters have been asking Governor Dannel Malloy if he is running for re-election this year. On Sunday, he shared his future plans: He is not running for president in 2016.

Oh.

On our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we'll talk about Malloy's trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association meetings where he got into a well-publicized spat with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Closer to home, another investigation is taking place at the state capitol involving the use of a printer in Florida for campaign materials.

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DEEP Commissioner
8:15 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Malloy's DEEP Commissioner Appointee Clears a Hurdle

Robert Klee.
Credit Yale World Fellows

Governor Dannel P. Malloy's newly-appointed Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner is moving closer toward being confirmed.

The General Assembly's Legislative and Executive Nominations Committee on Tuesday voted unanimously, with one member absent, in favor of Robert Klee's appointment. 

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Pro-Life, Anti-Planned Parenthood
1:59 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Alveda King: Abortion Is a Civil Rights Issue

Dr. Alveda King

Dr. Alveda King has taken up the civil rights mantle of her uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But her driving issue is abortion, and she has a vehemently pro-life stance. She says her uncle would agree with her. 

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