Politics

Political news from WNPR

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET.

Arne Duncan will step down as President Obama's education secretary in December, a White House official confirms to NPR.

Obama has selected Deputy Education Secretary John B. King Jr. to replace Duncan. King is a former New York State education commissioner. (President Obama is making a personnel announcement at 3:30 p.m. ET.)

There will be no voter referendum on the controversial changes proposed in the design of the MGM Springfield casino.

Springfield City Council President Mike Fenton, who had hoped to put a non-binding question on the municipal election ballot to gauge public opinion on MGM’s plan to eliminate the high-rise hotel from the casino project, withdrew his resolution.

" We ran out of time," said Fenton.  " I think it is unfortunate because I believe it deserved further review and consideration."

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

After WNPR reported that Hartford city Treasurer Adam Cloud used his work email to steer private investment to the Back9Network -- a business that had financial ties to his family -- Cloud has issued an apology.

For as long as New Hampshire has hosted the nation’s first presidential primary contest, it seems outsiders have been trying to dilute the state’s influence. The latest such attempt comes from the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus.

In an interview with the National Journal, Priebus says he’s been supportive of early nominating states like New Hampshire and Iowa in the past, but “I don’t think anyone should get too comfortable.”

Updated 8:30 p.m. ET

The bill to fund the government through Dec. 11 has been signed into law by President Obama. That beats the midnight deadline for keeping government agencies operating.

Earlier in the day, the Senate and the House passed the bill, which does not strip funding from Planned Parenthood.

Remember, some House Republicans had insisted on no payments to Planned Parenthood before they would vote to extend funding for the whole government.

NPR's Ailsa Chang reported on the bill's progress for our Newscast unit:

Uma Ramiah / WNPR

It turns out that state budget chief Ben Barnes was being dead serious when he said Connecticut was in "permanent fiscal crisis." Recent budget cuts have caused an uproar among hospitals, which get hit hard.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

More than $6.7 million is being earmarked for improvements to voting equipment across Connecticut.

Addressing reports that Pope Francis met privately with controversial Kentucky clerk Kim Davis during his U.S. visit, the Vatican acknowledges that the meeting took place. Davis, who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, says she met the pope at the Vatican Embassy in Washington.

"I cannot deny the meeting took place but I have no comments to add," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in Italian Wednesday.

U.S. Intelligence Dabbles in Forecasting the Future

Sep 29, 2015
CALI / Flickr

The participants are average citizens: school teachers, waiters, pharmacists, perhaps even your neighbor. By day they work and pay their bills, but when they return home, things change. These elite individuals go to work forecasting the outcomes of global events (sometimes years into the future), all at the direction of a little-known government intelligence agency called IARPA.

While this all sounds ripped from the latest Hollywood thriller, the truth is that this is happening right now in America. The "superforecasters," as they are known, are all volunteers. They are Americans like you and me who signed up to take part in a long-running experiment put together by U.S. intelligence officials and several university professors.

State of Connecticut

Of the 95 people being laid off from the Department of Labor because of funding cuts, only one is a manager. Officials from the Malloy administration faced questioning from lawmakers on the issue Monday. 

Devon Puglia / State of Connecticut

Gov. Dannel Malloy is on the offensive over CEO compensation at the state's hospitals, as criticism of his Medicaid cuts mounts.

Malloy spoke to reporters after a State Bond Commission meeting in Hartford on Tuesday. He was questioned about recent cuts he made of more than $63 million to state Medicaid reimbursement.

Back9Network flickr.com/back9network / Creative Commons

It was January 2012. The PGA golf association was hosting its merchandise show in Orlando, Florida – and the Back9Network was there.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said her office has no legal authority to grant exceptions to state law on petitioning minor party candidates. Her statement comes in response to efforts by the Job Creation Party Committee in Bridgeport to get a petitioning mayoral candidate, incumbent Mayor Bill Finch, onto the ballot for the upcoming November election.

Regional Reaction To Boehner's Resignation

Sep 28, 2015

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York

“Speaker John Boehner is a decent, principled conservative man who tried to do the right thing under almost impossible circumstances. He will be missed by Republicans and Democrats alike. Let us hope the Republican majority, which Speaker Boehner played a large role in creating, learns the right lesson from his resignation: to work with Democrats in a constructive way, rather than let a handful of extreme right-wingers dictate his party’s policy.”

Updated 9:20 p.m. ET

A senior Obama administration official described Monday's 90-minute meeting between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin as "productive," though it left several key issues unresolved.

The official said it was a "business-like back and forth. I think they worked through a lot of different issues. This was focused."

The first half of the meeting focused on Ukraine, while the second centered on Syria.

Connecticut House Democrats

A former Connecticut lawmaker who had been charged with election fraud for allegedly voting in a district where she did not live has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, but avoided prison time. 

(This post was last updated at 12:34 p.m. ET.)

The United States and China unveiled an ambitious plan to curb greenhouse gases today, including a nationwide cap-and-trade system beginning in 2017.

The announcement came after a White House summit meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Obama, as the two leaders begin to fill in the details of the far-reaching climate goals they agreed to last November.

(This post was last updated at 1:31 p.m. ET.)

House Speaker John Boehner will give up his seat in Congress at the end of October.

Boehner became the 53rd speaker of the House in 2011. The Ohio Republican's tenure has been marked by fierce confrontations with Democrats and sometimes with his own party. One of those fights led to a 16-day partial government shutdown in 2013.

Amid renewed conflict with more conservative members of his party, Boehner is once again facing the prospect of a government shutdown.

The pontiff told the United Nations General Assembly that it is critical that the international community act now to solve problems ranging from climate change to poverty and inequality of opportunity.

It was 60 years ago this week that an all-white jury acquitted two white men in the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy visiting Mississippi from Chicago.

The case shocked the nation — drawing attention to the brutal treatment of African-Americans in the Deep South, and the failure of the justice system. The men later confessed to killing Till for whistling at a white woman.

Carly Fiorina's presidential campaign took her to an exam room at a crisis pregnancy center in South Carolina Thursday. She crammed in, along with a pregnant woman, an OB-GYN and a crowd of reporters.

The visit came as the former Hewlett-Packard CEO has doubled down on her opposition to Planned Parenthood. Fiorina visited the Carolina Pregnancy Center in Spartanburg, a Christian-run organization that's becoming a popular campaign stop for presidential candidates opposed to abortion — at least the fifth GOP candidate to visit the center this year.

Pope Francis speaks his mind, and he did that again in his address to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday morning. But, in the vein of the best Jesuit teachers, Francis praised America, its rich political history and its ideals before delicately delivering some things its political leaders might, well, want to consider working on.

There were political messages that challenged the orthodoxy of both American political parties, but, in this 51-minute address, there were a lot more points of emphasis Democrats are happy about — and that put some pressure on Republicans.

President Obama is set to have a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

It's not clear exactly when the two leaders would meet, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the encounter would happen Monday when Putin is scheduled to deliver remarks at the U.N.

The White House confirmed the meeting would take place, but did not specify when.

According to a senior administration official:

Lee Werling / Flickr

With recent incidents like the ones in Ferguson and Baltimore, the issue of police training and leadership has come under the spotlight. Police commissioners and chiefs have either been fired or forced to resign due to some of these incidents. But police leadership may not be solely responsible for the practices and policies employed by cops on the street.

When Pope Francis addressed Congress on Thursday, he faced a body that is more Christian than the U.S. public as a whole — and also more Catholic.

First the numbers: Whereas nearly a quarter of the U.S. population says they have no religious affiliation, it's less than 1 percent in Congress.

Congress is "disproportionately religiously affiliated," said Alan Cooperman, director of religion research at the Pew Research Center. "That is, the share of members of Congress who say they have a religion is considerably higher than the share of all American adults."

The White House

Pope Francis is visiting Washington, D.C. this week. His first visit to the U.S. began formally on Wednesday with an arrival ceremony at the White House and a personal meeting with President Barack Obama. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

After losing to former mayor Joe Ganim last week, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch is going to court to try to appear on the November ballot as the Job Creation Party's mayoral candidate. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

At some point during this 2015 municipal election cycle, an argument could be made that Hartford rivaled Bridgeport for having the most bizarre mayoral race in Connecticut. Not anymore. Within the last seven days, incumbent Mayor Bill Finch not only lost his party's nomination to a former mayor who served seven years for corruption, but he also lost a spot on the November ballot.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has come out against the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. It's something she has spent months avoiding taking a position on — and her announcement coincided with the mass media event of Pope Francis' landing at Andrews Air Force Base.

Dan Schultz / WNPR

After serving as Hartford's mayor for five years, Pedro Segarra has dropped his bid for re-election following his defeat last week in the Democratic primary. He's now supporting his chief opponent.

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