Politics

Play Ball, And Politics
11:01 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Ballpark Debate Makes For Interesting State Senate Politics

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Rock Cats Owner Josh Solomon, and Council President Shawn Wooden announce the deal earlier this month.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

It may be baseball season.

It's also political primary season.

When it comes to the ballpark in Hartford, two opposing candidates for state senate have two very different views. 

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WAMC News
6:35 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Casino Repeal Question Will Be On Massachusetts Ballot

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 6:07 pm

Massachusetts’ highest court ruled today that a question asking voters to repeal the state’s casino law can go on the November ballot.  It sets up what promises to be a hard-fought campaign to decide the fate of the fledgling gambling industry in Massachusetts.

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Where To Build
4:17 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Locating Hartford's Proposed Ballpark

Two possible locations for a Rock Cats stadium in Hartford, as proposed by Pendulum.
City of Hartford

The city of Hartford has said it looked at other city locations for a new minor league baseball stadium -- including a location on Market Street, the sometimes-home of Cirque du Soleil.

Now, there are some documents to back that up. 

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Election 2014
4:09 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Lauretti Primary Petition Falls Short

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti.
Credit City of Shelton

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti has fallen short of submitting enough signatures to petition his way onto the Republican primary ballot for lieutenant governor. 

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WAMC News
10:27 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Springfield Mayor Renews Call For Moratorium On Refugee Resettlements

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 6:22 pm

The Mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts has renewed a call for an end to new refugee resettlements in Springfield.  Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal said the mayor has raised concerns that need to be addressed.

     Mayor Domenic Sarno first called for a moratorium on refugee resettlements in Springfield 10 months ago, but then backed off amid criticism from social service providers and advocates for immigrants. Sarno said his office recently learned that up to 70 refugees will be settled in Springfield in the coming year.

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Iraq
10:27 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Iraq's Most Influential Man Gets Pulled Back Into Politics

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose portrait is being held aloft by his Shiite supporters, has emerged in recent weeks to address the crisis facing Iraq.
Khalid Mohammed AP

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 12:10 pm

The most influential man in Iraq has been speaking up again after a period of relative quiet. It's not Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, or the head of the ISIS militants who are taking over much of the west and north of the country. It's an aged cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who can be compared to something like a pope for the country's majority Shiite Muslims.

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Bringing Baseball Downtown
5:04 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Stadium Deal Not Approved Yet, But Hartford Goes Out to Bid

A rendering of a proposed Rock Cats stadium in Hartford.
Credit City of Hartford

There's a lot of work yet to be done before a minor league baseball stadium in the state's capital city becomes a reality. For starters, it has to be approved by the Hartford city council, and that won't likely happen until later this summer.

Mayor Pedro Segarra, however, isn’t waiting around for the city council to act.

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Host's Diary
4:52 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

"Big Poppa" Boughton Seems Lukewarm About Foley

Mark Boughton, WNPR Photo

On Monday's show, we asked Danbury Mayor and old-school hiphop fan Mark Boughton why a voter should choose Tom Foley in the coming election. 

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Iraq
3:59 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Under Attack By ISIS, Iraq Agrees To Give U.S. Troops Immunity

Iraqi Kurdish forces take position near Taza Khormato as they fight jihadist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) positioned five kilometers away in Bashir on Monday.
Karim Sahib AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 3:44 pm

Remember last week when President Obama said he planned to send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq?

Well, the U.S. couldn't do it until the Iraqi government gave U.S. soldiers immunity from prosecution, through what's called a "diplomatic note." If those U.S. soldiers committed any crimes or had any legal troubles while advising Iraqis, the U.S. wanted to handle any prosecutions.

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Drone Use
12:56 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

U.S. Court Releases Obama Administration's 'Drone Memo'

In this image taken from video and released by SITE Intelligence Group, Anwar al-Awlaki speaks in a video message posted on radical websites in November, 2010.
SITE Intelligence Group AP

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 5:49 pm

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has released a long-secret memo in which the Obama administration lays out its legal reasoning for launching a drone attack on an American citizen overseas.

The legal justification concerns the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who the United States claims was tied to plots against the U.S. and played a key role in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

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Iraq
8:42 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Kerry Meets With Iraqi Prime Minister In Baghdad Amid ISIS Crisis

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (right) sits with Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday. Kerry was in Baghdad to push for Iraqi unity and stability, as Sunni militants swept through western towns abandoned by security forces.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 11:48 am

As Sunni militants make gains against Iraq's Shiite-led central government, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry paid a previously unannounced visit to Baghdad to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.

Maliki has been criticized for not being more inclusive of Sunnis and Kurds in his government — a change the Obama administration is calling for as part of any plans for military support.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Juvenile Sentencing; Women in Politics; Guitarist Yovianna García

Madeline Sachs.
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Each year, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center honors people whose writing advances social justice and inspires action. This year, the two winners of the Student Stowe Prize crafted essays on two issues that are very important in 2014.

Madeline Sachs, a high school student from Chicago, spoke on the inequity of juvenile sentencing standards, an issue that’s important as Connecticut lawmakers grapple with -- and still fail to implement -- a new law to come into compliance with a Supreme Court ruling on the issue. We hear some of her presentation and talk with a civil rights lawyer.

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Gay Marriage
7:20 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Married Same-Sex Couples To Receive More Federal Benefits

The Obama administration is set to announce expanded federal benefits for same-sex spouses, no matter what state they live in. On Thursday, demonstrators supporting same-sex marriage marched in front of the Supreme Court.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 5:31 pm

This post was updated at 5:20 p.m. ET.

The Family Medical Leave Act's benefits will be extend to married same-sex couples in all of the U.S., under a White House announced today. The change comes as the Obama administration alters federal policies to fit the Supreme Court's repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act last June.

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The Right Ballpark?
3:19 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Hartford Leaders Respond to Stadium Concerns

From left, Hartford treasurer Adam Cloud, State Rep. Brandon McGee, City Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings, City Council President Shawn Wooden, State Rep. Doug McCrory, and City Councilmen Kyle Anderson and Ken Kennedy.
Jeff Cohen WNPR

The debate over whether to relocate the minor league Rock Cats from New Britain to Hartford continues, and the Hartford's elected officials are now feeling some heat.

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Middle East
2:23 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Obama: U.S. to Send 300 "Military Advisers" to Iraq

President Barack Obama answers questions from reporters at the White House.
Credit Screenshot / White House

President Barack Obama said the U.S. is prepared to take targeted military actions in Iraq if they would help fight a growing threat from extremist militants. He also said the U.S. is ready to send as many as 300 military advisers to Iraq.

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Guns
12:59 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Data Shows Origins of Guns Recovered in 2012

Credit Petesimon2 / Wikimedia Commons

Data collected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and published by ProPublica provides a state-by-state look at the origin of guns recovered in 2012. 

The data shows that roughly one-third of the 155,000 firearms traced by U.S. officials that year came from sources located outside of the states in which they were found.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Thu June 19, 2014

The Second Amendment, Colt, and Tracing Guns

Emily Stanchfield Creative Commons

The Second Amendment is just 27 words long, but it has caused more debate than just about anything else in the Constitution. "It’s confusing and self-contradictory and we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what its clauses and commas mean," said Michael Waldman, author of the new book The Second Amendment: A Biography. We talk to him about the history and odd syntax of this Amendment and the debate over it that was renewed by the tragedy in Newtown.

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Middle East
7:20 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Iraq Battles Militants For Key Oil Refinery In Beiji

Iraqi army soldiers parade during a recruiting drive for men to volunteer for military service in Baghdad on Thursday. The country's leaders are urging Iraqis to help battle insurgents who have mounted an aggressive campaign in the north.
Karim Kadim AP

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 8:54 am

In an attempt to stop the juggernaut advance of the Sunni extremist group ISIS, Iraq's central government says the fight for the country's largest oil refinery is far from over. A military official says 40 militants have been killed.

"Iraqi government officials say an elite special operations force is holding off ISIS militants at the Beiji refinery 160 miles north of the capital," NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Erbil. "But local police report ISIS is tightening a grip on the facility."

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Election 2014
3:39 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Boughton Drops Out of Race for Governor

Mark Boughton during a visit to WNPR (file photo).
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced on Wednesday that he is dropping out of the race for Connecticut governor. Instead, he's supporting endorsed Republican candidate Tom Foley.

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World
12:09 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

What's Next For Iraq?

A woman and a girl wash at a camp in Kalak set up for those fleeing the fighting in northern Iraq. The escalating conflict has sent shock waves across the region and is further destabilizing the Middle East.
Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 9:40 pm

This post was updated at 9:40 p.m. ET to reflect the Obama administration's pressure on the Iraqi government.

A week ago, it would have been difficult to find anyone in the U.S. arguing for renewed U.S. military action in Iraq. Now there's a furious debate about what the U.S. should, or shouldn't, do in the latest Iraqi crisis.

The drama seemed to erupt out of nowhere as Islamist extremists captured Mosul, one of the country's largest and most important cities, and kept pushing south toward the capital Baghdad.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Wed June 18, 2014

The Wheelhouse: Endorsements and Debates in Our Two-Party System

Tom Foley addresses the CT AFL-CIO convention delegates.
Credit Mark Pazniokas / CT Mirror

This week, the endorsed Democratic and Republican candidates for governor addressed the AFL-CIO political convention. Not surprisingly, incumbent Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy won the union's endorsement. Notably absent from the convention was new third-party candidate Jonathan Pelto, who said he asked to address the candidates, but was ignored.

This hour, on our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we take a look at the role of labor unions in Connecticut politics.

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Iraq
7:42 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

What, Exactly, Are U.S. Interests In Iraq's Turmoil?

Iraqi Shiite tribesmen show their enthusiasm Tuesday for joining Iraqi security forces in the fight against Islamist militants who have taken over several northern Iraqi cities.
Haidar Hamdani AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 8:33 pm

As the U.S. steers warships closer to Iraq and beefs up its embassy's security in Baghdad with nearly 300 troops, a nagging question has resurfaced.

What compelling interests does Washington still have in a nation where all U.S. forces were pulled out 2 1/2 years ago?

Three days after Sunni militants calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria seized Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, President Obama paused on the White House lawn and issued a warning.

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WAMC News
7:40 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Springfield Budget For New Fiscal Year Approved Without Cuts

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno's recommended budget was approved by a unanimous vote of the Springfield City Council

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 12:34 pm

The city of Springfield, Massachusetts has a budget in place for the fiscal year that begins July 1st.  The city’s elected officials are in agreement that following years of recession-forced spending cuts, the budget for fiscal year 2015 moves the city forward.

The $581.9 million budget recommended by Mayor Domenic Sarno was adopted by the Springfield City Council Monday night by an 11-0 vote with two councilors absent.  The vote wrapped up the least contentious budget season in the state’s third- largest city in recent years.

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Hartford Or Bust?
10:09 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Springfield Says There Were No Talks With Rock Cats

Springfield City Hall in Massachusetts.
Credit Jeremy Goldstein / Creative Commons

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and his people have said that their negotiations to move the minor league New Britain Rock Cats to Hartford had to be confidential, because speaking about them publicly could have risked the whole thing and pushed the team out of state.

Several news reports -- some citing anonymous city officials and sources, others citing speculation and rumors -- suggested that Springfield, Massachusetts was a serious contender.  

Not so, says Springfield. 

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Iraq
8:03 am
Tue June 17, 2014

ISIS Rebels Drive Closer To Baghdad; U.S. Considers Options

Displaced Iraqi children line up with their mothers Tuesday to register at a temporary camp for people fleeing violence in northern Iraq.
Karim Sahib AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 11:35 am

The extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is tightening control of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, attacking the strategic city of Baqouba, less than 40 miles from Baghdad. The U.S. is sending up to 275 military personnel to bolster its embassy in the capital; President Obama is also reportedly weighing airstrikes.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Iraq War Veterans Reflect on New Crisis

U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter flies over Baghdad, Iraq on June 15, 2007.
Tech. Sgt. Rick Sforza The U.S. Army

Throughout the U.S. occupation of Iraq, there was concern about what would happen to the country when combat forces left. Over the last year, militant extremists have slowly taken over the country and now President Barack Obama is weighing his options. "We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces," Obama said on Friday.

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Gun Control
9:08 am
Sun June 15, 2014

Gun Control Activists March Across The Brooklyn Bridge Demanding Action

Demonstrators raise posters as they march across the Brooklyn Bridge to call for tougher gun control laws on Saturday in New York.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 1:56 pm

Hundreds of activists marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, demanding reforms to the country's gun policies.

The march was organized by two groups — Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety — after a series of news-making mass shootings.

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Middle East
12:50 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Obama Rules Out Troops In Iraq But Says U.S. Is Weighing Other Options

President Obama ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq, saying any U.S. action must be accompanied by Iraqi political action.
Kevin Lamarque Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 2:28 pm

Updated at 12:46 p.m. ET

President Obama has ruled out the use of ground troops in Iraq, saying any action will be "targeted and precise" but must be accompanied by political action by Iraqis to end sectarian divisions.

"We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq's security forces," Obama said from the south lawn of the White House.

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Second Amendment
11:02 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Tom Foley Opposes New Gun Control Laws, But Doesn't Offer Specifics

After the Newtown school shootings, the Connecticut legislature passed stricter gun control laws.
Credit R0Ng (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Republican candidate for governor Tom Foley said the legislative response to the Newtown school shootings didn't address the underlying problems, but he doesn't think the new gun control laws will be repealed.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Is Congestion Pricing in Connecticut's Future?

Tom Condon.
Chion Wolf WNPR

Toll booths have lots of bad connotations in the Northeast, and not just because of a the tragic accident in Connecticut nearly 30 years ago, which forced the closing of the toll booth.

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