Politics

Comedy
9:30 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Obama Goes Between The Ferns To Talk With Zach Galifianakis

In an interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis on the Web series Between Two Ferns, President Obama pitched health insurance to a younger audience.
Funny or Die

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 8:01 pm

"My mouse pad broke, and I had to get my great-aunt some diabetes shoes."

That's how comedian Zach Galifianakis begins his segment with President Obama in an episode of the online interview show Between Two Ferns that was posted Tuesday. It was an interview unlike any other for a sitting U.S. president, as Galifianakis probed the commander in chief's views with a range of oddball questions.

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Ukraine
8:25 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Crimean Parliament Passes 'Declaration Of Independence'

A masked man, believed to be a Russian soldier, holds a Crimean flag as members of a pro-Russian self-defense unit stand in formation Monday in the regional capital of Simferopol.
Vasily Fedosenko Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 11:51 am

"Crimea's regional legislature on Tuesday adopted a 'declaration of independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea,' " The Associated Press reports. "The document specified that Crimea will become an independent state if its residents vote on Sunday in favor of joining Russia."

That's just one of several developments Tuesday as the crisis in Ukraine continues. Among the other news:

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U.S. Attorney General
3:27 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Holder Speaks Out On Snowden, Drone Policy, Softening Sentences

Already one of the longest-serving attorneys general in history, Eric Holder says he has no immediate plans or timetable to leave. Here, he speaks at the annual Attorneys General Winter Meeting in Washington on Feb. 25.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 12:13 pm

Virtually any time a major event ripples across Washington, the Justice Department is positioned near the center of it.

From the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner that carried three Americans on board to the fate of voting rights for millions of people, the attorney general has an enormous portfolio. And the stress to match it.

But after an elevated heart rate sent him to the hospital last month, Eric Holder says he's on the mend.

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Wake of Newtown
5:15 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Lawmakers Consider Legislation to Restrict Public Information After Sandy Hook

State Sen. Eric Coleman chairing the Judiciary Committee hearing.
Credit CT-N

Two legislative committees met at the same time on Monday to discuss two very similar bills that would limit access to public documents. The bills are part of the state's response to the 2012 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

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Connecticut Legislature
1:15 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Government Administration and Elections Committee Meets to Weigh Recommendations

The Connecticut State Capitol.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Connecticut legislature's Government Administration and Elections Committee met Monday to discuss an act that would implement the recommendations of the Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public's Right to Know. 

Some legislators acknowledged they're struggling over whether to support the proposed legislation, which would limit public access to 911 audio tapes, additional types of crime scene photos, and law enforcement audio recordings.

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Connecticut Legislature
1:03 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Judiciary Committee Meets, Considers Privacy Task Force Recommendations

State Sen. Eric Coleman.
Credit CT-N
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Surveillance
12:39 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Edward Snowden Tells SXSW He'd Leak Those Secrets Again

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 1:11 pm

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has leaked large amounts of classified information about the agency's electronic surveillance programs, spoke via video to a sympathetic audience at South By Southwest Interactive on Monday.

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Congress
10:16 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Lawmakers Plan to Hold the Senate Floor All Night to Urge Action on Climate Change

The U.S. Capitol.
Credit Kevin Burkett / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. senators from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island are among 28 lawmakers who are preparing to hold the Senate floor all night long to urge congressional action on climate change.

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Where We Live
8:34 am
Mon March 10, 2014

DCF’s Locked Facility for Girls; Sandy Relief Funds; Aid-in-Dying Legislation

Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the East Coast in late 2012.
Credit DVIDSHUB / Creative Commons

A few weeks ago, we held a conversation about the Connecticut Department of Children and Families’ proposal to open a second locked facility for juvenile justice involved girls. It’s a project that has been at the center of intense debate across the state, as many wonder if it’s the best treatment option for at-risk youths.

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New Hampshire
8:19 am
Sun March 9, 2014

Libertarians Move In To Make A Small N.H. Town Even Smaller

About 50 members of the Free State Project have moved to tiny Grafton, N.H. in recent years, shaking up local politics.
Jack Rodolico NPR

Originally published on Sun March 9, 2014 12:11 pm

Maureen O'Reilly beams with pride as she shows a visitor around Grafton, N.H., a town so small it doesn't even have a traffic light.

"Have a look at this," O'Reilly says, pointing to a postcard view of hilly rural New England. "How beautiful is this? It's really pretty in the fall, really, really pretty."

But behind the beautiful view, locals are dividing into opposing camps. About 50 Libertarians have moved into Grafton from around the country, splitting the town over their push to shrink its government.

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Moscow
7:00 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Russian Lawmakers Welcome Separatist Steps By Crimea

Vladimir Konstantinov (in purple tie) is the speaker of Crimea's parliament. He was welcomed with flowers Friday during his meeting with Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament. She is at the far right of this photo.
Yuri Kadobnov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 11:22 am

One day after President Obama condemned steps taken by Crimea's parliament to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, Russian lawmakers are welcoming such a move by Crimean separatists.

"Russia's parliament gave its defiant support Friday to Crimean lawmakers who want to see their region split from Ukraine and join Russia," CNN reports from Moscow.

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White House
12:59 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

White House Updates Position on Ukraine, Condemns Violation of International Law

President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine, March 1, 2014.
Credit White House

President Barack Obama delivered a statement about Ukraine from the White House on Thursday, condemning the possibility that international law would be violated in Crimea. Earlier in the day, it was announced the European Union suspended talks on some of the agreements with Russia over the Ukraine crisis, and threatened further sanctions.

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Minimum Wage
10:30 am
Thu March 6, 2014

CCSU Students React to Obama's Visit, Message

CCSU students were in the audience at President Obama's talk on Wednesday.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

President Obama spoke Wednesday to a packed gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University. Several CCSU students talked with WNPR about the president's call for a hike in the minimum wage, and opportunity for all.

Standing outside the Detrick Gymnasium, student Anna Battey said she thought President Obama’s speech was brilliant. "I work at a teas shop," she said. "I work for minimum wage, so anything helps. I'm a college student, so anything helps."

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Demonstrations
7:54 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Advocates Protested for Hours During President Obama’s Visit

A woman held a sign saying "Stop the raids and deportations" at CCSU during President Obama's visit.
Chion Wolf WNPR

President Obama pushed for a higher federal minimum wage in front of a friendly audience indoors at Central Connecticut State University on Wednesday. While that was happening, a smaller and different audience of around 100 people stood outside in the cold chanting and holding up signs.

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Minimum Wage
5:47 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Obama Says Minimum Wage Hike Is Common Sense

President Barack Obama visited CCSU in New Britain to talk about raising the minimum wage.
Chion Wolf WNPR

President Obama traveled to Connecticut on Wednesday to call for a raise in the federal minimum wage by nearly three dollars an hour. 

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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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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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Where We Live
7:03 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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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.

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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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