Political news from WNPR

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy has not ruled out making savings in labor costs to help balance the state’s budget. Speaking on WNPR’s Where We Live, the governor said his administration will look for realism in upcoming negotiations with state labor unions.

Emily Stanchfield / Creative Commons

Our weekly Monday afternoon "Scramble" continues the conversation arising from last week’s school shooting in Oregon. As the number of mass shootings continues to rise, the nationwide discussion has reached a stalemate. Is there a different, more effective way to talk about guns? 

"We, the trade ministers ... are pleased to announce that we have successfully concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation," U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced Monday morning, to a loud round of applause.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy is less than a year into his second term in office and it doesn’t look like it will be any easier than the first term.

The budget remains in a state of permanent fiscal crisis, forcing a $100 million cut to the budget, just months into a new fiscal year. Those cuts, especially the ones hitting social services and hospitals, have been criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike, and there are calls from editorial boards for a special session to reinstate some of the funding and find new ways to plug budget holes. 

North Korea has returned a New York University student and South Korean national who had been detained in Pyongyang since April.

21-year-old Joo Won-moon was in North Korean custody after he crossed the border from China into North Korea, hoping to help strengthen ties between the two Koreas.

"I thought some great event could happen and hopefully that event could have a good effect in the relationship between the North and the South," Joo told CNN in an interview in May.

Michael S. Gordon / Springfield Republican

Bernie Sanders brought his campaign for the presidency to Massachusetts this weekend, speaking in Boston and Springfield. In a speech Saturday to a crowd of about 6,000 at the MassMutual Center, the U.S. senator from Vermont addressed an issue he hasn’t talked about much: gun control.

After Thursday's mass shooting at an Oregon community college, which left nine people dead and more injured, President Obama aired his frustration over gun laws in the U.S. At a news conference Friday, he called on voters to push their representatives to take action.

"You just have to, for a while, be a single-issue voter, because that's what is happening on the other side," Obama said. "And that's going to take some time. I mean, the NRA has had a good start."

President Obama passionately pleaded for stricter gun laws in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting Thursday. Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and others renewed their calls for stricter gun control measures.

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.