Originally published on Sat January 3, 2015 8:37 pm
Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET
Former Massachusetts Sen. Edward Brooke, the first African-American to be popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, died Saturday at age 95, a family spokesman said.
Brooke, a Republican who had been Massachusetts attorney general, was first elected in 1966, defeating former Massachusetts Gov. Endicott Peabody. Brooke served until 1979. He died at his home in Coral Gables, Fla., surrounded by his family.
The Wheelhouse is back with a special New Year’s Eve edition of our weekly news roundtable. We’ll look back at the year from the rough and tumble race for governor, to the conviction of a former governor. What do you think was the biggest story of 2014?
Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 11:39 am
A year ago, Russia's economy was riding high. Today, the country is widely thought to be entering a recession, if it's not already there.
The plunge in oil prices has been the main culprit, but Russia's economy has had trouble regaining its footing because of sanctions imposed by the West after the annexation of Crimea. President Obama and other Western leaders were quick to condemn Russia when it annexed the Crimean Peninsula last March, and they struggled to find a way to show their outrage.
Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 5:37 pm
Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET
Police from around the country are gathering at the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens today to honor a fallen comrade, Officer Rafael Ramos, who was fatally shot in an unprovoked attack one week ago along with his partner, Wenjian Liu.
Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 11:10 am
Like Cuban-American families throughout the diaspora, the Garcias of Key West, Fla., gather on NocheBuena, or Christmas Eve, to catch up on news and eat a traditional meal of lechón, or roast pig.
Wayne Garcia, a local building contractor and artist, prepared the pork for the family feast this year. He smokes it for seven hours in a hole dug in his backyard, in a style he says was passed down from his great-grandparents.
Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 8:31 am
Authorities in New York City are monitoring threats made against police since two officers were fatally shot on Saturday, and are upping security at some stationhouses.
The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, shot and killed Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in their patrol car before committing suicide. He had posted messages on social media suggesting the assault was revenge for deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of authorities.
Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 12:18 pm
Alan Gross, the former USAID subcontractor who spent five years in a Cuban prison before his release last week, will get $3.2 million from the federal government, part of a settlement with the Maryland-based company for which he worked at the time of his arrest.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, in a statement, said it had finalized a settlement, agreed to in principle in November, with Development Alternatives, Inc.
Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 12:12 pm
The city of Boston’s new chief of arts and culture has been making the rounds during her first full week on the job. Her name is Julie Burros and she hails from Chicago, a city famous for embracing and supporting the arts (like “Cloud Gate” in the above photo).
Burros quickly earned the nickname “arts czar” after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh fulfilled his campaign promise by appointing her to the newly created cabinet-level position this past September.
Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 2:49 pm
Rep. Michael Grimm, the New York Republican who won re-election despite being indicted on 20 criminal counts related to a restaurant he owns, pleaded guilty to one charge of felony tax evasion Tuesday. He'll be sentenced in June; calls for him to leave Congress began Tuesday morning.
Grimm, a former FBI agent who represents Staten Island and south Brooklyn, had previously pleaded not guilty to charges that included mail fraud and perjury.
Next month, the state legislature will convene with a lot of familiar names in new top jobs. We sit down with the two new Senate leaders, President Martin Looney and Minority Leader Len Fasano. What are their priorities for the next session? You can join the conversation with your questions and suggestions for the new Senate leadership.
The Pakistani community in Connecticut strongly condemned the massacre of scores of school children by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan on December 16. Nearly 100 members of the Pakistani-American Association of Connecticut held a vigil at the Connecticut State Capitol last Friday.
Earlier this week, the Senate confirmed Vivek Murthy to be the nation’s next Surgeon General. His confirmation had been held up for more than a year by pro-gun lobbyists, because of his support for new gun control measures. Murthy founded the group Doctors for America, which had advocated for gun restrictions, but he has said his focus as Surgeon General will be on tackling the nation’s obesity problem.
Two days after the U.S. and Cuba decided to end a more than 50-year estrangement, the natural question is: What's next?
On Morning Edition, NPR's Michelle Kelemen reports that the process of normalizing diplomatic relations will be pretty straight forward and is likely to be done quickly.
"We can do that via an exchange of letter or notes. It doesn't require a formal sort of legal treaty or agreement," Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary of state for the western hemisphere, said during a briefing on Thursday.
Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 2:16 pm
It will probably go down as the biggest decision of the year in New York State – a ban on fracking. Wednesday’s news came the same day casino license recommendations were announced. Supporters of a fracking ban are celebrating the long-awaited decision while opponents say they are disappointed and the Southern Tier, where fracking would have taken place, is doomed.
Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:56 pm
American Alan Gross, who spent five years in a Cuban prison before his release today as a humanitarian gesture, said "it's good to be home," and that he hoped the U.S. and Cuba move past their "mutually belligerent" policies.
"Two wrongs never made a right," Gross said in Washington shortly after he returned to the U.S. aboard a government plane.
Gross appeared frail but cheerful. Some of his front teeth were missing.
Gross thanked President Obama and his national security team for working toward his freedom.
Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:41 pm
Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET
President Obama announced today the most significant change in U.S. policy toward Cuba in more than 50 years, paving the way for the normalization of relations and the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana.
Obama said "we will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries."
Legend holds that years after the the Hartford Convention, a visitor from the South was touring the Old State House and asked to be shown the room where the Convention met. Ushered into the Senate chamber, the southerner looked at the crimson in the face of George Washington in the Gilbert Stuart portrait hanging here and said, "I'll be damned if he's got the blush off yet."
Our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse discusses the new look of the Malloy administration as the governor heads into his second term. Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House Chris Donovan finds a new line of work with a state teachers' union. We also check in on the Elm City, where New Haven's police chief is making headlines for a confrontation at the Yale Bowl.