<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Connecticut Political News, NY and CT Politics, and More]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usThu, 24 Aug 2017 05:05:49 -0400Thu, 24 Aug 2017 05:05:49 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[New Report on Hate Crimes Released]]> Wed, 23 Aug 2017 23:14:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DIT_HATE_CRIMES_082317_1-150354083564500001.jpg

The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism has released a report detailing hate crimes across the country for 2016. Here are some key takeaways.

<![CDATA[Trump Science Envoy Steps Down With Acrostic 'Impeach' Letter]]> Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:19:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kamman.jpg

University of California, Berkeley professor Dan Kammen officially resigned from the state department's science envoy Wednesday morning, lambasting the president for "enabling racism," "sexism" and "harm[ing] the country and the planet." 

He announced the news via Twitter and attached a picture of his acrostic resignation letter addressed to Donald Trump. The first letter of each paragraph spells out the word "impeach," as many Twitter users were quick to point out. 

"My decision to resign is in your response to attacks on core values of the United States," the letter reads. "Your failure to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis has domestic and international ramifications." 

He also criticized Trump for his denial of climate change and for pulling out of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, both positions that Kammen said were "not acceptable." He closed the letter by writing that continuing to serve under the Trump administration would be "inconsistent with the United States Oath of Allegiance."

Science envoys with the state department often work to establish energy programs in various countries. According to his website, Kammen's work focused on the development of renewable energy in North Africa and the Middle East. It is unclear if, or when, the Trump administration will replace Kammen. 

In an email to NBC Bay Area, Kammen said that he feared the administration was "not living up to our global obligations and the opportunities that come with that leadership," and that the president's response to Charlottesville and denial of climate science were the "key drivers" in his resignation.

Trump has weathered extreme criticism following his remarks regarding the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which one peaceful protester was allegedly killed by a Trump supporter attending a white nationalist rally. 

In his initial response, Trump was reticent to issue a blanket condemnation of all white hate groups, instead saying that there were "very fine people" on both sides and that "many sides" were responsible for the chaos and violence. He had similar hesitations during the election when he was slow to disavow former KKK leader David Duke. 

Following Trump's statements about Charlottesville, there was a mass exodus of business leaders and artists from the administration's advisory councils; Kammen, who is a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, is the latest.

The professor had worked for branches of the federal government — including the Environmental Protection Agency, and energy and state departments — since 1996. In 2010, he was awarded the first Environment and Climate Partnership for the Americas fellowship by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a C.V. posted on UC Berkeley's website. 

NBC Bay Area has reached out to the U.S. State Department for comment.

Check back for updates. 

Photo Credit: UC Berkeley/Dan Kammen]]>
<![CDATA[Democrats Want to Restore Almost All School Funds Gov. Cut]]> Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:31:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/school+student+working+classroom+generic.jpg

Democrats in the Connecticut House of Representatives want to restore almost all of the funds to school systems that Gov. Dannel Malloy announced last week would be cut in the absence of a state budget. 

NBC Connecticut obtained the proposed breakdown of Education Cost Sharing grants, also known as ECS. 

Gov. Malloy had proposed eliminating all funds from 85 school systems around Connecticut, leaving them without any form of state aid, and significantly reducing funds to another 54 districts. The rest are known as Alliance Districts that historically have underperformed relative to state standards and they were left untouched by the cuts. 

The House Democrats' ECS funding proposal would restore $404 million in funds to school systems in the first year of the two year budget cycle. 

Connecticut has been operating without a budget since the fiscal year ended on June 30. Since that time, Gov. Malloy has been running the state by executive order. 

The proposed restoration of funds to the 85 school systems comes as a relief to the districts. The governor's proposal caught many of them by surprise because they never anticipated the governor would make such a move. 

Malloy defended the cuts by saying those school systems were in cities and towns in solid fiscal condition and they could absorb any reductions. 

House Democrats also said Tuesday they would release a full budget on Wednesday.

<![CDATA[House Democrats Still Looking to Raise Sales Tax to Solve Budget Crisis]]> Wed, 23 Aug 2017 10:02:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Connecticut+democrats+sales+tax+increase.jpg

Following the most recent meeting of top legislative leaders, House Democrats revealed that they still intend to raise the state sales tax from 6.35 percent to 6.85 percent. 

That proposal is lower than their initial plan to raise the sales tax to 6.99 percent.

Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz still describes the increase in the sales tax as a point for negotiation. 

Republican Leader Themis Klarides said her position remains firm that she and her caucus do not support tax increases to balance the two-year budget, which has a projected $3.5 billion shortfall.

“Tax increases are not something that we’re interested in," Rep. Klarides, (R - Derby), said.

Aresimowicz has kept his tone positive throughout budget negotiations.

He has insisted since the fiscal year ended that the people of Connecticut want to see a bipartisan budget solution.

He said Tuesday that after the governor unveiled statewide cuts to education last Friday, he felt the need to adopt a budget as soon as possible.

“What we all heard from our constituents on Friday as far as the executive order is just absolutely unacceptable to us so we are going to do everything we can to avoid those things from October 1st," Rep. Aresimowicz, (D-Berlin) said.

Senate Democratic Leader Martin Looney described the support in the Senate for a sales tax increase as "broad based," but not "unanimous."

Gov. Dannel Malloy said he does not support an increase in the state sales tax, but would not commit to a veto of a budget that included it

The governor maintains that municipal aid cuts in some form have to be a major part of the budget solution.

He said that without those cuts other programs for the poor and disabled would have to suffer. He also said that since the state government has shrunk in the time he's been governor, he has not seen the same of local government.

“The state’s workforce on the executive side is 12.2 percent smaller than it was on the day I was sworn in. No one stepped forward and said that their government on any local level is 12.2 percent smaller today than it was in January of ‘11. Nobody,” he said.

Finally, Republicans indicated that their next budget proposals from House and Senate caucuses would include the savings gained in the labor deal that was ratified by the General Assembly last month.

Sen. Len Fasano (R - North Haven) said, "the ship has sailed," on the argument for changes to collective bargaining through state law since there is a four-year period where wide-scale layoffs are prohibited.

“To ignore it exists and say we’re not going to get involved in a budget because we don’t like that this was passed, we don’t think is fair to the state of Connecticut.” Fasano said.

House Democrats said the latest version of their budget could be available Wednesday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Key Moments From President Trump's Phoenix Rally]]> Wed, 23 Aug 2017 01:03:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DIT+TRUMP+PHOENIXTHUMB.jpg

President Donald Trump spoke to the crowd at his campaign-style rally in Phoenix, Arizona, for over an hour Tuesday night. Here are the key moments from his speech.

<![CDATA[Supporters, Protesters Gather Outside Trump's Ariz. Rally]]> Tue, 22 Aug 2017 21:36:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CROWD+THUMB.jpg

Streets in downtown Phoenix were filled with both supporters and protesters of President Donald Trump ahead of his scheduled appearance.

<![CDATA[Only 1 County Remains Without an Obamacare Insurer for 2018]]> Tue, 22 Aug 2017 19:23:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/obaAP_17209088630969.jpg

The entire United States, with the exception of a single small county in Ohio, is now on track to have at least one insurer offering Obamacare health coverage next year, CNBC reported. 

That's a big change from earlier this summer, when at different times a total of 82 counties lacked commitments from insurers who sell individual health plans for 2018.

And the continued decline in "bare counties" provides more ammunition for Obamacare advocates arguing against Trump administration claims that the health-care program is failing and needs to be replaced immediately.

Insurance regulators in Ohio are trying to get an insurer to step in and offer individual health plans in the lone "bare" area, Paulding County.

Photo Credit: AP/File ]]>
<![CDATA[Did US Homeowner Help N. Korea Evade Sanctions?]]> Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:35:19 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/great_neck_house_2_e0893cae0d37c0fd8ae849e4f24a73b6.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpg

A five-bedroom house in New York's Long Island suburbs, listed for nearly $1.3 million, boasts a southern exposure and proximity to a country club.

But, as NBC News reports, there's something about the property that's even more interesting: The seller, a Chinese national named Sun Sidong, has been linked by American security experts to a network of Chinese companies under Treasury sanctions for helping companies and individuals who support North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

According to Chinese corporate filings, Sun is the listed owner of Dandong Dongyuan Industrial Co., which has shared an email address with another Chinese company, Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material Co., a coal exporter suspected of helping North Korea evade sanctions.

Photo Credit: Google Maps]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's Awful Poll Numbers May Not Be So Bad: Analysis]]> Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:03:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/831967292-Charlottesville-Trump-Press-Conference.jpg

By any historical standard, President Donald Trump's approval rating, typically in the mid- to high-30s, is politically catastrophic. Yet his polling during the presidential campaign was just as bad, NBC News reported.

Trump's election victory in the face of awful polling numbers raises the prospect that, while polls appear to show support from his base crumbling, it may not be.

It's possible Trump's come-from-behind win was due to Hillary Clinton's weaknesses, and he may have reason to worry that supporters will be disappointed by his lack of follow-through on specific, tangible campaign promises.

But the man who was at the center of several extinction-level campaign crises may actually have won because of coverage of the ensuing chaos, according to one theory promoted by conservative radio host and MSNBC commentator Hugh Hewitt. And that would cast the bad polling in a very different light.

Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[President Trump Lays Out US Plans for Afghanistan]]> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 22:24:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_TRUMP_AFGHANISTAN_082117_1-150336674127000001.jpg

President Trump addressed members of the military and the country as he laid out his plans for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

<![CDATA[The War in Afghanistan: By the Numbers]]> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:47:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Afghanistan-US-troops-2017.jpg

The 16-year conflict in Afghanistan has cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars, as NBC News reports, and it has now spread across three presidential administrations.

Then-President Barack Obama ended the combat mission “Operation Enduring Freedom” in 2014, but the two countries eventually agreed that the U.S. would keep some troops in Afghanistan even after the combat mission concluded.

The cost to the United States could creep as high as nearly $2 trillion, according to Brown University’s Cost of War Project.

Photo Credit: Steve Ruark/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Secret Service: Trump's Not Our Only Problem]]> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 15:11:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/secretAP_17228670889692.jpg

The U.S. Secret Service is facing money problems — but that's not President Donald Trump's fault, the agency's director said Monday, in response to a report that the Trump family is straining protective resources.

Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles said funding for roughly 1,100 agents working overtime in 2017 is not an issue "that can be attributed to the current Administration’s protection requirements alone, but rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo," NBC News reported.

His comments came after a report in USA Today that the agency's funding problems were partly caused by the president's large family and their multiple, oft-visited Trump properties in the U.S. and overseas.

Alles told USA Today the agency is handling an unprecedented number of White House officials who need protection. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[America Still in Turmoil a Year After Kaepernick's Protest]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 12:31:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kaepernickfeuerherd.jpg

What started as a protest against police brutality has mushroomed a year later into a divisive debate over the future of a football player who refused to stand for the national anthem and now faces what his fans see as blackballing for speaking out in a country roiled by racial strife.

Supporters of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick demonstrated outside the Los Angeles Rams' Aug. 12 preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, part of calls for boycotts of the upcoming NFL season. Film director Spike Lee is promoting a rally on his behalf.

On the opposing end of a wide range of opinions, some fans say Kaepernick shouldn't have sat or kneeled during the national anthem, while others argue the quarterback's lack of a job is more about his talent.

The once-rising star and Super Bowl quarterback has been unemployed since March, when he opted out of his contract and became a free agent who could sign with any team. At least three NFL clubs have openly discussed the idea of signing him, but the embattled quarterback has yet to sign a contract with training camps well underway.

Just weeks away from the regular season, he has become a symbol of the clash of celebrity, sports and social issues as more people —including players, fans, politicians, team owners and pundits — invoke his name to debate thorny issues of patriotism and race. Other prominent NFL players have sat out or demonstrated during anthems this preseason, one saying his decision was bolstered by a recent white supremacists' rally in Virginia that turned deadly.

"There's a lot going on inside people's hearts right now," said Dan Rascher, a sports business professor at the University of San Francisco. "This may have been a catalyst for that even though it's not about Colin Kaepernick, but about our country and who we are."

Other players who joined Kaepernick in protest are still employed. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins pledged to continue his protests this season, tight end Martellus Bennett signed a free agent contract with the Green Bay Packers and linebacker Brandon Marshall stayed with the Denver Broncos even as he lost two endorsements for kneeling during the anthem.

Still, some fans say they believe Kaepernick has been passed up as punishment for his actions, which initially went unnoticed until the third preseason game last year.

The chorus gets louder every time a quarterback vacancy is filled on an NFL team, such as when the Miami Dolphins brought 34-year-old quarterback Jay Cutler out of a short-lived retirement to lead its franchise. Cutler was out of work — like Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, and others — and planned to work as a television analyst before the Dolphins reunited him with coach Adam Gase.

"Either some owners and/or the NFL are punishing him for speaking out, or they've decided that it's best for business to sweep these valid issues under the rug in order not to upset fans who, in our opinion, don't have a valid reason to be upset about Colin Kaepernick being on their team," said Tim Clark, who is organizing boycotts of all 32 teams for the NFL's regular season opener.

Color of Change, an online civil rights organization, flooded Baltimore Ravens headquarters with telephone calls when the team didn't quickly sign him as it openly considered options to react to an injury. The Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network, which demonstrated over the weekend, says it will boycott the Rams and Chargers games at Memorial Coliseum. A change.org petition calling for a season-long boycott of the NFL has collected more than 170,000 signatures.

"We understand the NFL is very important to you. We also understand the purpose of Colin Kaepernick's protest is FAR more important than any games you will ever watch," the petition said.

Elie Mystal, an editor at the "Above the Law" legal commentary website, agreed with the proposed boycotts.

"Kaepernick doesn't have a job because he spoke out about race," Mystal said. "That's the thing you're not allowed to do in our sporting culture and most of our popular culture, unless you're so over-the-top talented that they need you for winning."

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the anthem while Rams defensive end Robert Quinn raised his right fist during Saturday's game between the two teams.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Martellus Bennett's brother, sat during the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the second straight week on Friday. He was joined by two teammates standing by him. Bennett said the death of a young woman protesting white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, underscored his decision.

"First of all, I want people to understand I love the military. My father was in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American, but I don't love segregation," he said. "I don't love riots. I don't love oppression. I don't love gender slander."

Some fans say Kaepernick has not been signed because he's had an inconsistent career. He played in the 2013 Super Bowl but faded in the seasons leading up to the protests, winning just three games in his last 19 starts.

He had two seasons where he was the starting quarterback for all 16 of his team's games, including the 2014 season that ended with San Francisco missing the playoffs. He suffered from a shoulder injury for half of 2015 and began the 2016 season as a backup, then started 11 games. The 49ers finished in last place for the second season in a row.

"Do these people (complaining) about Kaepernick going unsigned not understand that he sucks, and he's a liability/distraction?" tweeted Joe Patterson, a business management major at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Q Scores Marketing Evaluations, said Kaepernick's popularity has plummeted.

"He's very polarizing and much more in the consciences of the general population as well as sports fans and, creating, I would think, a pretty big dilemma for the NFL teams as to where he's going to go," Schafer said.

The fallout wasn't all negative: Kaepernick inspired a movement as high school athletes across the country kneeled during the anthem. Kaepernick had the 17th highest jersey sale in May and came in 39th in all merchandise from May through July 31. He's the only player in the top 50 in sales without a job.

Kaepernick, who is white and African-American, took a stand that was unpopular among many whites, which is what boxing great Muhammad Ali did when he refused to be drafted into military during the Vietnam war.

Ali was convicted of draft evasion, which was later overturned, banned from boxing and stripped of his heavyweight title.

It's uncertain how history will treat Kaepernick. But just as Ali was linked to the "black power" movement, Kaepernick has become linked with the Black Lives Matter movement, says Soyica Diggs Colbert, a Georgetown University professor who is writing a book on black movements.

"When we think about how Black Lives Matter as a political movement gets woven into sports," Kaepernick's certainly the key figure in that conversation, she said.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Butch Dill]]>
<![CDATA[Monuments Fight Heats Up in Capital of the Confederacy]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 07:56:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-112906040.jpg

As a wave of U.S. cities have moved to topple their Confederate statues in the wake of violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Richmond — which was once the capital of the Confederacy — could become the next flashpoint in the debate over what to do with its monuments.

In the heart of Richmond, five statues depicting Confederate figures line a two-mile stretch of Monument Avenue, NBC News reported. The monuments are of Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and Matthew Fontaine Maury. 

On Wednesday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney pointedly reversed course and announced that he felt the Confederate statues should be removed. The marked change came days after the deadly protest in Charlottesville, where a woman was killed and 19 others were injured after a driver slammed his car into counter-protesters as white nationalists rallied against the planned removal of a Confederate monument.

"I wish they had never been built," Stoney said in a statement, later adding, "These monuments should be part of our dark past and not of our bright future."

Photo Credit: Chuck Myers/MCT/Getty Images, file]]>
<![CDATA[Bannon Plans to 'Crush the Opposition' Back at Breitbart]]> Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:23:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_17230611688308.jpg

After his exit as Chief White House Strategist, Steve Bannon returned as the executive chairman for Breitbart News Friday, a spokesman for the site confirmed to NBC News. Confirmation from the company came shortly after the site published an article titled "'Populist Hero' Stephen K. Bannon Returns Home to Breitbart."

Bannon himself expressed excitement about his return, telling the Weekly Standard in an interview published moments after the company's announcement that he felt "jacked up," and referred to the site as one of his "weapons."

"Now I'm free. I've got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, 'it’s Bannon the Barbarian.' I am definitely going to crush the opposition," Bannon said.

"And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we're about to rev that machine up," he added, referring to Breitbart. "And rev it up we will do.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's Tweets Lead People to Worry]]> Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:08:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_lv50fweb08182017_1500x845.jpg

President Donald Trump goes to Camp David today to talk about the war in Afghanistan, Asia, and the terrorist attack in Barcelona. The president's words and twitter posts this week have left some in his own party to start questioning his leadership.

<![CDATA[Steve Bannon Out as White House Chief Strategist]]> Fri, 18 Aug 2017 20:04:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DIT_STEVE_BANNON_OUT_081817-150307942342200001.jpg

Steve Bannon has departed the White House, where he was President Donald Trump’s chief strategist. His tenure lasted seven months. White House chief of staff John Kelly and Bannon mutually agreed that Friday would be Bannon’s last day, according to a statement from the press secretary that said they were “grateful for his service.”