John Bender

Reporter

John started at RIPR in 2013 as the Morning Edition producer; researching stories, interviewing newsmakers, and writing scripts for stories every morning.  Plus special projects and regular reporting on major events.  In early 2017 he was promoted to "general assignment" reporter.  Whatever's happening in the news today?  That's what John is covering. 

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Yet another winter storm has blanketed Rhode Island in snow.  This weekend saw more than a foot of the white stuff fall in areas including North Providence, Burrilville and Warren.  Residents are now dealing with arctic temperatures.

Pawtucket Police, along with police in Massachusetts have arrested a man suspected of stabbing 53 year old William McKenna.  McKenna is the younger brother of state Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators are offering lukewarm support of President Barack Obama’s request to use military force against Islamic State militants. The President has asked for military action, unbounded by national borders that could last up to three years.

Senator Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat in the Senate Armed Services Committee said President Obama’s plan for military intervention is overdue.  In a statement he calls the plan, a thoughtful proposal, but said Congress must  “refine” the President’s request. 

RIPR FILE

New legislation aimed at increasing access to experimental medical treatments was introduced Wednesday at the Statehouse.  It could broaden access to drugs not yet approved by the FDA.

There is already a process for patients with terminal illness to try out drugs that are still in testing… But Democratic Representative Joseph McNamara wants to make it easier.   He said all the red tape doctors and patients have to cut through takes too long for people who are critically ill. 

Rhode Islanders are getting a brief reprieve from the snow Wednesday, but forecasters are already turning their eyes towards Thursday.   Yet another winter storm is predicted to sweep across Southern New England. 

National Weather Service Meteorologist Alan Dunham says light snow could start as early as Thursday morning.  “Steadier snow by the afternoon commute and then snow will be likely Thursday night.  Not looking for any real big accumulation; for most of Rhode Island: two to three inches,” said Dunham.

John Bender / RIPR

The snow is no longer falling, but transportation remains snarled across much of Southern New England.  Public transit has all but shut down in Boston, leaving commuters and others stranded in Providence.

The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority halted all commuter train and Subway service at 7 p.m. Tuesday. That left riders in Rhode Island with few good options except Amtrak trains, and even those are running on a limited schedule.

Warwick Police intend to issue tickets today through tomorrow to businesses and homeowners who fail to remove snow from their sidewalks.

Warwick mayor Scott Avedisian said traditionally people get a grace period. But sidewalks are covered in snow and ice, posing a hazard. Avedisian said police are targeting well-traveled neighborhoods in particular.

RIPR FILE

A new bill introduced at the general assembly could ban the use of plastic bags across the state.  It’s the latest attempt to ban plastic bags in the last several years.

The bill would gradually phase out the use of plastic bags over the course of two years at retail stores such as grocery, and convenience stores.  Over the past three years similar bills have some received public support, but failed in the General Assembly.  

RIPR FILE

U.S. Senator Jack Reed is calling for additional military assistance to help the Ukrainian government as fighting worsens with Russian-backed separatists. Reed is the ranking Democrat of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Reed and Armed Services Committee Chair Senator John McCain, are asking the Obama administration to commit to aid in the form of defensive weaponry.  That includes things like anti-tank weapons, and rocket locating radar systems. 

RIPR FILE

A bill that would increase Rhode Island's minimum wage is set to go before the House Labor Committee Thursday.  The bill would push the state's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

John Bender / RIPR

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, has revealed its policy for security cameras at Kennedy Plaza.  Civil liberties advocates have raised questions about new cameras installed during a renovation of the downtown Providence transit hub.

The authority says's is part of an effort to increase security.  RIPTA says the cameras can only be accessed by the chief of security, and will be deleted after about a month.  

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