Archive | August, 2011

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West Nile Virus Found In Hartford


HARTFORD — The Connecticut Department of Public Health has announced that mosquitoes trapped in Hartford have tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, puddles of water can be found around the city. So city officials said they will remain ” vigilant to remove standing water that might harbor mosquitoes.”

Acting Hartford Human Services Director Raul Pino said that Although cooler weather exists, city residents should be cautious because this is still a high risk period for West Nile Virus.

Experts recommend residents take the following precautions:

Minimize time outdoors at dusk and dawn.

Be sure doors and windows/screens are tight fitting and in good repair.

Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts. Clothing material should be tightly woven.

Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors.

Consider using mosquito repellent when outside and always use according to instructions.

When using DEET (the most widely used insect repellent) on children, use a product containing less than 10% DEET and wash treated skin after returning indoors.

 

You can also reduce mosquitoes around your home with the following measures:

Dispose of water-holding containers, such as ceramic pots, used tires, tire swings.

Drill holes in the bottom of containers such as those used for recycling.

Clean clogged roof gutters.

Turn over objects that may trap water when not in use such as wading pools and wheelbarrows.

Change water in bird baths on a weekly basis.

Clean and chlorinate swimming pools.

Use landscaping techniques to eliminate areas where water can collect on your property.

For more information:

http://www.dph.state.ct.us

http://www.caes.state.ct.us

http://dep.state.ct.us

http://www.cdc.gov

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Hartford Begins School Year On Schedule After Hurricane Irene


HARTFORD — Mayor Pedro Segarra, Superintendent. Christina Kishimoto, and former Mayor Thirman Milner greet students at the Milner Core Knowledge Academy after their first day of school on Tuesday.

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President Obama’s Continuing White Problem


By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Contributor

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama faced the problem in 2008. And now President Obama in his re-election bid faces the same problem. The majority of whites still will not accept his presidency.

The latest Associated Press-GfK (Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications ) polls once again told in stark numbers that the racial gap is just as big and daunting for Obama. The overwhelming majority of white independent voters say he does not deserve to be re-elected. An equally large majority of whites say they don’t like the job that he’s doing, especially on the economy. And overall, nearly 60 percent of whites will not support his reelection.

The hopeful news is this could change in the more than a year run-up to the November 2012 presidential election with the constant shifts and swings in voter attitudes, perceptions and events.
In any other election cycle and with any other president and presidential candidate, this pattern would hold true. The brutal fact is that the resistance to candidate Obama and President Obama from the majority of whites has been constant and unyielding.

This seems tough to believe, and even tougher to accept for several reasons. The myth that Obama made a major and lasting breakthrough in getting millions of whites to vote for him replaced the brutal fact that the majority of whites did not support him. In 2008, GOP Presidential candidate John McCain got nearly 60 percent of the white vote. Though this represented a significant inroad for Obama, in that he did better than Democratic presidential contenders Al Gore and John Kerry in 2000 and 2004 respectively, McCain’s getting the majority of the white vote was enough to keep him relatively competitive.

The first warning sign that Obama’s white support has been shaky and tenuous, cropped up not with McCain but with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during the Democratic presidential primaries. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, Clinton drubbed Obama with the white vote. Many white Democratic blue collar voters openly said that they would not vote for Obama not because of any great love for Clinton, but because he was black. It took a near holy crusade turnout by black voters in both states to seal Obama’s win in the two key states and ultimately the White House.

The monumental GOP sex and corruption scandals, the towering domestic and foreign policy blunders of Bush, a collapsed economy, two costly and unpopular wars were not enough to decisively reverse the trend that a majority of whites, especially white males, will not back a Democrat, and in this case a black Democrat.

The shaky ground that Obama’s white voter support rested on eroded quickly at the first hint of trouble. The faint grumbles that Obama was too nice, too conciliatory, too indecisive and had no plan on the economy fanned by the borderline racist taunts of the Tea Party members, the pack of right wing professional Obama baiters on blogs, websites and radio talk shows grew quickly to crescendo pitch.

A Pew Research Center survey in April backed that up. White males still by big margins either disapproved or strongly disapproved of the president’s job performance. The continued high disapproval ratings among this group was even more glaring since it came at the point where more Americans than in the past year said they approved of Obama’s performance. But that did not include a majority of white males.

President Obama can’t do much more to ease the doubts and fears of many whites that he vowed to fulfill his duty as president of all the people, and to do the best job he can on legislation and public policy to serve the needs of all constituencies. He has even repeatedly drawn the wrath of the Congressional Black Caucus, publicly resisting their loud appeals for him to do and say more about the crisis of black joblessness and poverty. He’s paid a price for that as his approval ratings have dropped among blacks. But his unswerving race neutral, low-keyed, scrupulously non-confrontational, approach to presidential governance has meant absolutely nothing when it comes to changing the attitudes of many white voters. It’s in part the ancient mix of white suspicions and doubts about black competence, intelligence and ability, pure blind, naked bigotry, and unease with an African-American holding the world’s most visible and important political power position.

The GOP has played hard on the anger, frustration, and hatred that many males harbor toward government and their swoon over military toughness. And for four decades before that, it has been the trump card for winning GOP presidents.

It’s paying dividends again. Despite deep doubts among voters about the competence, credibility and even electability of the crop of GOP presidential candidates, polls show they are still in a neck-to-neck race with Obama. Race is not the only explanation for this, but it can never be discounted as a factor as long as Obama’s white problem exists.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM Radio Los Angeles streamed on ktym.com podcast on blogtalkradio.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

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Hartford Spared Brunt of Hurricane Irene, But


HARTFORD — Hartford was spared the brunt of Hurricane Irene. No serious injuries were reported. Nevertheless, the city was impacted.

City officials said emergency personnel responded “swift and appropriate” to those who were affected by the downgraded hurricane.

According to a report released on Tuesday, 5,332, or 9  percent, of CL & P customers in Hartford had power outages. In addition:

  • 25 people utilized shelter services at Pope Park Recreation Center.
  • Approximately 25,000 people were called through the Reverse 911 System.
  • 69 reported downed trees throughout the city with Northeast, Blue Hills, and South End having the most (12, 11, and 11).
  • As of 3:30 p.m. Monday four roads were closed:  Regent, Rowe, Vernon, and Victoria.
  • HFD confirmed 189 calls during the storm including 78 for rescue and EMS, 61 for hazardous conditions, and 10 good intent calls.
  • No serious injuries were or have been reported.
  • The Mayor’s Twitter feed, @HartfordMayor, received 175 new followers.
  • City forestry crews are still removing debris from the streets, and clean-up work will continue throughout the week; a minority firm has also been contracted to augment the work of city crews.

Hartford’s Emergency Operation Center, located on the third floor of City Hall, was open 40 hours.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra extended support to families who were affected by Hurricane Irene.

” This was a devastating storm and whatever assistance we can give to towns and cities in need, we will,” he said.  “If we learned anything from Hurricane Katrina, it is never to take the wrath of Mother Nature lightly.”

 

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A Weakened Irene Knocks Out Power To 800,000 In State


By Mark Pazniokas

Irene hit Connecticut as a strong tropical storm Sunday with torrential rains and gusty winds that destroyed coastal homes, toppled trees and left a record 800,000 customers without power, surpassing damage from Hurricane Gloria in 1985. More than eight inches of rain fell.

The storm reached New England weaker than expected as it failed to re-intensify after making initial landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, but it still destroyed or damaged dozens of beachfront homes in East Haven and nearby communities and undermined sections of seawall, walkways and streets.

The Farmington roars through Collinsville.

Schools in many towns will remain closed Monday, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy warned Sunday night that he expected Metro-North to run on a limited schedule, if at all. Connecticut Transit was expected to resume normal operations, except for New Haven, where buses would not begin running until 7 a.m., he said.

Malloy told non-essential state employees to delay their arrivals Monday until 10 a.m. State parks will remain closed at least through Monday to allow for safety inspections.

With more than half the state without power, repairs are likely to take at least a week, the governor said.

One person was a killed in a fire attributed to the storm, and rescuers were searching for a missing canoeist on a flood-swollen river in Bristol and two persons missing from East Haven, Malloy said.

“There is no reason to be on the water at this time,” Malloy said.

The Connecticut, Farmington and Housatonic rivers all flooded, with the Connecticut not expected to crest until Tuesday. On Sunday afternoon, onlookers lined a bridge over the Farmington in the Collinsville section of Canton, where the river thundered over a dam.

State officials reported peak wind gusts of 47 miles per hour in Bridgeport, 51 miles per hour in New London and 36 miles per hour in Hartford. City officials in Bridgeport said winds of 60 miles per hour were recorded at Sikorsky Airport.

The tidal surge was more than 4 feet in Bridgeport, blocking city streets and flooding two power sub-stations, leaving much of the state’s largest city without power and under a nighttime curfew. The sub-stations were pumped out and back on line Sunday afternoon.

In Fairfield, the tide spilled a half-mile inland, and the Saugatuck River flooded in Wesport, one of many rivers and streams that spilled their banks across the state. In the Forestville section of Bristol, the Pequabuck River overflowed and turned East Main Street into a fast-flowing spillway.

Witnesses told authorities they saw two men abandon a red canoe as it sped toward a bridge. One man was seen fleeing; the other other was the object of a search.

See pictures at Westport.now.

A woman in Prospect died in a house fire apparently caused by a falling electric line. Two firefighters were treated for electric shocks.

The New Canaan branch of Metro-North sustained damage to its overhead power lines.

No damage estimates were available, but the the state insurance department granted emergency licenses to 2,000 adjusters to help process claims. The department also established a hurricane web page with advice to homeowners who will be making claims.

But the biggest impact was on the state’s power grid.

Connecticut Light & Power, the state’s largest utility, reported more than 650,000 of its 1.2 million customers without power, while more than 150,000 United Illuminating customers were without service. In most of eastern Connecticut and scattered communities across the rest of the state, power was out to between 81 percent and 100 percent of CL&P customers.

An outage map is available online.

CL&P’s emergency web site and Twitter feed were overwhelmed by people reporting outages or seeking updates. “We’re having technical difficulties due to the amount of texts we’re receiving,” read one Tweet. “Thanks for your patience.”

CLP outages: black, 81-100%; purple, 61-80%

With power systems damaged from North Carolina to New England, CL&P sought assistance from as far away as Colorado, Malloy said.

Two sub-stations were flooded in Bridgeport, forcing United Illuminating to shut off power to much of the city, he said.

The downtown, east side and areas north and west of the Route 8 connector were blacked out, said Elaine Ficarra, a spokeswoman for the city. Police, fire and the city’s emergency operations center were relying on backup generators.

Mayor Bill Finch ordered an 8 p.m. curfew, which he says will be enforced by police from the city and surrounding communities.

“We want to make sure everyone is safe, especially while the power is out,” Finch said by email. “It’s all about safety. We’ve gotten through the hurricane without any major problems, and we ask everyone to cooperate to maintain order.”

About 6.5 inches of rain fell on Bridgeport by 1 p.m., he said.

Malloy said four hospitals and 20 nursing homes also were relying on generators. He said the utilities still were doing damage assessments and had no estimate of when power would be restored.

Gusty winds throughout the rest of the day were expected to hamper the restoration, he said.

AT&T reported 2,000 utility poles and hundreds of cellular towers damaged in the state, Malloy said.

Restrictions on highway travel were lifted before noon, but Malloy urged motorists to avoid the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways, saying long delays are likely as debris from trees is cleared.

Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy S. Wyman toured damaged area of East Haven and West Haven this afternoon. They also visited an emergency shelter in West Haven. About 2,000 people were in shelters across the state, Malloy said.

In New Hartford, flooding submerged a farm, killing livestock, Malloy said.

Until this morning, Irene was expected to be the first hurricane to reach Connecticut in 20 years, but its sustained winds weakened to 65 miles per hour south of New York, short of the 74 miles-per-hour mark the defines a hurricane.

This story originally appeared at www.CTMirror.org, an independent, non-profit news organization covering government, politics and public policy in the state.


 

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Criminalizing Our Youth to Excuse Police Murder


By David Slagle, Contributor

SAN FRANCISO — After the London riots in August, the theorist Paul Gilroy made a rousing yet frighteningly honest speech to a crowd of community leaders and activists in Tottenham, North London.

In his speech, Gilroy argued that Black and poor youth had been subjected to what he called “processes of criminalization,” re-creating them in an image they did not choose.

This carefully molded portrayal of the “feral street thug,” the “violent monster,” emerges only through a close alliance between information – from newspaper articles to public relations statements – and power.

This relationship between information and power is shown in its stark nakedness by the failure of the American media to cover stories relating to police murders. The Raymond Hérissé murder in Miami on May 31 is a case study in this regard: Out of the thousands of media outlets which can be searched through Google News, only five have dared to print the slain man’s name and only the San Francisco Bay View gave the story a face by printing a photo of Hérissé.

It is as if, in a bizarre kind of instant amnesia, Hérissé’s identity itself, the fact that he had a name and a face, is an act of treason, a threat to the power of the state. One is reminded of the days immediately following the emancipation of the slaves, who were told that they didn’t need their 40 acres – their freedom was enough.

In a similar way, the media seems to be saying, especially to young Black men, “Don’t try to find out more about this Hérissé case, because you should be thanking God that it wasn’t you,” as if educating oneself would be a way of cursing one’s own life. Whereas the supposed job of the mainstream media would be to cover stories, we find in this case that they are prime agents of cover-ups, not only relating to the circumstances of police terror but, equally, to the names, identities and livelihoods of the people themselves.

People like Hérissé, Oscar Grant — murdered in January, 2009 by BART police in Oakland — Mark Duggan, whose murder in London on Aug. 4 touched off the rebellion in England, and Raheim Brown Jr. are, after the fact, “criminalized,” made into the criminals that the media-police information alliance wants to convince us that they always were.

This posthumous act of “criminalizing” the person who is pulled under the fiery storm of police bullets is an act of desperation on the part of a state and an elite, which is struggling to reconcile its idea of the world with the ugly truth of the world.

The newly-promoted Barhim Bhatt and his accomplice, Jonathan Bellusa, are experiencing this same conflict: On some level they know, just as well as Lori Davis and Raheim Brown Sr., that their son, Raheim Brown Jr., was not a murderer. But this knowledge is drowned in the myth that forms an unfortunately vast part of the “American Dream” – the myth that justice lives in the hands of the white man, the police, the cowboy who raped and murdered American Indian children.

The other side of this myth, and the crucial part here, is the idea that if Brown, Hérissé, Grant, Duggan and thousands of others met their deaths this way, at the hands of the “enforcers of justice,” then they must have done something wrong. This is why the only information the Oakland police seem to have released, in the scant few news stories about Brown’s death, is that one of their officers was “stabbed with a screwdriver,” that Brown’s car “smelled of marijuana” and that it was stolen. Their stoicism is evidence of both their power and their fear that such power will be challenged by any real information about the incident.

In this case, we have the word of the Oakland Police Department, the same department which – only a little more than 40 years ago – unwillingly served as the worldwide emblem of the ongoing war between the police and the people via the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. On the other side, we have the word of Tamisha Stewart, the only civilian witness, who was beaten and jailed after the crime on Skyline Boulevard. Stewart claims that the screwdriver never left the ignition.

One thing that should worry us, and perhaps gestures toward the years to come, is the question: How do the average Oakland Hills residents, the people whose mansions stand within a mile of Skyline, justify this murder and cover-up? When they opened the paper and saw the news story, did their eyes focus on the words “marijuana,” “theft” and “screwdriver,” rather than “20-year-old,” “student” and “excessive force”? And, if so, is there any hope for them? Is there any hope that they might, one day, be able to devote their time to understanding the way in which the American republic punishes people for the fact of their own birth, twists and pushes and moulds people into criminal mentalities and behaviors?

I write these words with a tearful hope that some understanding may be reached between the people in the community who know Raheim Brown’s situation and the people who devote their every waking minute to ignoring the fact that he was born, that his parents and siblings and fiancée loved him, that he made mistakes, in part, due to his country’s disavowal of his human rights, of his humanity and his dignity.

The media criminalization of the young Black male victim of a police murder was blatantly apparent in the case of Kenneth Harding, killed by San Francisco police in broad daylight at the main intersection in Hunters Point on July 16 for having no proof he’d paid his $2 train fare.

I write because I know that not all of the former group are Black and not all of the latter group are white, but that, nevertheless, it is still an issue of white supremacy, because – as James Baldwin and Malcolm X always said – whiteness is a matter of worldview, a worldview which has trapped and condemned not only Hérissé, Brown, Grant and Duggan but, in a terrible death embrace, their executioners as well.

David “Shoshone” Slagle is a researcher and journalist born and raised in Oakland. He has studied in Los Angeles and London, U.K.

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Widespread Power Outages Spark Food Donation Inquiries


HARTFORD — With Hurricane Irene leaving many local households in the dark, many now worry they will have to throw out a freezer full of food.

Some are offering food to food shelter.

Foodshare said the agency has already received several inquiries this morning asking if donations are being accepted.  So officials have a few advice. First, it is recommended that people first contact a Foodshare partner agency in their own town to ensure the greatest efficiency.

In those instances where local programs are also experiencing power outages and are unable to accommodate such donations, Foodshare is happy to accept frozen food items that align with local health regulations.

Health regulations specify that donated products cannot be partially thawed, opened or homemade. They must be kept at a temperature of 40 degrees or less at all times, including during transport.

If you are looking to make a donation, please call 211 or visit 211ct.org to locate a food pantry, community kitchen or shelter in your town. You can also contact Foodshare at 860-286-9999 with any questions or concerns.

 

 

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State Approves $1 Million For Hartford Businesses


HARTFORD — Sen. Eric Coleman (D-Hartford/Bloomfield) announced that the state Bond Commission approved $1 million on Friday to grow businesses and jobs in the North End of Hartford through a North Hartford Community Revolving Loan Program.

“Small businesses are the engines of job creation in our economy, generating up to 65 percent of all new jobs nationwide over the past 15 years. A persistent problem throughout this recession has been a lack of available credit for small businesses to expand and take on new projects and new employees. I am very pleased that new funds have been approved for loans to small businesses in Hartford’s North End,” Coleman said.

The loan program will be managed by the Hartford Economic Development Corporation (HEDCo) to promote and stimulate economic growth by providing financing for North Hartford businesses which have difficulty accessing traditional financing sources.

A Wells Fargo/Gallup study performed earlier this year reports that 30 percent of small business owners say it is difficult for them to obtain credit. That is slightly better than the situation one year ago, but two to three times more difficult than it was in 2006 and 2007.

Revolving loan funds are designed to encourage growth and stimulate small and mid-sized industries and businesses resulting in the creation and retention of regional jobs.

“We are really excited to gain these new funds to help North End businesses create jobs. They will be a great help to many small companies, especially minority contractors working on new construction projects like the proposed public safety building and Nelton Court housing,” said Sam Hamilton, Executive Director of HEDCo. “The funds certainly come at an opportune time, and have been long awaited.”

HEDCo works with the Greater Hartford Business Development Center, Inc. (GHBDC) to provide its small business clientele with business support needs that would be otherwise un-met or under-served.

The two organizations aim to work in tandem to stimulate economic development in the Hartford Metropolitan Area by collaborating with concerned public and private organizations to help start, finance, retain, and recruit small businesses within Hartford and the surrounding cities and towns.

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Thousands Without Light


HARTFORD — More than 450, 000 customers are without light and restoration process has begun after the brunt of Hurricane Irene ripped through Southern Connecticut, electrical officials said Sunday.

The United Illuminating Company, an electric subsidiary of UIL Holdings Corporation, has begun the long process power restoration to customers who are without electricity in the wake of Hurricane Irene, causing significant destruction and widespread outages.

Areas hardest hit include Milford, Fairfield, Bridgeport, & Shelton but the entire service territory is experiencing outages.

As of 7:00 am this morning, more than 30,000 customers are without power across UI’s service territory, representing about 9.4 percent of UI’s total customers. The outage count is continuing to change.

“Approximately 142 crews will be working diligently around the clock to restore electricity,” said Anthony J. Vallillo, executive vice president and chief operating officer of UIL Holdings.

However, Vallillo added, due to the slow pace of the storm and how it is hovering, it will take crews some time to assess the damage.  Downed wires and safety concerns are being addressed first.

“We ask for our customers’ patience as we assess the damage and implement our restoration plan,” said James P. Torgerson, CEO of UIL Holdings. “Irene is a significant weather event, the likes of which we have not seen in Connecticut for many years. Our primary concern right now is the safety of the public and our employees.”

Torgerson urged the public to remain indoors and stay far away from utility lines and other electrical equipment.

Always assume power lines are live and dangerous, and report them to UI by calling 1-800-7-CALL-UI (1-800-722-5584) — be ready to provide the location and any specifics.

Customers of UIL Holdings’ gas utilities should report any gas odor or suspected leak to the numbers below:

  • Berkshire Gas Company: 800-292-5012
  • Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation: 866-924-5325
  • Southern Connecticut Gas Company: 800-513-8898

 

Customers who need other sorts of assistance should dial 211 to reach the state’s Infoline, which can put them in touch with a variety of local services including but not limited to  the American Red Cross.

 

 

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President Obama Signs CT Emergency Declaration


WASHINGTON — The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Connecticut and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Irene beginning on Aug. 26, 2011, and continuing.

The President’s action comes after Gov. Dannel Malloy requested that aide.

By declaring the state an emergency zone, the President authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts, which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population.

This will also provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all counties in the State of Connecticut, state officials said.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.

Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

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