Archive | October, 2011

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Three Area DMV Offices To Close


WETHERSFIELD – Enfield, New Britain, and Winsted Department of Motor Vehicles Offices will be closed on Nov. 1, because of  power outages and other storm-related issues.

Customers may visit http://ct.gov/dmv/offices to find an alternative office for DMV services.

Also, DMV will extend the validity and the time to renew driver licenses, non-driver ID cards, vehicle registrations and other credentials expiring October 29 through Nov. 10. They remain valid during that time period, but must be renewed by Nov. 10.

This extension includes the time needed to comply with emissions inspections. Law enforcement will be notified about these extensions.

In addition, late fees for both expiring credentials and emissions tests will be waived during this period only through November 10. All late fees will resume on November 11. Late-fee waivers do not cover expirations prior to October 29.

In addition, DMV reports other service-related issues due to last weekend’s storm:
· As of Monday evening, DMV’s Wethersfield office was on limited power and not accessible to disabled people due to a non-functioning elevator.
· DMV’s call center cannot accept telephone calls for in-person assistance, but recorded automated information is available. Customers can call 860-263-5700 (within Hartford area or outside Connecticut) or 1-800-842-8222 (elsewhere in Connecticut) or visit http://ct.gov/dmv.
· In DMV’s Wethersfield office only all road tests scheduled for Tuesday, November 1, have been cancelled. Customers can reschedule road tests by contacting DMV’s call center once it has returned to full operation.
· AAA’s Avon, Enfield and Plainville locations will be closed on Tuesday, November 1, and therefore will not be providing driver’s license and non-driver ID card renewal service.

For the latest information updates regarding DMV services, please visit the agency’s website at http://ct.gov/dmv.

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Historic Storm Hits Hartford, Cuts Power


HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Sunday at noon will alert the public about the extent of the damage caused by Saturday’s October Surprise: a historic snow storm.

About 770,000 Connecticut residents were left without power on Saturday and Hartford is no exception, Connecticut Light and Power officials said. City officials said more than 15,000 in Hartford have lost power. They released this statement yesterday:

Just when the memories of record snow were beginning to fade, Old Man Winter is making an early and rude arrival in Hartford.  Mayor Pedro E. Segarra and the Emergency Operations Team opened the City’s EOC at City Hall at 4:00 p.m.  The Department of Public Works, Hartford Fire Department, Hartford Police Department and Connecticut Light and Power members are all closely monitoring this heavy, wet snowfall.  The EOC will remain open until further notice.

“It is imperative that people avoid driving in this bad weather.  Never before in recorded weather history has this region been hit with this much snow this early.  Roads are slick, tree branches are down, and some areas are reporting power outages.  Hopefully, your family has already gathered essential items to help get through the storm,” said Mayor Segarra.

Some essential items to have on hand include:  water, non-perishable food items, warm clothes, flashlight, a manual can opener, radio, and hygiene and first aid items.

As of 7:25 p.m. on Saturday.

  • 14% or approximately 15,000 customers in Hartford are without power;
  • More than 50 trees are reported down;
  • The hardest hit neighborhoods are Blue Hills, the Northeast, and West End;
  • More than 120 calls have come into the HFD since the EOC opened.

Almost two dozen trucks will be out treating and plowing Hartford roads throughout the night; three tree crews will be out until midnight.  Priority areas are those without power and those with downed power lines.  If you see a downed power line, emergency officials urge you not to touch it.

Pope Park and Parker Memorial Community Centers are open as Emergency Shelters.

There is no parking ban in effect in the City of Hartford.

CL&P President and CEO Jeff Butler said: “This will not be a ‘quick fix’…this may take more than a week to restore all of our customers. There are reports of trees down practically everywhere. To help with damage assessments, we’re using two helicopters. Our other priorities today are handling emergency situations and working in partnership with the towns to clear the blocked roads.”

 

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NAM Radio: Democracy Now’s Juan Gonzalez


In over 35 years as an American journalist, Juan Gonzalez has done more than leave his mark — he has played a pivotal and crucial role in changing the face of American journalism.

As co-host of the award-winning Democracy Now!, he and his team proved that not only is it possible to create a national news program that is independent of corporate and power structures, but that millions of Americans will like it and watch it.

He joined New America Now Host Shirin Sadeghi to discuss his new book with co-author Joe Torres of the Washington-based Free Press, called News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media.

MP3

New America Now is the radio program of New America Media. The program is hosted by
Shirin Sadeghi.

 

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HUD Funds New Housing in Hartford


HARTFORD –The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has officially approved a $3.8 million grant to help finance a new housing project on the grounds of the Capewell Horseshoe Nail Factory, city officials said on Friday.

The current plan for the site is to construct 16 townhouses on the corner of Popieluszko Court and Wyllys Street that will be made available for low/moderate-income homebuyers. Among the units there will be two two-bedroom and fourteen three-bedroom townhomes.

“This grant will have an immediate and positive impact on our city,” Congressman John Larson said. “Combined with the ongoing process of helping Coltsville gain National Historic Park status, by converting the Capewell grounds into affordable housing, Hartford is creating jobs and laying a strong economic foundation for its future.”

Other officials see the new funding as progress.

“Through collaboration and commitment, we got a long stalled project off the ground and will improve the quality of life for residents and provide hope and opportunity for homebuyers. No longer are we talking about progress we are making progress,” said Mayor Pedro Segarra.

The project is scheduled to break ground next month and be completed by September of 2013, with new homeowners able to move in by December 2013.

 

 

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Earth Prepares for 7 billion Inhabitants


China Daily USAVivian Po,

The world’s population is expected to reach 7 billion on Monday, four years later than once predicted largely thanks to China’s family planning policy, according to the country’s top population experts.

Population growth has rocketed. It took just 13 years for 1 billion more people to live on the planet, yet only at the dawn of the 19th century did a billion people first inhabit the Earth, according to a report by the United Nations Population Fund.

Baby No 7 Billion will probably be born in the Asia-Pacific region, where the population growth rate is the highest in the world.

China’s family planning policy, which limits most mainland couples to one child, has prevented 400 million births since 1979, according to the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

The rising population presents challenges to humanity, Safiye Cagar, director of information and external relations for the fund, said on Tuesday.

“If we do not voluntarily stabilize population, we risk a much less humane end to growth as the ongoing destruction of the earth’s natural systems catches up with us,” the UN report said.

“How do we ensure that each of us has a decent standard of living while sustaining Earth’s resources?” Cagar said

Such a huge population will put a lot of pressure on Earth, said Yuan Xin, a professor at Tianjin-based Nankai University’s population and development institute. For example, the population increase plus the pursuit of a better quality of life will require more resources and therefore put the environment in danger.

“The prevented births of China are also significant for natural resource and environment preservation across the world,” Yuan said Tuesday. “But that merit might be offset if the Chinese consume relentlessly like the Westerners did, given China’s sheer population size.”

Official data released by China and the United States show that per capita consumption in China is 20 percent of that in the US. If the Chinese were to use as much energy per capita as Americans, its total power use would be more than four times that of the US.

“Today, the individual Chinese is among the top energy consumers in the developing world, which would definitely impact the world’s resources and environment,” Lu Jiehua, a sociology professor at Peking University, said on Tuesday.

Take changing diet structure, for example. As income has risen for the Chinese, they began to eat more meat products, but Lu said that breeding livestock is much more polluting and energy intensive than planting.

“However, China still lags far behind most industrial countries like the US in consumption of meat or aquatic products, eggs and milk,” he said.

According to Yuan, the Chinese government has recognized the potential for overconsumption of resources, and has adopted policies and taken steps to encourage a “green” economy and lifestyle.

For example, it has shut down energy- and pollution-intensive industries; has discouraged car buying through such measures as limiting license plates; has encouraged garbage sorting, water and electricity conservation; and banned the free distribution of plastic bags nationwide.

World fertility

Despite the problems the world faces, the 7 billionth child has a better chance of surviving past age 5 than a decade ago, said Noeleen Heyzer, undersecretary-general of the UN and executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Yuan said that one-third of the world’s countries, largely developed ones, have fertility rates below 2.1. That is the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime, and it’s the minimum rate to renew the population.

“Most developed countries, usually with lower fertility rates, are expecting a diminishing and aging population while the developing ones would instead see a stable rise in population, less aging,” he said.

The world’s fertility rate has been decreasing since the 1960s, easing global population pressure, Yuan said. On the other hand, population numbers keep rising. The UN has forecast that world population will reach 9.3 billion by the middle of this century.

China has succeeded in reining in its fast growth of population. In the 1990s, about 25 million people were born each year. The average today is 16 million.

Chinese statistics indicate the population, currently 1.34 billion, will peak at 1.45 billion in 2030 and will account for one-sixth of the world’s population. That’s a significant decrease from the one-third share of population held by China in the late 1660s and early 1700s, Yuan said.

According to the UN, India will overtake China as the most populous country in the world by 2050. The United States will be the only developed nation among the 10 most populated.

Labor migration

The population divide between developed countries and developing countries also will produce significant changes.

According to the UN forecast, among the 2.3 billion people to be added to the world by mid-century, 97 percent will come from developing countries. Developed countries will suffer a severe labor shortage, and labor will migrate to them from developing countries, which are vigorous in economic growth.

The global issue of aging populations is set to affect China, too, by increasing pressure on pension and healthcare systems. China will experience dramatic population changes, especially in terms of aging and gender balance.

“By 2050, some 25 percent of the world’s gray population will be from China, compared with 20 percent now,” Yuan said.

China’s labor population – people 15 to 59 years old – will fall from today’s 940 million to 750 million. Meanwhile, senior citizens will increase from 178 million to 480 million, from 13.3 percent of the total population to 34 percent.

Despite the shift in its labor population, China will still have more than 900 million people available to work in 2025, Yuan said, so pressure in the job market will remain high.

“We’ll still have a huge base of labor for a long time, just a little bit older,” he said. “Given improved life and medical services, the old could still be physically active.”

Gender balance

The sex ratio in China reached its peak at 120 – meaning 120 boys born for every 100 girls – in 2004. It stands at 118 now and is expected to drop to 115 by 2015.

The government has been trying to change people’s minds about preferring sons over daughters.

“It still takes time for the sex ratio to fall to the normal level of 103-107,” Yuan said. “When the generation born in the 1990s reaches its age of marriage and fertility, the relevant social problems will become more apparent.

“For example, a man will have difficulties in finding a wife; and male laborers will move into the industries that are traditionally dominated by the female due to oversupply of male labors.”

Li Jing contributed to this report.

 

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Hartford Health Network Receives $13.5 Million


HARTFORD — Joining with a national and statewide push to infuse the medical industry with money,  the state Bond Commission approved $13.5 million for improvement of six hospital and health centers in Hartford.

Hartford houses most of the medical centers in the Greater Hartford region and state law makers and investors are looking to “increase the city’s growing stature in medical education, as that sector becomes an increasingly important component of Connecticut’s economy.”

On Friday  Senator John Fonfara (D-Hartford), Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Senator Eric Coleman (D-Bloomfield) praised Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Bond Commission for approving the funds.

“These funds will make a multitude of improvements at the hospitals and health centers which serve the daily needs of Hartford residents and others in the region,” said Fonfara.

Coleman gave an explanation of how the funding would actually benefit city residents instead of just developers.

“The current round of bonding allocations is very consistent with the state interest in expanding health care coverage and making advancements in the way of health care is delivered, with a view toward reducing the cost of health care,” he said.

Hartford Hospital will receive a $5 million allocation for the expansion of a simulation and conference center on its campus in Hartford, which will add significantly to the hospital’s tools for medical education, officials said.

St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center was also awarded $5 million, to develop the Connecticut Institute for Primary Care Innovation at its Hartford location. The institute will provide opportunities for innovative models of medical training, and will serve as a laboratory for improving patient care through applied research, according to officials.

The Charter Oak Health Center and Community Health Services, Inc., the medical home for economically disadvantaged members of the North End of Hartford, will each receive $1 million for equipment to provide electronic medical records and access to remote treatment and training centers at their Harford facilities.

In addition, the Hispanic Health Council was granted $1 million for renovations and repairs at their Hartford facilities.

Saint Joseph College will receive $500,000 to assist with expansion of its School of Pharmacy in Hartford. 16,000 square feet will be added to the school’s leased space, including a third classroom, a library addition, student lounge and a faculty board room.

 

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Why Homelessness is Becoming an Occupy Wall Street Issue


By Barbara Ehrenreich, NAM

As anyone knows who has ever had to set up a military encampment or build a village from the ground up, occupations pose staggering logistical problems. Large numbers of people must be fed and kept reasonably warm and dry. Trash has to be removed; medical care and rudimentary security provided — to which ends a dozen or more committees may toil night and day. But for the individual occupier, one problem often overshadows everything else, including job loss, the destruction of the middle class, and the reign of the 1%. And that is the single question: Where am I going to pee?

Some of the Occupy Wall Street encampments now spreading across the U.S. have access to Port-o-Potties (Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.) or, better yet, restrooms with sinks and running water (Fort Wayne, Indiana). Others require their residents to forage on their own. At Zuccotti Park, just blocks from Wall Street, this means long waits for the restroom at a nearby Burger King or somewhat shorter ones at a Starbucks a block away. At McPherson Square in D.C., a twenty-something occupier showed me the pizza parlor where she can cop a pee during the hours it’s open, as well as the alley where she crouches late at night. Anyone with restroom-related issues — arising from age, pregnancy, prostate problems, or irritable bowel syndrome — should prepare to join the revolution in diapers.

Of course, political protesters do not face the challenges of urban camping alone. Homeless people confront the same issues every day: how to scrape together meals, keep warm at night by covering themselves with cardboard or tarp, and relieve themselves without committing a crime. Public restrooms are sparse in American cities — “as if the need to go to the bathroom does not exist,” travel expert Arthur Frommer once observed. And yet to yield to bladder pressure is to risk arrest. A report entitled “Criminalizing Crisis,” to be released later this month by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, recounts the following story from Wenatchee, Washington:

“Toward the end of 2010, a family of two parents and three children that had been experiencing homelessness for a year and a half applied for a 2-bedroom apartment. The day before a scheduled meeting with the apartment manager during the final stages of acquiring the lease, the father of the family was arrested for public urination. The arrest occurred at an hour when no public restrooms were available for use. Due to the arrest, the father was unable to make the appointment with the apartment manager and the property was rented out to another person. As of March 2011, the family was still homeless and searching for housing.”

What the Occupy Wall Streeters are beginning to discover, and homeless people have known all along, is that most ordinary, biologically necessary activities are illegal when performed in American streets — not just peeing, but sitting, lying down, and sleeping. While the laws vary from city to city, one of the harshest is in Sarasota, Florida, which passed an ordinance in 2005 that makes it illegal to “engage in digging or earth-breaking activities” — that is, to build a latrine — cook, make a fire, or be asleep and “when awakened state that he or she has no other place to live.”

It is illegal, in other words, to be homeless or live outdoors for any other reason. It should be noted, though, that there are no laws requiring cities to provide food, shelter, or restrooms for their indigent citizens.

The current prohibition on homelessness began to take shape in the 1980s, along with the ferocious growth of the financial industry (Wall Street and all its tributaries throughout the nation). That was also the era in which we stopped being a nation that manufactured much beyond weightless, invisible “financial products,” leaving the old industrial working class to carve out a livelihood at places like Wal-Mart.

As it turned out, the captains of the new “casino economy” — the stock brokers and investment bankers — were highly sensitive, one might say finicky, individuals, easily offended by having to step over the homeless in the streets or bypass them in commuter train stations. In an economy where a centimillionaire could turn into a billionaire overnight, the poor and unwashed were a major buzzkill. Starting with Mayor Rudy Giuliani in New York, city after city passed “broken windows” or “quality of life” ordinances making it dangerous for the homeless to loiter or, in some cases, even look “indigent,” in public spaces.

No one has yet tallied all the suffering occasioned by this crackdown — the deaths from cold and exposure — but “Criminalizing Crisis” offers this story about a homeless pregnant woman in Columbia, South Carolina:

“During daytime hours, when she could not be inside of a shelter, she attempted to spend time in a museum and was told to leave. She then attempted to sit on a bench outside the museum and was again told to relocate. In several other instances, still during her pregnancy, the woman was told that she could not sit in a local park during the day because she would be ‘squatting.’ In early 2011, about six months into her pregnancy, the homeless woman began to feel unwell, went to a hospital, and delivered a stillborn child.”

Well before Tahrir Square was a twinkle in anyone’s eye, and even before the recent recession, homeless Americans had begun to act in their own defense, creating organized encampments, usually tent cities, in vacant lots or wooded areas. These communities often feature various elementary forms of self-governance: food from local charities has to be distributed, latrines dug, rules — such as no drugs, weapons, or violence — enforced. With all due credit to the Egyptian democracy movement, the Spanish indignados, and rebels all over the world, tent cities are the domestic progenitors of the American occupation movement.

There is nothing “political” about these settlements of the homeless — no signs denouncing greed or visits from leftwing luminaries — but they have been treated with far less official forbearance than the occupation encampments of the “American autumn.” LA’s Skid Row endures constant police harassment, for example, but when it rained, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had ponchos distributed to nearby Occupy LA.

All over the country, in the last few years, police have moved in on the tent cities of the homeless, one by one, from Seattle to Wooster, Sacramento to Providence, in raids that often leave the former occupants without even their minimal possessions. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, last summer, a charity outreach worker explained the forcible dispersion of a local tent city by saying, “The city will not tolerate a tent city. That’s been made very clear to us. The camps have to be out of sight.”

What occupiers from all walks of life are discovering, at least every time they contemplate taking a leak, is that to be homeless in America is to live like a fugitive. The destitute are our own native-born “illegals,” facing prohibitions on the most basic activities of survival. They are not supposed to soil public space with their urine, their feces, or their exhausted bodies. Nor are they supposed to spoil the landscape with their unusual wardrobe choices or body odors. They are, in fact, supposed to die, and preferably to do so without leaving a corpse for the dwindling public sector to transport, process, and burn.

But the occupiers are not from all walks of life, just from those walks that slope downwards — from debt, joblessness, and foreclosure — leading eventually to pauperism and the streets. Some of the present occupiers were homeless to start with, attracted to the occupation encampments by the prospect of free food and at least temporary shelter from police harassment. Many others are drawn from the borderline-homeless “nouveau poor,” and normally encamp on friends’ couches or parents’ folding beds.

In Portland, Austin, and Philadelphia, the Occupy Wall Street movement is taking up the cause of the homeless as its own, which of course it is. Homelessness is not a side issue unconnected to plutocracy and greed. It’s where we’re all eventually headed — the 99%, or at least the 70%, of us, every debt-loaded college grad, out-of-work school teacher, and impoverished senior — unless this revolution succeeds.

Barbara Ehrenreich, TomDispatch regular, is the author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (now in a 10th anniversary edition with a new afterword).

 

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DMV Offers Online Services


WETHERSFIELD – The Department of Motor Vehicles wants to remind customers it offers some online services – including verification of registrations and certain kinds of registration renewals – through the agency’s website.

Customers who do not have any outstanding obligations, such as delinquent property taxes, receive a personal identification number (PIN) in their renewal notice. It allows access to DMV’s online registration renewal system. The DMV website also has a link allowing anyone to enter a marker plate number to learn if the plate is legally registered.

These and other options can be found at http://ct.gov/dmv and click on “Online Services.”

“Our Internet services give customers the opportunity to take care of DMV business anywhere and at anytime,” DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey. “We want to make sure our customers know they can save time – and it some cases a stamp or trip to our offices – by going to our website.”

In addition to online registration and verifying a marker plate, customers can online cancel a lost or stolen marker plate, file a complaint against a licensed motor vehicle dealer or repair shop, look up whether a vanity plate is available, obtain a change-of-address form and access the Judicial Department’s infraction website where someone may either pay a ticket or plead Not Guilty.

DMV also has a computer modernization project underway and it is expected to bring more online services. These would include assistance to customers needing to handle issues related to the state’s mandatory insurance requirements on vehicles. It also will allow them to order vanity plates and allow customers to do certain information look-ups that might tell them whether they can obtain a license or registration. One kind of look-up is the suspension records and driver history records that show violations that prevent someone from getting a license or registration.

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Baby Diapers Available To Hartford Residents


HARTFORD — Low-income Hartford residents struggling to pay for diapers now have a new resource to tap.

The Diaper Bank in North Haven is inviting parents to the“Rock Your Baby” Celebration to support the  inaugural Diaper Needs Awareness Day on Oct. 27.

The Diaper Bank will host its 4th annual “Rock Your Baby” event this Thursday and the goal of the event is to honor those who have aided in the recognition of diaper needs as a pressing social issue and who have contributed to the growth of the Diaper Bank, organizers said.

“Rock Your Baby” will take place from 6:30-9:00pm at The Old Guitar Store, 153 East Street in New Haven. Tickets are $52 and discounts will be provided to those who bring packs of diapers.

The event will be preceded by a panel policy discussion open to the public regarding the effect of diaper need on children and their families.  The panel discussion will take place from 5:00-6:30 pm at the Old Guitar Store, 153 East Street, New Haven, CT.  There is no charge to attend the discussion.

The Diaper Bank provides diapers to poor and low-income families across CT through local community agencies.

For more information, contact Janet Alfano at The Diaper Bank at 203-934-7009 or on her cell phone 860-276-8020 or by email at janet@thediaperbank.org

www.thediaperbank.org

 

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State Home Loan Program Gets New Life


HARTFORD — After being in danger of ending, the state’s emergency loan program for homeowners facing foreclosure will get a reprieve.

On Friday Governor Dannel P. Malloy and State Treasurer Denise Nappierpledged to continue the Connecticut Housing and Finance Authority’s popular Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program that helps homeowners facing foreclsoures.

An identified lapse in the general fund debt service account will allow Malloy’s administration the flexibility to provide additional assistance for this program, which will allow CHFA to provide an additional 280 loans to homeowners facing foreclosure over the next six months.

“This is great news for homeowners in Connecticut who are at risk of losing their home,” Malloy said.  “Because of additional strain on this state program after the federal program ended at the beginning of this month, it looked as though CHFA would have to end its program, too.  My administration worked with Treasurer Nappier’s office to find a way to keep this program operational for the next six months, and help an additional 280 homeowners in the process.”

Attached is Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes’ letter to the Treasurer’s Office suggesting a way to keep the program operational.

“Our efficient management of the state’s debt has helped save on debt service.  Those savings, thankfully, are now available to support this vitally important program,” State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier said.  “With more than 40,000 Connecticut homeowners seriously delinquent or in foreclosure, it’s crucial we do all we can to help our friends and neighbors who are struggling.”

EMAP requires that the loan to homeowners must be repaid, and helps bring their mortgage to current status and provide a monthly subsidy for up to five years bridging the gap between the mortgage amount and the amount the homeowner can pay based on income.  Already this year, EMAP has made 247 loans to Connecticut homeowners.  Further information about the program can be found at www.chfa.org.

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