Archive | June, 2013

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Spotlight Theater to Host Howard Stern Crew


HARTFORD — Spotlight Theater is gearing up to host “the biggest radio show in history” on June 28.

Yes…, that show, which is like a magnet for impossibly weird, hilarious and lovable characters. This contingent of  personalities will be in Hartford for their last ever performance together on the East Coast.

Ronnie Mund, also known as Ronnie the Limo Driver, found his way from the driver’s seat to the broadcast booth in the late ’80s and became a fan favorite in the ensuing decades. The Block Party pairs him as variety show host with JD Harmeyer, the impossibly awkward intern who became a star.

Shuli Egar, the tour’s headlining comedian, got his start in radio as a fan. Through an on-air challenge and a game of blackjack in Vegas, Shuli ultimately became one of the leading voices in comedy radio news.
Like the Block Party audience, the performers are a divergent cross-section of culture, all tied together with a love for telling it how it is. The uber-confrontational Maddog Mattern and metalhead John Tole relish the chance to meet and mock fans all across the country.
In its short existence, the Ronnie Mund Block Party has rapidly gained momentum, recently filling four shows in Boston. Following a fan immersion experience in Jamaica and poker tournament in a Atlantic City, the tour grew too big for its breeches and attracted the disapproval of the lead performers’ employer.
Hartford is the last East Coast date on the farewell tour.

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University of Hartford High to Hold Grad Ceremony


WEST HARTFORD —  The University High School of Science and Engineering’s will confer degrees to 94 students in the Class of 2013 on Wednesday at the Lincoln Theater on the University of Hartford campus in West Hartford.

The graduation ceremony is expected to begin at 5 p.m.

School officials said that all the graduates of the class of 2013 plan to attend a two- or four-year college or university, except for the two who plan to join the military. Ten of the graduates plan to attend the University of Hartford. Some of the other colleges and universities the graduates plan to attend include Northeastern University, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, among others.

Scheduled speakers at the graduation ceremony include UHSSE social studies teacher John Bevans, class president J’Vaughn Joseph, Hawks speaker Vajid Pathan, senior poem presenter Bartomiej Szaro, UHSSE Principal Martin Folan, and remarks by University of Hartford President Walter Harrison.

The University High School of Science and Engineering was founded in 2004 as a partnership between the University of Hartford and the Hartford Public Schools. University High School is based on the “Early College” model, in which qualified students can take college courses and earn credits for college while still attending high school. Graduating classes from University High School have produced a 95 percent or better rate of acceptance to colleges and universities.

University High School has received several highly prestigious national awards, including being named a Magnet School of Excellence in 2013, 2012, and 2008; being named one of the Best High Schools in America in 2011 and 2010 byU.S. News & World Report; and winning a Sir Isaac Newton Award for Achievements in Science award in 2011.

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JoAnn Price is WH Champion of Change


WASHINGTON, DC – At the Wilson-Gray YMCA, JoAnn Price  has helped to develop a truly remarkable Youth Achievers Program, helping youngsters grades five through 12 develop life skills and achieve key educational goals through active engagement with adult role models and mentors, her colleagues and friends say.

That’s one reason why Price, a member of the Y’s board of directors, was selected as one of the White House’s Champions of Change last Friday at the White House celebration for “a champion of Hartford youth.” The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White house to feature groups of Americans – individuals, businesses and organizations – who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. Honorees were recognized for their efforts in transforming communities and making them better places to live.

“Whatever I bring to the community, either professionally or personally, returns to me tenfold, both in the knowledge that I have helped someone somewhere and in the progress I see and feel and enjoy in the world around me. My work with the YMCA is uniquely gratifying, because together, we are making such a difference right here at home,” Price says.

In addition, JoAnn supports the Adult Achievers Program, providing parents and grandparents of Youth Achievers with guidance and support regarding a multitude of issues and concerns impacting their wellbeing. As a result of JoAnn’s personal mentoring, every Youth Achievers has graduated from high school and entered on to college.

Price was one of twelve people who are YMCA “Champions of Change.” This Champions event focused on YMCA leaders and Y Partners for their efforts in transforming communities and making them better places to live. From addressing child hunger and reducing obesity, to improving education for kids and caretakers, each of the honorees has played an instrumental role in strengthening the community. Sponsors of the program said that by participating in these efforts, the YMCA and Y Partners have helped reduce child violence in communities around the country as well as making different communities a better environment for children to grow up in.

To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a Champion, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

 

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Privacy Is No Longer An Option


By  Glenn Mollet, Op-Ed

Recent news about cell phone giant Verizon is a bit disconcerting. Every phone record of every Verizon customer is now an open book to our government. Can we not call mom without it being the government’s business? Is there no such thing as “personal” anymore? Alarmingly the answer is no.

No one wants a terrorist living next door. We do not want people roaming our country looking for lives and buildings to destroy.

Our FBI, CIA and military intelligence must be commended and praised for their efforts to prevent heinous acts from happening in our country.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionHowever, our liberty is at risk when anyone from the government can show up at any time and search through our homes, invade our personal property, invade our banking account information, go through our mail and family picture albums, or go through all of our computers to see every web page we’ve ever browsed. The books we read at the library, our newspaper subscriptions and what we bought at the grocery store is nobody else’s business. I hear the argument “If you aren’t hiding anything then what do you care?” I care because, as a United States citizen, it is an invasion of our liberty. One invasion leads to another. The loss of freedom is slowly eroding in our country.

The government is supposedly protecting you. Then one day we wake up in fear of making a move without government permission.

Any invasion of our personal lives or privacy should go through proper channels and the legal process of being granted an investigative search warrant. In this scenario papers would have to be filled out explaining why such a search is necessary. Authorities who do such random searches must be held accountable for any damage done to the citizen’s home, family pictures, files, computers, clothes or any item that has been touched or mishandled in anyway.

Authorities who search without just cause should be responsible for dry cleaning bills, carpet cleaning, painting and the purchase of new electronics if any of the electronics are damaged. If the suspicions end up true and the raided house ends us revealing someone who is plotting to hurt others then that changes the scenario.

Those who search should never be allowed to destroy someone’s home and leave it in a state of disaster.

When someone is suspected as being a threat to hurting anyone or suspected of being a terroristic threat to a community or our nation then of course everything must be done to determine what is going on and every precaution taken to save lives.

The truth of the matter is that if the FBI invades a person’s home and does a search and they find 50 guns it doesn’t mean anything. Many people collect guns. If the person has told people about his plans to shoot people at the movie theatre or if he has written threatening stuff on Face book then the authorities have every right to take his guns, investigate and arrest him if they find documented facts.

The Patriot Act was established after the 911 attacks. We will never forget the heinous crimes committed against our country. The question is this, “Has the patriot act made us safer as a nation?

The Patriot Act has given the government more freedom to invade any person’s privacy in Any Place, USA, but has it made you safer? Do you feel safer because of the Patriot Act? Since the Patriot Act there have been countless episodes of violence that the new law has not prevented throughout the states. Military base shootings, office shootings, campus shootings, movie theatre shootings and more.

For every terroristic act that has been stopped we celebrate as a country and thank those involved in preventing it.

The Patriot Act needs to be edited. Our citizens should only have to fear criminals and terrorists, not government officials with a license to violate our civil liberties. There should be a compromise and a system of checks and balances that protect the freedom of Americans as well as keeping us safe.

Glenn Mollette is the author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion, plus hundreds of other stories, articles and books. You can hear him each Sunday night on XM Radio on 131 at 8 EST. Contact him at gmollette@aol.com

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Hartford to Begin Road Work Throughout City


HARTFORD –As a part of its ongoing Capital Improvement Projects, the City of Hartford will begin street milling and paving operations at several locations on Friday.

Over nine miles of pavement are scheduled for rehabilitation, representing an investment of $2.3 million dollars in City infrastructure for the current fiscal year. The work will bring the total road milling and repaving investment under Mayor Pedro  Segarra to $11.3 million dollars, accounting for nearly 110 miles of restored road surface, city officials said.

Work is scheduled to run as continuously and is expected to be completed by fall 2013.  City officials are asking residents to be alert during construction Drivers should also be alert for modified traffic patterns, short travel delays, and construction vehicles entering and exiting work sites.

A complete list and schedule of road rehabilitation under is available on the City website: http://www.hartford.gov/dpw/updates/903-schedule-of-phase-1-cip-road-construction

 

 

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AG: Beware of Vacation Scams


HARTFORD — Selling or donating your timeshare, or hoping to land a great deal on a vacation getaway? You might be particularly vulnerable to certain scams, Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein and Attorney General George Jepsen warned on Thursday.

“Connecticut is joining the Federal Trade Commission and other consumer organizations nationwide in a multistate, multi-national law enforcement initiative to call attention to a host of bogus travel and timeshare deals,” Rubenstein said. “At best, these offers are of little value to consumers, and at worst, many are outright rip-offs.”

Jepsen urged consumers to “beware of any unsolicited offers and companies that ask you to pay fees up front with a credit card or wire transfer. Use due diligence to check out these companies thoroughly before you provide any money. Don’t be pressured into making a costly mistake.”

Today’s nationwide announcement is a culmination of participation among federal, state and international regulatory authorities, and includes 190 enforcement actions, with nine actions brought by the Federal Trade Commission, 83 separate actions taken in 28 states, 58 criminal prosecutions involving 168 criminal defendants and 24 international enforcement actions. More information from the FTC is here.

Connecticut officials have referred the three companies involved in these industries to the attorney general for legal action, namely: Donate Title d/b/a Resort Members Association, Vacation Smart International, and RSI, or Reservation Services International.

There are several kinds of scams, including Timeshare Sale Scam: Timeshare owners looking to sell may be contacted by companies that say they have an eager, ready buyer – but the owners must pay the company a fee before the deal can be struck. In most cases, consumers who pay the fee eventually discover that there was never a buyer, they never hear from the company again, and they never get the refund they were promised.

Timeshare Transfer or Donation Scam: Owners may want to transfer ownership of their timeshare to avoid paying ongoing maintenance fees on a property they no longer use. Bogus companies offer to coordinate the timeshare donation for an upfront fee of up to $5,000, assuring the owners that their ongoing maintenance responsibilities will cease. Many owners have paid such fees only to find out that scammers made off with their money without conducting the transfer of ownership or donation. These owners are out $5,000 and still responsible for all the ownership-related costs of their timeshare.

The Commissioner and the Attorney General offered the following best practices for selling a timeshare:

·         Deal only with licensed real estate brokers or agents. Check with the Real Estate Commission in the state where your timeshare is located to make sure the real estate agent or broker has a current license.

·         Get all terms in writing before you agree to anything. That includes services that will be performed, timing of the sale, fees and commissions, cancellation and refund policies. If a company says you have to act now or you might miss out on a buyer, it’s not a company you want to do business with.

·         Be wary of any company that contacts you, and check them out thoroughly before you agree to anything.  Search online by entering the company name and the word “complaints” or “scam.”

If you think you have been targeted by a travel or timeshare scam, please report it immediately to the Department of Consumer Protection at dcp.frauds@ct.gov.

 

 

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‘The Talk’ — How to Tell Your 8-Year-Old About Climate Change


By Ngoc NguyenNew America Media

When Ian Kim imagines the world his 7-year-old daughter will be living in 20 years from now, he says, it keeps him up at night. Images of ever more frequent super storms like Sandy, along with rising seas, or drought and heat waves wreaking havoc with crops haunt his waking hours.

“It’s a huge worry for me,” said Kim, a self-described environmental and social justice activist. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 10.”

It’s a sentiment likely shared by parents the world over, though it’s especially pronounced among those working close to the issue. Kim described climate change as “a slow motion disaster that is already happening right now.”

Studies suggest that a mere uptick of a few degrees in temperature would lead to catastrophe on a global scale. The world witnessed yet another milestone when the level of greenhouse gases that drive global warming recently reached 400 ppm, a benchmark that The New York Times noted was pushing the world closer to “the point of no return when climate impacts will be baked into our future.”

As a parent, Kim is grappling with how to prepare his daughter, Minju, who turns 8 next month, for a much harsher future.

“I think there’s a larger conversation to have with her about … the very challenging future that we’re hurtling towards,” he said, adding that he wanted to do more research before broaching the topic with her to avoid presenting “an overblown doomsday scenario.”

He’s not alone. For environmental activists who, like Kim, are raising children, the turning point toward concerted action comes when work takes on a personal urgency. Kim recently left a post working on Van Jones’ Rebuild the Dream campaign, which focused in part on creating an economy beneficial to both young people and the environment.

Lisa Hoyos, an environmental advocate who has worked on labor and environment issues for more than two decades, believes parents are an important voice in addressing climate change. She co-founded Climate Parents, an Oakland-based organization that seeks to mobilize parents on the issue.

“Climate change is such a major threat to the future of my kids and everyone’s kids,” said Hoyos, who has a 4- and a 7-year old. “Parents more than any other group [have a] deep vested interest in our future, [because] the people we love most are in danger.”

Hoyos, who directs the Blue Green Alliance, is on partial leave to further develop Climate Parents through a citizen-engagement project accelerator program. She co-founded the group in the summer of 2012 with journalist and author Mark Hertsgaard, who wrote Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth. Its board includes Ian Kim, the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune and author Annie Leonard.

Since the group’s founding, Climate Parents has signed on 3000 members. One of its first campaigns was to elevate the issue of climate change among the presidential candidates.

Hoyos says her 7-year-old, Kai, is already aware of climate change.

“It comes from me. It comes from school. Exposure they get to the media … all the coverage [of Super storm] Sandy or drought,” said Hoyos. “Kids ask questions if they hear things in the news … sometimes kids are afraid. ‘All the fires, are they going to come here?’”

Hoyos says that when children encounter problems, they are very interested in “understanding solutions.” Learning about solar panels from his father, who works for a solar firm, Hoyos recalled her son asking, “Why don’t we have more of it. How do we get more of it?”

Those questions lead to a conversation about how change happens in society, pointing to examples from history such as the Civil Rights Movement, during which people marched, wrote letters, and stood up.

“It’s a similar fight here,” Hoyos said. “Powerful forces [are working] to keep things how they are even though it’s hurting our planet, our air and our health.”

Journalist Lisa Bennett, who is writing a book about climate change and parents, said the most important conversation parents can have with their kids about climate change is “one in which they talk and we listen.”

“I think that children can be our guides on this topic. They can help us know how much they are ready to know and when,” she said, adding that she would refrain from having “the talk” with kids younger than 8 years old.

“[Climate change] is a topic that causes people — kids and grownups alike — a lot of fear … but when we’re talking about children we don’t want to instill fear,” she said. “Our kids didn’t create this problem, so they shouldn’t be made to feel they are responsible for fixing it when they are still children.”

Based on numerous interviews with parents, researchers, and psychologists, Bennett, who is the mother of two boys, ages 9 and 13, said it is most important for young children to “just have a chance to experience nature and be kids … have a chance to fall in love with it.”

“[That should] absolutely not be taken away by serving up too much too soon.”

Bennett agrees that parents play a critical role in responding to climate change, but she said it’s not enough to limit climate action to the home sphere. Groups like Hoyos’ help to connect parents to the public sphere, where they can influence policymakers.

For Ian Kim, the parent grappling with how to talk to his  daughter about climate change, those conversations are the foundation for breeding leadership.

“I think what really matters [is to ask], “Is there resilience in our communities to the changes that are coming? Is there leadership in our community … to help people come together and point toward a solution and not be divisive?”

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Hartford to Hold Movies After Dark


HARTFORD — For the second consecutive summer, the Marketing, Events and Cultural Affairs Division will host a Movies After Dark program in the City of Hartford. Each Friday night from June 14th through September 6th, a different film will be screened in one of eight Hartford parks.

 Movies After Dark events open at 7pm, and feature a variety of family-friendly activities before showtime begins at sunset. Many of the events feature food vendors, but residents are encouraged to pack picnic dinners.

 Rain or threatening weather will cancel Movies After Dark events; please contact the weather line at 860.757.9009. In the event of bad weather on June 14th, June 21st, July 26th and September 6th, the scheduled movies will be played Saturday night.

For more information and a complete list of movies, dates, and locations, go to http://www.hartford.gov/events/864-hartford-parks-free-movies-after-dark-2013. To keep up to date on other Hartford events, follow the Marketing, Arts and Cultural Affairs Division on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HartfordMECA.

 

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Senate Passes Biennial Budget


HARTFORD – State Sen. John Fonfara (D-Hartford), Senate Chairman of the Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee, on Monday announced the passage of  led a biennial budget plan for Connecticut that “protects the safety net and preserves municipal aid without raising taxes.”

“After many months of work, I am pleased that we are now able to pass a fully balanced budget without an increase in taxes. At the same time, this budget preserves funding for critical safety net and economic development programs. It also maintains current levels of state aid to cities and towns, without which property taxes would surely have risen for most state residents,” Fonfara said.

In crafting a biennial budget for the upcoming 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, legislators faced projected deficits of $1.5 billion and $1.35 billion in each year respectively. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed a budget in January that closed these deficits without raising new taxes, according to Democrats.

In the months that followed, Fonfara and his Co-Chair, Rep. Patricia Widlitz (D-Guilford), hammered out a budget that “honored the governor’s commitment. The budget’s finance package notably:

·        Does not raise income or sales taxes.

·        Includes a sales tax exemption for clothing and shoes totaling $13.8 million in FY 15.

·        Expedites a phase-out of the electric generation tax, raising $17.5 million in FY 14 only.

·        Includes a tax amnesty program, which will allow penalties and fees to be waived in exchange for payment of delinquent tax bills in full.

In order to address the deficit, the budget makes almost $2.7 billion in cuts over two years, a sizeable reduction in state spending that follows a further $6 billion in cuts which were enacted over the past four years, Fonfara said in a statement.

The biennial budget legislation, House Bill 6704, was adopted by the Senate in a 19 to 17 vote. The bill was previously approved by the House of Representatives on June 1. It now proceeds to the governor’s desk and he is expected to sign it.

 

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America Must Keep A Strong Military


By Glenn Mollette, Op-Ed Contributor

The recent assassination of a British soldier walking down a street in London was a despicable act. He proudly wore his country’s uniform and for that he gave his life.

Most of us are very proud of our military. We should be. Without our armed forces we would not be the free country we are today.

America must keep a strong military. Our sons and daughters put everything on the line for our country. We should stand strong with them.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionWe must keep a strong number of soldiers. We never want the world to look at us with the perception that we have a weak military. Currently we have a small Navy, (Russia is on the move building a super Navy) and a small Air Force. The Army and Marines are tired and stressed out because too few are being asked to do too much. We need a larger pool of service men and women to do the work they are being asked to do. We could certainly use some of them just to protect our own borders.

However, we must get out of the war business. We do not have to be in an ongoing war. Congress should always vote and declare war if America is involved in the war. We then should go in and get the job done. Fighting wars for five and 10 years is too long.

Deployments of our soldiers are generally too long. Fifteen months is too long. For the sake of our soldiers and their families we must eliminate 15-month tours. No tour of duty should ever be longer than 12 months, but I am in favor of a nine-month tour. Nine months is a long time to be away from family. This would reduce stress and give our military hope of being able to emotionally survive. Too many soldiers return back from deployment emotionally shattered to marriages that are stressed to the max. A nine or six-month tour would be better than a 12-month tour.military

Our service men and women deserve our best support while they are in the service and then we should help them as they transition back to civilian life. Every service person should have civilian life boot camp before they are released from the military. They should leave with a fine-tuned resume featuring their education and skills they learned while in service. The basics of how to find job openings and preparing to interview for a job opening should be taught. A plan of how to return to civilian life and go forward with an active life should be addressed. This might help keep some of our veterans off the street. It is sad that we live in a nation where so many of our former service people live on the streets of America. There are different reasons for this but it should never be because we did not help transition soldiers back to everyday life. We must take care of our veterans with continued support for their college education, health care insurance and benefits that were earned while in service to our nation.

It is my prayer that we never have to use our military in another war. I would love to see our nation never lose another person on the battleground. We should never enter into any kind of war without the consent of Congress. When we do enter into any kind of conflict it should be quickly carried out. When we are finished we need to leave. The long drawn out years of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan should never have occurred and could have been completed in a shorter time period.

Glenn Mollette is the author of American Issues and hundreds of other articles and books.He has two sons in the military. Hear him each Sunday night on XM radio 131 at 8 EST. Contact him at gmollette@aol.com

 

 

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