Archive | August, 2013

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Man Dies After Club Fight Downtown Hartford


HARTFORD — A disturbance at “Up on the Rocks,” a downtown night club left an East Hartford man dead and one suspect in custody, according to police.

The victim, a 21-year-old man of East Hartford, died after he was transported to St. Francis Hospital.

According to Hartford Police, officers working in the downtown area heard a single gunshot at 12:58 a.m. Friday.

The shot came from the area of Church and High streets. And the victim was found at the corner of High and Allen streets.

Police said the disturbance started inside  “Up  or On the Rocks” night club. After the club closed and patrons exited, the altercation continued outside in the street then moved to the parking lot at the corner of High and Church streets, where the unidentified suspect shot the unidentified victim in the chest.

Officers in the area were able to secure several witnesses.

HPD Major Crimes detectives  said they have made significant progress in identifying a suspect and will release  information within the coming days. Victim identification is pending next of kin notification. Police said both the victim and suspect from this incident are not Hartford residents.

Police is asking anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Lt. Brian Foley at 860-757-4463 or report tips anonymously at 860-722-TIPS (8477).

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CT Receives Grant to Reduce AP Fees


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Obama administration is ushering in the democratization of Advanced Placement tests, usually reserved for the wealthy and the connected.

Connecticut is one of 42 states that will receive grants to cover a portion of the fees charged to low-income students for taking advanced placement (AP) tests. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education made the announcement of more than $28.8 million that has been awarded. Of that amount, Connecticut is expected to receive $334, 680.

Based on the anticipated number of test-takers and other factors, federal officials said that the grants under the Advanced Placement Test Fee Program are expected to be sufficient to pay all but $10 of the cost of each advanced placement exam taken by low-income students. States may opt to require students to pay a portion of the costs.

According to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this is in an effort to “boost college- and career readiness for our young people, especially first-generation college goers.”

The rational behind the award, Duncan said is that “participation in Advanced Placement courses gives these students a jump start in college by challenging them to develop stronger study and critical-thinking skills. These grants will eliminate some financial roadblocks and enable more minority students to gain access to rigorous AP courses, which will help them succeed in today’s knowledge economy.”

By subsidizing test fees for low-income students, the program is intended to encourage those students to take AP tests and obtain college credit for high school courses, reducing the time and cost required to complete a postsecondary degree.

The grants can be used to help pay for low-income students taking approved AP tests administered by the College Board, the InternationalBaccalaureate Organization and Cambridge International Examinations. Levels of funding per state were determined on the basis of state estimates of the numbers of tests that would be taken by low-income students. Following is a list of the grant recipients.

The Advanced Placement Test Fee grants program is administered by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. For additional information on the program and these new awards, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/apfee/index.html.

 

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Hartford Public Library Unveils ‘The Kitchen’ Cafe


HARTFORD — On Thursday, the Hartford Public Library opened the Kitchen, a cafe with delicatessens, sandwiches and other hearty snacks, all on display in the glass enclosed front section on the main floor of the building.

Thursday marks the full opening of The Kitchen @ Hartford Public Library, an innovative new partnership between Hartford Public Library and Billings Forge, officials said.

It is billed as a one-stop-shop for job training and permanent job placement for those who work in Hartford.

Official said that this unique partnership between two leading area nonprofits was born out of our shared commitment to strengthening Hartford’s Main Street and improving the quality of life for those who live in Hartford. The partnership aligns with Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra’s Opportunities Hartford program, which seeks to weave together what the community does well to minimize the City’s social deficits with an emphasis on income, education and employment.

The Kitchen will be open to the public from 8:00am – 4:00pm Monday-Friday and serve breakfast, lunch and café snacks.

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Citibank to Pay CT Residents $55,000


HARTFORD – Attorney General George Jepsen has announced that Citibank N.A. is expected to pay $55,000 to the state of Connecticut and will obtain a third-party data security audit of its online credit and debit card account system under a settlement filed in court today, A

The settlement comes after a joint investigation with the California Attorney General’s Office revealed that a known technical vulnerability in Citibank’s Account Online Web-based service permitted hackers to access multiple user accounts. Hackers accessed account information through Account Online by logging in with an account number and password, and then modifying a few characters in the resulting Universal Resource Locater (URL) bar in a browser in order to access additional accounts. This vulnerability was known to the company at the time of the breach and may have existed since 2008.

Citibank discovered that Account Online had been breached on May 10, 2011, but did not permanently fix the vulnerability until May 27, 2011, and did not begin notifying affected customers until June 11, 2011.

Account information for more than 360,000 Citibank customers, including about 5,066 Connecticut residents, was accessed or obtained by hackers.

Jepsen said that the settlement “not only ensures that Citibank will be responsive to its customers should this system experience a breach in the future, it also requires the company to review and audit its security protocols.”

Under the settlement agreement, Citibank will pay $15,000 in civil penalties to the state’s Privacy Protection Guaranty and Enforcement Account, which is used for the reimbursement of losses sustained by individuals injured by certain data breaches and for enforcing the state’s data breach laws.

An additional $40,000 will be paid to the state’s General Fund to resolve allegations of violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, or CUTPA.

Further, Citibank is required to hire an independent third party to conduct an information security audit of Account Online and report a detailed summary of its findings to the Attorney General. The company will be required to maintain reasonable security procedures and practices to protect Account Online in the future. Citibank must also provide appropriate notice and free credit monitoring for two years to any individual affected by certain future security incidents involving Account Online.

The settlement is not final until approved by the court.

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I Have a Dream: An Export Mightier Than McTikka


By Sandip Roy,  First Post  

KOLKATA, India — At my school in Kolkata, far far away from the American civil rights movement and the red hills of Georgia, I Have a Dream was an elocution favorite. Tutored by Belgian priests, Bengali students from resolutely middle class families belted out their renditions of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech. Stripped of its historical context, delivered in the prone-to-breaking voices of teenagers, our tremulous interpretation of an African-American preacher’s cadence often landed somewhere in between the thunder of Amitabh Bachchan and the jatra of folk theatre.

While justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream sounded like an excellent idea we had little sense of what any of it really meant. Unlike Mississippi, “a state sweltering with the heat of oppression” we were just plain sweltering in a stuffy auditorium in the humid Kolkata summer. We were all for letting freedom ring but we just hoped not to stumble over the “heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.”

I don’t think any of us thought about that speech as anything particularly relevant to our lives. It was a rite of passage in an elocutionist’s resumé – somewhere in between Custard the Cowardly Dragon and Friends, Romans and Countrymen. For Anglicised middle-class boys with neatly side-parted hair, whose only real worry was Bengali grammar and the algebra examination, King’s very specific utterances of American geography and American history, from the “vicious racists” of Alabama to the “hilltops of New Hampshire”, allowed us to blissfully insulate ourselves from the speech’s universality.

sandip-royThe only thing we really took away again and again from that speech was that one line: I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Since then we have stripped that line of its context, the bone-weary journey Dr. King was talking about -of the-hartford-guardian-Opinionbodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel who cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of American cities. We have turned it into a catchphrase for a vanilla vision of equality without the hard work of leveling the playing field.

As schoolchildren in India, we can be forgiven for regurgitating the entire speech without digesting its message. Far more egregious are Indian-American politicians who cherry pick it for their own political expedience and use Dr. King’s words to subvert Dr. King’s dream.

The success of a Bobby Jindal or a Nikki Haley is directly a fruit of Dr. King’s dream. As President Obama points out in his speech marking the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech, the civil rights movement made America more free and fair “not just for African Americans but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans; for Catholics, Jews, and Muslims; for gays, for Americans with a disability.”

Indian Americans did not have to do most of the heavy lifting in that movement because their immigration history is largely a post-1965 one. Yet Indian Americans quickly learn to look down on African-Americans while climbing up the ladder even as they are happy to become the faces of diversity in America. That disdain is masked, even legitimised in our minds as being not about the color of our skins, but the content of our characters.

This willful blindness allows Bobby Jindal to write in an op-ed marking the I Have a Dream speech that it’s “it’s time for the end of race in America.” Then he twists Dr. King’s words around to say that content of our character, not the color of our skin means we should not place “too much emphasis on our ‘separateness’, our heritage, ethnic background, skin color.etc.” He writes, “Here’s an idea: How about just “Americans”? That has a nice ring to it, if you ask me.”

Presumably when Jindal basks at NRI functions as America’s first Indian-American governor or is used by his party as its brown face to rebut Obama’s State of the Union address, it is “just enough emphasis” not “too much.”

There is nothing in Dr. King’s speech to imply that to be a hyphenated American is to have divided loyalties. When Jindal says American, the non-hyphenated version, he simply means Judaeo-Christian white – a whiteness that might not be visible in the color of the skin, but is definitely there in the content of the character.

King’s speech needs to be read again and again – not just commemorated or elocuted – to prevent it from being appropriated by the Jindals for their own ends. And not just in America.

Now in India it is fashionable to blame America for exporting all kinds of ills to our part of the world – from McDonald’s McTikka abominations to kissing in public to skanky fashions. But it is worth remembering that long before liberalisation opened the floodgates, it gave us I Had a Dream. And even if as boys in my school, we didn’t fully grasp its grandeur or depth or relevance, I am grateful we paused for a moment in its shadow.

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Fête the Fall Harvest in Newport, Rhode Island: Food & Wine, Fairs and Festivals


NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND — – As the summer sun starts to give way to crisp, saltwater breezes and the tree tops are painted in vivid hues of crimson red, brilliant yellow and burnt orange, Newport, Rhode Island enters into what many consider its most majestic season.

While Mother Nature shows off, enjoy awe-inspiring architecture, rich history, enchanting wineries, coastal charm, miles of trails, farm to fork dining and fine boutique shopping—it’s all here in the City-by-the-Sea. Some of the upcoming world-class events include:

The 43rd Annual International Boat Show, Sept. 12-15, 2013, is one of the largest in-water boat shows in the country. Held throughout Newport’s downtown waterfront locations, the impressive show is mariner’s paradise, showcasing domestic and foreign goods as well as a variety of sail and powerboats. Visit www.newportboatshow.com for a complete list of exhibitors and boats.

The Coggeshall Farm Museum 40th Annual Harvest Fair, Sept. 14-15, 2013, in nearby Bristol, unfolds at a living-history farm that depicts agrarian life in 1799. Activities for all ages including hay rides, face painting, craft-making, a chance to see the farm’s animals and hand-milk a cow, hay bale toss, sack races and other traditional games. Attend a cooking demonstration with farm-raised products, listen to traditional music and watch the Ladies of the Rolling Pin dance. See the work of Rhode Island artisans and enjoy local foods. For more information, visit www.coggeshallfarm.org

The 8th Newport Mansions Annual Wine & Food Festival will be held September 20-22, 2013 at The Elms, Rosecliff, and Marble House mansions, featuring over 100 of the finest New England restaurants and wines from around the world. One of the most anticipated food festivals in the country, guests will savor the opportunity to enjoy cooking demonstrations Food Network “Iron Chef” Alex Guarnaschelli and James Beard Award winner Michel Richard—hosted by Claudine Pépin. The festival will also feature a Sunday Brunch with Guarnaschelli, various celebrity chef appearances, seminars with wine experts, a two-day Grand Tasting on the Marble House lawn, a gala at Rosecliff and much more, all in Newport’s  most spectacular locations. Visitwww.newportmansions.org for a complete itinerary.

The Norman Bird Sanctuary Annual Harvest Fair, October 5-6, 2013, carries on tradition of family fun as it kicks off the fall with a local “small-town” festival.  Enjoy town-fair entertainment in its freshly plowed fields, a plethora of food stations as well as jam and baked good tastings, craft stations, games, home & garden competitions, and hay rides. A staple of New England fall festivals, the two-day Harvest Fair provides family activities all weekend long, including old-time favorites like Tug-O-War and the Mud Pit. Visit www.normanbirdsanctuary.org for more information.

oktoberfest-newportInternational Oktoberfest, Oct. 12-13, 2013, welcomes fall with the celebration of German cuisine, brews, and entertainment at the Newport Yachting Center overlooking the harbor. A celebration for all ages, this year organizers are touting Sunday as the designated “family-oriented” day. Visit the Biergarten to taste seasonal and international brews along with other American favorites. Also savor beloved brats, schnitzel, sauerbraten, potato pancakes more German cuisine.  Listen to traditional German music all weekend long in a fall celebration and reunion of family and friends.  Visit www.newportwaterfrontevents.com  for a complete list of activities, vendors, and musicians throughout the weekend.

The Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival, October 19-20, 2013, celebrates autumn’s bounty with seafood dishes and live music celebrating Newport’s “Harvest of the Sea.”  Local restaurants and fishermen prepare their best dishes under colorful tents around the wharf accompanied by live folk, Celtic, “sea-shanty,” and blues music all weekend long.  Spirits, soft drinks, and desserts are all available, as well as seating throughout the wharf.  Come and enjoy many local restaurants’ most prized lobster dinners, clam chowders, “stuffies,” clam cakes, shrimps, scallops, raw oysters, and even some landlubber-friendly dishes. Visit www.bowenswharf.com for a complete list of vendors and performers.

There’s no better time to savor New England in the fall than during Newport Restaurant Week, Nov. 1-10, 2013. Enjoy more than 50 restaurants offering 3-course $16 lunches and $30 dinners throughout the week as well as the opportunity to sample new seasonal items from Newport and Bristol County’s most talented chefs. Cooking classes, walking tours, and lodging packages will also be available in conjunction with restaurant meals.  Visit www.DiscoverNewportRestaurantWeek.org for participating restaurants, events and special offers throughout the week.

Webwww.DiscoverNewport.org

 Photos courtesy of Discover Newport

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Malloy: Ring Bell to Honor MLK’s Famous Speech


HARTFORD — Gov.  Dannel P. Malloy is asking residents and organizations to ring bells at 3:00 p.m. on Aug. 28 as part of a nationwide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s renowned “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Dr. King’s message of freedom, equality and liberty resonates as strongly today as it did fifty years ago,” Malloy said.  “Never before has a single speech had such a dramatic and positive impact on our nation.  Let’s honor the message of Dr. King’s speech and the many civil rights, labor and religious organizations that organized to spread his words.  Let’s not take for granted all that they fought so hard for.  Especially now, at a time when some states are pursuing new laws that constrain the fundamental right to vote, we cannot forget that the fight for equal opportunity, equal justice, and an equal voice in our democracy never ends.”

King’s family, in cooperation with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, is inviting every state in the nation to participate in this date of remembrance by ringing bells in unison at churches, schools and other venues where bells are available.

The organization on Wednesday will host a “Let Freedom Ring” celebration at the Lincoln Monument in Washington, DC, where they will lead the nationwide bell ringing.

 

Governor Malloy has also issued an official proclamation to commemorate the occasion.

 

 

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Hartford Unveils Journalism and Media Academy, But for Whose Benefit?


At a time when newspapers are folding, or going digital and local, Hartford Public Schools on Tuesday kicked off the 2013-2014 academic year by unveiling three renovated school buildings, including a state-of-the-art Journalism and Media Academy.

Officials said the Academy offers courses such as social media, sports journalism, television production, radio broadcasting, graphic arts, and mobile app design. The Academy has partnered with the Connecticut Public Broadcast Network and its brand new $3.5 million Learning Lab at the CPBN offices on Asylum Avenue, which also houses WNPR radio and CTMirror.org, mostly all-white media entities.

The renovated Academy building on Tower Avenue has “smart” classrooms, large MAC computers, top-shelf sound booths, TV and radio studios and a green room.  All this is in a building much bigger than the former WFSB Channel 3 studio in downtown Hartford. Attracting only 53 students to its incoming freshman class and retaining about 140 students from the Journalism Media Academy in Weaver High School, many classrooms were empty on Tuesday.

No surprise there.

editorialbannerthumbBuilding magnet schools to attract white suburban bodies to Hartford’s 95 percent minority school district is arguably a laudable goal under the Sheff v. O’Neill school integration plan. However, a journalism academy focusing on skill sets that mature on a solid academic foundation will unlikely benefit most high school students in Hartford—if they are thinking of going to college and beyond. Summer journalism programs, yes. But eight years of high school and college journalism courses is nonsensical and impractical, especially for black students.

The irony was evident when Mayor Pedro Segarra stepped in a class with seven black students and a white male teacher. Inside the room, Segarra introduced two white Hispanic communication professionals as the future of journalism. He got it wrong. It’s not the future; it is the current state of journalism, especially in the city of Hartford.

That classroom scene also reflects the issue of newsroom diversity espoused by the Kerner Commission following the 1967 Watts Riots. To those not privy to the historical perspective on the media diversity question, the mayor’s antics unwittingly revealed the same societal problem that existed before the Kerner report and the Civil Rights Movement.

A black journalist is an anomaly at city hall and elsewhere in Hartford. And Segarra reinforced that notion of disappearing black news professionals.

Consider this: The number of black journalists in the news business has been dramatically and systematically decreased in the last decade. According to the 2013 American Society of News Editors (ASNE)’s annual diversity survey, the number of black journalists in newsroom  remained steady in 2013. That’s after ASNE’s previous report showed a decrease from 4.68 percent in 2011 to 4.65 percent in 2012.

ASNE’s goal is to have the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms to reflect the percentage of minorities in the nation’s population by 2025.  Currently minorities comprise 37.02 percent of the U.S. population. By 2025, it’s expected to be 42.39 percent.

The implications for the lack of news coverage by black journalists in a “minority-majority” city has been articulated in the Kerner Report, which makes the case for a sincere commitment to racial and ethnic diversity because “the media media failed to report adequately on the causes of and consequences of civil riots and race relations.”

In Hartford alone, there are no full-time black journalists covering city hall or the school district. And since his election to a full term, the mayor has infused cash into the Hispanic media market and has seemingly made it a bargaining chip when doling out opportunities to corporate and nonprofit media.

Most recently, the city of Hartford awarded a grant to one local Hispanic publisher for her new enterprise, the Latino Way. Additionally, the largest newspaper in the state has selectively highlighted the work of other Hispanic media outlets, and WNPR devoted an entire radio show to a new Hispanic online media organization. But they have done very little for black and women-owned media organizations such as The Hartford Guardian.

Additionally, CPBN/WNPR in partnership with Segarra’s administration, received $1 million from the state’s bond commission to build a studio that is expected to  “train students” in the field of communications.

CPBN  is an affiliate of WNPR, which has a 4 percent minority listenership. It buys programming from NPR, a national public radio station. But is not owned by, or beholden to, NPR’s diversity policies, according to an NPR spokesperson.

From our vantage point at The Hartford Guardian, the mayor and his administration’s partnerships with these media organizations to benefit the Latino and white community should be of concern to most city residents. And should be investigated further.

Having a journalism and media academy will not attract smart students to Hartford. It has, and will further, strengthen an incumbent mayor’s alliances with corporate entities,  improve CPBN/WNPR’s outreach to the Hispanic listeners, and serve as a playground for media professionals who like shiny toys.

The $37.45 million renovated Academy will benefit Hartford’s children the least, especially those who crave rigorous curricula for a diverse and global society. Given the state of  media diversity in Connecticut today, to argue otherwise is a farce.

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Hartford Fast Food Workers Join National Strike


HARTFORD — Fast food workers from across Hartford will walk off their jobs as part of the largest-ever strike to hit the $200 billion industry. Inspired by strikes earlier this summer in seven cities across the country, Hartford workers will walk off their jobs for the first time, calling for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation or unfair labor practices.

The national strike is scheduled to begin Aug. 27 at 6 a.m. at a location to be announced. The group will hold a rally from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Old State House. In addition to Hartford, strikes will hit cities all over the country, including Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, New York, Oakland, Raleigh and Tampa.

fast-food-strike-hartfordThe local strike is a part of a national effort that spans 50 cities and every region of the continental United States, organizers said in a release to the press.

The group is expecting local clergy, elected officials, worker organizers, and community supporters will join fast-food workers on the strike lines as the nationwide fight for higher wages hits Hartford.

The group is asking to “get the economy moving again, and that starts with low-wage service jobs.”

According to research, an adult with one child needs to make $22.67 an hour working full time in the Hartford area just to afford the basics, according to a model developed by a professor at MIT.

 

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Hartford School District Unveils New Magnet Schools


HARTFORD — Hartford Public Schools on Tuesday began its 2013-2014 academic year by unveiling three renovated school buildings and adding three new magnet schools: the Journalism and Media Magnet Academy, Global Communications Academy International Baccalaureate School, and the M.D. Fox School.

Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, Board of Education Chairman Matthew K. Poland and officials from government, business and the philanthropic communities welcomed the city’s 22,000 students and 1,845 teachers back to class with a traditional bus tour of the district.

FOX_NW_entrance_Lo_Rez[The first of three stops was the Journalism and Media Magnet Academy at 150 Tower Avenue, which is also one of the new magnet schools. The Academy is one of three district schools that were converted into magnet schools for the 2013-2014 academic year under the terms of the agreement to settle the Sheff vs. O’Neill desegregation case. School officials said the number of incoming freshmen at the Academy is 53, half of whom are from Hartford. Overall, there are 200 students enrolled, including the returning sophomore, juniors and seniors. Spokesman David Medina said the projected peak enrollment for the Academy is 400.

The three restored school buildings included the Academy at 150 Tower Avenue, the  International Baccalaureate School at 85 Edwards St and the M.D. Fox School at 470 Maple Avenue.

Global Communications Academy, which opened in 2008, was officially designated an International Baccalaureate World School in July after an intensive, multi-year accreditation process. Earlier this year, the Hartford Board of Education approved proposals to transform the Montessori program at Moylan Elementary School at 101 Catherine Street into a magnet school and to create a new Hartford Pre-K Magnet School for children of ages 3 and 4 at 85 Edwards Street.

Built in 1924, M.D. Fox School is s now equipped with state-of-the art technology in all classrooms, a 600-seat auditorium, a fully renovated gymnasium, new mechanicals, plumbing and the restoration of original fixtures to maintain the historic integrity of the building.

Outgoing School Superintendent Dr. Kishimoto said that the school options have expanded yet again to include a total of 19 magnet schools, two partnerships with charter organizations, a gifted and talented school and seven career focused academies.

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