Archive | January, 2014

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Funnyman John Leguizamo Coming to Hartford’s Burns Latino Academy


HARTFORD — Funnyman John Leguizamo is coming to Hartford on Feb. 15 at the Burns Latino Studies Academy.

The event, billed a “A Night of Comedy” with the celebrated actor/comedian, is set to begin at 5:00 p.m.

Proceeds from the benefit performance will pay for upgrades to the school’s auditorium, where the show will be held. Producer-director Griffin Dunne, the great-grandson of the school’s namesake, Dominick F. Burns, will be master of ceremonies.

Leguizamo’s  one-man comedy shows typically play to sold-out audiences and have won him numerous awards. Born in Bogota, Colombia, and raised in New York City, Mr. Leguizamo is currently starring in the movie Ride Along.

His other film credits include, Super Mario Bros.; Moulin Rouge, where he played opposite Nicole Kidman and Ewan MacGregor; Assault on Precinct 13The Lincoln LawyerTo Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything Julie NewmarCarlito’s Way; Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam; and Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, where he co-starred with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. Mr. Leguizamo is also the voice of Sid in the animated cartoon movie Ice Age.

Photo courtesy of http://www.vivelohoy.com

Tickets for A Night of Comedy With John Leguizamo are $60 per person and can only be purchased online at http://leguizamoatburns.eventbrite.com/.

Those interested in seeing the performance are advised to buy their tickets early, as seating in the auditorium is limited to 450 people. No tickets will be sold at the door.

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Hartford Cops Arrest Suspect in City’s First Homicide


HARTFORD – Hartford Police arrested a Manchester man for the death of a Hartford resident, who was fatally shot several times in a parking lot early January, the city’s first homicide victim in 2014.

The suspect, Deranna Fletcher, 28, of 39 Buckland St. in Manchester, was arrested on Jan. 29 and charged with murder, murder conspiracy, criminal possession of firearms. His bond was set at $2 million

On Jan. 15, 2014 Hartford Police Department Major Crimes Division initiated the homicide investigation after neighbors reported several shots and saw a car drive off in the direction of Asylym Avenue.

The victim, Mark McNickle, was  found with several gun shot wounds and taken to St. Francis Hospital, where he died at 10: 22 p.m., police said..

Police charge Deranna Fletcher with the first murder of 2014

Police charge Deranna Fletcher with the first murder of 2014

Police told this story: On Jan. 29, the detectives developed a suspect who allegedly shot McNickle several times in the rear parking lot at 85 Sumner St.

Detectives worked overnight and obtained two search warrants through the Connecticut States Attorney’s Office. One of the warrants was for an address in East Hartford and the other warrant was for 39 Buckland St. #1522 Manchester CT. Hartford Detectives collaborated with members of the East Hartford Police Department, EHPD SWAT, the Manchester Police Department, and the CREST SWAT Team.

By Thursday at 5:15 a.m. the operation was launched and both high-risk search warrants were simultaneously executed.

At the Manchester address, the below listed accused, Fletcher was located.

Also located within the apartment was 98 pounds of marijuana, $39,000 in cash, two firearms, ammunition and related evidence.

Following the execution of the search warrant,  Fletcher was arrested and charged by Manchester Police Narcotics Detectives.

Fletcher was then released by the Manchester Police Department into the custody of the Hartford Police Department. Fletcher was then taken to the HPD where the arrest warrant was served.

Fletcher is is being held on a $2,000,000 Bond.

  

 

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Tom Foley Announces He Will Run for Governor in 2014


HARTFORD — And they’re off.

Republican Tom Foley announced his candidacy for the 2014 gubernatorial election on Wednesday, saying Connecticut needs “new leadership, new direction and a fresh start.”

According to Ameriborn News, Foley, former Ambassador to Ireland and 2010 Republican candidate for Governor, announced in Waterbury that he will be a candidate for governor in 2014 and pledged to provide new leadership and a new direction that will “reverse the state’s tax and spend policies, create jobs, and fix the problems of our least fortunate citizens and communities – especially those in our cities.”

Foley said as Governor, he would hold discretionary spending flat for two years and once spending is under control he would lower taxes on Connecticut’s hardest hit families by cutting the state sales tax by half a percent.

“Connecticut is an extraordinarily beautiful state with a rich history and a strong, diverse, and hardworking citizenry,” Foley said. “But many people are disappointed and unhappy with what’s happening today in Connecticut.”

“Jobs are still hard to find, Governor Malloy’s huge tax increase has placed a heavy burden on working families and has acted like a brake on our economy, and runaway state spending and borrowing threaten everyone’s financial future,” he said. “Unlike Governor Malloy, I spent most of my career in business and I know what it takes to create jobs and I know how to persuade business owners to give Connecticut another chance.”

Foley also said that as Governor, he will work to “restore trust and confidence in state government and said citizens deserve a government that is “well-run, efficient, and honest and a government that represents ordinary citizens – not insiders or special interests.”

Foley said Connecticut’s future is only as good as the future of our cities and said, “I will solve the problems that are holding so many back and I will get us headed toward a brighter future.”

Watch:

Read More here.

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Students Shine During MLK Oratorical Contest


HARTFORD — The BSL Educational Foundation, Inc. of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. recently held its 10th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Young People’s Oratorical Contest at Faith Congregational Church.

The Jan. 25 event, which challenged students from various schools across the Greater Hartford area competition, was divided into two divisions: middle school and high school where five received savings bonds to be used toward college expenses.

This year’s theme was: Gun Violence in America: How will this shape the classroom. The topic was chosen because of an alarming rise in gun violence committed on school grounds. The foundation thought it was relevant after the senseless act of violence in Sandy Hook where 20 students between the ages 5-10 and six adult staff members were shot and killed.  This event stands as the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American History, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

Officials said the students were mentored for weeks by brothers of the fraternity and passionately took to the stage to voice their ideas, plans and solutions to combat gun violence in American Schools.

Dr. King’s voice, through his powerful oratory capabilities galvanized people of the world.  In a society where oratory skills exhibited by Dr. King are becoming a lost art, this year’s theme challenged the contestants to find their voices and express what important measures should be taken to ensure their safety on school grounds.

By the close of the evening two champions were crowned; Maitreyi Subedi, a Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy student, won the middle school division and Latrell Powell, a John F. Kennedy High School student, won the high school division.  Both students were awarded an $1,800 savings bond for winning their respective divisions.

More information about the chapter and its programs can be found on our website: www.hartfordalphas.com. A few initiatives of the foundation are: Project Alpha, a program held in the fall and spring targeted for males ages 12-18; an oratorical contest; an Eastern Regional Leadership Development Institute for rising high school juniors and seniors; scholarship opportunities for graduating seniors and college students.

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Local Author Wants the Return of Mealtime


HARTFORD — What is a common health regimen that Dr. Oz, Chef Jamie Oliver and Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones, agree on? Shared meal practices is a major health benefit that these three well-known health and wellness experts have openly discussed and encouraged, a strong belief that local author Carol Archambeault holds in her new book, “The Shared-Meal Revolution.”

Archambeault’s book combines the research she collected along with her first-hand experiences and relevant resources to create a how-to guide to help those who want to practice the important regimen of sharing a meal with loved ones.
“People want to have the opportunity to communicate in person, catch-up on what’s happening with each other and relax,” Archambeault said. “Instead, because of our hyperactive lives, we are treating mealtime as another chore on our to-do list. It’s important to keep connected with others every day and not only through social media.”
“The Shared-Meal Revolution” takes the reader through the steps of understanding, planning, implementing and sustaining a shared-meal practice. It contains valuable research about the wide-ranging benefits of sharing meals such as healthier eating habits and nutrition, positive social skills and feeling stable and secure. By offering strategies, templates and post-chapter exercises readers are encouraged to develop a shared-meal plan to fit their lives.
“My goal is to create a national dialogue about the benefits of shared meals so we can work together to preserve this important ritual for today’s and future generations,” Archambeault said.
Archambeault has worked in Human Resources management for global entertainment companies for more than 20 years and has a master’s degree in Human Development. Born in Bristol, Connecticut, minutes before her twin brother, she was raised as one of 11 siblings. A dual citizen of Italy, Archambeault is working on her next book about meal rituals around the world.
For more information, visit http://shared-meals.com.
“The Shared-Meal Revolution”
By Carol Archambeault
ISBN: 978-1-4918-2294-4
Retail price: $16.95
Available in paperback and e-book

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President Obama’s SOTU Address Offers Up Bold Action, Plans to Use Executive Orders


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD –President Barack Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday, emphasizing that 2014 will be a “year of action.”

Entering his sixth year, Obama said he would forego Congress and use his pen and a phone to avoid obstructionist tactics.

“Let’s make it a year of action,” he said. “It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything.  But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.  Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I.”

In 2013, it was a frustrating year for many across the nation as Congress failed to act on issues such as gun control, immigration and unemployment benefits that ended for more than 1.6 million unemployed citizens.

The year also demonstrated the limits and political constraints of the American presidency.

Nevertheless, there were several successes for the Obama administration, which marked a departure from a country plunged into the Great Recession under his predecessor. In his one-hour speech, Obama highlighted his administration’s accomplishments, including the lowest unemployment rate (6.7 percent) in five years, a rebounding housing market, and reduced deficit cut and positioning America—not China–as the best place to invest.

He also highlighted key issues to address in the coming months and called on Congress to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 with his executive order issued on Monday and to fix America’s immigration system. He also urged Congress to “create jobs, not new crises.”

Like all presidents since 1789, Obama will use his executive authority to do more on domestic issues. To date, Obama has issued only 167 executive orders, compared to the 3,466 executive orders issued by Franklin Delano Roosevelt between 1933 and 1945. That averages out to 231 orders each year of Roosevelt’s 15-year tenure in the White House. Former President Bill Clinton issued 363.  And George W. Bush issued 290.

 

In its first term, the Obama administration focused on reversing the economic decline, bailing out big banks that were “too big to fail.” Now, theirs and other big companies’ stock prices are faring well, unlike most of the 99 percent.  The president contrasted the soaring profits on Wall Street with stagnant wages for the working class trying to make it into the middle class.

“Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by—let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all. Our job is to reverse that tide,” Obama said.

He offered “concrete and practical” proposals to “speed up action.”

Additionally, he noted that the war in Afghanistan “is finally coming to an end.” And the chamber responded with applause.

But outside the House of Representatives’ chamber, skepticism abound with conservatives and some people of color. Black Americans hoped for specificity, especially with the issue that the black and Latino unemployment rates remain twice the national average. But they took notice of Obama’s mention of “ a new initiative to help more young men of color facing tough odds.”

And Latinos said they didn’t hear a call for “comprehensive “immigration reform–just immigration reform.

In her response to the SOTU, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) detailed her struggle as a single, working-class woman who grew up on an apple farm in Washington and was the first in her family to graduate college.

She said the president should work with Congress so that Americans are “not bound by where we come from.”

“The president talks a lot about income inequality,” she said. “But the real gap we face today is one of opportunity and equality. And with this administration’s policies, that gap has become far too wide.”

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, saw it differently. In his response to the SOTU, he said:

“Tonight, President Obama once again challenged Congress to work constructively with him to enact common-sense laws that strengthen our nation and foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.

“Too often during the past year – and despite the efforts of the President and many in Congress, particularly Connecticut’s congressional delegation – Washington has been mired in political gridlock.  But as the President highlighted tonight, regardless of inaction in Washington, progress is being made.”

In Connecticut and around the country cost of living has increased over the last decade, said Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy.

“Rising prices across the board mean that more Americans are working harder and still struggling to make ends meet,” Murphy said. “Simply put, family income just isn’t keeping pace with the cost of living in this country. We can and we must do better.”

Congressman John Larson applauded Obama’s call to offer opportunity  for people regardless of their race, gender or origin.

He said he was “pleased to see the President take a step in the right direction today and hope his words echo through Congress, where Members have heard the struggles of individuals and families around the country.”

To engage the public, Obama will do a two-day “virtual tour” on Google+ to talk up main issues highlighted in his speech. And he will visit Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Photos courtesy of Whitehouse.gov.

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President Obama Casts Ugly Glare on Race Tainted Drug War


By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama again cast an ugly glare on the race tainted drug laws in a recent interview and in reports from the White House. He specifically finger pointed marijuana. Virtually all medical professionals have repeatedly said that marijuana use is no more damaging than alcohol, and so did Obama. If anything, judging from the thousands of family break ups, the mountainous carnage from alcohol related accidents and physical deaths from liquor addiction, marijuana use is far safer than alcohol. But marijuana, as with the wildly disparate racial hammering of minorities with cocaine drug busts, has also been yet another weapon in the ruthless, relentless and naked drug war on minorities, especially African Americans. The difference is that the gaping racial disparities in crack cocaine prosecutions and sentencing have gotten massive public attention, White House and legislative action to close the legal gap. Marijuana, by contrast, has flown far under the public and lawmaker’s radar scope.

But the racial war that has been blatantly evident in the drug war is just as, if not more blatant, in who’s arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced for marijuana use and sale. Take two states, Minnesota and Iowa. Minorities and especially blacks make up a relatively tiny overall percentage of residents of these two states. Yet blacks were eight times morearl-hutchinsone likely to be arrested than whites. An ACLU study released last June found that in nearly every county in the nation the arrest rate for marijuana possession among blacks was at least four times higher than that for whites. Even worse the big gaping disparities in arrest numbers for blacks and whites come at a time when public attitudes have radically softened on both personal and medicinal marijuana use. Many states and locales have drastically decriminalized marijuana possession, and two states have legalized its use, and other states are poised to vote on legalization. Even worse, the huge race tinged arrest numbers come at a time when the incidences of nearly every other type of crime has plummeted.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionThe reasons aren’t hard to find. The near institution of open and covert stop and frisk laws that target minorities, incentives to pad arrest numbers to insure greater federal funding and to bolster the perceived crime fighting stature of police agencies, and the ease and cheapness of focusing on low level crimes are major reasons for the continued war on minorities for marijuana use.

Then there are the public attitudes toward black and white drug offenders. The top-heavy drug use by young whites has never stirred any public outcry for mass arrests, prosecutions, and tough prison sentences for them, many of whom deal drugs that are directly linked to serious crime and violence.

Whites unlucky enough to get popped for drug possession are treated with compassion, prayer sessions, expensive psychiatric counseling, treatment and rehab programs, and drug diversion programs. And they should be. But so should those blacks and other non-whites victimized by discriminatory drug laws.

A frank admission that the laws are biased and unfair, and have not done much to combat the drug plague, would be an admission of failure. It could ignite a real soul-searching over whether all the billions of dollars that have been squandered in the failed and flawed drug war — the lives ruined by it, and the families torn apart by the rigid and unequal enforcement of the laws — has really accomplished anything.

This might call into question why people use and abuse drugs in the first place — and if it is really the government’s business to turn the legal screws on some drug users while turning a blind eye to others?

The greatest fallout from the nation’s failed drug policy and that certainly includes racially skewed marijuana arrests is that it is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it further embeds the widespread notion that the drug problem is exclusively a black problem. This makes it easy for on-the-make politicians to grab votes, garner press attention, and balloon state prison budgets to jail more black offenders, while continuing to feed the illusion that we are winning the drug war. On the other, the easing up of marijuana arrests and prosecutions of whites permits much of the public and lawmakers to delude themselves that the nation has become much more prudent and enlightened in how it views the drug fight.

In his interview Obama was blunt, “We should not be locking up kids or individuals for long stretches of jail time when those writing the laws have probably done the same thing.” Obama certainly could testify to that since he has frankly admitted his use of drugs in his youthful days. This frank admission and the realization that more prisons, the hiring and maintaining of waves of corrections officers, and the bloating state budgets in the process, not to mention political pandering is a lose-lose for the nation. The biggest loser of all with the nation’s disastrously failed and flawed drug war, is minorities and especially blacks. Marijuana is no different.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.

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Larson to Host Forum, Segarra to Give SOTU Response


HARTFORD —  After President Barack Obama gives his fifth State of the Union address today  at 9 p.m., Congressman John B. Larson will host a community forum at City Hall in Bristol to discuss the economy and priorities for 2014.

Larson represents the first district in what’s labeled “the do nothing” Congress because the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have fillibustered or stymied legislations that aim to “move the country forward,” observers said.

Before Larson holds a meeting to discuss local social security office in Bristol, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra will join other mayors across the nation to talk about urban poverty and income inequality on PBS News Hour. The program will begin at 9 p.m. and air for the entirety of the President’s remarks and the Republican response.

Larson is also expected to discuss the local Social Security Office following last week’s announcement of a new collaborative effort to preserve a direct link to Social Security services in Bristol. Officials said those who attend will have an opportunity to ask questions.

In his State of the Union address, Obama is expected to announce a new executive action to strengthen retirement security. Meanwhile, the Retirement for All CT Coalition is calling on Connecticut legislators to “take action and confront the retirement crisis facing the state.”

According to the National Institute on Retirement Security,  only 52 percent of working-age employees had access to a retirement plan on the job — the lowest share since 1979 — and a full 48 percent or 44.5 million Americans lack access. Furthermore, the average working household has no retirement savings — the median retirement account balance is $3,000 for all working-age households and $12,000 for near-retirement households.

The Speaker of the House John Boehner designated Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of  Washington to give a response to the President’s speech. She’s expected to give a “personal and conservative” message. Her remarks will stream live on SOTU.gop.gov.

The first district covers a large swath of Northwest Connecticut, including Hartford, Burlington, Manchester, Glastonbury, Granby and New Hartford.

 

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FUNdraising Good Times: Young Women Philanthropists


By Mel and Pearl Shaw

We were recently inspired by a group of young professional women who came together on a Saturday morning to discuss fundraising for their upcoming conference. These women were under 40, energized, and engaged. They were getting ready to launch their sponsorship program and wanted guidance regarding how to solicit.

We appreciated their reaching out and inviting us to meet with them. During our time together they discussed conference goals and content, brainstormed potential sponsors, and practiced role playing. They closed with a list of action items and a date (the following Wednesday!) for their next meeting. All this was accomplished in less than 90 minutes. These are women of action.

We were inspired to be in their presence for a number of reasons. First, they launched their inaugural conference in 2013 in response to their need for a way to connect with other young professional women, to learn from women who are a bit more established in their careers, and to create a supportive environment of like-minded women here in Memphis. They called their conference the Modern Day Woman Conference (MDWC) and it was a great success with over 200 women attending. The 2014 conference topic is balance: how do we create balance in our lives? How can we grow in our careers, be active in our communities, and enjoy our roles within our families? These are questions women of all ages grapple with. Too often we grapple with them as individuals, or with a small circle of friends. The MDWC 2014 creates a public forum for the discussion.

Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw

The conference is organized by Young Women Philanthropists (YWP) an auxiliary of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. Here’s how they define themselves on Facebook: “We are young, energetic, professional, resourceful, confident, family-oriented, insightful, influential, persuasive women committed to learning, contributing, and owning… PHILANTHROPY!!”

We love that! They focus on educating, empowering and training the next generation of philanthropic women leaders through active participation in fundraising. “We are training today to fill the shoes of the more experienced philanthropists tomorrow.”

This racially diverse group of women is busy setting their agenda, helping to create the city they want to live and work in, and giving back. They are supporting each other, and looking to women who are a bit more experienced in life, work and philanthropy to help guide their growth. We share their story to inspire you to join with others in creating community solutions.  If you are under 40, you are the future of your community and our country. We need your collective engagement. Claim the title of “philanthropist” – one who loves humanity – and join with others in creating the world you want to live in.

Learn more about young women philanthropists at www.wfgm.org.

Mel and Pearl Shaw help nonprofit organizations grow their fundraising. Services include coaching, campaign preparation and proposal writing. Learn more at www.saadandshaw.com

Copyright 2014 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

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Gov Touts Plans for Long-term Unemployed


HARTFORD — The unemployment rate in Connecticut is 7.4 percent, down from 7.65 in November 2013, according to state’s monthly unemployment report.

But recognizing that there’s “still more work to be done,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday announced proposals that include a three-prong approach to address unemployment, while eliminating certain barriers that prevents qualified long-term unemployed residents from being discriminated against for jobs. These proposals are expected to be in the Governor’s legislative package for the 2014 General Assembly session, which begins Feb. 5

That’s because research shows that some employers and staffing agencies use software programs to screen applicants based solely on whether job candidates are currently unemployed.

This discriminating practice could disproportionately impact people with disabilities, older workers, women, and racial minorities. And as a result, the unemployed have less of a change finding work than someone who is employed, even though they may be more qualified, officials said.

“We are making steady progress at growing our economy in a way that will create good paying jobs with good benefits for middle class families.  While a decrease in the unemployment rate and the addition of thousands of private sector jobs over the last three years is clearly a step in the right direction, we still have more work to do,” Malloy said.  “Often, the longer someone is unemployed, the harder it gets to find employment, even when that person may have qualified skills to fill a certain position.”

The three initiatives proposed by Malloy are an expansion of the state’s small business Step Up program, which allows employers to hire unemployed residents in eligible towns, a proposal that prohibits employers from disqualifying qualified long-term unemployed candidates and plans to develop a state-wide program to assist the long-term unemployed.

These proposals are expected to be in the Governor’s legislative package for the 2014 General Assembly session, which begins Feb. 5.

“The initiatives proposed by Governor Malloy will be of tremendous benefit to the unemployed individuals and will also strengthen our state’s economy,” said State Labor Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer.  “People want to work and earn a paycheck, and by continuing the Step Up program and creating new opportunities for the long-term unemployed, Connecticut is on the right track toward a strong economic recovery.”

 

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