Archive | July, 2015

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Attorney General Loretta Lynch Visits Connecticut, Calls for ‘Respectful Policing”


loretta lynch--visits-connecticutEAST HAVEN —  As part of a national community policing tour. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch visits East Haven. She was joined by Police Chief Brent Larrabee and Connecticut U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly during a forum inside East Haven High School.

The participants discussed how police can improve relationships with the communities they serve.

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DMV to Close Offices in August, Extends Deadlines


Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

MERIDEN — Connecticut residents will soon have unnecessary waits at a DMV office, state officials said Wednesday.

That’s because the Department of Motor Vehicles will close all offices, except driver’s license services, in August while it updates its computer system.

The offices will close from Aug. 11 through Aug. 15. and reopen Aug. 18.

The new computer system will make more services available online to customers, such as reprinting registration certificates and ordering replacement plates, and customers eventually will be able to notify DMV from home of a change of address, DMV officials said.

DMV Commissioner Andres Ayala Jr. said that customers should anticipate longer lines at DMV as it prepares to shut down. But the wait will be worth it because customers “will be able to get out of line and go online for many more services.”

Also, DMV will extend the expiration date for all driver’s licenses, ID cards and vehicle registrations, with no late fee, through Oct. 10.

DMV officials are asking customers to use AAA office for license and ID renewals.

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Obama Unveils Quicker Family Reunification for Filipino WWII Vets


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House responded to years of pressure from immigrant rights groups on Wednesday with an announcement of a new policy that will expedite the process of bringing certain family members of Filipino veterans of World War II to the United States.

The policy, announced along with a number of other efforts that are a part of President Obama’s executive actions to improve the U.S. immigration system, would skip the long wait times— sometimes more than 25 years — for family members of these Filipino veterans, who are now American citizens or legal permanent residents, to immigrate legally to the U.S.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State, according to the White House, “will work together to provide clear guidance to the public on the application process, and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.”

Advocates for the policy directive immediately hailed the announcement, hoping that it will be implemented soon.

Day to celebrate

“This is the day to celebrate,” said Mee Moua, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC).

In 1941, more than 260,000 Filipinos responded to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call to fight side-by-side with American soldiers during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. After the war, in 1945, Roosevelt promised these Filipino veterans U.S. citizenship and veterans’ benefits.

But it took nearly 50 years for the U.S. government to grant citizenship to Filipino veterans, in 1990, and since then they have been waiting for their children to join them in the U.S.

And because the U.S. government puts limits on visas so that each country can only receive 7 percent of the 226,000 family-sponsored available visas every year, the wait for Filipino American families can exceed many years or even decades.

Of the 4.2 million people waiting for family-sponsored visas, nearly one-third are from Asian countries, including the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Vietnam.

Inhumanely long backlog

“Until now, the inhumanely long visa backlog has separated them [Filipino veterans] from their children and denied them the opportunity to live together in the United States,” Moua added. “It’s long past time the U.S. made good on its promise and we hope [the] USCIS will implement this as quickly as possible.”

“We are extremely pleased to hear the good news coming from the White House, that Filipino World War II Veterans will soon be reunited with their families,” said JT Mallonga, national chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations.

Mallonga added, “They have endured so much pain waiting for many years for this to happen. But with this latest executive action by the Obama administration, our ailing and aging heroes will no longer be separated from their loved ones.”

Estimates indicate that there are about 6,000 Filipino veterans of World War II who are still alive in the United States today. Now in their 80s and 90s, most of them need the care and assistance of their families, and they long to reunite with their family members during their golden years.

Parole as an avenue

“Parole is an avenue provided under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that allows individuals to come to the United States for a temporary period of time,” according to the White House announcement, “based upon urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

However, the Obama administration has not provided any specific details on the eligibility requirements of the policy, or when will it be implemented. Considering it is part of Obama’s executive actions, many are concerned that the policy may no longer be enforced once his presidential term ends in 2016.

Recognizing the challenges ahead, Erin Oshiro, AAJC’s immigration and immigrant rights program director, says that advocacy groups are now reaching out to the administration and putting more pressure to move forward with the implementation of the new family reunification policy for Filipino veterans.

“It never moved quickly in D.C. Time is really of the essence here,” Oshiro added. “But this is an opportunity for us and the community to weigh in and ask the White House to make this program possible.”

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CT Unemployment Rate Hits Lowest Mark Since July 2008


HARTFORD — Connecticut’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent in June, its lowest point since July 2008, as the state added 600 jobs last month – including 2,600 in the private sector that offset losses in government employment, the state Department of Labor reported Monday.

The state has added 27,900 jobs across all sectors since June 2014, when the unemployment rate stood at 6.5 percent.

Connecticut now has gained 13,800 jobs through the first six months of 2015. The state has recovered 97,900 positions, or 82.3 percent of the 119,000 jobs lost during the last recession.

“Above-trend private-sector job growth looks to be continuing, while the jobless rate has recently declined significantly,” said Andy Condon, director of the labor department’s Office of Research.

“This is yet another milestone reached – unemployment is down to its lowest point in seven years,” Gov Dannel P. Malloy said. “This news comes just a month after we created nearly 6,000 jobs, a huge one-month total.  We are no doubt making progress, and our strategy is no doubt moving Connecticut forward.”

The governor added that these numbers are “another marker that residents’ lives are improving, and another indicator that our economy continues to head in the right direction as a result of our efforts to create jobs.  We know that until everyone that wants a job has one, our work is not complete.”

Peter Gioia, chief economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, noted that Connecticut’s rate is still more than 1 percentage point higher than that of Massachusetts. It also exceeds the national rate of 5.3 percent, “and shows just how stubborn our economic recovery (is) more than five years after the end of the recession,” he said.

Four of the state’s 10 major industry supersectors experienced job gains last month, while five declined, and the information supersector remained unchanged.

The construction and mining supersector enjoyed the biggest gain, adding 2,300 positions in June, while financial activities, manufacturing and professional and business services also grew.

The government supersector faced the biggest drop in June, shedding 2,000 jobs – primarily at the municipal government level. According to the labor department, the timing of local school closing can shift public employment levels sharply during the summer months.

Other supersectors that lost jobs in June include: leisure and hospitality; trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; and other services.

Two of the state’s four major labor market areas gained jobs in June, led by Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, which added 2,100 positions. The New Haven market added 100 jobs.

The greater Hartford area was the biggest loser, shedding 1,500 positions, while the Norwich-New London-Westerly market dropped 500.

ct unemployment2ChartSC.asp

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Hartford Receives Federal Grant for Teen Pregnancy


HARTFORD — Despite a 20 percent decline in teen births over the past five years, Hartford still has a teen birth rate that is higher than the national average.

Thanks to a new grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health, Hartford will have financial support for a new teen pregnancy prevention program. The $4,999,995 five-year grant will support a replicated evidence-based program in Hartford within the Hartford Health and Human Services Department.

Mayor Pedro E. Segarra announced on Tuesday that Hartford is one of 50 cities across the country to be awarded a grant under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health  Evidence-Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

Despite a 20 percent decline in teen births over the past five years, Hartford still has a teen birth rate that is higher than the national average. The grant will focus heavily on a partnership with Hartford Public Schools, local service providers and clinics, city official said.

The funding will also focus on implementing programs in schools, clinics, and community-based settings to allow adolescents and teenagers to receive multiple medically accurate, age appropriate, evidence-based services during their adolescence. Vulnerable youth, such as those in foster care, juvenile detention, expectant and parenting teens, and older youth will be served through this initiative.

“The City of Hartford Department of Health and Human Services has played an active and successful role in Teen Pregnancy Prevention since 2010,”  said Mayor Segarra. “This funding, and partnership with key agencies, will help Hartford to continue providing the level of expertise and services to youth and those most in need throughout the city.”

The U.S. HHS Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence –Based Initiative provides an opportunity for a broad range of programs to have a lasting impact on reducing teen pregnancy, HIV and STI’s among middle school and high school youth across the nation. For a list of all grant winners visit U.S. HHS Office of Adolescent Health 2015 Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Grants.

 

For questions regarding this initiative or other teen pregnancy prevention questions, please contact Carmen Chaparro at chapc001@hartford.gov or visit www.urlifeurchoice.org.

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Meriden Man Charged with Unemployment Fraud


MERIDEN –A Meriden man was arrested on Monday for using Social Security numbers assigned to two out-of-state women to allegedly collect more than $12,000 in unemployment.

 

Miguel Mendoza, 28,  of 114 Liberty St. in Meriden was charged with one count each of larceny in the first degree by defrauding a public community and unemployment compensation fraud.

 

The arrest is the result of an investigation by the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney following a complaint by the Connecticut Department of Labor.

 

According to the arrest warrant, Mendoza fraudulently collected about  $12,513 in unemployment benefits from December 2009 through March 2013. He used Social Security numbers assigned to female residents of Tennessee and Massachusetts.

 

Mendoza was arraigned today in New Britain Superior Court. His bond was set at $25,000 cash only and the case was continued until Aug. 25, 2015.

 

 

The case is being prosecuted by the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit, which was established under a partnership between the Division of Criminal Justice and the Department of Labor to investigate and prosecute alleged fraud in the unemployment compensation program.

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari Meets With President Obama


Updated Friday, July 31, 2015 at 6:28 p.m.

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — In an effort to shore up U.S. relations with Nigeria and to help fight Islamic extremists, President Barack Obama met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday at the White House.

 
Buhari’s visit to the U.S. comes within several weeks of taking office after the ouster of former Nigerian President Johnathan Goodluck. It was a contentious and historic election after he promised to to expel Boko Haram and root out endemic corruption in the Nigerian government. It was the first time a peaceful transfer of power occurred after the end of military rule in 1999.

 
Buhari’s visit on Monday is “a sign of the importance the U.S. places on relations with Nigeria,” White House officials said. Besides being a “Power Africa” focus country, Nigeria has a strong Nigeria diaspora community in the United States.

 

 

Many Nigerian-Americans were pleased with the White House’s invite to Buhari, who will hold the United Nations’ Security Council’s presidency in August.

 

“President Obama made the right decision in inviting President Muhammadu Buhari to the White House,” said Sabella Abidde, a Political Science Professor at the University of Alabama. ” It gave both leaders the chance to get to know one another and, in the process, exhanged “wish list.” It was also an affirmation of Nigerian’s nascent democracy.”

 

Others agreed, expressing hope for less corruption in Nigeria.
“President Buhari ushers in hope for Nigerians worldwide. We are tired of years of corruption and inept leadership. Nigeria needs a no-nonsense honest leader. We hope Pres. Buhari can start us on that path,” said Johnathan Adewumi, a Brooklyn, NY businessman.
Obama invited Buhari immediately after the 72-year-old former dictator was declared the winner of the March election. Buhari praised Obama for demanding that the Nigerian election be transparent and fair.

“Nigeria is obviously one of the most important countries in the world and one of the most important countries in the African continent. Recently we saw an election in which a peaceful transition to a new government took place and it was an affirmation of Nigeria’s commitment to democracy, a recognition that although Nigeria is a big country and a diverse country with many different parts the people of Nigeria understand that only through a peaceful political process can change take place,” said President Obama who was flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, National security advisor Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry and other White House officials.

 
U.S. relations with Nigeria soured because of government corruption and the human trafficking of more than 200 schoolgirls, who were kidnapped by “an increasingly lethal” Boko Haram in April 2014. The abduction of these girls, most of whom were Christian and from the town of Chibok, led to international condemnation and a campaign to “Bring Back Our Girls.”

 
Boko Haram’s human trafficking and deadly rampages have killed thousands in Nigeria since its formation in 2009. Last Friday, at least 15 people were killed in suicide bombings at open air praying grounds on one of Muslims calendar.

 
Last week, Buhari fired the entire top echelon of the military, which he has accused of corruption that prevents what once was Africa’s mightiest armed force from curbing the Islamist insurgency based in Nigeria’s northeast. The insurgency has killed more than 13,000 people and driven another 1.5 million from their homes, according to reports.

 

 

Dressed in a traditional West African-style caftan of a black long gown and a matching pants and prayer hat, Buhari reaffirmed his allegiance to democracy and promised to address U.S. concerns.

 
Buhari noted the “positive trends” of elections in Nigeria and credited the “pressure from the United States and Europe to make sure elections were free and credible led us to where we are now.”

 
He said he was “extremely happy” about the progress and “very grateful” for the invitation from Obama to the White House.

 
Nigeria boasts Africa’s largest economy and hosts the fourth largest oil reserves. However, Nigeria’s economy has suffered under the decline of oil prices, government corruption and security issues.

 
Additionally, Nigeria plays a critical role in the region in terms of being an economic power, but also a historical contributor to peacekeeping and playing a very important role globally,” said Grant Harris, the senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council.

 
“This feels to us like Nigeria is at an important moment in which there can be real reforms across the board,” said Harris, in a conference call to reporters last week. “We’re looking forward to what we can do with a president who has staked out an agenda that we think is the right agenda at the right time.”

 
Grant said that the U.S. has been providing important security assistance to help professionalize the Nigerian military and to help their approach to Boko Haram.

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Hartford Celebrates AmeriCorps


HARTFORD — During the 50th anniversary celebration of AmeriCorps VISTA, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra on Tuesday announced the launch of the North Hartford Promise Zone AmeriCorps VISTA project.

The project aims to assist in achieving the goals of the newly-designated North Hartford Promise Zone, including improving the quality of life for residents through increased economic activity, improved educational opportunities, reduction of serious and violent crimes, improved health and wellness, job creation, and improved home ownership and rental housing assistance programs.

“The North Hartford Promise Zone will be strengthened by the addition of five AmeriCorps VISTA members who will help achieve Promise Zone goals in job creation, affordable housing, crime reduction, economic development, education, health and wellness for North Hartford,” said Mayor Segarra.

Hartford was awarded a Promise Zone designation for North Hartford – a 3.11 square-mile area encompassing the Clay Arsenal, Northeast and Upper Albany neighborhoods – making Hartford the first City in New England to have been selected as a Promise Zone community by the Obama Administration.

The Promise Zone is a White House initiative designed to support high need, high capacity communities across the country with implementing neighborhood revitalization strategies focused on job creation, increased access to quality, affordable housing, expanded educational opportunities, improved public safety and improved health outcomes.

AmeriCorps VISTA, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, helps build the capacity of nonprofit organizations, addresses underlying causes of poverty, and engages the local community in developing sustainable solutions to end poverty.

In Connecticut, more than 60 AmeriCorps VISTA members are currently serving at 45 sites.

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Larson and other Officials to Discuss Transportation


HARTFORD — Rep. John B. Larson on Monday will hold a series of meetings with Rep. Bill Shuster (PA-09), Chairman of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

With the nation’s roads, bridges, and transit systems in need of repair, it is more important than ever to make critical investments in the interest of public safety. To that end, Larson and Shuster will visit several key sites in the First Congressional District to highlight the infrastructure needs of the region.

First, at 8:45 a.m., Larson and Shuster will visit Augie & Ray’s Drive In in East Hartford for breakfast and an informal discussion with the local community.

Then, Larson and Shuster will travel to Pratt & Whitney from 9:45 AM to 10:30 a.m. for a brief tour and a discussion on the infrastructure challenges in providing access and egress to Pratt & Whitney’s new headquarters as well as Goodwin College and Rentschler Field.

Deputy Commissioner Anna Barry of the Connecticut Department of Transportation will also attend.

Later, Larson, Shuster, and Barry will join Rep. Rosa Delauro (CT-03) and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra for a press conference at Union Station from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They will discuss ongoing infrastructure projects in Connecticut and the Aetna viaduct.

 

 

Who

Rep. John B. Larson

Rep. Bill Shuster

 

What

Informal Breakfast

 

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Obama Designates State Funding


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD  — President Barack Obama’s administration has given the green light for several states to access $1 billion in federal funding for economic development and to boost manufacturing.

This is one of several key pillars of the President’s strategy to “accelerate progress in U.S. manufacturing and improve the competitiveness” on the global marketing.

Connecticut is one of 12 applicants to receive this designation by Obama’s administration’s Investing in Manufacturing Committee Partnership Initiative.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the designation will ultimately help the state “accelerate and enhance our initiatives to boost innovation, worker skills, supply chain capabilities, infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Malloy said Connecticut was selected because the state hosts sizeable aerospace and defense shipbuilding industries.

For decades, manufacturing was a major economic driver in America. After the economic boom in the 1940s and 1950s, many manufacturing jobs declined, and companies moved out of rural and urban areas.

The Obama administration is aiming to improve the economy with this latest development.

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