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Banking Commissioner Warns of Bank Fraud

HARTFORD — State Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez has become aware of a text scam targeting customers of Webster Bank.


Banking officials said the fraudulent text appears to be a genuine notice from Webster Bank indicating that they are currently performing maintenance of their system and asking the recipient to click on a link to renew personal details. While this particular text targets Webster customers, other text scams have targeted many other banks and businesses, they said.


“This is a cautionary tale,” Perez said, “a reminder to be especially vigilant as we head into the busiest season of the year when we are bombarded by emails, text and telephone calls.”


Commissioner Jonathan Harris of the Department of Consumer Protection said that if residents receive a text, they should reach out to the bank or business to verify that it’s not a scam.


The growth of electronic communications and social media continues to provide new ways for scammers to reach their targets. Connecticut consumers should stay vigilant when receiving electronic business communications.


The high-tech scammer sends highly accurate emails or texts that contain links to what appear to be genuine websites, but instead are fraudulent sites that will steal personal information.


“Unfortunately, the holiday season is one of the busiest times for scammers,” said AARP Fraud Watch Volunteer Byron Peterson. “Each year ID theft and fraud steal millions of hard-earned dollars from unsuspecting residents.”


Any consumers who did click the link should contact the Department of Bankin by calling 1-800-831-7225.


In Connecticut, the Fraud Watch Network – in collaboration with other organizations and is working to educate the public and prevent consumer fraud.


Get tips and information and free fraud alerts at<

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Troopers Ramp Up for Holiday Weekend

MIDDLETOWN — On Thursday, Connecticut State Police will begin efforts to ramp up plans to keep drivers safe during the busy holiday weekend.

With tens of thousands of travelers driving through Connecticut during the Thanksgiving weekend, State Police began supplementing normal routine patrol personnel.

Now through Nov. 29 State police will patrol roads and highways across Connecticut. Officials said they will focus on aggressive drivers unsafe dricers and drunk drivers.

Troopers are committed to reducing crashes through preventive enforcement initiatives such as roving DUI patrols.

Troopers will also be looking for violators who cause accidents on Connecticut roads and highways. Every effort to reduce accidents will be taken, they said; however, Connecticut residents are asked to be a part of the public safety solution by obeying traffic laws: don’t follow too close, drive the speed limit, stay off your cell phone while driving and, if you drink, then please do not drive.

Trooper Kelly Grant said residents should remind all young people, especially college students returning home the first time this semester, of the laws regarding alcohol consumption and drinking and driving.

Uniformed Troopers will use traditional and non-traditional patrol cars to observe traffic and issue tickets to reckless and distracted drivers. A reminder to all drivers: anyone who is consuming alcohol should never get behind the wheel. If you see a suspected drunk driver, call 911, this is a true emergency.

Last week, State Troopers made 1,410 speeding arrests, including 314 seat belt arrests. Additionally, there were 52 drunk driving arrests and 3,538 arrests. There was only one fatal accident noted in the 2014 report.


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The Refugee Hypocrisy of President Obama and Hillary Clinton

Editor’s Note: In criticizing Republicans’ stance against Syrian refugees, Obama and Clinton seem to have forgotten their own treatment of other nonwhite refugees. This piece was first published on Nov. 18 at
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have seized upon the Paris terrorist attacks to launch political attacks against Republicans in response to their xenophobic statements on admitting Syrian refugees.When speaking in the Philippines, President Obama stated, “When candidates say we shouldn’t admit three-year-old orphans, that’s political posturing,” adding, “these are the same folks oftentimes that say they’re so tough that just talking to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or staring down ISIL or using some additional rhetoric will solve the problem, and they’re scared of widows and three-year-old orphans.”Hillary Clinton piled on, stating that “We have always welcomed immigrants and refugees. … We have made people feel that if they did their part, they sent their kids to school, they worked hard, there would be a place for them in America.”

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionIt appears that both President Obama and former State Secretary Clinton have very short memories, or at the very least they hope that we do. Recent history reminds that the president has been jailing “three-year-old orphans” in deportation internment camps for well over a year now, where they are subjected to abuse, neglect and torture.

Immigration lawyer Dree Collopy, a partner of the Washington, D.C. firm of Banach Ragland, spoke about the abuses she witnessed while representing refugees in one of Obama’s family deportation jails in Artesia, New Mexico. Ms. Collopy encountered dehydrated, listless and malnourished children “clinging to their mothers, while their mothers’ pleas for medical care were met with degrading and abusive treatment.” As she said:

“I can say without a doubt that these women and their children are refugees. They have come here seeking protection from the horrific violence they have suffered — beatings, rape, human trafficking — all at the hands of actors whom their governments fail and refuse to control. They have come here trying to survive, and they have come here to save their children’s lives.

“Yet, unlike the refugees who preceded them, they have arrived here in the United States and been thrown in jail, where they have been kept for months in inhumane conditions and where they are refused meaningful access to counsel and interpreters, witnesses and evidence, family and emotional support, mental health care, and other tools that are essential to seeking protection in any meaningful way.”

Thankfully, a federal judge has put her foot down, ordering the prompt release of refugee children while calling Obama’s family deportation jails “deplorable,” and finding that they fail to pass minimal standards for safe and sanitary conditions. Predictably, the Obama administration appealed the decision.

If only the hypocrisy stopped there. To add constitutional violation to injury, not only is the Obama administration abusing refugee children, they are circumventing due process by expeditiously deporting them without a lawyer.

As for political posturing, prior to launching her presidential campaign, Clinton was abundantly clear that refugee children “should be sent back” as soon as possible, mirroring the positions of the Obama administration. These positions were articulated during the height of the refugee crisis by the assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz.

In an interview with NPR, Ms. Muñoz explained: “That’s the intention here, again, is to make sure that for those kids who end up being removable — and we think that’s probably going to be a majority of the kids in this situation — that they don’t remain in the United States for years and that we cut down the amount of time that it takes.”

Contrary to these assertions, nearly 50 percent of the refugee children represented by counsel have been granted relief from removal.

After announcing her candidacy, Clinton doubled down, maintaining her position on the deportation of refugee children, and has recently touted her “numerous” votes to build a wall on the southern border, while dehumanizing the undocumented population with incendiary and racist language, even raising the eyebrows of some Democrats.

The point being, maybe President Obama and former Secretary Clinton should gain the moral high ground before throwing stones at their Republican counterparts. But I guess that really doesn’t matter when there are Republicans to demagogue, and three-year-olds to deport.

Matthew Kolken is an immigration lawyer and the managing partner of Kolken & Kolken, located in Buffalo, New York. His legal opinions and analysis are regularly solicited by various news sources, including MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, The Washington Post, Forbes Magazine, and The Los Angeles Times, among others. You can follow him @mkolken.

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Malloy Wants to Replace Hartford Viaduct

HARTFORDConnecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy is rolling out his transportation overhaul with plans to replace the Hartford Viaduct, the elevated portion of I-84 into the capital city.

The project will cost $3.4 billion, but will have a projected return to the state of $9 billion to $10 billion, Malloy told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schniedau.

“What we are doing in Connecticut is saying that we’re going to build a first-class transportation system,” the governor said. “We’re studying the biggest projects to make sure that our return on investment justififes the expense.”

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Photo courtesy of CBS New York

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White House Promises to Veto Bill to Close US Borders to Syrian Refugees

By Ann-Marie Adams I The Hartford Guardian

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama recently vowed to veto the Republican-led House of Representative’s effort to curb the influx of refugees fleeing the Islamic state of Syria and Iraq.

The White House issued a statement on Wednesday saying that President Obama would veto the legislation, which has support from both parties. The House’s 246 Republicans supported the bill, which passed 289 to 137. Forty-seven Democrats supported it. This is sufficient to override a presidential veto.

The bill would require that the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence said that refuges from Syria and Iraq poses no threat once they submit to a thorough background check.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called for a balance between safety and freedom as law enforcement agencies increased security after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

“In our efforts to enhance the security of the homeland, we must not compromise our values as a free and open society,” said Johnson during remarks at a cybersecurity event on Wednesday.

According to the State Department,  1,869 Syrians have entered the United States since October 2014.  The bulk of those, 1,682, came during 2015.

Congressman Paul Rand, (R-Kentucky) said he would impose measures that block these and other high-risk refugees from tax-benefits.

But other members of Congress objected to the draconian laws to curtail the number of Syrian Refugees entering the United States.

“Defeating terrorism should not mean slamming the door in the faces of those fleeing the terrorists,” said. “We might as well take down the Statute of Liberty.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was one of six governors who said he would welcome Syrian refugees into their state. To date, 31 governors agreed to accommodate Syrian refugees.

“We have the toughest process in the world about allowing refugees into our country. That’s the reality,” Malloy said. “By the way, let’s be very clear. No one is taking a raft from Turkey to get to the United States. We control this situation to a higher degree than any European country can at the current moment.”

White House officials in a 90-minute call with 34 governor’s reiterated that Obama’s top priority is the safety of the American people.

While in the Philippines this week, President Obama responded to Republicans’ quest to close the US boarders to Syrian refugees.

“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate. It’s counterproductive and it needs to stop,” Obama said.

On Wednesday,  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sharply criticized Obama’s treatment of his stance on not wanting to admit Syrian refugees into the United States, and challenged him to a debate.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) plans to block the House bill if it reaches the upper chamber after the Thanksgiving recess.

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Immigrant Rights Leaders Say This Is the Time to Act

Elena Shore, New America Media

A day after the 5th Circuit announced its ruling against the Obama administration’s executive actions on immigration, immigrant rights leaders said now is the time to act.

“We are not going to sit around and wait for a court ruling. We will not let right-wing judges or right-wing states determine what happens to the fate of our communities,” Annette Wong, program manager with Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) told reporters at an ethnic media news briefing organized by New America Media. The roundtable was part of an effort by the statewide coalition Ready California to encourage residents to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

One year ago, President Obama announced two new programs through executive action – an expansion of the DACA program and a new program for parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA. Those programs remain on hold following Monday’s court ruling, the latest decision following a lawsuit brought by 26 Republican-led states against the Obama administration.

The Obama administration is expected to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court in the next few weeks. If the Supreme Court takes the case, it will likely announce a decision in June.

But while those two programs remain on hold, immigrant rights advocates said there are steps that families can take now to secure their future.

“It doesn’t matter what status someone has; there are actions they can take,” said Juan Ortiz, staff attorney with the International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA).

U.S. citizens can register to vote; eligible green card holders can apply for citizenship. Undocumented California residents can apply for a driver’s license under AB 60, noted Ortiz.

Next May, undocumented children in California will be able to access full-scope Medi-Cal. California parents can start enrolling their kids now in Restricted Medi-Cal (sometimes called Emergency Medi-Cal), regardless of their immigration status.

Parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents can start preparing their documents so they will be ready when DAPA goes into effect.

And, most importantly, people can still apply for the original DACA program that was announced in 2012.

It’s important to understand that Monday’s ruling does not affect DACA, noted Sally Kinoshita, deputy director of Immigrant Legal Resource Center. That program remains in effect and continues to help undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children get work permits, social security numbers and a temporary reprieve from deportation.

Ortiz advised families to go to a trusted community based organization for an immigration check-up to see what they might qualify for. In fact, he said, almost 15 percent of people who apply for DACA end up qualifying for something else, like a U-Visa (granted to victims of crimes) or a T-Visa (granted to trafficking victims).

Meanwhile, several DACA recipients speaking at the briefing encouraged their community members to apply for the program so they could access all of its benefits – not only a social security number, a work permit and a reprieve from deportation, but also the stability and security to stand up and advocate for the rights of others in their communities.

For Mexican American DACA recipient Luis Avalos, getting DACA was “ a shining light in a dark tunnel of uncertainty,” allowing him to work legally and stop being afraid of deportation.

Avalos, 22, is now the chair of the San Francisco Youth Commission and advises the mayor and board of supervisors on issues of concern to young people. In order to be appointed to the commission, Avalos needed a social security number.

“I wouldn’t be able to be part of the San Francisco Youth Commission without DACA,” he said.

For Hong Mei Pang, a community organizer with ASPIRE, getting DACA was “a pivotal moment” in her life.

Pang, who came to the United States from Singapore 12 years ago, said before DACA was announced in 2012, she was “working three jobs under the table in abusive, exploitative conditions.” DACA allowed her to get work authorization and step out of the shadows.

Today she advocates against deportations that continue to separate families. “Being able to participate in community organizing,” she said, “means we are able to hold each other up.”

Meanwhile, for Brian Cheong, DACA might have saved his life.

Cheong, who moved here from South Korea 12 years ago, was the leader of his high school’s marching unit, graduated at the top of the class, and was awarded the Outstanding Student Award, given to one graduating senior each year.

When he went to college, he said, “that’s when my life turned a little downward.”

As an undocumented immigrant, he was forced to pay out-of-state tuition. In order to pay out-of-state tuition, he had to get a job. But because he was undocumented, he didn’t have a permit to work legally.

“On top of that,” he said, “the fear of deportation followed me everywhere I went. You never know if when you’re sleeping or working if people are going to come and capture you.”

“I started to question my life,” he said, “and whether it was worth it to continue.”

When DACA was launched in 2012, Cheong said there was never any question that he would apply for it. Getting DACA allowed him to work legally and have a secure source of income for tuition, removed the fear of deportation, helped him regain confidence in life, and allowed him to feel stable and secure for the first time in a long time.

“I’m the type of person that likes to plan ahead, and I couldn’t do that before DACA,” Cheong explained.

Today, Cheong is in a military program called MAVNI, a special program that could allow DACA recipients with certain skills to gain something that they otherwise would not be able to access – a path to citizenship. Cheong plans to eventually petition for his parents and family, who are currently left out of immigration reform.

To other young people who are living without legal status, Cheong had a simple message: “You are not alone.”

“Get up, speak up, advocate and educate,” he said, “not just for DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans] but for CIR [comprehensive immigration reform] as well.”

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Arts Council Accepting Grant Submissions

HARTFORD –  Writers, graphic designers, photographers, artists and other creative professionals  and organizations now have a change to get their projects funded.

The Greater Hartford Arts Council invites arts and cultural organizations in its 34-town region to submit an Intent to Apply for a Hartford Events Grant by Dec. 3, 2015.

These grants, supported in part by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, fund exhibits, concerts, festivals, parades, and performances that take place in the City of Hartford.

The current application cycle, Round I, supports events occurring between April 1, 2016 and September 30, 2016.

“Hartford Events Grants celebrate the talent and cultural diversity that are unique to the Capital region,” says Cathy Malloy, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Hartford Arts Council.

“They make possible free events that bring the community together and generate energy in Downtown Hartford.”

Applicants approved through the Intent to Apply process will be invited to submit an application. For more information about Hartford Events Grants and to submit an Intent to Apply, visit

Visit to learn more about the Arts Council’s range of grant programs.

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Congressman Honors Malta House of Care

HARTFORD — Rep. John B. Larson recently honored Malta House of Care with the Nancy Pilver Breast Cancer Awareness Award.

Malta House provides no-cost mammograms in partnership with Hartford Hospital and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center as well as education and follow-up care for women across Connecticut.

“Each year, hundreds of thousands of women are diagnosed with breast cancer. It can be a frightening diagnosis for anyone, especially the uninsured or those living below the poverty level,” said Larson (CT-01). “For nearly a decade, Malta House has provided women across Hartford with access to the care they need.”
Nancy was my patient for 20 years when I was in private practice,” states Dr. Theresa Caputo, Medical Director for the Malta House of Care. “She was very dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer. I am doubly honored to accept this award on behalf of the thousands of women who come to the Malta House of Care because they have nowhere else to go for life-saving preventative care.”

The Nancy Pilver Breast Cancer Award is named for former Manchester resident and longtime breast cancer activist, Nancy Pilver.

Nancy served as the State Legislative Chair of the Connecticut Breast Cancer Coalition Foundation, and was the first recipient of the award in 1999. She passed away from breast cancer in 2003.

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School Fair for Magnet Schools Begins Nov. 14

HARTFORD — Want to explore the many great opportunities for your child’s education within the Greater Hartford region?

The Department of Education is inviting you to its second regional school choice fair of the 2016-17 lottery application season on Nov. 14, 2015. The informational event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Metropolitan Learning Center, 1551 Blue Hills Ave. in Bloomfield.

Families planning to attend may sign up in advance online for this fair at RSCO’s web site ( Look for the ‘Sign Up In Advance!’ link under ‘News & Events’ on the main page.

The 2016-17 on-time lottery application period opened Oct. 15, 2015 and closes on Jan. 29, 2016. Officials said that there are approximately 43 magnet school options with specialized themes available; Hartford and suburban students may apply.

Students can apply to attend a non-magnet public school outside of their hometown. Once enrolled, Hartford residents may attend school in their Open Choice district through high school graduation.The largest numbers of available seats tend to be in transition grades, particularly prekindergarten, kindergarten, grade 6 and grade 9.

The fair will feature information about the wide array of options available to Hartford and suburban students entering pre-kindergarten through grade 12. RSCO partners include: the Capitol Region Education Council; Hartford Public Schools’ Host Magnet Program; the Hartford Region Open Choice Program; Goodwin College’s Early Childhood Magnet School and CT River Academy; the Connecticut Technical High School System; Bloomfield Public Schools’ Wintonbury Early Childhood Magnet School and The Global Experience Magnet School; and East Hartford Public Schools’ Connecticut IB Academy.

The lottery is not first-come, first-served and families are encouraged to make an informed decision.

For more information on school fairs, information sessions and open houses, please visit RSCO’s web site at or call RSCO’s Parent Information Center at 860-713-6990 weekdays (excluding state holidays) between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Metropolitan Learning Center

1551 Blue Hills Avenue

Bloomfield, CT 06002

Snow Date & Time: Sunday, November 15, 2015 from 1-4 p.m.

This fair will feature RSCO programming for Grades PK-12

Saturday, December 5, 2015

9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Connecticut River Academy

9 Riverside Drive

East Hartford, CT 06118

Snow Date & Time: Sunday, December 6, 2015 from 1-4 p.m.

This fair will feature RSCO programming for Grades PK-12

Saturday, January 9, 2016

9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Conard High School

110 Beechwood Road

West Hartford, CT 06107

Snow Date & Time: Saturday, January 16, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This fair will feature RSCO programming for Grades PK-12

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Fourth GOP Presidential Debate Unveils Candidates’ Strengths and Weaknesses

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE — The fourth Republican presidential debate on Tuesday unveiled strengths and weaknesses of the top eight candidates vying to win their party’s nomination to be the next president of the United States.

With no clear winner evident, the Fox Business Network and the Wall Street Journal GOP live debates produced a few zingers and many memorable one-liners from most candidates.

Going into the debate with a one-point lead was political newcomer Ben Carson, who defended himself after a barrage of questions about his resume and his biography, including a claim Carson made that he stabbed someone as a youth. Carson shrugged off questions from Trump, saying: “People who love me know that I am an honest person.”

Some pundits predicted Carson will eventually decline in the polls with his lukewarm performance in a forum designed to let others know more about him and his platform.

Donald Trump, the boisterous candidate known for his candid views on immigration and gender equality, tried to be statesmanlike instead of being like a court jester. But that strategy was halted when he criticized the only woman in the field of GOP candidates, Carly Fiorina, who made an indirect critique at his TV persona.

A moderator asked Trump about his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal under consideration by Congress. He said the deal would harm U.S. workers and stressed the danger in allowing China to continue to manipulate its currency and enter the US market through the backdoor. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) corrected Trump by highlighting his ignorance on the deal. Paul spoke through the moderator to Trump: “Gerard, you might want to point out China is not part of this deal.”

Most of the candidates gave practically the same answers for creating jobs, cutting taxes and curtailing government policies on businesses.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), the young mentee sidestep additional criticism of his former mentor Jeb Bush and delivered a few substantive answers on foreign policy,  tax issues and job creation. He called for more vocational training and criticized liberal arts majors:

“You’re going to make people more expensive than a machine,” Rubio said. “We need more welders and less philosophers.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is competing with Rubio to be a formidable candidate in the general election, was more lively but cautious with his answers, aiming for accuracy rather than comedic moments with memorable lines.

The other candidates aimed to move from the margins in the poll and insert themselves into the middle of the media spotlight.  This approach made Paul or Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) seen as a possible breakout candidate.

The debate centered on mostly economic issues, which at times lead to a dry  discussion about economic issues that resonated with middle-class voters.


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