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Gov. Dannel Malloy and Sandy Hook Advocate to Speak at the Democratic National Convention


Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia (J. Scott Applewhite/AP).

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association and co-chair of the Democratic Convention’s platform Committee. On Tuesday’s WBUR 90.9 radio show, Malloy advocated for Hilary Clinton, saying she should be elected president because she has the guts to take on the National Rifle Association.

Other notable Connecticut residents on tonight’s list of speakers is  Erica Smegielski, the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung. Hochsprung was a victim of the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Sandy Hook shooting is used to fuel the gun control debate since December 2012.

After the shooting, Connecticut passed one of the strongest gun control laws in the nation.

Malloy has one of the lowest poll numbers among the nation’s governors. He said governors had to make hard choices, after he raised taxes on the rich.

He rebuffed the idea that Hilary will face a backlash from corporate America because of the Democrats move to tax the rich.

Listen:

Dannel Malloy, governor of Connecticut, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, and co-chair of the Democratic Convention’s platform committee. He spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last night. He tweets @govmalloyoffice.

 

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Judge Orders Anti-Obama Filmmaker D’Souza to Seek Mental Health Treatment


President Barack Obama is serious about how he handles those who think they should slander him and his legacy without punishment.

One filmmaker is feeling his wrath after his quest to demystify Obama, the first black president.

On Monday, a Manhattan judge ordered Dinesh D’ Souza to continue his community service and get psychological counseling.

Obama’s staff will have some explaining to do about this approach to journalists/artists before  he ends his second term.

To be fair,  D’Souza’s critique of Obama is sometimes ridiculous. But it’s worth parsing.

Obama is a 1.9 immigrant. And many immigrants are looking to him to confront the rising racism and xenophobia during his tenure at the White House.  The hate is palpable. And it is affecting thier bottomline.

Perhaps D’Souza should bone up on United States history before he critiques the black president and the black experience in America . I think that’s where there’s a gap in his education and why the judge had a difficult time in his logic about the first black president.

According to Newsweek, D’Souza was sentenced to eight months in a work-release center, five years of probation, a $30,000 fine and community service after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations in May 2014.

The conservative critic had arranged “straw donors” to contribute $10,000 to the failed 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of his college friend Wendy Long.

Psychiatrists found no signs of depression, but U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman overruled their findings and ordered D’Souza see a new psychological counselor weekly.

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Gov. Malloy, Health Chief Announce Zika Detection Protocol


NEW HAVEN — Gov. Dannel Malloy joined the state’s public health chief and a local scientist Thursday in announcing the state will launch a system that will potentially detect new Zika cases as part of its prevention efforts.

State Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino said Thursday the state has tested 472 people for Zika, confirming 31 cases, three of whom are pregnant women. The disease is especially concerning to pregnant women, as infection during pregnancy could lead to birth defects. Results are pending for several other female patients, Pino said. No child in Connecticut has been born with a birth defect related to a possible infection, Pino added.

“The Department of Public Health has decided to establish a sentinel system in the southern part of the state,” Pino said. “We are basically coordinating with community health centers, hospitals and emergency rooms.”

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Blumenthal, Bronin Meet with Hartford Officials to Discuss Ways to Quiet Tensions, Police Brutality


SUBMITTED: Author wants Mayor Luke Bronin to Resign for 
Ignoring Media Suppression and Hate Crime in Hartford.

By L. Giles, Contributor

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Mayor Luke A. Bronin, Chief James C. Rovella and Hartford’s State Attorney Gail P. Hardy met at City Hall on Tuesday to discuss ways to serve the Hartford community while ensuring that police officers have adequate resources to protect and serve  residents and business owners.

Blumenthal called on President Barack Obama’s office for additional resources to fight crime after Bronin said there’s a need to have good communication with city residents and business owners to avoid similar shootings and mass protest that gripped the nation when a gunman named Micah Johnson killed five police officers during a protest in Dallas, Texas.

Johnson’s and other retaliatory acts to police brutality since then is to be avoided, state officials said, hence another round of meetings that involved a trip to Barbershop on Main and Park streets.

All four public officials realized that the city is “still wrestling with the legacy of deeply flawed criminal justice policies.” That and the lack of public trust could trigger an eruption in Hartford, never seen since 1967.

The trust needed in the community was broken for one reporter after 15 police officers were dispatched to 167 Sisson Ave. on Friday, April 4, 2014. A Hartford Guardian reporter was awoken from her sleep and taken to John Dempsey Hospital, where they kept her, so that she could not cover the President of the United States. And she could not attend a Friday church service in East Hartford and a history conference on Saturday.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionSince then, law enforcement officials in the state have been monitoring The Hartford Guardian’s website and disrupting her writing. The systematic dismantling of a competitive publication that has won several awards and is the blue print for other publications in the Greater Hartford area is akin to the kind of racism found in the 1920s. And to date, law enforcement officials have used covert techniques to silence all the witnesses by using electronic nodes and other fancy crime fighting tools to control law abiding citizens of color.

For example, these new devices were used to control a reporter’s thinking, reading and writing, according to a black law enforcement officers who want to remain anonymous. This, he said, is “slavery by another name.” And that is why everyone in the city should be concerned about Chief Rovella asking for more money for his department. Rovella must address the lawsuit against the city for detainment, invasion of privacy, attempted murder and failure to protect a citizen under the 14th amendment before others are forced to go the the United Nations to discuss why Connecticut want to enslaved black and Latino people “in secret.”

City cameras, electronic nodes other policing tools used 24 hours a day on one reporter is why the Hartford police–and other law enforcement agencies in this state, should instead shed those police officers who have violated a public trust.

If they had that much time to have a chit-chat session with a single black woman on April 4, 2014 and almost every day since then, they do not need any extra resources.

Tuesday’s meeting came after another police office was killed in Orlando without discussion about the April 4 incident. Martin Luther King, Jr died on April 4. So many city activists say it was a symbolic move to silence them because city officials were sending a message–not just to the reporter–to anyone who wanted to start a civil rights movement in the city. There will be no civil rights movement in Hartford, they said. The mystery should be unveiled by all the officials at the meeting.

In the meanwhile, some residents are asking for Luke Bronin’s resignation because he has yet to address the police brutality directed at the only black reporter who writes for a daily publication. This clearly impacts the minority community in the telling of our stories.

L. Giles lives in New Britain.

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

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Dallas is the Fated Fruit of the Existing Order


By Nick Ford  | @nickfnord  | Support this author on Patreon.

On July 7th, 2016 a gunman named Micah Johnson  fired on police officers using a sniper rifle during a peaceful protest in Dallas, Texas, killing five officers. The protest was centered around the recent acts of police brutality involving Alton Sterling  in Louisiana and Philando Castile  in Minnesota.

An earlier version of a CNN article had this astonishing quote from an officer who downplayed Johnson’s explicitly stated motives, despite admitting Johnson was lucid at the time, “We can’t get into the head of a person that would do something like this. We negotiated with this person that seemed lucid during the negotiation. He wanted to kill officers, and he expressed killing white people, he expressed killing white officers, he expressed anger for Black Lives Matter. None of that makes sense,”

Notably the police were able to end this conflict by the use of a robot carrying a c4 explosive. CNN reports that it was a, “1-pound C4 plastic explosive plus “Det” cord”. This was not military grade equipment but rather similar to the, “…small explosive charges that they use for breaches…”.

Criticism for this maneuver came from all sides including Rick Nelson, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former counterterrorism official on the National Security Council remarking that (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/09/science/dallas-bomb-robot.html) , “The further we remove the officer from the use of force and the consequences that come with it, the easier it becomes to use that tactic,” “It’s what we have done with drones in warfare. … In warfare, your object is to kill … Law enforcement has a different mission.”

But given how many people police have killed in 2015 and 2016, is this really true?

In 2015 police fatally shot nearly 1,000 people (armed and unarmed), according to the Washington Post. More recently, multiple writers from the Washington Post reported that fatal shootings were up in the first six months of 2016  from last year. Those numbers were 465 to 491 with the Post also reporting that blacks are shot 2.5 times more than whites.

One of the heartening things is that these fatal encounters  are increasingly being recorded which has led to more prosecutions of police, more public protest and more education about white supremacy in this society. After all, this society was built on white supremacy and given the current discriminatory regime of law enforcement, interpretation and sentencing, it seems to continue.

And while more prosecution could be seen as a good thing, it’s still unlikely to strike at the root of these issues. Local courts and the police in those same locales are on friendly terms and other reformist ideas such as body cameras and mandatory reporting either seem to be ignored or conveniently worked around.

On the other hand, violence isn’t going to be how this fight for justice will be won either and it’s unlikely that Johnson’s moves will do anything but incite further violence on future protesters. But then it isn’t as if police would have committed no violence against protesters in the future had this shooter not enacted violence.

One thing is for sure, the more cops kill, the more they are going to be killed.

That isn’t a statement of personal preference or a statement to incite violence but rather a recognition of JFK’s quote that when you make peaceful revolution impossible, you make violent revolution inevitable.

Or, as the anarchist Voltairine de Cleyre put it in Our Present Attitude, which was a response to the assassination of President McKinley,” Now, in times like these, wild outbursts of desperation must be expected. It is not the business of Anarchists to preach wild and foolish acts, – acts of violence. For, truly, Anarchism has nothing in common with violence, and can never come about save through the conquest of men’s minds. But when some desperate and life-denied victim of the present system does strike back at it, by violence, it is not our business to heap infamies upon his name, but to explain him as we explain others, whether our enemies or our friends, as the fated fruit of the existing “order.”

Under a police state, the desperate act desperately and the more police kill, the truer they’ll discover this is.

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These Are the Black Folks Skipping Out on the RNC This Year


WASHINGTON — A look at the many, many black GOP no-shows for the Republican National Convention.

The Republican National Convention may be noteworthy this year for one glaring reason: Who isn’t coming. In the case of African-American Republicans, the list is long. They are joined by a list of former GOP nominees for president who will not attend, which includes past GOP nominees for president Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Mitt Romney. While the number of African Americans in attendance at the GOP convention was already low, the 2016 convention may have the lowest in terms of big names.

The list of convention speakers reveals few African Americans. Of the 63 speakers listed by the Republican National Committee so far, only three are African American: the Rev. Darrell Scott, Dr. Ben Carson and Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. The U.S. Senate’s only African-American Republican, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who spent the last week speaking on the Senate floor on race and policing, isn’t on the list. Whether he will be in Cleveland at all is unclear.

The reason for so many Republican National Convention no-shows is easy to identify: Donald Trump. Many of Trump’s fellow Republicans don’t want to be branded to the controversial presumptive GOP nominee with only 110 days left till Nov. 8.  From calling for a ban on members of a religious group, to violence at his rallies, negative statements about women and talk of “building a wall” as his approach to immigration, many elected officials and others are not running toward the brand of Trump and his views.

A torrent of rumors popped up that Cleveland-based boxing promoter Don King and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson would be speaking in Cleveland. During a speech in Cincinnati July 6, Trump announced King would be speaking. But just like so much of what the New York real estate mogul has said, the claim evaporated. It turns out that King isn’t on the list of speakers. Trump stated that his convention would be filled with celebrities and have a “big show” feel. So far, none of the African-American stars rumored are scheduled to appear.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, an African American, isn’t coming to Cleveland. Instead, he’ll be at the Baltimore Maryland Crabfest with Gov. Larry Hogan, who isn’t going to the GOP convention either.  Former Secretary of State Condi Rice is expected to stay home, too—even after a “Draft Condi” group attempted to inject her name into the race, first to run an independent race against Trump, then to be Trump’s vice presidential nominee.

On June 25, Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), clearly a young rising star in the party, announced she would not be attending the convention. Love told the local press in Utah, “I don’t see the upsides to it,” and “I don’t see how it benefits the state,” as she spoke on why she would be a no-show.

Rep. Love will give up her place as a convention delegate and instead travel to Israel. This move is a far cry from the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., when she enjoyed a prime-time speaking slot. Love is in what is expected to be a close race with her 2014 challenger, Democrat Doug Owens.

Rep. Love’s predicament is the same as the U.S. House’s other African-American Republican, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas). Both are expected to have a difficult time winning re-election after only one House term. Hurd was elected by only 2,422 votes in 2014, and Love won by only 4,225 votes. Both are facing challengers who are attempting to tie them to Donald Trump even though neither will be in Cleveland for the Republican convention.

Yet another reason to be no-shows.

Lauren Victoria Burke is a Washington, D.C.-based political reporter who writes the Crew of 42 blog. She appears regularly on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin on TV One. Follow her on Twitter. This was first published on The Root.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), speaking to the media in Washington, D.C., May 10, 2016, is one of a number of African-American Republicans who are skipping the GOP convention this year. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), speaking to the media in Washington, D.C., May 10, 2016, is one of a number of African-American Republicans who are skipping the GOP convention this year.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Gov. Dan Malloy Talks Gun Safety in Iowa


By

Gov. Dannel Malloy is one of eight Democratic governors in Iowa for the next National Governors Association.

Malloy led a discussion in Des Moines this morning — organized by Hillary Clinton’s campaign — to discuss gun safety. He called assault-style guns like the one used to shoot Dallas police last week “weapons of mass destruction.”

“That’s what they are. They killed 49 people in a very short period of time and injured 53 others in Orlando. They killed 20 children in Newtown at Sandy Hook School,” Malloy said. “They’ve done it time and time and time again.”

Connecticut lawmakers passed new state gun laws after that December 2012 mass shooting at the school. Only 10 rounds of ammunition are allowed in a magazine, armor-piercing bullets are banned and more than 100 guns were added to Connecticut’s list of banned assault-style weapons.

“Not solely because we did those things, but in part because we did those things, our violent crime rate is dropping at a rate 2.5 times the national average,” Malloy said. “…This year alone assaults and homicides with the use of a gun are down about 40 percent.”

Malloy said those stats are “proof common sense legislation does make us safer.” And Malloy argued there’s no issue that shows a clearer distinction between Clinton and Donald Trump than how each would deal with gun safety legislation as president.

Lindsay Jancek, the Republican National Committee’s Iowa communications director, says Republicans have proposed “common sense solutions” that protect Second Amendment rights.

“It’s ironic that Gov. Malloy would come to Iowa to advocate for policies when residents in his home state oppose his own efforts,” she says. “In 2014, nearly 40 percent of Connecticut residents did not support the state’s tighter gun control laws and last year, state media found resident’s owned nearly 52,000 assault rifles.”

Connecticut residents who legally owned assault-style weapons before the ban went into effect two decades ago were allowed to get permits for those guns.

Additionaly reporting by  radioiowa.com.

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Enough is Enough: On President Obama and Bigotry at the White House


 By Ann-Marie Adams | @annmarieadams

After three days of high-profiled shootings of white police officers and black men, President Barack Obama will meet  with  families of the shooting victims, federal officials and other stakeholders to discuss race and policing in America.

Obama will also visit Dallas on Tuesday and will meet other stakeholders on Wednesday, White House officials said.

Dr_AnnMarie_Adams

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionThe upcoming meetings about race and policing  is a wrong-headed move, given the smoldering issue of race and ethnicity at the White House. That’s because the White House Press Association and Obama administration is allegedly deemed xenophobic, a demonstrated bias toward natives.

 

For example, in President Obama’s last meeting with activists about how he could spend his final year tackling issues that impact the black community, the nation’s first African-American president’s staff  left out notions of ethnicity within the black community.  This offense to black immigrants–thier absence in these national debates–impacts the nation’s agenda to reach a “more perfect union.” And it highlights black nativism in the Obama era.

 

If black lives matter, it must be obvious black immigrants and Afro Latinos matter in discussions about race and policing.

 

The absence of mostly new immigrants in these televised debates also impacts my research, writing and reporting.  That’s because they were consistently left out of those meetings about race and law enforcement. Thier inclusion would allow the discussions of ethnic bias by African American law enforcement officers. These nativists in law enforcement have demonstrated an agenda to marginalize Afro West Indians and Afro Latinos who identify as black on the U.S. Census.  Supposedly, our black is not black enough. And I should not speak and write about black issues, hence the staged and unwarranted incident with the Secret Service.

 

Additionally,  these native-born blacks think they should speak for black immigrants, as evidenced on all the major networks. Thier attitude, some say, presents tangible manifestation of ethnic bias, which is also noted on the White House beat. This kind of ethnic bias from the Obmas administration that favors only continental Africans and African Americans affects my bottom line.

 

So with this kind of taxation without representation in the White House, Congress and state legislatures nationwide, I have to scream: enough is enough.


Currently, there is no black immigrant covering the White House beat. And this black immigrant has noticed that there is no black immigrant in the White House or Congress. And that may be why I’m considered an oddity at the White House. So much so that I had to be interrogated by the Secret Service after I was spotted on July 7 walking on the White House grounds. In fact, I was told recently that that incident, and others, was staged to show discord toward the White House staff, so that I don’t continue my relationship with sources on the beat.

 

This incident of bigotry with culturally incompetent individuals must be addressed because, among other things, The Hartford Guardian has the first Jamaican-American White House Correspondent. And the Secret Service might also be upset about that very fact.

Bruce Johnson and Ann-Marie Adams at President Barack Obama's 2013 Inauguration

Bruce Johnson and Ann-Marie Adams at President Barack Obama’s 2013 Inauguration

 

While they are wondering about how to stage a reason to deny me opportunities in the country, here’s what’s left out of the national debate about race and policing. The recent incident with the Secret Service at the White House is systemic of a larger problem of xenophobia by law enforcement officials, especially African Americans and other native-born Americans who don’t know what naturalization means and who are just prejudice.

 

This notion of me occupying in-between worlds: Afro West Indian, African American and Afro Latino was evidenced after I was lured onto the beat and told it was not the practice of the White House Communication staff to discriminate based on race, gender, age and class.

 

The assumption by the White House staff was that I was African-American. After all, I usually check African-American on the Census and job applications, so I did not object to being identified as such. After I began covering the beat, however, I didn’t think it would be a problem to self-identify as African American in the Obama era. That’s because he is the son of a black immigrant. And in native-born blacks’ quest to paint me as ‘other’ in the Obama era, and systematically damage the business of reporting and writing in this contested space on the job market, they forgot that I had rights.

 

Additionally,  a White House source said,  I “fell through the cracks between the White, Hispanic and black communities” when it came to doling out press privileges related to the beat. To mask their prejudice and justify this mistreatment, they hired political operatives to sabotage my reporting and writing.

My most recent encounter of this kind of bigotry was on July 7. That was after I was screened to enter the Brady Room. I later learned from Brian Gabriel–based on his approach to this encounter–that I did not fit a clear ethnic category. And that he and Desiree Barnes, his co-conspirator for monitoring blackness, will only cater to bonified black people on thier list. Translation: All black people who cover President Barack Obama must be born in the USA.  As a result, they wanted the Secret Service to engage me as a foreigner. This is a new approach to this beat and to Obama, whom I have been covering since 2007 while at Howard University.

 

So on July 7 when President Obama took to Facebook and penned his thoughts about the shooting of five police officers in Orlando, Fla., Sgt. Dougherty found it necessary to call 10 of his colleagues to interrogate me. It was quite a jarring experience after Dougherty approached. He then proceeded to violate protocol and engaged me directly, instead of allowing contact with Secret Service press office. I told Dougherty that he was circumventing instructions given to the press pool. His response?

 

“I’m in charge,” he said. “And my name is D-O-U-G-H-E-R-T-Y.”

 

With that authority asserted over my freedom and intellectual ascent as a White House Correspondent, Dougherty escorted me off the White House grounds, reached into my handbag, took out my bible, opened it and removed my passport without permission.

 

Dr. Ann-Marie Adams

Ann-Marie Adams

Dougherty’s arrogance did not end there: Using surveillance and other form of intimidation tactics, he followed me home and continued to use microscopic electronic nodes, I’m told,  to block my thinking, reporting and writing. This kind of torture, and other forms of micro-aggressions, not just the use of force such as hog-tying and shoot-to-kill tactics, or detention, should be considered deadly and corrosive tools to harm the black psyche.

 

With this matter bubbling up at the White House, Obama’s plan to discuss the recent tragic shootings should include a discussion about micro-aggressions and ethnic bias doled out by police officers and other law enforcement agents, especially toward immigrants.

 

And until Dougherty presents evidence to the contrary, I will say this:  Dougherty and others targeted me because I was born in Jamaica. This kind of prejudice must be addressed before it leads to another incident of bigotry in this country where civil liberties and freedom of the press have been elevated as sacred tenets of democracy.

 

Dougherty and his colleagues must now know there will be no taxation without representation of me and and other black immigrants in this so-called land of immigrants. Afro-West Indians have been coming to America since 1620. Therefore, I intend to assert my right to think, report and write without being harassed by whites and blacks who think they should be afforded more rights than new Americans.

 

Let’s be clear: New Americans will no longer wait for equal rights and justice while watching you all talk about your need to have Civil Rights and other freedoms guaranteed by the constitution.

Featured Photo Courtesy of White House Staff: Peter Souza.


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Anthem-Cigna Controversy Exposes Gaps in Ethics Rules


By

“That depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
— Bill Clinton

“Presently, there are no Cigna matters before me.”
— Katharine L. Wade

One of those lines is an infamous example of a president trying to parse a statement to justify a false denial of a sexual relationship with a White House intern. The other is an insurance commissioner’s statement that may be contrary to the common usage of English, yet accurate under the meaning of the Connecticut ethics code.

Barbara Housen, chief counsel, and Carol Carson, executive director, of the Office of State Ethics.

mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org

Barbara Housen, chief counsel, and Carol Carson, executive director, of the Office of State Ethics.

Commissioner Katharine L. Wade’s controversial refusal to recuse herself from ruling on the Anthem-Cigna insurance merger has provoked a reappraisal of ethics regulators, who heavily rely on the self-reporting of public officials, and an ethics code that may be clearer to lawyers than lovers of English.

No one from the Office of State Ethics challenged Wade when she sought approval on Feb. 26 for her husband, Michael T. Wade, the associate chief counsel for litigation at Cigna, to sell company stock as his options vested from Feb. 25 to March 5 – something he would be barred from doing if the commissioner was considering a matter involving Cigna.

Wade, a former Cigna vice president of government affairs, did not try to hide the fact that her staff, at that very moment, was reviewing Anthem’s 5-month-old “Form A application” to acquire Cigna for $54 billion, a massive transaction involving the second- and fourth-largest health insurers in the United States.

“The application is currently under review by Department staff,” Wade wrote in an email to the Office of State Ethics. “On behalf of the Department, I signed a contract with an independent economist to assist Department staff in their review of the Anthem Form A application. Presently, there are no Cigna matters before me.”

Wade declined to say Friday on what basis she concluded there were no Cigna matters before her under the meaning the state ethics code, given that she already has asserted her intention to rule on the merger.

“In light of the ongoing process currently before the Office of State Ethics, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” said Donna Tommelleo, a spokeswoman for Wade. In response to a complaint, an ethics panel is now reviewing whether Wade should recuse herself.

In her latest financial disclosure statement, Wade did not list Cigna as a company with which she or her spouse are “associated,” an accurate assessment. State law defines “associated” as being a senior official or holding a five-percent ownership interest, which in Cigna’s case would mean owning stock worth about $1.4 billion.

This is a picture of Katharine Wade, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's pick for insurance chief

Keith M. Phaneuf / The CT Mirror

Katharine L. Wade with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at the announcement of her selection as insurance commissioner.

Carol Carson, the executive director of the Office of State Ethics, said Wade’s assertion of “no Cigna matters before me” could be accurate under state ethics laws if there was no Cigna-related action awaiting her consideration at the moment. Carson’s staff accepted Wade’s assertion and posed no question about the precise status of the merger review.

Cheri Quickmire, the executive director of Common Cause, which has intervened in the case, said Wade’s ability to say without being challenged there was no Cigna business before her beggars belief.

“I don’t know how she can say business is not before her just because it wasn’t in a pile on her desk,” Quickmire said. “It’s in the office next to her?”

Actually, it is upstairs.

The Insurance Department staff is reviewing Anthem’s voluminous application. Once the application is deemed complete, it will be up to Wade to call a public hearing and then reject or approve the application, with or without conditions. She will be guided by a prescriptive state law that tilts toward approval.

State law creates a rebuttable presumption that Wade will approve the merger. It says the commissioner “shall approve any merger or other acquisition of control” unless one of a half-dozen factors are present – a key one being that the transaction would “substantially lessen competition of insurance in this state or tend to create a monopoly herein.”

Anthem asserts in its application that its “proposed acquisition of control of Cigna will not substantially lessen competition in insurance or tend to create a monopoly in the State of Connecticut with respect to any line of business. In fact, much of Cigna’s and Anthem’s product portfolios in the state are complementary.”

Tommello said that assertion will be tested at the public hearing and in a review by staff.

Tom Swan, executive director of CCAG

ctmirror.org

Tom Swan, executive director of CCAG

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board voted unanimously two weeks ago to grant a petition by Common Cause, one of the advocacy groups that have questioned the impact of the merger on consumers and the propriety of Wade’s role, to review her status and issue a declaratory ruling on whether she must recuse herself.

Neither Wade nor the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy saw the need to seek a formal ruling. Instead, Wade sent the Office of State Ethics a six-page letter in September advising it of her decision to review and take action on the Anthem application.

“The arrogance of the commissioner and the governor’s office is appalling,” said Tom Swan, the executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group. ‘The fact that this even is in question points to the need to tighten ethics legislation or revisit the interpretation. How is it not considered a conflict when someone is compensated in stock options? It is ridiculous.”

Connecticut ethics laws appear to give little or no guidance on whether the appearance of a conflict should be sufficient to consider recusal, unlike in neighboring Rhode Island:

“The people of the State of Rhode Island believe that public officials and employees must adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct, respect the public trust and the rights of all persons, be open, accountable and responsive, avoid the appearance of impropriety, and not use their position for private gain or advantage.”

Neither Connecticut law nor a guidebook published by the Office of State Ethics deals with appearances.

Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo, who last Thursday called on Wade to recuse herself, said the questions around Wade are sufficient to undermine public confidence, regardless of whether she has an actual conflict under state law.

“I’m not in a position to parse the ethics law on this,” Lembo said. “It’s not helpful to dig in, even if you are right on the letter of the law.”

Most of the residents who have availed themselves of the opportunity to file statements during a public comment period on the Common Cause request for a declaratory ruling by the ethics advisory board seem to agree, even if they give Wade benefit of the doubt.

“I have no reason to believe that Commissioner Wade is not a person of the highest integrity,” wrote John D. Lobrano. “However, appearances matter.”

Courtesy of ctmirror.org.

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AP: President Obama to reveal number of civilian deaths from drone strikes


By Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama is expected to disclose as early as Friday the number of civilians killed in U.S. military and CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Africa since he took office and will issue an executive order that makes protecting civilians a more integral part of planning U.S. military operations, according to activists and other individuals familiar with the report.

The White House is to disclose the casualties with a range of numbers indicating that an estimated 100 civilians have been inadvertently killed by 500 drone strikes since 2009. The estimate is said to cover drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. It does not cover ones in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria where U.S. forces have conducted thousands of air attacks.

The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose the information.

While sketchy details often emerge about individual drone strikes, the full scope of the U.S. drone program — a key tool of Obama’s counterterrorism strategy — has long been shrouded from view. Still, the new information is not likely to answer all the questions that have been raised and human rights groups have long claimed that the administration undercounts civilian casualties,

The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, for instance, has estimated that there were anywhere from 492 to about 1,100 civilians killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia since 2002.

Federico Borello, executive director of Center for Civilians in Conflict in Washington, said Thursday that he applauds Obama’s forthcoming executive order. He said he had not yet seen the final draft, but that his group probably would call on Congress to codify it into law so that future presidents cannot throw it out.

“This is something that we’ve been working on for 10 years,” he said. To have civilian protections “in the heart of military planning is a big deal.”

Reprieve, an international human rights organization based in New York, claims that the Obama administration’s previous statements about the drone program have been proven to be false by facts on the ground and the U.S. government’s own internal documents.

“But more importantly, it has to be asked what bare numbers will mean if they omit even basic details such as the names of those killed and the areas, even the countries, they live in,” Reprieve said in a statement on Thursday.

“Equally, the numbers without the definitions to back up how the administration is defining its targets is useless, especially given reports the Obama administration has shifted the goalposts on what counts as a ‘civilian’ to such an extent that any estimate may be far removed from reality.”

Associated Press

Photo Courtesy of Getty Image

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