Archive | January, 2010


CT Groups to Mark Roe v. Wade

HARTFORD — Pro-Choice advocates will gather today at the Legislative Building to commemorate the 37th  anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

The group, Connecticut Coalition for Choice and other local elected officials and organizations, will hold a press conference on the ground-breaking lawsuit on the second floor of  the Atrium from 11:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m.

Organizers said that today this landmark victory for women’s rights is under attack.

“We face the remarkable possibility that the United States Congress will enact landmark health care reform legislation that singles out abortion from all other medical procedures, with unprecedented and unnecessary restrictions that will jeopardize women’s health,” according to the group’s press release.

Other groups that support Roe v. Wade’s principle include  ACLU-Connecticut, AAUW, CT Conference of United Church of Christ, CT NOW, CT Republicans for Choice, CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, National Council of Jewish Women, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England and Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice of CT.

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Police Arrest Two Men For Burglary

HARTFORD — Two men were arrested yesterday for a Jan. 8 burglary at Mary Shephard’s Place apartments.

The two men, Jose Torres, 26, of 305 Mary Shepard’s Pl., and Johnathan Gonzalez, 19,  of 214 Mary Shepard’s Pl. were arrested an charged with several offenses.

Gonzalez was arrested last night and charged with  first degree burglary, third degree criminal mischief, sixth degree larceny and tampering with a witness.

According to police, at 7:51 p.m. on Jan. 8 residents at 612 Mary Shepard’s Place  reported suspicious burglary activity involving two suspects.

When officers responded to the scene, they saw one male suspect fleeing from the apartment, police said.

After a foot chase, the suspect, later identified as Jose Torres, was caught. He was charged with first degree burglary, sixth degree conspiracy to commit larceny, third degree attempted criminal mischief, criminal impersonation and interfering with police.

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Sunday Mass Was About the Dead, News report, Garry Pierre-Pierre

PORT-AU-PRINCE – Rosemarie Tintin’s black hat and veil barely covered the sorrow on her face. She has recently lost her entire family from the earthquake and the only place she could find solace was at her church.

But that too was not possible. Tintin was one of about 300 parishioners gathered in the courtyard of the Saint King of France church wearing their Sunday best to attend mass.

“Help me God,” she said. “Help me God.”

A hand-written note had replaced the glass marquee posting service time. “The parish of Saint Louis advised all of its faithful that there will be a mass at 6:30 AM Sunday, January 17, 2010. PS. There will be only one mass. Thanks and courage”

This was not just a regular church service. For one thing mass is usually celebrated in the pews, not in the yard. So it was on the first Sunday after an earthquake destroyed this city, survivors struggled to keep to their routine, including attending mass.

“If you can be here today, we have to thank God because those who died did not do so because God doesn’t love them,” said one of the three priests who gave the eulogies. “So let’s pray for them so their soul could rest in peace.”

Even the House of Worships did not escape the wrath of this tremor. Sacred Heart; National Cathedral; Church of Christ… They are all in ruins. At Sacred heart, the crucifix stands erect surrounded by debris from the fallen roof and walls of one of the most popular churches in Haiti.

“God is telling us something,” said Robert Thomas to no one in particular standing in front of the church.

On Sundays, Haitians usually gather at home with family members eating pumpkin soup and patties for brunch. But this Sunday, few people were able to pamper themselves to such luxuries.

Since the earthquake hit on Tuesday, the days have seem like a blur to everyone and the easiness that is associated with the holy day has been a continuation of the macabre task of digging people stuck under buildings. The government has continued to scoop up bodies burying them in mass graves, offending the sensibilities of many who feel that there should be a better way.

“Oh my God, look what’s going on,” said Gerard Thomas, as health officials scooped up a few bodies that were lined up along Canape Vert Road. “Look what we, Haitians have become… some dogs are better than us.”

Prayer and masses did not start on Sunday. Throughout the week impromptu masses have taken place with people giving thanks to God. Most of them feel ashamed for having survived the calamities that have taken the lives of neighbors, relatives and friends.

“My son was standing next to me and I tried to grab him,” said Thomas. “Then the building fell and I left. I got out and he’s dead.”

While some people found time for church, many simply were too shocked and dazed to remember that they should attend service in this deeply Catholic country.

“I forgot,” said Lionel Guillaume when asked whether he had gone to church Sunday morning. “I don’t know what to think.”

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Hartford Gas Prices Inches Up

HARTFORD — Average retail gasoline prices in Hartford moved just 0.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.86 per gallon today.

This compares with the national average that has stayed flat, moving just 1.8 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.72/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the rise in gas prices in Hartford during the past week, prices today are $1.02 per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 16.3 cents per gallon higher than a month ago.

The national average has increased 14.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 90.7 cents per gallon higher than this day a year ago, according to gas, which tracks prices across the nation.

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Greater Hartford YMCA Selects Campaign Leader

HARTFORD — Thomas J. Rechen of Simsbury will lead the 2010 YMCA of Greater Hartford Metropolitan Strong Kids Campaign. The annual fund-raising effort has a goal of $865,500.

“We are very pleased Tom Rechen has agreed to lead this vital campaign,” said Kevin Washington of Glastonbury, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Hartford. “Volunteer leadership plays a key role in reaching out to the community while at the same time helping the YMCA to keep fund raising costs in line.”

Washington also said that more than 90 cents of each dollar contributed to the Strong Kids Campaign goes to provide financial aid or develop new programs in the 46 communities served by our YMCA.

The YMCA Strong Kids Campaign benefits children and families in each of the YMCA’s nine branches and camps. More than 4,000 people contributed to the 2009 effort raising over $725,000. More than 500 people will volunteer their time and services to the 2010 YMCA Strong Kids Campaign.

Rechen is a partner in a Hartford law firm.  He has a long history of service to the YMCA, particularly its Downtown and Wilson-Gray Branches serving as both the Branch Board Chairman and Branch Strong Kids Campaign Chairman, organizers said.

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Black Immigrants Rights Group Dispels Misconceptions

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El Tecolote, News Report, Andres Caballero

OAKLAND, Calif.—The Black Alliance for Just Immigration–a key player in immigrant rights advocacy and education–inaugurated their new office in downtown Oakland, starting off the year with an open house event attended activists and community leaders.
Unlike similar organizations, BAJI’s work extends beyond pushing for comprehensive immigration reform legislation. They believe in a long-term solution that brings forth information and dialogue on race, globalization and social justice among African Americans.

“No matter what legislation passes, it wont settle the issue of immigrant rights: it may or may not help us develop a social movement. We need to understand that whatever happens with immigration legislation, the struggle continues even after the battle is won or lost,” said BAJI Director Gerald Lenoir.

Their focus lies on directly addressing the root of the problem: misinformation among the African-American community and a general lack of knowledge regarding the international economic policies directly linked to immigration.

The organization organizes meetings within churches, community colleges and universities, black and associated student unions with means of developing a progressive African American advocacy movement to help in fostering dialogue about U.S. immigration policy its underlying issues of underrepresentation, racism and economic inequity.

Lenoir described a notion that involves immigrants taking African Americans’ jobs and even further, their social, geographic and political space.

Lenoir explained, “This is a very emotional issue for African Americans because there is a feeling in a section of our community that we’ve been dissed, that we have lost rights, that the gains of the Civil Rights Movement are being reversed and other people are benefitting for what we fought for.”

A 2006 report conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 34 percent of African Americans feel immigrants take jobs away from American citizens, rather than take jobs Americans do not want. The study also shows that 22 percent of blacks claim that they or a family member lost or did not get a job because an employer hired an immigrant worker.

It’s a belief BAJI is working towards dispelling.

While the majority of documented and undocumented immigrant populations in the U.S. are predominantly of Latino origin, there is also a significant African immigrant population in search for the same “American dream,” an idea that many still struggle to define.

According to a 2006 study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Research Center, there are approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Of that total, approximately 78 percent or 8.7 million are from Mexico and Latin America, while 3 percent or 400,000 are from Africa, 13 percent from Asia and the remaining 6 percent from Europe and Canada.

Whether it involves the Latino, African, Asian or European immigrant community, these groups are brought together under the same legal, economic and social struggles.

Despite concerns of the African American community, the Pew Research Center study also states that blacks in the general public are more supportive than whites of allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. (by 47 percent to 33 percent).

Because of the upcoming congressional elections, chances of a new immigration reform bill reaching the House and Senate floors any time soon, remain bleak. But the movement itself shows signs of revival after Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill, introduced a new bill (HR-4321) last month.

While the number of immigrant detainees is at an all-time high, immigration reform remains a generally unaddressed issue backed by a movement that seems to be simmering under the surface.

BAJI Senior Organizer, Phil Hutchings, believes the movement itself seems to be gaining momentum on its own as immigrant rights supporters who played a key role in Obama’s 2008 presidential victory are beginning to demand action despite other priorities in the government’s agenda.

BAJI’s long-term approach to develop a core group of African Americans that would advocate immigrant rights carries enough potential to create a long-term impact.

Lenoir reiterated the importance of building coalitions with immigrant communities and organizations to promote economic and social justice: a key element in this struggle because even if an immigration reform bill were to be passed by congress and signed by President Obama, there is no certainty that the current racial tensions across the country will simply abate, he said.

“Even having won the immigration battle and gotten the green card, immigrants are still going to be in the bottom of the pecking order: the struggle doesn’t end there,” affirmed Hutchings.

Lenoir highlights the problem with the shortsightedness in many sections of the movement. He believes there is too much of a focus only on legislation without taking on the larger struggle for social justice.

BAJI was founded in 2006 after an anti-immigrant bill introduced in the house resulted in massive pro-immigrant demonstrations nation-wide in retaliation, giving life to what later became a Republican haltered McCain/Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill.

Three years ago, the Priority African Network, of which Lenoir is a member, joined forces with Bay Area activists, including Rev. Phillip Lawson, leader during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement and Reverend Kelvin Sauls, a South African immigrant to create BAJI.

The goal is to get us all on the same page. “We don’t feel like we can win the immigrant rights movement, let alone the larger fight for social justice unless we understand the interplay of race and economics exportation in U.S. society and the world,” said Lenoir.

BAJI has also been instrumental in the creation of a national initiative called the Black Immigration Network, being one of three groups that convened a meeting in Baltimore last April, where they gathered 50 African Americans and black immigrants from about 18 countries to develop a national network to share strategies, resources and increase campaign collaboration.

This effort comes in response to the lack of black immigrant leadership in the immigrant rights movement. But regardless the harsh reality of immigration reform and the difficult task that lies ahead for BAJI, Lenoir remains confident in their long-term approach.

“I’m optimistic that in the long run, we can build a movement where we can bring immigrants and African Americans together.”

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Scam Alert for Haiti Earthquake Relief Donations

HARTFORD — As Connecticut residents make plans to send aid to support recovery efforts in Haiti, Gov. M. Jodi Rell  and others are urging the public to beware of scam emails and fraudulent search engine results that may contain links or attachments which may direct users to phishing or malware-laden websites.

Rell’s office sent out a press release earlier to share tips the public can take to protect themselves:

Rell is also urging the public to contact the state Department of Consumer Protection’s Public Charities Unit (860) 808-5030 with questions about charities.

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Ned Lamont to Speak at MLK Day Breakfast

PORTLAND, CT — Entrepreneur and former challenger to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s seat in Congress, Ned Lamont, will deliver the keynote address at the Collin’s Foundation Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Breakfast and Food Drive in Cromwell on Monday.

The event is scheduled to begin Jan. at 8:00 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza.

Attendees of the breakfast will be making King’s holiday a day of activism by both advancing the education of the Foundation’s scholarship recipients and providing much needed food for the hungry, organizers said.

Organizers said the foundation’s goal is to help feed more than 500 families during this difficult winter.  They ask attenees to bring:

Canned meat or fish (i.e., tuna, spam, chicken, etc.)
Canned fruits
Individual packages of hotdogs
Pasta sauce
Peanut butter.

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CHRO Appoints New Director

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities  voted unanimously at its Wednesday meeting to appoint attorney Robert J. Brothers, Jr. to a four year term as the permanent Executive Director of the Commission.

Commission Chairman Andrew Norton said, “Attorney Brothers has provided tremendous leadership, energy and commitment as the Acting Executive Director for the past eighteen months. We are excited to be entering a new era in human rights advocacy in which the Commission will be an active, vibrant force.”

Brothers  pledged to ” aggressively conduct outreach and education in order to unite the people of Connecticut” and said he looked forward to being a part of a revitalized CHRO, working together  to “help bring harmony and equality to all.”

Commission member Patricia Wrice said she believed that with Brothers at the helm the commission “can be the change agent to advance human rights to new heights.”

Brothers began his career at CHRO in 1986 as an investigator.  During that time he attended Western New England College School of Law at night completing his degree in 1993.  He steadily rose through the ranks at the Commission as Investigator, Attorney, Acting Regional Director, and Managing Director and Commission Attorney prior to his appointment as Acting Executive Director.  Before his employment at CHRO Brothers was a Norwich police officer.

The agency’s mission is to eliminate all forms of discrimination in Connecticut.  The CHRO investigates and enforces the laws against discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation and credit.

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Bank Robber Arrested While Shaving

HARTFORD — A Hartford man was arrested while shaving after he robbed a bank on New Park Ave.

Police arrested Macarthur Paulin, 46, of 152 Vine St., Hartford as he was getting a shave at  “The Player’s Barbershop”  at 64 New Park Ave., not far from the People’s bank at 150 New Park Ave., which he robbed earlier.

Paulin was arrested and charged with first degree robbery.

Police said that on Jan. 13 at approximately 5:37 p.m., officers responded to the Peoples United Bank on New Park Ave. after they received a a report of an active bank robbery.

Witnesses reported that a black male with facial hair wearing a black jacket with an orange liner and fur around the hood, a knit cap and jeans had entered the bank.

The suspect showed a demand note threatening he had a firearm and fled the scene after robbing the bank of a large amount of money, police said.

Witnesses also provided the direction the suspect fled.

Responding officers established a perimeter and located a male party matching the suspect’s description.  A witness identified Paulin while he was getting a shave.

Police said they recovered Paulin money totaling almost $5,000.00 and the demand note.

Paulin has a $500,000.

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