Archive | February, 2011

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Attorney General Investigates Facebook Fraud

HARTFORD — State Attorney General George Jepson is investigating Facebook after a complaint that Facebook was used to steal someone’s identity and used to solicit money.

On Monday, Jepsen sent a letter asking Facebook for information about ways the social network detects fraudulent accounts.

This investigation followed a complaint made by  Milford legislator, Rep. Kim Rose, D-118th District. Rose claimed  that her identity was misused in a scam that solicited her friends for money. She said she contacted the site on several occasions about the matter, but Facebook did not respond quickly to to take the site with her name and photograph.

Jepsen, in his  letter to Facebook, said his office would investigate “because of the real and immediate danger of financial fraud and identity theft associated with this scam.”

Jepsen also asked the company for information about the number of complaints it had received in the last 18 months about fraudulent or “hacked” accounts; its policies and procedures for responding to complaints and how long it took them to do so and information about any safeguards in place to detect and disable fake or “hacked” Facebook accounts.

Rose said she welcome the state’s investigation into this matter.

“I’m pleased that the Attorney General has recognized the significance of this matter for consumers and has worked so quickly to get some answers,” said Rep. Rose. “I’m hopeful this action will help to protect other consumers from identity theft in the future.”

Facebook was asked to provide the information to the Office of the Attorney General by Feb. 22.

Jepsen said Rep. Rose’s complaint followed other public reports of security lapses resulting in the hacking of private Facebook pages, including the pages of Facebook’s own chief executive.


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Police: Albany Avenue Fire Set By Arsonist

HARTFORD — City police have declared Saturday’s deadly fire on Albany an arson.

The fire killed an elderly man, whom have yet to be fully identified by city officials.

Hartford police are now searching for a suspect that might have caused a deadly blaze.


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Esperanza Spalding Beats Justin Bieber, Drake For Best New Artist

With household names like Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence + the Machine and even Mumford & Sons all battling it out for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards, it was an unexpected victory for Esperanza Spalding, who nabbed the prize.

Donning a lime green halter gown with pink shoes, the jazz chanteuse took the stage and graciously accepted her prize, after passing Drake on the way. “I know I don’t have a lot of time, so first, thank you to the academy for even nominating me in this category,” she said. “Thank you to the incredible community and family of musicians I’m so blessed to be a part of… my friends in Portland, all my teachers, colleagues… my beautiful family who’s here,” she continued, before naming names.

The smiling award-winner stated that she had every intention of using this opportunity to continue making music that she felt her friends, fans and family would be proud of. “I take this honor to heart so sincerely, and I’ll do my damndest to make a whole lot of great music for all of you,” she gushed. “It’s such a blessing and an honor. God bless. Thank you.”
Read more here.

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State To Launch CT Black History Interactive Site

HARTFORD — The Associated Press has reported that the state on Thursday will unveil a new website that showcases Connecticut’s black history.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, state Sen. Toni Harp and others are scheduled to launch the interactive display at a ceremony at the state Capitol. This site will also supplement the state’s Freedom Trail.

Harp helped pass legislation in 1995 authorizing the Connecticut Freedom Trail. It includes more than 130 historic sites that recount the history, heritage and heroic activities of black people in Connecticut.


Read more here.

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Library’s Art Walk Features “Birth/Place”

HARTFORD — One day, Hartford-born Adrienne Gale was driving past the newly renovated downtown Hartford Public Library on Main Street. And then it hit her: she’s going to use that public space to showcase her artwork.

Guests examine Gale's display of intricately decorated egg shells

Fast forward to February 2011, Gale’s exhibit appropriately titled, Birth/Place, is now showing at the library’s state-of-the art gallery on the third floor. It’s above Main Street along a glass wall that floods the space with ambient light during the day and glows with lights at night.

On this particular night, it belonged to Gale (center in featured photo) and her art.

“I’m 30-years-old and I choose to be in Hartford,” Gale said last Friday at her opening reception as guests nibble on cheese and crackers and sipped wine. “This is it for me I’ve settled in Hartford.”

For her, Birth/Place represents the idea of home as a place into which people are born and place people create for themselves. She uses her art to “demonstrate the choices we have (or may not have) about where those homes are located, what they are made of, or who they include.”

Initially drawn to eggshells for their visual appeal, Gale combine them with roots, trees and seeds and incorporates that combination in a variety of media, including printmaking, drawing, handmade paper and book arts to “illustrate the many connections in the world that inspire her creations.”

In her artist statement, she said she made the conscious choice to reside in Hartford, knowing that many who live in Hartford do so because they lack choice.

Consequently, she set out to create art that will “encourage those who live in and visit Hartford to think about the people who live here and why they live in this City, and to also consider their own choices.”

The installation will be on display through March 20, 2011.


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Jubilant Cairo Now Faces Economic Devastation

By Amr Emam, NAM Contributor

CAIRO–It is Saturday 7:30 p.m., in Khan al-Khalili, the giant bazaar in the heart of Cairo’s traditional Islamic quarters, and Mohamed Ahmed has not managed to sell even one of the souvenirs he has carefully arranged on his shop’s shelves.

Ahmed, 35 and the father of three, keeps cleaning the glittering silver trays, handmade rugs, pottery and fabrics to make them more appealing to the few tourists and other visitors who still come to the market. But these days, the ancient alleyways are near empty of anyone but other shopkeepers.

“This is the toughest time in my 22-year career,” Ahmed told New America Media. “This shop has never been deserted like this.”

As tens of millions of politicized Egyptians celebrate their ouster of Hosni Mubarak and the end of three decades of dictatorship, millions of others slide into financial ruin or count the losses that the 18-day uprising has caused them.

The massive demonstrations that erupted on January 25—which also marked National Police Day–aimed to overthrow a corrupt regime and herald an era of political reform.

“Freedom” and “dignity” were rallying cries for throngs of protestors. But few of the revolutionaries could have imagined that their revolt would cause severe economic suffering to millions of their compatriots.

As the protests spread from central Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square to other cities across the nation, travel agencies cancelled their Egypt packages, and the tourists already here packed their bags and headed home.

More than 1 million foreign tourists left Egypt in the first nine days of the protests, according to Vice President Omar Suleiman. The Egyptian stock exchange also lost about 70 billion Egyptian pounds ($11.8 billion in U.S. dollars) the first three days of the protests, leading to its closure.

“Revolutions are always about victims, but never has there been a revolution with such a big number of victims,” said Maged Aly, a leading Egyptian economic analyst. “True, the anti-Mubarak demonstrations led to significant political gains, but the economic damage caused by the demonstrations can eclipse everything else if taken into consideration.”

Egypt's uprising cripples economy

As the demonstrations continued, Aly watched the financial resources of most Egyptians dry up, and the economy freefall into recession. Imports and exports came to a standstill, Aly said, while investors looked for more stable markets.

With a nationwide curfew from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., middle-class Egyptians cleaned out groceries and stored food and other staples in case of greater turbulence. But others were not able to buy even their most basic needs.

One was Mahmud Mohamed, a cab driver in his early 40s. A month ago, he drove his white Chevrolet from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., earning between 100 and 120 Egyptian pounds (about US$16-$20) daily, enough money to feed his two children and save for future needs. Now, he earns as little as one-fourth of that amount per day.

“This is catastrophic,” Mohamed said. “What benefit has the revolution brought me?”

Mohamed does not hide his elation at the ability of the revolutionaries to oust Mubarak, but Egyptian experts worry that the revolt’s economic impact has not yet fully hit, and they wonder how the nation will recover. They say problems in the construction industry, in particular, can cause greater crises, simply because it drives more than 70 other economic activities in this country.

“Millions of Egyptians work in the construction sector either directly or indirectly,” Aly said. “Most of these people have lost their jobs already.”

Tourism, though, has sustained the most damage. More than 2.5 million people work in tourism-related industries, including 80 percent who work on a seasonal basis. Most of these workers have lost their jobs as the nation’s hotels have emptied and tours have been canceled.

In the Khan al-Khalili, the aging al-Hussein Hotel used to stand at the receiving end of guided tours, welcoming thousands of tourists who wanted to experience the exquisite charm of medieval Islamic Cairo.

Today, only a few of the hotel employees have managed to hold on to their jobs. They stayed, not to serve guests–because there are not any–but to protect the hotel furniture from looters.

“February is usually the highest point in the tourist season,” said Khalid Hassan, the hotel manager. “All the rooms are empty, and it is all because of the demonstrations.”

Meters away, Mohamed Ahmed, the souvenir seller, stood outside his shop with three other shopkeepers and remembered the better days. He said he used to earn 50 Egyptian pounds (US$8.5) every day.


“Now, I earn almost nothing,” Ahmed said. “We can do nothing, but hope that tomorrow things will get better.”

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Police Investigates Stabbing

HARTFORD — Police on Saturday were investigating a stabbing incident on that sent one man to the hospital.

Police said the victim was found in the area of Wethersfield Avenue and Wyllys Street around 5:30 a.m. with stab wounds to the torso and neck.

He was then taken to Hartford Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries, police said..

Police said they have not made any arrests in the case.


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Adam Sandler Serves Up Replay In “Just Go With It”

By Jonathan Smalls, Film Critic

This movie is based on a Broadway show, and film, which were adapted to English audiences from an originally French play forty years ago. Unfortunately one of the hazards of using such old, source material is that the story has had decades to work its way into the public consciousness.

Spoiler alert: guy meets girl. Guy uses dorky, female friend to get closer to girl. Guy realizes that he really loves his dorky friend, who is secretly a hotty, and they live happily ever after. That is the creative equivalent of writing a murder mystery where we find out that we were right all along, the butler did it, and the detective wins again. Since the turn of the century Sandler has produced all of his own movies, so the ultimate responsibility for all of this rests with him.

In fact the only things to set this movie apart from all others with the same plot arc are Adam Sandler, and his brand of comedy. He works some funny moments into the script, but even a broken clock is right twice every day. After over two decades of his signature humor, it has gotten to be pretty old.

Opposite him Jennifer Aniston serves as his comic foil. As an actress she has made a career of letting people bounce amusing things off of her, but she rarely generates her own moments. In the context of Just Go With It, that means that the audience gets more Adam Sandler humor from her character, which is really too bad. She does well with it, but she should develop her comedic chops, if she wants to do more comedies.

After a boring plot, and boring performances from the lead actors, what else is there to spend ticket price for? We love to hate Dave Matthews in his Sandler derived caricature, but he is not prominent enough to keep audiences from checking out early.

Just Go With It is cute. It tries to be entertaining, but it ends up just being a brain drain on audiences, taking up two hours with its unimaginative elements, and leaving movie goers ten dollars poorer.

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EPA Picks Hartford For ‘Green’ Project

HARTFORD — The Capital is one of several cities nationwide selected by the federal government to go green.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the pick, and Hartford was one of five state capitals to receive sustainable design assistance.

This project is a Partnership for Sustainable Communities between EPA, HUD and DOT to help state capitals develop an implementable vision of distinctive, environmentally friendly neighborhoods, according to a release by the city.

The focal point of the study is a section of the city that includes the Connecticut State Capitol and Legislative Office Building, the State Library, the State Supreme Court, and the Governor O’Neill State Armory, as well as residential and retail areas of the Frog Hollow neighborhood.

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW), a nationally recognized 30-person landscape architecture firm with offices in Charlottesville, Virginia and New York City, has been selected by the EPA to lead Hartford’s “Greening America’s Capitals” efforts.

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Malloy Commits To Education Funding

HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel Malloy on Wednesday said education funding will remain untouched as the state grapples with its $3.7 billion budget deficit.

Flanked by mayors of Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, Malloy said he will continue to fund the educational cost sharing grant, which is money to cities and towns to “equalize” school funding. Currently, the ECS grant is $1.9 billion and is partly funded by a $271 million emergency federal stimulus grant that ends June 30.

“We will, in fact, honor our commitment to hold our communities harmless for the loss of ECS dollars,” Malloy said.”We will not ding the cities.”

To honor his campaign commitment, the governor will consider merging state agencies to eliminate redundancies to close the state’s budget deficit.

The ECS funding is critical to towns and cities, but especially urban areas–hence the reason why the three big-city mayors, John DeStefano of New Haven, Bill Finch of Bridgeport and Pedro Segarra of Hartford. That’s because more than half of the cities’ tax base comprise of nonprofit organizations such as hospitals, colleges, community-based organizations, museums, theaters and churches. The cities would also hurt the most if the ECS grant was reduced.

The grant allows cities such as Hartford to make up for that shortfall in revenue, Segarra said. ECS grant makes up 60 percent of Hartford’s budget.

So far, the governor’s announcement is welcome news, Segarra said.

“Any shortage would have to be made up from local taxes,” he said. “And that would be difficult to do with properties that are untaxed.”

DeStefano said the governor’s pledge is the right investment at the right time because ECS money is helping urban schools to close the drop out rate and the achievement gap.



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