Archive | July, 2013


President Obama to Honor UConn Women’s Basketball Team

WASHINGTON — Go Huskies!

Today, President Barack Obama will honor the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team to the White House for winning their eighth NCAA championship.

This visit will also continue the tradition begun by President Obama of honoring sports teams for their efforts to give back to communities as part of their trip to Washington.

The Huskies defeated Louisville 93-60 in the April NCAA tournament final to secure the championship.

The team is also being honored for their public service.

Featured Photo:

Posted in Featured, Hartford, NationComments (0)

Tags: ,

Local Deaf Group Sues Bow Tie Cinemas

HARTFORD — Deaf people want to enjoy themselves at the movie theater, too.

So said lawyers for the Connecticut Association of the Deaf , who on Tuesday announced they have taken action in Federal Court  against Bow Tie Cinemas for failing to provide access for deaf and hard of hearing patrons.

CAD is an advocacy organization devoted to the full inclusion and civil rights for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.  Most of its members and all of its officers are deaf.

The association brings claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits businesses from discriminating based on disability and requires reasonable efforts to make services accessible.  Deaf people who attempted to go to Bow Tie theaters in Hartford and West Hartford  were told that the captioning devices that make the movies accessible to deaf patrons were either unavailable or did not work.

For decades, deaf movie-goers were limited to a small selection of movies that were modified to display open captions – text that appears at the bottom of the screen.  However, few first run movies were captioned, or they were shown at odd hours because theater operators maintained that open captioned movies would not attract general audiences.  However, new technology allows captions to be displayed on the screen, or electronically transmitted to small devices – such as glasses that project captions or to devices that deaf movie-goers place in cup holders.  This technology ensures that there is no reason to deprive deaf patrons of equal access to the movie going experience.

“We are tired of waiting,” said Harvey Corson, Ed.D., President of CAD.  “All we want is to be able to go to the movies with our friends and family members like other Americans.  The technology exists.  They just need to make it available, and to make sure their employees know how to turn it on.”

Plaintiffs are represented by the Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilitiesthe National Association of the Deaf, and McCarter & English LLP on a pro bono basis.

“The lack of access is particularly troubling given that the American School for the Deaf is a mile from the Blue Back Square theater.  There are 70,000 deaf and hard of hearing people in Hartford County – who are being shut out of the movie going experience,” said Catherine Mohan, a partner with McCarter & English.

The suit also names as individual plaintiffs Corson and three other Association members.


Posted in Business, Hartford, NationComments (0)

Tags: ,

Former Hartford Chief of Staff Arrested

HARTFORD — Jared Kupiec, Mayor Pedro Segarra’s former chief of staff who resigned in June, has been arrested for allegedly operating a city-owned car without permission after his departure from city hall.

In earlier reports leaked to the press, Kupiec was arrested on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old politico is expected in Court on Aug.8 on charges of operating  a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission and interfering with police.”

City officials are expected to seek  about $3,000 in restitution for damages that occurred after someone broke into the vehicle.

At press time, Hartford Police said there was no additional information available.

Posted in Featured, NationComments (0)


‘Real Hip Hop’ Returns to Hartford at Sully’s Pub

HARTFORD — Hallelujah. Real hip hop is making a comeback in Hartford.

So said a group of  hip hop enthusiasts who are inviting all Emcees, Poets, Singers, Beatboxers, B-Boys and Musicians to visit Sally’s Pub for a thier “legendary” Tuesday Night  Hip Hop Open Mic and Jam Session at Sully’s Pub Park Street. The event is scheduled for Aug. 6, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. and every Tuesday in August.

The event will be headlined and hosted by local lyrical veterans Self Suffice (Khaiim) of the RaPoets and Lumpsum the Illuminated with music by DJ Stealth. RAP stands for POETRY Positive Rap Project

According to his website, Self Suffice grew up in Manhattan, attended Trinity College and has lived in Hartford for more than 10 years.

He performs and lectures  at venues ranging from cafes to colleges, receiving praise from poets like Alice Walker and MCs like Talib Kweli. Recently, he performed at Yale University, hosted the Hartford Hip-Hop Festival with Rock Steady’s Crazy Legs, rocked the International Hip-Hop Festival with KRS ONE.

Cost? Just lyrical skills.


Posted in A & E, HartfordComments (0)


Hartford to Reduce Trash Collection

HARTFORD — The city of Hartford has found a way to reduce another unnecessary expense: eliminate trash collection for some properties.

Beginning next week, the Hartford Department of Public Works will discontinue trash collection service to about 150 city properties. That’s because these properties, officials said, “are not eligible for DPW waste collection under current City ordinance.”

According to a statement from Mayor Pedro Segarra, these ineligible properties were discovered during an internal DPW review and are “likely holdovers from changes to waste disposal ordinances made in 2006.”

Property managers should expect  written notification with information on how to ask follow up questions and a list of local hauling companies. Property owners will be required to make arrangements to haul and recycle their trash.

DPW’s core sanitation program is intended to handle refuse collection from 1-6 family residential properties only, and refuse collection services rendered to ineligible properties represent a significant financial impact on the City DPW’s budget.

 If you’ve received a notice informing you of a discontinuation of collection, or have further questions about the City’s collection program, please contact the DPW staff listed below, or the City’s Constituent Services department at 311, or (860) 757-9311.

Posted in Business, HartfordComments (0)


Helen Thomas Inspires Generation of Journalists

By Natasha DadoArab American News

Legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas passed away peacefully on July 20 at her Washington D.C. apartment, while surrounded by family and friends. She was 92.

Still, Thomas will always live in the work of others she inspired.

“I will always carry a piece of her in how I approach things. She was an inspiration to who I am,” said Siham Awada Jaafar, a television host and producer for WDHT TV in Michigan.

Speaking to The Arab American News, Thomas’ niece, Suzanne Geha, says that it was her iconic aunt who inspired her to go into broadcast journalism. A few of Thomas’ other nieces and nephews who she had influence over, and some of their children have also pursued careers in the profession as well.

Thomas, a Lebanese American, emerged as one of the most prominent White House reporters, during a time when the profession was dominated by men. Generations of women in the profession have been influenced by her work.

“Helen Thomas began her career in the 1940s, as a young woman, working in a man’s business and overcoming many institutional barriers that kept women from gaining equal access. Through her tenacity, integrity and willingness to follow-up any lead and work any hour of the day or night, she reached the pinnacle of her profession and paved the way for generations of women to follow,” a statement released by Thomas’ family, following her passing, read.

“Aunt Helen was our mentor,” Geha said. She said Thomas had spoken to her about how hard it was for her to break into the profession when she first started and prove that a woman could do the same job as a man.

Thomas covered 11 presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama for the United Press International and Hearst Newspapers. She wrote five books and was the first female member of the National Press Club, White House Correspondents’ Association and the Gridiron Club, which announced her death.

Thomas’ ability to vigorously question U.S. presidents and other high-powered officials are what made her stand out. She never shied away from asking the tough questions, or expressing unpopular views.

She made it clear at White House press conferences that she opposed the Iraq war, while other journalists across the country were being criticized for not asking enough hard questions about the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Thomas traditionally sat at the front of presidential news conferences, but during the Bush Administration she was moved to the back row. When she was once asked why she was seated in the back row, she responded, “They didn’t like me, I ask too mean questions.” As a senior correspondent at the White House, Thomas ended dozens of presidential news conferences with her famous phrase, “Thank you, Mr. President.”

Thomas devoted her nearly 70-year career in journalism to the pursuit of the public’s “right to know.” She was a champion of the First Amendment, fervently advocating for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

For years, she proudly occupied her front row seat in the Press Briefing Room at the White House, considering it the people’s chair in the people’s house.

Geha says that Thomas felt it was her responsibility to get answers for the public from people it didn’t have access to.

The statement released by Thomas’ family went on to say that she always acknowledged the privilege of being the eyes and ears of the public, and she boldly and unabashedly asked the hard questions to hold our leaders accountable.

Arab American Community Defends Thomas

In 2010, Thomas retired from Hearst Newspapers after making controversial remarks about Israel, Jews and Palestine. Although she apologized afterwards, efforts were made to get a statue of Thomas removed from the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, but were not successful.

She later made additional remarks that caused more controversy, while speaking at a workshop on anti-Arab bias in Dearborn at Byblos Banquet Hall, when she said, “Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street are owned by Zionists. No question in my opinion…”

The day after, her alma mater, Wayne State University (WSU), revoked the “Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award” and, later, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) also removed the “Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement.”

Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News, is the recipient of the “Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award” and a member of the Congress of Arab American Organizations (CAAO). After WSU removed the award, members of CAAO met with officials from WSU to discuss its decision.

CAAO cautioned that if the decision was not properly addressed and corrected, it would negatively impact relations between the university and the Arab American community for many years.

The decisions resulted in a major backlash from groups and individuals across the country, who called on SPJ and WSU to reinstate both awards, saying the decisions were an attack on free speech and undermined the principals of journalism. Several organizations, including youth groups, held protests to put pressure on the university and SPJ to reverse their decisions.

Jaafar says she spoke to Thomas after the awards were revoked. “She always said, ‘No one can take anything away from you, as long as you stand on solid ground and maintain your integrity.”’

Still, even after she was forced to resign, and her awards were removed, the brave and outspoken Thomas would continue fighting for what she believed in. She remained true to herself until the end. During an event at the Palestine Cultural Office in May 2011, where Thomas was presented with the “Relentless Courage Award” for her audacity to speak truth to power, she delivered a speech in support of Palestinian rights, while wearing a bracelet that read “Palestine.”

At the event, when asked by The Arab American News whether she would take back her remarks about Israel, she said, “Never. I spoke the truth. I don’t believe in human tyranny, which is what is happening in Palestine.”

When TAAN asked Thomas whether she was bothered about not being at the annual WSU Spirit of Diversity Awards Ceremony, which was being held on the same day, she said, “I’m not bothered. They should be bothered. They denied Americans freedom of speech, and that is shameful for any university.”

In response to some of her awards being pulled, several new ones were created in her name from groups, such as the Lebanese American Heritage Club and the National Arab American Journalists Association.

Thomas made it known that she was proud of her Arab roots.

“She was somebody who made you feel proud to be Arab American. She was extremely confident in who she was,” Jaafar said.

“Helen’s life is a remarkable American success story; a rich fulfillment of the American Dream,” says Devon Akmon, Arab American National Museum Director.

“Her immigrant parents took the risk, sought the opportunities for themselves and their children, and raised Helen to be the independent, tireless achiever she was – a woman who did not allow her gender, ethnic heritage and later, her age, to limit her goals in any way.”

Thomas was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in 1993.

President Obama also commented on Thomas’ passing, saying, “What made Thomas the ‘Dean of the White House Press Corps’ was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account.”

Thomas was married to Douglas Cornell, who was a White House reporter for the Associated Press and passed away in 1982. She graduated from WSU in 1942 and is among its most distinguished alumni.

Thomas will be greatly missed by her three surviving sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Thomas’ body will be brought back to Detroit, where she will be buried. Sources say that the service is expected to take place in August, and a memorial service will be held in Washington D.C. this October.

When asked what Thomas’ advice to young and aspiring journalists would be, Geha responded, “Don’t be afraid. Have courage. You’re not out to win a popularity contest. You are there on the public’s behalf to keep them informed.”

Posted in Business, Featured, NationComments (0)

Tags: ,

Hartford Recovers Stolen Gun Near Enfield

HARTFORD — Hartford Police recovered a stolen firearm and arrested a local man while working in the Enfield area on Thursday.

Police arrested Tyshawn Taylor, 28, of Hartford and charged him with criminal possession of a firearm, theft of a firearm, carrying a pistol without a permit and interfering with police. The firearm seized was an Astra A-75.40 Caliber pistol with a magazine and secen rounds of ammunition.

According to police reports, when officers approached Turner at about 8:50 p.m. on Thursday, he fled and exit the My Food Market at 20 Greenfield St. Turner then “scan the area and adjust his waistband, exhibiting indicators of an armed individual” and then ran on Enfield Street, removing the firearm from his waistband and running with it in his hand.

After an officer ordered Turner to drop his firearm to the ground, Turner complied and was taken into custody without incident, police said.

Police said the firearm was stolen during a burglary in Bloomfield several years ago.

Turner remains in custody on a $500,000 bond pending arraignment in Hartford Superior Court.

Police is asking anyone with additional information to call the Hartford Shooting Task Force Supervising Sergeant Sean Spell at 860-757-4112.

Posted in Hartford, NeighborhoodComments (0)


Is ‘Rape Culture’ the New Normal?

By Emily Castriagno New America Media / We’Ced Youth Media ,

Rape Culture: shaming victims of rape, making women feel bad for having consensual sex, making fun and trivializing rape and not embracing sex positivity so the victims of rape who want to put their rapist behind bars will have fear that they will be blamed. Examples: 1. Blaming a female for dressing like a “slut” instead of blaming the rapist. 2. Teaching women not to get raped instead of teaching men not to rape people. 3. Telling rape jokes or normalizing rape in any way.~ Urban Dictionary

rape-cultureI moved to Merced from Boise, Idaho, five months ago. When I joined a local writing group, We’Ced, shortly thereafter, rape culture was a topic that immediately interested me because of the direct impact it’s had on my own life. Not only that, but I see its effects everyday — when I go to school, check my Facebook page, or even just watching the news. More specifically, I see rape culture play out in American high schools, and it’s an issue I believe we all need to turn our attention to.

About 89,000 rapes are reported annually in the United States, according to Yet an estimated 60 percent of rapes are never reported to the authorities; 95 percent of college rapes are note reported; and 38 percent of rapes are committed by someone the victim considers a friend or an acquaintance. Only two percent of charged rapists actually spend time in prison.

I had a direct encounter with what I would describe as rape culture about six months ago. I had a group of male friends who I’d known since we were young. We went to school together, went to the same church and spent a lot of time together. They were among the friends I stayed close with, even after dropping out of high school during my junior year.

One Saturday night, I got a call at about 11:30pm from one of these friends, inviting me to hang out with him and some other people at another boy’s house. My social life ever since I had stopped going to school was bleak, so I accepted the invitation without hesitating.

When I arrived, I saw that I was the only girl there; the other two girls who had been invited were upstairs vomiting and drifting in and out of consciousness. There were a total of four boys in the kitchen with me. Two of them seemed to be enjoying themselves, but the other two boys stood in a corner of the kitchen, looking tense. Since I trusted these boys, I felt comfortable with the situation. I decided to let myself have a little fin, so I took a gulp of gin. The boys in the corner watched as I swallowed the liquor and as soon as they saw me stumbling around a little, their behavior changed – they seemed to gain confidence.

One called his brother and another boy to join the party. Soon the boys were asking me to play strip poker, and offered me money to take my clothes off. Because of the alcohol in my system their advances didn’t offend me, but I didn’t cooperate either. After a lot of prodding, though, I agreed to participate in the strip poker game. I was winning for a while, but when I started to lose and got down to my last pieces of clothing, I decided to quit. By then I had been handed plenty of booze and even some pills. I still don’t know what I took. At that point I would have never guessed that any of those boys had malicious intentions.

I remember going into a bedroom to put my clothes back on and all the boys were following me. Before I knew what was happening they had locked me in the room with one of the boys. I didn’t know what was going on but I still wasn’t worried – I knew this boy and he was a normal guy. I used to see him every day at school, and he seemed pretty nice. Without saying anything, he took me into a closet and turned the lights off. I have no recollection of what happened in there. When I returned to consciousness I wasn’t wearing any clothes, a different boy was standing in the doorway, trying to help me get dressed. I was confused and when I asked him what happened, he said that the other boys had left in a hurry after the boy who was originally in the room exited without me. I called that boy to ask him what had happened, and he claimed we did nothing. The rest of the night was a blur.

The following Monday, one of my friends told me that a boy who was at the party was showing other boys from the school basketball team nude pictures of me from that night. I had overwhelming feelings of anger and betrayal and I wanted to do something about it, but every boy I talked to from the basketball team desperately tried to underplay the situation. They told me that the boy in question was an essential part of the basketball team; that he couldn’t get in trouble; that there was no evidence he or the others had done anything, and that it was my own fault for being drunk. When I mentioned the police getting involved, they got angry with me and told me I couldn’t ruin his life like that. I had never seen that side of those boys.

Shortly before moving to Merced, I discovered I was pregnant. At that point, I knew that announcing my pregnancy would only bring me more negative attention. The best thing I could do for myself would be to not tell anyone, so that is what I did. Two months into the pregnancy, I lost my baby. I still hadn’t told anyone, so it almost seems like it never happened. At the same time, I’m affected every day by the choices that were made that night. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about those boys, and how they made me feel.

That night in Boise, I felt the weight of rape culture, and I’ve continued to feel and sense it right here in Merced. I see the effects of rape culture all the time, especially at my school. The types of things I’ve heard have been as mild as boys trying to be funny and joke around about how much they “love to rape girls,” to hearing about a girl being taken advantage of at a weekend party as if it was no big deal. I asked my teachers what they thought, and I got more responses than I expected.

The story that interested me the most came from Mr. Hansen, one of my teachers who used to be a sports coach at Merced College. He shared a story about a student he had named Kelly:

“It was a party where alcohol and most likely drugs were involved. After drinking a lot and blacking out, she woke up to a boy she had been talking to at the party having sex with her. She screamed, and he panicked and ran out. When she re-joined the party, people said things like, ‘You were hella drunk, are you sure you didn’t say it was okay?’ Pretty much at that point she decided to pretend it never happened. After about two or three months, she began talking to her friends about it. But the girls were more concerned about how people would see her. They pretty much felt like, ‘If you weren’t drunk, it wouldn’t have happened. She tried to report the incident years later, but the police said there wasn’t enough evidence. It still affects her to this day. She’s married now, and there are times that her husband touches her in a way that reminds her of that night and [it] frightens her.”

Hearing about what her friends had said to her, I asked Mr. Hansen if the girl had a reputation for being promiscuous. He nodded, “She was a party girl.” From what I was heard of her story, it was a classic case of “victim blaming” — when the victim of rape or sexual assault is blamed for what happened to them based on their reputation, how they dress, how they talk, or how they live their lives. When this happens, blame is taken off the criminal and placed on the victim. Basically, the thought process is this: If a girl wears a tight dress and drinks at a party, she’s inviting sexual assault upon herself.

I asked Mr. Hansen if he thought there is a rape culture that exists in high schools. “I would like to believe not,” he said. “But based on what kids say… I know that guys would take advantage of a situation if it was there.”

I would say that in high school, the concept of rape culture has become normal. If a girl is intoxicated, it’s almost expected for a boy to take advantage of her. It would be weird if he didn’t take advantage of her. To me, that kind of thinking is sick. Human beings have to be able to respect other human beings or the whole world will fall apart. Rape culture exists in America, in California, and right here in Merced. What is frightening is that most people don’t know what it is, and don’t know they contribute to it. We need to face this because it directly affects people in our community, and the battle starts with raising awareness.

Emily Castriagno is a participant of We’Ced, a youth media program founded by New America Media in Merced, California.

Posted in Featured, Hartford, NeighborhoodComments (0)


‘Fruitvale Station’ Delivers Cinematic Excellence

By Jonathan Smalls, Film Critic

If you cry at movies, bring tissues. Based on a true story, Fruitvale Station is one of those movies that gives away the ending right at the beginning. It leads off with the actual, shaky mobile phone footage of young man being shot by police in police custody, and then proceeds to narrate the events leading up to his arrest. Given the gravity of the source content, you could reasonably expect the film to turn into a heavy handed criticism of the BART police, but it never does. It rather turns into a very personal, and human look at the final days, and unique stresses on Oscar Grant. Despite the fact that the ending is never in doubt the actual narrative humanizes Grant incredibly well, and compels the audience to feel for a young man who was just trying to stay out of trouble.

FRUITVALEIt is impossible to pinpoint exactly what makes Fruitvale Station great though. Is it the script? Is it the acting? Is it the filmography? Is it the subject matter? All of these elements are in fact fantastic, and their confluence builds a gripping and emotionally moving tale. Writer / director Ryan Coogler transforms Oscar Grant from just another statistic in the news to a human being whom we understand, feel for, and care about. It is release coincides with the public remembrance of the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin to make its message even more poignant, and powerful. If Fruitvale Station can win Best First Film at the Sundance Film Festival, then we can hope for great things from Coogler in the future.

Michael B Jordan stars as Oscar Grant during just one day of his life. His portrayal lends voice to his struggles to do right by his girl friend, his daughter, and his mother. We watch Oscar as he struggles to go straight after two felony convictions, and combat his own personal vices. Jordan skillfully alternates between the exaggerated machismo of the street thug to the tender love of a father, and son, and back again. Despite the seriousness of the film, the cast works in a lot of humor too, because life not all sad. This role could not have been better cast.

Every thing just feels so real in this movie right from the start. It pulls absolutely no punches in giving a stark, humble, and realistic view into what could have been a turning point for a promising, young father as his life took a turn that no one wanted. If you see no other movie this summer, see Fruitvale Station. It has every thing.

Posted in A & E, Featured, NationComments (0)

Money Expected for Minority Businesses

HARTFORD — The state’s Bond Commission is expected to approve $2 million to support minority contractors through the Hartford Economic Development Corporation, known as HEDCo.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will chair the commission on Friday at 10: 30 a.m. in Legislative Office Building, Room 1E; 300 Capitol Ave.

“Connecticut’s small businesses are the drivers of innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation, and minority-owned businesses play a vital role,” Malloy said. “As the construction industry recovers, it is important that we have programs and funding in place that ensure minority contractors have opportunities to bid and win contracts and play a more active role in the state’s economic resurgence.”

By Connecticut law, 25 percent of funding allocated for public building projects, highway construction, and the purchase of goods and services must go to small businesses, and of that 6.25 percent must go to minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, or disadvantaged businesses with a net worth less than $750,000.

The grant award, through the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), will help HEDCo implement a Minority Business Enterprise Assistance Program, designed to help such businesses in the Hartford area obtain surety bonds — including bid, performance and payment bonds — for capital construction.

In addition, the program provides a revolving loan fund to assist minority contractors with working capital to cover costs incurred while awaiting payment during the construction phase of projects.

According to the latest data, 12 percent of the state’s businesses are minority-owned. However, the $2 million is expected to help  only  construction workers, not other minority businesses that are floundering in the city.

Research shows that minority business are likely to hire people in their community and boost the health of the city’s economy.

DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith recognizes that “The health of our economy will depend on these businesses having the same opportunities to succeed as others. By supporting local economic development organizations this way, we are broadening participation in public works projects and ensuring a more fair, competitive bidding process that will lower costs for the state.”


Posted in Business, HartfordComments (0)

  • Latest News
  • Tags
  • Subscribe
Advertise Here