Archive | April, 2014


White House Kicks of PSA on Sexual Violence

WASHINGTON — In an effort to combat rape culture, the White House has released public service announcements, declaring that one rape is one too many.

Today, 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted on college campuses. And women between 16  and 24 experience the highest rates of sexual violence from someone they know.

White House officials are hoping that society will get the message if celebrities look into a camera and tell rapists or potential rapist that consent is need before sexual intercourse. So on Tuesday Vice President Joe Biden launched a new Public Service Announcement encouraging men to speak up and step in if they see someone in danger of being sexually assaulted.

The PSA was launched in coordination with the 1 is 2 Many campaign and the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Joining in the campaign PSA are Daniel Craig, Seth Meyers, Benicio Del Toro, Steve Carell and Dulé Hill.

The PSA, produced by the White House, features several film and television actors, President Barack Obama Biden,  encouraging  men to be part of the solution by delivering a simple message:  “If she doesn’t consent – or can’t consent — it’s a crime . . . and if you see sexual assault happening, help her — don’t blame her —and speak up.”

The PSA will air in select Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark movie theaters, over NCM Media Networks’ Lobby Entertainment Network (LEN), and in movie theaters on military installations and ships underway worldwidestarting in May.

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Three Colleges Slated for New Leaders

HARTFORD — Three Community Colleges will soon have new leaders in place by this summer.

Following a long nationwide search, the Regents Search Committee of the Board of Regents for Higher Education on Tuesday announced that finalists have been selected for the positions of president at three community colleges: Asnuntuck, Quinebaug Valley and Three Rivers.

The state received applications from 269 candidates.

The first of the three candidates, Dr. Michael Rooke, will visit Asnuntuck Community College to meet with faculty, staff, students and community members.

Like Rooke, the other finalists will return to Connecticut over the next two weeks to tour the college campuses, meet the community, and interview with system president Gray and members of the Regents Search Committee.

Finalist names and biographical information will be posted on the BOR and college websites a day or two before each candidate arrives for the interviews.


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Local Artist to Demonstrate Oil Painting Portrait Skill

GLASTONBURY —  Dianne Panarelli Miller, an artist renowned for her award-winning paintings in oil, will demonstrate on May 8 how to paint a portrait in oil.

Miller, who brings people and pets to life in her portraits all in one sitting, will select one lucky participant as the evening’s model. The program will be presented from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Kol Haverim Social Room on 1079 Hebron Ave. in Glastonbury.

As a teacher of art as well, Miller is experienced in making the often personal and mysterious process of designing and creating a work of art come to life for others. She has been called “without question the hardest working and most effective teaching artist I have ever encountered.”

She formally learned the “Boston Tradition” of painting and explored the galleries along Newbury Street.Well represented in galleries and private collections. And she is a recipient of multiple local and national awards.



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Donald T. Sterling is No Aberration

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, New America Media, Op-ed

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling is no aberration. On an audio recording that allegedly captures Sterling telling a girlfriend that he doesn’t want African-Americans at “my games” and it ignited a furor. But it’s part and parcel of an increasingly rotten and ugly saga that has become all too familiar in recent days.

In quick succession, GOP rocker and pitchman Ted Nugent maligned President Obama as a “subhuman mongrel,” GOP House representative Paul Ryan, chair of the House Budget Committee, virtually called blacks and Hispanics lazy as the cause of their chronic high joblessness, and South Dakota GOP state representative Phil Jensen publicly said it was OK for businesses to exclude blacks from service.

earl-hutchinsonTheir outbursts could be chalked off to the rants, or ignorance of a few named GOP luminaries and some top GOP officials did chastise at least Nugent for his bone-headed cracks.

And then there are the even more outrageous digs by Nevada rancher and grazing rights protestor Clive Bundy who flatly and very unapologetically implied that slavery was not such a the-hartford-guardian-Opinionbad thing after all for African-Americans. His crackpot remarks did set off a mad dash by his legions of Republican supporters to distance themselves from him. But they distanced themselves only from his screwball cracks, not his conservative, neo-states’ rights philosophy. His remarks were an embarrassment. But what he represents isn’t to them. The core of that is naked bigotry. No amount of rhetorical feigned indignation from the GOP can change that. Ryan was proof of that. He’s the establishment poster boy for the GOP establishment, and a very real 2016 GOP presidential hopeful. The distance between his remarks, Bundy and now Sterling in their putdown of blacks are less than paper-thin.

Ryan, Bundy and Sterling can say what they please with relative impunity knowing that once the momentary outcry passes, there will be no lasting repercussion for their bigotry. That is if they even acknowledge their racism. Clipper officials have gone through gyrations to duck, deny and discredit TMZ for disclosing Sterling’s racist rants.

There are millions of Americans who occasionally in public, and more often in private, see nothing wrong or offensive with spouting racism. In February, a swarm of racist tweets were posted and sent following the near all white Mahopac basketball teams narrow loss to the predominantly black Mount Vernon High School. The Mahopac racist tweeters and their defenders were in good company.

An AP survey on racial attitudes toward minorities in October, 2012 found that in the four year period from a prior AP survey on racial attitudes in 2008 a clear majority of whites (56 percent) expressed animus toward blacks. The jump in anti-black racial sentiment came despite nearly four years in office of an African-American president. The reasons given for the climb ranged from voter polarization to racial denial by policymakers.

President Obama’s victory was more a personal triumph for him than a strong signal that stereotypes are a thing of the past. His win not only did not radically remap racial perceptions, or put an end to racial stereotyping but gave it a launch pad to explode even more virulently as seen in the casual and lax racial caricatures, depiction, ridicule, and typecasting of Obama and Michelle Obama on blogs, websites, and at tea party rallies, often with the most lurid and grotesque race-baiting signs and thinly veiled racial code words.

Now we come back to the much deservedly maligned Sterling. Before his latest racist rant, he had been sued, verbally lambasted, reprimanded, hit with reams of bad press, and threatened with pickets for these racial wrongs. Yet, the Los Angeles NAACP Chapter gave Sterling its highest honor, a lifetime achievement award in 2009. The shame, absurdity, and contradiction of the award to a man who in word, deed, and symbol is the diametric opposite of everything the nation’s premier civil rights group stands for and has fought for is enough to draw a gag.

A Google search with the name Donald Sterling and racial discrimination at the time he was sued and settled for racial discrimination found thousands of results. Not one of them even remotely had Sterling doing anything to further racial goodwill. The checklist of reported Sterling racial escapades include a Justice Department housing discrimination lawsuit and forced settlement, slurs and gaffes against Hispanics and African-Americans, and that includes two high profile Clipper players, the shooing of minorities away from his pricey Beverly Hills condos and rentals, and an overblown and failed promise to build a Homeless shelter on L.A.s skid row.

Then there are the allegations and lawsuit by former Clipper General Manager Elgin Baylor that Sterling runs his operations like a Southern plantation. But Sterling like others who openly express their bigotry is secure in the knowledge that after the brief firestorm of malodorous publicity and anger from civil rights leaders and African-Americans, it will be business as usual. That business is as always in their world and the world of millions of other Americans naked, unvarnished bigotry. Sterling is no aberration.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge.
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Local Women Wins Little League Congress Honor, A First

BRISTOL — At the 26th annual Little League International Congress, Little League recognized Maryellen Holden, Connecticut District 5 Administrator, with its highest honor: the Peter J. McGovern Distinguished Service Award.

This award has been presented at the past 24 Little League International Congresses, and Mrs. Holden is first woman to receive the honor for her dedicated service.

Holden has been the district administrator for the 17 local Little League programs in the Bristol, Conn., metro area, since 2010. Prior to that, she served as assistant district administrator for 13 years.

She was first a Little League mom and volunteer with Forestville Little League to her service for the district.First volunteering in 1988, Holden spent time in the concession stand at Forestville Little League in Bristol and quickly became aware of how many volunteers are needed to run a league, especially in the softball program.

While a member of the local Board of Directors, Maryellen served many roles, predominantly as league Secretary. Among her many contributions to Little League,  Holden has been a member of the Little League Baseball and Softball President’s International Advisory Board and currently serves on the Ed Beardsley Challenger Little League Fun Day Committee. She is a member of the Eastern Regional Little League Baseball and Little League Softball Tournament Committees. Last fall, she was recognized for her efforts on a local level as she was inducted into the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame.

Photo Courtesy of Little League Congress: (Left to Right) Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO, with the three, “first women” of Congress: Chris McKendry, SportsCenter Anchor and first woman emcee, Maryellen Holden, Connecticut District 5 Administrator and first woman recipient of the Peter J. McGovern Award, and Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, first female Little League International Board of Directors Chairman.

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New Britain Man Arrested for Fraud

NEW BRITAIN — A New Britain man was arrested on Friday and charged with illegally collecting more than $20,000 in Unemployment Compensation benefits, state officials said.

XHEVDET RRAHIMI (also spelled Rrahami), 37, of 30 Seymour Rd in New Britain, was charged with one count  first-degree larceny because he alleged defrauding a public community and for unemployment compensation fraud, according to the office of the Chief State’s Attorney.

First degree larceny by defrauding the community is a class B felony punishable by not less than one year nor more than 20 years in prison and/or up to a $15,000 fine.

The arrest is the result of an investigation conducted by the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney following a complaint by the Connecticut Department of Labor.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Rrahimi fraudulently collected approximately  $20,816 in unemployment benefits between June 2011 and October 2012, when, in fact, he was employed.

Unemployment benefits have been designated as economic support for individuals who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. The benefits are funded by employers doing business in Connecticut.

Rrahimi was released on a $10,000 non-surety bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 8, 2014, in Superior Court, G.A. No. 15, New Britain.


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Hubert Harrison: Celebrating this Giant of Black History

By Jeffrey B. Perry

Hubert H. Harrison, who was born in 1883 and died in 1927,  is one of the truly important figures of twentieth-century history. A brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist, he was described by the historian Joel A. Rogers, in World’s Great Men of Color as “the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time.” This extraordinary praise came amid chapters on Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, William Monroe Trotter, and Marcus Garvey.

April 27 is the anniversary of the birth of Hubert Harrison. And so people are encouraged to spread the word about Harrison and to keep alive the struggles and memory of this Giant of Black History.


225296_1839650105899_7527297_aRogers adds that “No one worked more seriously and indefatigably to enlighten” others and “none of the Afro-American leaders of his time had a saner and more effective program.” Labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph described Harrison as “the father of Harlem Radicalism.” Harrison’s friend and pallbearer, Arthur Schomburg, fully aware of his popularity, eulogized to the thousands attending Harrison’s Harlem funeral that he was also “ahead of his time.”

Born in St. Croix, Danish West Indies, on April 27, 1883, to a Bajan mother and a Crucian father, Harrison arrived in New York as a seventeen-year-old orphan in 1900. He made his mark in the United States by struggling against class and racial oppression, by helping to create a remarkably rich and vibrant intellectual life among African Americans and by working for the enlightened development of the lives of those he affectionately referred to as “the common people.” He consistently emphasized the need for working class people to develop class-consciousness; for “Negroes” to develop race consciousness, self-reliance, and self-respect; and for all those he reached to challenge white supremacy and develop an internationalist spirit and modern, scientific, critical, and independent thought as a means toward liberation.

A self-described “radical internationalist,” Harrison was extremely well-versed in history and events in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, the Mideast, the Americas, and Europe and he wrote voluminously and lectured indoors and out (as a pioneering soapbox orator) on these topics. More than any other political leader of his era, he combined class-consciousness and anti-white supremacist race consciousness in a coherent political radicalism. He opposed capitalism and imperialism and maintained that white supremacy was central to capitalist rule in the United States. He emphasized that “politically, the Negro is the touchstone of the modern democratic idea”; that “as long as the Color Line exists, all the perfumed protestations of Democracy on the part of the white race” were “downright lying” and “the cant of ‘Democracy’” was “intended as dust in the eyes of white voters”; that true democracy and equality for “Negroes” implied “a revolution . . . startling even to think of,” and that “capitalist imperialism which mercilessly exploits the darker races for its own financial purposes is the enemy which we must combine to fight.”

Working from this theoretical framework, he was active with a wide variety of movements and organizations and played signal roles in the development of what were, up to that time, the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the “New Negro”/Garvey movement) in U.S. history. His ideas on the centrality of the struggle against white supremacy anticipated the profound transformative power of the Civil Rights/Black Liberation struggles of the 1960s and his thoughts on “democracy in America” offer penetrating insights on the limitations and potential of America in the twenty-first century.

Harrison served as the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician in the Socialist Party of New York during its 1912 heyday; he founded the first organization (the Liberty League) and the first newspaper (The Voice) of the militant, World War I-era “New Negro” movement; edited The New Negro: A Monthly Magazine of a Different Sort (“intended as an organ of the international consciousness of the darker races — especially of the Negro race”) in 1919; wrote When Africa Awakes: The “Inside Story” of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World’” in 1920; and he served as the editor of the Negro World and principal radical influence on the Garvey movement during its radical high point in 1920. His views on race and class profoundly influenced a generation of “New Negro” militants including the class radical A. Philip Randolph and the race radical Marcus Garvey. Considered more race conscious than Randolph and more class conscious than Garvey, Harrison is the key link in the ideological unity of the two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement — the labor and civil rights trend associated with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the race and nationalist trend associated with Malcolm X. (Randolph and Garvey were, respectively, the direct links to King marching on Washington, with Randolph at his side, and to Malcolm (whose father was a Garveyite preacher and whose mother wrote for the Negro World), speaking militantly and proudly on street corners in Harlem.

Harrison was not only a political radical, however. Rogers described him as an “Intellectual Giant and Free-Lance Educator,” whose contributions were wide-ranging, innovative, and influential. He was an immensely skilled and popular orator and educator who spoke and/or read six languages; a highly praised journalist, critic, and book reviewer (who reportedly started “the first regular book-review section known to Negro newspaperdom”); a pioneer Black activist in the freethought and birth control movements; and a bibliophile and library builder and popularizer who was an officer on the committee that helped develop the 135th Street Public Library into what has become known as the internationally famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

 Jeffrey B. Perry is an independent, working-class scholar who was formally educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia University. Dr. Perry preserved and inventoried the Hubert H. Harrison Papers (now at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library) and is the editor of A Hubert Harrison Reader (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) and author of Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918 (Columbia University Press, 2008). 

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The Legacy of Gabriel García Márquez

New America Media, Raymond L. Williams

Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, the inventor of the mythical town he called “Macondo,” has passed away at the age of 87.

Journalists loved him for his ability to spontaneously produce catchy one-liners in interviews. The general reading public adored him for his entertaining and engaging stories so related to their own real experience. Academics have been fascinated to speculate on the meaning of such oddities as abundant yellow butterflies, old men with inexplicably long wings, or the very best definition of his trademark “magic realism.” As an academic who decided in the 1970s to launch a career researching the unlikely and then relatively obscure subject called “Colombian literature,” I always benefited from the anchor of at least one accomplished Colombian writer widely recognized beyond that nation’s borders.

Who was this man whose “Macondo” seems so exotic yet at the same time so close to so many lives?

My first image of the writer dates back to when the then 48-year old emerged from the elevator in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in Bogotá, October of 1975. Already rich and famous from the 1967 publication of the best-selling novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, he had just arrived from Barcelona a few months after publishing the novel The Autumn of the Patriarch. A mutual friend (the Colombian critic from Barranquilla Néstor Madrid-Malo) had arranged for me to meet the writer in the hotel lobby, where I was immediately struck by the stark contrast between everyone else in that lobby—wearing elegant dark suits and ties—and the visibly informal García Márquez, who was wearing blue jeans and a colorful shirt. The straight-forward, no-nonsense and absolute clarity of the conversation in his room, centering on this complex novel The Autumn of the Patriarch, left a lifetime impression on me. I’ve met other accomplished creative writers in my career, but few others have approximated García Márquez in the simplicity and clarity of what was his genius: finding the magic in the things of everyday life.

r_williams_marquez_500x279Eventually, as a specialist in what was this still academically dubious field called Colombian literature, I found myself writing a book on the work of García Márquez, starting in early 1982 and then–with a stroke of serendipity—found myself finishing it on a writer now awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in late 1982. Suddenly, my book had far more relevance than might have been the case otherwise. For me, however, reading García Márquez has always been a much more satisfactory experience than writing about his work. With this writer, I tend to resist interpretation for he seems to be so over-interpreted: why not let those yellow butterflies just inhabit Macondo rather than insist on dissecting them? Struggling through that first book on the Colombian writer and reading of his work in the process, however, clarified a lot, including the following: the writing of García Márquez is really about how the common people—the pueblo of the impoverished Caribbean coast of Colombia—not only survive but find ways to live with dignity.

I do not want to simplify this writer’s complex work too much by claiming it was only about survival and dignity. This was, however, a constant theme in much of his work, and this was the feature that made the Colombian so appealing world-wide. That down-to-earth 48-year-old pre-Nobel García Márquez was a man of total integrity: he not only talked-the-talk, but he walked and wrote the talk of the supreme value of common lives and everyday things.

Over the course of an increasingly viable academic career centered on “Colombian literature,” I spoke with the post-Nobel García Márquez at the ages of 58 (in Cartagena) and 60 (in Mexico City). Now even more of a celebrity public intellectual, he was still alarmingly simple in his genius. He was one of the few writers, for example, whose speech patterns are similar to his writing style.

In a dinner conversation among writer friends in Cartagena in 1993 (age 66) he stated that the one book that he wished had written himself was Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo. Years before, he had claimed to a journalist that his best book was No One Writes to the Colonel. What these two brief novels have in common is both their brevity and the simplicity of the language.

In a complex technological, globalized and postmodern 21st century, García Márquez invited all his readers to appreciate the special qualities (or magic) of the commonplace, to revere simplicity, and to celebrate the human spirit. This attitude toward the world placed not only his work on the world map, but the entirety of a nation and its literature in the consciousness of the world community. His attitude, as well as his spoken and written words, represented a life and a writing practice of admirable integrity.

Raymond L. Williams has published books and articles on Colombian and Latin American literature.His most recent book is A Companion to Gabriel Garcia Márquez (Tamesis, 2010). He holds the title of Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Riverside. 

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Committee Submits New Teacher Eval Guidelines

HARTFORD — Doing teacher evaluations can be a thorny task.

And when it comes to evaluating teachers under the Common Core rubric, many issues have to be tackled to ensure fairness. And so with that in mind, the advisory council charged with developing Connecticut’s new educator evaluation and support system came to a consensus: there needs to be revisions to three areas of the state’s major school improvement initiative.

The Performance Evaluation Advisory Council’s committee made its recommendation to the State Board of Education on Thursday.

The recommendations include guidelines for resolving disputes between evaluators and educators. The group “spelled-out the definition of “performance” in the context of the four educator rating levels, and evolved an important student growth and development component which makes up 45 percent of a teacher’s summative evaluation,”officials said.

“Critical lessons and insights have emerged from districts and educators during the first year of the statewide implementation of the new evaluation and support system. The actions taken today reflect one of the crucial responsibilities of PEAC—listening and responding to teacher, administrator, and community feedback in order to improve the system,” Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor said. “In so doing, we ensure that educators’ confidence in the evaluation and support system grows ever stronger and we provide ever more meaningful feedback and professional support.”

PEAC amended the evaluation guidelines to provide a detailed example of how a three-member committee or, if unsuccessful in reaching a resolution, a superintendent can resolve disputes where the evaluator and educator disagree on issues such as goals and objectives, the evaluation period, or feedback.

Officials said that evaluators and educators “must mutually agree on the indicators of performance, as applicable, that will be used to measure progress, and such progress shall be demonstrated by evidence.”

This new approach to teacher evaluation will be revisited in the  2014-15 academic year, during which the required use of state test data has already been suspended, pending federal approval.

The state is expected to consider PEAC’s latest revisions to the educator evaluation and support system at its meeting on May 7.


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Connecticut River Watershed Council to Host Earth Day Celebration

 Old Saybrook, CT  – Wondering what to do on Earth Day? The Connecticut River Watershed Council will host two easy ways to support the Connecticut River basin this Earth Day.

A three-show concert series this weekend in Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut will benefit CRWC’s annual Source to Sea River Cleanup.

Well-known musicians Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group will play three shows throughout the Connecticut River valley April 25-27 to benefit CRWC’s annual Source to Sea Cleanup. Robin and Linda’s blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country music is known from NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion and many other shows.

You can see Robin and Linda Williams perform live on Friday, April 25, 7:30pm at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls, MA; Saturday, April 26, 7:30pm at the Pentangle Town Hall Theater in Woodstock, VT; or Sunday, April 27, 3pm at The Kate in Old Saybrook, CT.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, online at or by calling800-838-3006 in NH, VT or MA or 877-503-1286 in CT. Memorial Hall tickets can also be purchased at World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield, MA, Mocha Maya’s and Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls, MA. Limited VIP tickets are available, which include refreshments with the artists before the show and premium seats.

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