Archive | August, 2015

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Hartford Opens Cooling Center for Heat Wave

HARTFORD — In preparation for the heat wave heading to the state, Hartford officials have opened several cooling  centers.


Mayor Pedro Segarra on Monday announced that Public Library branches are open from Monday through Thursday.


Temperature are expected to reach up to 90-degrees with humid conditions.


“These cooling centers are available to anyone in need of a place to escape the heat and humidity. Please stay cool and remember to look after your relatives and neighbors,” Segarra said.


Cooling Centers:

  • North End Senior Center, 80 Coventry Street, 8:30am-5:00pm
  • South End Wellness Center, 830 Maple Avenue, 8:30am-5:00pm
  • Parkville Senior Center, 11 New Park Avenue, 8:30am-3:30pm
  • Hispanic Health Council, 175 Main Street, 8:30am-4:30pm
  • Hispanic Senior Center, 45 Wadsworth Street, 8:30am-4:30pm


Hartford Public Library branches are also available for residents and visitors:

  • Hartford Downtown Public Library, 500 Main Street, 10:00am to 8:00pm
  • Albany Library Branch, 1250 Albany Avenue, 12:30pm to 5:30pm
  • Barbour Branch, 281 Barbour Street, 12:30pm to 5:30pm
  • Camp Field Branch, 30 Campfield Avenue, 12:30pm to 5:30pm
  • Mark Twain Branch, 55 Forest Street, 12:30pm to 5:30pm
  • Park Branch, 744 Park Street, 12:30pm to 5:30pm
  • SANDS/Ropkins, 1750 Main Street, 12:30pm to 5:30pm
  • Goodwin, 460 New Britain Avenue, 12:30pm to 7:30pm
  • Blue Hills Branch, 649 Blue Hills Avenue, 12:30pm to 7:30pm

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A Hate Crime Is a Hate Crime

There isn’t much left in the way of pejoratives that haven’t been said about Vester Flanagan. He was disturbed, deranged, a psychopath, maniacal, the epitome of evil, and a flat-out nut job. The gunning down of TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, and then having the gall to videotape it, and expect it to make the round of cable and network news chatter, was beyond the diabolic.

The twist in Flanagan’s heinous act is that he’s African American and the victims are white. So the inevitable finger pointing began that if it had been the other way around, African Americans would have screamed bloody murder and the furor would have raged.

This is a disingenuous argument. More than a few African Americans did call Flanagan what he was, namely a homicidal nut case, and did offer prayers and condolences to the victims’ families. It was a case of their showing that all really lives do matter.

Almost no one publicly or privately bought into Flanagan’s rambling so-called “manifesto” in which he tried to put a racial rationale on why he did what he did.

Yet, the troubling and inescapable fact is that he did just that.

This is more than enough reason not to shrug it off as the rant of a kook. If Flanagan had lived, he likely would have been slapped with a hate crime prosecution by the feds in addition to state capital murder charges.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionThe hate crime charge would have been justified. And I’m confident that many civil rights leaders would have called for hate crime charges against him. To not call a hate crime a hate crime when the perpetrator is black and the victims are white would leave them wide open to the slur that blacks are hypocrites and have a double standard when the victims are whites.

The victims of Flanagan’s rampage were innocents who, according to his manifesto, one could deduce were shot because they were white.

Blacks must mourn these murders as passionately as they do those of black victims of white attacks. And just as passionately call for the harshest punishment of the killer. The great strength of the civil rights movement was that it seized and maintained the moral high ground by never stooping to ape the violence of white racists.

The Flanagan shooting spree is deeply troubling for another reason. While it is a grotesque and extreme example of racial violence, it is hardly an aberration. Whites at times have been the targets of racially motivated attacks by blacks. While it’s true that some attacks are for their money and valuables, others are revenge assaults by blacks for real or imagined racial insults.

It is equally true that the vast majority of violent crimes against whites are committed by other whites, while the vast majority of violent crimes against blacks are committed by other blacks. It’s also true that the vast majority of racially motivated hate crimes are still committed against blacks.

Yet, even after discounting crimes that are erroneously tagged as racially motivated, many blacks do attack whites because they are white. According to FBI Hate Crime Statistics, among the single-bias hate crime incidents in 2012, there were 3,467 victims of racially motivated hate crimes. It found that nearly one in four were victims of an anti-white bias. In other words, blacks attacking whites because they were white.

A motley collection of white supremacists and rightist extremist groups has eagerly made black-on-white violence a wedge issue in their crusade to paint blacks as the prime racial hatemongers in America. Their websites and blogs shrilly rant about a so-called “wave” of black violence against whites and claim that it gets swept under the rug and the perpetrators handled with kid gloves.

A decade ago, the New Century Foundation, an ultraconservative think tank, launched a national campaign to alert whites to the danger of hate crimes committed by blacks. It uses the issue of black hate crimes to rationalize and bankroll its research into alleged genetic defects among blacks. These groups and individuals relentlessly magnify black hate crimes to oppose affirmative action programs, stronger hate crime laws and various social programs; to justify the proliferation of white-supremacist-tinged paramilitary groups, police violence and racial profiling; and to lobby for more prisons and police and tougher laws. Black-on-white violence also reinforces whites’ fears of blacks as the ultimate menace to society.

The Flanagan onslaught claimed innocent lives and caused monumental pain and suffering to the victims’ families and friends. It dangerously heightens racial distrust and further poisons racial attitudes. This is all the more reason for blacks to quickly and vigorously condemn these attacks. If not, it’s taken by some as a tacit signal that blacks put less value on white lives than on black lives. That notion is a terrible price to pay for not calling a hate crime a hate crime, no matter who commits it.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network.


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Bizarre Facts About Vester Lee Flanagan II, Virginia Shooter

By Stephen A. Crockett, Jr.

VIRGINIA — Renowned film, stage and television actor Kevin Bacon will lead the Hartford Stage cast in the world premiere of Rear Window, adapted for the stage by Keith Reddin, and directed by Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, from October 22-November 15.

Tresnjak said, “I read Cornell Woolrich‘s classic crime story ‘Rear Window’ in high school, and it made a lasting impression. I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to direct a stage version thirty years later, when the issues of surveillance and voyeurism have become even more pertinent. Keith Reddin‘s taut adaptation takes place inside of a sweltering, claustrophobic apartment, very much like the addled brain of the leading character, who will be played by Kevin Bacon. I can’t imagine finer collaborators than Kevin and Keith in exploring the terrifying psychological landscape of this timeless thriller.”

The play is based on the same short story-“Rear Window” by Cornell Woolrich-that inspired the Alfred Hitchcock film, a 1954 Academy Award nominee. It is the classic story of a man confined to his apartment who thinks he may have witnessed a murder in a nearby building. Rear Window is presented by special arrangement with producers Charlie Lyons, Jay Russell and Jeff Steen.

Russell said, “Kevin and I have been friends and collaborators for decades, and we’re thrilled he’s taking on this iconic role.” Lyons concurred, “Kevin’s award winning body of work is unparalleled, a leading man who creates memorable characters.”


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State Official to Discuss Nuclear Deal on Iran

HARTFORD — Connecticut residents seeking to understand the Iran nuclear agreement can have their questions answered at a community forum on Thursday in Hartford.

Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) will host Chris Backemeyer of the U.S. Department of State for a community forum on the Iran nuclear agreement.
The meeting will be held Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at a location to be announced.



This  meeting is a part of President Barack Obama’s overall strategy to win approval of the Nuclear deal with Iran.

Larson supported Obama’s Iran agreement on July 31. Backemeyer is the Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy, and served as the lead sanctions expert in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran will help demystify why the U.S. is helping to stop Iran from building a bomb and what it means to Americans.

“Obviously this is a complex issue, and there is a significant amount of information to be debated and considered,” said Larson. “I am hosting this forum in the hopes of providing more information and gathering additional feedback. It is an honor to have Mr. Backemeyer join me, and I know my constituents will benefit greatly from his insights.”

In the weeks since the announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), Larson has attended numerous briefings both classified and otherwise with officials in the State Department and intelligence community.

He has also spoken directly with President Obama, and gathered feedback from constituents and advocacy groups on both sides of this agreement. His full statement can be found here.

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Forest Whitaker to Speak at the United Nations

By Ann-Marie Mesquita |

NEW YORK — academy Award winning film star, Forest Whitaker, will appear at the United Nations to call for action on peace, prosperity and political leadership to the world’s parliamentary leaders at a global conference at UN headquarters in New York

Whitaker, founder and CEO of the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative and a UNESCO Special Envoy for peace and reconciliation on Aug. 31, will address the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament as a keynote speaker on the opening day. He will be joined by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and IPU President Saber Chowdhury.

The Conference, a global summit of the heads of national parliaments will focus on the three pressing issues of the day – democracy, peace and development. Its outcomes will feed into the UN Summit on Sustainable Development in September, during which new development goals will be adopted.

With more than 150 Speakers of Parliament from most of the world’s nations due to attend the IPU-organized event, the Conference will focus on challenges to peace and democracy

Forester, an actor and a social activist will also make his Broadway debut next spring in a revival of “Hughie,” a short play by Eugene O’Neill. Whitaker, who won an Oscar for playing Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland,” will play Erie Smith, a hustler who confides in a hotel night clerk.

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White House: President Obama May Give Endorsement for Democratic Primary

By Ann-Marie Adams |

WASHINGTON — White House officials on Monday said President Barack Obama may break his silence on whether he would endorse candidates for the Democratic primary.

Expected to be in lame-duck territory beginning this fall, Obama’s agenda has been driving the debate among popular candidates running for the presidency.

Observers are speculating whether Obama would endorse his vice president, Joe Biden or his former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Currently, Clinton is the front-runner for the party’s nomination. And Biden is seriously exploring a run in 2016 presidential race. Biden, who had his first meeting with Obama after he announced a possible bid for the White House’s top spot, is expected to make his decision next month, officials said.


A Biden versus Clinton redux would divide the Obama camp, some say.

Ask whether Obama would remain neutral throughout the primary process, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said the president would let the Democratic voters choose the Democratic nominee but “wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an endorsement in the Democratic primary.”

Democrats in Connecticut have already signaled their pick for the primary. Today, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is expected to campaign for Clinton in New Hampshire. Malloy endorsed Clinton’s presidential candidacy in June.

Obama is facing the possibility of a second government shutdown of his presidency. Several conservative Republicans have threatened to hold funding bills to keep the government open after Oct. 1 if federal money for Planned Parenthood is not cut.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.), dismissed idea of a shutdown, saying Congress has “been down this path before.”

Still, that and other issues, including the Iran deal, are expected to spill into the 2016 presidential campaign.

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CT Unemployment Hits Seven-year Low of 5.4 Percent

Connecticut gained 4,100 jobs in July as the unemployment rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.4 percent, marking three consecutive months of job growth that have brought the state’s unemployment rate close to the U.S. average of 5.3 percent.

Average private-sector weekly pay was $958.91, up 2 percent over a year ago. The increase represents a gain in buying power, since the consumer price index rose by just two-tenths of a percent.

The report released Thursday by the Connecticut Department of Labor was one of the rosiest since the start of the state’s slow recovery from the great recession of 2008. The unemployment rate hasn’t been as low as 5.4 percent since May 2008.

“This is good news – our state should recognize the progress we’re making,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement. “Jobs are dramatically up, the unemployment rate is significantly down, and we’re on track to reach private sector job levels that the state hasn’t seen since before the Great Recession.”

Overall, the state now has regained 102,000 jobs, or 85.7 percent of the 119,000 seasonally adjusted positions lost from March 2008 to February 2010, when the recovery began. The private sector now has recovered 97 percent of the 111,600 jobs it lost.

“Connecticut is certainly recovering, and we seem to be accelerating somewhat,” said Peter Gioia, an economist at the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. “But we’re not alone in that other states still seem to be outperforming us.”

Massachusetts, with a larger economy, gained 7,200 jobs in July and has an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent.

Democratic legislative leaders saw only positive news in the report.

“Connecticut’s economic development policies are helping businesses create jobs, and the state’s job training programs like STEP-Up are preparing workers for a 21st century economy. There’s more work to do but this is extremely positive news,” said Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven.

“Early on, the General Assembly partnered with Governor Malloy to make smart, targeted investments aimed at creating jobs, and our efforts are bearing fruit,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk.

The report comes as the state’s business climate still generates bad press. General Electric, headquartered in Fairfield, is considering moving out of state, blaming Connecticut’s fiscal environment.

The report is based on preliminary nonfarm employment data for July gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Six of the 10 “super sectors” tracked by the BLS gained jobs, led by 1,600 jobs in health and education, 1,100 in financial activities, 1,000 in government and 600 in manufacturing.

Construction was the biggest loser, seeing a loss of 2,300 jobs. But it still has net growth of 1,900 over the year.

Growth was uneven throughout the state, with gains in the Harford region and lower Fairfield County and losses in the New Haven market and eastern Connecticut. Danbury reported no changes.

The private sector numbers in Connecticut have a built-in anomaly: Two major employers — the tribal casinos of eastern Connecticut — are owned by sovereign governments and are listed as public-sector employers.

The casinos have been shedding jobs for months in the face of new competition in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.

Connecticut unemployment rate over time

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Hartford Police Seize Marijuana Plants

HARTFORD — Police on Thursday arrested owners of a marijuana factory on Ansonia Street in the North End.

Jaleel Wooley, 24, and Jamie Grant, 36,  of Hartford, were charged with growing 92 marijuana plants at 39 Ansonia St., police said.

Detectives from the Vice and Narcotics Division received a tip on Tuesday night and arrested the two suspects on Thursday after they visited the home and sawtall plants growing outside.

Police also seized packaged marijuana package for sale.


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Hartford Police Arrest Local Man for Illegal Firearm

HARTFORD — Hartford police on Monday arrested a local man for allegedly possessing a gun illegally and resisting arrest.

Amauris Flores, 21, of Hartford, was charged with criminal possession of a firearm, violating his probation from a protective order and interfering with police.

Flores, a convicted felon was taken into custody after police interrogated him at his Main Street apartment on Monday. Police found him in possession of a loaded .22 caliber revolver, which is a violation of his probation, police said.

Officers said Flores  “forcefully pulled away” from officers when they tried to apprehend him. He was handcuffed after police chased him, police said.

Flores is being held on a $350,000 bond.

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US Flag Flies High in Cuba for 1st Time in 54 Years

For the first time in 54 years, the U.S. flag was raised over the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, a symbolic nod to the end of a diplomatic strain that has lasted more than half a century.

“We are gathered here because our leaders made a courageous decision to stop being prisoners of history,” Secretary of State John Kerry said during the ceremony.

NBC News notes that Kerry’s visit is also historic because “he is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the communist island since World War II.”

“My friends, it doesn’t take a GPS to realize that the road of mutual isolation and estrangement that the United States and Cuba were traveling is not the right one and that the time has come for us to move in a more promising direction,” Kerry said. “In the United States, that means recognizing that U.S. policy is not the anvil on which Cuba’s future will be forged.”

Three Marines were tasked with lowering the flag in 1961 when the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with the communist country, which sits just 90 miles from Florida. On Friday those same three Marines returned to watch the flag hoisted high above the embassy.

“Larry, Mike and Jim had done their jobs, but they also made a bold promise—that one day they would return to Havana and raise the flag again,” Kerry said.

In December, President Barack Obama announced that the “U.S. was ending an ‘outdated approach’ of isolating Cuba. In May, the U.S. dropped Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism,” NBC News reports.

On Friday Kerry acknowledged that while the raising of the flag was historic, the road to diplomatic harmony between the U.S. and Cuba has just begun.

“We are all aware that, notwithstanding President Obama’s new policy, the overall U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba remains in place and can only be lifted by congressional action—a step we strongly favor,” Kerry said.

James Tracy, one of the three Marines who helped take the flag down in 1961 and were on hand to see it raised, told CNN that the gesture was “one more step for peace.”

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