Archive | November, 2015

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In France, President Obama and Putin Discuss Syria

By Ann-Marie Adams I The Hartford Guardian

FRANCE — While in Paris at the United Nations’ Climate Summit on Monday, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the crisis in Syria, according to White House officials.

Obama said it was imperative to go after militants in Syria but should not focus only on military attacks against rebel groups that oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to reports.

“The two presidents discussed the imperative of making progress on the Vienna process to bring about a ceasefire and political resolution to the civil war in Syria,” the official said, referring to international talks in the Austrian capital on the Syria crisis.

Reportedly, Obama told Putin he believed Assad must leave power as part of that transition. Both leaders also said that their foreign ministers will continue to work on the diplomatic process.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration announced in September that it has agreed to accept up to 10,000 refugees from the Syrian crisis, which stemmed from a wave of ethnic cleansing by Iran. So far, only 1,500 Syrians have been accepted into the United States since 2011. However, 31 governors said  they will not accept any of those refugees into their state.

In his remarks opening the General Assembly, Ban Ki Moon bluntly called on five countries in particular — the USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey — to come collaborate on a single plan of action for Syria.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Obama in a recent speech at the United Nations made the case that the world should intervene in  Syria’s War. He said the intervention is justified to punish Assad for using chemical weapons. In the same speech, he also accused Russia and Iran of propping up Assad.

“It’s time for Russia and Iran to realize that insisting on Assad’s rule will lead to the outcome they fear,” he said,

At the Climate Summit, Putin rebuffed an open dialogue about Syria with Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. However, Putin have forwarded a plan to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in part because the UNGA “provides a focal point for diplomacy to proceed.”

Davutoglu said his country and the European Union are paying the price for the “failure” of the UN system to solve the crisis in Syria, which has refugees entering through the Turkey’s border.

The Obama administration has been pushing for a strongly worded resolution that backs an agreement that includes strong penalties for non-compliance.

Russia wants to avoid giving the US an excuse to attack Syria.

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New Britain to Hold Annual Kwanzaa Celebration

NEW BRITAIN — The Queen Ann Nzinga Center, Inc. will once again present its 26th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration this December.

The event, an African-American holiday observed each winter, will be on Dec. 27 at the historic Trinity-on-Main, 69 Main St. in New Britain at 4 p.m.

Kwanzaa encourages the traditional values of family, community, commerce and self-improvement.

Organizers said that this year’s program will celebratesKwanzaa in the context of a musical, entitled “A Change in Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles) High School.”  Along with traditional Kwanzaa rituals of African Drumming and Dance, the Libation Statement, candle lighting and positive affirmations, the Queen Ann Nzinga Center participants have created a musical about the seven principles of Kwanzaa that demonstrates how the concepts of this holiday can be applied to everyday life.

Playwright and program facilitator Rebecca Trapp, who has been involved with the Queen Ann Nzinga Center since childhood, wrote the script for the theatrical performance to show the Kwanzaa concepts in action.

The performers include a mix of professionals and non-professionals and children, teenagers and adults who will offer an eclectic show consisting of Gospel, Jazz, Soul, Pop and Hip Hop music selections.

Tickets: $15, general admission; $10, seniors and youth.

The celebration is open to people of all ages, races, cultures and faiths, and all are invited.

For more information, please visit:   or

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Banking Commissioner Warns of Bank Fraud

HARTFORD — State Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez has become aware of a text scam targeting customers of Webster Bank.


Banking officials said the fraudulent text appears to be a genuine notice from Webster Bank indicating that they are currently performing maintenance of their system and asking the recipient to click on a link to renew personal details. While this particular text targets Webster customers, other text scams have targeted many other banks and businesses, they said.


“This is a cautionary tale,” Perez said, “a reminder to be especially vigilant as we head into the busiest season of the year when we are bombarded by emails, text and telephone calls.”


Commissioner Jonathan Harris of the Department of Consumer Protection said that if residents receive a text, they should reach out to the bank or business to verify that it’s not a scam.


The growth of electronic communications and social media continues to provide new ways for scammers to reach their targets. Connecticut consumers should stay vigilant when receiving electronic business communications.


The high-tech scammer sends highly accurate emails or texts that contain links to what appear to be genuine websites, but instead are fraudulent sites that will steal personal information.


“Unfortunately, the holiday season is one of the busiest times for scammers,” said AARP Fraud Watch Volunteer Byron Peterson. “Each year ID theft and fraud steal millions of hard-earned dollars from unsuspecting residents.”


Any consumers who did click the link should contact the Department of Bankin by calling 1-800-831-7225.


In Connecticut, the Fraud Watch Network – in collaboration with other organizations and is working to educate the public and prevent consumer fraud.


Get tips and information and free fraud alerts at<

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Troopers Ramp Up for Holiday Weekend

MIDDLETOWN — On Thursday, Connecticut State Police will begin efforts to ramp up plans to keep drivers safe during the busy holiday weekend.

With tens of thousands of travelers driving through Connecticut during the Thanksgiving weekend, State Police began supplementing normal routine patrol personnel.

Now through Nov. 29 State police will patrol roads and highways across Connecticut. Officials said they will focus on aggressive drivers unsafe dricers and drunk drivers.

Troopers are committed to reducing crashes through preventive enforcement initiatives such as roving DUI patrols.

Troopers will also be looking for violators who cause accidents on Connecticut roads and highways. Every effort to reduce accidents will be taken, they said; however, Connecticut residents are asked to be a part of the public safety solution by obeying traffic laws: don’t follow too close, drive the speed limit, stay off your cell phone while driving and, if you drink, then please do not drive.

Trooper Kelly Grant said residents should remind all young people, especially college students returning home the first time this semester, of the laws regarding alcohol consumption and drinking and driving.

Uniformed Troopers will use traditional and non-traditional patrol cars to observe traffic and issue tickets to reckless and distracted drivers. A reminder to all drivers: anyone who is consuming alcohol should never get behind the wheel. If you see a suspected drunk driver, call 911, this is a true emergency.

Last week, State Troopers made 1,410 speeding arrests, including 314 seat belt arrests. Additionally, there were 52 drunk driving arrests and 3,538 arrests. There was only one fatal accident noted in the 2014 report.


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The Refugee Hypocrisy of President Obama and Hillary Clinton

Editor’s Note: In criticizing Republicans’ stance against Syrian refugees, Obama and Clinton seem to have forgotten their own treatment of other nonwhite refugees. This piece was first published on Nov. 18 at
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have seized upon the Paris terrorist attacks to launch political attacks against Republicans in response to their xenophobic statements on admitting Syrian refugees.When speaking in the Philippines, President Obama stated, “When candidates say we shouldn’t admit three-year-old orphans, that’s political posturing,” adding, “these are the same folks oftentimes that say they’re so tough that just talking to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or staring down ISIL or using some additional rhetoric will solve the problem, and they’re scared of widows and three-year-old orphans.”Hillary Clinton piled on, stating that “We have always welcomed immigrants and refugees. … We have made people feel that if they did their part, they sent their kids to school, they worked hard, there would be a place for them in America.”

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionIt appears that both President Obama and former State Secretary Clinton have very short memories, or at the very least they hope that we do. Recent history reminds that the president has been jailing “three-year-old orphans” in deportation internment camps for well over a year now, where they are subjected to abuse, neglect and torture.

Immigration lawyer Dree Collopy, a partner of the Washington, D.C. firm of Banach Ragland, spoke about the abuses she witnessed while representing refugees in one of Obama’s family deportation jails in Artesia, New Mexico. Ms. Collopy encountered dehydrated, listless and malnourished children “clinging to their mothers, while their mothers’ pleas for medical care were met with degrading and abusive treatment.” As she said:

“I can say without a doubt that these women and their children are refugees. They have come here seeking protection from the horrific violence they have suffered — beatings, rape, human trafficking — all at the hands of actors whom their governments fail and refuse to control. They have come here trying to survive, and they have come here to save their children’s lives.

“Yet, unlike the refugees who preceded them, they have arrived here in the United States and been thrown in jail, where they have been kept for months in inhumane conditions and where they are refused meaningful access to counsel and interpreters, witnesses and evidence, family and emotional support, mental health care, and other tools that are essential to seeking protection in any meaningful way.”

Thankfully, a federal judge has put her foot down, ordering the prompt release of refugee children while calling Obama’s family deportation jails “deplorable,” and finding that they fail to pass minimal standards for safe and sanitary conditions. Predictably, the Obama administration appealed the decision.

If only the hypocrisy stopped there. To add constitutional violation to injury, not only is the Obama administration abusing refugee children, they are circumventing due process by expeditiously deporting them without a lawyer.

As for political posturing, prior to launching her presidential campaign, Clinton was abundantly clear that refugee children “should be sent back” as soon as possible, mirroring the positions of the Obama administration. These positions were articulated during the height of the refugee crisis by the assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz.

In an interview with NPR, Ms. Muñoz explained: “That’s the intention here, again, is to make sure that for those kids who end up being removable — and we think that’s probably going to be a majority of the kids in this situation — that they don’t remain in the United States for years and that we cut down the amount of time that it takes.”

Contrary to these assertions, nearly 50 percent of the refugee children represented by counsel have been granted relief from removal.

After announcing her candidacy, Clinton doubled down, maintaining her position on the deportation of refugee children, and has recently touted her “numerous” votes to build a wall on the southern border, while dehumanizing the undocumented population with incendiary and racist language, even raising the eyebrows of some Democrats.

The point being, maybe President Obama and former Secretary Clinton should gain the moral high ground before throwing stones at their Republican counterparts. But I guess that really doesn’t matter when there are Republicans to demagogue, and three-year-olds to deport.

Matthew Kolken is an immigration lawyer and the managing partner of Kolken & Kolken, located in Buffalo, New York. His legal opinions and analysis are regularly solicited by various news sources, including MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, The Washington Post, Forbes Magazine, and The Los Angeles Times, among others. You can follow him @mkolken.

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Malloy Wants to Replace Hartford Viaduct

HARTFORDConnecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy is rolling out his transportation overhaul with plans to replace the Hartford Viaduct, the elevated portion of I-84 into the capital city.

The project will cost $3.4 billion, but will have a projected return to the state of $9 billion to $10 billion, Malloy told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schniedau.

“What we are doing in Connecticut is saying that we’re going to build a first-class transportation system,” the governor said. “We’re studying the biggest projects to make sure that our return on investment justififes the expense.”

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Photo courtesy of CBS New York

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White House Promises to Veto Bill to Close US Borders to Syrian Refugees

By Ann-Marie Adams I The Hartford Guardian

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama recently vowed to veto the Republican-led House of Representative’s effort to curb the influx of refugees fleeing the Islamic state of Syria and Iraq.

The White House issued a statement on Wednesday saying that President Obama would veto the legislation, which has support from both parties. The House’s 246 Republicans supported the bill, which passed 289 to 137. Forty-seven Democrats supported it. This is sufficient to override a presidential veto.

The bill would require that the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence said that refuges from Syria and Iraq poses no threat once they submit to a thorough background check.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called for a balance between safety and freedom as law enforcement agencies increased security after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

“In our efforts to enhance the security of the homeland, we must not compromise our values as a free and open society,” said Johnson during remarks at a cybersecurity event on Wednesday.

According to the State Department,  1,869 Syrians have entered the United States since October 2014.  The bulk of those, 1,682, came during 2015.

Congressman Paul Rand, (R-Kentucky) said he would impose measures that block these and other high-risk refugees from tax-benefits.

But other members of Congress objected to the draconian laws to curtail the number of Syrian Refugees entering the United States.

“Defeating terrorism should not mean slamming the door in the faces of those fleeing the terrorists,” said. “We might as well take down the Statute of Liberty.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was one of six governors who said he would welcome Syrian refugees into their state. To date, 31 governors agreed to accommodate Syrian refugees.

“We have the toughest process in the world about allowing refugees into our country. That’s the reality,” Malloy said. “By the way, let’s be very clear. No one is taking a raft from Turkey to get to the United States. We control this situation to a higher degree than any European country can at the current moment.”

White House officials in a 90-minute call with 34 governor’s reiterated that Obama’s top priority is the safety of the American people.

While in the Philippines this week, President Obama responded to Republicans’ quest to close the US boarders to Syrian refugees.

“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate. It’s counterproductive and it needs to stop,” Obama said.

On Wednesday,  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sharply criticized Obama’s treatment of his stance on not wanting to admit Syrian refugees into the United States, and challenged him to a debate.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) plans to block the House bill if it reaches the upper chamber after the Thanksgiving recess.

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Vernon Arts Center to Lead Guided Tour

VERNON — Talented ACE artist members  will be in the galleries this December to lead a guided tour of their art.

The event is scheduled for Dec. 15 at 2:00 p.m. in the Arts Center East, 709 Hartford Turnpike (Route 30) in Vernon.

As you walk from painting to painting, each artist will talk about how they get their inspiration and how they use oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, computers, photography, multimedia or assemblage to create their vision.

This is a great opportunity to meet artists and to ask questions. Most of the art work is for sale and would be a memorable holiday gift.

Our Annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Sale items will be on display as well. As an art talk attendee, you are entitled to a 15% discount on the purchase of one artist member’s artwork or one Holiday Arts and Crafts Sale item.

Snow date is Wednesday, Dec. 16th.


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Hartford Police Arrest Bank Robbery Suspects

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

Hartford Police is investigating a recent bank robbery on Franklin Avenue

The first suspect, Eric Jimenez, 35, of Hartford was arrested for first degree robbery and third degree larceny.

The second suspect, Carlos Salgado, 47, of Hartford was arrested for third degree larceny, for engaging police in a pursuit, reckless driving and interfering with police.

According to police, officers responded to reports of a silent hold up at to rob People’s Bank at 290 Franklin Ave.

On Nov. 6, the first suspect entered the bank and passed a note to the teller demanding money and implying that he was armed with a firearm and a bomb, police said.

Hartford Detectives are still trying to locate Jimenez. Also, Wethersfield PD Detectives were in Hartford investigating a different bank robbery in their jurisdiction with a similar suspect description and M.O.

While in Manchester the suspect’s car was spotted and police pursued him after he drove away. Officers pursued the suspect and vehicle, which abruptly stopped and they fled on foot. Police then pursued and apprehended the suspects in the area of Capitol Avenue and Laurel Street.

The suspect vehicle, a 2003 Cadillac CTS, had previously been stolen vehicle from East Hartford, police said.

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CPBN Airs Documentary About Veterans : “11 of Us”

HARTFORD  – WNPR/Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN), is still airing the documentary, “11 of Us”, a salute to service.

Now through Veteran’s Day, WNPR will air one compelling story of an individual connected to the veteran community each weekday, as told in his or her own words.

The stories will air each day at 12:04 p.m. on WNPR, now through Nov. 11, and can also be found online at .

Through the “11 of Us”, CPBN will shine a light on Connecticut veterans and their communities. Listeners will hear stories of triumph, hardship, and how these military experiences shaped each of their lives.

From a World War II Army Medic, to a gold star mother who lost her son, the “11 of Us” campaign will recount the sacrifices made by veterans, their families, and others who have dedicated their professional lives to veterans’ organizations throughout Connecticut.

CPBN’s Institute for Advanced Media (IAM), a private vocational training school for adults and the home of the Veterans Vocational Training Program, has teamed up with WNPR to honor these heroes through this campaign.

“Veterans and veteran service organizations often go about their work without much recognition, and yet they provide excellent care and support to our country,” says IAM Manager Mike Komrosky. “The 11of Us campaign is an opportunity for us to bring awareness to the countless veterans and veteran service organizations in Connecticut that continue to go above and beyond the call of duty and serve our country and our communities.”

In addition to the on-air stories, CPBN is hosting a clothing drive for veterans and their families in need in the Connecticut community. The goal is to collect over 1,111 pounds of warm weather clothing for adults in all sizes. The clothing drive will end Tuesday, November 17.

Donations of new with tags on clothing only will be accepted at CPBN’s offices – 1049 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105; Attn: Mike Komrosky.

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