Archive for Connecticut

Overnight: Mystic Seaport Museum

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Nystic

Image: Mystic Seaport

Just a beautiful place to enjoy in you're in New England: The Mystic Seaport Museum

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Cartoons of the Day- One Year After Newtown

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John Branch

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Chan Lowe

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J.D. Crowe

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Bill Day

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Video- President's Weekly Address: Marking the One-Year Anniversary of the Tragic Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut

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Campus Safety A Lie. Campus Justice Non-Existent. Schools Protect The Attacker

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Amhurst College

It used to be that going to college was not an issue of safety, but one of getting a higher education, transitioning from teen to adult and gaining a foot up on the future. Now it's become one of concern for personal safety.

These are but a few examples of what can only be called a spate of harmful incidents reported by HuffPo:

Alyssa Palazzo woke up just after midnight on Oct. 5, 2012, as someone screamed outside her residence hall at the University of Connecticut.

It was UConn running back Lyle McCombs, who Palazzo said was yelling, spitting and hitting his girlfriend. A few young men she believed to be his roommates stood by and watched, she said. Palazzo called police, and McCombs was arrested and charged that night with a misdemeanor, second-degree breach of peace.

Uconn campus

After reading that, I then read this in a separate HuffPo article:

Two former Amherst College students who said they had been raped at the school in Massachusetts filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, accusing the school of improper responses that one woman said included sending her to a psychiatric ward. Six current and former students at Vanderbilt University also filed Education Department complaints, saying the school in Nashville, Tenn., failed to properly respond to their reports of sex crimes or harassment. One said the university pressured her to allow the school to handle a stalking complaint, but failed to take action against the accused stalker.

Campus violence against women and men happens. It shouldn't, but it does. So it's the school's response to these attacks that is very important. Forcing a victim into a psych ward because she was attacked while letting the assailant go free doesn't seem to be sending the right message? Something's wrong here.

In the UConn case, the accused, McCombs, was given a warning by the school and placed on probation. But it didn't end there. He was a member of the school's football team, so his coach on the Huskies team was assigned the task of further discipline.

UConn football head coach Paul Pasqualoni decided the next day that McCombs' punishment for violating team rules would be sitting on the bench for 15 minutes.

Hardly even a hand slap for the attacker.

But what about the young woman who was attacked? She left school. And what about the girl who witnessed and reported the attack? She appealed to UConn for help.

Palazzo complained that she had to live in the same building as McCombs (the attacker) for the rest of the school year. "What about my safety?" she asked.

Palazzo said that the administrator replied, "If you feel unsafe, then you shouldn’t say anything at all."

What? She shouldn't have reported the attack? If I'm being assaulted I hope someone will call 911. What is this, the Kitty Genovese tragedy all over again?

As for the UConn football coach with the 15 minute timeout punishment, he went merrily along for another two years, despite another sexual assault charge against one of his players the following year. The kid got no punishment, not even the timeout.

So sexual crimes have no bearing on the university's disciplinary actions, especially when it's committed by a football star. Maybe sports put you outside the reach of justice. Ah, but then karma rears it's fateful head. This season, when the UConn football team started this season 0-4, the coach was fired.

What's the message here--everything's okay when you're winning? Allowing players to get away with these attacks is deemed appropriate? But lose the first four games of the season and the school will have you sh**-canned.

Now quickly back to the Amherst and Vanderbilt attacks. Perhaps justice was done there. Sorry, no dice. No charges were made against the assailants. One of the female victims did receive the school's full attention. She was forced against her will into the psych ward at the school's hospital while her attackers went free.

There is a campus sexual violence epidemic. And sadly the message UConn, Amherst and Vandy are sending is clear -- If you can't do the time, don't report the crime.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @Linzack

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Do You Know What Women Want And Deserve?

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What women want

Picking up where Laffy left off yesterday in her great post Fed Up Dems...

If I knew what women want, I'd be a kazillionaire because I'd write a book about it and rake in the dough. The truth is I have no idea what women want. I know this because I'm married to a wonderful woman. And just when I think I've got it figured out, I'm told I'm wrong, asked what was I possibly thinking and then met with a silent shake of the head. My male, married buddies tell me I'm lucky that it's just a silent shake of the head.

So building on a platform of I'm no expert, I do know some things. I know that women want and deserve the right to self-determination, just like the guys. They don't want to be treated differently -- just fairly. And I don't have any argument against that.

But the Republicans do. Their mostly white, older men composite seems to feel that women are inferior mentally and emotionally, that they're not capable of rational decisions -- even with it comes to their own bodies and health issues. More of them think along the legitimate rape lines than in rational scientific reasoning. And those genteel, Southern Gentlemen who demurely dismiss women with their cloak of protecting them from themselves, "those sweet little souls. They are so lovely, aren't they -- like a field of violets or Lady Slippers, swaying in a warm, summer's night." And all the while the Lindsay Grahams spew their charming tripe, their mind is busy with the melodic refrains of "Dixie."

In the wake of Roe v Wade, individual states, feeling the decision of the SCOTUS was wrong, have set out to correct this injustice. They've taken a clearly decided issue and are chipping away at the rights determined by the highest court in our land. That's the conservative, right-wing way.

Finally, after assault on assault at the state's level, accelerated in every red state with a Republican-led legislation, women's rights and protections are being circumvented or even stricken. This has got to stop.

How?

Kraken

Well, the slow moving but well-intentioned Democrats in Congress have finally had enough. They've gone from being a sleeping giant to a forceful vociferous champion of women.  Release the Kraken-- Sen. Richard Blumenthal.  HuffPo reports:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) will introduce the Women's Health Protection Act of 2013, joined by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.). The bill would prohibit states from passing so-called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which impose strict and cost-prohibitive building standards on abortion clinics, require women seeking abortions to have ultrasounds, and create other barriers to abortion access.

Looks like good ol' Connecticut Senator Blumenthal's gonna be gettin' sometin' sometin'  from Mrs. Senator B when he goes home on his next break. And you know what, he deserves it. My only criticism is why this took so long. The last pro-active abortion legislation to pass through the Senate was in 1994, with the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. That made it a federal crime to block or harass patients or doctors who entered or exited abortion clinics.

When Republicans don't like something, they propose a bill and there's immediate discussion, press coverage and oftentimes votes. In the case of Obamacare, 42 votes. Of course that's the House and they're led by government shutdown fever and Republican leader, Speaker John Blunder.

Blumenthal's bill wouldn't automatically overturn states' existing anti-abortion laws, but because federal law trumps state law, it would provide a means to challenge them in court. The bill would direct judges to consider certain factors in determining whether a restriction is legal, such as whether it interferes with a doctor's good-faith medical judgment, or whether it's likely to interfere with or delay women's access to abortion.

This bill will surely pass the Senate. In the House, it'll probably never even come to a vote. But when the 2014 elections come around, you can add that to the Democrats long list of things the Republicans did -- stopping immigration reform, shutting down the government, restricting women's rights, repressing voters rights, obstructing qualified presidential appointees to the bench, pushing for war with Iran, and so many others. I'll need another blog just to continue the list. And like my wife, I make lists.

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Fortune Finally Shines On A Slave Named Fortune

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fortune buried in Conn

It's hard to believe, here we are in 2013, with a Black president, Black members of congress and a Black Governor in neighboring Massachusetts, but in Connecticut, only a few days ago, did freedom truly arrive in that state.

As reported in the New Haven Register, another page on racial inequality has been turned.

The man called Fortune, who worked as a slave for a Waterbury doctor and then, after his death, was misused as a medical model, was given his ultimate freedom Thursday, his life celebrated by state and church and his bodily remains put to rest.

First he was given a place of honor, lying in state under the Capitol dome, with crowds stopping to ponder his story.For the preachers at his funeral, Fortune’s lesson after all this time was one of identity: the unifying identity of all people under God.

Fortune

In 1798, a year after he was baptized at the age of 58, Fortune drowned -- accidental or the results of racism still are cause for debate. But this slave, who was owned by Dr. Preserved Porter and his wife, Dinah, served his master and four children for nearly 50 years.

Now we wouldn't be reading about him had the indignities of slavery ended with death. But regardless of the intentions, the saga didn't die with him. The indignities of this Christian man would endure for years to come.

After Fortune’s death, Porter dissected and boiled his body to recover the skeleton, which he used to teach anatomy to medical students. Porter’s descendants sent the bones to Germany in the 1930s to be articulated, or reattached, and his remains were acquired by the Mattatuck Museum in the 1940s, which put them on display. The name “Larry” was scrawled on his skull. In the 1970s, respect prevailed and the skeleton was removed from display and put in storage.

Larry. Even his name was taken from him and a White moniker was assigned to him striking what was left of his humanity. His story was perhaps on a road less traveled that many slaves who's remains were just dumped, left unmarked and forgotten in posterity.

His story was marked by paradox. … a man whose life and manner of death remain a little mysterious and yet a man whose bones have yielded scientific knowledge,” and a man who had a wife and four children but no control over how his remains would be treated.

Considering slavery had been abolished 54 years before his death, Fortune by all rights should have been a free man. But if you were a slave laws regarding emancipation were often unheeded. Even if you were baptized, it still didn't matter. You were Black and thus a slave in that version of Christianity.

Now, 215 years later, when all of this inhumanity and indignity finally saw the light of day, the Constitution State, Connecticut took the proper steps to take responsibility. Fortune was finally given a Christian send off.

Funeral Mass for slave

First he was given a place of honor, lying in state under the Capitol dome, with crowds stopping to ponder his story.For the preachers at his funeral, Fortune’s lesson after all this time was one of identity: the unifying identity of all people under God.

Who knows how many other Fortunes are yet to be properly restituted. It's been a long, arduous journey for this slave, for this free man. It gives a good feeling to know his story will live on and that hundreds came to say farewell to a man no one alive today could have known. Respect, no matter how long after it's due, is so important. Let those not so fortunate who came before us never be forgotten.

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Blurred lines: No, not the song, video games that promote guns like the one used in Newtown massacre

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blurred lines

In the horrific Newtown massacre, Adam Lanza used the specific gun that was featured in Call of Duty, the video game that he played.

This is not to say video games should be blamed for gun deaths, even though the NRA is doing just that as gun manufacturers (the NRA's lifeline) are entering into licensing agreements with video game companies to showcase real guns. Because, you know, those games aren't lifelike enough already.

We know that they've already been promoting specific, lethal brands to children, such as Adam Lanza's Bushmaster:

And here's a bonus link, just to illustrate how precious these goons think life is... outside the womb: VIDEO: NRA convention speaker advises parents to store guns in kids’ rooms.

So hey, with all those Guns for Tots sales, who needs video games, right? Apparently gun zealots who use them to market deadly firearms to little kids do.

As part of a longer term effort to get the NRA, gun manufacturers, and their lobbyists where it hurts, in their wallets, Connecticut Speaker Brendan Sharkey, a Dem, has been instrumental in pushing strong gun legislation through the state legislature... and getting Republicans to join him (!).

Kudos! Here is part of a press release that goes into more detail:

CT State House Speaker Urges Video Game Industry To Stop Promoting Guns Like One Used In Newtown Massacre

Connecticut’s State House Speaker urged video game industry leaders to stop using their products to promote military grade firearms, saying they were recklessly blurring the line between fiction and reality and endangering people’s lives.

In a letter sent to three company chief executives and the Entertainment Software Association, Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) said the video game industry needed to end all licensing and product placement agreements with arms manufacturers. Such deals, he said, were “nefarious” and may have contributed to last December’s massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown.

“Games designed to recreate the experience of wartime carnage and criminal violence constitute protected speech under the provisions of the First Amendment,” Sharkey wrote. “But there is little to be said in defense of an industry-wide practice of arranging licensing deals with gun manufacturers for the rights to use the make, model and visual design specifications of their real-life weapons.

Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, was an avid player of Activision’s game Call of Duty and used a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle featured in the game.

Sharkey has since played a leading role in pushing gun safety legislation through the Connecticut legislature.

“The industry practice of video game publishers entering into licensing, marketing or other financial arrangements to feature real guns in their games,” he added, “blurs the lines between fiction and reality in ways that can have tragic consequences.”

A report published in June by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and The Gun Truth Project detailed how deals between video game companies and weapons manufacturers often lead to promotional campaigns enticing players to purchase weapons featured in the games they have just played.

Sharkey echoed the report’s call to end such deals. He noted that Electronic Arts, one of the biggest companies in the field, has already done so as a matter of company policy and he urged EA’s competitors to follow suit.

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