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Friday, October 21, 2016
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Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Community Foundation Partners Launch Voter Engagement Social Media Campaign


Do you remember the feeling you had the first time you cast a vote in an election? Maybe you felt like you were finally an adult; perhaps you felt empowered. Maybe this was the first time you ever voted in this country or in any country. These are some of the experiences that will be shared as part of a new social media campaign being launched by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, in collaboration with community foundations throughout Connecticut including Eastern Connecticut, Waterbury, Fairfield County as well as the Connecticut Council of Philanthropy. The campaign, titled “My Hope. My Voice. My Vote.” will use videos and graphics to remind people of just how good it feels to cast their vote, and provide useful information about voting in Connecticut.

“The Hartford Foundation believes in the value of resident engagement and participation in the electoral process,” said Linda J. Kelly, president of the Hartford Foundation. “As more of us participate in elections, the more powerful our collective voices become at the local, state and national levels. This campaign encourages residents to vote and provides easy access to the information needed to register and vote.”

The Hartford Foundation’s strategic focus on creating more vibrant communities emphasizes the importance of fostering meaningful and inclusive civic engagement. This campaign marks the beginning of an ongoing effort to provide greater opportunities for all residents of Greater Hartford to share their concerns and develop solutions to the challenges we face.

The effort includes videos of three individuals’ voting experiences and illustrates how participating in the democratic process can hold very different, but incredibly positive feelings for each person. Each video shares a personal perspective on the voting experience, connecting family or community history to our present day.

The campaign also includes an educational component, providing important dates, deadlines and other useful statewide voting information in a positive, approachable, consumer-friendly way. Individual social media posts, accompanied by engaging graphics and useful links, will provide critical information about how to register to vote, how to receive an absentee ballot or how to find a voting station, and how Connecticut is just one of four states where returning citizens can vote (once they have completed their sentences and completed terms of parole).

The social media campaign will be shared through Hartford Foundation and other funders’ social media channels. Posters in English and Spanish will be distributed to libraries throughout the region. The campaign will also provide opportunities for blog posts and home page communications on participating organization’s websites. Materials will be added to www.hfpg.org/vote as the campaign progresses.

A campaign kit will be distributed to help amplify these messages through various community foundations and local libraries. This kit consists of videos, graphics, a posting schedule and call-to-action copy that organizations can easily share through their own social media channels.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding towns.  In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations.  It has awarded grants of more than $650 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.

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Ripp Dem Up: Donald Trump Still Thinks the Central Park Five is Guilty



trumpYusef Salaam, one of the members of the wrongfully convicted Central Park Five wants an apology from Donald Trump. Of course, this will never happen. Trump has never apologized for anything; and, he isn’t going to start now. I mean, why would he do something like that and blemish his record of good judgment. Besides, Trump is a man who has publicly stated that he’s not into asking God for forgiveness. Can we expect him to ever apologize?

So yeah, good luck with that apology thingy.

In a statement to CNN, Trump said that “they admitted they were guilty.” “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same,” he added.

To Trump, the evidence against the Central Park Five was overwhelming.

I assume that this is what motivated Trump to spend a reported $85,000 to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times and three other newspapers.

In the ad, Trump called for the employment of the death penalty against the falsely accused young teenagers. According to Trump’s ad, the Central Park Five were part of a larger problem of “bands of wild criminals roam our neighborhoods, dispensing their own vicious brand of twisted hatred on whomever they encounter.” In 1989, Trump’s ad further inflamed New York City’s racial tension and was a cause célèbre.

“I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence,” Trump’s ad continued.

Here’s the thing: DNA evidence cleared then of any wrongdoing. In fact, the actual perpetrator of the crime came forward and confessed to the rape of the Central Park jogger. And, it was his DNA that matched that of the victim.

But of course, Trump is allergic to this thing called facts.

Interestingly enough, though, Trump also said that the city of New York settling a $41 million lawsuit with the members of the Central Park Five isn’t an admission of their innocence. In an op-ed in the New York Daily News, Trump described the 2014 lawsuit settlement as the “heist of the century.”

Trump added, “Settling doesn’t mean innocence, but it indicates incompetence on several levels.”  Yeah, because it’s all about being guilty until proven innocent, even if there’s sufficient scientific evidence that proves otherwise. And this from the same guy who said that him settling a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the federal government isn’t an admission of guilt on his part.

There’s Never a Racial Double Standard

Double standard? Nope. Wealthy white men and what they say is the standard. If they say you’re a criminal, you’re a criminal. If they say you’re a rapist, you’re a rapist. Like Trump, if you unknowingly admit to using your fame to sexually assault women – you know, by grabbing them by the pussy – it’s locker-room banter. Yes, there’s nothing criminal here at all. Incidentally, this explains all the rape accusations against Trump. If anything, this exhibits an extreme flaw of judgement, basic human decency, and character.

Come to think about it, this is the reason there are many like the Central Park Five, who fall victim to the bias within a racially inequitable criminal justice system. Meanwhile, Trump wants to be president of the United States. To help him get there, he wants people of color – black folks in particular – to vote for him, because as he put it, we have nothing to lose.

I’ve written about the Central Park Five before. But, I never thought they would be mentioned in this election cycle. As narcissism and the undisciplined need for attention would have it, here we are. Donald Trump had to open his mouth once again. He couldn’t ignore taking the bait offered up by CNN. Instead, Trump’s comments, once again, proves that he’s an enemy of fact-driven discourse. Because, in the face of truth, his racist beliefs won’t allow an ounce of contrition. Nor will his level of moral bankruptcy allow him to admit that he was wrong.


patrickthumbnailPatrick “Rippa” Phillips is a self-described severely Progressive Liberal blogger, who loves fried chicken, watermelon, & Barack Obama. He’s black, he’s proud, & he says it loud. You can read more of his (and other contributors’) work at his popular news and opinion site, The Intersection of Madness & Reality (www.rippdemup.com).  Follow him on Twitter/@Rippa


Ripp Dem Up: Van Jones Asks, “What if Donald Trump was Black?”


patrickcolumnheadervanjonesIn the wake of the release of video wherein Donald Trump brags about sexually assaulting women, noted political commentator, Van Jones, took to Facebook to discuss the issue. Jones did so in the context of race. Jones’ commentary is a perfect illustration of White Privilege and the pervasive nature of racism in its systemic application. In the video, Jones says Trump is the real “super-predator.”

His line was a play on the controversial use of the racialized term “super-predator” used by Hillary Clinton in 1995. Jones’ use of the term in referring to Trump was powerful. Back then, the term was used by Clinton and others to help push a new Crime Bill. While Clinton’s use of the term was never race-specific, it’s widely perceived as a racist reference to young black men, by many. It is with this context in mind that Jones’ remarks were apropos.

Van Jones made extremely salient points in arguing that things would be different if Donald Trump was indeed black. Which is a point with which I agree. Hell, back in 2008, right-wingers wouldn’t allow Barack Obama to continue to attend Rev. Jeremiah’s church when video of Obama’s minister chastising American policy surfaced. Yet, today, many of the same people are continuing to embrace Donald Trump after implicating himself of criminally sexual behavior. Can you imagine Obama being allowed to be president if he was Donald Trump?

For many, Trump’s comments were seen as locker-room talk and nothing more. Listen, it’s not about Trump’s words. It’s not about the word “pussy.” It’s about Trump’s admission of a criminally sexual act. Period! If you ignore this and reduce his remarks to just simple boyish locker-room banter. If you do, then you’re every bit of an enabler. Which is highly problematic in itself.

Yes, it’s like you’re saying, “Hey, Donald! Here’s my daughter. Please, come grab her pussy.” Not that you have to have a daughter, a wife, or female relatives to understand this. As a human being with a semblance of moral values – if only a little bit – this shouldn’t be something that needs to be explained, at all.

One has to wonder if Donald Trump would see one of his rich black friends (yes, I’m looking at you, Mike Tyson) bragging about grabbing Ivanka’s “pussy” without invitation, as locker-room banter? Well, he does consider her a “piece of ass.” So, I imagine that he wouldn’t have a problem with it.

I doubt he would. In fact, I’m sure he wouldn’t. He’d blame it on hip hop. He’d blame it on Barack Obama. Trump would most definitely attribute it to typical “nigger” behavior. You know, because, everyone knows that black men are savages. He would say that black men are hypersexual beasts who can’t control themselves. And like the Central Park Five, he’d be calling for the death penalty.

He’d be so pissed that he’d find a way to propose sending black people back to Africa, as a result of it. And, of course, when confronted with the fact that he once defended Mike Tyson against rape allegations. We could expect Trump to lie and say that he did not. This is what Trump would do if the shoe was on the other foot, racially. Also, I imagine the conversations would be different. Within media circles, they would be focused on Trump’s admission as a criminal act.

Am I wrong?

patrickthumbnailPatrick “Rippa” Phillips is a self-described severely Progressive Liberal blogger, who loves fried chicken, watermelon, & Barack Obama. He’s black, he’s proud, & he says it loud. You can read more of his (and other contributors’) work at his popular news and opinion site, The Intersection of Madness & Reality (www.rippdemup.com).  Follow him on Twitter/@Rippa


NAACP Files Lawsuit Over Flint Water Crisis

Photo credit: Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Attorneys with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of people and businesses affected by the failure to provide safe drinking water to the city of Flint, Michigan, according to a press release posted to the NAACP website Wednesday.

According to the press release, the civil suit filed in U.S. District Court alleges that the state of Michigan, many city and state officials and two engineering firms hired to evaluate water quality in Flint failed to detect problems and properly treat water that caused extensive lead contamination in the city while Flint was under supervision of state-appointed emergency managers.

The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit include Flint residents and members of the local branch of the NAACP, whose national attorneys are working with the firms of Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll of Washington, D.C. and the Houston-based firm of Susman Godfrey.

The complaint seeks property damages, pain and suffering damages, emotional distress damages, medical monitoring, and other injunctive relief for affected city residents and businesses to be determined by the court.

“The people of Flint have been harmed through the failure of state officials to provide professional and accountable basic services mandated by federal law and expected by any person living in a major city,” said Cornell William Brooks, the national president and CEO of the NAACP. “Our organization stands with the citizens of Flint to demand a clear timeline, deadline and price tag for fixing this crisis as well as effective remedies for the harms that have already occurred and complete compensation for each and every victim of this unimaginable tragedy.”

Governor Rick Snyder is named as an individual defendant in the suit, along with six former high-ranking officials with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and three men who were emergency managers during the prolonged exposure period. Two engineering firms hired to analyze water in the city, Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam Inc. and Veolia North America, also failed to satisfy their professional duties and affirmatively worsened the extent of the lead exposure, according to the complaint.

[Click here for: Full court complaint]

The 103-page complaint alleges that the officials and companies supervising the water system failed to properly treat the water supply for salt and other chemicals, which caused lead to leech from corroded pipes into the drinking water for years. Officials repeatedly denied and dismissed reports of poor water quality and pipe corrosion before acknowledging widespread failures to act.

The NAACP’s Flint Branch and Michigan State Conference have diligently worked over the last two years to inform the public about the poisoned water and its potential effects on city children and residents, and called for federal and state action to provide relief.

The NAACP and attorneys in the case are planning to host Town Hall meetings with residents in the near future in Flint to discuss further action.


Connecticut House Delegation Rebukes Anti-LGBT Actions by Republicans


The floor of the U.S. House erupted into cries of incredulity and shouts of ‘shame!’ Thursday, as a plan to dissuade federal contractors from discriminating against against LGBT employees was defeated by a single GOP vote. The final vote was 213-212–defeating an amendment by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), aimed at sustaining an executive order by President Barack Obama.

Members of Connecticut’s house delegation–U.S. Representatives John B. Larson (CT-01), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Jim Himes (CT-04), and Elizabeth Esty (CT-05)–released the following statement,

Today’s abuse of power by House Republican leaders is beyond shameful. Today, we witnessed them circumvent debate, hold open a vote far beyond its allotted time to force Members to switch sides, and cast votes without coming to the front of the House Floor. House Republicans broke Speaker Ryan’s own rules so that discrimination against LGBT Americans could prevail. This is not how Congress should work and the American people deserve better.

The House of Representatives is meant to represent every American, but today this body cast a vote attacking some of our citizens for nothing more than whom they love or who they are. Discrimination has no place in our nation, and generations of Americans have fought against it. We are better than the most extreme elements of the Republican Party that strong-armed its Members into denying LGBT Americans some of their most basic rights.”

We stand with LGBT Americans today and every day. The vote cast in the House of Representatives is a step backward in the fight for equality and we will strive to correct this injustice. To the LGBT community in Connecticut and across the country, we stand with you.

Connecticut Liquor Store Displays Misrepresent Wine Ratings

via truthinadvertising.org

If you plan on purchasing a bottle of wine this Memorial Day weekend, a word of caution about those signs that tout wine ratings in liquor stores: Sometimes the bottle that garnered that great score isn’t the one on the shelf.

A TINA.org investigation of 30 liquor stores in Connecticut, including independent neighborhood stores and major chains, found that the vast majority — nearly 90 percent — displayed wine ratings for bottles or vintages other than those actually for sale. In fact, TINA.org found numerous instances where wines were rated lower than what the sign posted near it indicated and many that were not rated at all.

In letters to each of the 26 stores where a misrepresentation was found, TINA.org warned that the marketing was deceptive and “lures consumers into buying a wine that is different from what they believe they are purchasing.” The letters urged owners to correct the problem immediately. On Monday, TINA.org also alerted the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection about its findings.

“The deceptive signage found in the sampling of stores may be indicative of a widespread issue,” said TINA.org Executive Director Bonnie Patten. “Liquor stores need to review their in-store marketing practices to make sure that shoppers are getting accurate information about the actual wine bottles on their shelves.”

Vintage matters

A wine’s rating can vary from year to year depending on shifting climate and the philosophy of the winemaker, said Cheryl Stanley, a Cornell University professor who teaches a course on wine appreciation. Mother Nature has the biggest say, but there are many factors at play.

“Hail at harvest or wet moldy conditions within the vines will cause a year to be different than another,” said Stanley. “That is why vintages on labels mean something.”

Additionally, after bottling, some wines stumble through a “dumb phase” in which aromas and flavors are slow to mature and winemakers may also decide one year to use more oak, both of which affect a wine’s texture and flavor.

From “outstanding” to “very good”

Meiomi’s Pinot Noir is a good example of how a wine’s rating can fluctuate in the span of a single year. From 2013 to 2014, the wine dropped four points on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale, from 92 (“Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style”) to 88 (“Very good: a wine with special qualities”). Nevertheless, TINA.org found the 2014 vintage in a package store in Fairfield accompanied by a wine ratings sign touting the 2013 vintage. (Don’t think there’s a difference between “outstanding” and “very good”? Try telling your fiancee she looks “very good” on your wedding day.)

Meiomi circled

The discrepancies come as no surprise to Wine Spectator.

“We are well aware that Wine Spectator reviews are often inaccurately used in various venues, most often retail shops,” said Wine Spectator Executive Editor Tom Matthews, whose publication reviews more than 15,000 wines every year in blind tastings.

While in many cases it’s the wholesaler who supplies the sign, it’s the responsibility of retailers to ensure wine ratings are accurately depicted in their stores, Matthews said. He pointed to Wine Spectator’s policy governing use of its ratings, which states in part:

Rating scores and tasting notes must not be altered, nor associated with any wines other than the specific wine and vintage referred to in our review.

“We do our best to become aware of the misuses and contact the stores where the errors are happening.” Matthews said.

A note on tasting notes

But it’s an uphill battle. Just ask Sapan Patel, the co-owner of one of the four liquor stores TINA.org visited that did not contain any wine ratings misrepresentations. Patel said when he took the reins at The Cork Shop in Branford late last year, roughly 80 percent of the wine in the store was displayed with ratings, one-quarter of which were for bottles different from the one on the shelf. So he decided to remove all the signs and begin anew (though, as of last week, only one bottle in the store was presented with a wine rating).

“We don’t want the customer confused,” Patel said, adding: “That’s not good for business.”

But other retailers don’t seem too worried.

Confusion for consumers

Not only did TINA.org uncover inconsistencies between the bottle reviewed and the bottle on the rack, its investigation revealed that some signs had no dates and contained tasting notes that the wine publications themselves said they didn’t write.


“We did not review the 2008 vintage of Liar’s Dice (see above) and no review of any vintage I can find used the exact words in the tasting note that are ‘quoted’ in the shelf-talker,” said Matthews, the Wine Spectator editor. “Also, ‘Top Values’ is not one of our normal accolades; we use ‘Best Values.’

Same here for this 2011 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon, which Wine Enthusiast said it never reviewed.


“We never rated the Arrowood 2011 Cab and although some previous vintages were rated 92 points (the 2007 and 2005), I can’t even tell you where that review text comes from,” said Wine Enthusiast Senior Editor Lauren Buzzeo. “The (sign) is indeed very misleading.”

Wine Enthusiast, like Wine Spectator, requires that the date of the vintage rated be included in the advertising of its wine ratings. The other publications whose wine ratings TINA.org found deceptively displayed included Robert Parker, Wine & Spirits and Beverage Dynamics.

In addition, TINA.org discovered signs with the vintage crossed out (see below) and written over (see here).

Red Rock arrow

At Costco and BJ’s, signage provided ratings on “recent” vintages, but in many cases not the vintage for sale. For example, Wine Enthusiast has not rated the 2014 Kirkland Chardonnay below.


In response to an inquiry seeking comment about TINA.org’s findings, the Connecticut Package Store Association didn’t directly address the issue, saying only that package stores receive the ratings cards from the product manufacturers or wholesalers and that it doesn’t rate wine. It didn’t address what should be done about the misrepresentations.

What to do

Where does all this leave consumers? Double check that the year on the sign matches the vintage of the bottle you want before you take it to the cash register. If it doesn’t, tell the owner about the misrepresentation and alert TINA.org. We will keep on this story to see how widespread the misrepresentations are.

Letter to Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection: https://www.truthinadvertising.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/5_23_16-ltr-from-TINA-to-DCP.pdf

TruthinAdTruth in Advertising, Inc. (TINA.org) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Madison, CT, whose mission is to be the go-to online resource dedicated to empowering consumers to protect themselves and one another against false advertising and deceptive marketing.

Student Loan Repayment Guide Available To Assist Connecticut Borrowers



An estimated 62 percent of 2014 college graduates in state carrying education debt

Attorney General George Jepsen, state Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris and state Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez today introduced a new student loan repayment guide to assist borrowers in Connecticut, which ranks among the top 10 states for average student loan debt.

The online guide is a public education initiative produced by a working group created by the three agencies to focus on the issue of student loan debt, which totals $1.2 trillion nationally and affects more than 43 million borrowers. The guide is available in seven languages and can be downloaded at: http://ct.gov/ag/cwp/view.asp?A=2066&Q=577988.

Information was compiled from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Department of Education and Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, to help borrowers understand their loans, their rights and responsibilities, repayment options and how to avoid being a victim of scams.

According to the Project on Student Debt by the independent, nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success, Connecticut ranked seventh in the nation with an average student loan debt of $29,750 for students graduating in 2014 from public and private non-profit four-year colleges.  The report showed 62 percent of Connecticut students graduating in 2014 had some level of debt.

“Student borrowers and their families need to make informed choices about paying back their loans,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “It is our hope this guide will give them that information, so they don’t fall victim to scams and end up paying more than they need to.”

“The average student loan debt held by each 2013 Connecticut graduate is over $30,000, almost two thousand dollars higher than the national average. This amount puts Connecticut sixth in the nation for average student loan debt,” said Commissioner Jonathan Harris. “It’s a priority for our agency to ensure that this guide gets into the hands of those who need it most through our outreach and education efforts. We’re committed to doing more to give borrowers in Connecticut the information they need to pay off their student loans successfully, enabling them to spend and invest their money in ways that strengthen our economy.”

“All consumers should be informed when it comes to borrowing money, but it is even more vital to ensure that students understand their obligations as well as their rights when it comes to their student loans since this will probably be the first time that they have taken out a loan.  This guide will certainly help,” said Commissioner Jorge Perez.  “I am also particularly pleased that it will be available in seven languages, to include as many people as possible.”

The working group is also looking at possible unfair trade practices among companies charging fees to help Connecticut borrowers locate or process their loans.

The resource guide is the latest step taken by the state to address student loan debt. In September, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed legislation to help ease college debt and to adopt a student loan bill of rights. One new law will allow students to refinance their loans at substantially lower rates, thereby lowering monthly payments. The second gives the Connecticut Department of Banking more regulatory oversight over student loans to help ensure fairness in the process.

Assistant Attorneys General Joseph Chambers, Jeremy Pearlman and Lorrie Lewis Adeyemi, head of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Department and Senior Policy Advisor Susan Kinsman are assisting the Attorney General with this initiative.

The Department of Consumer Protections participants in the Student Loan Repayment working group are Nicole Ayala, Marion Slater, Robert Pero, and Lora Rae Anderson. This team is comprised of members from the Department’s legal, communications, and investigative teams. They assisted Commissioner Harris in this effort.

Michael Lentini, Financial Examiner in the Department of Banking’s Consumer Credit Division assisted Commissioner Perez in this effort.

Women’s History Month: 10 Women Who Made History


Jackie Ormes: Jackie Ormes was the first African-American woman to work as a professional newspaper cartoonist, and become well-known for series that included ‘Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem’ and ‘Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger

Zora Neale Hurston: Though she went largely unappreciated by her writing peers, Zora Neale Hurston was an anthropologist, novelist and fixture of the Harlem Renaissance before writing her masterwork, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston incorporate themes of racial heritage and folklore in her work.


Faith Ringgold: Faith Ringgold is an American artist and author who became famous for innovative, quilted narrations like Tar Beach, that communicate her political beliefs.

Septima Poinsette Clark: Septima Poinsette Clark was a teacher and civil rights activist whose citizenship schools helped enfranchise and empower African-Americans.

Anna Arnold Hedgeman: Political activist and educator Anna Arnold Hedgeman was the first African American woman to serve on the cabinet of a New York mayor when she worked during the term of New York City Mayor Robert Wagner from 1957-1958. Her career spanned more than six decades as an advocate for civil rights. In 1963 she helped A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin plan the March on Washington and was the only woman among the key event organizers.

“Stagecoach” Mary Fields: Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary and Black Mary, was the first African-American woman employed as a mail carrier in the United States and the second woman to work for the United States Postal Service.

Audre Lorde: Audre Lorde was an American writer, radical feminist, womanist, lesbian, and civil rights activist. Lorde’s poems often expressed anger and outrage at civil and social injustices she observed throughout her life. Her poems and prose largely dealt with issues related to civil rights, feminism, and the exploration of Black female identity. Lorde coined the term “womanist” to contrast her Black lesbian activism with that of the “feminist,” an identity she saw dominated by white, heterosexual women. In reference to white feminists in the United States, Lorde also famously said, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

Yuri Kochiyama: Yuri Kochiyama was a Japanese-American human rights activist who became closely acquainted with Malcolm X. She was also a member of his Organization of Afro-American Unity, following his departure from the Nation of Islam. She was, reportedly, present at his assassination on February 21, 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, and held him in her arms as he lay dying. Over the years, Kochiyama had dedicated herself to various causes, such as the rights of political prisoners, working on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, nuclear disarmament, and reparations for the Internment of Japanese-Americans. In 2005, Kochiyama was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize through the “1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005” project.

Comandanta Ramona: Comandanta Ramona was an influential member of the Zapatista Army or Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) in Chiapas, Mexico. Dubbed “The Petite Warrior,” she led the Zapatistas’ initial uprising against the Mexican government, leading to the Zapatista rebellion and the revolution of indigenous women’s rights throughout Mexico. Comandante Ramona influenced the early decisions and actions of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN), a group of indigenous peoples in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico who continue to struggle against government exploitation and marginalization.

Marsha P. Johnson: Marsha P. Johnson was a transwoman and activist who became an important face to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community in New York City. Johnson has been identified as one of the first to fight back in the clashes with the police amid the Stonewall riots. In the early 1970s, Johnson and close friend Sylvia Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR); together they were a visible presence at gay liberation marches and other radical political actions. In the 1980s Johnson continued her street activism as a respected organizer and marshal with ACT UP.

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Spring Reading List: Top Five Books Every Woman Should Read

By Desiree Anderson

Some books have a way of altering your life without you even realizing it. Over the past few years, I myself have changed tremendously from a young girl trying to figure out what the next step in her journey is, to an ambitious young woman learning to embrace all of what life has to offer in the midst of undesirable circumstances. In every new chapter my life has completed, my love for books and self-exploration has been the one unchanging constant and the foundation from which all of my accomplishments have grown from. The following books are just a few of which have helped me grow into a strong, independent woman with a love for helping and teaching others, and I pray that the least they do is help all of you ladies reading grasp the power of your black girl magic and believe that you can do anything.


1. The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst: every woman who has ever caved under the pressure of consistently saying “yes” to countless demands regardless of whether you wanted to or not, needs to read this book.

2. When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago: a devastatingly beautiful memoir that all women, regardless of race or ethnicity, can appreciate and learn from. You are not where you come from, whether that be the rural Puerto Rico like Santiago, or right here in Hartford, CT. You determine your future and where you go from here.

3. Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich: There aren’t many books that feature a plus sized woman as the main character in a way that isn’t self-demolishing or tasteful. However, Evanovich has created a hilarious romantic comedy following the journey of a woman who has found something she doesn’t like and is determined to correct it.

4. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp: a “poetically written” book that will move you in ways you could never imagine and remind you that even in the midst of chaos and pain, always live life to its fullest.

5. The Girls Guide by Melissa Kirsch: a very literal “How to…” guide that I recommend for every post-college age woman learning to be self-fulfilling/sustaining and independent.

While I can’t guarantee that for every lesson there is to learn in life, there will be a book, I can guarantee that for every book, there is a lesson.

Malloy Presents a State Budget Plan That Would Make Hip Hop Artist B.o.B. Proud

By Jonathan Pelto, cross-posted from Wait What?

Flanked by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, his “policy-partner,” Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy lectured a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly today about the importance of being fiscally responsible.

It was a grand theatrical performance that would make hip hop artist B.o.B. proud.

Less than two weeks ago, singer and music producer B.o.B informed the world that despite what we have been told, the World is Flat!

Like Governor Dannel Malloy, the “all-knowing” musician laid down the “truth” about the flatness of the Earth explaining;

“No matter how high in elevation you are… the horizon is always eye level … sorry cadets… I didn’t wanna believe it either.”

“A lot of people are turned off by the phrase ‘flat earth’ … but there’s no way u can see all the evidence and not know… grow up.”

“I question the international laws that prevent you from exploring Antarctica and the North Pole… what’s there to hide? …I’m going up against the greatest liars in history … you’ve been tremendously deceived.”

Thankfully, in an epic response, world renowned astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, went on the Nightly Show to set things straight.  The best portion of which can be seen in this video clipThe Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss also has a great write-up in article entitled, Why in the world would rapper B.o.B think the Earth is flat? A quick science lesson.

Earlier today, doing his best to channel B.o.B. into the historic chamber of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Governor Malloy took off on a fantastic ride of revisionist history in which he blamed everyone but himself for the fiscal disaster that is dragging Connecticut into the muck.

A far deeper analysis of Malloy’s budget proposal will come in the days and weeks ahead, but readers can learn more about some of the specific aspects of Malloy’s proposal via the following links.  Malloy targets municipal aid, agency budgets, perhaps ‘thousands’ of jobs (CT Mirror), Malloy Budget Plan Hammers State Workers, (CT Newsjunkie), Gov. Malloy Will Cut State Workforce By Thousands (Hartford Courant) and from many other Connecticut news outlets.

That said, the details of this farce of a budget where overshadowed by Malloy’s even more bizarre effort to portray himself as some sort of fiscal guardian and truth teller.

As the Hartford Courant wrote;

“In a sternly-worded speech, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told state legislators Wednesday that they must accept “a new economic reality” of smaller government, scaled-back programs and greater compromise.”

This from the politician who relied on budget gimmicks to produce a series of state budgets that did not balance and then based his re-election campaign on the message that there was no deficit and that he would neither propose nor sign any tax increases if given a second term in office.

Of course, literally days after the election, Malloy’s budget chief admitted that there was a state deficit and Malloy went on to sign a budget that included the second massive tax hike of his tenure as governor.

And as every observer of Connecticut government and politics recognizes, the words “Malloy” and “compromise” cannot be used in the same sentence.

Malloy’s rhetoric about honest budgeting was only eclipsed in today’s speech by his comments regarding his record when it comes to Connecticut’s long term debt obligations.

Unconstrained by the truth or his own record in dealing with Connecticut’s failure to properly fund its pension and post-employment benefit programs, Malloy pontificated;

“Now, it has fallen upon us to fix it. After decades of neglect, we are finally paying our pension obligations every year. I think we all know that must continue.”

This from a guy who just a few months ago proposed kicking the can so far down the road that we’d shift more than $8 billion in pension liabilities onto the backs of Connecticut’s children and grandchildren.

And lest we forget, it is Malloy who has gone crazy with the state’s credit card, borrowing money to pay for various pet projects including his massive corporate welfare program.

As for his immediate commitment to making even deeper cuts to state programs, Malloy’s approach is probably best reflected by his proposal to cut funding for dental care for poor children and his plan to save $1 million by “reducing the burial benefit for indigent people from$1,400 to $1.000.”  That last one was actually something Malloy proposed last year, but legislators reviewed the issue and trashed the plan.

In the end, Malloy’s new budget plan relies heavily on reducing services for those with developmental disabilities, those who suffer with mental illness and addiction, and other vulnerable residents who rely on help from Connecticut’s nonprofit providers for community services.

Of course, Malloy has now returned to his claim that he will not support any new taxes, overlooking his own effort to dramatically cut municipal aid, which will force cities and towns across Connecticut to raise local property taxes.

Then, as if to remind us, once again, of Malloy’s true priorities, the governor, who refuses to require that Connecticut’s wealthiest citizens pay their fair share in taxes, adds a new provision in his budget plan that would provide a tax break for millionaires when it comes to paying their probate fees.

As Connecticut citizens work to understand Malloy’s latest budget proposal, they would do well to remember that just because a politician or a musician says it’s so —- doesn’t actually mean that it is so…

Readers who want to understand Malloy’s perspective can start by taking a step back from today’s budget madness and read the recent Wait, What? post entitled; Malloy Budget Plan – Coddle the rich while cutting vital state services.

PeltoJonathan Pelto has been actively involved in Connecticut public policy, advocacy and electoral politics for 40 years. Presently, an investigative blogger and citizen journalist, Pelto uses blogging and social media as advocacy tools to educate, persuade and mobilize people with a focus on issues related to public education and the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s growing efforts to undermine and privatize public education in the United States. You can read his work at jonathanpelto.com and follow him @jonathanpelto on Twitter.


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