Monthly Archives: March 2013

10 Days on which you should avoid traveling

By: Georgia Lobb

Photo courtesy of
Today is Easter Sunday- a day to cherish time with your family, enjoy food and drinks, and apparently it’s also a horrible day to travel. I decided to tag along with my mom to drop my brother off at the airport today, where he was planning to catch a 1PM flight back to Toronto. And even though we left Long Island for Newark Airport at 10:30 AM, my brother still missed his flight. No matter where we turned, the roads seemed to be gridlocked. Which made me wonder… Continue Reading →

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Weird Commuting News: NYC Transit Attempts To Use Birth Control on Subway Rats

By: Georgia Lobb

This sounds like it should be out of a science fiction novel. Photo courtesy of NBC News
Transportation Nation reports that in an attempt to get rid of subway rats, the New York MTA is trying to get the rodents to consume birth control. The National Institute of Health has reportedly given the company Senestech a $1.1 million grant to create a recipe that will tempt the rats to consume a hormone which will induce early menopause in female rats, thus hindering their ability to reproduce. Loretta Mayer, who works for Senestech, is working on perfecting a recipe that will work best to entice the rodents. “She’s  considering lacing the bait with pepperoni oil. Continue Reading →

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At 87, Prague is named commissioner of aging

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday named former state Sen. Edith Prague of Columbia as the commissioner of the new State Department on Aging, a rebuke to those who insist there are no second acts in American life — never mind a third and a fourth. Prague is 87. Prague returns to state government after stints as a state representative and state senator, divided by a tumultuous and ultimately unhappy tenure as the commissioner of aging under Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr.
Edith Prague, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy
Weicker eventually eliminated the department, folding its functions into the Department of Social Services, earning him the everlasting enmity of Prague, who still grimaces at the mention of Weicker’s name. “We did not agree, and we fought bitterly,” Prague said. Malloy said the rationale for a stand-alone department was simple: Connecticut is aging. Continue Reading →

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February job losses mar slight drop in unemployment rate

Despite losing 5,700 payroll jobs in February, Connecticut’s unemployment rate dropped slightly last month as 7,600 more people left the labor force, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday. The jobless rate fell from 8.1 to 8 percent in February, marking the sixth consecutive monthly decline in the Nutmeg State. Labor officials also noted that a major winter storm that caused business shutdowns and temporary closures may have skewed February’s numbers downward, leaving them optimistic that job growth trends could resume in the near future. “Though our data can’t point at any specific regions or industry sectors that would confirm the winter storm hampered job growth in February, that result seems likely,” said Andy Condon, director of the labor department’s Office of Research. “On the plus side, we continue to see the state’s unemployment rate decline, if only at a modest pace.” Continue Reading →

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Five awful minutes: 154 rounds fired, 26 killed

Authorities released chilling details Thursday of Adam Lanza’s troubled life and his horrific assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School, providing tantalizing hints and clues, but no answers about what launched the bloodiest primary school shooting in U.S. history. Lanza killed 26 children and educators in less than five minutes, firing 154 rounds from a Bushmaster XM15 military-style rifle. He was prepared to kill far more: Police found three more 30-round magazines on him, with another 15 rounds in his rifle. The first new on-the-record details from law enforcement came in search-warrant documents unsealed by the Superior Court and in a written statement from Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sendensky III, who is overseeing the investigation. A Saiga 12 shotgun
Lanza carried the rifle, extra magazines and two loaded handguns, a 10 mm Glock and a 9 mm Sig Sauer during the attack. Continue Reading →

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An inventory of carnage: Newtown warrants unsealed

Search warrant documents released today offer new details of Adam Lanza’s troubled life and his horrific assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School. They are an inventory of carnage and a life seemingly consumed with weapons.They offer stark details: Lanza died in the middle of three classrooms he attacked, clad in military gear and a bullet-proof vest. His mother, Nancy Lanza, was discovered at their home, dead in bed, shot once in the forehead.The state police affidavits and lists of the items seized at two crime scenes, the Lanza home and Sandy Hook Elementary, offer hints and clues but no definitive answers about what launched his bloody mission on Dec. 14.Their house at 36 Yogananda Street in Newtown, a pale yellow Colonial with dark green shutters, contained guns and ammunition – a thousand rounds in a gun safe and closet, ammo for shotguns, handguns and rifles.The Lanzas – the affidavit does not specify whom – also had a collection of knives and three Samurai swords.In one affidavit, authorities quoted an acquaintance describing the killer as a “shut in and avid gamer who plays Call of Duty,” a video game that gives the player the perspective of a soldier on violent missions.An inventory of items found in the house reflected the mother’s passionate interest in firearms and shooting and the challenges posed by the youngest of her two sons, 20-year-old Adam.His report card from Sandy Hook was in the house. So were emails and documents relating to weapons, including the purchase of a Glock handgun. Continue Reading →

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Pfizer will raze huge office building in Groton

Groton — Drug giant Pfizer Inc. said it plans to tear down 750,000 square feet of unused laboratory space on its Groton campus, a move that follows frantic efforts in recent months to find a new use for the facility. Last year, Pfizer put up for sale a million square feet of space at its Connecticut research and development headquarters, now surplus to its needs after several waves of downsizing. The company has been quite open that if a viable use could not be found for the space, it would be demolished to save on maintenance and property-tax costs. State and town officials, chambers of commerce and local business people came together to try to broker a deal that would see new businesses locate to the site, but Wednesday Pfizer announced those efforts had failed. Pfizer’s Building 118
“We’re very, very disappointed,” said Groton Town Manager Mark Oefinger, one of the people at the center of efforts to save the space. Continue Reading →

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Boosting public financing for campaigns is off the table

If Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy runs for re-election as a publicly financed candidate next year, he can expect a state grant of only $6 million, less than half the $12.8 million spent by his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, in 2010. With the state struggling to balance the budget, Malloy has ruled out a repeat of last year’s unsuccessful effort by some legislators in the closing days of the annual session to increase the general-election grant from $6 million to $9 million. “We’re not proposing that there be more taxpayer dollars that go into what a gubernatorial candidate receives,” said Mark Ojakian, the governor’s chief of staff. Administration officials acknowledge that pushing for a higher grant would alienate voters and even Democratic legislators, who already are objecting to hardships imposed by the governor’s proposed budget. That doesn’t mean that Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders, especially those in the state Senate, who saw several colleagues come under a late season attack by a Super PAC last year, are sanguine. Continue Reading →

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Preparing future teachers: Panel aims to start fixing the deficiencies

As students filed into Sharon Leger’s fifth-grade class in Farmington on the first day of school, it became painfully clear that the new teacher was not prepared.Leger never learned in college how to get, and keep, the attention of her students. She also never learned how to tailor her lessons to teach students who don’t speak English or have special education needs.”This stuff was never even touched on. I was left with no strategies,” said Leger, now in her third year of teaching at West Woods Upper Elementary School. “Everything I learned, I picked up from teachers here.”Leger’s experience is common among the 1,200 first-year teachers that begin in Connecticut’s public schools each year.”One thing we keep hearing from superintendents is that people come out unprepared,” said Allan B. Taylor, chairman of the State Board of Education.With the state’s public and private colleges graduating about 3,500 teachers each year, two recent national surveys found that, in some cases, nearly two of every three new teachers felt they had been unprepared for the classroom.Addressing this has become a priority of the administrations of both President Obama and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. On Thursday, the panel that the governor and state legislators created last year to improve the accountability of the state’s 21 teacher preparation colleges is expected to finalize its recommendations. Continue Reading →

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List: Connecticut Air Control Tower Closures Due to Sequester

By: Georgia Lobb

Danbury Airport: Photo Courtesy of CT Post

Last week, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) released a final list of the 149 Airports that will lose air control towers due to the recent sequester. (See related: The Cost of Sequestration)

In Connecticut, the following six air control towers will be shut down (starting April 7th):

–       Brainard Airport in Hartford (HFD)

–       Danbury Municipal Airport in Danbury (DXR)

–       Groton-New London Airport in Groton (GON)

–       Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford (BDR)

–       Tweed New Haven Airport in New Haven (HVN)

–       Waterbury-Oxford in Oxford (OXC)

  Continue Reading →

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Espinosa sworn in as first Hispanic justice

Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Carmen Espinosa said the response she gets when she attends events has been overwhelming “beyond words.” “People that do not know me personally, know my story, and tell me how proud they are of what I have achieved as a Puerto Rican woman,” Espinosa told a crowd of close to 150 people at the state Capitol Thursday gathered for her swearing-in ceremony. “The Hispanic community wants to celebrate its successes, just like any other community.” Continue Reading →

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Biden to address Coast Guard academy graduation

Vice President Joe Biden will give the keynote speech at U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s commencement on May 22, the New London academy announced on Thursday. The president and vice president take turns giving graduation speeches at all the military academies. President Obama addressed the Coast Guard Academy in 2011, former Vice President Dick Cheney gave the address in 2008. George H.W. Bush, as vice president, spoke at academy graduations several times. “Commencement is always a special time here, but it is particularly memorable when the Vice President of the United States is here to present the commissions to our new ensigns,” said Coast Guard Academy Superintendent Rear Adm. Continue Reading →

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Searching for a teachable moment in Torrington

Torrington — As TV cameras persist outside their doors nearly a week after vicious online comments about an alleged statutory rape victim went viral, Torrington Public School officials are wrestling with difficult questions. Is there a pervasive culture of misbehavior within the Torrington High School football team, which dealt with a hazing scandal last fall, and now, two of whose players are charged with statutory rape of two 13-year-old girls? When teens took to Twitter to blame the alleged victims and call them names like “whore” and “snitch,” does that constitute “cyberbullying” that needs to be investigated by schools under Connecticut law? Should school administrators more closely monitor student activity online, or at least have a policy in place to take action against mean-spirited posts on social media? None of those questions have easy answers. Continue Reading →

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Malloy’s take on armed security in schools

Several school districts in Connecticut have placed armed police officers or security guards in their schools in response to a gunman killing 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December — a move Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he supports.However, the governor does not expect the state to provide any funding to help more districts hire officers or security on campus.”I think it’s a local decision, so they have the right to make that decision,” Malloy told reporters Wednesday. “I hope that they spend their money wisely and what is most important is what goes on in the classroom.”While school violence may be on the decline — in Connecticut and nationwide — the events at Sandy Hook have spurred district officials to take a second look at the security at their schools. School police officers or other security personnel stationed at schools and teachers are also able to carry a firearm on school property if granted permission by district officials. The state does not track which districts have armed staff at its schoolsIn a roundup of news stories around the state, the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research reports that several districts have approved plans to spend thousands of dollars on armed security following Sandy Hook. This week, Enfield became the latest district to add armed security at their schools.”It certainly is a mini-trend, and I think understandably in light of what has happened in Connecticut,” Malloy said.Malloy said additional state funding for school safety will be included in whatever package the legislature adopts in response to Sandy Hook, but that will be largely for improving the school’s infrastructure for things like securing entrances.The state in previous years received $9 million from the federal government to fund 72 police officers in schools, but that funding in recent years has dried up. With the Obama administration proposing that Congress pay to place 1,000 officers in schools across the country, Malloy said he doesn’t foresee the state providing the funding for more officers.”I think security at schools is a local issue and a local obligation,” said Malloy, who was the mayor of Stamford for 14 years before becoming governor. Continue Reading →

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A type A governor lays back on guns, for now

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy seems to be following the unlikely example of Goldilocks in dealing with the legislature on gun-control after Sandy Hook. He is looking for an approach that is just right after first being too soft, then too hard. He wants the legislature to pass a strict ban on the sale and possession of large-capacity magazines, like the ones Adam Lanza used to kill 20 first graders and six educators. But he won’t say if its absence would be a deal breaker, an invitation to a veto. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy with Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. Continue Reading →

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