Friday, August 29, 2014

Belief in Vampires in Connecticut? You bet

Yes, "When Suspicion Meets Science: Examining....." this issue will be addressed at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum

The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum "will add to October’s chill with a timely discussion of a real 'skull-and-crossbones' scenario and an historical belief in vampires, right here in Connecticut," according to a release.

State archaeologist Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni will present “The New England Vampire Folk Belief: The Archeological Evidence” at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 in the Webb Barn at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, 211 Main St., Wethersfield, the release said.

The free presentation will be preceded by a wine reception (by donation) at 6 p.m., the release said. 

"Bellantoni will discuss some new cases of suspected vampirism in the 1800s, and give updates on familiar examples, including the Jewett City Vampires (Connecticut), the Mercy Brown case (Rhode Island), and “Burial Number 4,” in Griswold, Connecticut," the release said.

 Consider this: "In 1990, two Griswold boys playing in a freshly dug gravel pit unearthed two human skulls, leading to a police investigation and a call to the Connecticut Office of State Archaeology. Bellantoni conducted rescue excavations and noted that all the skeletal remains were in proper anatomical position in their graves except for one adult male, who had been beheaded and whose bones were arranged in a 'skull and crossbones' manner," the release said.
"Results of the forensic and historical evidence suggested that the individual was believed to be 'undead' and capable of leaving the grave and 'feeding' on living family members. Vampire feeding was considered by some to be the cause of the tuberculosis, the leading cause of mortality in the Northeast in the 1800s. The re-arrangement of bones, and sometimes the burning of the heart, was considered necessary in order to put the 'vampire' to final rest." 

 The 2014 Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum "Witches and Tombstones Tours," will be held October. 18, 19, 25 and 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For details visit:

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed. Click one of the buttons below to share it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Prayer march to end youth violence in New Haven

NEW HAVEN - The Southern Connecticut Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians will hold
a prayer march to end youth violence in the black community at 10 a.m. August 30 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Shelton Avenue in the Newhallville section of the city, according to a release.

“Youth violence is a leading cause of death for young black men between the ages of 10-25. It is time for religious organizations within the community to come together and pray for an end to the senseless acts of crime,”  local UBE President Steven R. Mullins said in the release.
 UBE is working with New Life Kingdom Outreach Ministries Church to organize the prayer march, Mullins said in the release.
The UBE also is reaching out to other pastors and lay leaders in the Newhallville area and the wider New Haven community to participate in the prayer march, the release said.
"This march is neither a protest, nor a political demonstration. It is a time for religious unity. It is a time for us to put what separates us to the side and show these young men that we care about them,” Mullins said, also in the release.

For more information, call Mullins at 203-824-4262

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Read: Department of Defense Press Briefing by Chuck Hagel on James Foley

The following was contained in a Department of Defense release to the media.  Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke of the death of journalist James Foley, who was murdered in Syria.

This release is unedited here:

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: Good afternoon, everybody.

As the U.S. Central Command continues to provide regular updates about our military support to Iraq and Kurdish forces, this afternoon, I want to say a few words about what this assistance has accomplished over the last two weeks and what, based on the president's guidance, we can expect going forward.

Chairman Dempsey will give you a brief summary, including some numbers, on the U.S. military actions to date.

But first, let me offer my deepest condolences and sympathy to the family of Jim Foley, the American journalist who, as you all know, was savagely murdered by the ISIL.

As the Department of Defense confirmed yesterday, earlier this summer, the United States attempted a rescue of a number of American hostages held in Syria, including Jim Foley. We all regret that the mission did not succeed. But I'm very proud -- very proud -- of the U.S. forces that participated in it. And the United States will not relent our efforts to bring our citizens home and their captors to justice.

Jim Foley's murder was another tragic demonstration of the ruthless, barbaric ideology of ISIL. ISIL militants continue to massacre and enslave innocent people and persecute Iraq's Sunni, Shia and Kurdish and minority populations.

Given the nature of this threat, at President Obama's direction and the request of the Iraqi government, the U.S. military has provided assistance to Iraqi security forces in order to protect U.S. personnel and facilities and support Iraq's efforts to counter ISIL in addition to providing humanitarian assistance.

American air strikes and American arms and assistance helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces blunt ISIL's advance around Irbil, where American diplomats and troops are working, and help the Iraqis retake and hold-Mosul Dam. A breach of the dam would have threatened the lives of thousands of Iraqis as well as Americans at our facilities in Baghdad and prevented the Iraqi government from providing critical services to its citizens.

The United States led an international effort to address the humanitarian crisis that unfolded at Mount Sinjar. As there continues to be an acute humanitarian need elsewhere in Iraq, the U.S. appreciates the partnership of the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy and Australia and the United Nations in helping provide relief. I expect more nations to step forward with more assistance in the weeks ahead.

Overall, these operations have stalled ISIL's momentum and enabled Iraqi and Kurdish forces to regain their footing and take the initiative. As Iraqi and Kurdish forces continue to take the initiative, the United States will continue to support them.

But addressing the threat posed by ISIL to the future of Iraq requires political reform in Iraq. The country's peaceful transition of power last week was important, and the United States will continue urging Iraq's new prime minister to establish an inclusive government that is responsive to the needs of all Iraq's citizens. A united Iraq will be a more secure and prosperous Iraq.

Political reform will make it harder for ISIL to exploit sectarian divisions. The United States and the international community will increase support for Iraq in tandem with political progress.

The president, the chairman and I are all very clear eyed about the challenges ahead. We are pursuing a long-term strategy against ISIL because ISIL clearly poses a long-term threat. We should expect ISIL to regroup and stage new offenses.

And the U.S. military's involvement is not over. President Obama has been very clear on this point. Our objectives remain clear and limited -- to protect American citizens and facilities, to provide assistance to Iraqi forces as they confront ISIL, and to join with international partners to address the humanitarian crisis.

With that, I'll ask Chairman Dempsey for his comments and then we will take questions. Thank you.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

As most of you know, I just returned on Sunday from a trip to Vietnam. And, today, I have my counterpart from Singapore visiting. On Vietnam, it was quite remarkable to be in Vietnam 40 years after our departure from Vietnam to discuss opportunities for a new relationship, building on our historical investment and the incredible sacrifices of those who served there. My engagements in the region reinforced that we have our shoulder behind the rebalance to the Asia Pacific, even as our military confronts challenges in other parts of the world. In fact, on Sunday, I'll depart for Afghanistan.

Which brings me to Iraq. Under the command of General Lloyd Austin at U.S. Central Command, our efforts in Iraq have included to date seven humanitarian airdrop missions delivering 636 bundles of food, water and medical supplies, more than 60 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sorties daily, each day, and to date, 89 targeted airstrikes conducted by United States Air Force and United States Navy aircraft. These airstrikes have protected U.S. persons and facilities and helped prevent humanitarian crisis.

As Iraq's political future takes shape, I'd emphasize that enduring stability will depend on achieving a credible partner in the Iraqi government that must commit to being much more inclusive with all of its population than it has been thus far.

And with that, I'd be happy to take your questions.


Q: Mr. Secretary, in your comments, you mentioned that ISIL's momentum has been stalled recently, and you said that nonetheless you expect them to regroup. My question is, why not go after ISIL where they started, which is in Syria? I know that you've described a strategy of enabling the Iraqis both politically and militarily to roll back their gains in Iraq, but they do have a sanctuary in eastern Syria. What is the strategy, if it's not to go root them out from, you know, inside Syria? Why not -- why not go that route?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, first, going back to your point about my statement on what our objectives are, which I just restated in my statement, I would also say, in addition to that, that -- and I think the president has been very clear on this -- that we continue to explore all options regarding ISIL and how best we can assist our partners in that area, the Middle East, and particularly in Iraq, against ISIL.

You all know that in the president's request in OCO for a $5 billion antiterrorism fund, it was $500 million in there to assist the moderate opposition. So that's what we're looking at; that's what we're doing. And we will continue to stay focused, as I said, on what we're doing now and exploring all options as we go forward.

Q: (OFF-MIKE) options that you refer to include airstrikes across the border into Syria?

SEC. HAGEL: Like I said, we're looking at all options.


Q: I wanted to ask both of you specifically on the hostage rescue mission. You both have talked extensively over the years about protecting classified information. Even if you (inaudible) were told that the news media was going to publish an article, which is what the State Department says, you revealed it because you thought the media was going to publish something. Why specifically did both of you -- please, both of you answer -- why did you think it was a good idea to officially acknowledge in detail classified information -- a classified mission about a hostage rescue when there are still American hostages there? Are you worried that this has risked other hostages' lives? We now have a leak investigation. And was this an intelligence failure, this mission? But why did you both think it was a good idea to do this? No one's ever seen either of you do this before.

SEC. HAGEL: Why did we think it was a good idea to...

Q: Publicly acknowledge a classified mission for a hostage rescue.

SEC. HAGEL: Well...

Q: The statement came out of this building about it last night.

SEC. HAGEL: Well, to start with, there were a number of news outlets that were aware of the action, of the raid. And it was a decision made by the administration, which we concurred with, to address the mission. Recognizing everything that you said, there's always risk, there continues to be risk in every action or inaction we take.

Also, the administration had informed the families of the hostages of -- of this effort. So it was the decision and it was unanimous that we should, in fact, acknowledge this effort without going into any of the specifics of it, which we, as you know, will not.

As to your question on was this was a failure of intelligence, no. The fact is, as you all know, intelligence doesn't come wrapped in a package with a bow; it is a mosaic of many pictures, of many factors.

The enemy always has a say in everything. The fact is that you have to always work that reality into any decision you make.

But the underlying -- underlining objective was to do everything we could, as the president has said, to rescue these hostages, knowing their lives were in danger, clearly in danger.

It's the responsibility of our government and our leaders to do all we can to take action when we believe there might be a good possibility, a good chance to -- to make a rescue effort successful.

This operation, by the way, was a flawless operation. But the hostages were not there.

So we will do everything that we need to do, that the American people would expect from their leaders, to continue to do everything we can to get our hostages back.

Q: (OFF-MIKE) do you think that -- do you have concerns that hostage lives are at risk? Was it -- was it a good enough reason that the news media was going to write an article about this and do you believe it was an intelligence failure?

GEN. DEMPSEY: The -- I provide military advice. The military advice that was rendered in response to your question was as long as sources and methods are not revealed, that it would be a policy decision on whether to release the information of the raid.

As to whether it was an intelligence failure, I -- I agree completely with -- with the secretary of defense. The mission was executed flawlessly after a significant period of preparation and planning and rehearsal. And the -- it turned out that the hostages were no longer at that location.

Q: You believe they were there at one point?


Q: What were the -- you both addressed this. Talk a little bit more about the long-term strategy against ISIS?

Secretary of State John Kerry said they will be crushed. The president calls them a cancer.

If that's the case, why are U.S. airstrikes so narrowly focused and so limited and why have you delayed providing heavy weapons to the Kurds? It seems the rhetoric doesn't match U.S. efforts to date.

SEC. HAGEL: First of all, we are providing a tremendous amount of military assistance to the Peshmerga through the Iraqi security forces.

It is one country and there's no question that we have been accelerated -- as a matter of fact, all year long, we have been accelerated -- all the requests made by the Iraqi government for lethal assistance and equipment and we continue to do that.

As to the comments made by Secretary Kerry and the president -- and we all share the same evaluation of ISIL -- as the president has said, I've said, the chairman said, Secretary Kerry has said, the -- the defeat of ISIL is not only going to come at the hands of airstrikes.

One of the things that I noted in my -- my comments here at the beginning of this press conference was an inclusive government in Iraq is essential as to how Iraq and the United States and all of our international partners are going to also have to deal with ISIL. Military kinetic actions, airstrikes are -- are part of that.

But it's -- it's bigger than just a military operation and our efforts, as we have executed the president's strategy on this, are specifically targeted, just as the president has said for the reasons he said.

But we are working with international partners, we're working closely with Peshmerga and the ISF. We are doing everything we can within the confines of our influence to assist and recognize, as we've said, to deal with ISIL there in the Middle East and also recognizing that it is a threat, just as we've all said. But it isn't going to just come as a result of airstrikes. Strategically, there are limits to how much you can accomplish with airstrikes. Tactically, you can accomplish a significant amount; I think we've seen that, I've mentioned in my comments here. So it's the broad scope of activity and actions that we take...


Q: ... I mean, the Peshmerga still say they haven't received the heavy weapons that they've requested. And you're creating a task force, I understand, on that?

GEN. DEMPSEY: A task force for the equipping effort with the Kurds? Yes, the secretary has a task force that oversees that. And they have begun to receive supplies, not just, by the way, from us or regional partners, but also from the government of Iraq, which incidentally is not to be discounted as a significant moment, with the possibility that there will be a single state of Iraq in the future. And we are providing, you know, the -- those that were conducting assessments in those joint operations centers have continued to evolve. So this isn't just about airstrikes.

SEC. HAGEL: Margaret?

Q: General, do you believe that ISIS can be defeated or destroyed without addressing the cross-border threat from Syria? And is it possible to contain them?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Let me start from where you ended and end up where you started. It is possible contain -- to contain them. And I think we've seen that their momentum was disrupted. And that's not to be discounted, by the way, because the -- it was the momentum itself that had allowed them to be -- to find a way to encourage the Sunni population of western Iraq and Nineveh province to accept their brutal tactics and -- and their presence among them.

So you ask -- yes, the answer is they can be contained, not in perpetuity. This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated. To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border.

And that will come when we have a coalition in the region that takes on the task of defeating ISIS over time. ISIS will only truly be defeated when it's rejected by the 20 million disenfranchised Sunni that happen to reside between Damascus and Baghdad.

Q: And that requires airstrikes (OFF-MIKE)

GEN. DEMPSEY: It requires a variety of instruments, only one small part of which is airstrikes. I'm not predicting those will occur in Syria, at least not by the United States of America. But it requires the application of all of the tools of national power -- diplomatic, economic, information, military.

SEC. HAGEL: Karen?

Q: Talking about ISIL in Syria, my question is for -- both of you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Secretary -- do you -- do you have any information that there is a link, a relation between the Assad regime and ISIL? As you may know, the Assad regime has been striking ISIL for the last few months. Do you see yourself on the same page with the -- with the Assad regime? And do you still believe that Assad is part of the problem or he might become part of the broader solution in the region?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, Assad is very much a central part of the problem. And I think it's well documented as to why. When you have the brutal dictatorship of Assad and what he has done to his own country, which perpetuated much of what is happening or has been happening in Syria, so he's part of the problem, and as much a part of it as probably the central core of it.

As to your question regarding ISIL and Assad, yes, they are fighting each other, as well as other terrorist groups, very sophisticated terrorist groups in -- in Syria.

GEN. DEMPSEY: He is absolutely part of the problem.

SEC. HAGEL: Kevin?

Q: Mr. Secretary, can you address the charges of mission creep with Iraq, going beyond helping humanitarian, beyond protecting Americans to directly going after ISIL, whether through the Iraqis or not? Does the Pentagon believe it has the authority? Have you talked to the general counsel for what you're doing now? Or do you need any kind of additional or different type of authority going forward for what you would like to be able to do?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, to start with, the president has been very clear on mission creep. And he's made it very clear that he will not allow that. This is why he's been very clear on what our mission is. We comply with the War Powers Act and informed Congress on how many people we have.

Of course, we consult with our counsel all the time on do we have the domestic authority, do we have the international authority on all actions, as we do on everything we do. But, again, I refer you back to the president's comments on mission creep. This is -- this is not about mission creep.


Q: I want to ask you to prepare -- talk directly to the American public. Is the -- should the American public be steeled for another long, hard slog against ISIS? Mr. Secretary, in July, you painted them as an imminent threat. Not even George Bush when he was hyping the road to war in Iraq called Saddam Hussein an imminent threat. He called him "grave and gathering."

General Dempsey, you talked about defeating ISIL over time. Should the public start getting prepared for another long, hard slog, like Secretary Rumsfeld talked about, fighting Al Qaida, in the fight to eliminate ISIL?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, as to the comment about an imminent threat, I think the evidence is pretty clear. When we look at what they did to Mr. Foley, what they threatened to do to all Americans and Europeans, what they are doing now, the -- I don't know any other way to describe it other than barbaric. They have no standard of decency, of responsible human behavior, and I think the record's pretty clear on that. So, yes, they are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it's in Iraq or anywhere else.

GEN. DEMPSEY: You've heard me speak, I think, about the fact that we've gone from a narrow focus on Al Qaida to the recognition that, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and these disenfranchise populations that I've described a lack of governance and sanctuary, failed states, declining nationalism -- you've heard me talk about all that -- that we actually have groups that now kind of are loosely connected, in some cases affiliated, that run from Afghanistan across the Arabian peninsula into Yemen to the Horn of Africa and into North and West Africa.

So, in general, the conflict against those groups, most of which are local, some of which are regional, and some of which are global in nature, that's going to be a very long contest. It's ideological. It's not political. It's religious, in many cases. So, yes, it's going to be a very long contest.

But when you ask me if the American people should steel themselves for this long conflict, there will -- there will be required participation in the -- of the United States of America, and particularly in a leadership role, to build coalitions, to provide the unique capabilities that we provide, but not necessarily all the capabilities, to work through this thing using three different military tools.

One is direct action. There will be cases where we are personally threatened, U.S. persons and facilities are threatened, that we will use direct action. If told to use direct action for other purposes, we'll be prepared to do so. Haven't been asked.

The second one is building partner capacity. And that's -- that's really where this has to reside. We've got to have them take ownership of this, because, frankly, if we own it, they're not going to be that interested in it.

And then the last one, of course, is enabling, which is to say enabling our partners, which is what you see us doing somewhat now in Iraq with both the Iraqi security forces and the Peshmerga, and I think you'll see that enabling function used, as well.

Q: Can I follow up on Tony's please?


Q: You know you were talking about this threat and a war-weary America. And I think most Americans are asking, well, what is the ISIL threat to us here at home? Could either of you describe the terrorist threat that ISIL represents to Americans? And -- and should Americans -- again, to follow up on Tony -- should they be prepared for a perpetual war on terror?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, I'll take the first run at it, and Marty can respond as well.

Jim, what happened in this country on 9/11, 2001, when you ask the question about should Americans see this as any kind of a threat, imminent threat, or what's the -- what's the issue, this is in Iraq, I doubt if there were many people that would have thought there was much of a threat the day before 9/11.

Now, that happened a few years ago. This -- this country is far better prepared today, in every way for this.

But terrorism is not new to the world. The sophistication of terrorism and ideology that the general was talking about, married now, with resources now, presents a whole new dynamic and a new paradigm of threats to this country. The sophistication, technology, money, resources, all that is different.

And we can't ask the question of ourselves as leaders who have the responsibility of the security of this country, saying, well, is it that big a deal? I mean, they're far away.

We don't have that luxury.

Every day the intelligence community of this country and the leaders, regardless of who the administration is, or who the secretary of defense is, or who the chairman is, deals with this every day, that we don't want to face that again, ever, 9/11 or any part of it.

So we -- so we have to look at this, Jim, from the reality of what's out there, but also what could be out there and what could be coming.

And is this a long-term -- sure, it's a long-term threat.

Q: Is it the calculation, though, that ISIL presents a 9/11 level threat to the United States?

SEC. HAGEL: Jim, ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded.

Oh, this is beyond anything that we've seen. So we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is that you take a cold, steely, hard look at it and-- and -- and get ready.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, the immediacy -- the immediacy is in the number of Europeans and other nationalities who have come to the region to become part of that ideology. And those -- those folks can go home at some point.

It's why I have conversations with my European colleagues about their southern flank of NATO, which I think is actually more threatened in the near term than we are. Nevertheless, because of open borders and immigration issues, it's an -- it's an immediate threat. That is to say, the fighters who may leave the current fight and migrate home.

Longer term, it's about ISIL's vision, which includes -- I actually call ISIL, here we go, right, ISIS, I-S-I-S, because it's easier for me to remember that their long-term vision is the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. And al-Sham includes Lebanon, the current state of Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Kuwait.

If they were to achieve that vision, it would fundamentally alter the face of the Middle East and create a security environment that would certainly threaten us in many ways.


Q: I know the president and you all talk about right now, it's Iraq's responsibility to take control of their own country, but isn't the U.S. already at war with ISIS?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Are you looking at me?


SEC. HAGEL: You're the general.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Do I -- do I look like a guy that would answer that question in front of the -- the declaration of war is a policy decision, not a military decision.


Q: Is there any estimate on how much these operations in Iraq have cost so far? And considering you said ISIS poses a long-term threat, and we're gonna -- (inaudible) -- a long-term strategy, might you need to reshape your 2015 budget to accommodate for that?

SEC. HAGEL: Maybe. Well, depending -- first of all, go back to the OCO reference that I mentioned, that we've already asked the Congress in a separate fund, a counterterrorism fund for $5 billion, half a billion of that specifically for the moderate Syrian opposition.

So, yes, you're constantly shaping a budget to assure that resources match the mission and the mission and the resources match the threat.

And it isn't -- it isn't a process that is void of the dynamics of a changing, shifting world and requiring resources, as you plug those resources into your strategy, to assure that you can carry out that -- that strategy.

SEC. HAGEL: So, yes, you're shifting all the time on what you think is going to be required. I mean, we've had to move assets over the last couple of months, obviously, to accomplish what we accomplished in Iraq. That costs money, that takes certain monies out of certain funds. So it's -- it's a constant, fluid process as you -- as you plan for these.

General, you want to say anything?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, I mean, you know, this -- the adaptations we've made to our global posture and in particular, our regional posture in response to the tasks we've been given has been really remarkable.

It reminds me that -- never to miss the opportunity to thank those who serve in uniform for their incredible agility and courage in dealing with whatever issues confront them. And as you know, there's a lot of -- there's a lot of issues confronting us globally right now and we're answering a call and will continue to do so.

But we -- there may be a point where -- I think we're fine for Fiscal Year '14 and we'll have to continue to gather the data and see what it does to us in '15.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Connecticut's past and the enslavement of human beings

"Anne Farrow Connects Slave Trade to State’s Aristocracy at Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum"
Connecticut author Anne Farrow "will tell a tale of two journeys" at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Webb Barn at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, 211 Main St., Wethersfield, according to a release.
"The first began in 1757, as a ship owned by an affluent Connecticut merchant sailed to Sierra Leone, West Africa, to take on fresh water and" people that were enslaved. "On board was the owner’s son, learning the trade. In 2004, when Farrow began investigating the logbooks of that voyage, she thought she was scrutinizing the son of an obscure farmer," the release said/ "What she uncovered was a direct connection between slavery and a member of one of America’s, and Connecticut’s, most famous early families. Farrow’s thought-provoking presentation will be held ."
 "Farrow discovered that the slave-ship logs she was studying were written by the descendent of aristocrats, Dudley Saltonstall, the brother-in-law of Silas Deane. At about the same time, Farrow’s mother was diagnosed with dementia. As she bore witness to the impact of memory loss on her mother’s sense of self, Farrow also began a deeper journey into the world of the logbooks and the Atlantic slave trade, eventually retracing part of the long-ago voyage to Sierra Leone. As her narrative unfolds, Farrow explores the idea that if our history is incomplete, then collectively we have forgotten who we are—a loss that is in some ways similar to what her mother experienced."
"In her presentation at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, Farrow will detail the odd and compelling life of Dudley Saltonstall. In his nearly four decades at sea, Saltonstall encountered disaster, disease, and defeat, as well as success, honor and fortune. He was given one of the Continental Navy’s first captain's commissions based on the recommendation of Silas Deane, who served on the Naval Committee of the Continental Congress. He was also a privateer, and a trader in both Caribbean trade goods and human beings. Farrow will also note Saltonstall’s contradictory record: John Paul Jones, who served as one of his officers during the American Revolution, thought Saltonstall was a snob and slow to action; others regarded him as a competent commander who should not have been blamed for the 1779 Penobscot Bay expedition, considered the worst naval disaster in American history prior to World War II."
The free lecture will be preceded by a wine reception (by donation) at 6 p.m., and followed by a signing of Farrow’s newest book, “The Logbooks: Connecticut’s Slave Ships and Human Memory,” to be published by Wesleyan Press in October, the release said.. 
"About the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum" according to the release:
"Located in the heart of Connecticut’s largest historic district, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum provides the quintessential New England experience - from the American Revolution to the early 20th century. Tours include the 1752 Joseph Webb House, where General George Washington met with French General Rochambeau and planned the military campaign leading to the end of the Revolutionary War, the 1770 Silas Deane House, built for America’s first diplomat to France, and the 1788 Isaac Stevens House, which depicts Connecticut life in the 18th and 19th centuries. For more information visit: or call (860) 529-0612. Like us on Facebook:

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed. Click one of the buttons below to share it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mastodons and Baby Dinosaurs Headline Peabody Museum's end-of-summer day

NEW HAVEN  – The Yale Peabody Museum will welcome "a walking, talking humongous beast" from 10 a.m. to  4p.m.  August 23, at its sixth annual end-of-summer free admission day at  170 Whitney Ave., according to a release.
"Jess the mastodon, on day leave from her regular digs at Hole in the Wall Theatre in New Britain where she’s starring in 'The Impracticality of Modern-Day Mastodons,' an off-beat comedy by award-winning Connecticut playwright Rachel Teagle about ambition, vocation and impractical beasts," the release said.
"Starting at 11 a.m., Jess will hold court in the mammal hall for two to three hours with an even more humongous beast: “The Otisville Mastodon,” an 11,000-year-old male mastodon skeleton discovered in 1882 in Otisville, New York. Visitors will learn about mastodons and how childhood dreams really can come true. Jess is very friendly and will be happy to pose for photographs too."
Further, "Puppeteer Betty Baisden has created a show based on the Museum’s featured exhibition, Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies called 'What Do You Do with a Baby Dinosaur?'" It will be performed at 11 a.m. and noon and feature Roxi Fox in her newest adventure: finding the parents of a lost and hungry baby dinosaur, the release said.
"Tiny Titans, on view through August 31, features over 150 eggs, embryos, hatchlings and nests from both dinosaurs and modern day birds. Together with fine artwork and interactive computer modules, they depict dinosaur family life."
Free parking is available in the Peabody lot and adjacent Yale lots. The entrance is one block north of the Museum at the intersection of Whitney and Humphrey Streets.
Photo is by: Arienne Davey
The Yale Peabody Museum: Hours are Monday -Saturday 10 to 5, Sundays noon to 5. Regular admission is $9 adults, $8 seniors 65+, and $5 for ages 3-18 and college students with I.D. Children under age 3 are always free. Admission is free Thursdays 2 to 5 p.m., from September to June. The Museum is closed six days of the year:  January 1, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, December 24 & 25. Visit or call the Infotape at 203-432-5050 for additional information.
Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed. Click one of the buttons below to share it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

LGBTQ rights to be focus of free symposium

The following is a release from the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. It is shared unedited here:
The rights of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) individuals to equal housing opportunity is the focus of a free symposium on Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The program will run from 9 AM though 4 PM in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. 
Join the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities CHRO, National Center for Lesbian Rights NCLR, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD and other community partners for a day of education.
The program will include presentations on: What constitutes LGBTQ housing discrimination; The impact of housing discrimination on LGBTQ persons and communities; protections provided by federal programs with a focus on the new protections under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s LGBT Equal Access Rule; protections provided by Connecticut State Law; the impact of the Equal Access Rule on homeless LGBTQ individuals; resources for protecting LGBTQ rights to housing; and, the rights and obligations of ho using providers and lenders.
CHRO Executive Director Tanya Hughes said, “We urge LGBTQ individuals, landlords, housing advocates and authorities, lenders and those interested in human rights to attend and participate."
The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities was the first state government civil rights agency in the United States of America established in 1943 as the Inter-racial Commission.  Today the agency's mission is to eliminate discrimination through civil and human rights laws.  The CHRO investigates and enforces the laws against discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation and credit.

Orange Historical Society $1 sale is Saturday

ORANGE - The Orange Historical Society Outdoor Dollar Sale is  scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Academy Building at 605 Orange Center Road, organizers said in a release.

Each item outside The Academy at 605 Orange Center Road will be marked for sale for $1, organizers said.

Check out some of that the Historical Society is up to here.

Check out a video of a recent sale at the Academy here:

"Take advantage of this one-time sale for those unusual items that can be mixed and matched
for a gift basket or surprise package for that special person or occasion," organizers said in a release.'

For information call 203 795-3106

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Read President Obama's full statement on Ferguson, Missouri and Iraq

The following statement was released by the White House today after President Obama spoke from Massachusetts on what occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, when Michael Brown was killed by a police officer, and what he has ordered, and the status of Iraq.. It is shared unedited here:

Edgartown, Massachusetts
12:49 P.M. EDT 

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody. This sound system is really powerful.  Today, I’d like to update the American people on two issues that I’ve been monitoring closely these last several days. 
First of all, we continue to make progress in carrying out our targeted military operations in Iraq.  Last week, I authorized two limited missions:  protecting our people and facilities inside of Iraq, and a humanitarian operation to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians stranded on a mountain.
A week ago, we assessed that many thousands of Yezidi men, women and children had abandoned their possessions to take refuge on Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to avoid slaughter.  We also knew that ISIL terrorists were killing and enslaving Yezidi civilians in their custody, and laying siege to the mountain. Without food or water, they faced a terrible choice -- starve on the mountain, or be slaughtered on the ground.  That’s when America came to help. 
Over the last week, the U.S. military conducted humanitarian air drops every night –- delivering more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of fresh water.  We were joined in that effort by the United Kingdom, and other allies pledged support. Our military was able to successfully strike ISIL targets around the mountain, which improved conditions for civilians to evacuate the mountain safely. 

Yesterday, a small team of Americans -– military and civilian -– completed their review of the conditions on the mountain.  They found that food and water have been reaching those in need, and that thousands of people have been evacuating safely each and every night.  The civilians who remain continue to leave, aided by Kurdish forces and Yezidis who are helping to facilitate the safe passage of their families.  So the bottom line is, is that the situation on the mountain has greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts. 

Because of the skill and professionalism of our military –- and the generosity of our people –- we broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar; we helped vulnerable people reach safety; and we helped save many innocent lives.  Because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the mountain, and it’s unlikely that we’re going to need to continue humanitarian air drops on the mountain.  The majority of the military personnel who conducted the assessment will be leaving Iraq in the coming days.  And I just want to say that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the men and women of our military who carried out this humanitarian operation almost flawlessly.  I’m very grateful to them and I know that those who were trapped on that mountain are extraordinarily grateful as well.

Now, the situation remains dire for Iraqis subjected to ISIL’s terror throughout the country, and this includes minorities like Yezidis and Iraqi Christians; it also includes Sunnis, Shia and Kurds.  We’re going to be working with our international partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those who are suffering in northern Iraq wherever we have capabilities and we can carry out effective missions like the one we carried out on Mount Sinjar without committing combat troops on the ground. 

We obviously feel a great urge to provide some humanitarian relief to the situation and I’ve been very encouraged by the interest of our international partners in helping on these kinds of efforts as well.  We will continue air strikes to protect our people and facilities in Iraq.  We have increased the delivery of military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the front lines. 
And, perhaps most importantly, we are urging Iraqis to come together to turn the tide against ISIL –- above all, by seizing the enormous opportunity of forming a new, inclusive government under the leadership of Prime Minister-designate Abadi.  I had a chance to speak to Prime Minister-designate Abadi a few days ago, and he spoke about the need for the kind of inclusive government -- a government that speaks to all the people of Iraq -- that is needed right now.  He still has a challenging task in putting a government together, but we are modestly hopeful that the Iraqi government situation is moving in the right direction.  
Now, second, I want to address something that’s been in the news over the last couple of days and that’s the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.  I know that many Americans have been deeply disturbed by the images we’ve seen in the heartland of our country, as police have clashed with people protesting.  Today, I’d like us all to take a step back and think about how we’re going to be moving forward. 
This morning, I received a thorough update on the situation from Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been following it and been in communication with his team.  I’ve already tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Michael Brown, along with local officials on the ground. 
The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation.  I made clear to the Attorney General that we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened, and to see that justice is done.  
I also just spoke with Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri.  I expressed my concern over the violent turn that events have taken on the ground, and underscored that now is the time for all of us to reflect on what’s happened, and to find a way to come together going forward.  He is going to be traveling to Ferguson.  He is a good man and a fine governor, and I’m confident that, working together, he is going to be able to communicate his desire to make sure that justice is done and his desire to make sure that public safety is maintained in an appropriate way.  

Of course, it’s important to remember how this started.  We lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances.  He was 18 years old.  His family will never hold Michael in their arms again.  And when something like this happens, the local authorities –- including the police -– have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death, and how they are protecting the people in their communities.  

There is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.  There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protestors in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.  And here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.  Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority.
I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened.  There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred.  There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward.  That’s part of our democracy.  But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family.  We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government. 
So now is the time for healing.  Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson.  Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done.  And I’ve asked that the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to move that process forward.  They will be reporting to me in the coming days about what’s being done to make sure that happens.  

Thanks very much, everybody.  

PHOTO CREDIT: (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) A protester kicks a smoke grenade, that had been deployed by police, back in the direction of police on Aug. 13, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Political parties in Connecticut by the numbers

Today is Primary Day in Connecticut. Party affiliation by active voters in Connecticut includes a number of major and minor political parties.

Could you name them all? Test yourself and then check you answers below.

(Note: Follow Primary Day coverage live here)

The chart below as released by Sec. of the State Denise Merrill. It is shared as released and unedited here:

AS OF 8/11/2014         
PARTY                                                     COUNT
A Better Future                                                 2
A Brookfield Party                                            3
A Connecticut Party                                          1
A Sentinel Party                                             23
Canterbury First                                               2
Chatham Party                                                 10
Democratic                                            705,403
Enfield Taxpayers Party                                   2
Friends Of Saybrook                                       13
Green                                                          1,636
Guilty                                                                 1
Independence                                                   12
Independence For Montville                              8
Independent                                               15,157
Independent Choice                                            1
Libertarian                                                   1,654
Milford Independent Party                                 6
Norwich for Change                                            1
Open                                                                    8
Pro-Bethel                                                            2
Realistic Balance                                                 4
Reform                                                               12
Republican                                               401,374
Simsbury Citizens First                                        1
South Windsor Citizens                                        1
Spring Glen Party                                                 8
Swing                                                                    1
The Hampton Party                                               1
U-It                                                                       6
U/I                                                                         1
Unaffiliated                                              801,407
Unaffiliated (Conservative)                                 1
We The People                                                   45
Winsted Independent                                         37
Working Families                                             271
                           TOTAL                     1,927,115

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Haven polling places for primary voting, and election hotline details

This list below if of the polling places in New Haven for the August 12, 2014 primary.
Further, Sec. of the State Denise Merrill announced that her office will be open the election hotline with the State Elections Enforcement Commission "to respond to potential problems at the polls" for the primaries. "To report any issues or concerns on Primary Day voters are asked to call 1-866-SEEC-INFO (1-866-733-2463) or email  The "hotline and email alert will be monitored throughout the day by staff from both agencies to assist voters with any problems encountered."

 The chart below can be downloaded or printed:

Read the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling

Read the U.S. Supreme Court case: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission . Masterpiece Cakeshop Court Decision by H...