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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wilton High School student's free speech rights ripped to shreds

This is ridiculous. Make sure you're sitting before you read this.

Student productions at Wilton High School range from splashy musicals like last year’s “West Side Story,” performed in the state-of-the-art, $10 million auditorium, to weightier works like Arthur Miller’s “Crucible,” on stage last fall in the school’s smaller theater.

For the spring semester, students in the advanced theater class took on a bigger challenge: creating an original play about the war in Iraq. They compiled reflections of soldiers and others involved, including a heartbreaking letter from a 2005 Wilton High graduate killed in Iraq last September at age 19, and quickly found their largely sheltered lives somewhat transformed.

“In Wilton, most kids only care about Britney Spears shaving her head or Tyra Banks gaining weight,” said Devon Fontaine, 16, a cast member. “What we wanted was to show kids what was going on overseas.”

But even as 15 student actors were polishing the script and perfecting their accents for a planned April performance, the school principal last week canceled the play, titled “Voices in Conflict,” citing questions of political balance and context.

The principal, Timothy H. Canty, who has tangled with students before over free speech, said in an interview he was worried the play might hurt Wilton families “who had lost loved ones or who had individuals serving as we speak,” and that there was not enough classroom and rehearsal time to ensure it would provide “a legitimate instructional experience for our students.”

“It would be easy to look at this case on first glance and decide this is a question of censorship or academic freedom,” said Mr. Canty, who attended Wilton High himself in the 1970s and has been its principal for three years. “In some minds, I can see how they would react this way. But quite frankly, it’s a false argument.”

At least 10 students involved in the production, however, said that the principal had told them the material was too inflammatory, and that only someone who had actually served in the war could understand the experience. They said that Gabby Alessi-Friedlander, a Wilton junior whose brother is serving in Iraq, had complained about the play, and that the principal barred the class from performing it even after they changed the script to respond to concerns about balance.

“He told us the student body is unprepared to hear about the war from students, and we aren’t prepared to answer questions from the audience and it wasn’t our place to tell them what soldiers were thinking,” said Sarah Anderson, a 17-year-old senior who planned to play the role of a military policewoman.

Bonnie Dickinson, who has been teaching theater at the school for 13 years, said, “If I had just done ‘Grease,’ this would not be happening.”

Frustration over the inelegant finale has quickly spread across campus and through Wilton, and has led to protest online through Facebook and other Web sites.

“To me, it was outrageous,’’ said Jim Anderson, Sarah’s father. “Here these kids are really trying to make a meaningful effort to educate, to illuminate their fellow students, and the administration, of all people, is shutting them down.”
This isn't the first time this idiotic principal has trampled on the student's right for free speech.
The scrap over “Voices in Conflict” is the latest in a series of free-speech squabbles at Wilton High, a school of 1,250 students that is consistently one of Connecticut’s top performers and was the alma mater of Elizabeth Neuffer, the Boston Globe correspondent killed in Iraq in 2003.

The current issue of the student newspaper, The Forum, includes an article criticizing the administration for requiring that yearbook quotations come from well-known sources for fear of coded messages. After the Gay Straight Alliance wallpapered stairwells with posters a few years ago, the administration, citing public safety hazards, began insisting that all student posters be approved in advance.

Around the same time, the administration tried to ban bandanas because they could be associated with gangs, prompting hundreds of students to turn up wearing them until officials relented.

“Our school is all about censorship,” said James Presson, 16, a member of the “Voices of Conflict” cast. “People don’t talk about the things that matter.”

Friday, March 23, 2007

Connecticut delegation vote on Iraq Supplemental Appropriations Bill

Today, the Connecticut delegation casted their votes on the Iraq Supplemental Appropriations Bill, a binding resolution that places a redeployment date for American troops in Iraq.

Freshmen Democratic Congressmen Chris Murphy and Joe Courtney took to the airwaves and offered their remarks about their vote.

Here's highlights of Congressman Murphy press conference from earlier today.

From Joe Courtney's press release.

"I voted for a supplemental today that puts an end to the pattern of rubberstamping President Bush's failed policies in Iraq by previous Congresses.  The time is long overdue for the Iraqi people to stand up and regain control of their destiny and the future security of their nation. The benchmarks established in this measure provide the necessary incentives to begin that process," stated Congressman Courtney.  "Eastern Connecticut's soldiers continue to serve courageously in Iraq, but it is time Congress honor their service by making sure that they have the resources and tools necessary to perform their jobs and to provide the best health care possible when they return home."
Courtney was also interviewed on CSPAN about his vote, which you can watch by clicking here

Student arrested at anti-war rally

There was one arrest at Saturday's COW anti-war rally and thankfully someone happened to capture the episode on video.

Here's footage of CCSU student Progressive Student Alliance member Nick Cegelka's arrest by the Hartford Police Department (I hope he isn't related to Ken) and later release.

Larson, DeLauro comment on U.S. Troops Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act

Proud Dems.

CNN got the memo

CT Bob has the details...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bloggers invade the Capitol

Yesterday I made my way up to Hartford and joined some of the Connecticut's best bloggers on a tour of the State Capitol.

I'd like to thank the great Spazeboy for arranging the tour courtesy of Rep. John Geragosian (D-New Britain) and over the next few days, I'll provide a more detailed report of everything that happened (including the usual video).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ohio's Rep. Jean Schmidt: A disgrace to Ohio

What an ass.
Rep. Jean Schmidt wrote in her weekly column sent out to reporters on Monday that stories about horrible conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center were "overblown."

Schmidt, a Clermont County Republican, decided to take "several hours" to travel to the hospital in Washington, D.C., to see the situation "first hand."

Her conclusion?

"I found the situation at Walter Reed to be overblown by both politicians and the media."


Justice served!
Kenneth Krayeske, the political activist and blogger whose Jan. 3 arrest while taking pictures of Gov. M. Jodi Rell's inauguration parade raised concerns over civil rights issues and the actions of police, won dismissal Wednesday of the charges against him in Hartford Superior Court.

Prosecutors at first offered only to nolle the charges of breach of peace and interfering with police -- that is, to not prosecute them but reserve the right to reopen the case for about a year -- on the grounds that Hartford police were in a "no-win" situation because they would have been strongly criticized if something happened to Rell.

But Krayeske's lawyer, Norman Pattis, pushed for an outright dismissal, saying it was Krayeske who was in the "no-win" situation because he was a nonviolent citizen exercising his First Amendment right by taking pictures of Rell for his website, www.the40yearplan.com.

Pattis added that Krayeske should not have been identified as a threat to Rell, as he was by the state police, in a two-page security flier they prepared for police on parade patrol. The flier included information about Krayeske's past public criticism of the governor and two color driver's-license photos of him from motor vehicles department records.

Prosecutors then agreed to the dismissal, which did not involve any waiving by Krayeske of his right to bring a wrongful arrest suit in federal court. He said afterward he had not made a decision about legal action, and for now wanted merely to focus on his studies as a law student.
It's a great day for free speech as well as a great day for the blogosphere.

One of the State Reps who has been critical of Krayeske's arrest is East Haven's Mike Lawlor (99 Dist) and he issued this press release moments ago.
"It's very good news that prosecutors dropped the charges against Ken Krayeske and that the judge dismissed the case. For more than two months, everyone who was familiar with this incident had said that there was absolutely no probable cause to charge Ken Krayeske with any crime. It is also clear to me that Krayeske was singled out irresponsibly by state and local police because of his political views and prior political statements and activity.

The bad news is that state and local taxpayers will bear the cost of this violation of Ken Krayeske’s constitutional right. The good news is, that the governor, the legislature and law enforcement agencies can and will make sure this never happens again.

There are bills currently before the legislature expanding civilian oversight of these types of ‘intelligence’ activities and over the ability to hold non-violent arrestees on very high bonds for very minor charges."

Here's a flashback of Lawlor's press conference days after Krayeske's arrest.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Been there, done that

With all the babbling about the Clinton/Obama YouTube clip, it seems like people forgot that the people who push the term videoblogging into the mainstream already did this ad last year.

Click here and refresh your memory.


Never forget that this man IS the TRUE YouTube candidate. Period.

Anti-war rally highlights

Sorry for the delay but here's my report on the Connecticut Opposes the War rally from Saturday.


(Note: there is a small amount of distortion during the first minute of the video).

I HIGHLY recommend that you download the hi-res video format by clicking here (91 meg).

You can view a slideshow of all the photograhs I took at the rally by clicking here.

October 10 2002

George Bush's favorite Democrat.

Iraq Veterans Memorial

The Iraq Veterans Memorial is an online war memorial that honors the members of the U.S. armed forces who have lost their lives serving in the Iraq War. The Memorial is a collection of video memories from family, friends, military colleagues, and co-workers of those that have fallen.

Learn more at iraqmemorial.org.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lieberman throws public opinion, Senator Dodd, and the Democratic Party under the bus; won't rule out joining Republican Party

When you watch this clip, please to thank the following Democrats Liebercrats who stood behind Joe.

State Central Chairwoman Nancy NiNardo
House Speaker James "I'll crush you" Amann
AFL-CIO President John Olsen
State Senator Bill Finch
State Rep. Pat Dillon
Waterbury Mayor Mike Jarjura

...feel free to add other Liebercrats to this list in the comments. Each one of these individuals should be reminded of the shenanigans they pulled throughout the summer and after the primary as Lieberman does the following:

1. Throws the public opinion of Democrats in Connecticut and the country under the bus.

2. Slaps Chris Dodd's presidency in the face.

3. Refuses to rule out switching to the Republican Party.

4. Hints at endorsing a Republican candidate for President.

Don't look at me, I voted for this guy.

Kay Bailey Hutchison views on Iraq=out of touch with reality

Hutchison on Iraq.
"We are fighting for the freedom of our children more than any war we have ever been in."
What is she smoking?

HI-RES format (click here)

If it walks like a Republican, talks like a Republican...

then he IS a Republican.
WASHINGTON -- It's no secret that Joe Lieberman got strong support from Republicans last year, and that he has made strong overtures this year to Senate Republicans as he pursues a new, more bipartisan legislative path.

But new data show the extent of the help he got from big GOP donors in the last weeks of his 2006 campaign, as they poured more than $1.5 million into his final pre-election push - with subtle but unmistakable help from the White House.

The information was compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Its data are the first detailed look at the sources and amounts of GOP money that went into the Lieberman campaign.

Prior to the Aug. 8 Democratic primary, Lieberman received nearly $8 million from all major individual donors, according to data from the Washington-based center. Democrats gave him three times as much as Republicans.

In the general election, in which Lieberman ran as an "independent Democrat," his take from Republicans soared 80 percent. He collected more money from Republicans than from Democrats. And of major donors - giving $200 and more - Republicans exceeded Democrats.

Officially, the White House stayed out of Lieberman's 2006 race, and Lieberman, who today caucuses with Senate Democrats, did not actively seek its support. But the signs from the White House were unmistakable.

"A lot of people would call and ask, `What's our position?"' Charles R. Black Jr. said last week. The former Bush adviser, who remains close to the president, said, "And I'd say, `There's no official position, but if I were you, I'd help Joe Lieberman.'"
Joe Lieberman: Bought and paid for by the GOP.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Coming soon

Yesterday, I dug my car out of the snow and made the trip to Hartford to attend the anti-war rally at the Old State House.

Since I was in the snow for a REALLY long time, I'm not feeling well right now so it's going to take me a while to post my full report.