‘Reverence for All Life, Can Take us Out of Echo Chambers’

When species diversify by exploring new ecological niches, passing along novel behaviors, acquired knowledge and distinctive anatomical traits, we biologists call that adaptive radiation. Culture is the passing from generation to generation of learned and shared behaviors. Units for carrying such ideas, symbols or practices from mind to mind via speech, writing, rituals or other imitable ways are memes. Like genes in biological evolution, they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures. With so much rapidly transmissible misinformation, distortion of fact and conspiracy mongering, it’s time we Americans stepped up to the plate, pined less for the old, dysfunctional “normal”

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Lamont Has Earned a Break

Everyone is entitled to be sick and tired of the virus epidemic, and no one is more entitled than Governor Lamont, whose administration has been consumed by it. Most people were happy with the administration’s handling of the epidemic until this week, when the governor changed policy on prioritizing the long-awaited vaccinations. Instead of giving priority to the elderly, classes of employees deemed essential, and people with some particular medical vulnerability, the governor decided that it would be better to vaccinate people simply by age, from oldest to youngest. This angered people who were getting near the front of the

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A Consul General’s ‘Pop-Up Diplomacy’ with Connecticut

“Pop-up diplomacy” is what Peter Abbott calls it. A whirlwind week-long series of virtual meetings with Connecticut – the Department of Corrections, the Nature Conservancy, the insurance industry, UConn President Thomas Katsouleas, Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates, and Attorney General William Tong. Since Abbott arrived in Boston last September, travel and opportunities to engage in the kind of everyday diplomacy that’s part of his job as British Consul General to New England, have been few and far between. And in a 45-minute call with Geoff Pigman and Gregory Stroud for CT Examiner on Thursday morning, Abbott appeared especially

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Part I: Lamont’s Budget: A Game of ‘Caps,’ Except for The Privileged Few

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of three editorials, by Red Jahncke and UWA Region 9 President Michael Holmes, debating the state budget and the issue of state employee compensation. The series follows the classic format of point, counterpoint and brief rebuttal. Jahncke provides initial remarks. Holmes is given 3 days to respond. Jahncke is then was given 1 day for a brief rebuttal. Governor Lamont unveiled his proposed Connecticut Comeback budget last week.  A comeback is unlikely given the long-festering problem of overgenerous and woefully underfunded compensation for privileged state employees. Yet, politicians in Hartford won’t

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Part II: A ‘Comeback’ Requires the Biggest Response in Decades

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of three editorials, by Red Jahncke and UWA Region 9 President Michael Holmes, debating the state budget and the issue of state employee compensation. The series follows the classic format of point, counterpoint and brief rebuttal. Jahncke provides initial remarks. Holmes is given 3 days to respond. Jahncke is then was given 1 day for a brief rebuttal. When I first saw Governor Lamont’s proposed “comeback” budget, I was deeply concerned. While there aren’t obvious cuts splattered across his proposal, deep inside you can still see the overwhelming slant towards the

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Part III: Jahncke’s Rebuttal

Unfortunately, Mr. Holmes has ignored the concerns expressed in my column.  Instead of addressing the fact that state employees earn 40 percent more than Connecticut’s private sector workers, as documented both by internal state studies and by third-party economists, he refers to private sector workers as “working class brothers and sisters” of state employees.  In actuality, the gulf between state employees and real working-class workers in Connecticut’s private sector is enormously greater because the studies use average figures for all private sector workers which include the “ultrawealthy” that Holmes attacks.  The fact is that state employee compensation is crowding out

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Maybrook Madness

Anyone who follows this column knows I’m a “train guy”.  I’ve always been a supporter of mass transit and continue to be.  But sometimes I wonder just where the state’s priorities are when they chose to waste a million dollars on yet another crazy study. This time it’s a study of the Maybrook line, a 14-mile, single-track of rusting rail running west from Danbury to Brewster NY and beyond. Metro-North used to run their equipment (not passenger trains) over to their Croton shops via the line, but little else.  Now there’s going to be a study (yes, for one million

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Don’t Give in to ‘Triangulating’ China

Next February marks 50 years since President Nixon and First Lady Pat visited the People’s Republic of China and, in an effort to underpin peace and thaw Sino-American relations, met with Mao Zedong. Perhaps no diplomatic overture in history has been as transformative or bold, nor could anyone but Nixon have pulled it off. His unassailable reputation as anti-Communist hardliner made him immune to criticism from anyone espousing conservative values. Yet Nixon, born in a Yorba Linda, California farmhouse, was a self-proclaimed “moderate reformer.” He revolutionized foreign relations, curtailed the Cold War, reduced nuclear and biological weapons, set cornerstones of

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Don’t Want Another Drug Crisis

House Speaker Matthew Ritter favors the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.  He thinks the chance of this passing is 50-50.  Obviously, the pro-legislators, pro-senators, and the Governor, who would vote for this, have not done critical thinking.  One of the justifications for passing this is to tie into the legislation, expunging criminal records for people convicted of low-level drug offenses  This essentially would be rewarding criminals, who chose to break the law at the time. The elected officials, including Gov. Ned Lamont, who said at one time, this is the “right thing” for the state, have failed to consider: health risks, safety

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Powell Turns a Deaf Ear to Educators who are Overextended, Underprotected

At a time when the education community is working overtime to provide students with the academic, social, and emotional support they need, Chris Powell attacks the men and women on the frontlines of this effort: teachers. Since the pandemic hit last year, teachers have taken on an increasingly heavy burden, putting students’ needs above their own well-being and pivoting from in-person to remote or hybrid teaching and back, all while juggling the same responsibilities as other parents and caregivers. In return, they have stood with their union in asking that schools reopen safely, with the same measures and protections as

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If Hartford Isn’t Farsighted Enough for a Public Bank, I’d like to See One in New London County

In 1935, as Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield, comedian and Dickens scholar W.C. Fields underscored financial struggle: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, happiness; annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and six, misery.” Were this Dickens’ London, many of us would be in debtors’ prisons run by CEOs and shareholders the political establishment allows to rig and parasitize our economy. And the fault is not in retirement pensions or luxuriant public services (unless trolley systems suddenly reappeared in Connecticut last night) it’s in hardwired, politically entrenched two-party myopia. The pandemic not only exposed inherent instability of

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Teachers of Your Memories Aren’t Necessarily Today’s

Nearly everyone will forever remember some admired or even beloved teachers whose insight, enthusiasm, and caring pointed students in the right direction. Of course there were and are some mediocre, incompetent, and even malicious teachers too, but they are easily forgotten. So even as society becomes more fractious and angry, there is still a cult of respect around the teaching profession. But that cult may not last much longer as teacher unions, most notoriously in big cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, but also in most states, including Connecticut, obstruct normal school operations amid the virus epidemic. The

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There are CO2 Releases Throughout the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

In this newspaper, I have read the claim from many that Millstone nuclear power stations a zero-carbon emitter. This is a false claim in many aspects, and I request the paper not to print such claims without a corrective comment. Radioactive carbon 14 is released up the stack; however, this is not a source of concern here. (Solely in consideration of carbon release as it is minuscule.) The planet doesn’t care where CO2 emissions originate. The warming effect is the same regardless of geographic origin. There are CO2 releases throughout the nuclear fuel cycle. Mining, milling, fuel fabrication, fuel transportation,

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Transportation Construction Costs

Why is transportation construction so expensive in our area?  What kind of honor was it when New York City recently surpassed Zurich (one of the most expensive cities in the world) as #1 on the most-expensive-place-to-do-underground-construction dishonor roll? The highly respected Regional Plan Association (RPA.org) has studied that question and offers some explanations and frightening examples.  Focusing on three recent MTA mega-projects in New York City… the Second Avenue Subway, the #7 subway extension to Manhattan’s west side and the LIRR’s East Side Access project (ESA), their findings make for depressing reading. Let’s focus on the ESA plan… an ambitious

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Jed Clampett’s Days are Numbered

With his flurry of four dozen or so executive orders to date, Joe Biden’s hit the White House floor running. Some reverse harmful artifacts of the previous administration. Nearly all acknowledge crises facing America and the world, paramount among them climate change, the pandemic, and asymmetric human migration. Using a few prudent strokes of the pen, approval ratings buoyant, Biden’s rejoined the Paris Accord, revoked permits for Keystone XL, and negated withdrawal from the WHO. By directing agencies to review and reverse 100 or so of Trump’s misguided attacks on the environment, he’s setting a tone for rational and progressive

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Legislative Dems Plotting to Bypass Lamont on Taxes

With Governor Lamont discouraging “broad-based” tax increases, many fellow Democrats in the General Assembly are planning to raise taxes around the edges. Most industrious may be Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney of New Haven. Looney would impose a special state property tax on expensive homes, a “mansion tax,” the revenue to be transferred to his hometown and other troubled cities. Looney also proposes rewriting the formula for state money to municipalities so as to give cities more and suburbs less for properties exempt from property taxes. These proposals and others are based on the premise that the cities

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Understanding ‘Environmental Justice’

It’s not exactly a secret that when city, state and federal governments decide where to route an interstate, site a sewage treatment plant, or build a waste incinerator, it’s most often poorer and less politically advantaged neighborhoods that bear the brunt of the projects. That’s in part why the sewage from Old Lyme’s beach communities, which could be pumped a mile or so west to the Connecticut River, will instead be pumped 15 miles east to New London, where it is treated and released in the Thames River. Likewise, garbage collected in Lyme, Old Lyme and Essex – and 48

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To Defeat Exclusive Zoning, Stop Failing at Poverty

Maybe Connecticut should be grateful to the Desegregate CT organization for having just provided a map detailing how local zoning regulations make it almost impossible to build multifamily housing in most of the state. But didn’t nearly everybody already know that in principle? After all, the roots of exclusive zoning in the state go back to colonial times, when no one was permitted to live in the earliest towns without being approved at a town meeting as an “admitted inhabitant” and anyone who tried to move in without approval was “warned out.” Then as now the objective of this selectivity

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Schools Are Safe, If Not Oases from COVID-19

The evidence is piling up that schoolchildren, teachers and staff are safe in schools. Indeed, the evidence suggests schools are the “safest place” for them to be, as CDC Director Robert Redfield said last November. Yet, teacher unions and other school employee organizations are ignoring mounting evidence that support Redfield’s words. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control released its first two studies of in-school spread of COVID-19, first, a study of the experience of 17 Wisconsin schools that operated in-person from August through November, and, second, a review of reports from around the world about COVID-19 contagion in schools.

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Trading of Water Futures — a Cause for Concern

Human beings, and virtually all other terrestrial animals and plants, need fresh water to live. We are water’s embodiment in myriad forms. But over 97 percent of Earth’s water is toxic to terrestrial organisms because of its salinity, and more than 90 percent of remaining “sweet water,” sufficiently low in sodium to sustain life, is deep underground or solidified as ice sheets and glaciers. A scant 0.0001 percent of the planet’s fresh water is readily accessible. The hydrologic cycle, which allows life-sustaining land-based and non-potable oceanic waters to evaporate, condense again, and fall as snow and rain, helps replenish that

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What Did Gov. Lamont Mean by Failure of Tax Increases?

Addressing an internet meeting of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association a week ago, Governor Lamont made the most remarkable statement of his two years in office. “I have no interest in broad-based tax increases,” Lamont said. “Every governor, Republican or Democrat since, or including, Lowell Weicker has done that and it did not solve the problem.” Of course a few months ago the governor signed into law a broad-based tax increase that took effect three weeks ago: the half-percent increase in the state income tax that is to finance a program of paid family and medical leave, self-insurance that

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Change to Workers’ Comp “Won’t be a Panacea”

I read with interest Anna Elizabeth’s January 30 article about State Senator Cathy Osten’s initiative to expand Workers’ Compensation coverage for mental health conditions. While I haven’t seen the senator’s proposed legislation, I know from my professional experience as a veteran commercial insurance executive that any change won’t be a panacea. As with any Worker’s Compensation claim for an occupational injury or disease, the claimant has the burden of providing the causal relationship between injury and employment. That’s a dicey proposition in the shadowy world of mental health, even in the wake of a definable triggering event. Claimants and insurers alike will

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Lack of Support Wasn’t Due to Legitimate Concerns.

With allegations of voting and election fraud constantly in the news the last few months, stories of dangerous, anti-democratic efforts to impact the November 2020 election continue to permeate the news – with former President Donald Trump leading several efforts. Most recently, Business Insider reported the White House’s Office of Management and Budget delayed efforts to create a poll worker recruitment website for up to a month in July and August 2020, a crucial time gap in the runup to the election. The latest in a string of previously known attempted electoral interference, most prominently Louis DeJoy’s attempted dismantling of

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‘Please Do More Real Homework’

The article about “seniors” 75 and older getting the COVID-19 vaccine within the next two weeks is inaccurate reporting. Most people we know are unable to schedule appointments until March or April. Please do more real homework before distributing such misleading information. Chris & Roddy RooseveltLyme, CT The Editor replies: When Gov. Ned Lamont said at a news conference on Jan. 19, that he expected that individuals 75 and older would receive their first doses of vaccine within two weeks, we reported it. Just five days later, we are aware of a variety of anecdotal reports of speedy and delayed

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America Will Continue to Split Apart until Truth is Paramount

Because of four years’ epic mistakes and mishandling of crises, Joe Biden’s to do list is large. But I’m guardedly optimistic. At long last, we’ll have an overarching, national plan to slow the spread of COVID-19, one which entails federal mandates for mask-wearing and social distancing and aggressively uses the Defense Production Act to cover shortages of critical drugs and personal protective equipment. With once-assured serum reserves seeming a sham, coronavirus vaccine supply chains need immediate resilience, and hospitals, overwhelmed by infection rates, are in dire need of sedatives and neuromuscular blocking agents to help intubated patients on ventilatory support.

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Northeast Maglev

Imagine going from New York City to Washington DC in one hour… not by plane, but by maglev.  By comparison, today the same trip from the LaGuardia to DC’s Reagan airport takes about 90 minutes by air (not counting getting to and from the airports) and costs $276 one way.  On Amtrak’s Acela the fastest run, downtown to downtown, is three hours and costs $157.  Or you could take the bus for $30, assuming you have 4 ½ hours to waste. A maglev is a train, of sorts, that floats on a cushion of air, suspended and propelled along a

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Military-Industrial Complex OK With State’s Delegation

In his farewell address 60 years ago President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against what he called “unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Since he was a military hero, perhaps only Eisenhower could give such a warning during the Cold War without risking denunciation as a communist. But Eisenhower’s warning has never been heeded, and President Biden, with his nominee for defense secretary, is essentially proclaiming the victory of the military-industrial complex. The new president’s nominee is retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, who upon leaving the Army a few years ago joined the Board of Directors of

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You Can’t Change the Landscape Until You Till it Yourself

That collective “Phew” rising up over our fruited plain is the national sigh of relief that the ugly politic season of 2020 is one for the books. Not so fast. We are officially in the year of the Municipal Election. Across Connecticut, hundreds of elected officials are weighing their re-election options. I hope, thousands more are seriously considering a challenge to the status quo. Consider this: despite the vitriol and violence that infected the political landscape throughout 2020, voters returned 94 percent of incumbents to office. Connecticut re-elected 95 percent of its incumbents. The only national branch infused with new

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Unity? Not So Fast

It seems that the 46th President is calling for unity and peace with the seventy-five million plus American citizens who voted for Donald J. Trump.  Not so fast.  Trump and his supporters have endured psychotic rage, slander, obfuscation and, wholesale abuse for four-plus years.  If Biden and his devoted sycophants expect those of us who see Trump as a hero who has lanced the boil of the bile smelling elitist to giggle and give in, they are smoking funny cigarettes. It is not going to happen-not without a mass mea culpa. What is the root of their unprecedented abuse?  Hatred

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Almost Infamous… to Public Sector Union Leaders

I am not famous, but I am somewhat infamous, at least to leaders of two big government unions, the Connecticut State Employees Association (CSEA) and the statewide teachers union, Connecticut Education Association (CEA). In late November, CSEA launched an email membership and fundraising drive with the subject line, “State of CT Retiree Benefits Are Being Threatened.” The email included an excerpt from a mid-October column I wrote entitled “The Looming Crisis in Connecticut,” in which excerpt I warned – not threatened – that, because of the fiscal crisis and the disastrous underfunding of the State Employee Retirement Fund (SERF), “It

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