Friday, February 27, 2009

Ban on Photos of Soldiers' Coffins Lifted

For the first time in 18 years, the US media will be allowed to photograph coffins of American soldiers as they are brought back into the country. Yesterday, the Pentagon lifted the 1991 ban imposed by the first President Bush - the new policy eradicates the blanket ban but stipulates that the media must get permission from the family before the photo or video can be used.

The new media freedom raises ethical questions about journalistic responsibility: how do photographers get the important and informative photos while still being sensitive to the pain of military families? What does the public have the right to see and what should be a private part of grieving? Will the influx of photos really change public opinion on the wars we are currently fighting? How will the media deal with families who are divided as to whether to allow their family member's coffin to be documented?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hartford Courant Slashes 100 Jobs

Breaking News! The news is...breaking.

The Hartford Courant, our "country's oldest newspaper in continuous publication," announced today its plan to eliminate about 100 jobs this week - an action prompted by "local business conditions...rather than bankruptcy," according to Stephen D. Carver, publisher and chief executive officer.

Media insiders have more to say on the matter, but any way you slice it, the future's looking mighty grim for print media.

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Bill Seeks Special Courts for Veterans in CT

Connecticut may be the next state to allow special considerations for war veterans facing non-violent criminal charges.

Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney (D) of New Haven has introduced a bill that would create special courts for these vets that could refer counseling in lieu of jail time if it can be proven that combat experience played a role in their criminal behavior.

"Our troubled veterans may not need to be locked up if their combat experience has led to psychological wounds," Looney told the Hartford Courant Sunday.

"I feel that I would be supportive of it as long as there were reviews into each case," says twenty- four-year old Stratford, Connecticut native Cpl. John F. Carrano Jr., USMC ret. who completed two tours of Iraq.

"The amount of people who claim post traumatic stress disorder and other things like that who don't deserve to is already disheartening enough, never mind how many people would jump to claim their crimes were a result of being deployed," Carrano said. "I love the fact that the troubles of returning veterans are being recognized and actions to help us out are being taken, however this plan would need a lot of work to secure justice within itself and I feel it would be very difficult to separate the legitimate cases and the cases of people trying to work the system to get themselves out of trouble. I would love to see something like this actually work out but it is going to take a lot of work and resources."

New York, California, and Minnesota are also in the process of passing similar bills.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NY Post "Stimulus Monkey" Cartoon Stirs Controversy

Popular cartoonist Sean Delonas has found himself in hot water following this cartoon that ran on page 12 of The New York Post Wednesday.

The cartoon depicts two police officers making the comment, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill" over the body of a dead chimpanzee, presumably that of the chimp that mauled a Stamford, CT woman earlier this week.

While some simply see the cartoon's meaning to be that the stimulus bill was so crazy a monkey must have written it, others see a darker side.

"The cartoon in today's New York Post is troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys," said Reverend Al Sharpton in a statement yesterday. "One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual reference to this when in the cartoon they have police saying after shooting a chimpanzee that 'Now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill'."

"Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?"

This morning Coe Allen, editor-in-chief of The New York Post released a statement countering Sharpton's remarks:
"The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."
What do you think?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

FOOD PORN starring Anthony Bourdain

The bad boy of cuisine is at it again!

Anthony Bourdain, host of The Travel Channel's No Reservations and our own Food for Thought panelist, celebrated Valentine's Day with his spicy new special, Food Porn.

"FOOD PORN is a revenge of sorts," says Anthony in his Blog, "for everything that ever ended up on the cutting room floor. The filthiest, nastiest hour of television we could get away with. And yet -- utterly wholesome! We ain't doing nothin' that Giada, Rachael and Sandra ain't been doin' for years, officer!"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wild Animals as Pets? Why That's just Monkey Business!

A Stamford woman was hospitalized over the weekend after being attacked by a 200-pound pet chimpanzee named Travis.

This alarming incident raises the time old question about whether wild animals should be kept as house pets?

Jeff Corwin, host and executive producer of Corwin's Quest and The Jeff Corwin Experience , weighs in on the subject during an interview on CNN's American Morning.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

If you ever wondered how writers and artists spend their days...

This blog is an amazing compilation of the daily routines of "writers, artists, and other interesting people" from Emily Dickinson to Benjamin Franklin to Barack Obama. Maybe you didn't need to know that Truman Capote claimed he could only think while lying down, but the site is a lot of fun to peruse for the habits of your own favorite artist.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Fall of a Baseball Giant

By Jamie Daniel, Advancement Associate and baseball aficionado.
(Pitchers and catchers report on Thursday!)

Maybe there should be bigger things on our mind than which baseball player is juicing (like, I don't know, that stimulus plan) but the latest steroid scandal involving the Yankees favorite love-to-hate-him player Alex Rodriguez has been on my mind this week. First his own former manager bashes him publicly (A-Fraud?) and now this?

Rodriguez's former teammate Doug Glanville wants me to feel bad for A-Rod, but I'm not sure I can. Sure, the tests were supposed to be confidential, but it's hard to muster the outrage when the "confidential news" being disclosed has to do with the lies of another overpaid and out-of-touch demi-god we were supposed to be able to trust. I don't feel bad for A-Rod, I feel bad for those who trusted and revered him.

It's Bernie Madoff in pinstripes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Art or Plagiarism?

In the newest aspect of his intriguing copyright case Shepard Fairey, the creator of the now famous campaign image of Barack Obama, has filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against the Associated Press. At issue is ownership: the AP says it owns the photo, the freelance photographer who took it also claims ownership, and Fairey contends that the photo was merely a starting point for his art and not of importance at all. While Fairey's image does bear an undeniable likeness to the photo, Fairey clearly enhanced and abstracted it, and in the end his image makes a much different statement than the original photo. (Not to mention that he cropped it; in the AP photo Obama is sitting next to George Clooney).

No matter how the court rules, the case has already brought additional attention to Fairey's art, currently featured at the ICA in Boston, MA. In addition, it raises interesting questions: what are the guidelines regarding artistic usage of images readily available on the internet? Can artists react to one another without the risk of copyright infringement? How and where do we draw the line between criminal plagarism and simple inspiration?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

More Forum Videos!

Here are a few more videos from last week's Forum God: Big Questions...Bigger Questions.

This moment in the Forum has induced some visceral reactions from people on both sides of the debate. While it may be uncomfortable for some, I think it worth revisiting because of the sincerity with which all parties make their points. Rabbi Kushner, Rev. Gomes and Mr. Hitchens answer the question, "Why do good things happen to bad people?

The question here,"Is the issue between believers and non-believers or between the religions?"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Up in Smoke...

By Pat Rossiter, YOUTH Forum Program Manager & Olympic Hopeful

So the Golden Boy (literally) of the last year’s Olympics, Michael Phelps, has shown just how human this superman is.

Caught in the act, last week a British tabloid posted pictures of Phelps in full embrace with a “bong,” I believe the kids are calling it these days.

So what happens when the poster boy for all that is great in the USA gets caught in the act of smoking a bowl?

Well, there is the requisite regret and condemnation. I can only imagine there were even some righteous 10-year-old swimmers burning their Michael Phelps Licensed Speedos while crying bitter tears of rejection. (Don’t sniff the smoke kiddies!)

Maybe I’m getting old in my soft-age, but I’m left with this sinking feeling that, maybe the problem isn’t that Mr. Phelps smoked some weed but rather that anybody should get upset about it.

I certainly know it is illegal but, why (some would argue racism), and more importantly what are the real results of that?

Check out John V. Santore’s post on Huffington.

It's clear there are some issues associated with marijuana, I am not at all sure putting minority kids in jail OR ruining the careers of white kids is going to solve any of the problems.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dessert anyone?

By Pat Rossiter, YOUTH Forum Program Manager & Pastry Connoisseur

I have cake on my mind!

Duff Goldman the Ace of Cakes is coming in May.

A friend of mine has been talking about her wedding.


I happen to live in New Haven where Italian pastries flow like milk and honey. Or at least are made with milk and honey and flow.

Here are two thoughts that are inducing salivation at the moment:


OK, I know they have some sort of cake there and God help me I have gone there with the best of intentions of "trying something new," but truth be told, I have never had anything there but cannolis. I mean, why mess with perfection? Oh, and don't give me any of the crazy cannolis with the flavorings and funny colors. That stuff is for children or the misinformed or for misinformed children. Give me a straight up ricotta, freshly filled, plain old cannolis. ...gotta stop, I'm feeling woozy.

Next, there are times when genius meets inspiration meets desire. When that truly sublime moment happens, you get this:

The Cupcake Truck!

Does this need explanation? A truck drives around selling cupcakes. OK, not just cupcakes, but miniature representations of the divine frosted with sin. I mean just typing "Sweet Potato Pecan Cupcake," makes me feel dirty in ALL the right ways. If I were still Catholic, I'd eat them in a confessional booth.

OK, after all that, I need a snack. A handful of almonds I guess (sigh). Almonds would be so good on top of a Hummingbird Cupcake with a cannoli for garnish.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Forum Highlights!

We are still buzzing, the phones are still ringing, emails are still coming in!

Last weeks Forum, "God: Big Questions...Bigger Questions," was awesome. Some people loved what panelists Rabbi Harold Kushner, Christopher Hitchens and the Rev. Peter Gomes had to say, and some HATED it. Regardless, they are talking about it and THAT makes the Forum a great success.

We have a clip posted on youtube now. Watch for more clips!

Don't forget to:


You can also check out:
Candy Colored Frown
Peterson Toscano