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‘Sharing’ misinformation, the downside of social media

August 25, 2012 Areawide, Business 5 Comments

Users of social media often don’t question the statements made in posts such as this one posted on Facebook.

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the development and federal approval of genetically-modified foods (or organisms), also known as GMOs.

Currently, California is getting ready to vote on Proposition 37 in November, which would require foods (i.e. spaghetti sauce, cereal, breads and most recently, a “non-browning” apple) that contain GMOs (transgenic) to state as much on their labels so that consumers can choose whether to buy these items, or not.

Not surprisingly, companies that produce GMOs are opposed to labeling because it could lead to consumers avoiding these foods.

There also are groups, worldwide, calling for a ban on genetically-modified foods (in some countries, they are already banned) because opponents feel not enough research has been done on long-term effects on the human body after consuming these foods (i.e. corn).

For example, a Monsanto-brand of corn is genetically engineered to release its own insecticide.

Opponents say that the insecticide also kills beneficial insects – such as honey bees, which are necessary for pollinating plants so that the plants can form new seeds.

Just Label It video

Other opponents are concerned about the impact on the natural world.

Video about connection between bees and GMOs (full-length video can be viewed on YouTube at http://youtu.be/UCqwQmS1KXw )

Bees are also of concern today because of “bee die-off.”  Without bees, human beings will not have vegetable foods to eat, and the animals we eat will not have food to eat (grain, corn, etc.) either.

Beneficial insects also are necessary to control the populations of non-beneficial insects.

Proponents of GMOs say they will help produce more food, particularly in countries where there is danger of famine because, for example, they are less susceptible to disease or are drought tolerant. There is disagreement, however, about the success of these new plants or the cost-benefit balance.

Other concerns center around companies such as Monsanto and their actions toward farmers. You can find news stories online that document Monsanto successfully suing farmers whose fields were “contaminated” by drifting GMO/patented seed, as well as farmers who (until now) were in the habit of saving seed from their crops in order to lower their costs.

Monsanto promo video

The photo posted with this story represents another side of the problem – misinformation – and the hazards of automatically “sharing” photos and posters and the like in social media without checking the facts.

In this case, the photo depicts a list of organic food companies that people have come to rely on for safe, wholesome foods and states that they are in fact opposed to labeling GMO-containing foods and are also “funneling” funds to stop labeling.

In the comments that accompany the photo, a reader shares that he wrote to these companies and two responses, to date, paint a very different picture.

As for other examples of information-sharing in social media, caution should also be exercised when passing along alerts about missing children, health scares, crime scares, computer virus scares, etc.  One good source for verifying these announcements is Snopes.com and for computer-related issues, McAfee.com

One of the most powerful aspects of social media, such as Facebook, is that it can be used to educate others, and gather support for civic and social action… but it is also all too easy to pass along misinformation by hitting that “share” button.

Social media continues to evolve in many areas of our lives and like most “tools” can be used for benefit or to do harm – so it is up to us to exercise good judgment.

For the record, I support labeling foods containing genetically-modified ingredients.

And so, this is what Gordon Könyāhû Hayes wrote in Facebook about the GMO photo posted by NaturalNews:

I wrote to all of these companies the other day and have so far received 2 responses. This information is F A L S E! Neither Kashi or Silk have donated a red cent to defeat Prop 37. And Silk is supporting a NATIONAL effort to require labeling.

Gordon Könyāhû Hayes – I have written NaturalNews and complained about their lie tactic as well as reporting them to the companies they are falsely accusing.

SeedsNow.com ‎@ Gordon – would you mind sharing their responses with us? It’s good to hear the other side of the story. Please share.

Gordon Könyāhû Hayes – Not a problem.

Gordon Könyāhû Hayes – I have also called for a boycott of NaturalNews until they can quit using deceptive practices.

Gordon Könyāhû Hayes – [from Silk® ]

Thank you for your recent e-mail to Silk®. We appreciate your interest in our products.

At WhiteWave, we believe consumers have the right to make informed choices about the foods they eat, and support labeling foods that are made with non-genetically modified ingredients.

• We support labeling foods that are made with non-genetically modified ingredients.

• While we support the underlying principles of Prop 37, we choose to support national initiatives, such as Just Label It and the Non-GMO Project that will not impede the availability of our products.

Just look at two of our national brands – Silk and Horizon Organic. They are both produced without the use of genetically modified ingredients and the package clearly indicates this.

Our entire Silk plant-based beverage portfolio is verified by the Non-GMO Project, and proudly carries the Non-GMO Verified logo.

All of our Horizon Organic products carry the USDA Organic Seal, and have since 2001. Consumers have come to know and trust that the certified organic label means their food is produced without the use of pesticides, antibiotics, added growth hormones, and GMOs.

Today at WhiteWave Foods, 85 percent of our products are non-GMO, and we are working to move additional ingredients in our portfolio to non-GMO.

We are proud of the national initiatives in which Silk and Horizon Organic engage.

The Just Label It! initiative is supported by a broad coalition of consumers and businesses interested in how their food is produced, including Silk and Horizon Organic. The campaign involves a petition with the FDA seeking mandatory labeling of GM foods.

Consumers can make a public comment in support of the petition on the campaign’s website at www.justlabelit.org

Thanks again for contacting the Consumer Affairs Department.

Gabriel Gonzalez

Consumer Response Representative

Gordon Könyāhû Hayes – [From Kashi]

Hello Gordon, Thanks for reaching out to us about the recent media coverage supporting proposition 37. We appreciate the opportunity to respond.

While Kellogg is our parent company, Kashi operates as an independent business in La Jolla, CA and has not made any contributions to oppose GMO labeling. We are committed to significantly increasing the number of USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified foods we offer over the next few years.

Today, we purchase over 35 million pounds of organic ingredients annually and are proud to have Non-GMO Project Verification of seven Kashi cereals, including Kashi® Autumn Wheat®, Cinnamon Harvest®, Island Vanilla®, Strawberry Fields®, 7 Whole Grain Flakes, and 7 Whole Grain Puffs cereals, and Kashi® 7 Whole Grain Pilaf.

In addition, two cereals, Kashi® Simply Maize and Kashi® Indigo Morning™ are currently in the process of becoming Non-GMO Project Verified. To learn more, please visit http://www.kashi.com/ourcommitment. We understand your concern about GMO ingredients. This issue is larger than just Kashi and positive change requires time and collaboration across many partners within the food system.

We appreciate hearing your voice. Thanks again for contacting us.

Valerie G.

Consumer Specialist

Consumer Affairs

Posted August 25, 2012

Related links:

Bans and regulations on GMOs in other countries http://www.ehow.com/info_8527757_countries-banned-gmo-foods.html

Just Label It http://justlabelit.org

Monsanto http://www.monsanto.com/Pages/default.aspx

About who is making financial contributions to the No on Prop 37 side http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/22/business/la-fi-gmo-campaign-funds-20120822

Note: If you are interested in this issue, there is a GMO Free Farmers Market and Education Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bushnell Park in Hartford, CT on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012. It is hosted by GMO Free Hartford.

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. For daily updates on local and Connecticut news, “like” us on Facebook at HTNP News. https://www.facebook.com/HTNPnews and find us on our NEW Twitter page at HTNP News (@HTNPNews )

Come visit HTNP News on Facebook for ‘bonus’ news

August 16, 2012 Business, Local News Comments Off

The HTNP News Facebook page contains “bonus” news posted throughout the day, and if you “like” the page, you can post your news and questions and photos directly to the page.

HNTP.com, which is the umbrella under which we publish eight local news sites, has a very popular and active Facebook page, HTNP News. As of this posting, we are averaging 8,036 unique visitors.

On our Facebook page, I share “bonus” news ranging from local arts and entertainment events to photo galleries of local events to state and national news affecting us all.

You can find us at https://www.facebook.com/HTNPnews

And if you “like” our page, you can post your news, events and photos directly to it – which allows me to share it with upwards of 8,000 readers. Plus, you’ll be notified when there’s a new post.

As always, please also feel free to send us your press releases, news tips, event photos and Letters to the Editor at editor@htnp.com

Thank you, again, for your support – these are challenging times for small businesses.

Posted August 16, 2012

Local man wins Lucky for Life in CT Lottery

August 2, 2012 Business, Local News Comments Off

85-year-old Max Cohen of Coventry, CT may not drive anymore, but he’s got enough money for a new car and maybe a driver as a $25,000 winner in the CT Lottery game, Lucky for Life. Photo source: CT Lottery

The youngest of eight children, Max Cohen of Coventry, CT has seen a lot of life in his 85 years. On July 31, 2012 Cohen experienced a new life first when he came to CT Lottery headquarters in Rocky Hill to claim the second highest prize in the Lucky for Life* game – worth $25,000.

On July 26, Cohen missed matching the Lucky Ball number, which was 5, but matched the other five winning numbers (6 – 8 – 23 – 34 – 38). “The numbers I played are special, they all relate to my mother,” said Cohen.

Cohen, who served in the First Marines, 1st Marine Division in World War II, was pleasantly surprised with his $25,000 win. “For now, the money will go in the bank,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s daughter, Lisa Duclos, helps her father play his numbers, “now that he doesn’t drive anymore,” she told Lottery officials.

“When I checked his numbers on the Lottery website (http://www.ctlottery.org), I said to my husband, ‘Oh my God, I think I have five numbers.’ I had my husband check; I checked a couple more times, and then I used a lottery Ticket Checker just to be sure,” Duclos said.

Cohen’s winning ticket was purchased at CV Mart, at 1237 Hartford Turnpike in Vernon, CT.

Across New England, 77,649 winning Lucky for Life tickets were purchased on that date; 24,129 were sold in CT alone with prizes ranging from $2 to $25,000.

Since the “first” Lucky for Life drawing on March 15, 2012, there have been 1,076,799 “lucky” winning tickets sold in CT alone.

Posted Aug. 2, 2012

*About the Lucky for Life game – The top prize is up to $7,000 a week for life. If you don’t win the top prize, there are nine other prize levels,  from $2 up to $25,000, on every ticket.  Drawings are held every Monday and Thursday at 10:35 p.m. on Fox CT – Channel 61 and WCCT-TV – Channel 20.

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. For daily updates on local and Connecticut news, “like” us on Facebook at HTNP News. https://www.facebook.com/HTNPnews and find us on our NEW Twitter page at HTNP News (@HTNPNews )

Dog Lane temporarily closed due to Storrs Center construction

July 19, 2012 Business, Local News Comments Off

File photo by Roxanne Pandolfi

Due to construction of the new Dog Lane connection to Storrs Road (Route 195) as part of the Storrs Center project, Dog Lane will be closed between Route 195 and Bundy Lane beginning today (Thursday, July 19, 2012), according to an announcement made by the Town of Mansfield today.

“We expect this portion of the road to be reopened to traffic by Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012,” the announcement states.

Also:

“Businesses located on Dog Lane between Willowbrook Road and Storrs Road (Route 195) should direct their employees and customers coming from Storrs Road to use Gurleyville Road and Bundy Lane as a temporary detour.”

Gurleyville Road is across from UConn’s north campus, next to the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.

“From the intersection with Bundy Lane, Dog Lane will be limited to local traffic between Bundy Lane and Willowbrook Road to allow access to Dog Lane residents and businesses, according to the announcement.

All construction traffic to Storrs Center will be rerouted through UConn property; no construction traffic will be directed to other local roads, according to the announcement.

Any problems with construction traffic or the road closure should be directed to the Town Manager’s Office during office hours at 860 429-3336 or via email to StorrsCenterInfo@mansfieldct.org

Town Hall is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Thursdays from 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Note that Town Hall (the Audrey P. Beck Municipal Building, 4 South Eagleville Road) closes early on Fridays – hours are 8 a.m. to noon.

Posted July 19, 2012

Related link: Mansfield Downtown Partnership http://www.mansfieldct.gov/content/1914/6514/default.aspx

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. For daily updates on local and Connecticut news, “like” us on Facebook at HTNP News. https://www.facebook.com/HTNPnews and find us on Twitter at HTNP News (@HTNPNews )

UConn forms group to find location for hazmat storage facility

July 19, 2012 Business, Local News Comments Off

UConn officials have considered the relocation of the facility for at least a decade. Some area residents claim the university has been dragging its feet. They are concerned about the possibility of contamination of the Willimantic reservoir and the Natchaug and Shetucket rivers, though there haven’t been any reported incidents.

The University of Connecticut recently established an advisory committee to identify alternate sites for the hazardous materials storage facility, now known as the “main accumulation area” (MAA).

The current facility located off Horsebarn Hill was constructed as a temporary storage area for chemical, biological and medical waste and “low-level” radioactive material generated by the academic and research facilities.

The committee, which includes UConn and town representatives, is tasked with identifying five potential alternative sites, said UConn Environmental Compliance Analyst Jason Coite.

The group will review options that have been considered in the past, as well as the current site and any others brought to the table.

“We’re still working off the original options that were proposed back in 2003-04,” said Coite.

UConn officials have considered the relocation of the facility for at least a decade.

Some area residents claim the university has been dragging its feet. They are concerned about the possibility of contamination of the Willimantic reservoir and the Natchaug and Shetucket rivers, though there haven’t been any reported incidents.

Coite said reconvening the committee “was the best first step” to getting conversations about the MAA going.

The MAA site advisory committee includes Chair Richard Miller who is UConn Office of Environmental Policy Director, representatives from the Willimantic River Alliance and Windham Water Works, Mansfield Planning and Development Director Linda Painter, Mansfield Fire Chief David Dagon and resident Bill Lennon.

As part of its charge, the advisory committee will identify a preferred location and other options, a process they hope to complete this summer.

Its next meeting has not been scheduled.

Once the locations have been recommended, they will undergo an environmental impact evaluation (EIE), a process Coite said could take a year or more. Community members will have the opportunity to comment on the EIE findings throughout the process.

Options to be reviewed by the committee include two locations on the northern UConn campus, one in the science quadrangle and another in the northwest corner of campus.

According to university officials, the current MAA facility is regulated by various agencies, including the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the state Department of Public Health.  The water company also regularly tests local water to ensure it is not being contaminated by hazardous materials.

Chemical waste is securely stored in the facility for no more than 90 days before it is transported off-site for disposal by an EPA-permitted company, according to UConn officials.

Posted July 19, 2012

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. For daily updates on local and Connecticut news, “like” us on Facebook at HTNP News. https://www.facebook.com/HTNPnews and find us on Twitter at HTNP News (@HTNPNews )

Police arrest operator of jewelry shop at East Brook Mall

July 17, 2012 Business, Local News Comments Off

The operator of an a gold exchange kiosk in the East Brook Mall will appear in court next week.

Gangyuan Jin, 55, of 346 Foster Drive, Windham, CT has been charged with six counts of violation of precious metal/stone regulations, according to police.

He will appear in Rockville Superior Court July 25. His bond was set at $2,500.

Jin operates Park Avenue Jewelry, where police say he was receiving stolen jewelry in exchange for cash.

This arrest is the result of testimony by a woman arrested in connection with several burglaries in the Mansfield area who told police she sold jewelry to Jin, who never asked for information about where the jewelry came from, according to police.

Jin also allegedly did not keep required records for all transactions.

According to police, Jin was taken into custody without incident while working at the mall. He was arrested and charged on July 10.

Posted July 17, 2012

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. For daily updates on local and Connecticut news, “like” us on Facebook at HTNP News. https://www.facebook.com/HTNPnews and find us on Twitter at HTNP News (@HTNPNews )

Windham Council supports residential use at Windham Mills

May 17, 2012 Business, Local News Comments Off

Windham Mills in Willlimantic, CT. Image source: TWB Properties

Residential use at the Windham Mills complex may happen, but maybe not as soon as the property’s owners would like.

The Windham Town Council voted 5-4 Tuesday (May 15) to support the Windham Economic Development Commission’s thumbs-up for residential development at the mills.

The council vote will be forwarded as an advisory to the Windham Planning and Zoning Commission.

Thomas Briggs, president of TWB Properties (Loch View LLC) was pleased with the outcome. “It was close, but a positive is a positive,” said Briggs.

Windham Mills developers came to the town earlier this year to ask for a zone change that would allow them to supplement the industrial/ commercially-zoned property with high-end apartments.

Since buying the property out of bankruptcy in 2008, mill owners have struggled to fulfill a vision of the riverfront as a hub of industry and commerce.

The complex, however, is only about 30 percent occupied and most of its tenants have relocated from other areas in town, which critics doesn’t equate to true economic development.

Some in town have expressed concern over a purported “tax abatement” they say was offered to the mill developers based on their promise to fill the space with industrial tenants.

The mill owners received a seven-year, fixed tax assessment when negotiating the $5.5 million purchase price.

Briggs said the owners gave the town certain parcels on the property in exchange for the fixed assessment of 70 percent of the purchase price, which is the amount they pay property taxes on.

The town has not done a revaluation since the property was purchased. Windham due for a reval in October of 2012 but requested a postponement based on concern that plummeting property values would negatively impact property owners and the town’s Grand List.

On the other hand, it’s possible the mill owners would have benefited because of the anticipated decrease in property values.

“We are one of the largest taxpayers in Windham,” said Briggs. “We are getting nothing different than everyone else. We pay more taxes every year.”

The PZC asked for direction from the Town Council on Briggs’ request.

PZC Chair Paula Stahl said it isn’t something that can be decided quickly.

Stahl said the commission has several factors to consider, including the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

“We cannot make any change unless it’s consistent with our town’s Plan of Conservation and Development. The mills (are) not included in ( that) for anything other than what it’s currently zoned,” Stahl said in an interview Wednesday.

Stahl added that a zoning change would affect more than just the mills. “Any change we would make would affect every single parcel in the M-3 zone,” Stahl said. The zone encompasses about 26 acres in addition to the mills property, she noted, some of which is used for manufacturing purposes and some of which is vacant.

Windham Economic Development Commissioner Bob Horrocks said he believes the zone could be dissected, but Stahl said that is not the case.

“You could create a new zone, but a new zone can’t be for just one property. It’s called spot zoning and it’s against the law,” said Stahl.

Stahl also said the commission needs to consider what impact the zone change would have on all of the other ongoing economic development projects in town.

Mill owners are hoping for a decision soon. Once approved, they could have residential units ready within 12 to 18 months, they said.

However, Stahl said the matter could take up to two years. “Whatever you decide … this is going to take quite a long time,” said Stahl.

Whether housing is economic development was one point of contention at the meeting.

Horrocks said it is an “erroneous assumption” to say it isn’t.

Horrocks pointed to the Storrs Center project under construction in Mansfield, near the University of Connecticut, the first phase of which is expected to open this summer to make his point. Storrs Center is a mixed-used development that will include a variety of housing, as well as shops, restaurants, service businesses and other uses.

Harrocks noted Storrs Center’s market rate rentals, which begin at about $1,000 a month, are all leased, and most of the first-floor commercial units are spoken for.

“Storrs Center is booming. It will work there and it will work here,” said Horrocks.

Council member Christel Donahue said she doesn’t believe Windham has the necessary housing demand, voted against the approval motion as did council members Tony Fantoli, Arnaldo Rivera and Charles Krich.

“I don’t find this to be economic development,” said Krich.

Posted May 17, 2012 as Edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. For daily updates on local and Connecticut news, “like” us on Facebook at HTNP News.

Storrs Center to add another restaurant, Mooyah Burgers and Fries

May 16, 2012 Business, Local News Comments Off

“We'll have ten restaurants open in Connecticut by the end of 2012,” Rusconi said.

Matt Rusconi and partner David Vorchheimer aren’t content with opening just one restaurant in Storrs Center. They recently signed a lease to open a second restaurant, Mooyah Burgers and Fries, to join their Moe’s Southwest Grill when Storrs Center opens later this year.

“We’ll have ten restaurants open in Connecticut by the end of 2012,” Rusconi said. “Our Mooyah and Moe’s restaurants are fashionable and fun stars in the fast, casual food industry.  They thrive in college towns and offer quality food, a fun environment, and good value.”

Rusconi said that he and his partner have had their eyes on Storrs for some time and when Storrs Center became an option, they felt it was the perfect venue for their growing restaurant business.  Storrs Center is a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented “downtown” now under construction in Storrs-Mansfield, Connecticut.  It will include shops, restaurants, businesses and apartment homes in a design that includes a town square and public areas.

Mooyah offers beef, turkey, and veggie burgers, along with French fries and sweet potato fries.  Fresh breads are baked onsite and burgers can even come wrapped in a lettuce leaf for the health conscious diner.

“We welcome Mooyah as the latest restaurant to commit to Storrs Center,” said Howard Kaufman, Managing Member of LeylandAlliance LLC, the parent company of developer Storrs Center Alliance. “And, we appreciate the commitment that Matt Rusconi and David Vorchheimer are making to the neighborhood by opening two restaurants.  All indications are that they will be most successful in Storrs Center.”

For more information about leasing opportunities, please contact Dan Zelson of Charter Realty and Development at (203) 227-2922 or e-mail him at dan@chartweb.com

For more information about Storrs Center, visit www.storrscenter.com

Posted May 16, 2012

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. For daily updates on local and Connecticut news, “like” us on Facebook at HTNP News.

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In Mansfield, Get a jump on toy shopping

Over the Rainbow Toys in the East Brook Mall on the Mansfield/Willimantic town line is closing its doors at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, according to an e-blast sent to its customers today.

And between now and Nov. 2, shoppers will receive a 30 percent discount on all in-stock merchandise at the mall location – excluding Lego and Bruder toys.

UConn President responds to accusations school failed to act on sexual assault complaints

UConn President Susan Hebst. File photo.

There are circumstances under which the university should notify a student that another student who may have been suspended or expelled from campus will be returning, if they are returning. It is my understanding that this notification did not take place in a case that occurred three years ago and it should have. This process was corrected. – UConn President Susan Herbst

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