HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A debate over Connecticut’s wildlife policy reignited after state officials said last week they will trap and kill a bear cub that approached a hiker in a wildlife area, startling but not harming her.
Animal rights advocates say the policy is inhumane and ineffective, and a social media petition drive is underway to protest the planned killing.
State wildlife officials say the bear was “bold and aggressive” and euthanizing it will protect the public.
Stephanie Rivkin said the young bear that approached her Friday and another watching from a distance were “very gentle.”
“I was scared, but not for my life,” she said, adding, “but maybe for a second.”
As Connecticut’s bear population rises, state wildlife officials and animal advocates clash with each encounter between the animals and humans. The incident at Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington received more attention because Rivkin captured it on video and posted it online.
The bear, whose ears are tagged from a previous encounter with state wildlife officials, approached Rivkin and put its nose against her leg. It appeared curious or nervous and ran several times to a tree.
Rivkin, 38, kept walking and talked softly to the animal. “Don’t be scared,” she said several times.
Officials quickly closed the wildlife area to visitors and said they would trap and kill the bear.
Rivkin said the decision upset her. “I’m not sure of the intentions of that place,” she said.
Dave Garshelis, a wildlife research scientist at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and an expert on bears at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said people who feed bears are creating the problem. Relocating a bear doesn’t guarantee its behavior will change, and euthanizing it is often the only way to protect the public, he said.
“A normal black bear should make itself scarce and not be seen,” Garshelis said.
Katherine Campoli, who said she was “very upset” to hear about Connecticut’s plan to kill the bear, launched a petition campaign on Twitter, using the hashtag #sparethebear. She said she will present the petition to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
“I’m going to take it as far as it can go to save this little guy,” she said.
The Humane Society of the United States met last month with environmental commissioner Rob Klee and other officials to protest the agency’s killing of a bear after an encounter in May. The two sides disagree over the extent of public education about bears.
Rivkin said she’s ready to avoid the area and cede it to the bears.
“Maybe I need to stay out of the woods and respect their space,” she said.
Follow Stephen Singer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SteveSinger10
CRANFORD, N.J. (AP) — Two former New Jersey day care workers are accused of instigating fights among children in their care.
Prosecutors say 22-year-old Erica Kenny, of Cranford, and 28-year-old Chanese White, of Roselle, are each charged with child abuse. Kenny also faces a child endangerment charge.
Authorities say the pair instigated fights among children ranging in age from 4 to 6 at the Lightbridge Academy in Cranford on at least one day last month. They also say Kenny recorded video of the fights and shared the clips with several friends on social media.
Union County investigators say about a dozen boys and girls are shown in the clips shoving each other to the ground and trying to hit each other. The children apparently didn’t suffer any serious injuries.
It wasn’t known Tuesday if Kenny or White had retained attorneys.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thai authorities arrested a man they believe is part of a group responsible for a deadly bombing at a shrine in central Bangkok two weeks ago, the prime minister announced Tuesday. He said the suspect resembles a yellow-shirted man in a surveillance video who police say planted the bomb.
“It would be great if he were (the bomber). Then we will know who they are, where they came from, who’s behind this,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters.
He said the man is a foreigner and was detained in eastern Thailand near the Cambodian border, one of several border crossings where authorities set up checkpoints after the Aug. 17 bombing which killed 20 people, many of them foreign tourists, and injured more than 120.
Prayuth said authorities plan to check fingerprints and conduct DNA tests to establish whether the man is the bomber. Police say they obtained the bomber’s DNA from a motorcycle taxi and a three-wheeled tuk-tuk taxi that he used.
Spokesmen for police and the military junta that rules Thailand both later said the arrested man resembles the suspect they have been seeking for planting the bomb.
No one has publicly claimed responsibility for the attack, sparking an array of theories about who might be behind it. Police have suggested that the suspects were part of a people-smuggling group who held a grudge against Thai authorities.
Speculation has grown that the suspect might be part of a group seeking to avenge Thailand’s forced repatriation of ethnic Uighurs to China in July. Prayuth on Monday linked the two theories, suggesting the bombers might have been involved in smuggling Uighurs out of China.
Prayuth said officials knew from their investigation that people involved in the bombing were about to flee the country and had traced the man to Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo province, a crossing point to Cambodia. The prime minister described the man as a piece in a jigsaw puzzle that would connect various parts of the case, which included a bomb that exploded harmlessly in a river next to a busy pier in Bangkok the day after the shrine blast.
Prayuth warned against speculating about the arrested man until more information is learned.
“Don’t say just yet it’s about this and that. It could affect international affairs,” he said. “We have to do a lot of tests, fingerprints. If he is the guy, he is the guy.”
“Officials are certain he is a main suspect in this case,” national police spokesman Prawuth Thavornsiri said later at a news conference, adding that the authorities are waiting for witnesses to confirm whether he is the yellow-shirted man. He said the man is being held by the military under Article 44 of its interim constitution, which gives the prime minister absolute power to issue any order deemed necessary to keep public order or strengthen public unity and harmony.
Prawuth said three new arrest warrants have been issued in connection with the case, bringing the total to seven. Two were named persons — he could not provide spellings for the names of the men, whose nationalities were unknown — while the third was not identified by name but was described as a Turkish national. He displayed pictures of the three on a tablet computer.
The blast at the Erawan Shrine was unprecedented in the Thai capital, where smaller bombs have been employed in domestic political violence over the past decade, but not in an effort to cause large-scale casualties.
Security officials on Saturday arrested a man during a raid on a Bangkok apartment that contained some bomb-making materials, and Thai military authorities have been interrogating him. He has been linked to the shrine bombing, but the authorities have not yet released his name or nationality.
Arrest warrants were issued Monday for two more suspects, a Thai woman and a man of unknown nationality, after a raid Sunday on a second apartment found more bomb-making materials. Relatives of the woman who had rented the second apartment told authorities that she is innocent and is now in Turkey, married to a Turkish man. The three new arrest warrants announced Tuesday were related to the apartment raided Saturday, police spokesman Prawuth said.
Uighurs are related to Turks, and Turkey is home to a large Uighur community. The Erawan Shrine is especially popular with Chinese tourists, feeding the idea that it could be a target for people who believe the Uighurs are oppressed by China’s government. Beijing says some Uighurs are Islamist terrorists, and among them is a group that has been smuggled out of China to join Islamic State fighters in Syria.
The suspect arrested Saturday had a Turkish passport, though Thai authorities say it was fake. At his apartment, they seized at least 11 passports that appeared to be Turkish, among more than 200 passports in all.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry official said Monday that reports that the woman wanted by Thai police may be in Turkey and other allegations about a Turkish connection were “speculation” and that the ministry would not comment on speculation.
The official said he had no information about the woman and could not confirm that her husband is Turkish.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules that bar officials from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.
SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore’s political parties officially started campaigning Tuesday for general elections in which, for the first time in the island-nation’s history, the ruling People’s Action Party faces contests in all available seats.
Although the PAP is expected to return to power in the Sept. 11 elections, the vote will demonstrate the growing strength of the opposition, which had largely remained emasculated for decades. It is now riding an anti-establishment wave, thanks to the disenchantment with the ruling party over the rising cost of living, restrictions on freedom of expression, and a rising tide of immigration to fill not only low-paying jobs but also middle and high-paying positions.
“Last time I was not interested in politics, I didn’t care. But the more I look at it now, the more I feel it isn’t right,” said Jon Chan, 52, who is unemployed.
“We are turning our citizens into a minority, and giving Singapore to foreigners on a silver platter. We should have a Singaporean Singapore,” he said.
Singapore citizens currently make up 61 percent of the country’s 5.47 million people, many of them recent migrants. The population is expected to increase to 6.5 million or even 6.9 million by 2030 of which 45 percent will be foreigners, partly to tackle low birth rates.
While official campaigning starts Tuesday, most parties have already introduced their candidates through press conferences, videos and savvy mobile applications.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged voters to give his party — in power since Singapore’s birth 50 years ago — a “fresh and strong mandate” in setting the direction for the next 50 years.
“The PAP will fight to win every vote. Your future is at stake. Our future is at stake. And the PAP carries a heavy responsibility for this future,” said Lee, 63.
The current parliament has 87 elected seats, of which the PAP holds 80 and the opposition Workers’ Party 7. In the Sept. 11 elections, the number of seats will be raised to 89.
While it may appear that the PAP won the 2011 general election by a landslide, it did so with 60 percent of all votes in its worst electoral performance. Since then it has lost two by-elections.
An electoral system in which some constituencies are represented by a group of four to six lawmakers has helped to boost the winning party’s numbers. This time, 16 wards will be contested in groups, while 13 others will be contested individually. In previous elections, the PAP’s power was so absolute that the opposition could not even gather enough candidates to contest all constituencies.
But over the years, the opposition began attracting more supporters and candidates willing to contest, despite knowing that they will most likely lose.
In 2011, the only constituency left uncontested was the five-member ward of Tanjong Pagar, led by Singapore’s founding father and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March at age 91. Lee, the father of the current prime minister, is widely credited with Singapore’s progress from a colonial backwater to a modern economic hub.
This time, the opposition will field candidates in all constituencies. Still, the main opposition Workers’ Party has put up candidates for 28 seats – not enough to form the government even if it wins all.
On Tuesday, candidates filed their election papers at nine schools designated as nomination centers, and paid a deposit of 14,500 Singapore dollars ($10,300) to become eligible to contest in the election.
“Sure, the key issue more broadly will be about a government and opposition movement that is able to ensure that Singapore enjoys effective and good government,” said Gillian Koh, a senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
BOSTON (AP) — The newest classroom at Harvard’s business school has no desks or chairs. Instead, the professor teaches facing a towering digital screen that stretches from wall to wall, filled with the live video feeds of up to 60 students tuned in from their computers.
In the futuristic classroom, housed in a television studio 2 miles from campus, class plays out like a giant video conference.
Students can jump in to ask questions or respond to their classmates. The professor can stop a lecture to quiz individual students, or send the group a quick online poll.
The project, called HBX Live, is a departure from the genre of online courses that are recorded in advance to be taken later.
Here, Harvard sought to create a live, online replica of its campus classrooms.
“With one difference of course, which is we collapse geography,” said Bharat Anand, a business professor and faculty chairman of HBX, a digital initiative at the school.
At a recent test of the technology, alumni connected to the room from Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines.
“That’s something we’ve never, ever done before,” Anand said.
This school year, Harvard will use HBX Live to teach its business students when they disperse on global study trips in January, and to host virtual research presentations.
Eventually, the school will consider creating new online programs taught primarily through the room, Anand said.
Although the technology isn’t widespread, experts said, some other schools have experimented with the concept of a live web-based classroom.
At Yale University’s business school, students around the world can take online courses taught through video conferences.
The University of California San Diego created a computer program that puts students in a virtual world, like a video game, where they can take seminars and interact.
“People have been trying to do video conferencing in education for a long time, going back to the ’80s,” said Frank Vahid, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Riverside, and co-founder of the online-education company zyBooks.
Technology improvements have boosted that pursuit in recent years, Vahid said, both in the classroom and in the business world.
“Certainly in the corporate world, the quality of web conferencing has become very advanced,” he said.
Although the idea isn’t entirely new, Harvard put a twist on it by approaching the project like a live television production.
To learn the trade, school officials visited NBC Sports studios in Connecticut and studied reality TV shows.
The school hired a production crew that sits in a control room above the studio, broadcasting the class to students with the cinematic polish of a cable news show.
Crew members toggle between dozens of cameras trained at the professor, lingering only a few seconds on each angle. One worker roams around the professor with a hand-held camera, aiming to give students a sense of movement.
“We’re trying to create a constant energy as well as feed off what the professor says,” said Peter Shaffery, who was hired to be the technical director of the project.
Harvard hasn’t disclosed how much it spent on the classroom and its crew.
Leaders of the business school said HBX Live is a big step as the school dives into online education, but stressed that it’s just one of several offerings.
“It’s really cool in isolation, but really the way to think about it is in context with other initiatives that we’re pushing,” said Youngme Moon, a senior associate dean.
The school also recently unveiled an online program on business basics, along with other courses geared toward executives.
Harvard plans to hold about 100 sessions in the TV studio over the next year, hoping that professors will find new uses for it, too, Anand said.
“It’s almost like we’re building an infrastructure,” he said, “and now we’ve just got to let the imagination run.”
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Former MLB player Chad Curtis says the young women who accuse him of sexual misconduct at a Michigan high school are looking for a payday.
Curtis made the remarks Monday by video from a Michigan prison where he’s serving a seven-year sentence for criminal sexual conduct.
He’s being sued in federal court by the same women who say they were molested as students when he worked at Lakewood High School in 2011.
Curtis is representing himself in the civil lawsuit. Much of the hearing involved procedures for upcoming depositions. Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody won’t let him directly question the women.
Curtis says the four women are liars who are seeking a “possible monetary windfall.”
He played for the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and other teams between 1992 and 2001.