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    Hurricane Sandy delivered a historic level of destruction to the Eastern Seaboard, doing so much damage that it has achieved the ignominious distinction of having its name retired.

    "If a storm is so deadly or so costly that the future use of the name would be insensitive, or even confusing, then that's the criteria," said Howard Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center. "Certainly, the impact that Sandy had, not only in the United States, but also Jamaica and Cuba, where it made landfall as major hurricane, it's almost a no-brainer that Sandy would be retired."

    Preliminary estimates say that Sandy, which made shore Oct. 29 in New Jersey, cost Americans more than $50 billion and 147 lives. At the most recent meeting of the World Meteorological Association's hurricane committee, it was agreed that "Sandy" would be the 77th name to be retired from use since 1954.

    Because names are assigned to storms alphabetically and reused every six years, when one name is retired, it must be replaced by another name with the same first letter. Taking the place of "Sandy" will be the name "Sara."

    Since 1995, there have been 39 storm names retired, a rate more than double what we saw in the '70s and '80s. Feltgen says the jump is due to a surge in hurricane activity, but that's not the only reason there have been so many names retired of late.

    "It's not that the storms are any more intense, they're not. We're throwing more people and real estate in harms way," said Feltgen. Quite simply, the build up of property and communities along the shore has  put more lives and dollars the path of storms.

    According to Feltgen, cycles of increased hurricane activity can last as long as 40 years, so he says it's reasonable to assume that the one we're in now is far from over. And even we do return to a lull in storm activity, there's still no shortage of danger.

    "Just because you're in an inactivity period doesn't mean you won't get clobbered. A great example is Andrew in 1992, that was still in a period of small hurricane numbers, but that was the last Cat 5 to hit the U.S."



    Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Hurricane Sandy did so much damage that her name has been retired.Hurricane Sandy did so much damage that her name has been retired.

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    While North Korea is preparing to celebrate what would be Kim Il Sung's 101st birthday on Monday, the country's sworn enemies - South Korea and the United States - are on high alert and preparing for Pyongyang to launch a missile.

    Pyongyang has a history of firing off missiles on holidays. There was one last year to mark the late Kim's centenary birthday. In 2009, they fired one on July 4 to show the U.S. its military might amid newly imposed U.N sanctions.

    But North Korea is not just contending with the U.S. and South Korea. The unfolding drama has reached a fever pitch and more players are jumping in the fray to criticize the hermit kingdom for its violent and frenetic rhetoric.

    The U.S. has fortified its defenses, China is rebuking its long-time ally and even Japan, a pacifist nation, is throwing down money to strengthen its military in the event that a North Korean missile lands on its soil. With so many moving parts and key players, it's easy to get lost, so here's what you should know:

    The Missile
    No one is certain what kind of missile the North Koreans are planning to launch. But experts say it appears to be one dubbed the “Musudan,” an intermediate-range weapon that can travel up to 3,500 miles. That’s not far enough to reach Hawaii or the mainland United States, but within reach of Guam, a U.S. territory located east of the Phillipines in the Pacific Ocean. Successfully firing such a missile would mark a big step in Pyongyang’s efforts to develop a weapon that could deliver a nuclear warhead close to U.S. territories.

    The Defense
    The Pentagon last week deployed a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system to Guam to bolster the region’s defense against North Korea. It’s a land-based system that is capable of shooting at short and medium range missiles by using truck-mounted launches to bat them down. The U.S Navy also dispatched the USS McCain to a location near South Korea. Like THAAD, the ship is capable of shooting down missiles.

    Both moves came after the Pentagon deployed two F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea to join them in military training exercises with the intention of showing North Korea that the U.S. is committed to defending Seoul.

    The Stakeholders
    Since 2003, a half-dozen countries have tried to negotiate a way to curb North Korea’s nuclear plans. The Six-Party Talks, as the meetings are known, haven’t reaped much more than continued North Korean provocation.

    The United States: America has been an antagonist of North Korea’s since taking South Korea’s side in the Korean War. U.S. troops remain stationed in the south, which Pyongyang sees as a threat. At the same time, the U.S. has engaged North Korea in a series of deals that traded economic aid for promises of disarmament. For the U.S., the threat is twofold: North Korea’s developing a missile that could strike American territory, and North Korean weapons falling into the hands of terrorists or hostile regimes.

    North Korea: The Hermit Kingdom is threatened by the more than 25,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea. It’s hard to tell what North Korea wants, but some say it's access to economic aid or perhaps the freedom to expand its nuclear capabilities, or both.

    China: An ally and trade partner with North Korea that has supplied the country with food and energy assistance. Some see China’s defense of North Korea as way for China to maintain its buffer against South Korea.

    “North Korea is a geopolitical force in the context of U.S. and China,” said Scott Snyder, Senior Fellow for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “When China looks at the Korean peninsula, they think of the U.S. and they see South Korea as a pawn of the U.S.”

    South Korea: Seoul’s two main objectives are reunification and denuclearization. South Korea’s new president Park Geun-hui is pushing that agenda more aggressively than her predecessors.

    “She has articulated a willingness to engage with North Korea’s leadership to diffuse the situation which is a positive step,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Vice President of Global Policy Programs. “It remains to be seen whether Kim would take her up in this offer.”

    Japan: Tokyo has upped the ante with increased spending on its military. The two countries are sworn enemies and Japan’s biggest worry is that North Korea's missile tests could reach Japanese soil.

    Russia - Moscow backed the renewed U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang and condemns its nuclear and missile programs.


    The Key Players:

    Kim Jong-un: Details about North Korea’s young leader are shrouded in mystery. No one knows his real age, though some believe he is 29. He was thrusted into the limelight after his father, Kim Jong-il, died in 2011 and experts say he is a mere puppet in the hands of those who put him there.

    “He’s surrounded by the same kind of people who have been doing this sort of strategic provocation for decades,” said Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean studies at the Fletcher School of Law at Tufts University.

    Kim has put military ambitions over the needs of his own people. According to the U.N. World Food Program, one in every three children in North Korea is malnourished and “stunted.” This means people in North Korea are on average three inches shorter than their neighbors in the South.

    “Kim has prioritized guns over butter,” said Snyder. “That’s why their people are poor. North Korea needs to get off that path and become integrated with the international community.”

    Kim Kyong-hui: It is believed that the late Kim Jong-il’s sister is the puppeteer pulling the strings on the young leader’s actions and she wields much power within North Korea’s military.

    “She is the last living member of the old guard,” said DiMaggio. “You see her in photos of meetings. Just knowing how the system operates and the fact that Kim is so inexperienced, the notion that someone like him can take over should be questioned.”

    Park Geun-hye: Park is South Korea’s first female president and the daughter of ex-president Park Chung-hee. Like Kim, she followed in her father’s footstep to take the top office in her country. But that is where their similarities end. Park, who took office in February, is pro-unification and takes what she calls a “trustpolitik” approach to North Korea - a policy that would restore food aid and communication in exchange for North Korea’s good behavior.

    Yun Byung-se: Yun was hand-picked by Park for South Korea’s Foreign Minister position and has been instrumental in forming Park’s “trustpolitik” policy. He’s tasked not only with dealing with North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, but he will need to respond to other regional issues like revived nationalism in Japan and China and US’ intensifying rivalry, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

    Kim Kwan-jin: South Korea’s defense minister is also skeptical about North Korea’s missile capabilities. He said that he has yet to find evidence that the North is preparing for a full-scale war.

    "[North Korea's recent threats] are rhetorical threats," he said. "I believe the odds of a full-scale provocation are small."

    Chuck Hagel: The U.S.’ newly confirmed defense secretary warned of an ominous “real and clear danger of threat” from North Korea. But when asked whether U.S. citizens should be concerned, Hagel said the U.S. has the ability to defend the country from any action taken by North Korea; Snyder agrees.

    “North Korea does not pose a direct threat to us,” Snyder said. “They don’t have the capacity to reach us at this time, but it’s clear that that they’re trying to develop it.”

    He adds that the onus is on U.S. officials to make sure North Korea doesn’t pursue its nuclear aspirations. If U.S. officials fail, that’s when Americans should be worried, he said.

    Sam Locklear: The head of the U.S. Pacific Command recently reassured the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. is ready to respond to a missile from North Korea, according to NBC News.

    “I am satisfied that we are ready today, yes,” Locklear said.

    He also said he believes that North Korea has positioned a Musadan missile on its east coast, which doesn’t not threaten mainland United States or Hawaii, but could put Guam in danger.

    Xi Jinping: China has for a long time propped up the North Korean regime with trade and aid, but their new president Xi Jinping has taken a more strident tone against North Korea’s military ambitions.

    “No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains,” President Xi said last week at an economic forum in Hainan province. “While pursuing its own interests, a country should accommodate the legitimate interests of others.”

    So can the U.S. count on China as an ally? Probably not, Snyder said.

    “China would like to see North Korean provocations curbed and there is an interest in denuclearization,” Snyder said. But he adds that China is focused on cultivating stability North Korea without U.S. influence.

    Shinzō Abe: Japan’s Abe is yet another rookie leader on this list charged with the daunting task of curbing the rhetoric from North Korea. North Korea’s threats, coupled with China’s claims over disputed island territories has prompted the new president to bolster Japan’s military power and shed its postwar pacifism. He has increased Japan’s military spending for the first time in 11 years, according to The New York Times.

    "The Japan-U.S. alliance will face a critical situation if we detect an attack when jointly preparing for a missile launch, but decide not to help," Mr. Abe told parliament in February, referring to North Korea’s recent missile test.
     



    Photo Credit: AP

    FILE - In this Sunday, April 15, 2012 file photo, a North Korean vehicle carries a missile during a mass military parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. Though it remains a highly unlikely scenario, Japanese officials have long feared that if North Korea ever decides to play its nuclear card it has not only the means but several potential motives for launching an attack on Tokyo or major U.S. military installations on Japan's main island. And while a conventional missile attack is far more likely, Tokyo is taking North Korea's nuclear. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)FILE - In this Sunday, April 15, 2012 file photo, a North Korean vehicle carries a missile during a mass military parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. Though it remains a highly unlikely scenario, Japanese officials have long feared that if North Korea ever decides to play its nuclear card it has not only the means but several potential motives for launching an attack on Tokyo or major U.S. military installations on Japan's main island. And while a conventional missile attack is far more likely, Tokyo is taking North Korea's nuclear. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

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    The charter-bus crash that killed two and injured dozens outside Dallas on Thursday happened in the middle of an aggressive push by federal regulators to shutter unscrupulous carriers and ramp up safety inspections.

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has shut down more than a dozen private bus companies — nearly half of which it deemed "imminent hazards" — over the past couple months. Last week, the agency announced it was deploying a team of more than 50 safety investigators throughout the country to conduct a wider examination of "higher risk" carriers, including many small charter operations. The FMCSA also asked local police to join the crackdown by boosting traffic enforcement.

    The inspection teams headed out into the field on April 1, with orders to target 250 companies with lackluster safety records, according to the American Bus Association, a trade group whose officials were briefed by federal authorities.

    Among the carriers already shut down by the FMCSA was Fung Wah, a popular discount bus service between New York City and Boston that had a history of crashes and safety violations.

    It's not clear whether the owner of the bus that wrecked Thursday, Cardinal Coach Line, would have been targeted in the crackdown had the crash not happened. According to FMCSA's online record system, Cardinal Coach Line was given a "satisfactory" safety rating in 2009. In the past two years, none of the company's five buses has been in a crash, the records say. But the company's two inspections over that period found violations that resulted in putting a bus and/or or a driver out of service.

    Cardinal Coach Line's voicemail system was not accepting messages late Thursday, so a representative could not be reached for comment.

    In a letter to bus companies last week, FMCSA head Anne Ferro said her agency had rolled out other safety initiatives in recent years, but she was not satisfied with the results.

    "We continue to see an unacceptable number of bus companies and drivers operating unsafely, resulting in far too many crashes with devastating impacts," Ferro wrote.

    Federal data don't show any dramatic increase in fatal bus crashes. But while the number of bus crashes hasn't changed much over the years, the crash rate has dropped significantly because there are so many more buses, and they log so many more total miles, according to a FMCSA report covering 1975 to 2010.

    In 2009, bus fatalities hit their lowest point, with 221 crashes and 254 deaths, the report says. That number edged up in 2010 to 245 fatal crashes and 276 people killed.

    The number of fatal crashes involving motorcoaches—including charters and tour buses—vary year by year, with no discernible trend, the report shows. In 2010, there were 36 fatal crashes involving motorcoaches, and 53 people killed.

    The more likely explanation for the federal crackdown is a series of high-profile accidents in recent months. That includes the February crash of a tour bus in Southern California, in which eight people were killed and about three dozen were injured, and the December wreck of a charter bus in Oregon, in which nine people died.

    Daniel Blower, a research scientist at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute, said that motorcoaches are typically very safe, and the number of crashes involving them pale in comparison to those involving trucks and cars. But Blower said he agreed with the new federal scrutiny of small charters, who typically are not subject to rigorous inspections because they "operate on the fringe."

    The following is a list of recent fatal bus crashes, and some of the worst bus crashes in U.S. history.

    April 5, 2013: One adult was killed and dozens of children were hospitalized when a school bus slammed into a Jeep in Wadsworth, Ill.

    March 16, 2013: A bus carrying the Seton Hill University women's lacrosse team veered off the Pennsylvania Turnpike and hit a tree, killing a pregnant coach, her unborn child and the driver. Three other passengers were hospitalized.

    Feb. 3, 2013: A bus full of Mexican tourists returning to Tijuana from California crashed while descending a mountain road near the resort town of Big Bear, killing eight and injuring about three dozen.

    Feb. 2, 2013: Thirty-five people were hurt when a charter bus carrying students who'd just completed a visit to Harvard University slammed into an overpass.

    Jan. 10, 2013: A commuter bus bound for New York City slammed into a mini school bus in central New Jersey, injuring more than a dozen people; the school bus was not carrying any children.

    December 2012: A charter bus skidded off a snowy, mountainous stretch of Interstate 84 in Oregon, killing nine.

    August 2012: One woman was killed and more than three-dozen people were hurt when a charter bus crashed on an Illinois highway between Chicago and St. Louis.

    March 2012: A school bus was hit by a truck at an intersection near Port Saint Lucie, Fla., killing one student and injuring 19 other passengers.

    February 2012: A school bus was hit by a dump truck at an intersection in southern New Jersey, killing one girl and injuring 17 other students.

    May 2011: Four passengers were killed in a motorcoach rollover on Interstate 95 in Caroline County, Va.

    March 2011: A charter bus carrying people back to New York City from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut slammed into a roadside barrier on Interstate 95. Fifteen passengers died and 18 were hurt.

    August 2008: A bus chartered by Vietnamese religious pilgrims drove off a highway overpass north of Dallas, killing 17 and injuring dozens more.

    March 2007: A bus carrying members of the Bluffton University baseball team spun out of control and fell from an overpass, killing the driver, his wife and seven passengers. Twenty-eight other passengers were hurt.

    November 2006: Four students were killed and 23 injured when a school bus went over the side of elevated roadway in Huntsville, Ala.

    September 2005: Two-dozen elderly passengers died when their bus caught fire near Houston while fleeing from Hurricane Rita.

    May 1999: A tour bus carrying people to a casino in Mississippi veered off a New Orleans highway, killing 22 and injuring 24.

    July 1991: Seven people were killed when a bus full of Girl Scouts overturned in Palm Springs, Calif. Another 53 were hurt.

    October 1995: Seven students died when their school bus was hit by a train in Fox River Grove, Ill.

    May 1988: A church bus was hit by a drunken driver in Carrollton, Ky., killing 27 people and injuring 34.

    May 1986: A tour bus plunged into the West Walker River in Mono County, Calif. Eighteen elderly passengers died.

    May 1985: A school bus was one of four vehicles involved in a collision near Snow Hill, N.C., in which six students and one driver died. Two dozen people were hurt.

    June 1980: A tour bus from Texas careened off a curvy road and fell down a ravine in northern Arkansas, killing 22 and injuring 19.

    May 1976: A bus carrying a California high school chorus drove off an exit ramp and fell 30 feet, landing upside down and killing 29 students.

    February 1958: A school bus purged into the Big Sandy River near Prestonsburg, Ky., killing 26 students and the driver.



    Photo Credit: AP

    The crash of a charter bus in Irving, Texas, came during a new safety crackdown by federal regulators.The crash of a charter bus in Irving, Texas, came during a new safety crackdown by federal regulators.

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  • 04/11/13--15:07: UConn Unveils New Husky Logo

  • UConn officially unveiled the new logo for the school's athletic teams on Thursday.

    UConn promised Jonathan the Husky would be more intimidating, than the grinning, tongue wagging face that has been the school's logo for nearly 20 years.

    The other change includes the use of "UCONN" across the front of every uniform worn by every team, according to UConn's website. The decision to use "UCONN" on the uniforms is in line with the school's change in branding for the entire university. Last week, president Susan Herbst announced the university was officially rebranding itself as UConn, rather than the University of Connecticut.



    Photo Credit: UConn

    UConn unveiled the new Jonathan the Husky logo on Thursday.UConn unveiled the new Jonathan the Husky logo on Thursday.

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    Still grieving for her son Asdrubal, Flor Bernier stepped carefully to the podium in New Haven Police Headquarters, determined to salute police for arresting the man they believe shot her son to death.

    "I don't know how to speak English well," she said, "but I want to say thank you to all of you...may have justice for my son."

    Police say 31-year-old Jimmy Morales-Luciano, who recently moved to New Haven from Puerto Rico, where he served time in prison for carjacking and kidnapping, shot Asdrubal Bernier Jr. several times last Wednesday night in the Fair Haven section of New Haven.

    Detectives worked around the clock, said Chief Dean Esserman.  "A child of this family is a child of New Haven," he said, "and will always be treated as such."

    Assistant Chief Archie Generoso would not reveal exactly how police found Morales-Luciano, other than to praise police for their work.  He said patrol officers worked closely with detectives.

    "We did secure a search warrant for a storage area on Front Avenue in West Haven," he said, "where we've recovered three weapons, one of them we believe to be the murder weapon."

    Morales-Luciano was arrested at a courthouse in New Haven.  Police say he was there for an unrelated matter.

    Generoso said New Haven detectives should have "results shortly" on two unsolved homicides.

     


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    Friends, family and filmmakers once again remembered iconic movie critic Roger Ebert, this time at the Chicago movie theater where so much of his work was based.

    The critic's widow Chaz Ebert welcomed her husband's fans to the theater on Thursday and remembered him as a father, friend, humanitarian and journalist.

    A choir began the memorial by singing, "Roger Ebert, we will always love you."

    Among the star-studded speakers on hand were "The Fugitive" director Andy Davis, Sony Pictures Classics President Michael Barker, former Playboy chief executive Christie Hefner and "Selena" and "El Norte" director Greg Nava.

    Hollywood actors and Chicago siblings John Cusack and Joan Cusack were also on hand.

    Joan Cusack read a letter from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who remembered Ebert as a "cultural leader." John Cusack said Ebert was always supportive of artists and "always gave you a fair shake."

    Ebert attended hundreds of screenings at the Chicago Theatre and has the only star on the sidewalk in front of the theater beneath the marquee.

    Ebert's death on April 4 came two days after he marked his 46th anniversary of becoming the Chicago Sun-Times' movie reviewer with a note on his website in which he said he would have to scale back his work as a result of his battle with cancer.

    At his funeral Monday, mourners lined up hours before services began.

    "Roger was able to bring the spirit of American film alive," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "Whether or not we knew Roger, we knew he loved Chicago and Chicago loved Roger."

    "We thank God for his purposeful life," Gov. Pat Quinn said, ending his speech with "thumbs up!"

    Ebert will be honored next week at his film festival, Ebertfest, in Champaign-Urbana and on June 5 in Los Angeles with the Sundance Vanguard Leadership Award, presented by Robert Redford.

    "Among the many things I admire about Roger Ebert is how he has long supported freedom of artistic expression," Redford said in a statement.  His influence and reach is as meaningful as his personal passion for cinema, and he certainly deserves this award."
     

    Producer Recalls Pairing Siskel & Ebert
    Thea Flaum was the original producer and creator of what would become, according to Television Week, "the highest-rated entertainment show in the history of public broadcasting."

     

    Roeper on Ebert, His Legacy
    Richard Roeper joined Roger Ebert on the popular film review show in 2000.

     

    Flashback to 2010: Ebert and Roeper Discontinue Show


    Photo Credit: AP

    The Chicago Theatre marquee before a memorial for film critic Roger Ebert in Chicago, Thursday, April 11, 2013.The Chicago Theatre marquee before a memorial for film critic Roger Ebert in Chicago, Thursday, April 11, 2013.

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    Hartford police are looking for the mother seen tossing her baby on a city bus in an alarming video posted on YouTube.

    The disturbance happened on a Connecticut Transit bus on Wednesday morning along Albany Avenue, according to officials.  

    For several minutes, the mother sat, with her baby on her lap, and screamed at a woman a few seats up and passengers recorded it on their cell phones.

    Seconds later, the situation got more heated. 

    The mother tossed her baby into the people sitting across from her, then ran down the aisle and got into a fight with that woman she had been arguing with. The video also shows the baby holding her ears throughout the ordeal.

    NBC Connecticut showed the video to people who ride the bus and live in the area around Albany Avenue and they were appalled.

    "It's alarming, especially being parents. You think we would have more control in a public place,” said Gary Williams. 

    In addition to YouTube, the video has been posted on Facebook.

    “It’s really looking bad for Hartford," Ebony Mitchell said. "You got a kid, that's the first thing you got to think about.”

    Hartford Police and Connecticut Transit are investigating.

    The bus company  told NBC Connecticut the driver did everything right and stopped the bus right when the fight got physical.

    Police said the mother and the baby walked off the bus seconds later. 

     


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    The Fox network aired an episode of "Glee" on Thursday night that included a school shooting in the plot line and some Newtown parents said it was inconsiderate to air the episode so soon after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    The "Glee" episode included students and teachers responding to what they thought was a school shooting.

    Supt. Janet Robinson sent an e-mail sent to Sandy Hook parents on Thursday afternoon, warning them that Thursday night's episode of Glee had the potential to be disturbing to many parents and students in Newtown.

    "I want to make you aware that the show 'Glee' is featuring what could be a disturbing plot tonight and I want you to be aware so you can make an informed choice about watching this," Robinson wrote.  "According to entertainment blog TVLine, tonight's episode includes shots in the halls 'that rips the frothy high-school musical off its foundation and transports it to a dark and harrowing world.' Allegedly, the rest of the episode is claustrophobic and emotionally charged, as students cower in the rehearsal room and consider their possible fates. This has the potential to be disturbing to many of our students, so I wanted you to know ahead of time."

    Tricia Muzzio, who received Robinson's letter, watched the episode of "Glee" with her two daughters, who both went to Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    "It was so realistic that I couldn't believe it," Muzzio said. "This close to the tragedy without any warning, I believe was inconsiderate."

    Notices from Fox also aired before and during the episode.

    In all Muzzio, felt the scenes where students are trying to hide and not attract the attention of the shooter were spot on.

    "I said to myself. 'Wow, this is really how it happened," Muzzio said.

    Andrew Paley, whose two twins are in the 4th grade at Sandy Hook, didn't watch the episode, but warned several town leaders about it.

    "Glee" producers had the right to air it, but a heads up would have been nice, he said.

    "We're going through a healing phase right now and without giving us any kind of warning, it's going to open up wounds we're trying to close right now," Paley said.

    Fox Broadcasting Company said the show Glee has a history of tackling difficult subjects that are top of mind to teenagers and parents. No characters were hurt in the show, but a student later in the episode revealed she brought the gun to school to protect herself.

    Newtown parents NBC Connecticut spoke with said the episode was too soon to air.

    More Local Stories:

     



    Photo Credit: FOX-TV

    In this scene from In this scene from "Glee", teacher Will Schuester leads a group of students to safety after they hear gunfire.

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    The Florida couple accused of kidnapping their own children and fleeing to Cuba on a boat were ordered held without bond during their first appearance in court in Tampa Thursday since they were handed over to U.S. authorities. Patricia Hauser and Bob Hauser, the grandparents of Cole and Chase Hakken, spoke at a news conference. Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee spoke about the charges against Sharyn Patricia Hakken, 34, and her husband Joshua Michael Hakken, 35.

    Sharyn Patricia Hakken, 34, and husband Joshua Michael Hakken, 35, appear in bond court on Thursday, April 11, 2013.Sharyn Patricia Hakken, 34, and husband Joshua Michael Hakken, 35, appear in bond court on Thursday, April 11, 2013.

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    Investigators are searching for a group of men who carried out a home invasion and kidnapping in Meriden that led to a jewelry store robbery in Fairfield late Thursday night.

    Police said four to five men entered an apartment on Gravel Street in Meriden and bound and gagged two men inside their home with electrical tape.

    While the intruders were in the middle of the home invasion, two of the victims’ friends arrived at the home and the intruders tied them up, then drove off the original two victims to the jewelry store they own-in Fairfield, Lenox Jewelers, police said.

    The intruders stole jewelry and fled and the victims were able to free themselves and call police.

    Meriden police know very little about the intruders.

    “We are looking for four to five suspects. Each one of them was wearing gloves and a ski mask of some sort, with their faces covered,” Lt. Mark Walerysiak, of the Meriden Police Department, said.

    Police believe multiple firearms were used in the crimes. None of the victims were seriously injured.

    Investigators are searching for a 2009 silver BMW stolen from one of the victims. It has a Massachusetts license plate of 96NV02.



    Photo Credit: Steve Pancione

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    A career criminal who stole a truck containing President Barack Obama's audio equipment was sentenced Thursday to seven years in federal prison.

    Sentencing guidelines called for a term of about three years, but Eric Brown of Richmond, Va., agreed to the longer sentence to avoid prosecution for 14 similar truck thefts in three localities. However, he could still face charges in Stafford County, which did not join Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico counties in the agreement.

    Brown pleaded guilty in January to theft of government property.

    "The theft of government property is a serious offense," Assistant U.S. Attorney Roderick Young said in court. "It's all the more serious when the property belongs to the White House Communications Agency."

    Young acknowledged that seven years seemed like a long sentence.

    "No it's not," U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney interjected.

    Later, the judge said: "If I had to sum up Mr. Brown's character, it would be that he's a thief."

    Young outlined Brown's "nightmarishly long" criminal record — three dozen convictions for crimes including burglary, drug possession, identity fraud and grand theft auto stretching back more than three decades. Most recently, Brown operated "a pretty serious one-man car theft ring," Gibney said.

    In response to a question from Gibney, Brown said he targeted Ford F-350s and Ford F-450s because they were easy to steal. One of those trucks happened to be a 2005 Ford owned by the Defense Information Systems Agency and assigned to the White House, which was stolen from a Henrico County hotel parking lot on Oct. 16, 2011, a few days ahead of Obama's visit to a suburban Richmond fire station to promote his jobs plan.

    The truck had no White House markings on the exterior, but inside it was loaded with speakers, microphones, a teleprompter, a laptop computer, podiums and other items used in presidential appearances. The van was empty when it was recovered on the other side of town the next day, and some of the items were later recovered at Maryland pawn shops.

    An FBI agent said in court papers that an informant told investigators that Brown had sold a Department of Defense laptop to another person, and that he saw in Brown's possession several storage tubs containing audio equipment — some of it bearing the presidential seal. When the source confronted Brown about the theft, Brown said: "Man, I got that truck. I don't do no playing."

    Brown apologized in court before Gibney imposed the sentence.

    Defense attorney David Lett said the sentencing agreement "gives Mr. Brown the opportunity to start anew if he wants to do so."


    This just in: Obama uses a teleprompter when he gives addresses.This just in: Obama uses a teleprompter when he gives addresses.

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    Police in Connecticut are looking for a mother seen tossing her baby on a city bus in an alarming video posted on YouTube.

    The disturbance happened on a bus Wednesday morning along Albany Avenue in Hartford, according to officials.  

    For several minutes, the mother sat, with her baby on her lap, and screamed at a woman a few seats up and passengers recorded it on their cell phones.

    Seconds later, the situation grew more heated. 

    The mother tossed her baby into the people sitting across from her, then ran down the aisle and got into a fight with that woman she had been arguing with. The video also shows the baby holding her ears throughout the ordeal.

    NBC Connecticut showed the video to people who ride the bus and live in the area around Albany Avenue and they were appalled.

    "It's alarming, especially being parents. You think we would have more control, especially in a public place,” Gary Williams said. 

    In addition to YouTube, the video has been posted on Facebook.

    “It’s really looking bad for Hartford," Ebony Mitchell said. "You got a kid, that's the first thing you got to think about.”

    Hartford police and Connecticut Transit are investigating.

    The bus company  told NBC Connecticut the driver did everything right and stopped the bus right when the fight got physical.

    Police said the mother and the baby walked off the bus seconds later. 

     


    A baby was shown on tape being thrown into bus passengers.A baby was shown on tape being thrown into bus passengers.

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  • 04/12/13--04:51: Rain and Cold for Today

  • After a couple of warm April days, temperatures will dip again as a storm comes in, bringing lots of rain and wind. 

    Between late morning and this evening, about an inch of rain will fall in most parts of the state, while some isolated areas will receive 2 inches. 

    Check the radar here.

    Winds along the shoreline will gust to about 40 miles per hour and temperatures across the state will drop back into wintry temperatures in the 30s.

    The seasonable weather returns on Saturday, when it is partly sunny with a high of 55 to 60 degrees.

    If you take weather photos, send them to us at photos@nbcconnecticut.com. 
     


    The rain will start late this morning and continue through evening.The rain will start late this morning and continue through evening.

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    As the U.S. Senate debates federal gun control policies, U.S. Chris Murphy is asking Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corporation, not to broadcast the NASCAR NRA 500 race on Fox Sports.

    News Corporation owns Fox Sports, which is scheduled to air the race this Saturday, April 13.

    “The race not only brings national attention to an organization that has been the face of one side of this heated debate, it also features the live shooting of guns at the end of the race,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Murdoch. “This celebration of guns is inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre. But most importantly, broadcasting this race, which will highlight the NRA and its radical agenda during this time, sends a harmful signal to the families affected by gun violence, as well as the millions of Americans who support sensible gun control measures and enjoy your sports programming.”

    President Barack Obama launched a national task force to come up with recommendations to reduce gun violence after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 first-grade students and six educators were killed.

    Murphy has been a central figure in the national debate.

    “Considering your support of sane gun control measures and the extreme nature of the NRA, I urge you to not broadcast this race on April 13th.  Inserting Fox Sports in this debate at this critical time will give credence to an extreme organization that is opposed to reasonable policies to stem gun violence,”  Murphy wrote.

    Last month, Murphy sent a letter to NASCAR CEO Brian France, asking him to reconsider his decision to sanction the race and prevent the NRA from having the title role.

    Murphy’s entire letter to Murdoch is posted below:


    April 11, 2013
     
    Mr. Rupert Murdoch
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
    News Corporation
    1211 Avenue of the Americas
    New York, NY 10036
     
    Dear Mr. Murdoch: 
     
    I write today to urge you to not broadcast NASCAR’s NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13th.  This race, which is being sponsored by the National Rifle Association (NRA), is going to take place during the Senate’s consideration of legislation to reduce gun violence. The race not only brings national attention to an organization that has been the face of one side of this heated debate, it also features the live shooting of guns at the end of the race. This celebration of guns is inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre. But most importantly, broadcasting this race, which will highlight the NRA and its radical agenda during this time, sends a harmful signal to the families affected by gun violence, as well as the millions of Americans who support sensible gun control measures and enjoy your sports programming.
     
    The horror that unfolded on December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary School has sparked a national conversation about the adequacy of our gun laws.  You, News Corporation and its subsidiaries, including Fox News, should contribute and continue to cover this discussion. Given that you have been outspoken in your support of gun reform, it is the height of irony that some would perceive that your company would now essentially endorse the NRA’s extreme position against such laws by broadcasting this event.
     
    Shortly after the tragedy in Newtown, you called on policymakers and the President to strengthen our gun laws, asking, “when will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons?” This valid question will be answered when the Senate considers major reforms to our gun laws in early to mid-April.  As a senator, I can tell you that many of us possess the courage, and will strongly advocate for sensible gun reforms to take assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets and require all gun purchasers to submit for a background check. 
     
    You also challenged President Obama to show bold leadership on this issue after he addressed the nation.  I believe that the President has shown incredible leadership since the tragedy by trying to help our country, my state, and the community of Newtown heal in the wake of this terrible event.  I would like to make a similar challenge to you.  You should play a constructive role in our national dialogue by refraining from broadcasting the NRA 500.  By airing this race you will be strengthening the brand of a radical organization that is currently standing in the way of meaningful progress on this issue. Today’s NRA bears little resemblance to the one of its founding.  It stokes fear and perpetuates a perverse interpretation of the Second Amendment in order to sell more guns and fuel larger donations from gun manufacturers.  After the events of Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, and so many other senseless tragedies, the NRA continues to say that the only solution to gun violence is more guns.  It even disavows common sense measures, like universal background checks for gun purchases - a policy that enjoys the support of 74 percent of its members and that it advocated for in 1999.  
     
    Considering your support of sane gun control measures and the extreme nature of the NRA, I urge you to not broadcast this race on April 13th.  Inserting Fox Sports in this debate at this critical time will give credence to an extreme organization that is opposed to reasonable policies to stem gun violence.  Thank you in advance for your consideration.
     
    Sincerely,
     
     
    Christopher S. Murphy
    United States Senator



    Photo Credit: Texas Motor Speedway

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    Police are investigating an assault and attempted sexual assault at a fraternity house at Wesleyan University.

    Middletown police said the assault allegedly occurred at 184 High Street in Middletown early Sunday morning and the victim was able to fend off the attacker and flee.

    The victim was treated at Middlesex Hospital for injuries received during the attack and reported the attack at 3 a.m.

    The house, 184 High Street, is the Beta Theta Pi House, according to the City of Middletown Department of Planning, Conservation and Development Web site and the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity Web site.

    The Wesleyan Argus reports that David Meyer, the public safety director at Wesleyan, said non-Beta brothers were among the people at the party on Saturday night and that the fraternity is cooperating with the investigation. 

    "The members of Beta Theta Pi share the campus' outrage at the allegation of an attempted sexual assault at our chapter house early Sunday morning. We are cooperating with the University and the Middletown Police Department as they seek to identify the alleged attacker, and will continue to help the authorities in every way if and when he is found and arrested," Elliot Albert, president of the fraternity, wrote in a statement.

    The Special Investigative Services Unit is investigating, police said and detectives are pursuing several leads.

    Courthouse News Service reports that a former Wesleyan University student who reported being sexually assaulted at a Beta Theta Pi house filed a lawsuit against the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, the Mu Epsilon chapter. the landlord and manager of the Beta House, and Wesleyan University.

    "Beta House has a long-documented history of dangerous misconduct, student injuries and numerous sexual assaults of women, resulting in Beta and Mu Epsilon losing recognition from Wesleyan as a student organization and gaining the reputation in the Wesleyan community as the 'Rape Factory'," Courhouse News Service reports, citing the complaint.

    Anyone with information is asked to call the Middletown Police Department at 860-344-3200.

    The full statement from Beta is posted below:

    "The members of Beta Theta Pi share the campus' outrage at the allegation of an attempted sexual assault at our chapter house early Sunday morning. We are cooperating with the University and the Middletown Police Department as they seek to identify the alleged attacker, and will continue to help the authorities in every way if and when he is found and arrested. Events such as this compromise the sense of safety and security that we as members of a campus community deserve, and we have zero tolerance for such actions. Unfortunately, sexual assault at Wesleyan remains a problem, and we share the belief that sexual assault, like any kind of assault, is problematic and utterly unacceptable. That our house became the location of this unfortunate and intolerable crime is a powerful reminder to the entire Wesleyan community that we collectively need to do a better job at raising awareness and prevention of these type of events. Beta Theta Pi plans to strengthen our partnership with Wesleyan’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and we will continue to plan programs for our members such as last semester's WESpeak-WEStand Bystander Intervention program, which aimed to create a campus that is actively engaged in the prevention of sexual assault. We all need to do our part in creating the safer community we deserve. Our thoughts, prayers, and solidarity are with the survivor."
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Police are investigating a report of sexual assault at a fraternity house at Wesleyan University.Police are investigating a report of sexual assault at a fraternity house at Wesleyan University.

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    Three teenage boys are under arrest, facing possible charges in connection with what police say was the sexual assault of a 15-year-old female California high school student.

    Attorney Robert Allard, who represents the girl’s family, says the teen committed suicide after photos of the alleged attack at Saratoga High School in Saratoga were published online.

    “Based on what we know, she was unconscious, there were multiple boys in the room with her,” Allard said. “They did unimaginable things to her while she was unconscious.”

    On Sept. 10, 2012, eight days after the alleged assault, the girl, Audrie Pott, committed suicide.

    We don’t normally identify victims of sexual assault or suicide, but have used the girl’s name in this report with her parents’ permission. They are hoping the story will help prevent something like this from every happening to anyone else.

    The family’s attorney says the girl took her life after learning that her attackers took photos during the assault, and then published them online and showed them around school.

    Allard said, in the days that followed the attack, the girl wrote on her Facebook page, “The whole school knows…. My life is ruined.”

    The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office would not comment on the case because the suspects are minors.

    The sheriff’s department tells NBC Bay Area all three boys are 16 years old and were arrested on charges of sexual battery on Thursday.  Two of them were arrested on the Saratoga High School campus Thursday morning and the third was arrested in Gilroy.

    Allard says two of the boys are students at Saratoga High School and the third is a student at Christopher High School in Gilroy. 

    All three are being held at Juvenile Hall until a detention hearing on Monday or Tuesday, but as of yet, have not been charged with a crime.

    The girl’s parents, who didn’t find out about the attack until after their daughter’s death, want the boys prosecuted as adults.

    “What these boys did is beyond unconscionable,” Allard said. “They should be held to the highest standard of the law to make sure this never ever happens again.”



    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

    15-year-old Audrie Pott's suicide rocked Saratoga High School last fall.15-year-old Audrie Pott's suicide rocked Saratoga High School last fall.

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    Federal investigators spent hours at the Cardinal Coach company's Texas headquarters Thursday night, hours after a bus crash outside Dallas killed two people and injured 40.

    Investigators combed through evidence like maintenance records and log books. They could return to the Grand Prairie office several times over the next few weeks.

    As the bus was towed away from the scene in nearby Irving, the video clearly showed one tire that was blown out. Some passengers told NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth they heard a loud popping sound before impact. That could have been a tire blowout.

    "We've heard stories passengers heard a loud pop so we will be looking at tire safety and looking at the equipment on the bus itself," said former Department of Transportation official Brigham McCown.

    But others passengers said they did not hear or see anything wrong in the seconds before the crash.

    The bus driver, Loyd Reive, has been working as a commercial driver for nearly 20 years, according to his family.

    NBC 5 dug through court records and discovered Reive was behind the wheel in a deadly bus crash in 2001. He swerved around an accident on I-35 and struck and killed a Good Samaritan who was trying to help victims. A grand jury chose not to indict him.

    Reive remains in the intensive care unit at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

    Calls and messages to Cardinal Coach have not been returned.

    Passengers Injured, Organizer Killed

    Casino trip organizer Sue Taylor, 81, of Hurst, and Paula Hahn, 69, of Fort Worth, died in Thursday's crash, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

    Family friends described Taylor, who went by the name "Casino Sue," as a "firecracker" of a woman.

    "We're devastated," Janet Denham said.

    Her friends said Taylor often planned casino trips and would entertain her guests with games during the road trips. Her daughter told NBC 5 that her mother had been organizing the trips for 10 years.

    Information from area hospitals had 13 patients still receiving treatment at Parkland, three at Baylor Irving, one at Baylor Dallas, and one at Methodist. All patients were treated and released at the UT Southwester St. Paul Medical Center. Las Colinas Medical Center did not respond to calls for updates on the seven patients transported there.

    Dan Risik, who spoke with NBC 5 both from the scene of the crash and later from his home, said he felt "very lucky" to be alive after the crash.

    "After hearing what I've heard and seeing what I've seen in person, I feel extremely fortunate to be virtually injury-free -- a few scrapes, whatever," Risik said. "Other than that, I feel very lucky."

    Deadly Texas Bus Crash Coincides with Safety Crackdown

    Thursday's deadly crash happened in the middle of an aggressive push by federal regulators to shutter unscrupulous carriers and ramp up safety inspections.

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has shut down more than a dozen private bus companies — nearly half of which it deemed "imminent hazards" — over the past couple months. Last week, the agency announced it was deploying a team of more than 50 safety investigators throughout the country to conduct a wider examination of "higher risk" carriers, including many small charter operations. The FMCSA also asked local police to join the crackdown by boosting traffic enforcement.

    The inspection teams headed out into the field on April 1, with orders to target 250 companies with lackluster safety records, according to the American Bus Association, a trade group whose officials were briefed by federal authorities.

    Among the carriers already shut down by the FMCSA was Fung Wah, a popular discount bus service between New York City and Boston that had a history of crashes and safety violations.

    It's not clear whether the owner of the bus that wrecked Thursday, Cardinal Coach Line, would have been targeted in the crackdown had the crash not happened. According to FMCSA's online record system, Cardinal Coach Line was given a "satisfactory" safety rating in 2009. In the past two years, none of the company's five buses has been in a crash, the records say. But the company's two inspections over that period found violations that resulted in putting a bus and/or or a driver out of service.

    Read more on the federal bus safety crackdown here.



    Photo Credit: NBCDFW.com

    Investigators continue to comb through the wreckage of a bus involved in a deadly crash on state Highway 161 near Belt Line Road Thursday morning.Investigators continue to comb through the wreckage of a bus involved in a deadly crash on state Highway 161 near Belt Line Road Thursday morning.

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    A fisherman gets the surprise of his life when he and a shark compete for the same catch in Waianae, Hawaii.

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    A Newington woman was arrested in South Windsor, accused of stealing flat-screen televisions from a local funeral home.

    Police said Lisa Osgood, 38, confessed to stealing two 18-inch flat screen televisions from the lobby of a funeral home in February. 

    Police said investigators determined that Osgood had been in the area and obtained a warrant after her confession.

    The arrest warrant was served on Thursday morning.

    Osgood was charged burglary in the third degree and larceny in the fifth degree.

    She was held on $100,000 surety bond and will be presented at Manchester Superior Court Friday morning.
     



    Photo Credit: South Windsor Police

    Lisa Osgood, of Newington, is accused of stealing two flat-screen TVs from a South Windsor funeral home.Lisa Osgood, of Newington, is accused of stealing two flat-screen TVs from a South Windsor funeral home.

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    New Haven police have issued an alert for a 12-year-old boy who has been missing since Thursday.

    When Edward Bookert Jr. was last seen, he was carrying a black book bag and wearing a Navy blue uniform shirt, gray jacket and black and white Nikes.

    Police said Edward's parents went to the Conte West Hills School to pick up their son at 2:45 p.m. and school officials told them Edward may have taken a bus from school, police said.

    The parents contacted the bus company, which had no record of Edward boarding one of their busses from the school.

    Police said Edward has attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, which requires him to be supervised at all times, but he is otherwise not troubled or at risk.

    Edward's parents reported him missing at 11:22 p.m. 

    He has been reported missing three times in December 2012, according to police.

    Edward is 5-feet-3 tall, thin and weighs 120 to 125 pounds.

    He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a blue uniform shirt, a light gray hooded jacket and black, gray and white Nike sneakers. He has a black book-bag.

    He has black hair, brown eyes and a scar on his cheek.

    If you see Edward, call New Haven police at 203-946-6316, reference 13-16686.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

    Edward Bookert, 12, of New Haven, has been missing since Thursday.Edward Bookert, 12, of New Haven, has been missing since Thursday.

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