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    Police in North Carolina have charged a woman with animal cruelty who is accused of posting a photo on Facebook showing a dog muzzled with electrical tape that sparked outrage and went viral.

    A Facebook user with an account registered to "Katie Brown" posted a photograph on her Facebook wall Friday of a dog that looks like a chocolate lab with electrical tape wrapped around its mouth and the message, "This is what happens when you dont (sic) shut up!!!"

    Cary, North Carolina police charged Katharine F. Lemansky, 44, with animal cruelty after she was tracked there by several law enforcement agencies in three states and admitted to police that the incident happened in Cary, according to a statement released by the town of Cary, North Carolina on Monday night.

    Police in Cary reached Monday night did not know if she was being represented by an attorney.

    “Taping the dog’s muzzle shut was a terrible decision on Ms. Lemansky’s part, and charging her with animal cruelty under North Carolina law was the right thing to do,” Cary Police Captain Randall Rhyne said in a news release.

    But the dog, who police identified as "Brown," will not be taken away from Lemansky, Rhyne noted. Neither will Brown's littermate.

    “At the same time, it’s important to also note that our animal control officers who physically examined both Brown and her littermate found the dogs to be very well cared for, which is why we did not and could not remove them from the owner," Rhyne said. "The dogs are current on their shots, spayed, and microchipped. They are clean and well-nourished and appear to be comfortable in their surroundings. And there were no signs of injury to Brown’s muzzle, not even detectable hair loss.”

    The post was shared hundreds of thousands of times between the time it went up on Friday and the time the post was pulled down on Sunday.

    Cary police worked with law enforcement agencies "across two states" to determine whose jurisdiction the case was in and pursue a quick resolution to the situation that had prompted public outcry and messages to local officials from thousands of people across the globe."

    Police in Avon and Torrington, as well as South Daytona, Florida, were inundated with phone calls and emails from people concerned about the Facebook post of the dog, claiming the photo to be evidence of animal cruelty and calling on police to do something. All three departments launched investigations and have been working together for the past few days to track down the woman behind the Facebook post to find out what happened and where. Messages and information had circulated claiming she lived in those places.

    South Daytona police first launched an investigation at 7:19 p.m. on Friday after the department received numerous calls referencing a woman going by the name "Katie Brown" posting a photo of a chocolate lab with its mouth duct-taped shut on Facebook.

    Lt. Dan Dietrich, of South Daytona police, said police then determined the woman's legal name is Katharine F. Lemansky.

    Police in South Daytona got in contact with her adult son, who lives in that town. He told them his mother moved to Connecticut over a year ago and has been living in Avon with a boyfriend, possibly a fiancé, Dietrich said. He told police Friday that she was staying in North Carolina and was headed down to his place in Florida, but that he didn't know where she was at the time of her Facebook post.

    Meanwhile, back in Connecticut, Avon police police went to the "so-called residence" that police believe she was associated with in the town, but that "she has not been there" and police are unclear on "the last time she actually was at the home." NBC Connecticut also went to the house, but no one answered the door.

    “We have received an outpouring of telephone calls and e-mail about the recent Facebook posting of a dog with its mouth duct-taped closed. We thank everyone for their concern. The Avon Police Department Animal Control Officer is actively investigating this case and we want to assure you that we take all cases of animal abuse very seriously,” Avon police said in a statement on Monday.

    Police went to an address Facebook messages said she may be at in Daytona Beach, but authorities in that jurisdiction reported she was nowhere to be found.

    Daytona Animal Control also reported getting tens of thousands of messages and calls from around the world, as far as Canada and Australia, about the Facebook post of the tape-muzzled dog.

    Then, South Daytona police called authorities in Cary, North Carolina to notify them the woman behind the "disturbing photo" might be there. Within an hour, Cary police sent animal control officers to look for Lemansky.

    Cary police located Lemansky at a place on Churchview Street and charged her with Class 1 misdemeanor cruelty to animals after she admitted to police that she duct-taped her dog's mouth shut at the place she was staying at in Cary, police said.

    Online outrage over the post has also affected at least one business in Simsbury, Connecticut that reported being unfairly targeted with criticism over an employee's alleged association with the woman accused of posting the photo of the tape-muzzled dog.

    Lemansky could face a fine and as many as 150 days in jail, Cary officials said. She is scheduled to appear in Wake county court in North Carolina on Dec. 14. Police said no further charges are pending.



    Photo Credit: Screenshot via Facebook

    A Facebook post of a dog with its mouth duct-taped shut has gone viral and caused outrage among animal advocates.A Facebook post of a dog with its mouth duct-taped shut has gone viral and caused outrage among animal advocates.

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    The man accused of killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic made his first court appearance Monday, where he was told that he could face the death penalty, NBC News reported.

    If convicted of first degree murder in the shooting, which left three dead and nine wounded, Robert Lewis Dear would face a minimum sentence of life in prison and a maximum of death, the judge said.

    Dear, 57, allegedly held the Colorado Springs clinic under siege for five hours before surrendering Friday afternoon.

    He said little as he spoke to the judge via closed circuit TV, answering the judge's yes-or-no questions in a raspy voice with his public defender at his side. Dear is due back in court Dec. 9.



    Photo Credit: Daniel Owen/The Gazette via AP, Pool
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Colorado Springs shooting suspect, Robert Dear, right, appears via video before Judge Gilbert Martinez, with public defender Dan King, at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center for this first court appearance, where he was told he faces first degree murder charges, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo.Colorado Springs shooting suspect, Robert Dear, right, appears via video before Judge Gilbert Martinez, with public defender Dan King, at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center for this first court appearance, where he was told he faces first degree murder charges, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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    Police from New Haven and Yale University are looking for the group of five teenage boys who attacked a 79-year-old Yale University faculty member as he walked home from work on Friday, knocked him to the ground and stole his wallet and backpack.

    Police responded to Bradley Street and Whitney Avenue in New Haven just after 6:30 p.m. on Friday after receiving a report that a person was down, but did not find the victim because he’d left.

    When the 79-year-old man got home, his wife saw he was hurt and called for help, police said.

    The victim was taken to the hospital and told detectives he was walking home from work on Hillhouse Avenue when five young men passed him on Whitney Avenue, according to New Haven Police.

    When he turned onto Bradley Street, he saw the same group and said one hit him from behind. He was also punched, kicked, thrown to the ground and lost consciousness. When he came to, his backpack and wallet were gone, police said.

    Yale University police said the faculty member suffered minor injuries and referred to the attackers as teenage boys.

    A witness reported seeing the group, but said he didn’t realize they were beating up the victim until they’d fled and he could see the victim on the ground.

    “These are certainly cowards and we’d love to put handcuffs on every single one of them," Officer David Hartman, of New Haven Police, said.

    Officers found the victim’s wallet and are looking at video surveillance to try and identify the attackers.

    One was on a bicycle and another was “obese,” the victim told police.

    New Haven Police detectives ask anyone who saw the attack or has information to call them at 203-946-6304. They are also urging people to be cautious while out walking at night and said they see more property crimes around the holidays.  

    Yale University police are asking anyone with information about the attack to call  (203) 432-4400.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Police in Avon, Connecticut have been inundated with phone calls and emails from people concerned over a Facebook post showing a dog muzzled with electrical tape that has gone viral and said they actively investigating the case.

    “Everybody is trying to get a hold of her!” Avon Police Lt. Kelly Walsh said.

    Walsh said Avon police are looking to speak with a Facebook account holder who uses the name "Katie Brown" and is accused of posting a photograph on her Facebook wall Friday of a dog that looks like a chocolate lab with electrical tape wrapped around its mouth and the message, "This is what happens when you dont (sic) shut up!!!"

    The post, photo and Facebook account have not been authenticated, but the post was shared hundreds of thousands of times between the time it went up on Friday and the time the post was pulled down on Sunday.

    That post prompted outrage from animal lovers, who inundated police in Avon and Torrington, Connecticut and Florida authorities with messages about the picture of the dog.

    South Daytona police launched an investigation at 7:19 p.m. on Friday after the department received numerous calls referencing a woman going by the name "Katie Brown" posting a photo of a chocolate lab with its mouth duct-taped shut on Facebook.

    Lt. Dan Dietrich, of South Daytona police, said the woman's legal name is Katharine F. Lemansky.

    Police in South Daytona have been in contact with her adult son, who lives in South Daytona, Florida. He told them his mother moved to Connecticut over a year ago and has been living in Avon with a boyfriend, possibly a fiancé, Dietrich said. He told police Friday that she was staying in North Carolina and was headed down to his place in Florida, where he expected she'd be in a few days. Her son told investigators he didn't know where she was at the time the Facebook post.

    Meanwhile, back in Connecticut, Avon police have also been flooded with calls and had to bring in an additional dispatcher over the weekend to help handle them.

    Walsh said that Avon police went to the "so-called residence" that police believe she was associated with in the town, but that "she has not been there" and police are unclear on "the last time she actually was at the home."

    NBC Connecticut also went to the house, but no one answered the door.

    Anna Redlica, a neighbor, said "Why do you own a pet if you cannot take care of the pet properly? If you can't do it, just don’t do it, you know."

    Avon police released a follow-up statement about the case on Monday, saying they are pursuing leads and thank people for their concerns.

    “We have received an outpouring of telephone calls and e-mail about the recent Facebook posting of a dog with its mouth duct-taped closed. We thank everyone for their concern. The Avon Police Department Animal Control Officer is actively investigating this case and we want to assure you that we take all cases of animal abuse very seriously,” a statement from Avon Police said.

    Avon and Torrington police are working with police in South Daytona, Florida to find Brown and determine the status of her dog and determine which department has jurisdiction. Police said it appears that the Facebook user going by "Katie Brown" appears to have traveled south for the holidays.

    The Facebook user's profile says she lives in South Daytona, leading to a flood of calls and messages to police and city officials there. The city of South Daytona has been updating the public about developments in the investigation and said that its Facebook postings reached 1.4 million people and that they received over 19,000 comments and 600 messages. The police department brought in 20 percent of its off-duty workforce to help handle calls over the weekend. The police department was receiving so many calls at one point that their switchboard for emergency calls shut down.

    "Our Department continues to actively investigate this case. We have determined that Katie Brown’s real name is Katharine Lemansky," South Daytona Police Chief Ron Wright  said. "Because Lemansky owns property in both Florida and Connecticut, it is difficult to determine where she is actually living at this time. We continue to keep in contact with Connecticut authorities. The local property in South Daytona appears vacant and is currently under code enforcement action."

    He stressed that "this case is a high priority" to South Daytona police and that it "will be handled as would any other criminal investigation."

    "At this time we do not know Lemansky’s location, but will continue to follow all leads," Wright said. "The Department has reached out to Lemansky’s family and friends and requested that if they have contact with her, that they urge her to bring the dog into the nearest police station so that the well-being of the animal can be determined.  Once Lemansky and the dog have been located, the case will be reviewed and applicable charges as allowed by law will be filed."

    Police also tracked down an address in Daytona Beach ciculating on Facebook that stated "Brown," or Lemansky, may be living there, but when authorities in that jurisdiction checked it out and tried to contact her, they were unable to find a woman named Katie Brown residing there.

    Daytona Animal Control reported getting tens of thousands of messages and calls from around the world, as far as Canada and Australia, about the Facebook post of the tape-muzzled dog.

    Online outrage over the post has also affected at least one business in Simsbury, Connecticut that reported being unfairly targeted with criticism over an employee's alleged association with the woman accused of posting the photo of the tape-muzzled dog.

    South Daytona police also have tried to make contact with the woman in question, calling her phone number, which was circulating on social media. However, attempts to reach her have been unsuccessful. Her son has been instructed to call them when she gets to Florida.

    Police in Connecticut and Florida are asking Brown/Lemansky to make contact with them so they can clarify the facts of what actually happened.

    No criminal charges have been filed at this time.



    Photo Credit: Facebook

    Screen shot of Facebook posting that has gone viral and caused outrage among animal advocates.Screen shot of Facebook posting that has gone viral and caused outrage among animal advocates.

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    The group that represents bus manufacturers and school bus owners in Connecticut is easing its stance on the possible requirement of seat belts on all school buses.

    “Overall it’s one of the safest vehicles out there," said Leslie Sheldon with the Connecticut School Transportation Association, COSTA.

    Sheldon said the safest seat belt for children is a three-point-seat belt like those used in cars. She says the best way to move forward with a policy on seat belts is for new bus requirements that have the belts already installed. Retrofitting buses, Sheldon says, is not a viable or safe option.

    “You compromise the safety of the bus and the seat if you retrofit a school bus. If it’s not seatbelt ready from the manufacturer, every time you take that seat out of the floor, you compromise the integrity" she said.

    Mark Rosekind, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said earlier this month that he wants to see all school buses be equipped with seat belts.

    The cost of a new bus with three point seat belts could cost a school system as much as $15,000. The cost of replacement buses has been COSTA's biggest concern.

    Sheldon says if school systems can make the math work, that replacements with the new belts is the way to go.

    “The good thing to do is to buy the bus with the seat already in it.”



    Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

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    Waterbury police are looking for a real-life Grinch after nearly a dozen Christmas trees were stolen from a school in Waterbury over the weekend, according to police.

    The trees were taken from a lot at Saints Peter and Paul School, where students and their parents have been selling the trees as part of a fundraiser.

    “This is contrary to the season," Bart Cammarasana, a volunteer who helps run the tree stand, said.

    Waterbury Police said someone drove into the lot after dark - at least two times - over the weekend to load up on ten trees.

    “I hope they realize who and how many people they’ve affected," Cammarasan said.

    The tree thieves have affected many people; mostly children, because this is the school's holiday fundraiser to help keep tuition costs down. Between $400 and $600 worth of trees are now gone, according to volunteers and police.

    “You have to be low, like really low. You have to be scum of the earth," said Joseph Franqui, who has a brother that attends Saints Peter and Paul School. Franqui said his family actually spotted the tree thieves and even tried to follow the red, older model SUV they were driving. The culprits, Franqui said, managed to get away.

    “Stealing trees from a Catholic school, just trying to raise money for the children, to have better books, better computers, better anything," said Franqui, of the thieves actions.
    Anyone who knows who may be involved or who knows where those stolen trees are now, is urged to call Waterbury Police.

    “This community comes out and supports this Christmas tree stand and I’m sure they feel it too," said Cammarasan.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Nearly a dozen Christmas trees were stolen from a school in Waterbury over the weekend, according to police.Nearly a dozen Christmas trees were stolen from a school in Waterbury over the weekend, according to police.

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    Police in Aurora, Colorado, say a man who appeared to be a stranded driver sliced an officer’s head open, stole his patrol car and led police on a high-speed chase, NBC News reported.

    "I have absolutely no qualms in believing that this suspect meant to kill our officer,” Chief Nicholas Metz said, calling the attack “unprovoked” and “vicious.”

    The officer spotted a vehicle near downtown Aurora. The assailant, who was not identified, “tackled him from behind and struck him with a sharp object,” according to Lt. Scott Torpen.

    The man jumped into the officer’s vehicle and took off. Patrol cars responded, giving chase and striking the vehicle. Police fired several rounds at the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

    The officer, who was also not named, is in hospital with a “very serious head injury,” Metz told reporters.



    Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez

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    More snow is likely to hit Minnesota and South Dakota on Tuesday, where some cities have declared snow emergencies, NBC News reported.

    A new system is gathering over the northern Plains, centered over South Dakota and southern Minnesota.

    While much of the country was clearing, in that area, "we've still got plenty of moisture to work with and certainly a lot of cold air," said Danielle Banks, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

    Oklahoma was bracing for more snow accumulation, and is still cleaning up after freezing rain, ice and sleet began on Thanksgiving. The state is under a state of emergency. Parts of Kansas could also see more snow and ice through Tuesday.



    Photo Credit: AP

    A man walks in the snow past a statue of children holding umbrellas in Omaha, Neb., Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. A slow-moving wintry storm system has been moving through parts of the Plains and the Midwest since Thursday.A man walks in the snow past a statue of children holding umbrellas in Omaha, Neb., Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. A slow-moving wintry storm system has been moving through parts of the Plains and the Midwest since Thursday.

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    A faulty rudder control system and the pilots’ response led to the crash of an AirAsia plane last year, NBC News reported.

    The main flight control computer on the Airbus A320 had a cracked joint that caused it to malfunction repeatedly, according to Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee.

    The pilots struggled to handle the influx of warning messages while the plane rolled, then climbed too high before crashing into the Java Sea.

    According to the report, the midair emergency took place over two-and-a-half minutes. The plane plummeted at a rate of 20,000 feet per minute.

    All 162 people on board the flight died when the flight went down last year.
     



    Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

    Indonesian Soejanto Tjahjono, head of the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT), holds a plane model as he speaks to journalists in Jakarta on December 1, 2015, during a press conference on the investigation report of AirAsia flight QZ8501 that crashed into the Java sea on December 28, 2014. Faulty equipment and the crew's Indonesian Soejanto Tjahjono, head of the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT), holds a plane model as he speaks to journalists in Jakarta on December 1, 2015, during a press conference on the investigation report of AirAsia flight QZ8501 that crashed into the Java sea on December 28, 2014. Faulty equipment and the crew's "inability to control the aircraft" led an AirAsia A320 to crash into the Java Sea last year, killing all 162 people onboard, a report said on December 1.

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    There’s been little relief since Puerto Rico’s governor declared the U.S. territory’s $72 billion debt unable to be paid, according to NBC News.

    Backers of proposals to allow Puerto Rico to restructure its debt through a bankruptcy process often used by U.S. cities were to begin gathering in Washington, D.C.

    A Senate committee was to hold another hearing on the crisis. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla will be a witness at a 10 a.m. hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    As of Monday, Puerto Rico was undecided on whether to let the deadline pass without payment, thereby defaulting and possibly setting off a court battle. That decision would be made on Tuesday, NBC News reported.



    Photo Credit: AP

    In this April 30, 2015, file photo, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla delivers his budget address for the next fiscal year at the Capitol building in San Juan.In this April 30, 2015, file photo, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla delivers his budget address for the next fiscal year at the Capitol building in San Juan.

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    A car hit a house at 2319 Albany Ave. in West Hartford on Tuesday morning.

    Police did not have any information about injuries and said the house appears to be structurally sound.

    A utility pole was knocked down during the crash and crews from the power company Eversource responded to make repairs.

    No additional information was available.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    A car hit a house in West Hartford early Tuesday morning.A car hit a house in West Hartford early Tuesday morning.

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    Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Tuesday that admitting in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees "does not solve the problem" and "exposes us to danger."

    Carson visited Jordan to tour Syrian refugee camps last week. He called the camps "really quite nice" and told "Today's" Matt Lauer on Tuesday that people are not giving enough money to support Jordan's efforts. He suggested the camps should serve as a long-term solution.

    The retired neurosurgeon's standing in the polls has taken a hit recently, and he finds himself in third place in numerous polls, behind Donald Trump and either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.

    "Poll numbers will go up and down. It's a marathon, not a sprint," Carson said.



    Photo Credit: AP

    Republican presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a news conference, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, in Henderson, Nevada.Republican presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a news conference, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, in Henderson, Nevada.

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    By all accounts, 27-year-old Eric Kohler loves what he does, producing visual effects for blockbusters like “The Avengers,” “San Andreas,” and “X-Men.”

    But last Tuesday, he walked out of work in Gardena without his wallet, his laptop or his bag — and never came back.

    Now his family is doing everything they can to find out what happened.

    Night after night, Kohler’s desperate mother and father are posting fliers, hoping for any help in finding their missing son.

    Kohler is an up-and-coming movie producer and his family said he is a workaholic and a responsible man who would never just disappear.

    "I know my son would never do this," Sheryi Kohler said.

    He was last seen leaving work, in the 1700 block of El Segundo Boulevard, last Tuesday in his new Range Rover. Phone records and surveillance video show he went to a Food 4 Less parking lot, but then soon after his phone appeared to have been turned off.

    "And he literally disappeared,” said his father, Tony Kohler. “It's heartbreaking. It's damn heartbreaking."

    Kohler is originally from Oakley, in Northern California, and relocated to Los Angeles after high school. Kohler moved to Los Angeles to work in the movie industry. Kohler responded to an ad for a receptionist job and worked his way to become a visual effects producer at HYDRAULX.

    Since his disappearance, friends and family said they have been in agony. The Thanksgiving holiday came and went without any sign. So did a huge project deadline at work — the kind Eric's parents say he would never miss.

    "He had big ambition to work hard and that's what he's been doing and something bad happened," said his mother.

    Tony Kohler said they are praying Eric just needed to get away but said there are too many red flags. Eric left his wallet, bags and computer behind. There has also been no activity in his accounts for days.

    Kohler was last seen wearing a light blue short-sleeved shirt, blue skinny jeans, brown suede shoes and a brown leather, chrome-plated watch.

    Anyone with information on Kohler’s disappearance is asked to call the LAPD Missing Person Unit at 213-996-1800. After hours, please call LAPD’s RACR Division at 213-484-6700.

    See LAPD's missing person flier here.



    Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy LAPD

    Eric Kohler, 27, mysteriously disappeared Nov. 24, 2015 from his work in Gardena.Eric Kohler, 27, mysteriously disappeared Nov. 24, 2015 from his work in Gardena.

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    Someone stole a woman's wheelchairs from the front porch of her Hartford home for the second time and police are investigating.

    Rene Lewis needs one wheelchair to get around inside her home on Greenfield Street and the other chair, a motorized version, to move around outside.

    Lewis said her son realized the wheelchairs were gone around 7 p.m. on Sunday when he saw they were not there. The two chairs are worth a combined $20,000.

    “Mine is specially made because I have arachnoiditis and scoliosis,” Lewis said.

    Police said they have not found witnesses or evidence to help find the chairs.

    Lewis said someone took the chairs a month ago, but they found them the next day.

    Lewis just wants the chairs back again and said her she's trapped at home without them and cannot get to doctor appointments.

    “Bring my chairs back. They're not toys,” she said.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Police want to know who stole two wheelchairs from a Hartford home.Police want to know who stole two wheelchairs from a Hartford home.

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    More than 2,000 raids have been carried out in France following the deadly terror attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told told radio station Europe 1 on Tuesday.

    Police confiscated 300 weapons and taken 210 people into custody, Valls said, adding that the number of arrests indicated that the searches conducted after France declared a state of emergency "are not due to chance" and "allow support for objective suspicions."

    As he was speaking, police in Italy and Kosovo arrested four Kosovars suspected of being part of a jihadi cell that spread propaganda and made threats against Pope Francis, judicial officials told Reuters.

    According to Italian police, the four, three of whom were arrested in Italy and one in Kosovo, are suspected of "condoning terrorism" and "inciting racial hatred." 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Inhabitants are evacuated from a security perimeter set in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis city center, on Nov. 18, 2015, after French Police special forces raided an apartment, hunting those behind the attacks that claimed 130 lives in the French capital five days ago.Inhabitants are evacuated from a security perimeter set in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis city center, on Nov. 18, 2015, after French Police special forces raided an apartment, hunting those behind the attacks that claimed 130 lives in the French capital five days ago.

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    The ex-wife of an ISIS leader was among 13 Islamists released in swap with al Qaeda's Syrian wing in exchange for Lebanese captives on Tuesday, NBC News reported. 

    Saja al-Dulaimi, ex-wife of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was seen being taken to eastern Lebanon in a convoy in footage aired by the Al-Jazeera television channel. She was detained in Lebanon last year when she tried to cross the border illegally with her current husband, using forged identity cards.

    She and 12 other prisoners were handed over to Syria’s al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in exchange for 16 Lebanese security personnel who were held hostage since 2014, according to Lebanese security officials.

    The Nusra Front and ISIS kidnapped 29 Lebanese policemen and soldiers last year. Four have been killed and nine will remain in captivity after Tuesday’s swap.



    Photo Credit: AP

    Families of soldiers and policemen who were kidnapped by militants from the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, cheer after following news that their sons were being released, in front of tents set up for a protest in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. A group of Lebanese soldiers held captive since August 2014 were being released Tuesday as part of a swap deal.Families of soldiers and policemen who were kidnapped by militants from the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, cheer after following news that their sons were being released, in front of tents set up for a protest in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. A group of Lebanese soldiers held captive since August 2014 were being released Tuesday as part of a swap deal.

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    The holiday shopping season is underway so expect package predators and shipping slowdowns.

    Postal inspectors make nearly 10,000 arrests each year, many for mail theft, according to the U.S. Postal Service website. The Postal Service also responds to more than 27,000 consumer fraud complaints, including reports of identity theft. About 800 police officers with the service respond to such complaints.

    But there are steps you can take to make sure your purchase arrives where intended and in one piece. 

    FedEx suggests requesting a signature for your package or shipping to an alternate destination where you know someone will be available to pick it up. Or, have the parcel kept on hold for up to five days at a FedEx office location.

    UPS recommends wapping up fragile packages, whether toys, electronics, or appliances. The service also promotes a package timing calculator to ensure packages get to their destinations before Santa does.

    Another tip: Place an extra address label with the delivery and return address inside the package. This could help return the package should its outside label become damaged or fall off.

    USPS has similar suggestions for keeping your packages secure in transit, including making sure to wrap each item separately when packing multiple items and shaking a package to ensure items are snug. 

    The U.S. Postal Service alone plans to deliver 19 billion cards, letters and packages by Christmas. Here are timetables that USPS, FedEx and UPS recommend for when packages should be sent out to make it under the tree by the holiday. And post offices nationwide will be open Christmas Eve but many will be closed by noon. Regular hours will be restored on New Year's Eve. Mailing delivery will be unaffected throughout the season. 

    but many will shorten retail lobby hours and close at noon. Post Offices will be open regular hours on New Year's Eve. Mail delivery will be unaffected.

    If you live in New York City, Chicago or San Francisco, there's an app, Doorman, that is designed to prevent unattended packages from being stolen. It gives users the address of a warehouse to use as the shipping address during online checkout. Once the package arrives at the warehouse, customers are notified and can arrange for a delivery driver to drop it off when convenient.

    If all these tips prove to be unsuccessful and your package is stolen or destroyed, you can file a claim online with USPS, FedEx and UPS.



    Photo Credit: Getty

    Packages sit stacked in a truck for delivery on Cyber Monday at a UPS distribution facility in New York, U.S., on Nov. 30, 2015.Packages sit stacked in a truck for delivery on Cyber Monday at a UPS distribution facility in New York, U.S., on Nov. 30, 2015.

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  • 11/30/15--15:28: Bland Probe Nearly Complete

  • A team of special prosecutors has nearly completed its investigation of the arrest and subsequent death of a black woman in a Texas jail, and it plans to finish presenting its evidence to a grand jury by the end of December, one of the prosecutors said Monday.

    Houston attorney Darrell Jordan was among five prosecutors tapped by the Waller County district attorney to review evidence after Sandra Bland was found dead in her Waller County jail cell on July 13. The Chicago-area woman was arrested three days earlier after a routine traffic stop turned contentious and ended with the white state trooper holding Bland on the ground.

    The grand jury had its first meeting on Nov. 12, but prosecutors discovered they needed more information, Jordan said. Among the information sought -- but so far not found -- is the identity of the person who took a second video of the arrest that was posted online. The arrest also was record on the state trooper's dashcam.

    "It would be helpful if we had the person who shot that video, if there were things that happened before the video recorded and after," Jordan said.

    Sen. Royce West, a Dallas Democrat who has been a vocal leader in the case, released a statement earlier Monday saying investigations were wrapping up and it would soon "be up to a grand jury to decide whether the evidence presented warrants a criminal trial."

    The 28-year-old woman's death came after nearly a year of heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers or die in police custody.

    Shortly after Bland's death, West -- one of two black members of the Texas Senate -- met at Prairie View A&M University with the lieutenant governor, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and other state and Waller County officials. They watched the dashcam video of the arrest. Bland had been pulled over for an improper lane change in Prairie View, where she went to interview and accept a job at the school.

    West noted that several other investigations have been completed: The Texas Commission on Jail Standards concluded that Bland wasn't properly monitored while in the jail; the Texas Department of Public Safety has said the trooper who arrested Bland, Brian Encinia, didn't properly follow guidelines when he pulled her over.

    The Texas Rangers have been handling the Department of Public Safety probe, the Waller County sheriff has said the results of an internal investigation could result in discipline against jail employees, and the FBI also has been asked to review the case.

    Bland was unable to post about $500 bond after being arrested on an assault charge. A medical examiner ruled her death a suicide.

    West's spokesman, Kelvin Bass, noted that some people initially questioned whether Bland had been killed by someone else, but said West accepted the medical examiner's findings.

    Bland's mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the trooper who arrested Bland, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Waller County, the sheriff's department and two county jailers. Her attorneys didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment Monday.
     



    Photo Credit: TELEMUNDO LOCAL

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    Police have arrested a man who is accused of stabbing a relative in Willimantic on Thanksgiving morning.

    Police responded to Summit Street just after 9 a.m. on Thursday and found 50-year-old Jose Cosme lying on the floor, suffering stab wounds to the neck and abdomen. A medical transport helicopter brought him to Hartford Hospital and he was in stable condition  while he was in the hospital, police said.

    Police have obtained an arrest warrant for Luis Sanchez, 30, charging him with first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and criminal act while on bond.

    Sanchez was held on $150,000 bond and is due at Danielson Superior Court on Tuesday morning.   



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    A new report reveals that at least 300 Americans are acting as ISIS ambassadors on social media — spreading propaganda and searching for potential recruits to join the terror group, NBC News reported. 

    Researchers at George Washington University's Program on Extremism said Twitter is the platform of choice for U.S. based sympathizers, many of them women.

    Even though Twitter takes their accounts down, new ones are created within hours and are retweeted by others to regain followers. 

    The report identified American ISIS supporters who acted as online "spotters" for ISIS, and the researchers who monitored those accounts for six months were able to watch recruitment of recently converted Americans unfold in real time. 

    The report also looked at how U.S. jihadists meet and recruit in person, uncovering small groups of apparent ISIS sympathizers in a number of cities.



    Photo Credit: AP

    In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave flags as they ride in a convoy, which includes multiple Toyota pickup trucks, through Raqqa city in Syria on a road leading to Iraq. Toyota is working with U.S. officials after questions were raised about the prominent use of its vehicles by militant organizations in Syria, Iraq and Libya.In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave flags as they ride in a convoy, which includes multiple Toyota pickup trucks, through Raqqa city in Syria on a road leading to Iraq. Toyota is working with U.S. officials after questions were raised about the prominent use of its vehicles by militant organizations in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

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