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    New Haven police have found a missing 12-year-old girl.

    Ashley Cox was last seen at 20 Judson Ave. in New Haven on Christmas with her 60-pound golden Labrador, according to an alert from police.  They called Cox an endangered runaway.

    Ashley's aunt, Candy Burton, said the preteen told her mother she loved her and would be right back after walking the dog.

    That was around 6 p.m. on Christmas Day and her family has not heard from her since.

    Ashley sometimes blows off steam by taking a walk but would never run away from the family she loves, family members said.

    "She would not go out and not call, like, 'Mom, I'm OK. For her not to come home or call, I don't know. this isn't her," Burton said.

    Police did not say how or where Cox was found.
     


    Ashley Cox had been missing from New Haven since Christmas.Ashley Cox had been missing from New Haven since Christmas.

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    Backup Jets quarterback Tim Tebow attempted to set the record straight regarding his much ballyhooed conversation with coach Rex Ryan and whether or not he asked out of the team's wildcat package last week.

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    State police have charged a 58-year-old Brookfield man accused of posing as a juvenile online for sexually explicit online relationships with juveniles.

    State police said William Stuart Meltzer, of Brookfield, is accused of using the Internet to engage in sexually explicit conversations with an 11-year old girl from another state.   

    Police obtained a search and seizure warrant for electronic evidence at Meltzer’s Brookfield home, seized electronic items and examined them to search for evidence and to locate other potential victims, according to state police.

    Police interviewed Meltzer and said they obtained evidence that he posed as a juvenile online to engage in sexually explicit online relationships with children. 

    Meltzer was placed under arrest, charged with three counts of impairing the morals of a minor and was released after posting a $50,000 cash bond on Dec. 26 at State Police Troop A.

    He is scheduled to appear at GA3- Danbury on Monday Jan. 7.
     


    State police said William Stuart Meltzer, of Brookfield, is accused of using the Internet to engage in sexually explicit conversations with an 11-year old girl from another state.State police said William Stuart Meltzer, of Brookfield, is accused of using the Internet to engage in sexually explicit conversations with an 11-year old girl from another state.

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    A woman sleeping on a street bench outside a drug store was doused with an accelerant and set on fire Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

    Witnesses told police that a man poured liquid — possibly a beverage containing alcohol — on the sleeping woman at about 1 a.m. outside a Walgreens store in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles. He lit a match and ran from the location, witnesses told police.

    The woman, who is in her 60s, was hospitalized in critical condition.

    "It was like when you pour gasoline on something — like an explosion," said witness Erickson Ipina.

    The man purchased the bottle containing alcohol in the Walgreens store, then poured the contents on the woman, Ipina told a Newsreel photographer. Ipina said he called 911 and followed the attacker, who brandished a knife.

    "He told me, 'Stop following me, or I will cut you,'" Ipina said. "I kept following him, and then the police came."

    One person was taken into custody after the attack.



    Photo Credit: Newsreel

    A woman sleeping on this Los Angeles bus bench was set on fire early Thursday.A woman sleeping on this Los Angeles bus bench was set on fire early Thursday.

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    On Wednesday, Tim Tebow answered the criticism he faced earlier this week for reportedly asking not to play at all if the Jets weren't going to make him the starting quarterback. 

    Tebow admitted to being disappointed with Rex Ryan's choice to elevate Greg McElroy to the starting role as well as frustration with being asked to do little more than run the ball on dive plays when he was used as a Wildcat quarterback, but firmly denied ever saying he didn't want to play. He said he went back to Ryan on Friday of last week to reiterate his willingness to play any role rather than to backtrack and slammed those who believed otherwise. 

    "You work your whole life to build a reputation," Tebow said. "Then people try to bring you down when they don't understand even what happened. It's disappointing. You just want to express your side of the story."

    This season might not have done much for Tim Tebow on the football side of things, but it certainly did a lot for the martyr complex that's been building since he entered the NFL as a college star that no one thinks can be a long-term starting quarterback.

    The longer he goes without getting that shot, the longer he can remain a guy who just wins and whose shunning by the football establishment makes him all the more popular. 

    That's a good place for this season to end since there hasn't been one thing about Tebow's stint with the Jets that has been about the football. In the end, Tebow's been little more than a MacGuffin to this Jets season. 

    For those who never took a film class, a MacGuffin is an object or goal that a film revolves around even though the object/goal itself is of far less importance than the lengths the characters will go to in order to obtain it. 

    That's all Tebow really was for the Jets. No one knows what he can do or whether he's actually worth all the arguing that people do over him, but he wound up exposing much about the men around him. 

    Woody Johnson approved a deal to get Tebow because he likes celebrity, Mike Tannenbaum made the trade because he's an order-taker rather than a bold thinker and Rex Ryan acted like Tebow was a key member of the team whose presence was a great benefit on the field because he's incapable of anything other than hyperbole. Mark Sanchez couldn't deal with the presence over his shoulder and McElroy became everyone's favorite toy simply by not being either of the other quarterbacks.

    Tebow was never actually here to play quarterback, a blazingly obvious fact that was given final confirmation Thursday when Ryan announced that Sanchez would start Sunday's game in place of the injured McElroy. The Jets could play a thousand games this year and Tebow wouldn't start a single one because he exists as a quarterback only in our minds and not in reality. 

    People will argue about whether Tebow's rant on Wednesday exonerates him from charges of selfishness, but those people are totally missing the point. We've learned nothing about Tebow this year, but we've learned plenty about the Jets and none of it is any good. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Citizen Kane had Rosebud and the Jets have Tebow.Citizen Kane had Rosebud and the Jets have Tebow.

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    People across the country have been doing what they can to help residents of Newtown, Connecticut after a school shooting took the lives of 20 elementary school children and six adults.

    One of those fund-raising efforts will bring 58 softball teams together at Fastpitch Nation in Bloomfield between Wednesday and Friday to play 29 games to raise money for families in Newtown.

    David Rocha, who owns Fastpitch Nation, used to live in Newtown and his daughter attended Sandy Hook Elementary School for kindergarten. His goal was to raise $15,000 and he met the goal.

    The minimum donation per team/per game was $150, but teams can donate as much as they want above that.

    A commemorative T-shirt will be sold for $20 and all the profit will to the "Sandy Hook Support Fund."

    Molly Rathbun, a four-time All American Pitcher from Eastern Connecticut State University and one of her students, Hannah Gailey, from the CT Mirage 14U Black, have been busily making support ribbons that will be sold for $1 per ribbon.

    Fastpitch Nation will be donating 10 percent of all purchases made in its pro shop, including bats, gloves, cleats, apparel and more.

    The NE Mirage Gold has asked Fastpitch to make homeruns easier to hit during this event and they will donate $10 to the fund for each homerun hit during all three days of the event.

    Schedule:
    Dec. 27

    • 11:30 a.m. Elms College and Western Connecticut State University
    • 12:45 p.m. Stamford Stars 10U and Monroe Mustangs 10U
    • 2 p.m. CT Eliminators 14U Black and CT Seahawks 16U
    • 3:15 p.m. CT Mirage 18U and Saddle Brook New Jersey HS
    • 4:30 p.m. Saddle Brook New Jersey HS  and CT Hornets 16U
    • 5:45 p.m. Newtown 12Uand  Monroe Mustangs 12U
    • 7 p.m. CT Seahawks 10U and CT Mirage 10U
    • 8:15 p.m. CT Seahawks 18U and Granby High School

    Dec. 28

    • 9 a.m. Stafford I and Stafford II
    • 10:15 a.m. Newtown 14U and Manchester 14U
    • 11:30 a.m. Ridgefield Rebels 12U and Manchester 12U
    • 12:45 p.m. Ridgefield Rebels 16U and Coventry 16U
    • 2 p.m. Regional 7 HS and Monson, Massachusetts High School
    • 3:15 p.m. Simsbury High School and CT Crusaders 16U
    • 4:30 p.m. Northwest Catholic High School and CT Mirage 16U White

    Fastpitch Nation is located at 62 Douglas St. in Bloomfield.

    Parking is limited.

     


    A softball tournament will raise money for families in Newtown.A softball tournament will raise money for families in Newtown.

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    Right up until last week's loss to the Ravens, it was hard to find anyone willing to say that something was wrong with the Giants. 

    Every loss and every shaky performance in a win was written off as a championship team going through the motions until they got to the point in the season when they would simply turn the throttle up and take over the league. Now that it is clear that no such switch ever existed, there's a race off the Giants bandwagon to rival the scrum after someone screams fire in a crowded theater. 

    After a season in which we were told time and time again that the Giants were a championship contender even though they played like a .500 team fighting for a playoff berth, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post now admits that no one on the team had a good year. All of a sudden players like Chase Blackburn are no longer the heart and soul of the team, but limited players whose lack of talent is a problem for the franchise. 

    After telling us on a weekly basis that the Giants would win because Eli Manning is elite and because Tom Coughlin knows what it takes to win, Schwartz's colleague Steve Serby points to arrogance as one of the reasons why their season has gone wrong. Funny how quickly confidence turns into arrogance, isn't it?

    The Giants aren't any better or worse this year than they've been in the last four years. Their timing was spot on last season, but the overall picture wasn't any different despite the attempt to turn the intangible into something real. 

    At least no one who spent the post-Super Bowl period telling people how stupid they were for thinking Coughlin should be fired if the Giants missed the playoffs are now calling for Coughlin's head. It's bad enough that they are speculating about Justin Tuck's future and criticizing Jason Pierre-Paul after spending the whole season firm in the belief that the lack of sacks is not a sign that the defensive line is failing to produce. 

    While the opinions of writers and others in the media are unlikely to have much impact on the decisions made by the Giants this offseason, the reaction to the fairly predictable turns this season has taken speaks to the need for the team to approach this offseason with a much colder analysis of the situation than they did this year. Loyalty and the faith that things just work out in the end for the Giants won't cut it this time. 

    That means giving David Diehl a fond farewell and finding younger offensive linemen with upside to rebuild the fraying remains of the group that the Giants desperately tried to keep intact despite mounting evidence of their shortcomings. It means figuring out whether players like Ahmad Bradshaw and Kenny Phillips can be counted on in the face of mounting injuries and deciding whether Corey Webster's bad year was an anomaly. 

    Those aren't easy choices, especially for a team that has been slow to pull the plug on formerly productive players in the past few years, but they are ones the Giants have to make as they attempt to turn their team from one that relies on good timing and fortune to one that makes all of its own luck in the years to come. 

    Whether they win or lose against the Eagles and whether or not they make the playoffs, that question will remain the one the Giants have to answer before next season gets started. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Something a little more solid than prayer is in order for the Giants.Something a little more solid than prayer is in order for the Giants.

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    The FBI has arrested a woman who was the subject of a Today Show story about alleged scams exploiting the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    The FBI arrested Nouel Alba, 37, of the Bronx, New York, on Thursday. 

    Last week, NBC’s Jeff Rossen reported that Alba posted a solicitation on Facebook within hours of the shooting, identifying herself as an aunt of Noah Pozner, a 6-year-old victim.

    Later, as families were grieving and the nation was looking for any and every way to help the victims’ families, she asked for funds to pay for the funeral, Rossen reported. 

    At Alba's instruction on the Facebook page "Victorian Glam Fairys,, donors sent money to a PayPal account that Alba controlled and accessed, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    In one text to a donor, Alba wrote about being in Newtown when President Barack Obama was in town to meet with the families and of how he hugged and cried with the families, according to the complaint.

    The donor asked Alba if she was watching the president's speech in person.

    According to the complaint, she responded: "No im sitting in my car. Emotionally I cant (sic) deal. with it right now ..tomorrow ill see (redacted) in a casket and that will be hard enough to handle."

    READ THE FULL COMPLAINT HERE.

    When FBI Special Agents investigating fundraising and charity scams related to the Newtown tragedy contacted her, Alba lied, stating that she did not post information related to Newtown on her Facebook account, solicit donations or recently access her PayPal account, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    Alexis Haller, the uncle of Noah Pozner, said Alba is not related to the family and never gave the family any of the funds raised.

    When Rossen went to Alba’s house to question her about the solicitation of funds, she denied posting the message or to posing as a member of Noah’s family.

    She claimed someone else created the post and that she refunded the money, according to Rossen’s report.

    However, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated that the claimed she immediately refunded any donations that she received was false.

    “This arrest should serve as a warning to anyone who attempts to profit from this tragedy by contriving fraudulent schemes that exploit the many victims, their families and individuals who sincerely want to help,” stated U.S. Attorney David Fein.  “Investigators continue to monitor the Internet to uncover other fundraising scams arising from this tragedy, and the individuals operating them face federal or state prosecution to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

    Alba was charged with lying to FBI agents. She was released on a $50,000 bond . She hid her face as she left court on Thursday and said nothing to reporters.

    Attorney General George Jepsen is advising people to be careful and avoid phone and e-mail solicitations, as well as those posted on Facebook.

    On Dec. 19, and state Department of Consumer Protection  Commissioner William Rubenstein issued a warning for residents to beware of potential scams and urging only to donate to well-known, established charities.  

    “This is a time of mourning for the people of Newtown and for our entire state,” Jepsen said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it’s also a time when bad actors may seek to exploit those coping with this tragedy. We are very thankful for all of the offers to help and urge those looking for ways to help to take some simple precautions to ensure that their donations will find their way to those in need.”
    Jepsen and Rubenstein warned that social media sites could perpetuate scams and residents should not blindly donate to through them.

    “As with any charity, investigate the groups behind such pleas to ensure that they come from a legitimate organization,” they warn.

    Individuals with knowledge of Newtown-related fundraising schemes are encouraged to call the FBI in Connecticut at 203-777-6311.

    Fein said potential federal charges associated with fraudulent fundraising and charity schemes include wire fraud, access device fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.
     

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



    Photo Credit: Today Show

    Nouel Alba is accused of scamming people by claiming to be the aunt of a little boy killed in the shooting in Newtown.Nouel Alba is accused of scamming people by claiming to be the aunt of a little boy killed in the shooting in Newtown.

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    The FBI has arrested a New York City woman suspected of lying about her connection to a victim of the Newtown school shooting earlier this month to collect donations from charitable citizens looking for a way to contribute in the wake of the massacre.

    The FBI arrested Nouel Alba, 37, of the Bronx, on Thursday. 

    Last week, NBC’s Jeff Rossen reported that Alba posted a solicitation on Facebook within hours of the shooting, identifying herself as an aunt of Noah Pozner, one of the 20 children shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Dec. 14.

    Later, as families were grieving and the nation was looking for any and every way to help the victims’ families, she asked for funds to pay for the funeral, Rossen reported. 

    At Alba's instruction on the Facebook page owned by "Victorian Glam Fairys," donors sent money to a PayPal account that Alba controlled and accessed, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    In one text to a donor, Alba wrote about being in Newtown when President Barack Obama was in town to meet with the families and of how he hugged and cried with the families, according to the complaint.

    The donor asked Alba if she was watching the president's speech in person.

    According to the complaint, she responded: "No im sitting in my car. Emotionally I cant (sic) deal.with it right now ..tomorrow ill see (redacted) in a casket and that will be hard enough to handle."

    She also claimed in a phone conversation to the same donor that she had entered the crime scene to identify her nephew's body after the shooting, according to the complaint. Family members and next of kin, however, were barred from entering the crime scene at Sandy Hook.

    READ THE FULL COMPLAINT HERE.

    When FBI Special Agents investigating fundraising and charity scams related to the Newtown tragedy contacted her, Alba lied, stating that she did not post information related to Newtown on her Facebook account, solicit donations or recently access her PayPal account, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    Alexis Haller, the uncle of Noah Pozner, said Alba is not related to the family and never gave the family any of the funds raised.

    When NBC News' Rossen went to Alba’s house to question her about the solicitation of funds, she denied posting the message or to posing as a member of Noah’s family.

    She claimed someone else created the post and that she refunded the money, according to Rossen’s report.

    However, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated that the claimed she immediately refunded any donations that she received was false.

    “This arrest should serve as a warning to anyone who attempts to profit from this tragedy by contriving fraudulent schemes that exploit the many victims, their families and individuals who sincerely want to help,” stated U.S. Attorney David Fein.  “Investigators continue to monitor the Internet to uncover other fundraising scams arising from this tragedy, and the individuals operating them face federal or state prosecution to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

    Alba was charged with lying to FBI agents. She was released on a $50,000 bond . She hid her face as she left court on Thursday and said nothing to reporters.

    Attorney General George Jepsen is advising people to be careful and avoid phone and e-mail solicitations, as well as those posted on Facebook.

    On Dec. 19, and state Department of Consumer Protection  Commissioner William Rubenstein issued a warning for residents to beware of potential scams and urging only to donate to well-known, established charities.  

    “This is a time of mourning for the people of Newtown and for our entire state,” Jepsen said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it’s also a time when bad actors may seek to exploit those coping with this tragedy. We are very thankful for all of the offers to help and urge those looking for ways to help to take some simple precautions to ensure that their donations will find their way to those in need.”

    Jepsen and Rubenstein warned that social media sites could perpetuate scams and residents should not blindly donate to through them.

    “As with any charity, investigate the groups behind such pleas to ensure that they come from a legitimate organization,” they warn.

    Individuals with knowledge of Newtown-related fundraising schemes are encouraged to call the FBI in Connecticut at 203-777-6311.

    Fein said potential federal charges associated with fraudulent fundraising and charity schemes include wire fraud, access device fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.
     

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



    Photo Credit: Today Show

    Nouel Alba is accused of scamming people by claiming to be the aunt of a little boy killed in the shooting in Newtown.Nouel Alba is accused of scamming people by claiming to be the aunt of a little boy killed in the shooting in Newtown.

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    Have you ever gone to court, nervous about why you’re there?  Then, from the parking, to the security, to finding what courtroom you need to be in, your day can get off to a rough start well before you even see a judge. Well, the folks who run our state courts want to make your experience better.

    Gone will be the bulletin boards that look like a college dorm room, peppered with paper signs containing outdated and incorrect information. There will be no more instructions taped to the tops of chairs or pen markings directly on the courtroom doors themselves. 

    “When you come in to a courthouse that has inadequate signage, what we are doing is adding to the level of stress that the individual, the litigant, may have,” said Stephen Ment, deputy director of external affairs for the Connecticut court system.

    And the problem extends from the inside out. 

    “Not only did people have trouble finding the right courtroom, but they had trouble finding the right courthouse,” said Ment.

    The law mandates that the public have access to the courts. But, this isn't about not having access. It's about making that access easier with signs that are more official looking and clearer to read, especially in older courts, such as in Bridgeport and Bantam.

    The new judicial branch approach is aiming for a standard uniform template for signs that can be used in every court in the state, along with “airport style” electronic boards that tell people which court they need to be in.

    The directive also revamps each court’s website, some of which have outdated directions.

    “There may have been a landmark noted in the directions that no longer is in existence or perhaps the road has changed,” said Ment.

    Court employees are field testing the directions and the goal is to have accurate directions, along with maps, links to public transportation and parking instructions, by the end of the year. They know that putting in extra work now will make their jobs easier in the long run. 

    “The impact it has on the clerk’s office is statewide. It's huge,” said Brandon Pelegano, chief clerk of the Litchfield district.
     


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    At least 14 students were transported to area hospitals after their school bus hit a utility pole on Hartford Turnpike in Vernon.

    At least 14 students were transported to area hospitals after their school bus hit a utility pole on Hartford Turnpike in Vernon.At least 14 students were transported to area hospitals after their school bus hit a utility pole on Hartford Turnpike in Vernon.

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    A man was shoved onto subway train tracks and killed Thursday evening in New York City, in the second such fatal subway push attack in the city in a month.

    Police are looking for a woman who was seen mumbling to herself before she allegedly pushed the unsuspecting man to his death in front of an oncoming No. 7 train at a Queens subway station Thursday evening, police said.

    The man was standing on the northbound platform of the 40th Street and Queens Boulevard elevated train when police say the woman walked up behind him and pushed him onto the tracks. Witnesses told police the man had his back to the woman and didn't appear to notice her. No words were exchanged.

    The man died at the scene. He was identified by roommates and sources as Sunando Sen, of India. Sen had recently started a business in Manhattan and did not have any family in the area.

    Witnesses told police the female suspect had been walking back and forth on the platform and talking to herself before sitting down, alone, on a wooden bench near the north end of the walkway. When the train pulled into the station shortly after 8 p.m., the woman got up off the bench and pushed the man, according to witness statements.

    The suspect then fled the platform, running down a flight of stairs to the turnstile area and down a second flight to Queens Boulevard. It's unknown where she went from there. Police released surveillance video of her running onto the street.

    "We can't say with certainty whether or not there was no contact at some other location or perhaps before they got into the station," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "But the witness says there was no contact between the two of them while she observed them on the platform."



    Sen, a native of Calcutta, had been in the country for more than 20 years and was part owner of New Amsterdam Printing in Manhattan, according to his three roommates.



    "He is so nice. Quiet and friendly," said MD Khan, one of Sen's roommates.



    The suspect is described as being a heavyset woman about 5 feet 5 inches tall with brown or blond hair. She was wearing a white and gray ski jacket and Nike sneakers at the time of the incident. A $10,000 reward was being offered for information leading to an arrest in the incident.



    Asked about the incident Friday on his radio show, Mayor Bloomberg pointed to legal and policy changes that led to the release of many mentally ill people from psychiatric institutions from the 1960s through 1990s.



    "The courts or the law have changed and said, no, you can't do that unless they're a danger to society; our laws protect you. That's fair enough," Bloomberg said on "The John Gambling Show with Mayor Mike" on WOR-AM.



    It is the second time this month that a person has been shoved onto subway train tracks and killed.



    Naeem Davis, a 30-year-old deli worker,

    was recently arrested and charged

    with second-degree murder for allegedly pushing Ki-Suk Han, 58, off a midtown subway platform to his death on Dec. 3. Han was struck by a southbound Q train at the 49th Street station in Manhattan.



    Riders on Friday said the second fatal push in a matter of weeks was unnerving.



    Micah Siegel follows her own set of safety precautions during her daily commute: stand against a wall or pillar to keep someone from coming up behind you, watch out when navigating a crowded or narrow platform to avoid being knocked — even accidentally — onto the tracks.



    "I do try to be aware of what's around me and who's around me, especially as a young woman," Siegel, a 21-year-old college student, said as she waited at Pennsylvania Station on Friday.


    A man was pushed to his death on the subway tracks at a 7 train station in Queens.A man was pushed to his death on the subway tracks at a 7 train station in Queens.

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    Tara Butcher explains how a smartphone app lets her use a single prosthetic leg to run, hike, walk and even wear high heels. Before the new technology, she'd have to swap out specially-made prosthetics for each task. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2012.

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    Bridgeport fire officials are investigating a fire to two cars and the front of a house on Friday morning.

    Firefighters responded Calhoun Avenue early on Friday morning and found two cars on fire in front of home and flames engulfing part of the home.

    There was also a minor explosion to the building firefighters were near.

    Firefighters put out the blaze. No injuries were reported and the cause is under investigation.


    Firefighters extinguished a blaze in Bridgeport this morning.Firefighters extinguished a blaze in Bridgeport this morning.

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    A man gunned down Thursday in Chicago marked what police say is the city's 500th homicide of the year. It's a dubious distinction that hasn't occurred since 2008, when the city ended the year with 512 murders.

    Chicago surpassed 2011's 435 murder total in October.

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the total "an unfortunate and tragic milestone, which not only marks a needless loss of life but serves as a reminder of the damage that illegal guns and conflicts between gangs cause in our neighborhoods."

    "The brave officers of the Chicago Police Department work tirelessly to continually reduce crime, but this is not just a law enforcement issue," Emanuel said in a statement.

    Around noon Friday, News Affairs released a statement to clarify that Chicago's murder total remains at 499 because classification of one death investigation remains pending. They would not specify which death is pending.

    Police released few details about the fatal shooting that resulted in the reported 500th murder.

    The man, identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office as 40-year-old Nathaniel T. Jackson, was shot around 9 p.m. and pronounced dead at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital at 12:18 a.m.

    Tawfik Salman, owner of Noah Foods, said he heard four or five gunshots and dropped to the floor.

    "It was pop pop pop pop," Salman said. "We seen a guy laying down in front of the store. I just went to the phone and called police."

    According to police, homicides are up 17 percent from last year and shootings up 11 percent.

    "It's sad, you know. I guess this is part of the violence in Chicago," Salman said. "It's a sad thing that's going on."

    Police said Chicago's 499th homicide victim was a man who died after he was shot at least four times – including in the face and chest – in a Gage Park neighborhood alley Wednesday night on the Southwest Side.

    Frederico Martinez died from gunshot wounds he suffered near his home, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

    Police said the 32-year-old Martinez was standing with a female in an alleyway down the block from his home when a light-colored pick-up truck approached and somebody inside opened fire on the two just before 10 p.m.

    Martinez was shot in the face, chest and both arms and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he died at 10:41 p.m., authorities said.

    Behind the troubling statistics, flashing lights and crime tape, communities throughout the city are searching for solutions.

    "There's no magic spell that can end it. It's a matter of people and neighborhoods coming together and deciding that it's not going to happen," said neighbor Robert Grider.

    Larry Pickens, who is running in the special election to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in his now vacated 2nd Congressional seat, offered a few suggestions Thursday: "Teaching our young people alternative dispute resolution, non-violent strategies for addressing conflict and getting guns off the street."


    An overnight Chicago shooting marks the city's 500th homicide this year.An overnight Chicago shooting marks the city's 500th homicide this year.

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    Police from across the state have volunteered their time around the holidays to help their fellow officers in Newtown and Manchester police are hoping to help raise money to help the entire community with T-shirts.

    Manchester police are selling T-shirts for $10 and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Newtown memorial fund. 

    The back of the shirt shows an eagle with tears flowing and angels wings holding a teddy bear.    

    “We started getting calls this morning and started taking names because people want us to hold the for them,” Debbie Farr, of Farrs Sporting Goods, said.

    Calls are coming in from as far away as Utah and Oklahoma

    You can get a shirt at Farrs, located at 2 Main Street in Manchester; Manchester Municipal Credit Union, located at 479 Main St. in Manchester; and Funny Bone Comedy Club at Buckland Hills Mall.
    Manchester PBA members will be selling shirts every Friday and Saturday night at Funny Bone, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., until the end of January.

    On Jan, 2, there will also be a benefit at Funny Bone.
     



    Photo Credit: Manchester PBA Facebook

    This shirt is being sold to raise money for Newtown.This shirt is being sold to raise money for Newtown.

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    The Newtown community came together for an interfaith vigil on Friday morning, two weeks after 20 first-grade students and six staff members of Sandy Hook Elementary School were killed in a school shooting.

    Clergy from across Newtown gathered at the soccer field at the Fairfield Hills Hospital campus for a vigil that begins at 9 a.m.

    Services focused on the healing process and putting lives back together in new ways.

    The services paused at 9:30 a.m. for a moment of silence, the time the shooting occurred two weeks ago.

    Sandy Benati and her husband Wayne traveled from Illinois to Connecticut to visit their children for Christmas and couldn't leave without paying their respects to the 20 first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School and six staff members who were killed in the shooting. 

    "We're headed back to Illinois but we wanted to stop here and see all this. We have been watching the news from Illinois ever since it happened and we have been so upset about it," Sandy Benanti said.

    Sandy and Wayne are both retired teachers¦and have grandchildren the same age as some of the youngest victims.

    "A person cares a lot for the children they are teaching that year and to see this happen and watch what's happened nationally, it's just devastating," Wayne Benanti said.

    Organizers said hamilies of the victims were invited.
     


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  • 12/28/12--06:13: Benefit Concert for Newtown
  • On Saturday, there will be a benefit concert at the Newtown Teen Center to help raise money for the victims’ relief fund.

    Doors at the center on Church Hill Road will open at 6:30 p.m. and the show will continue until 11 p.m. 

    Tickets are $10 and all proceeds will go toward counseling and scholarships, but the charity has not yet been chosen.

    The event is called. “The Mayans Were Lyin Fest!”

    We will open with a special performance from Henry Yuliano performing one acoustic song at 7:30 p.m.

    Smokebomb Mondays: 10:20 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.
    Newtown Ska

    Anchors Away: 9:40 p.m. to 10:05 p.m.
    New Haven Pop Punk

    Night Owls: 9 p.m. to 9:25 p.m.
    Eastern CT Post-Hardcore

    Life on the Sideline: 8:20 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
    Northern CT Pop Punk

    Here Comes the Cavalry: 7:40 p.m. to 8:05 p.m.
    New Haven Metalcore




     


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    The circus finally pulls up its tents on Sunday afternoon and it's not a moment too soon.

    This Jets season feels like it has been going on for five years and the finale against the Bills is one that can only be met with grim resignation after a season stuffed with all the indignities the Jets managed to stuff into this one. It doesn't matter that you saw it coming a million miles away because the way the Jets turned every bad turn into something much worse made even mere mediocrity feel like the gutter.

    It's a trend that shows no sign of stopping. Friday's Daily News blares "Rex Wants Out" on its back page, teasing an article about Rex Ryan desiring termination from the Jets if Woody Johnson doesn't open up the bank accounts to fix the team's offense. 

    Ryan's people obviously leaked the story because he's painted as an innocent bystander to the Jets season rather than the guy whose job responsibilities include everything that he's said to be upset about. Ryan will deny it in his Friday press conference while saying that he obviously wants to get better before next season, but he should deny it because it makes him look like a fool. 

    Ryan apparently wants a new offensive coordinator to replace Tony Sparano, which is fair enough but it's hard to draw some line in the sand over a guy that you hired a year ago while promising to take on a more active role in running the offense. A better quarterback is something everyone associated with the Jets wants, but Ryan's the only one who has chosen not to give a quarterback who won a playoff game last year even one chance to play the position. 

    The coup de grace of the ridiculousness of this gambit by Ryan is that whoever's speaking for him makes it clear that Ryan won't quit if Johnson doesn't fulfill his desires. They actually float the idea of a buyout on the final two years of his contract, which would obviously work out well for Ryan but it's not such a great idea for Johnson to pay a coach so he can go work for one of the teams trying to beat you. 

    The best solution for the Jets is the one that Ryan promised last season and failed to deliver this year. If he'd step up and be a real head coach, one that takes responsibility and action on both sides of the ball, it might actually make a difference in the team's results. 

    Instead, it's all about half-steps and big words that lead nowhere. That goes up the ladder as the team is reportedly planning to keep Mike Tannenbaum as a cap management guy while trying to convince someone else of ability to become general manager despite a hierarchy that clearly doesn't make any sense. 

    The Jets need someone to take charge and run the football side of the shop much more than they need any particular coaching staff change or upgrade at any position. They need someone to stand up and be accountable for everything on the team because the last two years of buck passing isn't going to lead to any better results. 

    Ryan should want to be that guy because he has talked like that guy since his first day on the job. The latest signal is that he doesn't actually want to back them up, either because he knows he can't or because he's gotten tired of dealing with an obviously dysfunctional organizational structure. 

    Either way, it looks like cutting and running and that's not an attractive look for anybody. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Rex demands others make changes that he's unwilling to make himself.Rex demands others make changes that he's unwilling to make himself.

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    Three police officers were injured after a suspect grabbed a gun and opened fire inside a New Jersey police station early Friday, police said.

    Police shot the gunman dead during the confrontation, Gloucester Township police said.

    The incident happened around 5:45 a.m. when a suspect that had been brought in for a domestic incident got into a confrontation with officers, police said.

    "A violent struggle occurred while the suspect was being processed," Gloucester Township Deputy Chief David Harkins said.

    The suspect then grabbed a gun and opened fire.

    One of the officers was shot below his bulletproof vest, NBC 10 Philadelphia reported. He underwent surgery at Cooper University hospital and is now listed in stable condition. A spokesperson for the hospital says that there were several puncture wounds in the officer's vest.

    The other two officers, a male and female, were treated for graze wounds and are set to be discharged Friday morning.

    Gloucester Township is about 15 miles southeast of Philadelphia.


     


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