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    When U.S. Navy Senior Chief Michael Mayerhofer walked into Miller Elementary School's library, his three kids, who had not seen him for seven months, sat there in shock. 

    "Hey," Mayerhofer said with a big smile on his face, pointing to his children sitting in a sea of othersas they listened to the teacher read. "I know you." 

    "Hi daddy," one of them yelled, and all three of them -- Dylan, McKenna and William -- came rushing to hug him. 

    After seven months in the Arabian Gulf on deployment, Mayerhofer surprised his three kids at Miller Elementary School in Escondido, just in time for the holidays. 

    Mayerhofer said he has been on four big deployments in his 18 years with the Navy, but it never gets easier. 

    "Well, I think it's pretty hard on them," he said of his children. "I think it effects them in ways they maybe don't know."

    He spoke to his wife and children at various points throughout the trip as the vessel pulled into foreign ports, and said his trick to deployment was falling into a routine. 

    "We just get through it," he said. "I think when they look back when they get older...they'll just be proud their father was in the Navy."

    In the past seven months, he missed every single one of their birthdays, including his wife's birthday. They missed his birthday.

    "I missed my wife and my kids but you know what? We got through it and I'm back home now and I'm ready to see my kids for the first time, so they should be very excited about it."

    Mayerhofer said he missed assemblies, awards, and many everyday things as well -- but felt lucky to have seen videos. 

    "That touches my heart a little bit more than anything else, is seeing the videos of them and them just doing what they're supposed to be doing while I'm gone," he said.

    It was his first time surprising his kids, and he said he had butterflies in his stomach and was a bit nervous before walking into the library, where the teacher had pre-arranged to read to many kids to get them all in the same place. 

    "I expect them to be full of excitement and full of questions," he said. 

    When his kids ran up to him and hugged him, all the other kids in the room let out a collective "awww." 

    "I'm home," he told his kids, kissing his daughter's head. 



    Photo Credit: NBC 7

    Navy Senior Chief Michael Mayerhofer with his three kids at Miller Elementary School in Escondido on Dec. 15, 2015.Navy Senior Chief Michael Mayerhofer with his three kids at Miller Elementary School in Escondido on Dec. 15, 2015.

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    A South Korean born Canadian pastor has been sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor by North Korea’s highest court, according to Xinhua, NBC News reported.

    Hyeon Soo Lim, the head pastor of a Toronto church has been held by North Korea since February. He appeared on the country’s state media confessing to crimes against the state, Reuters reported.

    Lim appeared at a news conference in North Korea in July, confessing that he traveled to the country on the pretext of humanitarian work.

    His church has said Lim, who is a Canadian citizen, visited the North more than 100 times since 1997 and has helped establish an orphanage and a nursing home there.  



    Photo Credit: AP

    Hyeon Soo Lim, center, who pastors the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, is escorted to his sentencing in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. North Korea's Supreme Court sentenced a Canadian pastor to life in prison with hard labor on Wednesday for what it called crimes against the state.Hyeon Soo Lim, center, who pastors the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, is escorted to his sentencing in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. North Korea's Supreme Court sentenced a Canadian pastor to life in prison with hard labor on Wednesday for what it called crimes against the state.

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    Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Baghdad, Iraq, early Wednesday to meet troops and to talk to U.S. military commanders about the fight against ISIS, NBC News reported.

    The visit, which was unannounced, comes after Washington announced plans to deploy American military teams to conduct raids against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

    Carter was also due to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi, but a sandstorm could change those plans.  



    Photo Credit: AP

    U. S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter addresses the U.S. troops at the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015.U. S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter addresses the U.S. troops at the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015.

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    With less than seven weeks to go until the country’s first caucuses in Iowa, Republican presidential candidates took the stage for a debate in Las Vegas Tuesday night, their race changed by the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. Here are some highlights from the night.

    "A Chaos Candidate"

    Businessman Donald Trump and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush insulted each other repeatedly over Trump’s foreign policy comments, including his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. A ban would make it more difficult for the United States to form a coalition with Muslims also opposed to the Islamic State, Bush said. Trump’s proposals are not serious, he said.

    “Donald is great at the one-liners, but he’s a chaos candidate and he'd be a chaos president,” Bush said.

    Trump responded that Bush did not really believe that Trump was unhinged as he had said earlier. Bush made the comment because his own candidacy has failed, Trump said.

    “It's been a total disaster,” the real estate developer said.

    The tiff continued when Trump was asked about his statement that the families of Islamic State fighters should also be killed.

    “I know you’re trying to build up your energy Jeb, but it’s not working,” Trump told Bush.

    “You’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency, that's not going to happen, and I do have the strength,” Bush responded.

    Jeb Bush is stuck at the bottom of the polls, with the most recent from NBC/WSJ showing him at 7 percent.

    "I'll get Donald Trump to pay for it"

    Another show-down came between the two Cuban-American first-term senators: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas versus U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. They have gone after each other over immigration and national security and continued the attacks Tuesday night.

    The men first clashed over ending the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone records, with Rubio accusing Cruz of weakening U.S. ability to track terrorists and Cruz insisting that the new law, the USA Freedom Act, made it possible for the government to access cellphones and other technology that terrorists use.

    “Marco knows what he’s saying isn’t true,” Cruz said.

    On immigration, Cruz criticized Rubio over his part in an immigration reform bill, one of the so-called “Gang of Eight” who put together the 2013 bill that passed the Senate but failed in the House.

    Rubio said that he supported first getting illegal immigration under control, then giving some longtime residents work permits and only after 10 to 12 years allowing them to apply for green cards.

    Cruz accused Rubio of trying to muddy the waters by minimizing differences between them. Cruz said he had never supported legalization and did not intend to.

    “We will build a wall that works, and I’ll get Donald Trump to pay for it," Cruz said.

    As a Woman in the Republican Ranks

    Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and the only woman among the GOP candidates, quoted former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

    “Margaret Thatcher once said, ‘If you want something talked about, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman,'” Fiorina said. 

    In her opening statement, Fiorina said she had been tested. She had beaten breast cancer, buried a child and had been called every "b-word in the book," she said.

    Trump and Cruz Renew Their Friendship

    Any budding spats between Trump and Cruz fizzled on stage.

    Asked about Cruz, Trump said he had gotten to know him. “He’s just fine," Trump said. "Don’t worry about it.”

    For his part, Cruz minimized a report that at a private fund-raiser he had questioned Trump’s judgement.

    Pressed, he said: “That is a judgement for every voter to make.”

    Every Republican candidate on the stage would make a better commander in chief than either President Obama or Hillary Clinton, he said.

    World War III

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was back on the main stage, and drawing jabs from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky after Christie said he would shoot down Russian planes if they violated the no-fly zone over Syria.

    “If you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate,” Paul responded and went to make a mention of “someone who might shut down a bridge.”

    The last was a reference to the lane-closing scandal at the George Washington Bridge in 2013, in which some of Christie’s close associates have been charged, though the governor has not.

    Christie has been gaining ground in New Hampshire. In a poll released by Boston radio station WBUR last week Trump maintained his lead among the state’s Republican primary voters but Christie surged to second place with 12 percent.

    No Independent Bid for Trump

    Trump said he would not run as an independent if he fails to get the Republican nomination.

    He said he had gained great respect for the Republican leadership and would do everything he could to beat Clinton.

    “I am totally committed to the Republican party,” he said.



    Photo Credit: AP/John Locher

    Ted Cruz, right, speaks during an exchange with Marco Rubio, left, as Ben Carson, second from left, and Donald Trump look on during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Venetian Hotel & Casino on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Las Vegas.Ted Cruz, right, speaks during an exchange with Marco Rubio, left, as Ben Carson, second from left, and Donald Trump look on during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Venetian Hotel & Casino on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Las Vegas.

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    Suspects used a stolen credit card to buy over $1,200 worth of merchandise at a high-end department store in Clinton, police said. 

    On Monday at around 4:30 pm, two suspects went into Sak's Off 5th Ave. and rang up their items with a stolen credit card. Clinton's police investigators are still trying to determine where the credit card was stolen from.

    A surveillance camera caught an image of the two shopping.

    Clinton Police department asks that anyone with information contact Officer Matthew Reed at 860-669-0451 or mreed@clintonct.org



    Photo Credit: Clinton Police Department

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    The 860 area code is being phased out for new numbers moving forward in the region and a new 959 area code is being introduced in its place.

    This won't affect people who already have a phone with an 860 area code. Those numbers won't change.

    However, Connecticut's Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) have announced an "overlay," meaning the introduction of a new area code to the same geographic region. The 860 area code has become exhausted because of the growing demand for new phone numbers, which is why 959 is being introduced into the mix.

    So, to meet customer demand, new numbers in the area served by the 860 area code will get the new 959 area code. PURA made the announcement last year.

    Customers won't be required to change their current numbers to the new 959 area code, so it won't affect existing numbers.

    When placing calls, you'll still dial the area code and telephone number for local calls and 1 plus the area code plus the telephone number for long distance calls. The cost for calls and coverage areas won't change and customers will still dial services like 911, 411 and 211 with three digits.

    PURA said customers should still identify their numbers as a ten digit number that includes the area code and ensure all equipment recognizes 959 as a valid area code, such as automatic dialing equipment, life safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, speed dialers, phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, et cetera.

    Customers are also advised to make sure all business stationary, advertising materials, personal checks and pet and personal identification tags have the area code.

    You can call you respective phone carriers with any questions.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    Main Street has reopened in Willimantic after a garbage truck crash.

    The truck took down cable and telephone wires in the crash. Police originally said that poles were knocked down and that the road would be closed until noon, but they have since provided and update saying that wasn't the case. The wires have been pushed to the side of the road.

    The road was closed from Tyler Square Eastbound to Mansfield Avenue, but it has since reopened. Police may have to close it briefly later in the day to let utility trucks in and out, but it's unclear when. Drivers needing to access Windham Hospital will be able to do so.

    No one was injured.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Above average warmth continues and that means the next storm will be rain tomorrow.

    Temperatures will fall off quickly initially tonight, but once clouds move in the trend will slow. That's an important part of the forecast with drizzle expected in the morning.

    Connecticut is in the clear of freezing drizzle, but that's not the case in portions of northern New England!

    Tomorrow morning will be damp. However, the steady rain holds off until the afternoon hours. The rain should continue at a good clip through early evening before tapering to showers.

    High temperatures will be in the lower and middle 50s tomorrow.

    Skies will remain mostly cloudy on Friday as a weak wave of low pressure forms and rides north along the departed cold front. An isolated shower is possible in eastern Connecticut, while most others remain dry. Temperatures will range from 45 to 51 degrees.

    This weekend will be dry but chilly. Chilly, in the sense that this type of air hasn't reached the state in a long while. Temperatures will still be at or above average.

    Windy conditions are expected Saturday with a blend of more clouds than sunshine. The lake-effect machine will be roaring to the west, so it's possible a flurry reaches the hill towns.

    Highs on Saturday will range from the middle 30s in the hills to the lower 40s along the shoreline.

    Sunday will be warmer. Mostly sunny skies are expected with highs ranging from the lower to middle 40s.

    The early part of the next work week looks unsettled though temperatures will be on the rise. In fact, 60s are possible again on Wednesday.


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    The founder of a student-created and led ministry that aims to get bar-goers to pray on Friday nights is the man whose image went viral after crashing a news report during a shirtless jog in Chicago.

    Former Moody Bible Institute student Ethan Renoe started a movement in which students stand outside bars in Wrigleyville, Boystown, and near State and Division every week -- regardless of the season -- holding a sign that reads "Free Prayer." They have been doing this for the past four years.

    Renoe appeared in a weather report shirtless on Sunday night, the video of which has been viewed nearly 4 million times. "I love running in the rain, and I’m also single!" he said in the video.

    An article on the school's website explains how Renoe founded the movement.

    "Ethan and a friend were out walking around the city when they felt an urging to interact with the hundreds of people their age who were out in the popular night-life district of Chicago," the article said. "When they grabbed a pizza box and scrawled the message, they did not realize they were starting a ministry."

    The 24-year-old appears in the video above, discussing his experience with "Free Prayer." He is also holding the sign in the Instagram photo below.

    Renoe told NBC Chicago about an experience he had while at the State and Division location with a truck driver who pulled over and told the students he had seen them week after week for the past year.

    “It was one of those billboard trucks with naked girls on it,” Renoe said. “Every time he saw us, he felt convicted and didn't want to be doing what he was doing. He got out and talked to our people and I think they said he was crying because his life wasn't what he wanted it to be and they prayed for him.”

    Student Noah Reynolds, the current leader of the movement, told NBC Chicago that the locations were chosen because of foot traffic. However, he mainly holds the sign at their Boystown location outside of a bar named Progress located at Roscoe and Halsted.

    "My primary purpose of going there is to show this community love that has been severely damaged by those who claim to be Christians" said Reynolds. "That area has been hurt by people who claim Christ’s name."

    A manager at Progress said their presence is a "non-issue," and that the students have never caused a disturbance. However, the group said they often get mistaken as members of Westboro Baptist Church, though they're quick to shut down that misconception.

    "No! 100,000 percent no," Reynolds said when asked if their message is similar to that of Westboro Baptist, which is known for picketing funerals of soldiers. "Westboro Baptist is nearly the antithesis of what we are. Our message is a message of grace through faith. It doesn’t matter how far you have fallen, Christ loved you enough to die for you to set you free."

    Although it's quite clear they aren't affiliated to WBC, Reynolds said people have spit and cursed at them thinking they are. So why not change the sign?

    "We have had people suggest sign changes and we have tried 'God Loves You,' 'Free Prayer for Everyone,'" Reynolds said. "What ended up happening was we would get a lot of just thumbs up, so after thinking about it we decided to keep it as free prayer to have some ambiguity about it. The mystery of the sign gets people to come to us."

    Despite the fact that some misinterpret their message, the group said the experience is still worth it.

    "Some people come at us angrily, but I can understand that because that community is their stronghold and that's where their identity lies and they feel like we're attacking it, but that's before they talk to us," said student Andy Wood. "Regardless of lifestyle decisions we have the same opportunity to share the gospel and love people."

    Moody Bible Institute said in a statement: "This particular group of students does this on their own initiative. While studying and training at Moody, we encourage our students to engage others in a positive way that benefits individuals and the city."

    The group asks for all who may have questions to contact Freeprayernoah@gmail.com.


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    Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Brew is being recalled due to reports of bursting bottles, the company announced Tuesday.

    In a press release, Trader Joe's warned that unopened bottles of the non-alcoholic carbonated drinks have reportedly bursted and advised customers who bought the product to "handle it with extreme care and dispose of it immediately in an outside container."

    The nationwide recall effects all Triple Ginger Brew (SKU 51857) purchased from Nov. 9 to Dec.14. Trader Joe's said it will refund any purchases of the drink and has removed the product from store shelves.

    The FDA said that the brew does not pose a health risk if consumed.

    The company's customer relations can be contacted at (626) 599-3817, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT or be reached by email.



    Photo Credit: Courtesy Trader Joe's

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    Glastonbury police have made an arrest in thefts of snow plows and power tools in town.

    Police searched the home of Michael Petro, 43, of Watertown, on Monday and seized several pieces of power tools and snow plows on a warrant in an investigation into thefts in Glastonbury.

    Petro was home during the search and police took him into custody without any issues.

    Police arrested him on four active arrest warrants, charging him with three counts of third-degree larceny, third-degree burglary and second-degree criminal mischief.

    Police held him when he couldn't post his $200,000 bond until his court appearance in Manchester on Tuesday.


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    Police are investigating an armed robbery at a Bristol deli.

    Officers responded to Center Deli Mart at 27 Center Street at 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday to investigate.

    A woman indicated to the clerk that she had a gun tucked in her pants and demanded he give her money.

    She fled the store with an unknown amount of cash from the register drawer.

    The 26-year-old clerk was the only person in the store at the time. Police described the woman as being in her early 20s and said that she has glasses and light hair and was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and gray sweat pants.

    The robber was seen getting into a car in the area that had multiple people inside. The vehicle in question was last seen headed in the northbound direction on Myrtle Street.

    No one was injured.

    There are no suspects at this time and the incident remains under investigation.


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    Police have arrested a wrong-way driver who struck and killed another car while under the influence on Route 8 in Watertown in August, police said.

    John R. Fretts, 43, of Morris, turned himself in to state police on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. on a warrant. Fretts has been charged with manslaughter with a motor vehicle, driving under the influence and driving the wrong way on a highway. 

    Multiple people called 911 on Aug. 22 to report someone driving the wrong way in a southbound lane on Route 8 near exit 36 in Watertown, state police said.

    Near exit 27, the wrong-way driver, identified as Fretts, was traveling north when he hit another car head-on at about 9:57 p.m. The driver in that other car, Daniel Dziadik, of Torrington, died of fatal injuries.

    An ambulance transported Fretts to Waterbury Hospital after complaining of back, leg and arm pain. His injuries were minor and it's unknown if he was wearing a seat belt.

    Dziadik was wearing a seat belt. Both airbags deployed.

    “I would ask the press and the public to withhold judgment on this matter until all of the facts are revealed,” said Bill Conti, the attorney representing Fretts. "There have been a number of wrong way accidents on Route 8 and a number of complaints about the adequacy of the markings on Route 8, without referring to this particular case."

    Fretts was held in police custody on a $250,000 bond but a judge lowered it to $100,000. 


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    The U.S. has joined urgent calls for an investigation into an alleged massacre of Shiite Muslims by Nigerian troops, but the country's military is calling the incident an act of self defense, NBC News reported. 

    The bloodshed began over the weekend. Nigeria's military claimed that Shiites had attacked the Chief of Army staff's convoy in Zaria, located in the country's north, in an apparent assassination attempt.

    It said soldiers had "no choice" but to defend the convoy "at all cost," adding in a statement two days later that the "loss of lives" was "most unfortunate."

    The Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria, or IMN, rejected that account. A statement attributed to IMN spokesman said "about a thousand" members of the sect had been massacred.



    Photo Credit: AP

    Muslims students carry placards and shout slogans against the Nigerian government against the killings of hundreds of Shiite Muslims and detaining their leader Ibraheem Zakzaky in Nigeria, in Jammu, India, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. Nigerian Soldiers killed hundreds of Shiite Muslims this weekend after their group opened fire on the convoy of Nigeria's army chief, the Shia Islamic Movement and military reports said Monday.Muslims students carry placards and shout slogans against the Nigerian government against the killings of hundreds of Shiite Muslims and detaining their leader Ibraheem Zakzaky in Nigeria, in Jammu, India, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. Nigerian Soldiers killed hundreds of Shiite Muslims this weekend after their group opened fire on the convoy of Nigeria's army chief, the Shia Islamic Movement and military reports said Monday.

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  • 12/16/15--13:05: Terror Posts Not Public: FBI

  • There is no evidence that the couple behind the mass shooting that killed 14 people in San Bernardino posted publicly on social media about their commitment to jihad before attacker Tashfeen Malik arrived in the United States, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday.

    Comey said at a morning news conference that reports to the contrary are "a garble." Comey's comments provide more insight into the activities of Syed Farook and Malik in the years before the Dec. 2 shooting at a health center in Southern California and address confusion over whether the husband and wife posted extremist messages publicly that could have been detected when Malik applied for a visa before coming to the United States.

    "As I have said before, you can see in our investigation that in late 2013 -- before there is a physical meeting of these two people and resulting in their engagement and journey to the United States -- they are communicating online, showing signs in that communication of their joint commitment to jihad and to martyrdom," said Comey. "Those communications are direct private messages.

    "So far in our investigations, we have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period of time or thereafter reflecting their commitment to jihad or to martyrdom."

    There is no indication that the couple, killed in a shootout hours after the San Bernardino massacre, had direct contact with terror organizations, Comey said. Investigators are still not certain why they targeted the Inland Regional Health Center, where Farook's co-workers were attending a holiday celebration, he added at Wednesday's news conference.

    Comey's comments come after a State Department spokesman said Monday that the government might impose tighter scrutiny of visa-seekers' social media accounts. American consular officers can already review social media posts if they find in "valuable or necessary" in the visa application process, but those decisions are made case by case and social media reviews are not mandatory.

    The tougher protocols would make the reviews mandatory.

    Malik, a Pakistani national, passed two background checks and was admitted to the United States in 2014. She passed a third check last summer when she obtained a green card.

    It wasn't until after the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center that authorities discovered the private social media posts.


    Tashfeen Malik (left) and Syed Rizwan Farook (seen in a California DMV photo) are suspected in a South California shooting rampage that left 14 dead and 21 injured on Wednesday, December 2, 2015.Tashfeen Malik (left) and Syed Rizwan Farook (seen in a California DMV photo) are suspected in a South California shooting rampage that left 14 dead and 21 injured on Wednesday, December 2, 2015.

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    The maker of a hoverboard pegged as one of the season's most popular holiday gifts is the target of a class-action lawsuit.

    The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, claims Swagway LLC and Modell’s Sporting Goods, Inc. failed to warn customers of the risk that hoverboards could “burst into flames.”

    Michael Brown, of Chappaqua, New York, filed the suit on behalf of all consumers who purchased a Swagway Hoverboard nationwide from Modell’s, saying he purchased the hoverboard as a Hanukkah gift for his children but the device ultimately caught fire while charging, causing a blaze that damaged his home.

    The lawsuit, which comes a little more than a week before Christmas, is the latest allegation that the devices can self-combust.

    More than a dozen hoverboard fires have been reported around the country, mostly due to poor-quality chargers and batteries, prompting a federal investigation. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fires have been reported in 10 states so far this year, and the commission most recently opened a case into a hoverboard fire reported in the San Francisco area this week.

    According to the lawsuit, Swagway hoverboards are sold on Modell’s website and are also available at Swagway.com, Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com, newegg.com and pedirect.com.

    Amazon revealed earlier this week that is has pulled multiple scooter brands from its site, including the popular Swagway brand.

    Indiana-based Swagway said in a statement to NBC News at the time that “safety is on the forefront for Swagway” and the removal “is not specific to Swagway, but includes 97 percent of the other branded hoverboards that were also selling on their site.”

    Brown said the roughly $400 gift was removed from its box on Dec. 6, the first night of Hanukkah. The hoverboard was used for about 30 minutes before the device began to run out of battery and the family plugged it into an outlet to charge.

    About 45 minutes later, the hoverboard burst into flames, igniting packaging materials nearby and causing a fire that damaged Brown’s home, the lawsuit claims.

    The lawsuit seeks a trial by jury along with compensatory and punitive damages.

    Swagway and Modell’s could not immediately be reached for comment on the suit.
     



    Photo Credit: Michael Brown Lawsuit

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    California unveiled precedent-setting draft rules Wednesday that would slow the public's access to self-driving cars of the future until regulators are confident the technology is safe.

    That cautious approach requires that the cars have a steering wheel, and a licensed driver must be ready to take over if the machine fails.

    The draft sets out the framework for how the state's Department of Motor Vehicles wants to move from the current small-scale testing of prototypes on roads and highways to giving consumers access to the fast-evolving technology. The DMV can change the rules over the coming months before they are finalized, and the industry is likely to contest them as overly burdensome.

    Though no manufacturer has said it thinks the cars are ready just yet, at least a dozen are developing the technology, and the most aggressive suggest a model could be ready within a few years. Silicon Valley giant Google has pushed hardest, already building a prototype without a wheel or pedals but rigging the hardware back into the cars pending the long-anticipated regulations.

    California is the largest auto market in the U.S., and its rules will be a landmark in the development of self-driving technology.

    Under the draft rules, even if Google thinks its car is ready for sale, that wouldn't be immediately possible. Initially, manufacturers would receive a permit for three years, during which time consumers could lease the cars but manufacturers would be required to keep tabs on how safely they are driving and report that performance to the state.

    Before granting that initial permit, both the manufacturer and an independent certifier would need to sign off that the car has passed safety testing. Any person who wants to lease or use one of the cars would need special training provided by the manufacturer, and then receive a special certification on their driver's license.

    "Given the potential risks associated with deployment of such a new technology, DMV believes that manufacturers need to obtain more experience in testing driverless vehicles on public roads prior to making this technology available to the general public," the agency said in a written summary of the regulations.

    DMV regulation writers struggled with how they would know the technology is safe before letting it go beyond prototype testing, which requires a specially trained driver behind the wheel. The agency was supposed to propose regulations at the start of 2015, but that process has dragged on over issues including how a person could take over when the car concludes it cannot drive safely, how to prevent hackers from seizing control of what amount to computers on wheels, and the privacy of data that the cars collect about their users.

    California has grappled for several years with how to regulate the technology. The DMV has said it wants the regulations to protect public safety, but not be too onerous so that signature companies such as Google will be stifled in developing a technology with huge life-saving potential.

    After all, cars that can safely drive themselves under all conditions wouldn't rely on drivers who may be drowsy, distracted, buzzed — or unable to drive because of their age or a disability. Boosters say the technology could prevent many of the more than 30,000 deaths on U.S. roads each year.

    The cars use a suite of sensors — including radar, lasers and cameras — and onboard computers to drive. Many also rely on maps that detail everything from curb heights to the exact placement of lane stripes.

    Eleven companies have permission to test on California's public roads, with Ford the latest addition. There have been scattered collisions, nearly all involving Google cars. Those collisions have been minor and the tech giants says each has been caused by other drivers, not its technology.

    The road to Wednesday's regulations began several years ago, when Google approached a California legislator about getting formal approval for testing the company already was doing on California freeways. The DMV published a first round of regulations, which formally allowed the testing of the cars on public roads, more than a year ago.

    Wednesday's draft rules come several weeks after the U.S. Department of Transportation signaled that it was reviewing its own guidance on self-driving cars with an eye toward getting them into broad public circulation. That guidance — published in 2013 and not an official policy — has said a person should be behind the wheel.

    Google wants to move from current testing on the streets around its Silicon Valley headquarters to broader adoption.

    In September, the safety chief at Google's self-driving car project, Ron Medford, said the technology is "close to working pretty damn well."

    Google believes the safest path is to take people out of the equation by having control limited to stop and go buttons, with the leader of Google's project saying that humans are "the bug" in the driving task.

    Google had no immediate comment Wednesday on the draft regulations.

    Though the result of more than a year of deliberation, the draft regulations must undergo months of review before they are set. The DMV intends to hold informal workshops for public input in January and February, and hopes — after making any changes — to publish final regulations later in 2016.



    Photo Credit: AP

    In this May 13, 2014, file photo, a Google self-driving car goes on a test drive near the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.In this May 13, 2014, file photo, a Google self-driving car goes on a test drive near the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

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    President Barack Obama is set to meet on Friday with the families of the victims of the San Bernardino mass shooting.

    Obama is adding the stop in Southern California to a previously scheduled trip to Hawaii for Christmas vacation.

    Fourteen people were killed and 21 others were injured at a workplace holiday party in San Bernardino by a gun-wielding husband-and-wife team. Federal authorities say the couple had become self-radicalized years before the Dec. 2 attack.

    The California shootings came soon after attacks in Paris that killed 130 people on Nov. 13. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.

    Both incidents have heightened public fears of additional attacks on U.S. soil.



    Photo Credit: AP

    Nghi Van Nguyen, grandmother of Tin Nguyen, weeps over her granddaughter's coffin during the wake at the Peek Funeral home in Westminster, California, on Dec. 11, 2015. Nguyen died in the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., on Dec. 2.Nghi Van Nguyen, grandmother of Tin Nguyen, weeps over her granddaughter's coffin during the wake at the Peek Funeral home in Westminster, California, on Dec. 11, 2015. Nguyen died in the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., on Dec. 2.

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    The mother arrested after causing the lockdown at Emmett O'Brien Technical High School in Ansonia Monday has been involuntarily committed to Bridgeport Hospital because of her history of mental illness, according to state police.

    Leslie Teixeira, 39, called the school twice Monday, "crying hysterically" and "very upset," to say she was scared of her son and that he was mean to her, according to state police. Teixeira compared her son to the 1999 Columbine High School shooters, state police said.

    "He is like the kid that killed the babies of Columbine and he is an angry child," Leslie Teixeira, 39, told school officials, according to state police.

    She told the school principal that her son calls her names and hates her and that she drives by the house he stays at to peer in at him through the window, state police said.

    Teixeira's comments prompted the lock down and her son was escorted to the principal's office to be interviewed and searched for weapons.

    Officials found no evidence of weapons and determined her son had no available way to obtain them. Police also didn't find weapons at Teixeira's home or on her.

    Teixeira was arrested on charges of breach of peace and released on a $2,500 bond.

    She was involuntarily committed to the Bridgeport Hospital due to her history of mental illness and putting the school on high alert.

    It is not clear if she has an attorney. 

    She is scheduled to appear in Derby Superior Court on Dec. 28.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

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    The Senate Intelligence Committee is looking into whether Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have revealed classified information when discussing the government's ability to monitor phone records during Tuesday night's Republican debate, Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) told reporters Wednesday morning, NBC News reported. 

    During a testy between Cruz and Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) on the changes in the metadata collection program, the presidential candidate said "the old program covered 20 percent to 30 percent of phone numbers to search for terrorists, the new program covers nearly 100 percent."

    Rebecca Glover Watkins, who acts as the Communications Director for Chairman Burr, tweeted "Cruz shouldn't have said that" just after the exchange.

    Senator Burr says the Intelligence Committee, of which Rubio is a member but Cruz is not, is looking into whether the numbers Cruz mentioned were classified.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) waves as he is introduced during the CNN presidential debate at The Venetian Las Vegas on December 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) waves as he is introduced during the CNN presidential debate at The Venetian Las Vegas on December 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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