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    SeaWorld announced Thursday that it will be taking a "new direction" amid changing social attitudes and end its orca whale breeding programs, NBC News reported. 

    The company, which has 24 whales at three parks in California, Texas and Florida, said the current orcas in its care would be SeaWorld's last generation.

    "SeaWorld has been listening and we're changing," the company said in a statement. "Society is changing and we're changing with it. SeaWorld is finding new ways to continue to deliver on our purpose to inspire all our guests to take action to protect wild animals and wild places."

    Joel Manby, president and CEO of SeaWorld, wrote in an op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times that its existing whales would remain in captivity because setting them free in the wild was "not a wise option."


    In this Monday, March 7, 2011, file photo, killer whale Tilikum, right, watches as SeaWorld Orlando trainers take a break during a training session at the theme park's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Florida. SeaWorld officials say the killer whale responsible for the death of a trainer is very sick. SeaWorld announced that they will be ending their orca breeding program on March 17.In this Monday, March 7, 2011, file photo, killer whale Tilikum, right, watches as SeaWorld Orlando trainers take a break during a training session at the theme park's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Florida. SeaWorld officials say the killer whale responsible for the death of a trainer is very sick. SeaWorld announced that they will be ending their orca breeding program on March 17.

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    SeaWorld announced Thursday it will end orca breeding at all three parks and said killer whales currently in the company's care will be the last generation of orcas at SeaWorld.

    The changes will start in the San Diego park in 2017, followed by San Antonio and Orlando in 2019.

    In a news release, SeaWorld announced that all orcas currently in captivity — including Tilikum, whose life was chronicled in the controversial documentary "Blackfish" — will live out their lives at the company's park habitats.

    The animals will receive care based on the latest advances in marine veterinary medicine, science and zoological best practices, SeaWorld said Thursday.

    Visitors will still be able to see the orcas through new educational encounters and in viewing areas within their existing habitats.

    SeaWorld officials said they haven't collected an orca from the wild in nearly 40 years, and that the orcas at SeaWorld were all either born there or have spent almost their entire lives there being cared for by humans.

    They said the orcas wouldn't survive in the wild.

    "SeaWorld has introduced more than 400 million guests to orcas, and we are proud of our part in contributing to the human understanding of these animals," said SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby in a statement. "As society’s understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it. By making this the last generation of orcas in our care and reimagining how guests will encounter these beautiful animals, we are fulfilling our mission of providing visitors to our parks with experiences that matter."

    The park is also pledging $50 million over the next five years to advocate for the end of commercial killing of whales and seals and to end shark finning.

    Tilikum has been at SeaWorld Orlando for 23 years and has been used many times for the park's breeding program.

    In 2010, he grabbed trainer Dawn Brancheau after a "Dine with Shamu" show and pulled her into a pool, killing her. He was also involved in the deaths of two others.

    Officials announced last Monday that Tilikum is very sick from a bacterial infection that may eventually kill him.

    Stay with NBC 6 for updates.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    The entrance to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.The entrance to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.

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    Two residents and three firefighters have been taken to the hospital after a fire destroyed the house at 969 Pequot Trail in Stonington on Thursday morning.

    The report of fire came in around 7:25 a.m. and the caller said someone was still in the house, Southington police said.

    When firefighters arrived, everyone was out.

    Fire officials said the firefighter's injuries are minor.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Crews have responded to a fire in Stonington.Crews have responded to a fire in Stonington.

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    Germany closed its two main diplomatic buildings in Turkey after receiving "very serious leads" that terror attacks were being prepared against its interests in the country, Germany's foreign minister said Thursday, NBC News reported.

    Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Berlin that Germany's embassy in Ankara and its consulate in Istanbul — along with German schools across the two cities — had been closed.

    "Yesterday evening, our security authorities received several concrete and very serious leads that terror attacks against our German representations in Turkey were being prepared," he said.



    Photo Credit: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

    German Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.German Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

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    A 15-year-old Bloomfield girl has been missing since Wednesday night and a Silver Alert has been issued for her.

    Police said Tam-Naja Benson was last seen around 8 p.m. on Wednesday and her foster mother reported her missing.

    Tam-Naja is around 5-feet-10 and weighs 140 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes.

    Anyone with information on where she is should call Bloomfield police at 860-242-5501.



    Photo Credit: Silver Alert

    Tam-Naja Benson, 15, of Bloomfield, has been missing since Wednesday night and a Silver Alert has been issued for her.Tam-Naja Benson, 15, of Bloomfield, has been missing since Wednesday night and a Silver Alert has been issued for her.

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    Route 85 in Bolton is closed after a crash.

    State police said the crash happened in the area of Camp Meeting Road and Route 85.

    No additional information was immediately available.

    Check back for updates.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    The dollar tumbled on Thursday, lifting world shares to their highest level of the year, after the Federal Reserve scaled down its own expectations of the number of U.S. rate hikes likely over the next nine months, NBC News reported.

    The fed cut its forecast from four hikes to two for the year, triggering a slump in the dollar and a surge in risk appetite that rolled from Wall Street to Asia and then into Europe, where London, Frankfurt and Paris opened 0.5 to 0.8 percent higher and bond yields fell.

    Commodity markets cheered too. Brent oil jumped over $41 a barrel as a number of large producers also nailed down a date for an output freeze meeting.



    Photo Credit: File -- AFP/Getty Images

    Wall Street in New York, NY.Wall Street in New York, NY.

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    An 11-year-old New York City boy sneaked a loaded gun into his Queens elementary school Tuesday police said. 

    Police were called to PS 40 in Jamaica, Queens, at about 1 p.m. Tuesday after school safety officers found a loaded 9-millimeter High Point gun in the boy's backpack, police said.

    Other students had alerted the safety officers.

    The gun belonged to the boy's grandfather, 54-year-old Kenneth Miley, according to police. Miley was arrested on criminal possession of a weapon, child endangerment and other charges.

    Attorney information for Miley wasn't immediately available. He was set to be arraigned Wednesday.

    At the address listed for Miley, a man whom neighbors said lived at the home with his family, refused to comment and threatened to throw a garbage can at an NBC 4 New York photographer.

    No charges have been filed against the boy.

    The Department of Education said in a statement it was working with police to investigate the "disturbing" and "alarming" incident, and that the school notified families on Tuesday and were providing additional staff to provide ongoing support.

    But one parent at the school Wednesday was upset at school officials, saying he was never notified of the alarming incident. Instead, Anthony Armstead said he found out from his 8-year-old son.

    "That could have been one of my kids killed," said Armstead.

    The union that represents school safety officers warned that more incidents like this are on the horizon if a proposal to remove metal detectors and scanners from schools is approved.

    "You're going to see more firearms, more knives," said Derek Jackson of school safety officers' union Local 237. "People get injured. God forbid people get killed."

    The mayor's spokesman responded in a statement that Mayor de Blasio "believes that we must look closely at school safety data and determine a clear protocol before examining the removal of scanners."

    Metal detectors are not in use in elementary schools but officers can scan kids if they become suspicious.

    "It's crazy for an elementary school," said parent Reynaldo Toro. "I don't even know how to feel about that."



    Photo Credit: NYPD

    Police said an 11-year-old boy brought his loaded gun into his elementary school, PS 40 in Jamaica, Queens, on Tuesday, March 16, 2016.Police said an 11-year-old boy brought his loaded gun into his elementary school, PS 40 in Jamaica, Queens, on Tuesday, March 16, 2016.

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    A 16-year-old in Ohio has died after being injured in a freak accident during a basketball game with friends at a local church.

    Noah Lear, a junior at Bucyrus High School, was playing basketball with friends on Feb. 27 at Calvary Baptist Church when the post snapped in half, causing the backboard and hoop to come crashing down onto his face, NBC affiliate WCMH reported.

    Before going to a local hospital, Lear was conscious and called his mother, the station reported.

    "He just said that he had an accident and his mouth was bleeding really bad and he knocked a few teeth out. He said the police were with him and he was being taken to the hospital," his mother, Melissa Griffin, told The Galion Inquirer. "When he went to dunk the ball, the whole thing-post, backboard and rim, came down on him."

    When he arrived at Bucyrus Community Hospital, Lear was still talking and apologized to his mother for the accident, the paper reported. He then went into cardiac arrest and oxygen was cut off to his brain.

    The boy was airlifted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and placed in a medically induced coma, according to WCMH.

    Last Thursday, the family received the heartbreaking phone call they hoped wouldn’t come. 

    "We were told that due to the lack of oxygen to his brain, the part that controls the body’s vitals such as blood pressure, heart rate and temperature, is no longer working," Griffin the Galion Inquirer.

    On a Facebook page created for Lear, his family announced he had passed Wednesday morning surrounded by loved ones and mementoes from friends.

    "After fighting valiantly for 18 days, Noah has taken his last breath. He is no longer in pain," the post read.

    "He has left his mark on so many people in this world in his short life. Since his accident he has brought his friends, his family, his community, and many others throughout our world together. His accident has touched so many," the family wrote. "It has reminded us all that anything can happen in the blink of an eye. Noah spent his life trying to make others happy and standing up for what he felt to be right. He put 110% into being the best he could be."

    According to his family, Lear will help save the lives of others as an organ donor. A GoFundMe has been started for the family.



    Photo Credit: Lear Family
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    Noah Lear, 16, died after suffering a freak injury while playing basketball with friends at a church in Ohio on Feb. 27, 2016, according to NBC affiliate WCMH.Noah Lear, 16, died after suffering a freak injury while playing basketball with friends at a church in Ohio on Feb. 27, 2016, according to NBC affiliate WCMH.

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    One person was transported from the scene of a school bus crash in Somers.

    The crash happened at 8:45 a.m. at Main Street and 9th District Road, according to police.

    The scene has cleared and no information was available on whether students were on the bus.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    One person was transported from the scene of a school bus crash in Somers on Thursday morning.One person was transported from the scene of a school bus crash in Somers on Thursday morning.

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    Secretary of State John Kerry declared Thursday that ISIS has been committing genocide in Iraq and Syria.

    Using another name for the Sunni militant group, Kerry said, "Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians, Yazidis because they are Yazidis and Shia because they are Shia."

    He said the group is "genocidal by self-proclamation, its ideology and by its actions" and that the international community must preserve what the militants are trying to "erase."

    The designation marks just the second time a U.S. administration has declared that a genocide was being committed during an ongoing conflict. The first genocide designation during a time of war was in 2004, when Secretary of State Colin Powell determined that atrocities being committed in Sudan's Darfur region constituted genocide.

    Congress had put mounting pressure on the State Department to label ISIS atrocities a genocide and set a March 17 deadline for Kerry to determine his findings.



    Photo Credit: AP

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016.

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    A report ranked the top 25 best places to live in Connecticut.

    The cities and towns were graded on on "livability" score put out by AreaVibes.com. The higher the livability score, the "better" the place is to live, the company says. 

    According to the site, places are scored on whether it has "lots of local amenities, low crime rates, inexpensive cost of living, great schools, low unemployment rates, affordable housing and sunny weather."

    AreaVibes uses data provided by the U.S. Census, Google Places, FBI Uniform Crime Reports, Council for Community and Economic Research, United States Environmental Protection Agency and the National Weather Service. 

    Check out the list of best places to live in Connecticut and their scores:

    1) Darien 

    Livability Score: 86

    Cost of Living: 117% higher than state average
    Crime: 58% lower than state average
    Education: 14% higher than state average

    2) Riverside

    Livability Score: 85

    Cost of Living: 99% higher than state average
    Crime: 65% lower than state average
    Education: 15% higher than state average

    3) Westport

    Livability Score: 85

    Cost of Living: 98% higher than state average
    Crime: 41% lower than state average
    Education: 13% higher than state average 

    4) Ridgefield

    Livability Score: 84

    Cost of Living: 40% higher than state average
    Crime: 88% lower than state average
    Education: 13% higher than state average 

    5) Old Greenwich

    Livability Score: 84

    Cost of Living: 102% higher than state average
    Crime: 68% lower than state average
    Education: 15% higher than state average 

    6) Cos Cob

    Livability Score: 84

    Cost of Living: 66% higher than state average
    Crime: 68% lower than state average
    Education: 11% higher than state average 

    7) Southport

    Livability Score: 84

    Cost of Living: 43% higher than state average
    Crime: 86% lower than state average
    Education: 13% higher than state average 

    8) Greenwich

    Livability Score: 83

    Cost of Living: 64% higher than state average
    Crime: 64% lower than state average
    Education: 8% higher than state average 

    9) Glenville

    Livability Score: 82

    Cost of Living: 50% higher than state average
    Crime: 84% lower than state average
    Education: 11% higher than state average 

    10) Mystic

    Livability Score: 82

    Cost of Living: 11% higher than state average
    Crime: 72% lower than state average
    Education: 12% higher than state average : 

    11) Portland

    Livability Score: 82

    Cost of Living: 4% higher than state average
    Crime: 68% lower than state average
    Education: 3% higher than state average 

    12) Guilford Center

    Livability Score: 82

    Cost of Living: 11% higher than state average
    Crime: 84% lower than state average
    Education: 8% higher than state average 

    13) Shelton

    Livability Score: 82

    Cost of Living: 7% higher than state average
    Crime: 54% lower than state average
    Education: 4% higher than state average 

    14) Pemberwick

    Livability Score: 81

    Cost of Living: 41% higher than state average
    Crime: 81% lower than state average
    Education: 4% higher than state average 

    15) Essex Village

    Livability Score: 81

    Cost of Living: 31% higher than state average
    Crime: 84% lower than state average
    Education: 11% higher than state average 

    16) Old Saybrook Center

    Livability Score: 81

    Cost of Living: 26% higher than state average
    Crime: 84% lower than state average
    Education: 10% higher than state average 

    17) West Hartford

    Livability Score: 81

    Cost of Living: 2% higher than state average
    Crime: 6% lower than state average
    Education: 7% higher than state average 

    18) Bethel

    Livability Score: 80

    Cost of Living: 3% higher than state average
    Crime: 61% lower than state average
    Education: 5% higher than state average 

    19) North Haven

    Livability Score: 80

    Cost of Living: 3% higher than state average
    Crime: 12% lower than state average
    Education: 6% higher than state average 

    20) Madison Center

    Livability Score: 80

    Cost of Living: 33% higher than state average
    Crime: 84% lower than state average
    Education: 10% higher than state average 

    21) Newtown

    Livability Score: 80

    Cost of Living: 17% higher than state average
    Crime: 70% lower than state average
    Education: 7% higher than state average  

    22) Glastonbury Center

    Livability Score: 80

    Cost of Living: 3% higher than state average
    Crime: 25% lower than state average
    Education: 11% higher than state average 

    23) Milford

    Livability Score: 80

    Cost of Living: 6% higher than state average
    Crime: 24% lower than state average
    Education: 5% higher than state average 

    24) Trumbull

    Livability Score: 80

    Cost of Living: 20% higher than state average
    Crime: 21% lower than state average
    Education: 8% higher than state average 

    25) Wethersfield

    Livability Score: 80

    Cost of Living: 3% higher than state average
    Crime: 32% lower than state average
    Education: 2% higher than state average 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    Mystic, ConnecticutMystic, Connecticut

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    One person is in critical condition after a car and tractor-trailer collided in Torrington.

    The crash happened on Winsted Road at Kennedy Road and the person who was driving the car sustained serious injuries and was taken to Waterbury Hospital with head trauma, officials said.

    The driver of the truck was not injured.

    The accident investigation team was called to investigate.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    One persons is in critical condition after a crash in Torrington.One persons is in critical condition after a crash in Torrington.

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    Two suspects used a sledgehammer to bust an ATM at a Dunkin' Donuts in Columbia, police said.

    The pair of suspects broke into the Dunkin' Donuts just before midnight on Wednesday. When the men were inside, they used a sledge hammer and pry bars to open an ATM.

    One man was wearing blue jeans, a blue jacket, tan work boots, a ski mask and gloves. The second was wearing blue jeans, a black leather jacket, black gloves and dark colored work boots. 

    Anyone with information is asked to call state police. 



    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

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    White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday pushed back on a New York Times report that said President Barack Obama privately told Democratic donors the party should begin to coalesce behind Hillary Clinton, NBC News reported.

    Earnest told reporters that Obama "did not indicate or specify a preference in the race."

    The newspaper reported Thursday that Obama told donors Bernie Sanders' campaign is nearing its end and Democrats should begin preparing for Clinton's general election run. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    FILE - President Barack Obama speaks to the press at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 7, 2016 .FILE - President Barack Obama speaks to the press at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 7, 2016 .

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    House Speaker Paul Ryan said it was “unacceptable” for Donald Trump to suggest there would be rioting if he is not chosen as the Republican nominee, NBC News reported.

    "Nobody should say such things in my opinion because to even address or hint to violence is unacceptable," he told reporters on Capitol Hill.

    The Republican presidential front-runner said on CNN Wednesday that “you’d have riots” if he does not win the GOP nomination at the convention in July.

    For the first time, Ryan — who will be the chairman of the convention in Cleveland — acknowledged there could be an open convention. He already dismissed the possibility of opposing Trump as the party's nominee. 



    Photo Credit: AP

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said comments Donald Trump made about potential riots if he were denied the GOP nomination were Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said comments Donald Trump made about potential riots if he were denied the GOP nomination were "unacceptable."

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    Police are looking for the suspect who robbed a Wells Fargo early morning on St. Patrick's Day.

    A man threatened to use a bomb when he entered the bank on 224 Chase Avenue in Waterbury. Police say no bomb or other weapons were seen. 

    The suspect is described as being in his late teens and standing approximately 6 feet tall. 

    He was last seen leaving the bank on foot towards Hill Street. 

    Anyone with information is asked to contact the Waterbury Police. 



    Photo Credit: Waterbury Police

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    Marco Rubio told reporters he planned to leave politics for some time after his current term in the Senate is done, although he offered no other specifics on his future, NBC News reported. 

    "I'm going to finish my term here in Senate, work hard and then be private citizen in January," he said. 

    Rubio also told reporters he’s ruled out running as vice president for the GOP’s eventual nominee, NBC News reported.

    The former presidential candidate and Florida senator told reporters Thursday he wasn’t going to endorse any of the remaining candidates, although he was hopeful Republicans could coalesce around an alternative to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.



    Photo Credit: CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., returns to work as a U.S. Senator on Thursday, March 17, 2016, after suspending his bid to run for president. He said he will leave politics after finishing his term in the Senate.Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., returns to work as a U.S. Senator on Thursday, March 17, 2016, after suspending his bid to run for president. He said he will leave politics after finishing his term in the Senate.

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    The University of Missouri professor fired for threatening journalists at a campus protest defended herself in a Washington Post op-ed Thursday, NBC News reported.

    Melissa Click, who taught media studies in Mizzou’s school of communications, said she was aware of how someone’s actions could be exposed to public scrutiny, but couldn't understand the “impulse to shame” people, even those with good intentions.

    "What would our world be like if no one ever took a chance?" she wrote. "What if everyone played it safe?"

    Click came under fire after she was caught on video in November trying to block a student journalist from filming activists gathered on a campus lawn after Mizzou’s president resigned. 



    Photo Credit: AP

    Melissa Click, shown in this Nov. 9, 2015, file frame grab provided by Mark Schierbecker defended herself in an essay she wrote for the Washington Post. She was caught on camera blocking a student journalist from filming activists on campus and was later fired.Melissa Click, shown in this Nov. 9, 2015, file frame grab provided by Mark Schierbecker defended herself in an essay she wrote for the Washington Post. She was caught on camera blocking a student journalist from filming activists on campus and was later fired.

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    More people live in Groton than in any other town in Southeastern Connecticut, and town government officials are considering raising property taxes more than in most if not any other towns: 8.3 percent.
     
    "I try not to think about it because I can't afford an increase. I'm living from my hand to mouth," said Heather Shortman.

    Groton has lost some property to demolition at Pfizer. The town government expects less revenue to pay for its programs. The tax increase would keep them going.

    "With how bad the state and the town are doing as far as money goes," said Craig Tremblay, "I think it may be appropriate."

    Mili Ebbin was also willing to see taxes go up. "I realize we have high taxes because there are a lot of people not paying taxes - renters and so forth," she said. "I'm an owner and I feel obliged to my community."

    Even though Rich Boutot lives in Navy housing, he said, "Taxes in Connecticut are ridiculous. This state - if they could find a way to tax you for breathing they would. That's why as soon as I retire from the military, I'm leaving. I retire next month so me and my family will be gone by June."

    As the Groton Town Council considers the proposed budget, there's a public hearing scheduled for March 29th.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image

    Groton, ConnecticutGroton, Connecticut

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