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    New Jersey cops attending the funeral of a murdered Delaware state trooper received an unusually heartfelt greeting when checking in to their hotel.

    Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen Ballard was gunned down in a convenience store parking lot April 26. His memorial service is Friday, and thousands of law enforcement from around the country descended on Delaware to pay respects.

    That included a contingent from the New Jersey State Police, who received a special welcome from their Wilmington hotel.

    "While we are very happy to have you stay with us, we do wish it was under better circumstances," the hotel's staff wrote in the letter.

    "You protect and serve your communities every day and as such, it is our honor and privilege to serve you during this time."

    The state police posted a copy of the letter on Twitter along with the hashtag #class.

    Photo Credit: NBC10 / Delaware State Police
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    A Killingworth man is dead after a two-car head-on collision in Clinton Thursday afternoon and a Middletown woman was seriously injured.

    Police said the vehicles collided at Route 81 and Rocky Ledge Drive around 3:43 p.m. and both drivers sustained life-threatening injuries and had to be pulled from their cars and taken to area hospitals. 

    One of the drivers, 60-year-old Andrew Asermely, of Killingworth, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other driver, 48-year-old Deidre Koziel, of Middletown, was seriously injured. 

    Route 81 was closed for an extended period of time as police investigated. 

    At this time the accident investigation is in its preliminary stages, and more information will be released as it becomes available. 

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    After a tumultuous school year in which she lost a battle to play on the boys' basketball team, was expelled, then ultimately allowed back to school and to play with the boys, Sydney Phillips was honored for her fight alongside a woman who's had her own fair share of battles: Hillary Clinton.

    Phillips was among eight honorees at the Ms. Foundation's Gloria Awards in downtown Manhattan Wednesday night. The annual Gloria Awards, named after Ms. Foundation co-founder Gloria Steinem, pays tribute to people who "ignite policy and culture change on behalf of women and their communities nationwide."

    Phillips, who fought all year for the right to play on the boys' basketball team at St. Theresa's School in Kenilworth, was honored as "an emerging advocate for equality in education and sports." 

    The seventh grader been told at the beginning of the school year that she could not play with the boys, even though the girls team had been dropped for the season. She sued her school and the Archdiocese of Newark, asking the court to intervene.

    A judge initially ruled Phillips couldn't prove she had a legally established right to play with the boys basketball team, and then the school expelled Phillips and her sister for suing them.

    "I just want to play basketball and now I'm being expelled, it makes no sense at all," she told News 4 at the time. "I don't want to go to any other school." 

    Then in February, an appeals judge ruled that the girls should not be prevented from going to school -- and also that she should be allowed to play with the boys. In her first game with the boys, Phillips made two baskets against St. Genevieve. 

    For a 14 year old, Phillips was joining a fairly select group: former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was celebrated at the same event for her 40-plus years of public service and the way she has "inspired and ignited the power of women to join the political sphere."

    Phillips even got to memorialize the moment fittingly for a teenage girl: a selfie with Clinton. 

    Photo Credit: Provided to NBC 4 NY

    Sydney Phillips takes a selfie with Hillary Clinton at the Ms. Foundation's Gloria Awards in New York City Wednesday, May 3.Sydney Phillips takes a selfie with Hillary Clinton at the Ms. Foundation's Gloria Awards in New York City Wednesday, May 3.

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    At an immigrant detention center in Pennsylvania, handbooks issued to undocumented families come in English and Spanish. The information inside depends on the language in which it’s written, especially where sexual assault is concerned.

    In the English manual, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement claims a “zero-tolerance” policy toward sexual abuse and sums up how to report crimes or suspicions in a single paragraph with bullet points. The Spanish version, meanwhile, fills four and a half pages and tells women not to drink or talk about sex so they won’t get assaulted during their time at the facility.

    “You’re basically putting the blame on the residents,” said Reading-based attorney Jackie Kline, who represents detainees at the Berks County Residential Center.

    The facility, which lies along the backroads of Leesport, houses asylum-seeking families from predominantly Central American countries. It is one of three ICE family detention centers; the other two are in Texas and tend to be used for short-term stays. Berks, on the other hand, has held women and children for up to 18 months.

    As of early April, 51 immigrants were detained there, including 27 minors. Only a few adults at the facility are men. Most residents are mothers and their kids who have been assigned to expedited removal. Under President Donald Trump, expedited removal is expected to surge, affecting even more families who say they're running from danger abroad.

    The information in the facility’s handbooks is ostensibly intended to protect female detainees from male aggressors, and it emphasizes the threat posed by other residents. But in reality, a vast majority of the men whom women encounter at Berks are staffers. A rape charge has never been brought against another detainee at the center, while a county employee has been convicted of sexual assault.

    Counselor Daniel W. Sharkey served five months in Berks County Prison after he pleaded guilty to the institutional sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman who had already fled Honduras to escape sexual assault and domestic violence. A 7-year-old girl was the first to report the crime after she saw Sharkey and his victim having sexual relations in a bathroom.

    Sharkey’s was the first case of its kind at any family immigration detention center. He was locked up for less time than the young woman whom he violated; she spent eight months at Berks.

    The woman’s attorney, Matthew Archambeault, criticized the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services for not preventing the assaults.

    “It’s their mission to protect these [kids], and they failed,” he said.

    Sharkey’s lawyer, Allan L. Sodomsky, continues to claim that his client’s actions were consensual, though a June 2016 civil lawsuit the Honduran woman brought against Sharkey and Berks details several encounters when she says she was violated against her will.

    Berks’ sex politics are especially relevant now as the state comes under pressure to close the facility, which is functioning under a license to house delinquents and dependents although all of its residents are accompanied by parents. After Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services announced that it would not renew the center’s license in February 2016, Berks claimed the decision was an unfair result of controversy surrounding the center — some of which concentrated on the Sharkey case — and pursued legal action. An administrative law judge ruled last month that the attempt to shutter the facility was unfounded, but the department still could appeal in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

    Because most of the mothers at Berks speak Spanish, they’re more likely to consult the Spanish-language handbook’s sexual assault section. The manual outlines procedures, like how to file a complaint, and includes definitions of relevant terms.

    A subhead, “How to avoid sexual assault,” covers three-quarters of a page and makes recommendations absent in the English version of the handbook.

    “Don’t consume drugs or alcohol; these substances can reduce your capacity to stay alert and make good decisions,” counsels the Spanish guide. “Don’t talk about sex. Other residents could think you’re interested in a sexual relationship.”

    One piece of advice echoes a scenario from the 2014 incident, during which Sharkey gave his victim chocolate and presents for her son before demanding she have sex with him.

    “Don’t accept gifts or favors from other people,” it reads. “Some people could try to force you to do something that you don’t want to do as payment for those gifts and favors.”

    The handbook also suggests that women “walk in well-lit areas of the Center,” which is run by the county.

    “First of all, they’re not allowed to have drugs or alcohol anyways, and the center should be providing well-lit areas,” Kline said.

    Notably, Berks is not the only family detention center that advises women on how to avoid their own assaults. At Karnes County Residential Center in Texas, information on page 28 of a Spanish handbook published in June 2016 provides the same directions as in the Berks manual, with minor differences in word choice.  

    Pressed repeatedly for comment about its handbooks and sexual assault policies, ICE did not respond. The agency did not explain why the content of both versions was so different or whether the manuals were written at the same time. The Berks Spanish guide is dated June 2016. The English version is undated but was used as evidence in a court case the same month.

    In addition to its sexual assault guidelines, Berks has implemented other practices that some advocates say view women only as sexual objects. In November 2014, the center altered its dress code, which is reflected in both the English and Spanish handbooks. 

    The dress code extends to all residents age 5 and older, and its rules are female-focused. Some of the restrictions include form-fitting or cleavage-exposing shirts; shorts higher than mid-thigh; and dresses and skirts, unless they are being used for religious purposes.

    “This is what they told the moms," said Bridget Cambria, an attorney who defends Berks detainees. "‘Well you know, there are men who work here.’” 

    One of the rules stipulates that “if an article of clothing is deemed inappropriate during the day it is still inappropriate for nighttime/sleeping hours.” On one occasion, this meant that because of concerns over propriety, a 9-year-old girl was admonished for wearing shorts to sleep when she kicked off her sheets in the night. Staff awakened her and forced her to either put on long pants or keep the covers on, according to attorneys.

    After Archambeault’s client reported Sharkey, the center held a meeting with all of the women to enforce the new clothing policy, he said. He called the talk “your classic victim-blaming.” His client became unpopular among other residents, who accused her of spurring changes that adversely affected them and their daughters.

    Staff members also targeted her, Archambeault said. When she came forward, an employee forced her to trade in a blouse after saying it was too revealing, and she became nervous about her outfit choices.

    “She would come in and she’d say, ‘I don’t know if this is appropriate dress or not.’ And she’d be wearing tee-shirts and jeans,” he said.

    ICE denies a connection between the Sharkey case and a dress code change. Three months after Sharkey was accused, though, women were forced to cover their bodies so they did not make others uncomfortable.

    Archambeault submitted a request for any correspondence on the dress code reform, but it was denied. All he received was the November 2014 memo that announced an alteration in policy and explained when staffers should confiscate clothing. “If any item is questionable,” it cautioned, “have the residents try on the item and have a staff of the same gender view the resident.”

    Archambeault decried the policy revisions, which he said assumed all men are predators. He added that implying a woman has invited sexual assault by the way she dresses or acts “is really chilling.”

    “I hate all of that,” he said. “I hate all of it, because it’s so demeaning to women, it’s so demeaning to men.”

    Berks, one of 211 ICE facilities, is not the only immigrant detention center that has faced criticism over its sex policies. According to Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), between May 2014 and May 2016, 1,016 sexual abuse or assault complaints landed on a desk at the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General. But accurate figures of abuse may be much higher, Christina Fialho, co-founder of CIVIC, told NBC San Diego. Between January 2010 and July 2016, the inspector general investigated only about one percent of over 33,000 complaints leveled against ICE and related to forms of sexual misconduct. 

    Archambeault condemned the fact that no one at Berks expressed any remorse for what happened to his client.

    “What was missing was a definitive statement saying that if this happens to you, you are a victim,” he said.

    Photo Credit: Nelson Hsu

    Berks County Residential Center hands out Spanish and English manuals to residents, but the information in each version is different.Berks County Residential Center hands out Spanish and English manuals to residents, but the information in each version is different.

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    U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is trying to ease the financial burden students face when attending college and he has co-sponsored a bill that would make public colleges and universities tuition-free for families making up to $125,000 a year. 

    He is co-sponsoring a bill with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and said the federal government would provide two-thirds of the cost for public higher education, while the states would cover the other third. 

    “Closing the loopholes and the tax giveaways to special interest and high-income earners would provide the revenue necessary to invest in this nation’s education,” Sen. Blumenthal said. 

    The senator shared his proposal with graduating seniors at Derby High School on Friday and it was welcomed news to many of them who might have to take out student loans. 

    “It’s really stressful, especially for my parents too because my sister is just graduating from Southern Connecticut. So they try to help her pay and they’re going to try and help me as much as they can. So really, I’m just going to be taking out a lot of student loans,” said Bianca Abel, a senior who plans on attending Sacred Heart University in the fall for occupational therapy. 

    “It was really frustrating and quite stressful,” said Khalil Ibrhim, a senior who plans on attending American University in the fall for international relations. “My mom was actually really lucky, she got a full ride. But I know a lot of my friends’ parents, they’re still suffering from the loans they had to take out in college.” 

    Photo Credit:

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    When Rajiv Maragh mounts Irish War Cry at the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, he will cap a comeback from a spill that left him with broken ribs, a broken back and a collapsed lung, injuries that kept him out of racing for 16 months.

    Maragh was riding Yourcreditisgood at Belmont Park on July 2015 when another horse veered in his path. The two horses' heels clipped and Yourcreditisgood fell on top of Maragh.

    “I knew I was pretty badly injured. When I fell, the horse fell on top of my back,” said Maragh, 31. “I was in a lot of pain, I couldn’t breathe. Afterwards, I found out it was because I had a collapsed lung. I felt like I was fighting for my life.”

    Maragh gained prominence when he swept four Breeders’ Cup races from 2011-2013, but his 13-year racing career has been marred by severe injuries. Before the 2015 accident, he fractured his spine twice, broke his arm, fractured his pelvis and collarbone and had a severe concussion that resulted in a 2-week memory loss.

    “It was a rollercoaster, the last few years. I feel like I got everything out of the way,” Maragh said of his injuries.

    Falling off a horse that’s running at 40 mph is a gamble jockeys take every race. Perched on top of a large, heavy and fast-moving animal, jockeys are completely exposed, with very little equipment to cushion a collision or a fall. Jockeys' Guild, the union that represents the riders, has been working to make the sport safer by collecting information about injuries and spearheading a concussion management protocol.

    In 2012, the Jockey’s Guild launched a Jockey Injury Database aimed at collecting where, when and how injuries occurred; what type of equipment riders were wearing; and the nature and severity of the injuries.

    The data will be analyzed for trends and used to help choose rider safety equipment and racetrack surface types and address other safety concerns. There is no cost to tracks to participate in the project and the data entry is not mandatory. Not all tracks are on board, so the guild still does the bulk of data collection.

    “Any time there’s a horse that doesn’t finish, we get an alert, we look at the race chart and contact the rider and see what happened,” said Jeff Johnston, the guild's regional manager. “I think all racetracks appreciate we’re doing this. We’re still progressing, but it certainly has been a lot more work on us and we hope to get more industry support.”

    In the U.S., there is no single governing body that oversees racing, and that’s been an obstacle to achieving progress in the area of jockey safety, experts say. It’s especially evident in how jockeys' concussions are handled, they said.

    Concussions typically cause a headache, mental fuzziness, memory loss, some confusion, lightheadedness and balance problems. Many symptoms are short lived, but often a rider may not know they had a concussion and they get back on a horse to run another race.

    “From my experience having a concussion, you don’t really know you have a concussion — when you have a concussion, you think you’re in a fine shape,” Maragh said. “Even football players or anyone at the moment think they’re fine; they don’t know what happened.

    "If you feel like you’re fine and you’re a jockey you’re going to ride a race," he continued. "One way you’re going to make money is ride a race, you’re not going to stop."

    Unlike the major U.S. sports leagues or international horse racing authorities in the U.K. or Ireland, U.S. racing has yet to implement a standard for diagnosing and managing concussions in jockeys.

    According to the Jockey Injury Database, 14 percent of injuries in riders from 2012 to 2017 were concussions. The database, however, isn’t comprehensive and there is also no way to know how many retired jockeys could be suffering the effects of repeated concussions.

    But with a recent spotlight on sports-related concussions and the deaths of high-profile athletes who developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease caused by repeated head trauma, the guild recognized that the concussion management plan has been missing from horse racing.

    In June 2016, the guild started a three-year pilot study designed to evolve into the first comprehensive concussion management protocol for jockeys in the U.S. The union worked in partnership with the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences, thoroughbred tracks in Kentucky, National Thoroughbred Racing Association and other organizations.

    As part of the study, a specially trained health care provider assesses a jockey’s physical and cognitive function using the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool test. The baseline score from the test — which looks at coordination and memory and orientation — can then be used to compare against a jockey's responses after a fall to determine whether he sustained a concussion.

    “You can’t fix it and you can’t prevent [concussions], but what you can do is to try to manage it better,” said Carl Mattacola, associate dean of academic and faculty affairs at the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky who oversees the pilot study at all of Kentucky’s thoroughbred racetracks, including Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Turfway Park and Kentucky Downs. “What we’re trying to do is provide health care that is at a similar level as the other professional sports.”

    A jockey who races with a concussion risks multiplying its severity and its long-term consequences. Riding with a concussion also endangers the other jockeys in the race and the horses because the rider's decision-making and reaction time can be compromised.

    When Maragh had a severe concussion about a decade ago while racing at Belmont Park in New York, he lost consciousness for about five minutes after he fell and a horse stepped on his head. He woke up in excruciating pain when paramedics were loading him into an ambulance.

    “At first, I thought my legs were broken; both legs felt like the femur had snapped. I was telling the paramedic, my legs are snapped in two, they are hanging off,” Maragh said. “That was the message from the brain, they felt like they were snapped in two. I passed out and when I got to the hospital, I woke up with the worst headache, I was telling them to check my brain, do a CT scan. There was a hoof print on my skull on the scan.”

    Maragh spent several days in the hospital and his then-girlfriend came from Florida to take care of him.

    “I had bad headaches for two weeks. Two weeks went by and I only remember two hours of the two weeks after I left the hospital,” Maragh said. “Im sure I had to get cleared to ride again after but I don’t remember anything."

    Maragh said it was his only diagnosed concussion during his professional career. His first concussion happened when he was 12 years old in his native Jamaica.

    That's when he snuck into a racetrack where his dad was a jockey and pretended he was an apprentice rider, wearing his dad’s gear. But when he got on the track, the horse threw him off and Maragh hit his head. When he got home he began vomiting and passing out. He spent two days in the hospital and had amnesia.

    Since 2004, all jockeys riding on British Horse Racing Authority tracks have been required to undergo baseline neuropsychological testing annually in order to be licensed. While the concussion protocol is not mandatory for jockeys in the U.S., tracks like Keeneland are moving to change that.

    Dr. Barry Schumer, Keeneland’s medical director, has been advocating for a standarized approach to jockeys' medical care. Starting in October, he said, all jockeys have to have their baseline concussion testing performed before they compete at the track. He hopes that move, as well as sharing information from the concussion pilot study at industry meetings and conferences, will get other tracks to follow along.

    Schumer said smaller racetracks may be more reluctant to get on board because of costs associated with having a medical professional conduct the baseline for concussions. Other tracks simply want to do things their way, he said. He’s hopeful, however, that more tracks and more jockeys continue to recognize the danger of untreated concussions.

    “Each jockey is an independent contractor… their job is as risky as in any sport, if not riskier,” Schumer said. “When they get injured, they can’t ride and when they can’t ride they can’t get paid. They are resistant to health mandates because they would rather get back on the horse with a headache than miss a paycheck. Part of this whole process is educating the riders about the importance of all this.”

    Mattacola said he’s made presentations to jockeys about the concussion protocol, explaining that most high schools and colleges in Kentucky have medical staff that includes a physician and an athletic trainer who provide care if someone should get injured, including concussions, so that they don’t suffer long-term complications.

    “We told jockeys, our role is not to hold you out, our role is to to protect you if we think there’s something serious going on,” Mattacola said. “The role of the physician or health care provider is to get you out there to race safely."

    Racing this spring, with his sights fixed on the top prize at Churchill Downs, Maragh said he tries not to dwell on the 2015 spill that left him wearing a body brace and bedridden for weeks, or on the potential health effects down the line from his injuries or undiagnosed concussions he may have had.

    "I choose to be a jockey and there's a always a risk of danger and injury and you can't let that blur your vision or riding," said Maragh, who has won more than 70 races since November. "If that's going to be the case, better off not riding. Anything that happens to me on the racetrack I take it as it comes. I'm just happy to be out there, I don't have any fear at all."

    Photo Credit: AP

    In this photo provided by Coglianese Photos, Rajiv Maragh rides Irish War Cry to victory in the Wood Memorial horse race at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York. Irish War Cry is one of 20 horses vying to wear the garland of red roses.In this photo provided by Coglianese Photos, Rajiv Maragh rides Irish War Cry to victory in the Wood Memorial horse race at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York. Irish War Cry is one of 20 horses vying to wear the garland of red roses.

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    A New Jersey man has been arrested for allegedly planning to set off a bomb in New York City in support of ISIS, federal prosecutors said Friday.

    Gregory Lepsky, 20, will appear in Newark federal court to face once charge of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

    Lepsky was arrested Feb. 21 after a relative called police and said he had threatened to kill the family dog. While being treated for wounds to his arms, Lepsky said he had joined ISIS and had plane tickets to Turkey, according to a criminal complaint.

    While searching his home, authorities found a brand new pressure cooker hidden in his closet. 

    Lepsky subsequently claimed, while in the hospital, that he had been in contact with ISIS members via Facebook and that he had been studying how to make a pressure cooker bomb with gunpowder, the complaint says. 

    "Lepsky also stated that he was going to take the pressure cooker and gunpowder to New York City, bring the items into a crowded area of Manhattan, and blow it up to kill people. Lepsky explained that he would be rewarded in the afterlife for this act," the complaint said. 

    Further investigation revealed that Lepsky had multiple conversations on Facebook in which he said he had converted to Islam and wanted to go to Syria to fight non-believers, according to court documents.

    A search of his phone turned up a variety of anti-Semitic images, the ISIS flag and a picture of an armed Lepsky dressed in fatigues and making pro-ISIS hand gestures, the complaint says. 

    Lepsky is not the first local man to be arrested in recent months for attempting to join ISIS. In March, the FBI arrested a Long Island man who tried to travel to Syria to join the terror group, and last November a Brooklyn resident was arrested with similar plans. 

    Lawyer information for Lepsky was not immediately known. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the criminal charge. 

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    FILE PHOTO: Newark federal courthouseFILE PHOTO: Newark federal courthouse

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    Former President Barack Obama will be in Boston this weekend to accept the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

    Kennedy's daughter Caroline and her 24-yera-old son, Jack Schlossberg, will present Obama with the award Sunday at the JFK Library and Museum. The event is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. with a performance by James Taylor.

    "I'm thrilled with the choice," Kennedy said Friday on the "Today" show. "There are many kinds of courage and he demonstrated more than one of those."

    Schlossberg, the former president's only grandchild, said he was inspired in 2008 by Obama's vision for America "and the promises he laid out."

    "This award really recognizes that he made tough choices over the last eight years to execute on that vision, to give people health care, to get serious about climate change and to reach out to international partners and really improve America's standing in the world. That takes political courage," he added. " I think we're seeing today that it's pretty easy to criticize without offering solutions, and President Obama did not do that. He had the courage to govern responsibly."

    Obama has kept a low profile since delivering his farewell address in January. He resurfaced last week for his first public appearance since leaving office, speaking to students at the University of Chicago. And earlier this week he unveiled plans for his future presidential center.

    The JFK Profile in Courage Award is presented annually by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. It is named for Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Profiles in Courage." The book tells the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.

    "Faced with unrelenting political opposition, President Obama has embodied the definition of courage that my grandfather cites in the opening lines of 'Profiles in Courage': grace under pressure," Schlossberg said in announcing the award earlier this year. "Throughout his two terms in office, he represented all Americans with decency, integrity, and an unshakeable commitment to the greater good."

    Obama is being recognized for "his enduring commitment to democratic ideals and elevating the standard of political courage in a new century," the foundation said, citing the expansion of health care options for millions, restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and leadership on an international climate change agreement.

    The award has been given out annually since 1989. Last year's winner was Democratic Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

    Obama is the third former U.S. president to earn the award, joining Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. Other winners include U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., former Ukraine President Victor Yushchenko and former U.S. Rep. Carl Elliott Sr., D-Ala.

    Photo Credit: FILE - Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
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    President Barack Obama speaks at McCormick Place in Chicago, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, giving his presidential farewell address.President Barack Obama speaks at McCormick Place in Chicago, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, giving his presidential farewell address.

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    Police were sent to protect the student government president of American University Thursday night after an online post "authored by a white supremacist" encouraged others to troll her, the university said in a statement issued Friday morning. 

    The post comes days after bananas marked with the letters "AKA," the abbreviation for the historically black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, were found hanging from nooses. The bananas were found in at least three locations on the Northwest Washington campus Monday morning.

    The racist displays were found on the same day student government president Taylor Dumpson, an AKA member, started the new position. She is the first black woman in the role.

    School officials did not say where the online post targeting Dumpson was published, but said the author encourage "trolls" to harass her online.

    "The university immediately dispatched law enforcement to her home to provide her and her family with additional security and technology protections," said Teresa Flannery, the vice president of communication for the university.

    Campus police are monitoring the situation. 

    On Thursday, American University students met again to address how to combat racism on campus, after the racist incident. 

    At a standing-room-only town hall meeting, Dumpson spoke about what happened. 

    "I am appalled as a student. Second, I am outraged. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, I am nauseated, and as a target, I am numb," she said. 

    University president Dr. Neil Kerwin condemned the racist acts. 

    "What occurred here has nothing to do with the fundamental values of this university," he said. 

    The FBI's Civil Rights division is helping American investigate the displays. Students have urged the administration to find who committed the hate crimes and address repeated acts of racism.

    In her first interview after the racist acts, Dumpson told News4 she wants to foster improved communication among students. 

    Campus police distributed two videos Tuesday evening of a suspect. The blurry video clips show someone walking on the empty campus. Campus police believe at least three bananas hung in nooses were placed on campus Monday between 3:45 a.m. and 4:10 a.m.

    Anyone who recognizes the person is asked to call campus police at 202-885-2527 or submit an anonymous tip online. A reward of as much as $1,000 is offered for tips. 

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    Police have made a second arrest in connection with a kidnapping and robbery at a Motel 6 in Milford.

    Officers took 37-year-old Abimnel Mangual, of Waterbury, into custody Thursday and arrested him in connection with the incident at the Motel 6 at 111 Schoolhouse Road on April 12.

    The victim reported being attacked by four people, including one who had a handgun. Police said the victim’s mouth was covered in duct tape and he or she was restrained with zip-ties, then a large sum of cash and clothing were taken.

    Police identified Mangual as a suspect through DNA and charged him with first-degree home invasion, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping with a firearm, criminal use of a firearm and first-degree larceny, according to a news release from police.

    Bond was set at $200,000 bond.

    Police previously arrested 18-year-old Jacqueline Steck, of Milford, and charged her with home invasion, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping with a firearm, criminal use of a firearm and first-degree larceny. 

    Photo Credit: MIlford Police

    Abimnel Mangual, left, and Jacqueline Steck, right,Abimnel Mangual, left, and Jacqueline Steck, right,

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    When University of Connecticut students completed their final exams on Friday, they were met with the prospect of moving out of their dorm rooms in a downpour.

    The university’s on-campus housing officially closes at noon on Monday. Until then, the students have the weekend to pack up and head home.

    Elizabeth Dowd said the day she moved her freshman son Devin into the dorms it rained, too. So, when she saw Friday’s forecast, she came prepared.

    “Every time I come up here it rains,” said Dowd, of Phillipsburg, New Jersey. “We put everything in plastic garbage bags.”

    “I was really disappointed because I knew it would be tough with the weather moving everything and all of our clothes would be soaked,” her son added.

    Many packed up their possessions in the late morning and early afternoon, before the worst weather set in.

    “I knew the 100 percent rain was coming this afternoon, so I knew I had to get up early this morning,” Paul Painter, Devin’s roommate who is also from Phillipsburg, said.

    Their arms overflowing with blankets and baskets, TVs and toiletries, parents and students tried to make the most of every trip up and down the dorm stairs to avoid the elements.

    “Basically get in and out as fast as you can, not bringing the truck, pack everything I can in the car so it’s all closed up, extra set of clothes to be dry on the way home,” said Philip Jackson. of Old Saybrook, who came to move his son Kyle out of one of the freshman dorms.

    Some made the mad dash for the car as the skies opened up.

    “Just trying to get everything in as fast as I can,” Cherrise Kenton, of East Hartford, said.

    Amanda Sorvillo, of East Hampton, found the silver lining in the dreary day.

    “I don’t have to wear a jacket because I’m just warming myself up by going up and down the stairs,” she said.

    Many other students gave Friday’s weather a failing grade.

    “It’s awful. It’s already hard moving out and then the rain makes it 10 times worse,” Kenton said.

    Photo Credit:

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    The Hartford Archdiocese will announce its plan to reorganize parishes and hold a question and answer session about the process at press conference on Sunday.

    The event is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield.

    Priests are also expected to discuss the changes with their parishioners at Mass, and official decrees for churches closing or merging will be posted in each affected church and online.

    The archdiocese intends to reorganize its current 212 parishes into pastorates, a single parish with a parochial church and one or more worship sites, campuses, and ministries.

    The reorganization will include church closures and mergers. According to the Office of Pastoral Planning of the Archdiocese of Hartford, the Pastoral Council and the Directors of the Hartford Bishop’s Foundation have already been briefed on the plans, and any priests being reassigned have been notified.

    The archdiocese said at the beginning of the project that the changes are necessary because of a declining Roman Catholic population in Connecticut, as well as lower Mass attendance, fewer available priests, and financial concerns.

    For more information, visit the Office of Pastoral Planning website.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    Kick Hill Road in Lebanon is closed due to a serious crash, according to Connecticut State Police.

    Police said at least three people suffered life-threatening or serious injuries. The road is currently closed at Gregory Road through to Sanitarium Road on the South Windham side.

    More details were not immediately available.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

    Photo Credit:
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    A school bus was involved in a crash on Simsbury Road in West Hartford Friday afternoon, police confirmed.

    Police said the bus was involved in a minor accident on Simsbury Road near Bloomfield Avenue.

    It was not immediately clear if there were children on the bus or if there were any injuries.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

    File photoFile photo

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    A teen has been charged in the killing of a Chicago police officer's son, who was fatally shot last summer on the city's South Side, just hours before family members said he was scheduled to return to college. 

    Anthony Moore, 18, was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of 19-year-old Arshell Edward Dennis, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Friday morning

    "We promised we'd never stop & we didn't," he wrote. 

    Dennis was fatally shot on Aug. 14 while sitting with two other men in front of his family's home in the 2900 block of West 82nd Street in Chicago's Wrightwood neighborhood. Police say a suspect approached the pair around 12:04 a.m. and opened fire, authorities said, striking Dennis in the chest. 

    A 20-year-old man sitting with Dennis was critically injured in the shooting, according to police. 

    Both men were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center where Dennis was pronounced dead.

    Family members said Dennis, who was known as Trey, graduated from Urban Prep Academy in 2014. He was home visiting his mother, who had been sick, before starting his junior year studying journalism at St. John's University in New York. He was scheduled to fly to New York City later that day to return to school. 

    Dennis was the son of Chicago Police Officer Arshell Dennis.

    "Every officer in this department took this murder personally," Supt. Eddie Johnson said Friday with Sgt. Dennis by his side. "And we vowed not to stop until we found his killer. Today, I am pleased to announce that we have apprehended and charged that individual." 

    Commander Brendan Deenihan said investigators believe the shooting happened because Moore though the younger Dennis and his friends were in an opposing gang, though they were not. 

    "This touches home a little bit more, but detectives work every case this way," Deenihan said. 

    He added that Moore allegedly made several "third party statements" admitting his role in the killing. Authorities also claimed to have video and phone data evidence in the case. 

    Johnson said Moore's arrest "should come as no surprise to anyone."

    "This is not his first go around with the criminal justice system," Johnson said.

    "The vast majority of people who pulled the trigger in this city are not new to the criminal lifestyle. Even if they have never used a gun before, they have made decisions in their life that have lead them up to that point." 

    Sgt. Dennis did not speak during the announcement, other than to thank his fellow officers for their work in the case. 

    "It's a deep loss," Dennis' grandfather said soon after the teen's death. "It hurts and I wish some of this senseless killing would stop."

    Photo Credit: Chicago Police

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    Two people were arrested on drug charges as part of a months-long investigation into heroin and fentanyl trafficking, according to Connecticut State Police.

    Kevin Crabb, 36, and Renee Cottrill, 34, both of West Hartford, were arrested Thursday. Police said the pair are accused of being the source of heroin/fentanyl in the Hartford area that is connected to a number of overdoses.

    Police arrested the pair during a traffic stop. During a search, officers turned up 51 grams of fentanyl, four grams of marijuana, two grams of heroin, and $3,040 in cash.

    When police executed a search warrant at the suspects’ apartment, they found an additional 714 grams of fentanyl, 59 grams of raw heroin, 32 grams of cocaine and $1,200 in cash, as well as prescription pills, steroids, a scale, packaging materials and a kilo press.

    Crabb was charged with illegal possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance, risk of injury to a child, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

    Cottrill was charged with illegal possession of narcotics, illegal sale of drugs by non-drug-dependent person, risk of injury to a child and conspiracy.

    Both were held on $250,000 bonds.

    The investigation was executed by the Connecticut State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force North Central Office, which includes members of the Connecticut State Police, West Hartford Police, East Windsor Police, and Hartford Police Departments.

    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

    Police seized a variety of drugs including fentanyl, marijuana, cocaine and heroin during a heroin trafficking investigation that led them to a home in West Hartford.Police seized a variety of drugs including fentanyl, marijuana, cocaine and heroin during a heroin trafficking investigation that led them to a home in West Hartford.

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    A suburban homeowner is suing Zillow, claiming the real estate site’s estimate on the value of her home is keeping her from selling it at the price she believes it’s worth.

    The so-called “Zestimate” for Barbara Andersen’s home is more than $70,000 below the current asking price for her three-bedroom townhouse in Glenview, Illinois, according to Zillow’s website.

    The home was last listed at $626,000, and has a “Zestimate” of $551,252.

    Andersen said last fall, her Zestimate was somewhere around $650,000, but when she decided to switch to “for sale by owner,” that all changed.

    “When I went to for sale by owner, all of sudden out of nowhere my market value from the Zestimate just started to plummet,” Andersen told NBC 5.

    A Zestimate, the company’s website states, is “Zillow’s estimated market value.” Though the company notes it is “not an appraisal” and should be used “as a starting point to determine a home’s value,” the suit states the estimate is “effectively a sloppy computer-driven appraisal” and meets the definition of an appraisal under Illinois law.

    “I didn’t think this was a proper legal thing to do,” Andersen, who practices real estate litigation law, said.

    The suit seeks to have a court either require Zillow to remove the Zestimate from her home’s listing or “amend it to an agreeable market value” in addition to reimbursing Andersen for the cost of filing the ligitation.

    It claims Zillow “should not be engaging in this business practice without a valid appraisal license and, further, the consent of the homeowner.”

    In a statement, Zillow said, “We believe the claims in this case are without merit."

    “We always say that the Zestimate is a starting point to determine the home’s value, and isn’t an official appraisal," the statement read. "What’s more, the plaintiff can update her own Zestimate by adding the square footage of her home to her for-sale-by-owner listing. If she did that, she would see an immediate adjustment to her Zestimate."

    The real estate website’s information page on the Zestimate said its accuracy “depends on location and availability of data in an area.”

    “Some counties have deeply detailed information on homes such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage and others do not,” the page reads. “The more data available, the more accurate the Zestimate.”

    A spokesperson for Zillow added that the company tells homeowners looking to sell their property "if you're serious about selling your home you should work with a qualified real estate agent."

    “I understand for a lot of people their home is their biggest investment and people care about how their home is characterized on the internet,” Emily Heffter said. “We really try and give consumers a lot of power over what their Zestimate looks like and what their home looks like. Clearly homes sell for something other than their Zestimate all the time.”

    According to Zillow’s site, the company claims the Zestimate has a national median error rate of 5 percent.

    “Of course it’s inaccurate because it’s a computer-generated model but it’s the most accurate independent estimate of home values on the internet,” Heffter said, adding that other real estate sites publish similar estimates as well. “We think it’s helpful.”

    Andersen bought her three-bedroom, two-bathroom home overlooking a golf course in the north Chicago suburb in 2009 for close to $630,000, records show. The home was listed for sale in 2013 at $650,000 and $670,000 and again in 2014 at $720,000. The list price has dropped and risen since then before landing most recently at $626,000.

    “There’s a lot that goes into an appraisal, not just looking at public record, which is what a Zestimate does,” Andersen said.

    Andersen admits that she didn’t realize her case would get the attention it has since received, noting that she has “opened a can of worms.”

    “I really thought it was going to just be something simple and it really just exploded from there,” she said. “Even if my suit settles, we’ll continue on with the dialogue, which is helpful for all of real estate.”

    Photo Credit: ©VHT Studios

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    A fallen tree caused delays on the southbound side of the Wilbur Cross Parkway (Route 15) in Wallingford on Friday afternoon, according to Connecticut State Police.

    The tree fell near exit 65, police said. The Department of Transportation was called in to clear the tree, which was blocking both lanes of the highway.

    Police remind drivers to be aware of fallen trees and branches due to the rainy weather.

    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

    A tree fell onto the Wilbur Cross Parkway southbound in Wallingford Friday, blocking lanes of traffic.A tree fell onto the Wilbur Cross Parkway southbound in Wallingford Friday, blocking lanes of traffic.

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    Naugatuck police are searching for a suspect wanted on burglary charges.

    Erik Santos, 27, is wanted on an arrest warrant for third-degree burglary, third-degree larceny, and third-degree criminal mischief in connection with a residential burglary.

    Santos is described as 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, with blonde curly hair, hazel eyes, and multiple facial tattoos.

    Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact Naugatuck police at 203-729-5221 or the confidential tip line at 203-720-1010.

    Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police Department

    Erik SantosErik Santos

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    To south Texas landowners in danger of losing property to President Donald Trump’s wall between Mexico and the United States, Jose Palomino has this advice: Get a good lawyer.

    He did not a decade ago when President George W. Bush was erecting barriers along the border. Where his house in San Benito in Cameron County once had a nice view of trees and grass, it now looks out on a high fence, about 20 feet tall, on a piece of property the federal government condemned, he said.

    "It's like a big prison cell," he said.

    Before work begins on Trump's wall, the Texas Civil Rights Project is gearing up for the fight by getting in touch with every landowner along the border in south Texas to offer help. This time the organization wants to make sure that they are represented by lawyers.

    "Even if they are in favor of the wall, we'll represent them," said Efrén C. Olivares, the project's racial and economic justice director.

    Landowners do not have to take the first price offered to them, and if the landowner and the government cannot agree on compensation, the landowner can request a jury trial.

    There are more than 1,000 property owners on the Texas-Mexico border, Olivares said. Imagine adding dozens or potentially hundreds of new lawsuits to the federal courts, he said.

    "Just by the sheer volume of cases that the government will need to bring, it's going to slow the process such that perhaps the political winds will change and maybe there's no funding for it after the mid-term elections or maybe there's a new president," he said. 

    Even if the federal government does eventually take the land through eminent domain -- and the government can take possession before lawsuits are settled -- lawyers can win property owners a better price.

    "As a rule, I would say government tends to under-compensate landowners and it's a concerted effort to do so," said Jim Burling, a vice president of litigation for the Pacific Legal Foundation, founded by members of former President Ronald Reagan's senior staff to litigate for property rights, limited government and free enterprise.

    Because of the terrain, a wall cannot run entirely along the Mexico border, and property will be cut into portions, he said. What about land still in the United States but on the wrong side of the wall? Those kinds of questions will prompt even more lawsuits, he predicted.

    "It seems to be an imperative of governments everywhere, Democratic administrations, Republican administrations, state government, local government, they all want to acquire property for the public good and pay the least amount possible for it," he said. “Now the Constitution says just compensation must be paid, and that means compensation that should just, not just as little as you can get way with."

    Bush signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized the construction of 700 miles of a physical barrier along the border and resulted in pedestrian fences 18 feet high and other small fences intended to block vehicles.

    Of the more than 300 eminent cases brought in south Texas over those fences, 90 are still pending, Olivares said. The cases, which NPR documented in February, were given to one judge in Brownsville.

    Last week, as Trump's 100th day in office neared, his proposed wall stalled when the president backed off demanding funding in a federal spending bill needed to avert a government shutdown. But he insisted that the controversial project, embraced enthusiastically by his supporters while unpopular with many along the border, would go forward.

    "Don't let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL," Trump tweeted last week as it emerged that he was no longer insisting that money be included in the bill. "It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc."

    The cost of a wall the length of the border — between 18 and 30 feet tall, two feet and extending six feet below the ground — would reach billions. Trump has said $10 billion or less, the Department of Homeland Security gave an estimate of as much as $21.6 billion and a technology magazine from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the MIT Technology Review, projected an higher price, from $27 billion to $40 billion for a 1,000-mile wall.

    Trump last month proposed spending more than $2.6 billion to begin designing and constructing the wall, buy new security technology, hire additional Border Patrol agents and build detention facilities for undocumented immigrants.

    And in a sign of potential court battles to come, Trump wants money to hire 20 lawyers to obtain property on which to build the wall, much of it owned privately and subject to condemnation by the federal government.

    A poll released last month by the non-partisan Texas Lyceum, found that 27 percent of Texans ranked immigration or border security as the most important issue facing the state. But 61 percent opposed building a wall along the border and 58 percent disapproved of how Trump was handling the issue.

    In the past, Texas politicians have been strong proponents of property rights, and critical of the use of eminent domain. State Attorney General Ken Paxton, for example, sued the federal government under former President Barack Obama last year in a case involving contested land along the Red River.

    "Washington, D.C., needs to hear loud and clear that Texas will not stand for the federal government's infringement upon Texas land and the property rights of the people who live here," Paxton said then, according to the Dallas Morning News.

    But now Paxton and others are in favor of using eminent domain for the border wall.

    "It's a public purpose providing safety to people not only along the border, but to the entire nation,” he told the newspaper in an interview.

    Many other Texans, regardless of political leanings, are less enthusiastic. Olivares said the Texas Civil Rights Project opposed the wall as a symbol of hatred and a terrible waste of taxpayers' money. Palomino said he has seen people coming over the border fence in place now.

    "What's the sense of having a wall?" he asked.

    The South Texans' Property Rights Association is not against structure in strategic places if property owners are compensated well, said its executive director and a landowner, Susan Kibbe.

    But the association opposes a wall along the length of the Texas border for numerous reasons, among them the time it would take to build, the diminished trade that would result with Mexico, the country's third largest trading partner, and the money needed to construct it, which could otherwise go to Customs and Border Patrol, technology and equipment, detention facilities, the criminal justice system and programs to address the reasons people are fleeing Central America.

    "Where it makes sense, then we're not opposed to it," Kibbe said. "It's just an all-out fence from Brownsville to El Paso that we just don't think that makes good sense."

    How much of the border would be walled is unclear. The Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Bloomberg News on Thursday that a wall was unlikely in some places. A concrete wall would make sense in the southern Rio Grande Valley, while a large see-through fence would be appropriate elsewhere. And some terrain would be too rough, he said, citing the Big Bend National Park.

    "A physical barrier, as much as we can get in the right places, makes all the sense in the world," he said.

    Not to Palomino, a 48-year-old welder who said his house has lost value.

    "You've got to wake up to that wall behind you every day," he said. "It would be nice if they would just tear it all the way down to the ground." 

    Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

    A section of the fence along the Texas-Mexico border ends outside El Paso.A section of the fence along the Texas-Mexico border ends outside El Paso.

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