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    State police are investigating after a skimming device was found at a gas pump in Essex.

    Police said the device was attached to a pump at the Mobil Mart at 55 Main Street. The device appeared to be Bluetooth equipped, which means the card data stolen could be accessed remotely.

    Skimmers are devices that record bank and credit card information. They are often placed on ATMs and gas pumps but can be placed on most credit card readers. The device is placed over the actual reader are often undetectable to the average user. A hidden camera is often placed with it to capture PIN numbers, or a keypad overlay that records what buttons are pressed.

    A service technician found the device Wednesday around 4 p.m. while working to repair a keypad.

    Customers who recently used their cards at the location should keep an eye on account statements for any discrepancies.

    Anyone with information on the device is asked to contact Essex Resident State Trooper David Tretter at Troop F 860-399-2100 or text TIP711 with any information to 274637. Tips will remain confidential. 



    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

    This card skimming device was found by a service technician on a gas pump at an Essex gas station Tuesday afternoon.This card skimming device was found by a service technician on a gas pump at an Essex gas station Tuesday afternoon.

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    State lawmakers voted in favor of a proposal early Wednesday morning that puts Connecticut yet another step closer to a new casino in East Windsor.

    The House voted on SB 957, which lays out how the state would regulate a casino facility in the state, and authorizes MMCT Venture, LLC, a joint venture between the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, to operate a casino facility off tribal lands.

    Discussion went late into the night and the House adjourned around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Both Democrats and Republicans in the House approved the bill with a vote of 103 to 46, with two abstaining. The Senate previously approved the bill.


    The bill states that the facility would pay a 25 percent tax on slots and 25 percent on table games – with the revenue from table games being split - 15 percent going to statewide tourism marketing and 10 percent going directly to the state.

    East Windsor has already approved plans for a third casino to be built by MMCT Venture. The site would be at the abandoned Showcase Cinema property along Interstate 91. Tribal leaders said the facility would bring more than 1,700 jobs and $8.5 million annually to the town of East Windsor. 

    The tribes are pushing for quick action on the casino amid concerns of competition from a new MGM Resorts Management facility scheduled to open next year in Springfield, Mass.

    “I’m very happy it passed again as it did in the Senate. I think it’ll save jobs for us in the state of Connecticut. The tribes will be investing a lot of money into the state again and I thank them for the work that they’re doing,” said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.

    The tribal chairs also released a statement applauding the vote.

    “Tonight the Connecticut General Assembly passed one of the most significant jobs initiatives of the legislative session. With more than 9,000 jobs at risk, legislators banded together to save an important sector of Connecticut’s economy,” wrote Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman Rodney Butler.

    MGM, which already has an appeal pending in 2nd Circuit Court, challenged the foundations of the bill.

    “We’ll continue that fight in court to challenge the constitutional defects of the bill that passed and many of the house members identified that there were constitutional defects even as they voted for the bill,” said MGM Senior Vice President & Legal Counsel Uri Clinton.

    The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation also threatened legal action over the bill.

    “Connecticut overwhelmingly favors an open process, not a scaled down spoiler casino in East Windsor that can’t possibly create real economic growth. Every potential investor and developer, including STN, should have been allowed to participate to give the state the best possible deal; unfortunately, now that we’ve again been excluded from the process, STN has no alternative but to fight it in the courts where hopefully we will finally receive justice,” wrote STN Chief Richard Velky in a statement.

    For now, the bill heads to the governor’s desk for approval.



    Photo Credit: Tecton Architects

    A rendering of the proposed East Windsor casino, which would be located off I-91 at the site of the former Showcase CinemasA rendering of the proposed East Windsor casino, which would be located off I-91 at the site of the former Showcase Cinemas

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    A West Hartford man was arrested on drug charges after State Police troopers found cocaine in a vehicle a traffic stop in Tolland Tuesday, according to state police.

    Connecticut State Police said they pulled over a car that was weaving in and out of traffic on Interstate 84 in Tolland around 8:50 p.m. During the traffic stop troopers became suspicious because the driver had multiple cell phones that were ringing or receiving text messages constantly.

    A K9 unit was called in and indicated narcotics in the vehicle. The driver, identified as 31-year-old Aldo Elescano, was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to sell and several traffic violations.

    He was held on a $25,000 bond and is due in court on Wednesday.




    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

    Aldo Elescano (inset) was arrested on drug charges. State police say they found 11.4 grams of cocaine when they pulled Elescano over in Tolland Tuesday.Aldo Elescano (inset) was arrested on drug charges. State police say they found 11.4 grams of cocaine when they pulled Elescano over in Tolland Tuesday.

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    Connecticut lawmakers have passed a bill that creates a new regulatory system for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft and also modifies some taxi and livery service regulations.

    HB 7126 lays out everything from market entry requirements to service standards, insurance requirements, hiring practices, and driver requirements.

    The state Senate voted in favor of the bill Tuesday 28 to 8. The House had previously approved it.

    Lyft spokesman Scott Coriell released the following statement on the bill:

    "This bill will allow ridesharing services like Lyft to expand in Connecticut, which will bring increased transportation options, earning potential, and economic activity to individuals and communities around the state. We'd especially like to thank Senators Larson, Leone, Boucher and Linares for their hard work to get this bill through the Senate, and we look forward to the Governor signing it into law."

    Uber General Manager Matthew Powers also released as statement:

    "Today's bipartisan action by the Connecticut Senate is a monumental step forward to maintaining safe, affordable and reliable transportation for riders and flexible economic opportunities for drivers. Uber looks forward to continuing to work with Governor Malloy in anticipation of the signing of this important bill, which would make Connecticut the 42nd state to enact comprehensive ridesharing legislation."

    During public testimony regarding the bill in March, Ace Taxi Service and Ace Transportation owner Michael Olschafskie expressed concerns that the legislation would make it difficult for traditional companies to compete with the new model of the transportation network companies.

    Some amendments were made to the original bill to allow more flexibility for these traditional models.

    The bill still needs to be approved by the governor.



    Photo Credit: Scott Budman

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    A 64-year-old woman who was dragged across a Florida gas station parking lot as she tried to stop two purse thieves says she's lucky to be alive.

    Patricia Coxe said she still finds it hard to watch surveillance video of Friday's incident.

    "It scares me to death when I... see that video and realize what could have happened," Coxe said, choking back tears.

    The grandmother said was pumping gas at the Southwest Ranches Shell gas station at Southwest 159th Avenue and Sheridan Street Friday morning when the robbery happened. Davie Police say two men pulled up alongside her car and smashed out the passenger window to steal her purse.

    "I heard this loud kaboom, turned, saw the glass shattering in my car and saw a gentleman inside my car removing my purse," Coxe said.

    Surveillance video shows Coxe running after the suspect as he jumps into the waiting car. As reached inside to grab her purse, the man closed the car's door on Coxe's arm, trapping it in the vehicle and dragging her across the parking lot.

    "I was screaming 'let me go, let me go, let me go!,'" Coxe said, as the man held onto her arms. "I had my phone in my hand and he was twisting my hand to get that phone."

    Video captured footage of the getaway car driving off with the grandmother dangling from the window. Coxe said the man finally released her after the driver told him to let her go. The suspects got away with her purse, medical bag and cell phone.

    "At no time did I think when I went to grab my purse that I would be in the situation I got in to," she said.

    The incident left Coxe's arms horribly bruised and swollen. 

    Police are searching for the two suspects and their vehicle, described as a late model silver Chevrolet Malibu or similar car.



    Photo Credit: Davie Police Department

    Patricia Coxe says she can hardly watch video of her being dragged through a Southwest Ranches gas station parking lot by robbers.Patricia Coxe says she can hardly watch video of her being dragged through a Southwest Ranches gas station parking lot by robbers.

    0 0


    When Dese'Rae Stage interviews suicide survivors for a website she created, she asks a question news reporters may not always consider: How much did it hurt?

    A survivor herself, she wants to be sure that readers of her website "Live Through This" come away with a real picture of suicide — no romance, no facile explanations and no inducements for others to kill themselves. Stage, 33, is encouraging people to survive.

    "Because what we see on TV is, 'Oh I'm just going to take a nap forever and it's going to be peaceful,' and that's not the reality," she said. "And I'm like, 'Tell me what the reality looks like.'"

    Mental health professionals have for decades warned that media can drive suicides, with studies pinpointing what kind of coverage can be deadly and journalists urged to follow reporting guidelines. But the influence that newspapers and television newscasts had in the past is being eclipsed by Facebook, YouTube and other popular sites. The enormous reach of social media has left mental health professionals even more worried about copycat suicides — or contagion, as it is called — and determined to confront the online world.

    Most troubling today: young people live streaming their suicides.

    The phenomenon of imitating well publicized suicides is sometimes called the "Werther effect," named for Goethe's 1774 novel, "The Sorrows of Young Werther," which was banned in some European cities after it was published over fears it triggered an increase in deaths. "My friends….thought that they must transform poetry into reality, imitate a novel like this in real life and, in any case, shoot themselves," Goethe himself wrote about the cases.

    "They were found dead with the book," said Madelyn Gould, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

    SUICIDE SUSCEPTIBILITY
    More than 50 studies worldwide have shown that some types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide for vulnerable people. That coverage includes explicit descriptions of the method, graphic headlines or images and repeated reports that glamorize a death, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says.

    Young people appear to be particularly susceptible, according to some studies, with one finding that 15- to 19-year-olds exposed to a suicide had a relative risk two to four times higher than others. And celebrity suicides can be especially deadly. Marilyn Monroe's reportedly caused the suicide rate in the United States to jump 12 percent.

    A Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why," is the most recent show to be criticized by mental health professionals who worry that it glorifies the suicide of a teenager who had been sexually assaulted and bullied. It tells her story through audio tapes in which she blames specific people for her death.

    The National Association of School Psychologists warned in a statement: "Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies."

    Netflix added another "viewer warning card" to the show.

    Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those 10 to 35, a toll that has been rising each year since 2007. Gould and others cannot be certain that social media is contributing to the increase. New studies must first measure any effect. But Gould noted social media's influence, its large audience for sensational content and the danger that it could change norms about what is acceptable.

    "Is there a possibility given the characteristics of some of the social media reports?" she asked. "Yes, it's certainly consistent that it might."

    Researchers who have begun looking at the links between social media and suicide have already found that among middle school children, victims of cyber-bullying were almost two times as likely to attempt suicide than those who have not.

    REPORTING GUIDELINES
    Guidelines for reporting on suicides were drawn up after prevention specialists and public health officials held a national workshop in 1989 to help news reporters and others avoid sparking additional deaths. Now revised, they come with a list of do's and don'ts and suggestions for what information to avoid and what to include. Some studies show a decrease in suicides after guidelines are implemented.

    The website reportingonsuicide.org recommends against sensational headlines, prominent placement, photographs or videos of the place or manner of death or grieving friends and memorials. Do not describe a suicide as inexplicable or without warning. Do not refer to epidemics of suicides or skyrocketing numbers. Do not disclose what is in a suicide note. And do not refer to a suicide as "successful" or "unsuccessful."

    Journalists are urged instead to present information about the death in a non-sensational way and to report on suicide as a public health issue. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 90 percent of people who died by suicide had shown signs of mental disorders or engaged in substance abuse. Most people exhibit early warning signs. Include those signs and information about what to do.

    Most suicide cases involve a fairly short window of decision-making and action, so you want to "avoid giving people an easy and impulsive answer," said Bruce Shapiro, the executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

    "If you are establishing barriers, whether physical or informational, you're going to save lives," he said.

    New research by Thomas Niederkrotenthaler of the Medical University of Vienna and others suggests that the opposite effect could be true as well: that articles about survival and treatment can reduce the number of suicides. It too has a name drawn from the arts, the Papageno effect, for the character in Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute," who after losing his love, plans to kill himself but is dissuaded by three boys.

    "The possible role of media reports in preventing suicide may make it worthwhile for journalists of both traditional and online news platforms to follow media guidelines on the reporting of suicide," Niederkrotenthaler wrote in a 2010 study.

    The guidelines sometimes are not heeded. Stage, an advocate, speaker and photographer whose website features profiles of suicide survivors, says she has been interviewed multiple times, and in all cases reporters wanted to know how she had tried to kill herself. Her efforts to dissuade them from including what she thought were too many details failed, she said.

    "I don't think the perspective on method is going to change," she said. "I think we're just reporting on this and that is a piece of the story. I think it becomes about how it's reported on."

    If someone Stage is interviewing for her website tells her that he or she overdosed on pills, for example, she will include that information, but ask about the pain.

    "Letting people know how painful it is is just going to change perspectives and that could maybe help," she said.

    Stage remains convinced guidelines can save lives, and recently worked with Ohio's Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to develop a set for its website. Journalists can change perspectives, she said.

    "Social media makes it more difficult because obviously we're all rubberneckers, and we want the clicks, and so we look for the clicks in those headlines and in the details and the methods," she said. "And that's what people share, so how do we neutralize it?"

    'PEOPLE WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT'
    The guidelines can present a dilemma to journalists, used to ferreting out information and presenting it in as dramatic way as possible. Deciding how to cover suicides is an ethically challenging issue that vexes every newsroom, from the smallest local newspaper to national news organizations, said Shapiro with Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.

    "We don't like it when well intentioned health specialists tell us what we should do," he said. "We want to make our own choices as a profession."

    Daniel J. Reidenberg, who wrote the guidelines on reportingonsuicide.org, said that a drawback of earlier versions was the source: exclusively mental health, suicide prevention experts, scientists and researchers. He turned to reporters, editors and news directors for the current version.

    Today, social media can easily circumvent traditional media reporting. A news article that might have remained local can now quickly go viral and be seen worldwide. 
Message boards and forums can spread information about how to die by suicide. Unregulated online pharmacies outside of the United States can provide the means.

    In recognition of social media's new role, Reidenberg has added a separate website for bloggers, bloggingonsuicide.org, that recommends checking comments regularly, taking action against rude or derogatory comments, avoiding arguments in the comments section and paying attention to suicide threats.

    WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CAN DO TO HELP
    For mental health professionals such as Gould, the focus now is as much on sites like Facebook and YouTube.

    When a 12-year-old from Georgia livestreamed her suicide on an app called Live.me, it was shared on YouTube and Facebook. YouTube took the video down but it remained on Facebook for nearly two weeks, even after police officials asked it be removed, according to The Washington Post.

    Then in January, a 14-year-old South Florida girl in foster care killed herself on Facebook Live. 

    In a statement, Facebook, which has more than 1.8 billion users, said that it was saddened by such deaths and that it was working with organizations around the world to provide help for people in distress.

    "Our teams work around the clock to review content that is being reported by users and we have systems in place to ensure that time sensitive content is dealt with quickly," it said.

    If someone violates its standards, it wants to interrupt streams as quickly as possible and it will notify law enforcement of a threat that requires an emergency response, it said.

    Facebook promoted new suicide prevention tools in March, including making it easier to get help during a Facebook Live video and also via Messenger. Anyone who wants will be able to connect on Messenger with such organizations as the Crisis Text Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Facebook also plans to use artificial intelligence to identify suicidal posts.

    And it announced it would hire 3,000 more people to help police harmful posts, among them livestreamed suicides.

    "These reviewers will also help us get better at removing things we don't allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation," Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post

    For all the potential dangers on social media, Reidenberg and others argue its advantages outweigh its risks. Google has changed its algorithm so that the first site brought up by a search for "suicide" is one offering help, he noted. Young people looking for help can find it online — on Facebook and other sites, in chat rooms and on the Crisis Text Line by typing 741741.

    Liz Mitchell, a 39-year-old teacher's aide in Illinois, said the Crisis Text Line allowed her to reach out for help without alerting her family, whom she did not confide in. She found the counselors to be open and willing to listen, understanding, she said.

    "That was super helpful," said Mitchell, who said she had tried to kill herself five times, the last in 2014.

    Her first hospitalization occurred when she was 11. When she was last hospitalized, she started taking antidepressants. Now after years of struggling-she is doing well and has gotten the help she needed, she said.

    "That was the turning point," she said.

    "Social media is a wonderful thing," Reidenberg said. "The advancements have helped save people's lives. It doesn't mean that it's not without its challenges but it is where people are interacting and it's where they're spending their lives today."

    That was true for Ashley Shoemaker, a 29-year-old who works overnight in the freight department of a grocery store in Portland, Oregon.

    She said an online friend became worried after she signed off with a sad post one night and persisted until he was able to reach her at 2 a.m.

    "He kept me on the phone for eight hours," she said.

    Shoemaker had called a suicide hotline once before. But for Shoemaker and her contemporaries, social media has become the place to seek help, where anonymity can better allow them to admit to feeling suicidal.

    "When you're that far down, and you feel that hopeless and sad that you want to die, the last you want to do is hurt the people around you," said Shoemaker, who said she has depression. "You already feel like a big enough burden. To have to look a parent in the eye and say 'I want to die,' no good parent is going to react well to that. They're going to freak."

    On social media, she said, "You feel safer reaching out."



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

    Facebook updated its tools and resources for people who many be thinking about committing suicide, including in real time on Facebook Live.Facebook updated its tools and resources for people who many be thinking about committing suicide, including in real time on Facebook Live.

    0 0


    The family of National Security Agency intelligence contractor Reality Winner, who is accused of leaking a highly classified document about Russian interference in the U.S. election, is speaking out in defense of the 25-year-old, NBC News reported.

    "She would not jeopardize anybody's safety. She would not, I can tell you that for certainty," mother Billie Davis-Winner said Tuesday. "She's not a threat to anyone. She's not a violent person."

    Winner is charged with providing the document detailing how Russian hackers may have targeted a voter software company and more than 100 local election officials to the online news organization The Intercept.

    Winner has admitted to the accusations but has not entered a plea, according to the Department of Justice. But Winner’s attorney, Titus Thomas Nichols, told The Associated Press that "if there is a confession, the government has not shown it to me."



    Photo Credit: Family photo

    Reality Lee Winner is seen in this undated family photo.Reality Lee Winner is seen in this undated family photo.

    0 0


    When Dese'Rae Stage interviews survivors of suicide attempts for a website she created, she asks herself a question news reporters may not always consider: How much did it hurt?

    A survivor herself, she wants to be sure that readers of her website "Live Through This" come away with a real picture of suicide — no romance, no facile explanations and no inducements for others to kill themselves. Stage, 33, is encouraging people to survive.

    "Because what we see on TV is, 'Oh I'm just going to take a nap forever and it's going to be peaceful,' and that's not the reality," she said. "And I'm like, 'Tell me what the reality looks like.'"

    Mental health professionals have for decades warned that media can drive suicides, with studies pinpointing what kind of coverage can be deadly and journalists urged to follow reporting guidelines. But the influence that newspapers and television newscasts had in the past is being eclipsed by Facebook, YouTube and other popular sites. The enormous reach of social media has left mental health professionals even more worried about copycat suicides — or contagion, as it is called — and determined to confront the online world.

    Most troubling today: young people live streaming their suicides.

    The phenomenon of imitating well publicized suicides is sometimes called the "Werther effect," named for Goethe's 1774 novel, "The Sorrows of Young Werther," which was banned in some European cities after it was published over fears it triggered an increase in deaths. "My friends….thought that they must transform poetry into reality, imitate a novel like this in real life and, in any case, shoot themselves," Goethe himself wrote about the cases.

    "They were found dead with the book," said Madelyn Gould, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

    SUICIDE SUSCEPTIBILITY
    More than 50 studies worldwide have shown that some types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide for vulnerable people. That coverage includes explicit descriptions of the method, graphic headlines or images and repeated reports that glamorize a death, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says.

    Young people appear to be particularly susceptible, according to some studies, with one finding that 15- to 19-year-olds exposed to a suicide had a relative risk two to four times higher than others. And celebrity suicides can be especially deadly. Marilyn Monroe's reportedly caused the suicide rate in the United States to jump 12 percent.

    A Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why," is the most recent show to be criticized by mental health professionals who worry that it glorifies the suicide of a teenager who had been sexually assaulted and bullied. It tells her story through audio tapes in which she blames specific people for her death.

    The National Association of School Psychologists warned in a statement: "Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies."

    Netflix added another "viewer warning card" to the show.

    Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those 10 to 35, a toll that has been rising each year since 2007. Gould and others cannot be certain that social media is contributing to the increase. New studies must first measure any effect. But Gould noted social media's influence, its large audience for sensational content and the danger that it could change norms about what is acceptable.

    "Is there a possibility given the characteristics of some of the social media reports?" she asked. "Yes, it's certainly consistent that it might."

    Researchers who have begun looking at the links between social media and suicide have already found that among middle school children, victims of cyber-bullying were almost two times as likely to attempt suicide than those who have not.

    REPORTING GUIDELINES
    Guidelines for reporting on suicides were drawn up after prevention specialists and public health officials held a national workshop in 1989 to help news reporters and others avoid sparking additional deaths. Now revised, they come with a list of do's and don'ts and suggestions for what information to avoid and what to include. Some studies show a decrease in suicides after guidelines are implemented.

    The website reportingonsuicide.org recommends against sensational headlines, prominent placement, photographs or videos of the place or manner of death or grieving friends and memorials. Do not describe a suicide as inexplicable or without warning. Do not refer to epidemics of suicides or skyrocketing numbers. Do not disclose what is in a suicide note. And do not refer to a suicide as "successful" or "unsuccessful."

    Journalists are urged instead to present information about the death in a non-sensational way and to report on suicide as a public health issue. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 90 percent of people who died by suicide had shown signs of mental disorders or engaged in substance abuse. Most people exhibit early warning signs. Include those signs and information about what to do.

    Most suicide cases involve a fairly short window of decision-making and action, so you want to "avoid giving people an easy and impulsive answer," said Bruce Shapiro, the executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

    "If you are establishing barriers, whether physical or informational, you're going to save lives," he said.

    New research by Thomas Niederkrotenthaler of the Medical University of Vienna and others suggests that the opposite effect could be true as well: that articles about survival and treatment can reduce the number of suicides. It too has a name drawn from the arts, the Papageno effect, for the character in Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute," who after losing his love, plans to kill himself but is dissuaded by three boys.

    "The possible role of media reports in preventing suicide may make it worthwhile for journalists of both traditional and online news platforms to follow media guidelines on the reporting of suicide," Niederkrotenthaler wrote in a 2010 study.

    The guidelines sometimes are not heeded. Stage, an advocate, speaker and photographer whose website features profiles of suicide survivors, says she has been interviewed multiple times, and in all cases reporters wanted to know how she had tried to kill herself. Her efforts to dissuade them from including what she thought were too many details failed, she said.

    "I don't think the perspective on method is going to change," she said. "I think we're just reporting on this and that is a piece of the story. I think it becomes about how it's reported on."

    If someone Stage is interviewing for her website tells her that he or she overdosed on pills, for example, she will include that information, but ask about the pain.

    "Letting people know how painful it is is just going to change perspectives and that could maybe help," she said.

    Stage remains convinced guidelines can save lives, and recently worked with Ohio's Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to develop a set for its website. Journalists can change perspectives, she said.

    "Social media makes it more difficult because obviously we're all rubberneckers, and we want the clicks, and so we look for the clicks in those headlines and in the details and the methods," she said. "And that's what people share, so how do we neutralize it?"

    'PEOPLE WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT'
    The guidelines can present a dilemma to journalists, used to ferreting out information and presenting it in as dramatic way as possible. Deciding how to cover suicides is an ethically challenging issue that vexes every newsroom, from the smallest local newspaper to national news organizations, said Shapiro with Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.

    "We don't like it when well intentioned health specialists tell us what we should do," he said. "We want to make our own choices as a profession."

    Daniel J. Reidenberg, who wrote the guidelines on reportingonsuicide.org, said that a drawback of earlier versions was the source: exclusively mental health, suicide prevention experts, scientists and researchers. He turned to reporters, editors and news directors for the current version.

    Today, social media can easily circumvent traditional media reporting. A news article that might have remained local can now quickly go viral and be seen worldwide. 
Message boards and forums can spread information about how to die by suicide. Unregulated online pharmacies outside of the United States can provide the means.

    In recognition of social media's new role, Reidenberg has added a separate website for bloggers, bloggingonsuicide.org, that recommends checking comments regularly, taking action against rude or derogatory comments, avoiding arguments in the comments section and paying attention to suicide threats.

    WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CAN DO TO HELP
    For mental health professionals such as Gould, the focus now is as much on sites like Facebook and YouTube.

    When a 12-year-old from Georgia livestreamed her suicide on an app called Live.me, it was shared on YouTube and Facebook. YouTube took the video down but it remained on Facebook for nearly two weeks, even after police officials asked it be removed, according to The Washington Post.

    Then in January, a 14-year-old South Florida girl in foster care killed herself on Facebook Live. 

    In a statement, Facebook, which has more than 1.8 billion users, said that it was saddened by such deaths and that it was working with organizations around the world to provide help for people in distress.

    "Our teams work around the clock to review content that is being reported by users and we have systems in place to ensure that time sensitive content is dealt with quickly," it said.

    If someone violates its standards, it wants to interrupt streams as quickly as possible and it will notify law enforcement of a threat that requires an emergency response, it said.

    Facebook promoted new suicide prevention tools in March, including making it easier to get help during a Facebook Live video and also via Messenger. Anyone who wants will be able to connect on Messenger with such organizations as the Crisis Text Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Facebook also plans to use artificial intelligence to identify suicidal posts.

    And it announced it would hire 3,000 more people to help police harmful posts, among them livestreamed suicides.

    "These reviewers will also help us get better at removing things we don't allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation," Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post

    For all the potential dangers on social media, Reidenberg and others argue its advantages outweigh its risks. Google has changed its algorithm so that the first site brought up by a search for "suicide" is one offering help, he noted. Young people looking for help can find it online — on Facebook and other sites, in chat rooms and on the Crisis Text Line by typing 741741.

    Liz Mitchell, a 39-year-old teacher's aide in Illinois, said the Crisis Text Line allowed her to reach out for help without alerting her family, whom she did not confide in. She found the counselors to be open and willing to listen, understanding, she said.

    "That was super helpful," said Mitchell, who said she had tried to kill herself five times, the last in 2014.

    Her first hospitalization occurred when she was 11. When she was last hospitalized, she started taking antidepressants. Now after years of struggling-she is doing well and has gotten the help she needed, she said.

    "That was the turning point," she said.

    "Social media is a wonderful thing," Reidenberg said. "The advancements have helped save people's lives. It doesn't mean that it's not without its challenges but it is where people are interacting and it's where they're spending their lives today."

    That was true for Ashley Shoemaker, a 29-year-old who works overnight in the freight department of a grocery store in Portland, Oregon.

    She said an online friend became worried after she signed off with a sad post one night and persisted until he was able to reach her at 2 a.m.

    "He kept me on the phone for eight hours," she said.

    Shoemaker had called a suicide hotline once before. But for Shoemaker and her contemporaries, social media has become the place to seek help, where anonymity can better allow them to admit to feeling suicidal.

    "When you're that far down, and you feel that hopeless and sad that you want to die, the last you want to do is hurt the people around you," said Shoemaker, who said she has depression. "You already feel like a big enough burden. To have to look a parent in the eye and say 'I want to die,' no good parent is going to react well to that. They're going to freak."

    On social media, she said, "You feel safer reaching out."



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

    Facebook updated its tools and resources for people who many be thinking about committing suicide, including in real time on Facebook Live.Facebook updated its tools and resources for people who many be thinking about committing suicide, including in real time on Facebook Live.

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    While President Donald Trump has said his visit to Saudi Arabia influenced four key Middle Eastern states to sever their diplomatic ties with Qatar, tensions with this tiny nation in the Arab Gulf preceded Trump's trip to the region, NBC News reported.

    Officials from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — two of the countries that explled Qatari diplomats — believe that the small monarchy has been providing support to groups that are seen as radicalist or extremist, including Hamas and the Taliban.

    That would make the nation's meddling in others' affairs a destabilizing force in the region, and has led to the first siege by Gulf states on their own.

    It began when the official Qatari news agency issued a series of controversial statements attributed to the country's ruler in May, which it later claimed came as the result of hacking, that criticized Trump, embraced both Hamas and Israel and praised Iran.

    Although President Donald Trump is saying his visit to Saudi Arabia influenced four key Middle Eastern states to sever their diplomatic ties with Qatar, tensions with this tiny nation in the Arab Gulf have preceded Trump's trip to the region.
    NBC News reported that officials from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates—two of the countries that explled Qatari diplomats–believe that Qatar has been providing support to groups that are seen as radicalist or extremist, including Hamas, the Taliban, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Moreover, the country has carried out a paradoxical foreign policy, engaging with populist revolutionary forces in Tunisia and Libya but backing establishment powers in other Arab Spring countries like Yemen. 
    When the official Qatar News Agency issued a series of controversial statements attributed to the country's ruler—which it later claimed came as the result of hacking–these statements were picked up and treated as news in neighboring countries, fueling opposition to Qatar.


    Photo Credit: AP Photo/Osama Faisal, File

    In this Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014 file photo, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani attends a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Doha, Qatar. Four Arab states have cut diplomatic ties to Qatar amid a deepening rift.In this Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014 file photo, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani attends a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Doha, Qatar. Four Arab states have cut diplomatic ties to Qatar amid a deepening rift.

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    Bristol police are investigating several incidents of burglary, vandalism, and golf cart theft at several area golf courses.

    There have been incidents at Chippanee Golf Club on Marsh Road in Bristol, Westwoods Golf Course on CT-177 in Farmington, and Pequabuck Golf Club on School Street in Terryville, police said.

    Police are still trying to locate several golf carts that remain missing. Anyone with information on their whereabouts should contact Detective Kevin Ward at (860) 314-4569 or (860) 845-3782.


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    The treasurer of the Southington Lacrosse Association has been arrested and is suspected of embezzling nearly $100,000 from the organization, then stealing from her employer to replace the stolen money.

    Courtney Wells, 48, of Southington, turned herself in to police at 7 a.m. Wednesday after two warrants were issued.

    The arrest comes after an investigation over several months into the embezzlement of $98,955.04 from the Southington Lacrosse Association’s bank account, police said.

    Wells was the Southington Lacrosse Association treasurer from 2011 to 2016 and police said she is accused of using the money for her own personal benefit.

    As police investigated further, they said she is also suspected of embezzling another $376,099.55 from Jones Engineering, LLC, where she worked as a bookkeeper, during this same time and using those funds to reimburse the Southington Lacrosse Association bank account.

    Wells has been charged with two counts of first-degree larceny, second-degree money laundering and first-degree forgery.

    She was held on court-set bonds totaling $150,000.

    It's not clear if she has an attorney.



    Photo Credit: Southington Police

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    Former FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday released a prepared statement in advance of his Thursday testimony at a congressional hearing.

    Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence committee.

    Here is the full text of his statement:

    Statement for the Record

    Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

    James B. Comey

    June 8, 2017

    Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Warner, Members of the Committee.

    Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I was asked to testify today to describe for you my interactions with President-Elect and President Trump on subjects that I understand are of interest to you. I have not included every detail from my conversations with the President, but, to the best of my recollection, I have tried to include information that may be relevant to the Committee.

    January 6 Briefing

    I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the President-Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.

    The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.

    The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI’s counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI’s leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.

    It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau’s goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United  States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves “turning” the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.

    Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counterintelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will “open an investigation” on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.

    In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.

    I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) – once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months – three in person and six on the phone.

    January 27 Dinner

    The President and I had dinner on Friday, January 27 at 6:30 pm in the Green Room at the White House. He had called me at lunchtime that day and invited me to dinner that night, saying he was going to invite my whole family, but decided to have just me this time, with the whole family coming the next time. It was unclear from the conversation who else would be at the dinner, although I assumed there would be others.

    It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room. Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks.

    The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away.

    My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.

    I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not “reliable” in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President.

    A few moments later, the President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner.

    At one point, I explained why it was so important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because “problems” come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.

    Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need  loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term – honest loyalty – had helped  end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.

    During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very  difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.

    As was my practice for conversations with President Trump, I wrote a detailed memo about the dinner immediately afterwards and shared it with the senior leadership team of the FBI.

    February 14 Oval Office Meeting

    On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counterterrorism briefing of the President. He sat behind the desk and a group of us sat in  a semi-circle of about six chairs facing him on the other side of the desk. The Vice President, Deputy Director of the CIA, Director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and I were in the semi-circle of chairs. I was directly facing the President, sitting between the Deputy CIA Director and the Director of NCTC. There were quite a few others in the room, sitting behind us on couches and chairs.

    The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone. I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. The President then excused him, saying he wanted to speak with me.

    When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.” Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.

    The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information – a concern I shared and still share. After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.

    The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” I replied only that “he is a good guy.” (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go.”

    The President returned briefly to the problem of leaks. I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock, making my way through the large group of people waiting there, including Mr. Priebus and the Vice President.

    I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.

    The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President’s request, which we did not intend to abide. We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account. We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely  recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.) The Deputy Attorney General’s role was then filled in an acting capacity by a United States Attorney, who would also not be long in the role. After discussing the matter, we decided to keep it very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed. The investigation moved ahead at full speed, with none of the investigative team members – or the Department of Justice lawyers supporting them – aware of the President’s request.

    Shortly afterwards, I spoke with Attorney General Sessions in person to pass along the President’s concerns about leaks. I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me. I told the AG that what had just happened – him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind – was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply. For the reasons discussed above, I did not mention that the President broached the FBI’s potential investigation of General Flynn.

    March 30 Phone Call

    On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to “lift the cloud.” I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be  great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.

    Then the President asked why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the previous week – at which I had, as the Department of Justice directed, confirmed the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. I explained the demands from the leadership of both parties in Congress for more information, and that Senator Grassley had even held up the confirmation of the Deputy Attorney General until we briefed him in detail on the  investigation. I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, “We need to get that fact out.” (I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)

    The President went on to say that if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him.

    In an abrupt shift, he turned the conversation to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he hadn’t brought up “the McCabe thing” because I had said McCabe was honorable, although McAuliffe was close to the Clintons and had given him (I think he meant Deputy Director McCabe’s wife) campaign money. Although I didn’t understand why the President was bringing this up, I repeated that Mr. McCabe was an honorable person.

    He finished by stressing “the cloud” that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn’t being investigated. I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could.

    Immediately after that conversation, I called Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente (AG Sessions had by then recused himself on all Russia-related matters), to report the substance of the call from the President, and said I would await his guidance. I did not hear back from him before the President called me again two weeks later.

    April 11 Phone Call

    On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I “get out” that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.

    He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.

    That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.



    Photo Credit: Eric Thayer/Getty Images (File)

    FILE - Then-FBI Director James Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill, May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC.FILE - Then-FBI Director James Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill, May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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    A former bankruptcy attorney admitted to stealing millions of dollars from clients who were filing for bankruptcy, the U.S. attorney's office said. 

    Peter Ressler, of Woodbridge, pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $3.4 million dollars from his bankruptcy clients and to related fraud offenses on Wednesday, according to state prosecutors. 

    The 70-year-old was an attorney with a bankruptcy practice based in New Haven.

    Prosecutors said Ressler took retainers from at least 30 clients for various legal matters, including protection under Chapters 7, 11 an 13 of the bankruptcy code. Ressler promised he would hold the client's funds in trust but used the monies for other purposes. 

    Ressler would dissipate a portion of clients' assets and filed reports with false representation, which misled courts and the debtors of their true financial situation, state prosecutors said. 

    The U.S. attorney's office also said Ressler engaged in "work outs", where he claimed to try to resettle a client's debt with creditors without relying on the protections of bankruptcy. Ressler had promised clients to settle debts such as homes in foreclosure, disagreements with financial institutions or creditors, like the IRS, purchasing property and negotiating a loan modification. 

    Instead, Ressler used the money for personal and family living expenses, to cover expenses of his practice and to fund payments relating to other clients and bankruptcy estates where he previously misused funds. 

    In total, Ressler misappropriated at least $3.4 million in client funds.

    The former bankruptcy attorney pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, two counts of embezzlement from a bankruptcy estate and one count of bankruptcy fraud. He is expected to be sentenced on Sept. 6, 2017 and faces a maximum term of imprisonment for 35 years and a fine of up to approximately $6.8 million.

    Ressler was released on a $100,000 bond since is April 25 arrest. 


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    Last week had National Doughnut Day. Global Running Day is here Wednesday, giving you a good excuse to work off those treats. 

    Here are six reasons why you should join more than 1.2 million people from 185 countries around the world and get moving for the second annual Global Running Day:

    Physical and mental health benefits: Physical exercise has long been known to improve health, and running provides an easy way to get active. Studies suggest that running can reduce the risk of heart problems and cancers as well as strengthen bones and joints. A study in PLOS Medicine showed that people who began exercising lived longer. Beyond physical health, running has the power to provide mental health benefits. The “feel-good” hormones associated with physical activity can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to a study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

    Individual, but universal: Running is often solitary—treadmills are not built for two. But the individual nature of the activity does not stop runners from coming together with others who enjoy the sport either to discuss technique or participate in group runs. A runner’s personal goals can be shared and allow for connections with other runners.

    Raise money for a good cause: Fundraising when participating in races or signing up for specific charities’ sponsored races has become the new norm among runners and non-runners alike. Online fundraising platforms let runners reach a wide audience when looking to raise money for a cause. The app Charity Miles, a Global Running Day sponsor, connects individuals and corporations with one of their 37 charity partners and allows users to track their distance and earn money for the charity.

    You don’t need to be an athlete: Runners come in all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels. Even people who steered clear of P.E. class in elementary school learn to run, even if they just begin by walking. People run at all different speeds and distances, and runners of any skill level can reap the physical and mental benefits that come with the sport.

    Room for improvement: As with any activity, there are always ways to improve as a runner.

    Apps such as Runkeeper or Nike+ Run Club allow runners track their progress on their smartphones, so goals to increase distance or decrease times have become easier than ever to achieve. Signing up for runs in your area can serve as motivation to boost running ability.

    All you need to start is a pair of sneakers: Unlike activities that require equipment or a specific venue, running can be done anytime, anywhere. Routes for outdoor runs can easily be accessed online and treadmills are lined up in any local gym. Runners can choose the best time for their exercise in their schedule.

    Global Running Day celebrates longtime runners and encourages those who have never run before to start. Take a pledge to run today on the Global Running Day website.




    Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

    In this file photo, running shoes and running blades line up at the timing mat at the start of the 2017 Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., Monday, April 17, 2017.In this file photo, running shoes and running blades line up at the timing mat at the start of the 2017 Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., Monday, April 17, 2017.

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    A bear scratched a woman on trails near a baseball field in Simsbury Wednesday afternoon and Simsbury police officers, Simsbury Animal Control and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have responded to the scene.

    The woman was hiking with her Labrador retriever on a trail west of the baseball field at Town Forest Park and they came around a bend and encountered a bear that was around seven feet away, according to DEEP.

    The woman yelled a couple times, trying to get the bear to leave, but it did not move. As the woman turned to get away, the bear swiped at her and scratched her leg, officials said.

    DEEP said the woman suffered minor injuries. Police said she did not require any medical attention.

    There have been 291 reports of bear sightings in Simsbury over the last year.

    Simsbury has posted information about bear safety on their website.




    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    A 15-month-old baby boy is dead after being found unresponsive in a bathtub in Torrington on Tuesday morning.

    An autopsy was performed and the Office of Chief Medical Examiners reported "pending further study" as its initial findings. 

    Police said the baby’s mother called 911 at 10:54 a.m. on Monday after arriving home and learning what happened while the baby had been in the care of another adult, police said.

    Torrington police, the fire department and Campion Ambulance responded to the home in the 400 block of South Main Street and the child was transported to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, where he later died.

    Witnesses reported the little boy had on a breathing mask or respirator on when he was taken to the ambulance.

    Police have not said anything about detaining anyone or taking anyone into custody.




    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Submitted Photo

    Police say a 15-month-old boy died after being found in a bathtub at a home on South Main Street in Torrington on Tuesday.Police say a 15-month-old boy died after being found in a bathtub at a home on South Main Street in Torrington on Tuesday.

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    A few months after the birth of their son, Liz Dieckman and her husband bought a home in New Haven’s East Rock neighborhood last July.

    “We’ve been here about four years now and we do see there’s been a lot of new improvements, new buildings coming up,” Dieckman said.

    During last year’s citywide property revaluation, New Haven’s taxable grand list grew by about 8 percent.

    “That bodes well for the city as a destination for both residential and commercial property owners because it shows property is increasing in value in New Haven,” the city’s director of communications Laurence Grotheer said.

    It also factored into the city lowering the mill rate from 41.55 to 38.68.

    “The resulting good news of that is a decreased mill rate which could well provide tax relief for property owners,” Grotheer said of home and business owners that did not see their property value go up.

    The owner of a home with a property value of $150,000 should save $430.

    Dieckman said her home value hasn’t gone up, so her family should have more money in their pockets after paying taxes.

    “Certainly always improvements to the house and other expenses that come up,” she said of how she’d spend the extra money.

    Ten year New Haven homeowner Lisa Knight is thrilled to learn she may pay less on taxes.

    “So now I got a little bit of more money that I can use toward my budget to help me get the things done that I need to get done in my life,” Knight said.

    While New Haven’s Board of Alders approved their $539 million dollar budget for the upcoming fiscal year, adjustments may still need to be made depending on how much funding the city receives from the state.

    “For sort of the short term its good in terms of mill rate going down,” Dieckman said. "But certainly harder to cover other projects and things in the city with less money available.”

    New Haven property owners should check the reassessed values of their properties to find out if they will have more money in their wallets.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday it was “obviously” not appropriate for President Donald Trump to ask James Comey for “loyalty” after prepared testimony by the fired FBI director alleges the president did just that, NBC News reported.

    In a statement released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said Trump asked for his loyalty during a one-on-one dinner at the White House. Comey said he replied that he could offer honesty.

    When asked if it was appropriate for the president to be asking the FBI director for such loyalty, Ryan told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren, "No, obviously, I don’t think that is."



    Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images/File

    House Speaker Paul Ryan listens to questions during a media briefing after attending a closed House Republican conference, on Capitol Hill, on April 4, 2017 in Washington, DC.House Speaker Paul Ryan listens to questions during a media briefing after attending a closed House Republican conference, on Capitol Hill, on April 4, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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    They may be gone, but they are far from forgotten.

    The Connecticut House passed a bill to allow for commemorative Hartford Whaler license plates. 

    It will cost residents $60 for a license plate with the Hartford Whaler's logo.

    A portion of those funds will go to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center.

    The idea has been in the works for the last year and a half thanks to several groups, including the Whalers Booster Club and legislative staff.

    The hockey team departed from the City of Hartford 20 years ago in April, but their legacy is as strong as ever.

    Hartford Whaler merchandise can still be purchased at the Dunkin' Donuts stadium, where the Yard Goats played their first day on the anniversary of the hockey team's last. 



    Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    A mission of mowing has inspired an Alabama graduate student to travel across the country and mow lawns.

    The journey to mow 50 lawns across 50 states brought Rodney Smith Jr. to New Haven, Connecticut, on Wednesday.

    "It's been beautiful- 50 states, 50 lawns. I started on May 10, this is my 30-something lawn- 37th I believe. It's been a lot of lawns," Smith said.

    He is doing free yard work for the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities and single parents. His goal is to help the people who are most in need and inspire others along the way.

    “When we come cut the lawn for free, it makes a big difference in their lives,” Smith said.

    Smith came up with the idea of mowing lawns in 2015 and is the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Services. The program is a way to inspire kids to get outdoors and help other people by cutting grass in their own communities. Kids that sign up get different color T-shirts and protective eyewear when they commit to mowing ten to 50 yards.

    “Fifty-yard challenge issued to kids worldwide,” Smith said. “I hope people get encouraged and get out there in their community and start cutting grass for the elderly, disabled, single parents and veterans.”

    Terry Watson and her 11-year old daughter, Casey, Live in Woodbury and have followed Smith on social media for a year.

    “I was just scrolling through Instagram and I saw him one day. And he's an inspiration to so many people,” Terry said.

    “You are able to help other people through things they are trying to do help other people so you can follow through and make that a big thing,” Casey said.

    Smith said it’s about paying it forward, a message that is traveling just as much as this man and his lawn mower.

    Rodney will finish this mission in Hawaii within the next two weeks. His next effort is to mow seven lawns on seven continents. For more on his charity, follow this link to the website.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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