Articles on this Page
- 08/07/17--18:10: _Fake News? Trump La...
- 08/07/17--15:33: _'Everyone's Rock': ...
- 08/07/17--18:47: _Budget Delay is Fin...
- 08/07/17--18:46: _Renovations Continu...
- 08/07/17--20:25: _New London Plans Ro...
- 08/07/17--18:58: _Instagram Posts May...
- 08/08/17--03:50: _Google Engineer Fir...
- 08/07/17--19:39: _Big Changes Ahead f...
- 08/07/17--19:51: _East Haven Faces Sp...
- 08/07/17--19:04: _Bear Spotted in Dri...
- 08/07/17--19:36: _New Fairfield Fathe...
- 08/07/17--22:25: _Family of Bullied O...
- 08/07/17--19:51: _Long-Lost Purple He...
- 08/08/17--03:26: _Feds Won't Seek Sle...
- 08/08/17--03:40: _Opioid Overdoses Ha...
- 08/08/17--03:52: _Countdown to Pyeong...
- 08/08/17--04:26: _Larson Plan Would I...
- 08/07/17--20:32: _New London Resident...
- 08/07/17--20:23: _City of Bridgeport ...
- 08/08/17--05:25: _Meriden Father Figh...
- 08/07/17--18:10: Fake News? Trump Launches 'Real News' Series
- 08/07/17--15:33: 'Everyone's Rock': Family Mourns Marine Killed in Aircraft Crash
- 08/07/17--18:47: Budget Delay is Fine, Tax Hikes Aren't: Business Lobby
- 08/07/17--18:46: Renovations Continue on Homes Near Tweed-New Haven Airport
- 08/07/17--20:25: New London Plans Road Improvements to Deal With Flooding
- 08/07/17--18:58: Instagram Posts May Reveal Signs of Depression: Study
- 08/07/17--19:39: Big Changes Ahead for Historic Hotel in New Haven
- 08/07/17--19:51: East Haven Faces Spending Freeze
- 08/07/17--19:04: Bear Spotted in Driveway of Windsor Locks Home
- 08/07/17--19:36: New Fairfield Father Facing Deportation Working to Stay
- 08/07/17--22:25: Family of Bullied Ohio Boy Who Committed Suicide Sues School
- 08/07/17--19:51: Long-Lost Purple Heart Medals Returned in NYC Ceremony
- 08/08/17--03:26: Feds Won't Seek Sleep Apnea Tests for Train, Truck Operators
- 08/08/17--03:40: Opioid Overdoses Have Been Higher Than Thought: Study
- 08/08/17--03:52: Countdown to Pyeongchang: Six Months to Winter Olympics
- 08/08/17--04:26: Larson Plan Would Invest $1 Trillion in U.S. Infrastructure
- 08/07/17--20:32: New London Residents Want More Police Officers
- 08/07/17--20:23: City of Bridgeport to Develop Amphitheater
- 08/08/17--05:25: Meriden Father Fights to Stay in U.S. After Deportation Order
President Donald Trump's campaign team has launched its own so-called "real news" series on Facebook to combat what Trump has called "fake news," NBC News reported.
Former pro-Trump cable news commentator Kayleigh McEnany will host the show in front of a blue Trump-Pence-themed wall.
McEnany rose to political prominence during the 2016 election for her fiery exchanges in defense of Trump on CNN. She left the network over the weekend, a source told NBC News, asking to leave in order to pursue another opportunity.
Her kickoff on what could be called "Trump TV" was shared with more than 22 million Facebook page followers and on Twitter. Trump's presidential campaign committee is listed as having paid for the news spot; they did not respond to a request for comment.
Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images, File
In this file photo, then President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at Trump Tower on Jan. 11, 2017, in New York City.
One of the three Marines presumed dead over the weekend after an aircraft crash off the Australian coast is 1st Lt. Benjamin Cross, of Bethel, Maine.
His parents Valerie and Robert Cross, and older brother Ryan Cross, say the Marine was living his dream, flying aircraft and serving in the military.
"He was really happy and felt like he finally made it," said Robert.
According to a statement from the Marines, an Osprey aircraft carrying 26 personnel launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard on Saturday. It was performing a routine training exercise when it crashed.
Twenty-three of the 26 people on board were rescued. It is unknown if Benjamin, who was a pilot for the Marines, was flying the plane. Regardless, the Cross family says they take comfort knowing that he was doing what he loved.
Family and friends say Benjamin knew at an early age that he wanted to be a pilot. He was the type of person who made goals and pursued them relentlessly, his family said. He was accepted on a full scholarship to the Virginia Military Institute.
"He was everyone's rock," said Ryan, who also served in the military. "So many people leaned on Ben in their time of need, and I certainly used Ben as my rock. Part of me is gone forever."
Ben was a star student and athlete at Telstar High School in Bethel, Maine.
"He was always talking about flying, and I'm glad he got to pursue his dreams," said childhood friend Daegan Conrad. "He was a great mentor, always there for me and there for a laugh when you needed it."
The Cross family is planning to hold a community memorial in the Bethel area. They have not yet announced a time or venue.
Photo Credit: Family of Marine 1st Lt. Benjamin Cross
Marine 1st Lt. Benjamin Cross was one of the three killed when an aircraft crashed off the coast of Australia on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. Cross' family mourns their loss, calling him "everyone's rock."
The president of the state’s largest business group said the stalemate in the General Assembly over a state budget hasn’t yet reached a critical stage, but said things can quickly change if wide-scale tax increases become the bedrock of a budget bargain.
Joe Brennan, the president of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said the delay over reaching a budget isn’t something that will shake confidence nearly as much as a solution that includes businesses and consumers paying more out of their pocket to support state or local government.
"I just don’t think anybody is going to tolerate any broad-based large scale tax increases like we’ve seen over the last few years," Brennan said during an interview.
Between corporate and income tax changes in recent years, Brennan points out how both Governor Dannel Malloy and even former Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey conceded that those tax increases eventually did not help with the state’s historic deficits in the billions.
As long as lawmakers keep talking and working on solutions, Brennan said that’s fine.
"Even if it goes on a little bit longer but we end up with a budget that is balanced, that doesn’t have gimmicks, that doesn’t overly rely on borrowing, and doesn’t have any broad-based tax increases, then I think people will consider that a success," Brennan said.
However, if the budget impasse continues and tax increases, whether they be sales, income, or elsewhere, he can see consumer optimism deteriorate, along with the state’s perception around the region and around the country.
"If it goes on many more months and we end up with a budget that relies on tax increases then that’s going to be a much bigger problem," Brennan said.
Brennan said Connecticut residents, businesses and policymakers all want to see the same thing, optimism.
"We need people to be more confident in Connecticut so we see the investments and growth here," he said.
For 15 years, Kim Makres and her husband Mike have lived on Burr Street right across from Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport.
“The contractor told me it would be done in one day, I said OK, good luck with that,” she said. “By 3’o clock everything was done.”
The Makres home is one of 34 near the airport to already undergo sound proofing renovations free of charge. The airport authority conducted a noise study and identified 184 homes surrounding Tweed in New Haven and East Haven that qualify for the sound proofing program.
“Brand new windows, brand new doors, central air, some of them are getting new furnaces as well,” said Brackston Poitier of Tri-Con Construction Managers, a local business overseeing the renovations.
Makres said she noticed a difference right after the work was finished.
“It’s about 96 percent difference,” she said. “We were able to tell immediately the first night. I wasn’t able to hear the 6 a.m. flight, which I usually hear every morning over coffee.”
Makres said she’d recommend the sound proofing work for any homeowner who qualifies. The renovations cost between $35,000 to $45,000.
Tweed recently received a nearly $3 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to do work on another 50 homes.
“The help that we have gotten financially form the federal government and the city is what makes Tweed a special place and our board is committed to continuing to be a good neighbor,” Tim Larson, Tweed Airport Authority executive director, said.
The next round of noise mitigation work comes as airport officials and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said they hope to bring more direct flights in and out of Tweed.
“To the degree that we can take care of concerns that people have, that makes us know they will probably support us as we move to expand the runway,” Harp said.
Makres said she supports expanded commercial service at the airport across the street.
“It would be great if there were other flights than just Philly,” Makres said.
To bring in more flights, airport officials said they need to extend the runway about 500 feet to meet FAA regulations. They are hopeful a federal judge rules in their favor in a lawsuit challenging a state law that is preventing runway expansion.
Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
New London is working to fix draining systems on a street prone to flooding.
It’s the area of Pequot Avenue that borders Green Harbor Park and part of Green Harbor Beach. City officials call the most troublesome flooding area in New London when there are spurts of downpours.
"All that water gushes into your engine and the car stalls. You know, if (drivers) have common sense, don’t go through that," Eduardo Cordero, who lives near the flood zone, said.
Cordero said at times it gets so bad, he can’t leave his home on Pequot Avenue.
"It’s been flooded so bad, I have to call my boss and say, 'I can’t make it to work because everything’s blocked off and I can’t drive my car'," Cordero said.
The director of Public Works for New London, Brian Sear, said there's a maximum amount of ‘watershed area’ and that water eventually makes its way down into the street.
Sear said currently the storm drain and how water passes into the river is not effective enough in heavy rain bursts.
The road has carried about nine inches of water before, Sear said, usually if an inch or more of water falls in an hour. When the rain subsides, it takes about 20 minutes for the road to drain.
The city of New London is working on a nearly $2 million project to fix the draining on Pequot Avenue. Seventy-five percent is federally funded by grants awarded to the state after Superstorm Sandy.
The city is working with Milone & MacBroom, Inc. out of Cheshire and is already three-quarters of the way through the investigation and design process, according to Sear
The city wants to put a bid package for construction out in about five weeks, he added.
“The sidewalks you would walk on and the street that you would drive on turns into a lake,” said Dona Casey, of New London, of the flooding problem.
Casey had to choose an alternative walking route to walk her dog in the rain since Pequot Avenue has even flooded onto the sidewalk.
At that point, the road is typically blocked off. Ashley Shasha, of Uncasville, said she’s had to find other ways to get to work.
“I have to take different routes to get here if it’s that bad,” Shasha said.
The area around Bank and Blinman Streets is also prone to flooding in the rain. The city has done a study about redoing the piping and upgrading the pumps. It’s expected to cost around $5 million who added that the city is looking for grant funding for the project, Sear said.
Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
Scientists have created an algorithm that can determine whether an Instagram user is showing signs of depression based on their posts to the app, according to a study published Monday by EPJ Data Science.
Researchers used almost 44,000 pictures from 166 people. Of the sample, 71 participants had a history of depression. The computer algorithm successfully identified markers of depression 70 percent of the time, according to the study.
It was able to spot markers of depression based on Instagram posts even before participants were clinically diagnosed.
The photos were examined based on their colors, the number of faces and the number of likes a post received. Researchers concluded that participants who posted photos with blue, gray or dark light tended to be depressed. Depressed Instagram users were also more likely to post photos with faces, but fewer faces per photo than their less-depressed counterparts. Depressed users also tended to receive fewer likes and were more likely to post photos without a filter.
However, the co-authors of the study, Andrew Reece and Christopher Danforth, caution that their study was limited by its relatively small sample size. Roughly 43 percent of their initial participants refused to share their Instagram data out of privacy concerns. Reece and Danforth did not immediately return NBC's request for comment.
The findings cannot be generalized to every Instagram user, but could serve as a "blueprint for effective mental health screening in an increasingly digitalized society."
Reece and Danforth concluded that their algorithm helped prove that mental illness and social media use have a scientifically calculable correlation.
Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, File
Facebook Inc.'s Instagram logo is displayed on the Instagram application on an Apple Inc. iPhone in this arranged photograph taken in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, June 17, 2016.
A Google engineer was fired Monday after igniting a firestorm of controversy over the weekend by writing and releasing an internal memo criticizing the tech company's diversity programs, according to multiple reports.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a memo to employees that the engineer who penned the memo violated the company's code of conduct, according to a Redcode report, which was also published to CNBC.
Bloomberg first reported the name of the fired engineer, who confirmed his dismissal in an email to the news agency. NBC News has not independently confirmed the report.
The 10-page anti-diversity memo, first reported by Motherboard and published in full by Gizmodo Saturday, argued that men are biologically better fit to work in the tech industry and be leaders in the workplace. It also characterized Google's gender equality efforts as misguided.
According to Redcode, Pichai added, "To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK."
The anti-diversity memo was sent out Friday to more than 40,000 Google employees. Some employees tweeted about it on Saturday.
In May, Google said publicly it had to improve the company's diversity programs and close pay gaps between men and women. Seventy percent of the company's tech-sector employees are men.
One Google employee responded to the memo with a tweet: "That garbage fire of a document is trash, and you are wonderful coworkers who I am extremely lucky to work with."
Another employee wrote: "Imagine working at Google, getting paid all that money, just to spend your time writing a disgusting manifesto and sending it to your peers."
Danielle Brown, Google's new vice president of diversity and inclusion, responded to the document in a memo to employees, which was obtained by Motherboard. "We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company," she wrote. "We’ve continued to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul."
In his anti-diversity memo, the Google engineer said there is sexism at work but that some ideas are "too sacred to be honestly discussed" at Google.
He said the company needs to be more open to conservative ideals.
Kym McNicholas, community director of Extreme Tech Challenge, a competition for startup companies, sent her thoughts on the incident to NBC Bay Area via email Sunday.
"I wouldn't give this engineer anything more than a reality check," she said. "It shows he feels threatened, and that's his own insecurity coming out."
Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File
File image of Google headquarters in Mountain View.
Big changes are coming to a historic building in the heart of downtown New Haven.
A boutique hotel developer from Chicago plans to transform the Hotel Duncan at 1151 Chapel Street into an upscale hotel, but that means a few dozen tenants will need to move out.
For $950 a month, Jim 'Turtle' Szelest has lived at the Hotel Duncan for seven years.
"I get my room taken care of," Szelest said. "Cable TV, access to probably one of the finest communities in the city."
On August 1, Turtle and the other 30 to 40 tenants in single room units learned their time living there is almost up.
"People are very scared and it’s understandable," Szelest said.
They have 90 days to move out so a division of Chicago-based AJ Capital Partners can transform the historic property near Yale University into a boutique hotel that will no longer offer a monthly housing option.
"They search all around the country for places that have universities or great cultural life and then they try to create these boutique hotels," New Haven Chief Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson said.
Nemerson said downtown New Haven is in need of more hotel rooms.
"On a busy weekend people are going to hotels in Milford, Branford and Wallingford," he said.
The developer purchasing the property has similar themed hotels in college towns like Ann Arbor, Michigan and Madison, Wisconsin, Nemerson said.
"When the students come in here, it’s very busy for hotels, restaurants, Uber drivers, bars and everything," Mike Cacioppo from New Haven said. "It’s a great town, I think New Haven is booming."
But Cacioppo, an Uber driver and former Hotel Duncan tenant in 1970s, said he worries what will happen to the people who will need to find new affordable homes.
"They probably said to the people that live here they’re going to try to find them another place, which I think is going to be hard because it's expensive to live downtown," Cacioppo said.
Nemerson said the city is committed to helping Hotel Duncan tenants secure new housing and each is receiving a notice about setting up a meeting to discuss the relocation processs.
"I don’t think anybody in a city that’s changing as much as New Haven expects to live in the exactly same place for the lowest rent in town for a long time," Nemerson said.
"They’ve already made it clear they were planning on assisting us with moving costs and security deposit," Turtle told NBC Connecticut.
Before learning about the renovations, Szelest said he has been planning a move to North Carolina for retirement.
"I can also respect that change has to happen," Szelest said. "It’s inevitable."
The manager at the front desk of Hotel Duncan declined to comment for this story.
Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
The Town of East Haven is the latest Connecticut municipality to implement changes as state lawmakers still can’t make a budget deal.
Mayor Joseph Maturo announced Monday that the town would be implementing a spending freeze, meaning no additional spending without the mayor’s approval, effective immediately.
"Everyday we pick up the newspaper or turn on the TV there’s another delay. We don’t know if they’re ever going to come up with a budget," Maturo said in an interview with NBC Connecticut.
The mayor said this is the earliest in the year the town has implemented such a freeze. They typically come toward the end of the fiscal year to ensure that the town doesn’t exceed its annual $100 million budget.
But Maturo said uncertainty about how much money the town could get or not get from the state whenever it does enact a budget is a cause for concern and prudence in the meantime.
"I want to make sure that our residents are protected. It really hurts a lot and that’s why this is the prudent way to go," Maturo said.
The news of the spending freeze was enough to anger some East Haven residents.
"Shame on them," lifelong resident Angela Caruthers said in reference to the state lawmakers lagging progress on a budget. "With the money we take out from these politicians, they can't even run a state," she said.
Maturo said in a worst case scenario, the town could have to dip into its rainy day fund to cover expenses. That move could impact the town’s bond rating and with it, the mill rate and property taxes.
Maturo said placing controls on spending in the meantime will hopefully avoid having to take that step in the future.
Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
It was not the sight a Windsor Locks woman was expecting when she went to see what tipped her trash can.
Joyce Catania said she was in the kitchen when she heard a noise in the garage.
"I opened the door and saw my barrel was knocked down," Catania said.
As she got closer, Catania said she saw a black bear "helping himself" to the bird seed she discarded. Catania grabbed a camera and snuck a picture before the bear told her to back off.
"When he saw the phone he growled so I went it back in ," she said.
Neighbors said bear sightings are not uncommon in their community.
"This is a little close to home but they have been spotted in the area a few times," said Robert Capone. Capone recalls one run-in about a year ago when he and his wife were out walking his dog and a bear casually strolled by.
"You don't expect to be walking and minding your own business and see a bear 20 feet in front of you," he said.
Following his neighbors encounter, Capone said residents must be mindful.
"Keep your food out of your barrels and your garage doors closed whenever you can," he said.
Catania said she will certainly be implementing those precautions.
"This is the closest they've ever gotten, so I'll keep my garage door closed from now on," she said.
Photo Credit: Joyce Catania
The attorney of a New Fairfield father facing deportation is begging the immigration officials to give him more time.
Joel Colindres' attorneys and elected Connecticut representatives have spent the last week putting pressure on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Colindres family said they are hopeful those round-the-clock efforts will convince the courts to push pause on his deportation order.
Colindres was told to leave the United States by August 17 and return to his native country, Guatemala.
"If he leaves the United States on the seventeenth he will be barred from entering the United States for 10 years. That is why this is such an emergency,” his attorney, Erin O’Neil-Baker, explained.
O’Neil-Baker said Colindres missed a court hearing in 2004 which triggered the deportation notice, which is being enforced by the current administration.
"The thought of this family being ripped apart is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking," Senator Richard Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty wrote letters in support of Colindres last week and met with his family for the first time on Monday.
"A day like today brings some hope when you have everybody here, but when you do look at the calendar, it’s like ‘Today’s our last full week together,’ you get upset," Joel’s wife, Samantha, said.
Supporters said Colindres should be allowed to stay in this country on the grounds that he’s married to an American citizen and because he faces retribution if he returns to Guatemala.
"That’s based on things happening now in Guatemala, happening to his family," Esty said.
When asked how his family is being threatened, Colindres declined to get specific.
"It’s more difficult now because everyone knows my face," Colindres said.
The 33-year-old has a son and daughter with his wife Samantha. O’Neil-Baker said her client’s best chance of staying in this country are his claims for asylum and the fact that deportation would be a hardship on his wife and two children.
Colindres’ message to those who said he doesn’t deserve to be here:
"I don’t think you have any idea how hard it is to become part of this country," he said.
Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
The family of Gabriel Taye, the 8-year-old boy who killed himself in January after a bullying attack, has sued the child's school over the circumstances of Gabriel's bullying, NBC News reported.
The 41-page lawsuit filed Monday in federal district court in Cincinnati says the school only notified the boy's mother after he had recovered completely from an assault in the school bathroom. The school did not respond to a request for comment.
The suit says this withholding "prevented his mother from seeking appropriate treatment. Had she known of the extreme violence at Carson, she never would have continued to send him to school there."
During the Jan. 24 incident, the suit says, a classmate knocked Gabriel unconscious before other students kicked, poked and stepped on him. Gabriel hung himself from his bunk bed two days later.
Photo Credit: WLWT/Cincinnati Public Schools
A screenshot of the surveillance video of the 8-year-old boy who allegedly committed suicide after being bullied at school in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Eight lost Purple Heart medals were returned to their rightful owners as part of a ceremony in New York for National Purple Heart Day.
The families of seven U.S. service members who have since passed gathered at Federal Hall on Wall Street for Monday’s ceremony.
New York City firefighter and veteran Daniel Swift was among those present. He’s the only one of the eight Purple Heart recipients still living.
“Hopefully, this will finish it off for me and I can put (what happened) away,” Daniel Swift said, before receiving back his lost medal.
Swift was wounded during the Iraq War in 2004 when a roadside bomb struck his Humvee, but he still rushed to save the life of his injured comrade.
A New York Army National Guard member and combat medic, Swift was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor, as well as a Purple Heart, which he lost soon after he received it overseas.
The explosion killed two other soldiers – the widow of one of them unveiled and presented the reclaimed Purple Heart to Swift.
“It’s bittersweet,” Swift said.
Private Frank Lymann Dunnel of Buffalo, New York, who has since died, earned his Purple Heart after being wounded in the Battle of the Somme during World War I. His medal was found in a bank decades ago, but only recently turned in, according to his great niece Frances Carlson.
“It really brings him back in a whole new dimension for me,” Carlson said.
Army Private Dan Lyle Feragen of Montana served in the Bataan Death March during World War II. He later died as a prisoner of war in the Philippines, buried in an unmarked grave and unidentified for years.
His Purple Heart was posthumously awarded to his nephew, Lyle Feragen, at Monday’s ceremony.
“It is one of the greatest honors I think can be bestowed,” Feragan said.
The eight returned medals had Vermont-based group Purple Hearts United to thank. Its founder, Zachariah Fike, is a Purple Heart recipient himself and has made it his labor of love to track down lost medals.
To date, the organization has returned more than 300 Purple Hearts, and they find as many as five each week around the country.
“I have some very good volunteer researchers out there, and we work around the clock to find these families,” Fike said.
The ceremony’s location, Federal Hall, was also George Washington’s inauguration site. The nation’s first president created the Purple Heart, which was known as the Badge of Military Merit at the time.
The Federal Railroad Administration has announced it will not push forward with mandatory testing for a sleep disorder that has been linked to two deadly train derailments in the New York City area in the last few years.
The FRA’s decision has drawn backlash because sleep apnea has been blamed for the 2013 train crash in Spuyten Duyvil that killed four people and may also be connected with a crash in New Jersey that killed a woman.
Nancy Montgomery’s husband, Jim Lovell, was one of four people killed in that 2013 crash when a Metro-North train going 82 miles per hour around a 30 mile per hour curve derailed, a crash that has been blamed on operator William Rockefeller’s undiagnosed sleep apnea. The railroad has subsequently started testing for sleep apnea, but in other parts of the country that may not be the case.
“They can’t do the simple things like protect the people they are carrying and protect their workers,” Montgomery said. “It’s the little guy that’s getting killed. They’ve just taken away the test that could have saved my husband’s life.”
Sleep apnea could have played a roll in the Hoboken crash last year that killed a young mother. An NJ Transit train operator was diagnosed with the sleep disorder after that crash.
The agency, along with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, says current programs and rules already in place are enough. They will rely on railroad and trucking companies to voluntarily conduct the tests.
David Schanoes, deputy chief of OPS for Metro-North, says that method has been effective in some cases, but not in others.
Metro-North, LIRR and NJ Transit all claim to conduct sleep apnea testing on train operators, but Schanoes said lack of a mandate means little to no transparency.
“It would be a very effective regulation and would save a lot of lives,” he said.
Photo Credit: NBC New York, File
Deaths from heroin and opioid overdoses may have been underreported by more than 20 percent, according to a new study from the University of Virginia.
Researchers looking into the nation's deadly drug overdose epidemic revisited thousands of death certificates between 2008 and 2014 and found that mortality rates for opioids were 24 percent higher than previously reported, while the mortality rate for heroin was 22 percent higher than previously reported, according to NBC News.
"Opioid mortality rate changes were considerably understated in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey and Arizona," according to the study, published this week in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. "Increases in heroin death rates were understated in most states, and by large amounts in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey, Louisiana and Alabama."
The presidential opioid commission, chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has urged President Donald Trump to "declare a national emergency" to deal with the crisis that, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, killed nearly 35,000 across the United States since 2015.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File
This Wednesday, June 7, 2017 photo shows discarded used hypodermic needles without protective sheaths at an encampment where opioid addicts shoot up along the Merrimack River in Lowell, Mass.
In just six months, snowboarders, slalom skiers, speed skaters and others will arrive at Pyeongchang in pursuit of Olympic gold. We’ll watch as athletes from around the world compete in 15 winter sports, catching their dreams or seeing them dashed on the mountains of South Korea during the 2018 Winter Games
Olympians who fell short at the Sochi Games four years ago will be focused fiercely on dazzling this time, aiming for that highest perch on the winners’ stand. Look for performances from the American veterans of past games, from the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team to the affectionally dubbed Shib Sibs, ice dancers Alex and Maia Shibutani.
What you won’t see? Hat tricks or any goals from National Hockey League players, at least not with the NHL's blessing. The league will not interrupt its season for the Pyeongchang Games.
The opening ceremony will be held on Feb. 8, and every event will be broadcast on NBC's TV and digital channels. Here’s what’s in store:
Sound Like a Native Speaker
If you’ve never been to South Korea and you’re not sure of your Korean pronunciations, we’ve got a guide for you.
Pyeongchang is in the Taebaek Mountains, which fittingly for the Winter Games are sometimes called the Korean Alps, in a region east of Seoul in Gangwon-do, or Gangwon Province. Gangwon is known for its resorts (and Buddhist temples) and is popular with skiers and snowboarders. To help the influx of visitors avoid confusion with the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, Pyeongchang rebranded itself with a capitalized “C." (The city's official name still has a lower-case "c," however.)
Competition will be divided between Pyeongchang and Gangneung on the coast, with the opening and closing ceremonies to take place at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Many of the events in the mountains will center on the Alpensia Resort. Hockey, curling and speed and figure skating will be in Gangneung.
Coming Back From Heartbreak
U.S. Olympians certainly had their low points at the Sochi Games. The U.S. speed skating team won only one medal in short track, though it had been favored in a number of events. The U.S. Women’s Hockey lost gold to its Canadian rivals in overtime, after giving up a two-goal lead.
Russia took 33 medals, 13 of them gold, more than any other team, though international anti-doping watchdogs have since offered evidence of Russian cheating. A state-sponsored doping program involved more than 1,000 athletes from 2012 to 2014, leading 19 national anti-doping agencies to demand that Russia be excluded from the Pyeongchang Games. That’s a possibility for its Paralympic team.
For the U.S. athletes who failed to reach first place at Sochi, Pyeongchang offers another chance at the podium.
J.R. CELSKI: American speed skater J.R. Celski was the top medal hope for the United States in the men’s short track speed skating in Sochi. Instead, he dropped from the lead in the 1,500 meter and finished fourth.
He and his teammates did win a silver medal in the 5,000-meter relay, the only medal for the Americans. And Celski has two bronze medals from the 2010 Vancouver Games.
“Sochi was a rough time for all the speed skaters out there,” Celski told NBC. “We had a lot of expectations and I think we were expecting to go in there and do really, really, really well and not a lot of us did so yeah, it was tough time. There’s a time to reflect and learn what you can and carry that going forward and there’s also a time to let it go and focus on what you need to.”
SHAUN WHITE: Snowboarder Shaun White similarly had a disappointing Games at Sochi. White had hoped to win his third straight halfpipe title, but ended up in fourth place. He was aiming for the first-ever gold medal in the slopestyle event, which debuted at Sochi, but, worried about an injury on the dangerous course, he withdrew.
In February, he told NBC Olympics that he has never gotten over the loss, but has learned from it.
“So it’s a part of me now, which is great,” he said. “As hard as it was, I’m thankful that it happened because it taught me a lot.”
And he said on the Today show: “Obviously not performing the way I’d like in Sochi really inspired me and I got re-focused, recalibrate and I’m back at it.”
LINDSEY VONN: Celski and White fell short at Sochi, but Lindsey Vonn didn't get to the games at all. She injured her right knee months before the games.
The speed skier won two medals in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and was expected to be a star in Sochi. Instead, she faced surgery, and has struggled with injuries ever since. She earned a bronze medal in the downhill at the 2017 World Championships.
Despite fighting through injuries for most of the past five years, she's considered one of the sport's stars. In May, she was named the first International Games ambassador for the 2018 Games, and she called the course challenging with lots of jumps.
“It would mean the world to me if I could get back on the podium in Pyeongchang after missing the last Olympics in Sochi,” Vonn told NBC. “After being injured for almost all of the last five years I’ve definitely been through my share of obstacles and have overcome most of them. But one thing I haven’t done is been able to do the Olympics after I won gold in Vancouver. So if I could win again or even be on the podium, it would be incredible.”
MAIA AND ALEX SHIBUTANI: Finally, there are the Shib Sibs, Maia and Alex Shibutani, who made their Olympic ice dancing debut in Sochi, when Maia was 19 and Alex, 22. They placed ninth.
“Our first Olympics was so inspiring,” Maia Shibutani told NBC. “It was a dream come true to be a part of Team USA, and from that we really discovered how we wanted to approach these four years.”
Maia Shibutani, who describes her brother as her best friend, learned to skate when she was 4 and loved the sport immediately. Alex Shibutani was slower to embrace it — he wanted to be a basketball player — but when he saw how much fun his sister was having, he thought he’d give it a try.
“Walking in the opening ceremonies, that was a dream come true, competing on Olympic ice, it was highly motivating and I think since that time we’ve really matured,” he said. “And it really informed us on how we wanted to approach our career, following those Games and leading up to Pyeongchang. And so we’re so excited. We’re ready. We’ve reached another level and so we’re excited to see how things go.”
U.S. WOMEN'S HOCKEY: The U.S. Women's Hockey Team won the first-ever women's hockey gold medal in 1998. They haven't been back on top of the podium since.
The team settled for silver in 2002, 2010 and 2014, and bronze in 2006.
Megan Duggan, who played on the 2010 and 2014 teams, said that the second-place finishes in the last two Olympics were pushing the women to perform.
“It’s the number one motivation,” she said. “It dictates training every single day. It’s no secret to anyone that the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team wanted gold in the last two Olympics and certainly came up short. So that’s the number one motivator for us looking forward to 2018. It’s gold or bust.”
Helping the American women hockey players prepare for this year's Olympic Games is Colleen Hacker, a sport psychology consultant and mental skills coach. Every sport has unique demands, Hacker said.
“Hockey, it is immediate, explosive, dynamic, high intensity, high performance,” she said. “It has to happen the instant, the instant your skates hit the ice.”
Among hockey’s particular aspects: its shifts, the roughly minute-long bursts of time on the ice that team members cycle through, and its periods.
“The nature of the shifts, they’re short,G they’re intense and you have to be 100 percent on in a millisecond,” she said. “That’s very unique to hockey.”
Tensions With the North
North Korea's repeated missile tests, including a recent one of a missile that appeared capable of reaching Los Angeles, have added a disquieting layer to the Games this year. The United States has responded by increasing military and economic pressure but the North's leader Kim Jong-un, who hopes to force the United States to drop sanctions and withdraw troops from South Korea, said the country will not negotiate its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles unless the United States ends its nuclear threats.
Meanwhile the new South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, elected after his predecessor was impeached, is trying to revive a policy of engagement leading to reconciliation with the North. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has offered to open negotiations with Pyongyang and assured it of its security if the country gave up its nuclear weapons.
The NHL to Stay Home
The National Hockey League made it official in April that it would not participate in the Winter Olympics. The league had wanted to be compensated for interrupting the regular season so that its players could travel to South Korea for the games. The league also was dissatisfied with being unable to use the Olympics for marketing because of sponsorship rules.
The players union called the decision shortsighted, impeding the growth of the game by giving up a chance to reach sports fans worldwide.
"NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly," it said in a statement.
Dick Pound, a member of the International Olympic Committee, chastised the NHL in a column in the Montreal Gazette on August 3.
“It is not sufficient for the NHL to be content with plucking the low-hanging financial fruit, but to fail to invest in the future of the game,” he wrote. And he called the decision to prohibit individual players who want to represent their countries heavy-handed, an abuse of its economic power and disrespectful to the rights and dreams of the players.
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has said he plans to play for Russia, a position the Capitals owner, Ted Leonsis, supports.
USA Hockey expects to fill its team from the ranks of college players.
Preparation Near Completion
Who can forget the photos that journalists tweeted of unfinished hotel rooms at the Sochi Olympics? No heat, no water, no lobby in one hotel, and when U.S. bobsledder Johnny Quinn found himself trapped inside a men's room due to a jammed door, he was able to break through shoddy construction.
Nor was Russia the only country to build venues right up until the last moment -- just think Rio, Athens or Montreal.
But in South Korea, much of the work is already done and athletes have been trying out the facilities.
"We're almost 100 percent ready to host athletes," Ji Jue Lee, with the Pyeongchang organizing committee, said in May.
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Congressman John Larson, D-First District, wants to tunnel city traffic from Interstate 84 and Interstate 91 and plans to announce the “America Wins Act” today, which he says would invest $1 trillion in the nation’s infrastructure over the next 10 years and pave the way for the local project.
Larson will hold a news conference at noon to announce the plan, which he said would also provide transitional assistance for coal country, including pensions; provide a consumer tax rebate to the American people; and reduce pollution to promote clean air and public health.
Larson has held several meetings about his proposal to tunnel traffic on Connecticut highways and said taking some of the traffic 70 feet below the surface will help bring together the northside and southside of Hartford, repair a levy system he believes is in desperate need of a fix and repurpose the Charter Oak Bridge, the Bulkeley Bridge and Founders Bridge.
Those three bridges would serve as local boulevards and help carry economic development directly into Hartford, according to Larson, who insists it will also help the area gain green space and reclaim the river.
The project could cost $0 billion and Larson said the state, which is dealing with budget issues, would likely be required to pick up 20 percent of the bill. http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/DOT-State-Officials-Propose-Changes-to-I-84-I-91-in-Hartford-411733345.html
Larson acknowledged there is much more research to be done and said he is not an engineer, but is excited that the concept will be a part of the current I-84, I-91 interchange study.
Larson also said the Trump administration could play a positive role in such a project.
“If there is an area we feel we can work together it clearly is in the area of infrastructure,” Larson said.
Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images
New London residents said fewer officers in the city is leading to a huge increase in wait times for police to respond to less urgent calls.
On Monday night, residents packed the city council meeting to tell councilors that they need to hire more cops.
The city said in 2011, they had 93 cops and according to the New London Police Union President Todd Lynch, they have 25 fewer in 2017. Of those, Lynch said only 38 are patrol officers.
Lynch adds that a city ordinance calls for a minimum of 80 officers and four K9s. The police department currently has one K9.
"Just this weekend we had 15 overtime shifts. Eight of those orderings. So those are people that don't want to be here but are forced to work double shifts, and some have to come back the next night to work doubles again," said Lynch.
Lynch said having exhausted cops is not a sustainable solution.
"It's dangerous to the community, and it's dangerous to the officer," Lynch said.
Fewer officers on the street also mean prioritizing calls, which can mean longer wait times for non-emergency calls. Councilor John Satti who is a 25-year member of law enforcement says he called 911 one night around 8 after he thought he'd observed an attempted larceny.
"I later learned the officer assigned to that call did not show up until 11:30 at night. God forbid that call I was calling about was much more severe," Satti said.
"Having three to five officers during an eight-hour shift is unsafe for the officers and the citizens," Jay Wheeler with Neighborhood Alliance of New London said. "The criminals know there is a severe lack of police on the streets.”
New London City Council President Pro Tem Don Venditto Jr. said through budget deliberations, the council met with the acting chief several times to explain what budget needs the department required but that more officers never came up. Venditto said it's the first he's hearing about this.
"That had never been brought to our attention, and if it had at that point, I'm sure the council would have listened very closely. The mayor would have listened very closely. And we may have taken some other avenues to free up some other funds if there was a demand immediately for more policing," Venditto said.
"They put themselves in harm’s way every day and everyone here appreciate that, so we don't want them in unsafe conditions. It's difficult to hear this three months after we've finished a budget cycle," he said.
Lynch said that a lack of officers also means a change in how the department operates.
"We have become reactive instead of proactive, meaning we don't catch things before they happen. It happens and then we go and address it," Lynch said. "We solve the crimes, we make the arrest. But we don't stop it before it happens."
Lynch came to the table during the city council meeting with several suggestions for possible solutions including taking some of the $1 million given to the public school system to the police department. But others argued that was pitting public safety against education.
Lynch also suggested the money the city gets from the Board of Education for resource officers and for cops on private duty should be used to hire officers instead of going back into the general fund.
While there were heated words at the city council meeting, everyone seemed to understand that the move to 80 officers could not happen tomorrow, that the move would need to happen slowly with perhaps one or two officers added per year.
"In this budget we just passed, we moved up the numbers a little bit," Venditto said. "Money is tight. It's really tough times. We understand the need to have more policing on the streets, and we are moving in that direction."
Councilors said a big problem is the lack of a state budget. Without knowing what the state is going to give them, it makes it difficult to make any move towards hiring more. Council members said when they find out how much they'll get with a finalized state budget, that they may be able to make changes to their own budget then.
The union president emphasized that while he wasn't saying the city of New London is not safe, that it could be a lot safer with more officers.
"We want to work together with a solution, but we want to find a solution," Lynch said.
Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
The City of Bridgeport announced that it will be working with developers and an entertainment company to create an amphitheater.
Live Nation will partner with SportsCenter of Connecticut to develop the Harbor Yard Amphitheater LLC.
“Bridgeport is excited and ready for this next step in revitalizing our city with positive development and providing music entertainment by bringing in a partner and company like Live Nation," Mayor Joe Ganim said in a statement.
The city announced on Monday that developers and operators have been selected to bring entertainment to Bridgeport's Harbor Yard.
The ownership of the amphitheater will be retained by the city and will be developed at the investment of approximately $15 million through a public and private partnership.
Howard Saffan, the owner of SportsCenter, calls the development a "game changer."
The venue will host 25 concerts each summer, Staffan said.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Monday a Meriden father is expected to be deported back to Ecuador, leaving behind his family and the country he’s called home for the last 20 years.
Marco Reyes reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in July as scheduled and the father of three was told he would have to leave behind the life he built in Meriden and head back to Ecuador by Aug. 8.
Last Thursday, family and friends supporting Reyes gathered outside the Ribicoff federal building in Hartford, which houses the local ICE office.
Reyes has been living in Connecticut with his wife and children since 1997, supporters said, and the problem came in 2007 when the family was vacationing and accidentally crossed into Canada.
Federal immigration authorities apprehended Marco Reyes as they tried to return.
Supporters said Marco has been checking in with ICE since 2016.
Shawn Neudauer, ICE spokesman for the New England area, said a federal immigration judge issued a final order of removal for Reyes in 2009 and Reyes was granted a stay of removal to allow him to pursue legal options in his immigration proceedings but has since exhausted his legal options.
"We don't want my dad to leave. My dad means the world to me," Marco's daughter, Evelyn Reyes, said.
"We are in the middle of a crisis, a crisis not just for this family here, but for thousands of families in Connecticut and across the country who are being torn apart and it makes no sense," Reyes' attorney, Erin O'Neil-Baker, said. "This is a family that has paid taxes every year since 2002, and if they are returned to their country, they are in danger."
O'Neil-Baker said Reyes' brother-in-law was murdered in Ecuador and the perpetrator has targeted other family members.
"I will do whatever I can. I will work as long, as hard, as possible because there are real human consequences here," U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, CT-D, said. "Marco faces real danger, maybe even death."
Senator Blumenthal flew in from DC to attend the rally and said the administration should focus on deporting those with dangerous criminal records, not people like Reyes.
He said he's written to Homeland Security, requesting that they review the current policy.
In response to critics who have said Reyes and others had plenty of time to find a path to citizenship, Blumenthal said that people like Reyes are often misled or misrepresented by attorneys who might have meant well but dropped the ball.
"These folks made no effort to hide. They didn't run. They weren't concealing themselves. They were right there for ICE to see, and many reported to ICE routinely every year. And they thought the status quo would be fine," Blumenthal said.
Reyes' attorney said they've filed a motion to reopen his old removal order to hopefully have a hearing on the case. If that takes place, they then hope to work on getting him permanent residency.
Supporters said the father of three is a valuable member of the community who is also the sole provider for his family.
"I really need my dad with me here because I can't do anything without him," Marco's daughter, 12-year-old Adriana Reyes, said.
"We hope that the immigration department gives my husband another chance to stay in this country. He's not any criminal. He's always been a good person, a good father," Marco's wife, Fanny Torres Reyes, said.
As time runs out, his family is hoping something can be done to keep him here and keep their family together.
"Imagine if that was your family and you lost your dad because their dad could die any day in Ecuador," Marco's nephew, 9-year-old Oscar Villacres, said.
Officials from ICE said that if Reyes doesn’t comply with the removal order, he'll be considered a fugitive and arrested when encountered.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com