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    As the nation fights its way through the worst flu season in more than a decade, health care workers across the country are taking extreme—in some cases unprecedented--measures to combat its spread.

    Flu Spike: Here's How to Stop It

    At the Lehigh Valley Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, Penn., they've erected an 1,100-square-foot tent to specifically  treat those with flu-like symptoms, a measure they haven’t taken since the H1N1 outbreak of 2009. Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., the tent can treat six patients at a time, has a staff of three, plus immediate access to an emergency room doctor, should the need arise.

    "It's important when you have a large number of influenza patients coming into your emergency department and they're waiting in a waiting room, you need to be able to segregate them the best that you possibly can," said Dr. David Burmeister.

    Similarly, Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., has expanded its E.R. into a nearby conference room to handle the overflow of patients.

    At St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Conn., Dr, Rolf Knoll says they've seen a ten-fold increase in flu cases. In an effort to hold the flu at bay, St. Francis has for the first time ever posted signs asking people not to visit patients if they have a fever or cough.

    Other area hospitals and medical centers have gone even further, allowing only adult visitors.

    "[We're] committed to ensuring the safety of our patients, visitors and staff during flu season and especially during this unusual flu season," says Deborah Parker, Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services & Chief Clinical Officer for Eastern Connecticut Health Network, which is limiting visitors to adults at all its hospitals. "We recognize that these temporary changes to our visitor policies may be inconvenient and disappointing to some, but they are in the best interest of everyone."

    Further up I-95, Boston Mayor Tom Menino has declared a "flu emergency," in the wake of 700 reported cases of flu, accounting for 4 percent of area hospital visits.

    "This is not only a health concern, but also an economic concern for families, and I'm urging residents to get vaccinated if they haven't already," said Menino via a press release. "It's the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family. If you're sick, please stay home from work or school."

    Lyn Finelli, who heads the surveillance and response team that monitors influenza for the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said this year's flu season was about five weeks ahead of the average, and CDC spokesman Tom Skinner fears the spread is "still accelerating."

    In California, where the flu outbreak has not yet been quite as severe, medical professionals are steeling themselves.

    "We're now at a status called regional, where we're seeing regions that have a number of cases. And likely in the next week or two we'll move to what's called widespread," warned Dr. Ron Chapman of the California Department of Public Health.

    In Canada, the government has already released its stockpile of Tamiflu in anticipation of a shortage. Here in the U.S. that's not yet been a problem, though demand for Tamiflu is definitely spiking, even in California.

    "We want to make sure we save it so we have enough supplies for the people that are most at risk--elderly people, people with chronic health conditions," explained Dr. Melody Mendiola of Hennepin County Medical Center.

    This flu season has already seen more than 200,000 people hospitalized across the country. The CDC recommends that on a personal level you can help by getting immunized and washing your hands, among other measures.

    And there's even a Facebook app called Who Gave Me the Flu that searches your friends' status updates for key words like "cough" and "sneeze" to see who may have infected you, or you can sign up for Flu Near You, a map administered by Healthmap of Boston Children’s Hospital, that tracks the spread of the illness and its symptoms.
     

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


    Lehigh Valley Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, Penn., has erected an 1,100-square-foot tent to specifically to treat those with flu and flu-like symptoms.Lehigh Valley Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, Penn., has erected an 1,100-square-foot tent to specifically to treat those with flu and flu-like symptoms.

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    Ferry rider Ashley Furman describes being tossed in the air and knocked unconscious when the Seastreak ferry crashed into Pier 11 in Manhattan Wednesday morning.

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    As Gov. Dannel Malloy delivered the State of the State Address on Wednesday, thoughts of the school shooting in Newtown were at the forefront and he became emotional as he talked about the tragedy.

    “It won’t surprise you that this speech is very different from the one I first envisioned giving,” Malloy said. “In the early days of December, I began thinking about what I’d like to say. Now, while it’s only been a few short weeks on the calendar, we have all walked a very long and very dark road together. What befell Newtown is not something we thought possible in any of Connecticut’s beautiful small towns or our cities.”

    In the midst of one of the worst days in the history of the state of Connecticut, Malloy said, we also saw the best of our state. He fought back tears as he talked about the school staff who sacrificed their lives protecting students and ran directly into harm’s way to do so.

    He commended the State Police, Newtown’s local law enforcement, firemen, others who responded, as well as local officials who worked around-the-clock to bring comfort and stability to Newtown.

    Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra and School Superintendent Dr. Janet Robinson were in the chambers during the State of the State.
     
    “You were tested by unimaginable tragedy. Your compassion and your leadership over the past month has been an inspiration to Connecticut and to me personally,” Malloy said.

    He commended teachers who put the interest of students first as they return to classrooms.

    Then his thoughts went to the 26 families of those killed and of how they have supported the community that has supported them and of the perseverance they have shown in great tragedy.

    YOU CAN READ THE PREPARED REMARKS HERE.

    Speaking before an assembly of people wearing green ribbons to honor Newtown, Malloy talked about the state’s responsibilities in the future.

    They will be shaped, in part, by findings of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, which is tasked with making specific recommendations about school safety, mental health services and gun violence prevention.

    When Malloy spoke of mental health services, he said there must be a balance of respecting individual rights with the obligation to provide for the greater public safety.

    When talking about guns, Malloy emphatically stated that more guns are not the answer.

    “Let me be very, very clear. Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher,” he said, adding that security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom.

    “That is not who we are in Connecticut, and it is not who we will allow ourselves to become,” Malloy said.
     


    Gov. Dannel Malloy got a little teary while talking about the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.Gov. Dannel Malloy got a little teary while talking about the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

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    One billion people use Facebook around the world. Its reach is undisputed and unparalleled, but its impact on one specific community has opened up doors to a new world – for the deaf.
     
    Christina Teani, 34, of South San Francisco is a teacher for special needs students. She understands putting in that extra bit of effort because she was born with what she calls “an invisible disability” -  unable to hear without wearing a hearing aid.

    “You can often feel like that sometimes you are not good enough, you don’t feel like you’re part of a group,” Teani explained. “Human relationships are all about intimacy, getting to know people, feeling like you belong in a group and if you’re not able to connect, you emotionally feel left out.”
     
    But her life has changed, much like it has for her deaf friend, Sarah McBride of Palo Alto.

    “With Facebook, I’m able to communicate with my friends through chat,” she said.

    These women say the social media site has opened up a whole new world to them, offering up not only quick chats with friends, but the ability to share memories through pictures and videos – especially satisfying for them because it’s one of the first times they’ve been able to communicate the same way the hearing community does.
     
    So when the opportunity came up to visit the company that made it happen, they didn’t hesitate. Together with friends, they took tour of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park to celebrate the changes they’ve experienced in their lives.

    “That’s what I like about Facebook," Teani said. "We’re all on the same playing field we haven’t had before.”
     
    Kathy Sussman, a teacher to deaf children for more than four decades, said watching her kids struggle with a disconnect to the outside world was frustrating – aggravating, even.

    “Because these kids are smart, they have every opportunity, but there was that piece that created a barrier for them. Now those barriers are coming down,” she said.
     
    One of those barriers was the difficulty of expressing even the most basic of emotions.
    “Nervous or sad or something. TTY doesn’t show any of the emotional.  Now on Facebook, I can put a happy face or a sad face, or a heart shape.” 

    TTY or tele-typewriter was the device deaf people relied on for decades to communicate with one another. It would flash lights instead of ring. The device features a keyboard with up to 30 characters, display screen and a modem. The user types in the letters which turn into electrical signals; at the other end, those signals turn back into letters that pop up on a display screen, sometimes printing out the message on paper. These women said the process made it difficult to connect deeply with others.
     
    “I find that I am learning things about people that I’ve gone to school with all my life, that I had no idea about,” Teani said.
     
    Many expressed one thing: for them, being deaf is not and was never a handicap, just a different life with a different perspective.

    Teani and McBride agree that Facebook has helped marry two worlds they once felt was distant.

    It’s enabled a big change witnessed by McBride’s 13-year-old daughter, Samantha.

     “She’s deaf so she got isolated and it was hard for everyone to communicate with her,” the teen said about her mother. “I’ve seen her happier because she’s made more friends."    

    Read the full transcipt of Stephanie's video report above.
     

     



    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

    Sarah McBride (front), who is deaf, and daughter, Sarah, of Palo Alto use Facebook.Sarah McBride (front), who is deaf, and daughter, Sarah, of Palo Alto use Facebook.

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    Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, the greatest pitcher and hitter of baseball's "Steroid Era," were denied entry to the Hall of Fame today, as dozens of voters refused to look past their connection to performance-enhancing drugs.

    For the first time since 1996, no players were inducted into Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.

    Craig Biggio was named on 68 percent of the ballots, more than any other player, but still short of the 75 percent required for enshrinement. A seven-time all-star who enjoyed a 20-year career with the Houston Astros, during which he compiled 3060 hits and 668 doubles, Biggio becomes only the second player, after Rafael Palmeiro, with more than 3000 hits not to be voted in on his first ballot.

    With 569 ballots cast by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, 427 ballots were required to make it in. Despite posting career numbers that far exceed  even the most stringent Hall of Fame standards, Clemens and Bonds fell far short, with 37.6 and 36.2 percent of the vote, respectively.

    In the weeks leading up to today's announcement, many baseball writers talked about how conflicted they were about this year's Hall of Fame ballot, the first to include some the the biggest names of the Steroid Era. Some have vowed never to vote for known steroid users, others have said they want to make players from this era wait a year or two, and some just don't care about drug use.

    It's the first time since 1996 that the no players were elected, though six players on that year's ballot -- Phil Neikro, Jim Rice, Ron Santo, Bruce Sutter, Tony Perez and Don Sutton -- eventually made it in.

    Both Clemens and Bonds were clearly being punished by a number of writers for carrying the taint of steroids. Both were named in the 2007 Mitchell Report, the result of former Senator George Mitchell's investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.

    Clemens, who won 354 games, seven Cy Young Awards and two World Series titles, has been accused of PED use by former teammate Jose Canseco, as well as former trainer Brian McNamee, allegations the pitcher has denied to everyone who will listen, including Congress. Despite multiple perjury indictments, he has never been found guilty.

    Bonds, the game's career and single-season home run king, has admitted to using two substances, "the cream" and "the clear," that were found to be steroids, but testified under oath that he thought they were flax seed oil and an arthritis treatment. Bonds was later convicted on charges of obstruction of justice, and sentenced to 30 days house arrest, two years probation and 250 hours of community service.

    Other notable first-timers on this year's ballot who fell short of induction include:

    Mike Piazza, a 12-time all-star who played the bulk of his career for the Mets and the Dodgers, and was the greatest-hitting catcher in the game's history. He appeared on 57.8 percent of ballots. Piazza has never tested positive for steroids or been formally accused, but has been dogged by rumors of PED use for years.

    Sammy Sosa, who along with Mark McGwire electrified a nation with their 1998 pursuit of Roger Maris' single-season home record. Eighth all-time with 608 home runs, and the only man to hit more than 60 home runs in a season three times, Sosa's name appeared on a list published by The New York Times in 2009 of players who tested positive in 2003 for an unidentified PED. He received 12.5 percent of the vote.

    Curt Schilling, a 20-game winner for championship teams in Arizona and Boston. The best starting pitcher in playoff history, with the best strikeout-to-walk ratio since 1900, Schilling likely lost votes thanks to his low win total, 216. He appeared on 38.8 percent of ballots.

    Two long-time holdovers, Jack Morris and Dale Murphy, also came up short. Morris, winner of 254 games and three World Series titles, was on his 14th ballot, earning 67.7 percent. Murphy, a two-time MVP who enjoyed his finest years with the Atlanta Braves, was in his 15th and final year of eligibility.

    The 2014 ballot includes Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina, all among the best of their age, none of them with any connection to steroid use. With voters only allowed to list 10 players on their ballot each year, the BBWAA could be looking at a backlog in the near future.


     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens appeared on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, but fell well short of the necessary votes.Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens appeared on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, but fell well short of the necessary votes.

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    Police are investigating the death of an customer at a metal recycling company in North Haven.

    Police responded to Sims Metal Management, at 234 Universal Drive, in North Haven on Wednesday for a report of an unresponsive person and found a man with  crushing injuries to his chest and abdomen, police said. 

    He was pronounced dead a short time later.

    According to police, the man was crushed by a piece of machinery. 

    "It's with great sadness that we confirm that a longtime customer and friend ofour North Haven, CT metals recycling facility was fatally struck while unloading a scrap auto from his own flatbed car carrier," said Daniel Strechay, spokesmas for Sims Metal Management.

    According to Strechay, employees administerered first aid to the man and called emergency services.

    "Our heartfelt condolences go out to our customer's family, friends and coworkers," Strechay said.

    The company spends a good deal of time on safety measures for its employees and visitors, according to Strechay.  Sims Metal Management is working with OSHA and state and local law enforcement as the agencies investigate the accident.

    Police have not released the man’s name because they are notifying his family.
      



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    An employee at Sims Metal Management in North Haven was crushed by a piece of machinery and died Wednesday, according to police.An employee at Sims Metal Management in North Haven was crushed by a piece of machinery and died Wednesday, according to police.

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    Police are looking for the person who stabbed a 24-year-old man after a game of checkers.

    When officers pulled up to Eastern Street and Hemmingway Avenue around 9 p.m. on Tuesday to respond to a reported stabbing, a man yelled, "I have been stabbed," policed said.
     
    He had been stabbed in his left shoulder and once at his lower back and EMTs took him to the hospital.

    Police spoke with the victim after he was seen in the emergency department and he said he'd been in an apartment at Bella Vista, playing checkers and "smoking weed" with three guys and an argument started after one of them made defamatory remarks about his mother, police said.

    When the victim left the building, the three other men confronted him at the corner. One suggested they fight, but another said, "[expletive], I'm stabbing you,"  according to police.

    The men fled after the assault.

    Police said they have strong leads and expect to make arrests.
     


    Polce are looking for the person who stabbed a man after a game of checkers.Polce are looking for the person who stabbed a man after a game of checkers.

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    Bridgeport police have arrested a local man accused of committing a home invasion on Oak Street on Aug. 14 and they are looking for another person believed to have been involved.

    The U.S. Marshal's Violent Crime Fugitive Task Force arrested George Rivera, 24, on Tuesday at his girlfriend's residence on South Avenue, according to police.

    He faces charges of home invasion, first-degree robbery, third-degree larceny and criminal possession of a stun gun.


    George Rivera has been charged in connection with a home invasion in Bridgeport.George Rivera has been charged in connection with a home invasion in Bridgeport.

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  • 01/09/13--12:41: Baby Panda Explores New Home
  • Raw video of baby panda Xiao Liwu exploring his enclosure for the first time at the San Diego Zoo. He makes his public debut after a 5-month-long wait, NBC San Diego reports.

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    A school safety study the Westport board of education will be expanded to include town hall, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said on Wednesday.

    “Town Hall is home to the Board of Education offices as well as town offices and it is entirely appropriate that the building be included,” he said.

    Education Chairman Elaine Whitney agreed to include town hall in its security review, which was prompted by the December tragedy in Newtown, according to a statement from Joseloff.

    The Board of Finance appropriated $50,000 for the study at its Jan. 2 meeting and the Representative Town Meeting is expected to take up the request at its Feb. 5 meeting.

    Joseloff has asked Police Chief Dale Call to arrange briefings for town employees at all locations on security precautions.
     


    Westport will study security at town hall during its review of school security.'Westport will study security at town hall during its review of school security.'

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    Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy fought back tears Wednesday as he delivered the State of the State Address and recalled the Newtown school shooting that devastated a tight-knit community last month.

    “It won’t surprise you that this speech is very different from the one I first envisioned giving,” Malloy said. “In the early days of December, I began thinking about what I’d like to say. Now, while it’s only been a few short weeks on the calendar, we have all walked a very long and very dark road together. What befell Newtown is not something we thought possible in any of Connecticut’s beautiful small towns or our cities.”

    In the aftermath of one of the worst days in the history of the state of Connecticut, Malloy said, he saw the best of his state. He spoke haltingly as he talked about the school staff members who sacrificed their lives protecting students and ran directly into harm’s way to do so.

    He commended the State Police, Newtown’s local law enforcement, firemen, others who responded, as well as local officials who worked around-the-clock to bring comfort and stability to Newtown.

    Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra and School Superintendent Dr. Janet Robinson were in the chambers during the State of the State.
     
    “You were tested by unimaginable tragedy. Your compassion and your leadership over the past month has been an inspiration to Connecticut and to me personally,” Malloy said.

    He commended teachers who put the interest of students first as they return to classrooms.

    Then his thoughts went to the 26 families of those killed and of how they have supported the community that has supported them and of the perseverance they have shown in great tragedy.

    YOU CAN READ THE PREPARED REMARKS HERE.

    Speaking before an assembly of people wearing green ribbons to honor Newtown, Malloy talked about the state’s responsibilities in the future.

    They will be shaped, in part, by findings of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, which is tasked with making specific recommendations about school safety, mental health services and gun violence prevention.

    When Malloy spoke of mental health services, he said there must be a balance of respecting individual rights with the obligation to provide for the greater public safety.

    When talking about guns, Malloy emphatically stated that more guns are not the answer.

    “Let me be very, very clear. Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher,” he said, adding that security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom.

    “That is not who we are in Connecticut, and it is not who we will allow ourselves to become,” Malloy said.
     


    Gov. Dannel Malloy got a little teary while talking about the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.Gov. Dannel Malloy got a little teary while talking about the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

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    Attorneys finished their closing arguments Wednesday morning in the case of a 12-year-old boy who admitted to shooting and killing his father -- a leader in the National Socialist Movement -- as the Southern California man slept on the family's couch in May 2011.

    The boy, who was 10 at the time of the shooting, faces a murder charge that the defense argued Wednesday should be downgraded to a voluntary manslaughter charge. Defense attorneys claimed domestic violence, child abuse and violent video games "neurologically damaged" the boy and programmed him to be violent.

    Attorney Matthew Hardy told the court the boy was trying to protect his family from his father, Jeffrey Hall -- the regional director of a neo-Nazi organization. He claimed the boy's mother encouraged him to kill the father.

    "[The boy] saw what seemed to be a simple solution to his problems," Hardy said. "Stop the violence.

    "He certainly did not know the wrongfulness of his actions."

    The boy did not testify on the stand during the trial, which began in October. A recorded interview with a detective was shown in court.

    If found responsible for Hall's death, the boy could remain in juvenile custody until his early 20s.

    Prosecutors, who called the shooting a "case that shocks the conscience," claimed the slaying was not related to the father's neo-Nazi beliefs.

    During the trial, prosecutors attempted to portray the boy as having a history that led to "cold, calculated murder." The boy was kicked out of as many as nine elementary schools for bad behavior, prosecutors said.

    He allegedly stabbed a teacher with a pencil once and choked another with a telephone cord.

    "It's time for [the boy] to learn that the legal system works," said Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio, referring to the past cases. "It is beyond obviously clear that [the boy] knew what he was doing was wrong at the time of the killing.

    "[He] is talked about almost as if he's an idiot. That may be a good defense in court, but it's just not true."

    The boy's sister testified during the trial that the boy told her she planned to kill the father. Prosecutors played an audio recording on which the boy's sister said, "I thought he would hit him in the stomach."


    Jeff HallJeff Hall

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    President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration was, from a security standpoint, about as hairy as it gets: the most important people in American government, from the commander-in-chief to the Supreme Court, assembled outside the Capitol, surrounded by nearly two million people at a time of heightened terror risk.

    The circumstances make Obama's second inauguration, to take place Jan. 21 with about half the attendance and fewer parties, seem sort of quaint in comparison.

    But authorities aren't any less tense. The Secret Service, FBI, armed forces, Metropolitan Police Department, Capitol Police, U.S. Park Police and an array of local law enforcement agencies began planning for the event long before Obama's re-election. They're being just as meticulous as they were four years ago -- perhaps even more so.

    "You don't want to be the person who makes a decision…to cut back and something happens. That's a legacy you don't want," said Joseph Funk, a retired Secret Service agent who protected two presidents and ran the agency's Washington D.C. office. "So you will not see anything different this year."

    Thousands of troops, agents and cops will be in the streets, trying to manage crowds and eying potential threats. There will be sharpshooters on rooftops, undercover investigators among the spectators and analysts poring over surveillance images. There will be airport-style magnetometers, high-tech bomb-detecting equipment and armored "tactical vehicles." There will be roadside checkpoints and dozens of closed streets and tunnels. Parking will be a nightmare.

    Washington D.C. estimates that between 600,000 and 800,000 will gather on the National Mall and along the inauguration parade route. That's a considerably smaller number than in 2009, but "still a big crowd," said Christopher Geldart, director of the city's Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.

    The city, which has been planning since June, is borrowing 3,200 National Guard troops, and another 500 or so police officers from other local departments, for help with traffic control and other logistical duties, Geldart said.

    While the crowd-management concerns won't be quite as acute as four years ago, Geldart pointed out that there are other areas that have drawn more attention, in part because of breakdowns at the 2009 inauguration. Although the celebration ended with no arrests, there were some relatively minor snafus: hundreds of ticket holders were misdirected into the Third Street Tunnel and remained stuck there for hours, and poorly designed signs and understaffed entrances led to interminable lines.

    This time, authorities are bringing in temporary cell phone towers to make sure they can better communicate with each other. Officials will be monitoring Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to get a better idea of where people are massing and if there are problems. There will be clearer directions for visitors; Geldart encouraged out-of-towners to check out the city's inauguration website.

    In 2009, intelligence officials heard reports that Somalia-based Islamic militants were planning some type of attack on Obama's inauguration, and Osama bin Laden warned that the new president would inherit a fight against guerrilla warfare. There were also lingering concerns from the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India. And there were fears that some white supremacist group would target the first black president.

    There have been no such reports this year, at least none that have been made public.

    As was the case in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security has declared the inauguration a National Special Security Event, meaning that the lead agency is the Secret Service, with the FBI taking over investigative duties in case of an attack or other disaster.

    The Secret Service declined to answer questions about its preparations.

    "Although we cannot discuss our means, methods, specific resources or numbers we utilize to carry out our protective responsibilities, we can say there is a tremendous amount of advance planning and coordination," spokesman Brian Leary said in a statement.

    No matter how good the intelligence, and how extensive the planning, there's always a bit of anxiety gnawing at you, former security officials said.

    Retired Army Major Gen. Richard Rowe, who headed a military task force in charge of the capital region during the 2009 inauguration, said he didn't think the risk of an attack had diminished.

    "I have trouble imagining that anyone thinks the threat here is any less, because of the types of things that could happen," Rowe said. "If anything, there probably more technological capabilities out there that could be applied."

    But the inauguration is the Secret Service' equivalent of the Super Bowl, and the agency never really stops thinking about it.

    "I don't think people have a true understanding of the enormity of it," Funk said. "It's hard to equate it with anything else. It would be New Year's Eve in Times Square times ten in terms of the security that goes into it."

    He added: "This is the pinnacle of what we do."



    Photo Credit: Washington Post/Getty Images

    Security will be tight for President Obama's second inauguration, just as it was for the first.Security will be tight for President Obama's second inauguration, just as it was for the first.

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    Police arrested a man who they say sexually assaulted a child in Wallingford.

    According to police, 33-year-old Augustine Castro, of New Haven, sexually assaulted the child between the years of 2001 and 2006.

    The child was between 6 and 8 years-old when the abuse started. Officials said the victim reported the incident in September, 2012.

    Castro was charged with sexual assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a minor.

    He is being held on a$200,000 bond and is set to appear in Meriden Superior Court on January, 23rd.

     


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    A bill that would allow Floridians to have domestic partnerships was filed in the state Senate by a Hollywood Democrat Wednesday, the News Service of Florida reported.

    Sen. Eleanor Sobel’s bill would allow gay Floridians to obtain some rights approaching marriage, although the legislation says it is not attempting to circumvent the state Constitution provision defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, according to the News Service of Florida.

    Any two people who are at least 18 years old could establish a domestic partnership under the proposed law.

    "The state has a strong interest in promoting stable and lasting families, and believes that all families should be provided with the opportunity to obtain necessary legal protections and status and the ability to achieve their fullest potential," says the legislation, which is Senate Bill 196.

    Supreme Court Takes Up Gay Marriage

    Sobel, who has filed similar bills before, did not immediately respond a request for comment from the News Service of Florida.

    Forty-five percent of Florida voters said they oppose gay marriage compared to 43 percent who support it, a Quinnipiac University survey in December found.

    The leader of a group opposed to gay marriage predicted that the bill would not get far in the state Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans.

    “I think they're lucky if they get it debated," John Stemburger, the president of the Florida Family Policy Council, told the News Service of Florida.

    Stemburger said that domestic partnership proposals try to avoid Florida’s legal definition of marriage.

    The first two openly gay lawmakers were elected to the Legislature in November.

    NBC 6 Videos



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    A same-sex couple hold hands as they get married.A same-sex couple hold hands as they get married.

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  • 01/09/13--19:47: Silver Alert for Missing Boy
  • Police are asking for the public's help in locating a missing 10-year-old boy.

    Jacob Wilson was last seen in the area of Troup Middle School at 259 Edgewood Ave in New Haven Wednesday afternoon.

    Jacob is described as approximately 5 feet, 115 pounds with brown eyes.

    He was wearing a grey knit hat, black jacket, dark green t-shirt with khaki pants and black and yellow sneakers. Jacob may also be carrying a red backpack, said police.

    "Jacob has no history of running away. He often spends time at the library downtown, which was one of the first locations officers checked," said spokesman for the New Haven Police Department, Officer David Hartman.

    If you have seen Jacob or have any information on his whereabouts, you are urged to contact the New Haven Police Department at 203-946-6316.


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    The outrage continues in Rocky Hill, over plans to build a nursing home for prisoners and mentally ill people.

    The private developer, iCare Management, plans to open the facility where the Rocky Hill Nursing Home used to be on West St., but some residents want to keep that from happening.

    “It’s dangerous to all families that live around here, and it’s just an unsafe place,” said Tim Herrick.
    “This is very densely populated. There’s families surrounding the entire facility,” said Nicole Crawford.

    Crawford was among the dozens—including State Rep. Tony Guerrera (D-CT) and Mayor Anthony LaRosa (D-CT) who packed a room in Town Hall Wednesday night, to lead the effort against the nursing home.

    “This is not the place for it,” said Crawford.

    Many petitioned against it. Many LaRosa said Rocky Hill is also suing iCare. The facility is labeled a “nursing home” for terminally ill prisoners and mentally ill people, but Mayor LaRosa argued it could still pose a danger to the community.

    “This is not your typical nursing home. They’re going to be locked down. If they’re going to be locked down…that’s a prison,” said Mayor LaRosa.

    However, other residents in Rocky Hill disagreed with the mayor.

    “These people are sick, and they need help and I don’t think there’s a problem,” said Janet Brown.
    iCare is planning to open the facility next month, but organizers and leaders against the project vowed to do it takes to keep the nursing home from opening.

    “[I’m going] all the way. I’m not going to stop,” said State Rep. Tony Guerrera.

    “I’m willing to do whatever I can. I have several friends in different areas of town that I can hand out petitions to,” said Barbara Robinson.

    The facility would house less than 100 people.
    A rally against the facility’s opening is planned for next month.
     


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    There's growing concern over this year's flu season.  It arrived early and with a vengeance.  41 states declared a public health emergencies after 18 people died from the illness.  In Connecticut, more than 1,000 flu cases had been reported to the state as of last week. 

    Emergency rooms have been overwhelmed so far this week.  Some doctors said wait times were up to ten hours long.  At Hartford Hospital, a spokeswoman told NBC Connecticut 800 beds were full on Wednesday night, which was an all time high.  Some hospitals were at capacity, mostly with a spike in flu patients since Sunday. "It's something we have not seen at this level of severity and this early in the season," said Eric Berthel with the Eastern Connecticut Health Network.

    The situation was so severe, some hospitals made strict rules for visitors.  Manchester Memorial was one of them.  Restrictions there just started this week.  You can't visit if you're under 18 years old or if you're feeling sick, and wearing a mask is mandatory if you did not get a flu shot. "It's really important to protect everyone," Berthel added.

    Flu shots were tough to come by too. Some doctors offices were out of vaccines.  Hartford HealthCare Medical Group in Enfield only had a few left. "We are trying to work with our colleagues in other offices to see if they have extra supply, and we are having patients come back from their flu shots," said Dr. Vasanth Kainkaryam.  He told NBC Connecticut more people wanted them now that full season was in full swing. "I personally have patients who are saying that and coming in," Kainkaryam added. 

    Appointments were tough to come by as well.  "We are seeing a lot of patients walking out and calling for same day appointment with flu-like symptoms," Kainkaryam said.  Flu season hadn't even reached its peak. "We started to see flu in early December in the past twelve years, and  this is the earliest we've started to see the flu," he explained.

    The state said it would release the most current numbers of flu cases on Thursday.


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    Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for closing loopholes on a state ban on assault weapons and ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 bullets as part of a wide-ranging gun control package he proposed in his State of the State speech Wednesday.

    "Guns have both a noble and a tragic tradition in America and in New York state," Cuomo stated in remarks provided before his speech. "They are a sign of our nation's fiercely defended independence and self-reliance ... (but) in the wrong hands, guns are also weapons of untold destruction and heartbreak.

    The state already has among the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation, but a deal is expected soon that could make New York one of the first states to pass gun control laws following the Dec. 14 shooting, in which 20 first-graders and six educators were gunned down with a powerful weapon at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The shooter also killed his mother and himself.

    New York's effort was hastened further by the Christmas Eve killings of two firefighters in western New York by a man who set his neighborhood on fire, lay in wait with a high-powered rifle for responders, shot them and killed himself. Webster residents related to the firefighters were honored guests at the State of State address.

    "Some weapons are so dangerous and some ammunition devices so lethal that we simply cannot afford to continue selling them in our state," Cuomo said.

    Cuomo would also require follow-ups for owners of handgun licenses to make sure they are still qualified to possess a gun based on criminal and other records. He would increase sentences for gun crimes including for using guns on school property and for gang activities.

    Legislators were working Wednesday behind closed doors to reach agreement on the governor's demand for tighter controls on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

    Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Sen. Martin Golden agreed the closed-door talks have brought all sides to within 95 percent of a deal, which could be announced and acted on this week.

    "New York leads the nation, it's time New York lead the nation in this," Silver said. His priorities are bans on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines of ammunition.

    Golden, a leader in the Senate on crime-fighting measures, said in an interview that the final deal is expected to have some stiffer sentences for gun crimes, although not as severe as he hoped. Also, he said, the deal will crack down on the trafficking of illegal guns. The Brooklyn Republican, a former New York City police officer, said illegal guns are the weapons of choice in New York City crime.

    The priority for Cuomo and Silver is to close what they say are loopholes that let some weapon designs escape a ban on assault weapons. They also want to outlaw the high-capacity magazines.

    "I think we will come up with a reasonable definition and a reasonable closing of loopholes," Silver said.

    Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos is insisting on changes to a state law that authorizes longer court-ordered mental health treatment for individuals who won't seek help but are deemed a safety threat.

    Legislators are prepared to be called into session by Cuomo as early as Thursday if a deal is struck, though a Cuomo spokesman said he knows of no plan to call legislators into session that day. The Legislature isn't scheduled for regular session until Monday.

    In other priorities, Cuomo proposes raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.75 an hour, an idea he also pitched a year ago; allowing three casinos for upstate New York and none in New York City; and making possession of up to 15 ounces of marijuana seen in "open view" punishable as a violation.

    In addition, the governor would eliminate the Long Island Power Authority as part of measures to better protect New York City and Long Island and would "harden" the energy network that failed for millions of New Yorkers for as many as 21 days with the Oct. 29 storm. The governor said the Long Island Power Authority failed during the storm.

     



    Photo Credit: AP

    Fracking opponents and supporters around the country are awaiting Gov. Cuomo's choice on fracking, a decision that could affect his potential White House hopes in 2016.Fracking opponents and supporters around the country are awaiting Gov. Cuomo's choice on fracking, a decision that could affect his potential White House hopes in 2016.

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    Police have found a 2-year-old boy, but are still looking for his father hours after issuing a Silver Alert.

    Police issued a Silver Alert on Tuesday for Paul Martone and his son Paulie, who had been missing since Jan. 3, according to police.

    On Wednesday morning, police obtained information on the whereabouts of the little boy. Detectives picked him up in Ansonia and brought him to the New Haven Police Department around 10:30 a.m., police said.

    Paulie appears to be healthy, unharmed and in good spirits and ate a burger and fries at a detective's desk, police said. 

    The state Department of Children and Families will evaluate his living situation.

    The Silver Alert remains in effect for Paul Martone, 37. He is white, 5-feet-9, weighs about 210 pounds and has receding brown hair and brown eyes, according to police.

    Paul Martone, who has psychiatric issues, has an active arrest warrant for probation violation. Concerns regarding Paul Martone's mental condition supported continuing the silver alert.

    He is a registered sex offender, according to police. 

    Anyone with information is urged to call the New Haven Police Department at 203-946-6316 or Detectives at 203-946-6304.



    Photo Credit: New Haven Police

    2-year-old Paulie Martone, and his father, Paul Martone have been missing since Jan. 3.  Police issued a Silver Alert for the pair Tuesday.2-year-old Paulie Martone, and his father, Paul Martone have been missing since Jan. 3. Police issued a Silver Alert for the pair Tuesday.

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