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    A Jersey Shore community hit hard by Superstorm Sandy is using a new method to protect their beach from future violent storms.

    Ocean Gate is the first New Jersey town to use beach prisms. The heavy pieces of concrete, which are shaped similarly to highway barriers, act as giant brakes for waves.

    “There’s a built-in parabolic curve right here and when the wave hits that parabolic curve it scatters away as spray,” said Jay McKenna, the Beach Prisms regional sales manager.

    Thirty-five of the beach prisms, which are precast with triangular openings, will be placed inside the Toms River in Ocean Gate. Once nearly submerged in the water, about 50 feet from the sand, the prisms are designed to prevent beach erosion when waves kick up during coastal storms.

    “In the vast majority of instances it will not only completely restore your beach, but also increase the amount of sand on your beach,” McKenna said.

    While plans for the prisms have been in development for three years, Ocean Gate Mayor Paul Kennedy said the devices are especially important now since the community just replaced its boardwalk after Sandy destroyed the old one last year.

    “We’ve been losing beach year after year with the Nor’easters we get,” he said. “So we came up with an idea that hopefully will work.”

    The Virginia-based company that makes the prisms installed them along the Chesapeake Bay and in other areas. Officials say they cost less and are more durable than other shore protection methods that use stones and other materials.

    “The prisms seemed to be the best way because it was inexpensive,” Kennedy said.

    Believing that other Jersey Shore towns would be interested in using the prisms, Kennedy convinced the company’s sales rep to attend last month’s State League of Municipalities Conference in Atlantic City.

    “We were inundated with mayors questioning us,” McKenna said. “We hope to do much more business in New Jersey.”



    Photo Credit: NBC10.com

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    A University of New Haven student accused of bringing loaded guns to campus this week told police he had the guns to protect himself from mass shootings that had been happening, New Haven Police Officer Kealyn Nivakoff, of the New Haven Firearms Unit, said.

    William Dong, 22, was arrested on Tuesday after prompting a campus lockdown and a building-by-building search at the West Haven, Conn. school, police said.

    As several departments conducted the West Haven search, police in Fairfield searched Dong's family home.

    When they entered his padlocked bedroom, police found newspaper clippings of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater mass shooting and 2,700 rounds of ammunition, police said.

    When police detained Dong, he had one handgun was found on his person and another in a laptop case, according to police.

    Police said they also found a Bushmaster assault rifle in Dong's car, which was parked in a lot on Campbell Avenue. This gun, the make as one used in the Sandy Hook school shooting, is illegal in the state of Connecticut, officials said.

    Dong told police that he had it because he was going to the shooting range the next day, said Nivakoff, who was involved in the West Haven investigation.

    Dong has been charged with illegal possession of an assault weapon, breach of peace and other counts and is being held on a $500,000 bond.

    Dong's family appeared in court Wednesday but had nothing to say to the media.

    No shots were fired during the incident at the University of New Haven and no one was hurt, police said.

    Dong, a commuter student, has been suspended for violating the code of conduct.

    The incident was the third college campus lockdown in Connecticut since November. 

    Yale University, located just miles away, issued a lockdown just before Thanksgiving for about seven hours after someone called police and said his roommate was on his way to the Ivy League school to shoot people. No threat was found.

    Last month, Central Connecticut State University in New Britain was locked down after a man in a Halloween costume sparked a massive police presence.

     

     



    Photo Credit: Jess Leeb/West Haven Police Dept.

    William Dong was arrested on the Univ. of New Haven campus Tuesday with two loaded handguns. An assault rifle was also recovered from his car.William Dong was arrested on the Univ. of New Haven campus Tuesday with two loaded handguns. An assault rifle was also recovered from his car.

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    Dozens of Russian diplomats and their spouses living and working in New York have been charged with defrauding the Medicaid system of about $1.5 million in benefits over a nine-year period, federal prosecutors say.
     
    Twenty-five current and former Russian diplomats, along with their spouses, allegedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on luxury vacations as well as jewelry and clothing at Bloomingdale's, Tiffany's and other retailers. They also spent thousands of dollars online to buy merchandise including Apple products and concert tickets, prosecutors say.
     
    A federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan says the alleged scheme by 49 diplomats and their spouses included submitting false applications for Medicaid benefits associated with medical costs for pregnancy, birth and young children, benefits they were not entitled to receive.
     
    The 18-month investigation by the FBI revealed a pattern of fraudulent Medicaid application submissions by the defendants, including under-reporting household income and false statements about the citizenship status of children in order to continue dependents' health care coverage, prosecutors say.
     
    Court papers say 92 percent of the births to Russian diplomats and their spouses between 2004 and 2013 in New York City were paid for by Medicaid benefits.
     
    Eleven employees of the Russian diplomatic mission on East 67th Street are among those criminally charged and have diplomatic immunity.  The FBI said no arrests were made Thursday.

    Each defendant is a current or former Russian diplomat or spouse of a Russian diplomat employed either at the Russian Mission to the United Nations, the Russian Federation Consulate General in New York or the Trade Representation of the Russian Federation on the USA, New York Office, prosecutors say.

    The State Department said it was still reviewing the charges and could not say whether the Russians have been asked to lift diplomatic immunity.

    Those named in the criminal complaint unsealed Thursday include Andrey Demin, identified as a counselor at the Russian mission, and Andrey Savushkin, who works as a diplomat at the Russian Embassy in Washington, officials said. The complaint alleges Timur Salomatin, a former Russian diplomat at the United Nations, claimed he was earning $3,000 a month, rather than his actual monthly income of $5,160, in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits.  
     
    The diplomats are charged with conspiracy to steal government funds and making false statements.  
     
    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called the conduct of the diplomats “shameful” and a matter of “systemic  corruption” at the Russian mission.
     
    “Diplomacy should be about extending hands, not picking the pockets of the host country,” Bharara said.
     
    Sergey Kuryatnikov, a spokesman at the Russian Mission to the United Nations, said the ambassador had no comment on the charges.

    “These defendants allegedly perpetrated a fraud to illegally obtain Medicaid benefits to which they were not entitled,” said FBI New York Director George Venizelos.


    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    Louis Soteriou pleaded guilty in April in federal court in Rutland, Vermont to charges of money laundering and conspiracy. He's scheduled to be sentenced on Monday.Louis Soteriou pleaded guilty in April in federal court in Rutland, Vermont to charges of money laundering and conspiracy. He's scheduled to be sentenced on Monday.

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    A school bus and a car have collided at Lambert and Shepherd roads in Orange.

    The crash happened Thursday afternoon. It's not clear if anyone was injured in the crash.

    No additional information has been confirmed.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Police are responding to a crash involving an SUV and a school bus in Orange.Police are responding to a crash involving an SUV and a school bus in Orange.

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    A water main break in Norwich will leave some residents without water for hours this afternoon, according to Norwich Public Utilities.

    Crews are a break in the area of Ford Avenue and Pinecroft Road, the company posted on its Facebook page Thursday afternoon.

    Norwich Public Utilities said customers in that area could be without water for about four hours.


    View Larger Map



    Photo Credit: AP

    There are mandatory water conservation measures for all East Lyme water customers.There are mandatory water conservation measures for all East Lyme water customers.

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    A 25-year-old Plainfield woman is facing charges after police say she broke into and stole items from cars in August, then sold the stolen goods to a secondhand dealer.

    Bridgette M. Tregaskis, 25, of Kinney Hill Road in Plainfield, was arrested at her home Dec. 5 in connection with the thefts. Police said that during the investigation, Tregaskis was found in possession of some of stolen items including GPS units and cameras.

    The break-ins happened in August in the area of Moosup Pond, police said.

    Tregaskis was released on a $5,000 non-surety bond and is due in court Dec. 16.

    Judicial records show Tregaskis has been arrested several times before beginning in 2009. Prior charges include criminal mischief, criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, larceny and breach of peace. She was convicted of all these offenses.

    Police said they have identified additional suspects and expect to make more arrests.



    Photo Credit: Plainfield Police Department

    Bridgette M. Tregaskis is charged in connection with a string of August car burglaries in Plainfield.Bridgette M. Tregaskis is charged in connection with a string of August car burglaries in Plainfield.

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    The dense fog advisory issued statewide yesterday is no longer in effect, but drivers will still find foggy areas as they commute this morning.

    This morning, there have been some traffic issues, including a tractor-trailer crash on Route 9 North in Haddam. The truck went off the road and over the guardrail between exits 8 and 9. and one lane is closed.

    No injuries are reported, but the crash did cause a fuel spill.

    Yesterday, areas along Interstate 84 and Interstate 91 north of Hartford seem to have the lowest visibilities.

    Bradley Airport reported a visibility of 1/8th of a mile Thursday afternoon. An airport spokesman said 12 flights have been canceled and another seven were delayed.  Passengers are urged to call their airlines for a status on flights.

    Later today, the temperature will drop and a wintry mix is possible

    Most of the state could get a coating to an inch of snow, while the northwestern part of the state could get an 1 to 2 of snow.

     



    Photo Credit: Tayler Aubin

    Dense fog led to poor visibility in areas around the state. Viewer Tayler Aubin sent in this photo from Sterling.Dense fog led to poor visibility in areas around the state. Viewer Tayler Aubin sent in this photo from Sterling.

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    A report conducted by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association to examine the Newtown police response on Dec. 14, 2012, finds that “officers responded to the scene rapidly, positioned themselves appropriately, and followed their department policy.”

    According to the report, released Dec. 5, the Newtown Police Department responded in keeping with its most recent training, adopted in 2003.

    That training promotes quick engagement of the shooter and requires the first responding officers to “begin assessing the status and location of the threat” and “prepare for more than one threat or aggressor.”

    And that’s what they did, the report says.

    According to the report, Newtown officers first arrived on scene three minutes after the initial call was placed, at 9:38:53 a.m., and positioned themselves behind the school on Crestwood Drive.

    Shooter Adam Lanza killed himself one minute and 10 seconds after police arrived at the school, according to the report. “Unfortunately this was not enough time to assess the situation, confront the exterior threats, and tactically enter the locked building and engage the shooter,” the report reads.

    Newtown police protocol requires officers to consider the possibility of more than one shooter, according to the report. This was the initial thought when police began arriving on scene – just 19 seconds after the first officers pulled up, dispatch learned of two suspicious people outside the school.

    Apprehending those people became the officers’ primary focus, and two minutes later, at 9:41:24 a.m., they had taken someone into custody. At 9:44:31 a.m., police reported that the person in custody may not have been related to the shootings, according to the report.

    Police were cleared to enter the building less than one second later, at 9:44:05, but by then it was too late. Lanza shot and killed himself minutes earlier. The report of a “suspect down” came through at 9:51:31 a.m. after police had begun to search the building.

    After that report, state and local police turned their attentions to the search for victims and survivors.

    A dashboard camera captured one Newtown officer sprinting from the building with a wounded child in tow at 9:56:16 a.m. because the EMS had not yet been cleared for entry, the report reads. Children and faculty members were led from the building starting at 9:58:39 a.m.

    Thus, the report concludes that Newtown officers followed their training and responded properly.

    “Our evaluation showed that the officers of the Newtown Police Department navigated the inevitable chaos created in the first few minutes of such a call, managed to piece together what was occurring, but were unable to intervene before the shooter took his own life. While we cannot prove the shooter killed himself due to the police arrival, the history of like incidents suggests this may be the case,” the report concludes.

    Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe requested the report in August of this year. It was compiled by a CPCA sub-committee comprising four chiefs from departments around the state. Those chiefs include committee chair and Manchester Police Chief Marc Montminy, Groton Town Police Chief Michael Crowley, Torrington Police Chief Michael Maniago and South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed.

    It drew upon 911 recordings, police radio transmissions, in-car surveillance footage, officer statements, the Newtown police duty roster from that day, Newtown police policy regarding active shooter situations and a timeline of events drafted following the incident

    The timeline listed in the CPCA report is consistent with the information provided by the State’s Attorney’s report, released last week. Time codes differ only by fractions of a second.



    Photo Credit: Associated Press

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    The life of South African anti-apartheid crusader and democracy icon Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was one marked by scores of extraordinary moments.

    From his earliest involvement in the black liberation movement via the African National Congress, through his decades in prison and to his successes toppling apartheid in South Africa and leading it as president, here are six such moments:

    August 1952: South Africa's first black law practice.

    Mandela and his friend Oliver Tambo — both encouraged by Walter Sisulu, their colleague in the African National Congress, to study and practice law — together opened their own law firm, Mandela & Tambo, in Johannesburg.

    It was the first black law firm in South Africa, and it handled a number of cases resulting from post-1948 apartheid laws, including many involving the country's pass laws — laws which required blacks to carry pass books with them in designated white areas and restricted their travel.

    "Those were the days of pettiness of the regime. Africans were carrying passes, and they were arrested at every little excuse, by the police. The office was always full of people who came there to ask for help," Tambo's wife Adelaide Tambo told PBS' "Frontline."

    The same year the pair founded the law firm Mandela also helped launch a nationwide campaign of resistance against the pass laws, in an effort to encourage a spirit of nonviolent protest against them.

    March 21, 1960: Sharpeville massacre.

    Protests against the country's pass laws weren't uncommon in 1960. But in the black South African town of Sharpeville on March 21 police fired into a peaceful crowd of protesters, killing 69 people and wounding more than 180.

    The massacre marked a turning point not just in South Africa's political climate but in Mandela's own resistance tactics. A state of emergency was imposed in South Africa, during which Mandela and thousands of others would be detained. The African National Congress was banned.

    Also in the wake of the massacre, Mandela began his shift from peaceful resistance toward an armed struggle against apartheid, inspired by guerrilla fighters in Cuba and Algeria. He went underground, helped form the militant wing of the African National Congress — known as "Umkhonto we Sizwe," or "Spear of the Nation" — and started planning a national strike.

    April 20, 1964: Speech from the dock.

    Mandela delivered his famous speech in defense of liberty in the form of a statement to the court during the Rivonia Trial — one of South Africa's most significant political trials — where he and 10 other leading apartheid opponents were tried for sabotage, treason and violent conspiracy. The speech concluded: 

    During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
    • Read the full text of the speech here.

    Less than two months later, Mandela and his co-defendants were convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life in prison. He was imprisoned on Robben Island and would spend nearly two decades there, before being transferred to other prisons.

    Feb. 11, 1990: Release from prison after 27 years.

    Over his decades in prison, Mandela had routinely turned down conditional offers of release, refusing to compromise his political goals. "Only free men can negotiate. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts," he had told his captors.

    During those years Mandela had also become the world's most famous political prisoner, thanks in part to international efforts by the African National Congress — then led by his lifelong friend and former law partner Tambo. By early 1990, Mandela's cause had also begun to carry with it the weight of international pressure, as world leaders tightened their existing sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa.

    Under that pressure, South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk lifted the country's ban on the African National Congress on Feb. 2, 1990. Just nine days later, he freed Mandela from Victor Verster Prison.

    Oct. 15, 1993: Nobel Peace Prize.

    Mandela and then-President de Klerk were jointly awarded the shared prize in 1993 for their work on together negotiating an end to apartheid and a future of democratic rule in South Africa. In his acceptance speech and Nobel lecture, Mandela said of his country's future:

    The value of our shared reward will and must be measured by the joyful peace which will triumph, because the common humanity that bonds both black and white into one human race, will have said to each one of us that we shall all live like the children of paradise.

    Thus shall we live, because we will have created a society which recognizes that all people are born equal, with each entitled in equal measure to life, liberty, prosperity, human rights and good governance.

    • Read the full text of the speech here.

    May 10, 1994: Presidential inauguration in South Africa's first multi-racial government.

    Just after he himself cast a vote for the first time in his life, Mandela was overwhelmingly elected president of South Africa in April 1994 — making him not only the nation's first ever black president but also its first ever democratically elected one. He was inaugurated May 10.

    During his term in office, Mandela established a commission to investigate human rights violations under apartheid and launched housing, education and economic programs to improve the lagging living standards of black South Africans after decades of apartheid. A new democratic constitution was also instituted during his presidency.

    Mandela led his country as president for a single term before stepping down, as he had initially promised. After retiring from politics, he continued to advocate worldwide for peace, social justice, conflict resolution and HIV awareness and treatment.



    Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Above, Nelson Mandela arrives in Washington, D.C., in 1990, just months after his release from 27 years in prison. Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95.Above, Nelson Mandela arrives in Washington, D.C., in 1990, just months after his release from 27 years in prison. Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95.

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  • 12/06/13--05:22: World Leaders Mourn Mandela

  • World leaders and social media followers alike are mourning South African former president and anti-apartheid crusader Nelson Mandela, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 95.

    Scroll down to see reactions from leaders and from around the web.

    For those who want to take to social media to share their reaction, NBC News is using the #RememberingMandela hashtag across the network on Twitter.

    President Barack Obama: "He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages. Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better."

    Former President George W. Bush: "Laura and I join the people of South Africa and the world in celebrating the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time. He bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is better off because of his example. This good man will be missed, but his contributions will live on forever. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathy to President Mandela's family and to the citizens of the nation he loved."

    Former President Bill Clinton: "History will remember Nelson Mandela as a champion for human dignity and freedom, for peace and reconciliation. We will remember him as a man of uncommon grace and compassion, for whom abandoning bitterness and embracing adversaries was not just a political strategy but a way of life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Graça and his family and to the people of South Africa. All of us are living in a better world because of the life that Madiba lived. He proved that there is freedom in forgiving, that a big heart is better than a closed mind, and that life's real victories must be shared."

    Former President George H.W. Bush: "Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know. As President, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment -- setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all. He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country. Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen."

    Former President Jimmy Carter: "The people of South Africa and human rights advocates around the world have lost a great leader. His passion for freedom and justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide, and because of him, South Africa is today one of the world's leading democracies. In recent years, I was gratified to be able to work with him through The Elders to encourage resolution of conflicts and advance social justice and human rights in many nations. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family at this difficult time."

    Former Vice President Al Gore: Today marks the passing of one of the greatest leaders and visionaries in the history of our world, Nelson Mandela. President Mandela has already been immortalized as an enduring symbol of compassion and courage. I had the honor of working with Madiba often during my time as co-chairman of the U.S.-South Africa Binational Commission. Each and every time I was with him, I was awed by his commanding yet graceful presence. Along with hundreds of millions, I still vividly remember the day Madiba was released from Pollsmoor Prison just outside of Cape Town. My son and I were home in Nashville; the only ones awake early on a Sunday morning. We sat on the couch and watched as Madiba was set free. I remember thinking that whatever important milestones my children and grandchildren witness in the coming century, few will rival this one. Madiba once wrote, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." We should take a moment today to bow our heads and pay our respects to an extraordinarily courageous man who truly changed the world for the better and, in the process, inspired us all.

    House Speaker John Boehner: "Nelson Mandela was an unrelenting voice for democracy and his 'long walk to freedom' showed an enduring faith in God and respect for human dignity. His perseverance in fighting the apartheid system will continue to inspire future generations. Mandela led his countrymen through times of epic change with a quiet moral authority that directed his own path from prisoner to president."

    Television personality and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey: One of the great honors of my life was to be invited to Nelson Mandela's home, spend private time and get to know him.  He was everything you've ever heard and more - humble and unscathed by bitterness. And he always loved to tell a good joke. Being in his presence was like sitting with grace and majesty at the same time. He will always be my hero.  His life was a gift to us all.

    Congressman and former Civil Rights leader John Lewis: "There was this unbelievable relationship between what was happening in s Africa and what was happening in America. Mr. Mandela learned to stand in prison for 27 years and he came out committed to peace. Through his leadership he liberated the spirit of oppressed and spirit of the oppressor. He just made me  feel more human.

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi: "With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a leader who advanced the cause of equality and human rights, who overcame a history of oppression in South Africa to expand the reach of freedom worldwide. He led the campaign to defeat apartheid through non-violence, peace, and dialogue. He never allowed resentment to drive him away from the path of reconciliation. He emerged from prison to set free an entire nation; he shed the bonds of slave labor to reshape the fate of his people."

    Senior Senator John McCain (R-AZ): In the moment of his triumph, when South Africa became a true democracy, and he became its President, he did not seek or encourage vengeance. He didn't demand retribution for the years stolen from him and others. He simply went about his work building a better country from the ashes of its tortured past, a country that would honor the sacrifices made for freedom by respecting the dignity of all its citizens. "

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "My thoughts are with Nelson Mandela's family and with the people of South Africa during this difficult time. As both the emancipator of a people and the founder of a modern democracy, Mandela was one of the truly unique and transcendent figures of our time. Mandela embodied the very spirit of democracy, freedom, and equality. He leaves behind an incredible legacy that will not be forgotten, and which will continue to inspire current and future leaders for generations to come."

    The Prince of Wales: "Mr Mandela was the embodiment of courage and reconciliation. He was also a man of great humour and had a real zest for life. With his passing, there will be an immense void not only in his family's lives, but also in those of all South Africans and the many others whose lives have been changed through his fight for peace, justice and freedom."

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan: "As Blessed Pope John Paul II noted during his visit to South Africa in 1995, Nelson Mandela was for many years, 'a silent and suffering "witness" of your people's yearning for true liberation,' who, as President of South Africa, had to then 'shoulder the burden of inspiring and challenging everyone to succeed in the task of national reconciliation and reconstruction.' In succeeding in these crucial and difficult tasks, Nelson Mandela truly made the world a better place. May he rest in peace."

    Musician and activist Bono: "It was as if he was born to teach the age a lesson in humility, in humour and above all else in patience.  In the end, Nelson Mandela showed us how to love rather than hate, not because he had never surrendered to rage or violence, but because he learnt that love would do a better job.  Mandela played with the highest stakes.  He put his family, his country, his time, his life on the line, and he won most of these contests.  Stubborn til the end for all the right reasons, it felt like he very nearly outstared his maker.  Today, finally, he blinked.  And some of us cry, knowing our eyes were opened to so much because of him."

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "Today, we lost one of the most transformative and influential figures in modern history. Nelson Mandela was a global icon who broke the back of apartheid in South Africa and inspired generations of people around the world with his spirit of resolve and reconciliation. The tickertape parade Mayor Dinkins organized for him in 1990 was a great moment for our city, and his visit here in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 helped give our city strength and hope — for which we will be forever grateful."

     

    Education Activist Malala Yousafza: "Nelson Mandela is physically separated from us but his soul and spirit will never die. He belongs to the whole world because he is an icon of equality, freedom and love, the values we need all the time everywhere. His long, long struggle is a great demonstration of humanity. I have learned so much from Nelson Mandela and he has been my leader. He is a perpetual inspiration for me and millions of others around the world.''

     

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: "Madiba's patience through imprisonment and insistence on unity over vengeance in the delicate period in which he served stand as a permanent reminder to the world of the value of perseverance and the positive influence one good man or woman can have over the course of human affairs. The world mourns this great leader. May his passing lead to a deeper commitment to reconciliation around the world."

    Philanthropists and Business Magnates Bill and Melinda Gates: It was an honor to meet President Nelson Mandela a number of times. We left each visit inspired and more optimistic about the opportunity to improve the lives of the poor throughout the world. From prisoner to president, Nelson Mandela was tireless in his pursuit of equality and justice for all people. President Mandela was a remarkable example to us, to our foundation, and to the whole world thanks to a life imbued with courage, dedication and compassion. Our thoughts and prayers are with Graca Machel and President Mandela's family. We join with the people of South Africa in grieving the loss of this extraordinary and inspirational leader.

     

     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Former South African President, Nelson MandelaFormer South African President, Nelson Mandela

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    Mandela, who led South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, has died.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s iconic former president whose lifelong struggle against apartheid helped break the country’s system of racial discrimination, died Dec. 5, 2013, at the age of 95.Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s iconic former president whose lifelong struggle against apartheid helped break the country’s system of racial discrimination, died Dec. 5, 2013, at the age of 95.

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    A 23-year-old flight attendant from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old Connecticut boy 156 times.

    Rafael Padilla-Cruz had been charged with 156 counts of first-degree sexual assault. Over the course of the trial, the charges were pared down to two felony counts and Padilla-Cruz was acquitted of both, court officials said.

    He was arrested in Bridgeport on Oct. 23. Following his arrest, the Connecticut Post reported that Padilla-Cruz had been living with the victim’s family and was accused of sexually assaulting the boy almost every day from 2007 to 2008.

    Padilla-Cruz has denied the allegations throughout his trial and pleaded not guilty.

    One of Padilla-Cruz’s lawyers called the boy a “troubled youngster” and said, “our client was vilified for his sexual orientation,” the Connecticut Post reports.

    The boy was 10 years old at the time and is now 16.


    Rafael Padilla-Cruz was acquitted after being charged with sexually assaulting a Connecticut boy more than 150 times.Rafael Padilla-Cruz was acquitted after being charged with sexually assaulting a Connecticut boy more than 150 times.

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    A New London police detective may have stopped a robbery when they noticed and confronted a suspicious man with a gun Thursday afternoon.

    According to police, a detective was driving in the area of Bank Street and Ocean Avenue around noon Thursday when he noticed 28-year-old Ryan C. O’Donnell approach the Sam’s Food Store at 1 Ocean Avenue in New London.

    Police said O’Donnell was dressed all in black with a scarf over his face and was looking around him suspiciously. O’Donnell approached the store, walked past its entrance and peered through a window.

    At this point, the detective believed O’Donnell was about to rob the place. He drove up, got out of the car and identified himself as a police officer. Police said O’Donnell tried to walk away and fumbled with something at his waist. He admitted to carrying a gun, which turned out to be a pellet gun, police said.

    He was arrested and charged with carrying a dangerous weapon.



    Photo Credit: New London Police Department

    Police said Ryan C. O’Donnell was behaving suspiciously and thought he might try to rob a New London convenience store on Dec. 5.Police said Ryan C. O’Donnell was behaving suspiciously and thought he might try to rob a New London convenience store on Dec. 5.

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    Demolition has begun on what was once one of the nation’s largest munitions factories, and in its place could be a second Bridgeport train station.

    Thursday, Dec. 5 marked the start of the demolition of the decrepit Remington Arms, or RemGrit, site on Barnum Avenue in Bridgeport. The 57,600-square-foot manufacturing building and 8,800-square-foot boiler building at the former gun factory will be torn down to make way for new developments, which could include a new train station.

    The Bridgeport mayor’s office wrote in a release Thursday that, “After a year-long study process, which involved community stakeholders and regional experts, the Barnum Station Technical and Community Advisory Committees have determined that it is feasible to construct and operate a new Barnum Station on the site of the former Remington factory in the City’s East Side.”

    The second station would bring additional jobs and housing facilities to that section of the city and could help to revitalize nearby neighborhoods, according to the release.

    The project is funded by a total of $2.5 million in bonds obtained in 2011 and 2013.


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    The deadline to register weapons and ammunition banned under new Connecticut gun legislation is fast approaching.

    Assault weapon certificates must be obtained and high-capacity magazines declared by the end of the month. Forms should be received or postmarked by Dec. 31, according to state police.

    Owners of assault weapons must show proof of purchase and an affidavit confirming that the weapons were bought before the new gun control laws took effect.

    The applications and list of banned weapons are available online at www.ct.gov/despp.

    For more information, contact the State Police Special Licensing and Firearms Unit at 860-685-8290.



    Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

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    For the past 20 years, crime in New Haven has been a consistent problem, but Mayor John DeStefano says the kind of crime they're facing has changed.

    “Twenty years ago, a lot of it came from hierarchical, organized drug gangs dealing with crack," said DeStefano. "Now, it’s almost more casual it seems. It tends to be over boy-girl stuff, respect stuff. We’ve seen issues out of these clubs now."

    DeStefano said people tend to resort to violence more quickly than they would have 20 years ago, and now their weapon of choice is usually a handgun.

    “Unfortunately, it affects largely the African American community; it’s largely male," DeStefano said. "You see that it typically involves the re-entry population. People come back."

    The way New Haven has dealt with crime has also changed. In the '90s, New Haven relied heavily on its partnerships with the federal government to rid the city of gangs, but after 9/11, those federal resources diminished.

    Then in 2007, the state had to step in after two New Haven police officers were arrested for stealing what they thought was drug money.

    “When Chief Ortiz left, we had a corruption problem in the department, in the narcotics unit, which required us to dismantle the narcotics unit, basically rely on the state, which came at a cost," said DeStefano. "I think as a result of that, there was increased violence in the city.”

    DeStefano said the city needed to reset the police department and looked to an outside agency to find its next chief. A few were brought in, and temporarily ran the department, before DeStefano approached current Chief Dean Esserman in 2011. At the time there was question over his selection because Esserman had resigned from his post as chief in Providence, R.I., after controversy there.

    “In a lot of ways, Chief Esserman was going back to something that was done well here 20 years ago in policing, and I think he’s been a positive, actually stabilizing force, and has been usually positive for the city,” said DeStefano.

    Esserman had his work cut out for him with 34 homicides that year.

    “In 2011, when he recruited me at the end of that year, we were coming off of a very hard year in New Haven, which ironically had the identical number of murders as 20 years ago in 1991 when I was recruited here from New York City to be an assistant chief,” said Esserman.

    He immediately implemented community policing where officers walk the beat to build relationships in the community and earn the community’s trust.

    “We’ve only begun. We have a long way to go," said Esserman. "We’ll make our mistakes along the way, but we’ve enjoyed the remarkable support from our Mayor and our Board of Aldermen.”

    So far, community policing seems to be working. Violent crime statistics are down, but homicides are still a problem. Esserman said most of the violence is not random, but New Haven has had its share of tragedies during which innocent people died.

    “Statistics and numbers are one thing, but to me, they’re stories and names," Esserman said. "I know them."

    The challenge for police is to continue their progress. Longtime community activist Rev. Scott Marks said he’s seen a positive change in a short amount of time.

    “What we have to do is build the respect and the trust for officers to the community, and community to the officers so people feel safe when they step forward to come out with the truth,” said Marks.


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    Three juveniles have been arrested after a fight that broke out at the Danbury Fair Mall last week, frightening holiday shoppers.

    Police said two of the suspects were arrested Wendesday and the third was arrested Thursday. All three were charged with breach of peace. They have not been identified due to their ages.

    According to Danbury police, a person yelled out "gun" at the mall food court last Friday, at the foot court and people panicked. There was no evacuation and the mall was not locked down, authorities said.

    Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said a fight involving several kids broke out inside the mall and police and state police had the situation under control. Boughton said on Twitter that there has been no evidence of a gun.

    Police are actively investigating. There were no injuries.

    Check back for updates.



    Photo Credit: Nick Doscher

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    A national ban on plastic guns is due to expire on Monday and officials are worried about what could happen if Congress doesn’t renew the legislation.

    Plastic guns, which can be produced using a 3D printer, go unnoticed by metal detectors and can pose a real threat if they end up on the streets, according to Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett.

    “To have to face the prospect of an undetectable weapon is a big fear of law enforcement,” said Gaudett.

    Connecticut legislators are also concerned about what could happen if Congress fails to act, and although they’re hoping to tighten restrictions by pushing through an amendment, they acknowledge that some protection is better than none.

    “At the very least, we need to maintain the protections that we’ve had on the books,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, adding, “We understand it’s more important to get an extension of the existing legislation than to argue over new provisions.”

    The National Shooting Sports Foundation supports the “clean” reauthorization of the Undetectable Firearms Act but is pushing back against the possibility of amending the ban.

    Murphy said he remains hopeful that Congress will reauthorize the ban on Monday.


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    A New London man is facing charges after police say he attacked a convenience store employee and made racial slurs.

    Max Whitehead, 28, is accused of assaulting a worker at the Sam’s Food Store on Ocean Avenue. Police say the altercation happened around 6:30 p.m. Thursday when Whitehead, a customer, became upset and threw money at the clerk, then climbed over the counter and starting hitting him with his fists.

    Whitehead is also accused of making a racist comment toward the clerk while punching him, police said.

    He’s charged with intimidation based on bigotry and bias, third-degree assault and breach of peace and is being held on a $50,000 bond.



    Photo Credit: New London Police Department

    Max Whitehead is accused of assaulting a New London convenience store clerk and making racist comments toward him.Max Whitehead is accused of assaulting a New London convenience store clerk and making racist comments toward him.

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    Five days after unionized nurses and techs ended their strike at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, nearly 800 workers remain locked out and progress will be at a standstill until talks resume next week.

    The hospital denied workers’ request to return to work after the strike came to a close last Saturday night. Contract issues remain unsolved, as neither side has budged during meetings this week.

    Striking workers are concerned the hospital is transferring work to non-union affiliates, thereby threatening their job security, but hospital officials say the union making unreasonable demands.

    “Our position has been consistent and in keeping with contract negotiations over the past two decades for our local unions at the hospital; a transparent process requires that it be open to all the nurses and techs,” said union spokesman Matt O’Connor in a release on Thursday.

    Michael O’Farrell said a Dec. 6 meeting involving the federal mediator, hospital lawyer and lead union negotiation will “solidify plans for the next session.”

    Negotiations will resume Dec. 10, according to O’Connor.


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