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    A Minnesota state representative has apologized after coming under fire for a tweet that some are calling racist.

    Representative Pat Garofalo’s tweet on Sunday seemed to compare professional basketball players to criminals.

    “Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/possible exception of increase in streetcrime,” he tweeted.

    Garofalo apologized in a statement after his post received attention in the national media.

    “The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our communities and for our country,” Garofalo said in a statement on the Minnesota House of Representatives' webpage. “Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize.”

    Garofalo had earlier defended his comment by telling a local news station, KSTP, that he was referring to an “elitism that transcends race and a sense that athletes are above the law.”

    In an email to Kevin Draper of the NBA blog The Diss, Garofalo had said that the NBA is the only major professional sports league in which testing positive for marijuana isn’t considered a substance abuse violation.

    Draper pointed out in his post that the NBA considers marijuana a prohibited substance and has a penalty policy to deal with such violations. On a player's first offense, he is required to enter the league's marijuana program. On the second, he is fined $25,000 and on the third, he is suspended from five games.
     



    Photo Credit: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

    LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07:  In this photo illustration, the Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device as the company announced its initial public offering and debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in London, England. Twitter went public on the NYSE opening at USD 26 per share, valuing the company's worth at an estimated USD 18 billion.  (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: In this photo illustration, the Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device as the company announced its initial public offering and debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in London, England. Twitter went public on the NYSE opening at USD 26 per share, valuing the company's worth at an estimated USD 18 billion. (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

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    A Pennsylvania man is facing charges after reportedly breaking into a Bridgeport commercial garage and trying to retrieve his car, which had been towed there from the highway, according to police.

    Police said 36-year-old Jose Fausto Castillo, of Easton, Pa., broke into the Family Garage at 88 North Avenue in Bridgeport around 8 p.m. Sunday. His car, which was unregistered, had been towed off the highway and impounded per the request of state police.

    Officers arrived to find broken windows and Castillo bleeding from the wrist. A garage employee told police he had dropped off the towed car, locked up and set the alarm around 7:45, but returned after the garage owner alerted him of a problem.

    The employee arrived back at the garage to find the lights on and the front door open. Castillo was still there and demanded his car, police said.

    Castillo was charged with first-degree burglary, second-degree trespassing, third-degree criminal mischief and breach of peace

    His bond was set at $5,000.



    Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

    Jose Fausto Castillo, 36, of Pennsylvania is accused of breaking into a commercial garage in Bridgeport to retrieve his car, which had been towed off the highway.Jose Fausto Castillo, 36, of Pennsylvania is accused of breaking into a commercial garage in Bridgeport to retrieve his car, which had been towed off the highway.

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    A group of students that wants to promote their anti-abortion message in Branford High School says the administration is violating its First Amendment rights by treating it differently than other school clubs.

    The students have organized the Branford High School Students for Life group and want to hold events during school hours.  The group's members claim the school has prevented them from holding in-school events, something other clubs are allowed to do.

    "If we're going to have these kinds of discussions. I'd rather have them in school in a place where young adults are coming every single day," Sam Bailey-Loomis, the founder of the group, said."It would have lifelike fetal models available for people to look at. We'd have information available again and we'd there be to answer questions."

    She said the group tried on three occasions to provide this information to the student body this semester, but Principal Lee Panagoulias insisted "time and time again that this is controversial speech," Bailey-Loomis said.

    While controversial, Bailey-Loomis feels it's her First Amendment right to hold the informational meetings and said her club is being treated differently than others.

    "Our goal is to inform women and the young men and women at our school," she said.

    NBC Connecticut emailed the principal and had not received a response as of Monday night, but Branford's Board of Education chairman said the board is looking into the matter and that there is no reason a club should be treated differently.

    "It's First Amendment rights," James McNamara, a senior at Branford High School, said. "You can pass stuff out in school if you want whether it be during class, after class or during lunch. Why not?"

    But not everyone thinks the school is the proper forum.

    "I think 13-year-olds have different feelings and thoughts and maturity level than 18 year olds," said Julie Amann, whose child is a senior at Branford High School.

    The National Organization Students for Life of America has asked pro-life activists to email the superintendent on this issue.

    Bailey-Loomis said this is an issue worth fighting for.

    "This isn't about being pro-life. This isn't about being pro-choice," she said.

    NBC Connecticut also tried to reach Branford superintendent Hamlet Hernandez, but he declined an interview.

    The Board of Education chair said the administration will make a statement in the next few days.


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    The only people accused in the Philadelphia building collapse that left six people dead in a neighboring thrift store were formally arraigned this morning.

    Backhoe operator Sean Benschop, a.k.a. Kary Roberts, and contractor Griffin Campbell were arraigned Tuesday in Common Pleas court. The hearing was mostly procedural as attorneys exchanged paperwork.

    Benschop and Campbell are implicated in the June collapse that left six dead and 13 more hurt inside a Salvation Army store at 22nd and Market Streets in Center City.

    Benschop, 43, and Campbell, 49, each face dozens of counts including third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, risking catastrophe, aggravated assault and conspiracy. Both have remained behind bars unable to post bail.

    Authorities say Benschop was operating the excavator at the site of a building demolition at 2136 Market Street on the morning of June 5, 2013 when the building's western wall collapsed. The four-story brick wall was free-standing and had not been braced using demolition equipment.

    The debris from the wall crushed the one-story thrift shop next door, burying shoppers and store clerks alive.

    The most severely injured person, Mariya Plekan, had both legs amputated at the hips after being pinned beneath the brick, steel and glass debris for more than 12 hours. She spent five months in the hospital.

    Benschop was arrested shortly after the collapse and underwent drug and alcohol tests. Police said those tests came up positive for prescription painkiller and marijuana use. Benschop, however, did have a broken arm, for which he said the painkillers were being used.

    He and his family have maintained Benschop's innocence during the entire ordeal. His attorney, Daine Grey, told NBC10 Philadelphia in September 2013 that he believed evidence would vindicate his client.

    Several investigations were launched in the wake of the collapse including the convening of a grand jury. The grand jury came back with their findings in November 2013 and along with that presentment, came the charges against Campbell.

    Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said the building was not properly demolished and that those involved ignored safety advice.

    A grand jury investigation, according to Williams, "places Campbell at the center of culpability." Williams said that instead of opting for the safest way to dismantle the building, Campbell opted for the most profitable way, which included salvaging some of the dismantled parts.

    Williams said numerous demolition and construction experts testified before the grand jury, explaining that there was one appropriate way to take the building down.

    "The building should have been taken down hand by hand, piece by piece, brick by brick," Williams said.

    Instead of taking the building apart from the outside, Campbell removed key structural parts of the building from inside first, using heavy machinery, according to Williams.

    "He therefore chose to maximize his profits by first deciding to remove the joists, which were valuable for his resale." That left the walls without support, Williams said.

    On the night before the collapse, Plato Marinakos, an architect and the project's expeditor, allegedly warned Campbell that the unbraced wall could collapse at any time. According to Williams, Campbell promised that night to have the part of the wall that towered above thrift store taken down, brick-by-brick. The work was started, but never finished. On the morning of the collapse, about an hour before the walls crumbled, Campbell called Marinakos and told him the freestanding part of the wall was safely removed.

    Marinakos, a key witness for prosecutors in their case against Benschop and Campbell, was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.

    The collapse happened at 10:41 a.m. Four minutes later, Campbell began repeatedly calling Marinakos. When Marinakos arrived on the scene, Campbell admitted to him that the wall wasn't taken down brick by brick, according to the grand jury presentment.

    Jay Bryan, the father of Anne Bryan, who was killed in the collapse, told NBC10 he hoped the ongoing grand jury investigation would lead to more results.

    "We're grateful that it sounds like the investigation is ongoing," Bryan said. "We hope that everyone will be held accountable from bottom to top."

    Pretrial conferences for Benschop and Campbell are set for next month.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    Spring training is underway and Connecticut is about as divided on the Yankees and Red Sox as you can be.

    A Quinnipiac University poll released this morning finds that the Boston Red Sox still trail the New York Yankees, 43 to 38, despite the Sox’s recent World Series win.

    "Boston's World Series victory doesn't mean beans in Connecticut, where more fans back the New York Yankees - the favorites for four years now," Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said in a statement.

    This is the 12th annual Connecticut baseball poll. Last summer, the Yankees led, 42 to 37 percent.

    The recent poll also found that 8 percent of fans cheer for the New York Mets.

    The poll also looked into the gender divide and female fans slightly favor the Red Sox: 44 percent, compared with 42 percent for the Yankees.

    Last year, women went for pinstripes 48 to 35 percent.

    Men back the Bombers, 44 to 34 percent, compared to last year when they split with 40 percent for the Sox and 37 percent for the Yankees.

    The biggest divide is geographical.

    New York neighbors in Fairfield County go to the Yankees, 57 to 15 percent, while Hartford County goes to the Sox, 51 to 36 percent.

    Boston is up, 61 to 26 percent, in Tolland, Windham and New London counties.

    "Men and women have shifted, but the overall result is little changed. The Yankees huge margin in Fairfield County gives them a statewide edge," Schwartz said.
     



    Photo Credit: AP

    New York Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki, right, steals second while Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia tries to get a hand on the ball during the ninth inning.New York Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki, right, steals second while Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia tries to get a hand on the ball during the ninth inning.

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    Police have obtained an arrest warrant for a man accused of assaulting and killing a 70-year-old man at his New Britain home in 2012.

    Police responded to 548 South Main St. in New Britain around 8 a.m. on May 13, 2012 to investigate a robbery and found James Joseph Sr., 70, suffering from severe head injuries. 

    Police were able to interview him briefly after the attack and Joseph was transported to an area trauma center, where his condition deteriorated. 

    Four days later, he died from the injuries, police said.   

    Joseph’s family said he was returning from the Valero gas station, where he filled up every Sunday, when he was attacked.
       
    Joseph had been struck in the head several times with a blunt object, which caused severe head trauma, police said. His neck was also broken and his spinal cord was damaged during the attack. 

    The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Joseph’s death a homicide.

    Police identified Alexis Rodriguez, 32, of New Britain, as a suspect, and said he
    knew the victim.

    Days after the attack, Rodriguez was arrested on an unrelated outstanding warrant and has been in the custody of the Department of Corrections since. 

    On February 28, investigators obtained an additional arrest warrant charging Rodriguez with murder and tampering with physical evidence for Joseph’s death. 

    It comes with a $1 million court-set bond.       

    Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call the New Britain Police Department at 860-826-3134 or 860-826-3120.



    Photo Credit: New Britain Police

    Alexis Rodriguez has been charged in a New Britain murder.Alexis Rodriguez has been charged in a New Britain murder.

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    A West Hartford man has been charged with vehicular homicide in connection with a crash last year that killed a 93-year-old woman in 2013.

    Police said Jeffrey Schiavone, 38, of West Hartford, crossed the center lines on Fern Street around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2013 and hit the car Helen Mehlman, 93, was a passenger in.

    The crash happened at the crest of a hill and it appeared that neither driver had a chance to stop, police said at the time.

    Mehlman, who lived in an assisted living community on Hamilton Heights, was severely injured in the crash and succumbed to her injuries, police said.

    Police investigated and arrested Schiavone on March 6. He has been charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and misconduct with a motor vehicle. Bond was set at $100,000.

    He is due in court on March 20.
     



    Photo Credit: Viewer submission and West Hartford Police

    Jeffrey Schiavone has been charged in connection with a crash that killed a 93-year-old woman.Jeffrey Schiavone has been charged in connection with a crash that killed a 93-year-old woman.

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    One of Mystic Aquarium’s well-known belugas has passed away after a prolonged respiratory illness.

    If you’ve seen the beluga exhibit at Mystic Aquarium, you might have noticed the 33-year-old Naku.

    She was light gray, with a white patch on her dorsal ridge and a white crescent moon shape on her head.

    “Naku has been battling a respiratory illness since last fall and despite the extraordinary efforts of aquarium veterinarians and animal care staff Naku passed away …,” Dr. Tracy Romano, Executive Vice President of Research and Zoological Operations at Sea Research Foundation said in a statement issued on March 9. “She will be missed by all. Naku had been a part of the Aquarium’s collection for almost 30 years and had played an integral role in serving as an ambassador in educating the public about beluga whales.” 

    Aquarium veterinarians and researchers will perform a necropsy to determine the exact cause of death.

    The average lifespan of a beluga is 35 to 50 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.



    Photo Credit: Mystic Aquarium

    Naku, one of Mystic's belugas has died.Naku, one of Mystic's belugas has died.

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    Police have arrested a man accused of committing an armed robbery at a food mart and gas station in Southington in February.

    Brett Down, 31, of Southington, is accused of robbing the Kaival Food Mart and Gulf Gas Station at 1123 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike on Feb, 7.

    According to the warrant, Downs entered the store with a silver retractable carpet knife, ordered the clerk to open the cash register, stole around $180 and ran.

    Police identified Downs as a suspect through forensic evidence and took him into custody at his home at 3:45 p.m. on March 7 and he has been charged with second-degree robbery and sixth-degree larceny.

    Downs was held on a $100,000 bond set the Bristol Superior Court. 

    He is scheduled to appear in court on March 10.
     



    Photo Credit: Southington POlice

    Brett Down, of Southington, is accused of committing an armed robbery in town.Brett Down, of Southington, is accused of committing an armed robbery in town.

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    Emergency crews responded to what they are calling a minor chemical explosion in a lab at 435 Winchester Avenue in New Haven at 10:17 a.m.

    Less than an ounce of 3 hexane was found, officials said.

    The explosion was confined to a hood. The employee was not injured and did not require medical treatment.

    The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will be notified to follow up with P2 Science, the company involved.

    P2 Science is a bio-refining company, according to its Web site. http://www.p2science.com/
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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  • 03/11/14--12:52: Obama’s Comedy Hangover

  • President Obama, while introducing the reboot of “Cosmos” on Fox Sunday night, declared, “There are new frontiers to explore… there are no limits.” 

    He could have been talking about his own journey as a president venturing into unknown territory while logging more entertainment show appearances than any sitting chief executive in U.S. history. Obama's inspiring words about the power of possibility came barely 36 hours before he showed up online trading cynical barbs with Zach Galifianakis on the comedian's "Between Two Ferns" Funny or Die parody talk show.
     
    Obama has displayed a sense of humor before, exchanging gentle one-liners with the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman, and even "slow-jamming" the news with Jimmy Fallon. But the president's "Ferns" appearance plants him in riskier, unfamiliar terrain. Unlike the late-night comedy show hosts Obama has visited in the past, Galifianakis is playing an awkward character – an anti-social buffoon who asks idiotic questions.
     
    "I have to know: What is it like to be the last black president?" Galifianakis asked Obama.
     
    "Seriously? What's it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?" Obama responded.
     
    The president is clearly in on the apparently scripted joke. But he knows that might not matter to some who will see such banter as unseemly for the country’s leader, particularly amid the crisis in Ukraine and other woes. Obama, though, is betting that it’s worth chancing criticism to reach a young audience about getting health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
     
    The "Cosmos" and "Between Two Ferns" appearances, while vastly different in tone, share a commonality: Both are about Obama’s second-term agenda. The president has called for a manned mission to orbit Mars in two decades, a goal the host of the original "Cosmos," the late Carl Sagan, certainly would have lauded. Obama’s sitdown with Galifianakis proved more of a straight pitch to get young adults to sign up for healthcare by the March 31 deadline.
     
    "Is your plug finally over?" Galifianakis scoffed.
     
    The "Between Two Ferns" gig signals a new phase for Obama in his role as our talk-show-guest-in-chief. He played the late-night TV entertainment show circuit like no other sitting president during the 2012 re-election campaign. Now he’s using entertainment media to plug his programs while trying to secure his legacy.
     
    He needs, though, to be careful that the focus on his legacy doesn’t turn on images of him teasing Galifianakis about his "three-inch vertical" or "The Hangover" bawdy comedy movie trilogy.
     
    "It must stink, though, that you can’t run three times” for president, Galifianakis observed.
     
    "If I ran a third time, it would be sort of like doing a third 'Hangover' movie," Obama said. "Didn't really work out very well, did it?"
     
    The verdict is out on how Obama’s trip between the ferns worked out or whether he’s in for a political hangover. As the president tests the limits of mixing the Oval Office and comedy, catch the Obama-Galifianakis show above.

    Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.


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    Sooner or later, consumers will be able to buy cars that rely on computers — not the owner — to do the driving. 

    Though the technology is still being tested, the day it rolls out into broad public use can now be measured in years, not decades.

    With that timeframe in mind, California's Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday began puzzling through how to regulate the vehicles that haven't been fully developed yet.

    Among the complex questions officials sought to unravel at the initial public hearing on regulations in Sacramento:

    • How will the state know the cars are safe?
    • Does a driver even need to be behind the wheel?
    • Can manufacturers mine data from onboard computers to make product pitches based on where the car goes or set insurance rates on how it is driven?
    • Do owners get docked points on their license if they send a car to park itself and it slams into another vehicle?

    Once the stuff of science fiction, driverless cars could be commercially available by decade's end. Under a California law passed in 2012, the DMV must decide by the end of this year how to integrate the cars — often called autonomous vehicles — onto public roads. 

    Three other states have passed driverless car laws, but those rules mostly focus on testing. California has mandated rules on testing and public operation, and the DMV expects within weeks to finalize regulations dictating what companies must do to test the technology on public roads.

    Those rules came after Google Inc. had already sent its fleet of Priuses and Lexuses, fitted with an array of sensors including radar and lasers, hundreds of thousands of miles in California. Major automakers also have tested their own models. 

    Now, the DMV is scrambling to regulate the broader use of the cars. With the federal government apparently years away from developing regulations, California's rules could effectively become the national standard.

    Much of the initial discussion Tuesday focused on privacy concerns.

    California's law requires autonomous vehicles to log records of operation so the data can be used to reconstruct an accident.

    But the cars "must not become another way to track us in our daily lives," John M. Simpson of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog said at the hearing. Simpson called out Google, saying the Internet giant rebuffed attempts to add privacy guarantees when it pushed the 2012 legislation mandating rules on testing and public operation.

    Seated across from Simpson at the hearing's head tables was a representative from Google, who offered no comment on the data privacy issue. 

    Discussion also touched on how to know a car is safe, and whether an owner knows how to properly operate it.

    Ron Medford, Google's director of safety for its "self-driving car" project, suggested that manufacturers should be able to self-certify that their cars are safe. He cautioned that it would get complicated, fast, if the state tried to assume that role.

    In initial iterations, human drivers would be expected to take control in an instant if the computer systems fail. Unlike current technology — which can help park a car or keep it in its freeway lane — owners might eventually be able to read, daydream or even sleep while the car did the work.

    Responding to a question received over Twitter, DMV attorney Brian Soublet acknowledged that the department is still grappling with the most fundamental question of whether a person will need to be in the driver's seat.

    Maybe not, by the time the technology is safe and reliable, he said.

    Soublet asked who would ensure that owners know how to use the new technology. Should the onus be on dealers, manufacturers, owners?

    Representatives of automakers suggested they shouldn't be asked to guarantee the capability of owners. John Tillman of Mercedes-Benz said the DMV could test owners on basics such as starting and stopping the automated driving function.

    Automaker representatives also expressed concerns that other states could pass regulations that were substantially different from California, creating the kind of patchwork rules that businesses hate.

    States outside California have been in touch and are following California's rule-making process closely, said Bernard Soriano, a deputy director at the DMV.

    Other discussion centered on how vulnerable the cars could be to hackers, who might wrest control of the vehicles.

    Industry representatives said that while that's a concern, they would vigilantly guard against such vulnerability because it would be disastrous.

    DMV regulation writers will post draft language regulations around June, then alter the rules in response to public comment by fall in order to get them finalized by year's end, Soublet said.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    A Google self-driving car is displayed at the Google headquarters on Sept. 25, 2012 in Mountain View, Calif.A Google self-driving car is displayed at the Google headquarters on Sept. 25, 2012 in Mountain View, Calif.

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    Police are investigating after a bus carrying students from Wilcox Technical High School in Meriden was shot at by a BB gun this morning, authorities said.

    According to police, the bus was driving carpentry students from the high school to a work site when the incident occurred. BBs struck the bus around 10 a.m. near the intersection of East Main Street and Preston Avenue.

    No one was injured but a bus window was cracked, according to Meriden Police Lt. Sal Nesci.

    The school posted the following safety alert on its website Tuesday:

    Dear Wilcox Community,

     In an effort to inform parents and community stakeholders, I am passing this message on to you. At the onset, I want each of you to know that I am concerned, however, the students are safe and the Meriden police have assured us that a thorough investigation will be conducted. It appears to be an isolated incident. The incident happened on a street in Meriden not on school grounds. At approximately 10:00 AM the Wilcox Tech Carpentry bus was allegedly struck by BB’s in Meriden, CT . The police were immediately called. There is damage to the windows on the bus. The school is actively addressing student and parent concerns. We are all working together to ensure the well-being of our school community at this time.

    I certainly think the school property on Oregon Road is very safe but as any prudent administrator would do, I have stepped up our security team and have required custodians and staff to lock all exterior doors and to student monitor traffic until the close of school today.

    The high school principal said police were on the scene within moments of the incident and school officials enacted a screening process for all people arriving on school grounds.

    The school day continued on scheduled and students were released at the normal time.



    Photo Credit: H.C. Wilcox Technical School

    The school posted this message on it website after a bus transporting students was reportedly shot by a BB gun Tuesday morning.The school posted this message on it website after a bus transporting students was reportedly shot by a BB gun Tuesday morning.

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    The family of a 3-year-old Chicago girl called the “Dainty Warrior” by her parents for a painting hobby that has helped her deal with a rare form of cancer is preparing for another battle.

    After failed chemotherapy, doctors have decided they'll need to remove Ania Moriarty's left eye on Thursday in order to save her life.

    Ania suffers from retinoblastoma, a form of cancer that affects 300 children annually.

    Her paintings have become a hit on the Internet, where a page has been set up to showcase her art.

    The proceeds are being used to pay for some of the bills for her travel and care.

    Ania is currently in Philadelphia to undergo the procedure.

    Ania first took up painting when a newborn cousin became sick.


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    A San Jose police officer has been charged with raping a hotel maid whom authorities say he was tasked with helping after she had fled a fight with her drunken husband.

    San Jose police said that Officer Geoffrey Evatt Graves, 38, was arrested on Monday of one count of felony sexual assault following a five-month investigation. The Santa Clara County District Attorney, however, ended up filing one count of forcible rape.

    Graves, who is out of custody, will not be formally arraigned until March 24. If he is convicted of the charge, he could face a maximum of eight years in prison and have to register as a sex offender, according to court documents filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

    A judge may decide at a probable cause hearing to force him to take an HIV test.

    Graves self-surrendered  into the Santa Clara County Jail on Monday before posting his $100,000 bail. He was also placed on paid administrative leave. It was not immediately clear who was representing Graves, and he could not immediately be located for comment. An attorney of record was not listed on the court documents. In an email, Jim Unland, president of the San Jose Police Officers Association, said: "Our members are surprised by the relevations of this troubling event. It is a tough day for our department."

    In a phone interview on Tuesday, his former stepfather spoke about what Graves used to be like when he was younger.

    "He was a good kid," Art Calimpong told NBC Bay Area. He added that he was surprised to hear the charge against Graves, whom he helped raise from elementary school through Gilroy High School. "He knew what he wanted to do."

    What he wanted to do was become a fire chief where he was working in Shasta Lake, according to Calimpong, who lives in Gilroy. That’s where Graves moved to after he couldn’t find a job after finishing Menlo College in Atherton, Calimpong said.

    The Shasta Lake Fire Protection District confirmed to NBC Bay Area on Tuesday that Graves volunteered at the fire agency from July 2002 and resigned in May 2004.

    Calimpong, who said he hasn’t seen Graves in “six or seven years,” believes Graves went on to be a paramedic before being hired by the San Jose Police Department.

    In a statement, San Jose Police Chief Larry Esquivel said: "Please know that once I became aware of this incident, we quickly and proactively initiated a criminal investigation ...This is an extremely serious allegation, and if proven true, the officer will be held accountable.  While this incident is very troubling and tugs at our integrity, it is an isolated incident and by no means a reflection of our officers who perform their duties with honor and professionalism on a daily basis."

    District Attorney Jeff Rosen also said in a statement that, while "rare," "on duty misdeeds bestow an unjustified blight on the stellar reputation of our hard-working peace officers."

    The alleged rape occurred on Sept. 22, 2013, according to police and prosecutors.
     
    That's when Deputy District Attorney Carlos Vega said four officers, including Graves, responded to a call at the woman's house where she lived with her husband in San Jose. Police determined both spouses were drinking but no crime had occurred. The woman, a hotel maid, asked the responding officers to bring her to a nearby hotel where she had previously worked to stay the night, Vega said. About 2:30 a.m. that morning, Graves took her to the hotel.

    The woman got the hotel key, went to her room alone and fell asleep, said Vega, who also used to be a police officer in Southern California.

    About 15 minutes later, she heard knocking and opened the door. Graves entered the room, allegedly grabbed her and pushed her onto the bed.

    Vega said Graves then took off parts of his uniform, and allegedly took off her underpants.

    "The defendant climbed on top of the victim while she resisted with verbal and physical communication,"  according to a felony complaint written by San Jose Police Sgt. Craig Storlie, with the department's internal affairs unit. "The defendant forcibly engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim before leaving the hotel approximately 10 minutes later."
     
    On Oct. 15, 2013, this allegation was brought to the attention of the San Jose Police Department through the California Highway Patrol, the agency to which the woman reported her rape. That's when detectives began investigating. Prosecutors said that physical evidence corroborated the woman's allegations, and she positively identified Graves as her alleged attacker.

    In an interview, San Jose's Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell said that Graves' situation is unusual. In all of 2013, a report her office wrote showed that some San Jose police officers were disciplined for "conduct unbecoming" an officer, but none for abuse of force.

    Earlier this month, San Jose Firefighter Mario Cuestas was arrested on charges of selling, possessing and attempting to sell methamphetamine to an undercover police officer.

    One of the biggest international stories involving the alleged rape of a hotel maid involved claims against International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011. But charges were ultimately dropped against him after the woman's credibility was challenged.



    Photo Credit: SJPD

    Mug shot of San Jose police officer Geoffrey Graves.Mug shot of San Jose police officer Geoffrey Graves.

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    Middletown police are investigating after a resident’s cars were reportedly spray painted with racial slurs Monday and Tuesday.

    Police said the cars were parked on West Silver Street when the incidents occurred and that two of the woman’s vehicles were vandalized March 10 and 11.

    Officers are increasing patrols in the area but investigators believe the incidents to be isolated.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Middletown police at 860-638-4000.


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    A 32-year-old East Hampton man is behind bars after a police investigation turned up an illegal handgun with ammunition, a police scanner tuned to the East Hampton police radio frequency, prescription drugs, marijuana and more than $1,000 cash in his Main Street apartment, authorities said.

    Erich Hansen, of 93 Main Street in East Hampton, is facing a string of charges, including narcotics violations, criminal possession of a firearm, illegal or unsafe storage of a firearm and two counts of risk of injury to a minor.

    Police searched Hansen’s second-floor apartment as part of an investigation into illegal firearms and drug sales, authorities said.

    Officials searched the apartment to find a loaded .38-caliber revolver, 105 rounds of ammunition, a police scanner, 41 Adderall pills, eight ounces of marijuana, a digital scale and $1,078 cash, according to police.

    It’s not clear if a child was living there or was present at the time of the search, but police said the Department of Children and Families is investigating following a Drug Endangered Children Referral.

    Hansen was held on a $150,000 bond and is due in court March 12.

    Court records show Hansen has a history of arrest and has been convicted of motor vehicle, larceny and drug violations.

    The Statewide Narcotics Task Force, East Hampton Police Department and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Special Agents contributed to the investigation.



    Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia

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    An argument between current and previous tenants of a Bridgeport apartment turned physical when the prior tenants, armed with a screwdriver, hammer and a two-by-four assaulted the mother and daughter presently living there, according to police.

    It happened Tuesday at 1295 Howard Avenue when the previous tenants arrived to collect some of their belongings, which had been placed on the porch. Police said a confrontation occurred and the suspects got into cars and drove off.

    A 22-year-old was arrested in connection with the incident. Natasha Rodriguez, of Bridgeport, admitted the dispute had turned physical but told police no weapons were involved, authorities said.

    She was charged with second-degree assault, risk of injury to a minor and breach of peace. Rodriguez’s bond was set at $5,500.

    The investigation is ongoing.



    Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

    Natasha Rodriguez, 22, is charged with assault following a dispute between current and previous tenants of a Bridgeport apartment.Natasha Rodriguez, 22, is charged with assault following a dispute between current and previous tenants of a Bridgeport apartment.

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    After his first limousine ride, all the way from Hartford Public High School to Fairfield County, Jonathan French was excited.

    For years, French has battled sickle cell anemia and has been in and out of the hospital. Today, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted his wish.

    He had asked for a laptop computer, and Precision Computer Services invited French and his family to their store in Shelton to pick it up.

    "Lately I've been having a lot of papers and the only way to do them is if I go to the library," he said.

    After a PCS employee fired up the computer, Jonathan was shocked to see his favorite NBA player, Kobe Bryant, on the wallpaper.

    "That's awesome!" he said.

    Then he cut a three-layer cake with "Jonathan, Wishes Do Come True" written on the frosting.

    "It's been great because Jonathan had a long time picking out his wish," said Pam Keough, chief operating officer of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut. "He finally decided the computer was what he wanted and we knew that PCS was a terrific partner that we'd had over the last 10 years. We just knew they were the right person to give Jonathan his wish."

    Mike FitzSimons, the owner of Precision Computer Services, gave French and his brother a tour of the facility.

    "It's great to be able to reach out and get to meet some of the people we're helping out," FitzSimons said. "It's inspirational to everyone in the organization, so for everything that we give, we get back tenfold."

    French has good days and bad days. His mother said he's almost been living in the hospital.

    This was a good day.

    "This is really magical," he said.  "I'm really thankful for even being here."

    French has another wish he shared with the group. He'd like to go into nursing, to treat people with sickle cell and cancer.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Jonathan French has been battling sickle cell anemia for years, and today his wish for a brand new laptop was granted.Jonathan French has been battling sickle cell anemia for years, and today his wish for a brand new laptop was granted.

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    The attorney representing a New Britain man charged with kidnapping his pregnant girlfriend said in court today things aren’t as they seem.

    Xavier Vasquez faced a judge this morning. He’s charged with kidnapping his girlfriend and forcing her into a car near Kelsey Street and Rocky Hill Avenue in New Britain. Someone who drove by allegedly saw Vasquez push her into the car and called 911.

    “A person driving by not knowing what was going on thought he was witnessing a kidnapping at the time,” said New Britain Police Lt. Jeanette Portalatin.

    But the public defender said in court that the victim share a different story.

    “Yesterday she told New Britain Police he only pulled her by the arm and she went into car willingly,” the attorney explained.

    Police said the incident was caught on camera, and that once officers tracked down Vasquez, he led them on a dangerous pursuit across Route 9 during rush hour. He was eventually stopped back in New Britain at Overlook and Farmington Avenues.

    “Officers had to physically restrain him he resisted arrest,” Portalatin said.

    Investigators said a fight between Vasquez and his girlfriend prompted the alleged abduction. They said there was no reason to believe he had a weapon and didn’t know if he had formulated a plan for what would happen after they got into the car.

    Xavier Vasquez faced a New Britain judge on Tuesday afternoon for allegedly causing a huge scare. Police said Vasquez kidnapped his pregnant girlfriend around 5 o’clock Monday night at Kelsey Street and Rocky Hill Avenue. Someone who drove by supposedly saw him force her in the car and called 911.

    “I don't think he had a particular destination,” said Portalatin. “He was just trying to elude police.”

    Vasquez is being held on a $215,300 bond. He’s charged with kidnapping and interfering with police.



    Photo Credit: New Britain Police Department

    Xavier Vasquez is accused of kidnapping his pregnant girlfriend and leading police on a chase through New Britain and Newington.Xavier Vasquez is accused of kidnapping his pregnant girlfriend and leading police on a chase through New Britain and Newington.

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