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    Thousands of people are expected in Hartford this weekend for the Sandy Hook Run for Families, a special race to honor the lives of the 20 first graders and six staff members who were killed in the school shooting on Dec. 14.

    To accommodate the crowd and the large race course, several streets will be closed on March 23:

    • Asylum Avenue, from Cogswell to Ford streets, 10 a.m.  to noon
    • Asylum Street, Main to Trumbull streets, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    • Buckingham Street, 10 a.m. to noon
    • Capitol Avenue, from Trinity to Laurel streets, 10 a.m. to noon
    • Church Street, from Trumbull to Main streets, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
    • Elm Street, 6 a.m.  to 3 p.m.
    • Farmington Avenue, Laurel Street to Asylum, 10 a.m.  to noon
    • Ford Street, 9 a.m. to noon
    • Jewell Street, Ford to Trumbull streets, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
    • Laurel Street, 10 a.m.  to noon
    • Main Street, Pearl to Asylum streets, 6 a.m.  to noon
    • Main Street, Asylum to Church streets, 9 a.m. to noon
    • Main Street, Pearl to Buckingham streets, 10 a.m.  to noon
    • Pearl Street, Lewis to Ford, 8 a.m. – to noon
    • Pratt Street, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Trinity Street, closes Friday, March 22 at 11 a.m. until Saturday, March 23 at 3 p.m.
    • Trumbull Street, Pearl to Jewell streets, 8 a.m.  to 3 p.m.
    • Trumbull Street, Asylum to Church streets, 6 a.m.  to 3 p.m.
    • Washington Street, from Russ Street to Capitol Avenue, 10 a.m. to noon

    During the run, all CTTRANSIT bus stops in downtown Hartford will be closed.

    Downtown bus stops for all routes will be on both sides of Main Street between Trumbull and  Pleasant (Ann) streets.

    All Downtown CTTRANSIT bus service will be affected by detours and delays between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.

    In particular there will be no service along the following routes:

    • Main Street between Trumbull and Charter Oak
    • Asylum Street between Main and Cogswell
    • Capitol Avenue between Main and Sisson
    • Farmington Avenue between Woodland and Broad

    On Saturday, the Star Shuttle will begin operating at approximately 3 p.m., when the race ends, and will continue service until midnight.

    The race was originally planned for Danbury, but it was moved to Hartford because the response was so overwhelming.

    The Hartford Marathon Foundation is hosting the race and it will be held at 10 a.m. on March 23.
    Those who cannot physically attend, but still want to participate in the run can register as a “Virtual Runner.”

    The fee is $25 for adults and $10 for children 17 and under. One hundred percent of registration fees will go toward The Sandy Hook School Support Fund to support all of those affected by the shooting.

    The Hartford Marathon Foundation is asking for support to assist with volunteers, sponsorship and in-kind donations of products and services.

    You can find more information about the race on the Hartford Marathon Foundation Web page or the foundation’s Facebook page.


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    A jury reached mixed verdicts in the trial of the so-called "Bell 6," finding former City Council members guilty of several counts of misappropriation of public funds in a scandal that left a small city southeast of downtown Los Angeles nearly bankrupt.

    In a case that grabbed headlines nationwide, five former Bell City Council members accused of padding their paychecks were found guilty on half of the counts they each faced, while the jury was unable to come to unanimous agreement on other counts.

    Former Councilman Luis Artiga was found not guilty on all 12 counts he faced. As the clerk read the verdicts, Artiga rocked back and forth in his chair, crying. A court official handed him a box of tissues.

    Related: Bell Ex-Councilman Found Not Guilty Never Had a Plan B

    The reading of the verdicts began shortly after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the criminal courts building in downtown LA on the 18th day of jury deliberations. When the proceeding was complete, about an hour later, the judge had instructed the jury to continue its deliberations on the counts for which it reached no conclusion.

    "I know you probably thought this was going to be the end," LA Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said. "But I'm sorry to say we're going to have to proceed a little bit further."

    She had asked attendees in the courtroom to not react audibly as the verdicts were being read.

    The city's former mayor, vice mayor and four former City Council members were charged in a 20-count felony complaint with misuse of public funds. They looted city coffers, inflating their salaries and paying themselves for sitting on commissions that rarely met, the prosecutor argued.

    City Manager Robert Rizzo, the alleged mastermind of a scheme that former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said cost Bell nearly $6 million, is being prosecuted separately, as is his then-assistant.

    During the trial, prosecutors said Bell had been upended by a "culture of corruption."

    Read: Criminal Complaint Against "Bell 6"

    The jury had the following conclusions Wednesday: 

    • Ex-mayor Oscar Hernandez: guilty on five counts; not guilty on five counts. No verdict on 10 counts.
    • Former Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo: guilty on five counts; not guilty on five counts. No verdict on 10 counts.
    • Former Councilman George Mirabal: guilty on five counts; not guilty on five counts. No verdict on 10 counts.
    • Former Councilman Victor Bello: guilty on four counts; not guilty on four counts. No verdict on eight counts.
    • Former Councilman George Cole: guilty of two counts; not guilty on two counts. No verdict on four counts.

    The guilty verdicts were associated with work done for the city's solid waste and recycling authority. The five defendants were acquitted on charges associated with Bell's public housing authority.

    The Bell Association to Stop the Abuse released a statement as the verdicts were being read that stated in part: "This verdict is long awaited and further vindicates the community’s efforts to move out of the shadow of Rizzo corrupt regime. The jury’s verdict is a clear step in helping the Bell community to heal."

    The organization -- which calls itself BASTA, meaning "enough" in Spanish -- asked the judge to issue stern sentences for the defendants.

    Related: Bell Activists "Relieved" After Multiple Guilty Verdicts

    During 18 days of deliberations after a juror was replaced, the seven-woman, five-man jury had repeatedly asked for the reading back of testimony and had sent multiple questions to the judge.

    The jury's decision comes after the 2010 revelation of comparatively exorbitant salaries paid to Bell city officials brought national attention to the working-class city. 

    The six former elected city officials are accused of paying themselves nearly $100,000 salaries that should have been about $8,000 per year.

    Their actions, along with the $1.5 million compensation package for Rizzo, nearly bankrupted the high-poverty city with a population of about 40,000. Several Bell residents attended much of the trial, which began Jan. 24. Jury deliberations started Feb. 22.

    Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Edward Miller had told the jury that the Bell 6 had "dreamed up" the salary scheme "solely for the purpose of stealing money from the people of Bell."

    Defense attorneys had pointed the finger at Rizzo, who faces trial alongside his assistant Angela Spaccia. Lawyers for the Bell 6 had said Rizzo had duped their clients.

    Miller denied that.

    "We know they buried their heads in the sand, but kept their hands out," Miller said during closing arguments.

    The prosecutor had argued that -- to get around a City Council salary cap -- the city increased the amount paid to the defendants for sitting on four municipal boards that held few meetings and did little work. Miller called the boards "shams" that sometimes met only to approve members' own pay raises.

    One authority, ostensibly focused on solid waste and recycling, was never even officially established or hired any staff apart from council members, Miller said evidence showed.

    But defense attorneys said the six former council members worked many hours for their pay. They claimed the officials relied on Bell's city attorney and an independent auditor to establish salary figures.

    Hernandez, 65, Jacobo, 55, and Mirabal, 63, were each charged with 20 counts of misappropriating public funds for over a 4 1/2-year period ending in 2010.

    Bello, 54, was charged with 16 counts of misappropriation between 2006 and 2009, while Artiga, 52, was charged with 12 counts of misappropriation between 2008 and 2010.

    Cole, 63, was charged with eight counts of misappropriation over a two-year period ending in 2007.

    The trial had a hiccup on Feb. 28 when a juror was dismissed for misconduct several days after the case was handed to the jury. Juror No. 3 had said she felt abused by other jurors and did online research about jury coercion.

    LA Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy's dismissal of the tearful juror came after a jury note had said the group was at an impasse. An alternate juror was put on the panel and Kennedy ordered the jury to begin deliberations anew.

    Jurors on March 15 had asked to re-hear testimony about Jacobo's conversation with Rizzo in which she said he told her that she would be able to work full-time and would get paid a full-time salary.

    "I asked him if that was possible," Jacobo told the jury last month, noting that Rizzo responded affirmatively and that City Attorney Ed Lee nodded his head.

    "My feeling was if the city attorney said it was OK to do so, it must be legal," she testified.

    The jury also asked for a readback of testimony about Hernandez's ability to read and write in English. The judge warned jurors, in reference to opening statements about Hernandez's education level, that "what the attorneys say is not evidence."



    Photo Credit: AP Pool Photo/Los Angeles Times

    George Cole, center, a former Bell City Council member, listens to the judge as a guilty verdict is read in his trial on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Los Angeles. Cole and four former elected officials Bell were convicted of multiple counts of misappropriation of public funds, and a sixth defendant was cleared entirely.George Cole, center, a former Bell City Council member, listens to the judge as a guilty verdict is read in his trial on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Los Angeles. Cole and four former elected officials Bell were convicted of multiple counts of misappropriation of public funds, and a sixth defendant was cleared entirely.

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    Police in Vernon said it may be several weeks before they will be able to identify human remains found last week.

    A man walking through the woods off West Street found a skull by an old landfill on Wednesday.

    Detectives scoured the dense property with cadaver dogs on Friday, and said they recovered a significant amount of evidence, although they would not specify on what that evidence could be. They also had no indication of who the remains belonged to.
     
    “I'm just hoping it’s Lisa, so we could end this thing,” said Gerald Kelly.  He questioned if the skull was Lisa White’s. He would have been her stepfather. 

    Lisa vanished when she was 13 back in 1974, and lived just a short distance from the search site.

    “It was brutal, it was brutal,” he added.
     
    Kelly said police told White’s loved ones the skull belonged to a young woman.  Sources close to the family tell NBC Connecticut, White used to play in the area by the landfill and authorities asked the family for dental records.

    “If this gets out there enough someone’s going to say who did what when,” Kelly explained.
     
    People in the Vernon community also wondered if the remains belonged  to one of two other girls who vanished decades ago. 

    Janice Pockett from Tolland was last seen in July of 1973.

    Debra Spickler was visiting family in Vernon when she went missing in July of 1968.  Police would not speculate on any of this.

    “It’s a very active and very early investigation so we can't comment on any evidence or our findings right now,” said Lt. William Meier. 
     
    Detectives said it could take a while to find some answers, and their results might give a family some closure. “You would like to get the person responsible that's number one,” said Gerald Kelly.

    The remains were taken to the State Forensic Lab for identification.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Debra Bogstie

    Police are investigating after the discovery of what appear to be human skeletal remains just off West Street in Vernon.Police are investigating after the discovery of what appear to be human skeletal remains just off West Street in Vernon.

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    An alleged al-Qaida operative accused of plotting to kill U.S. troops and diplomats overseas has been sent to New York from Libya for trial, prosecutors said.  

    Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun was named in court papers made public on Wednesday in New York City. Prosecutors said he would appear in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday.

    Harun is charged with plotting to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2003 and to bomb U.S. diplomatic facilities in Africa from 2003 to 2005. He's also charged with conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida, providing material support and related firearms and explosives counts.

    Prosecutors say Harun was born in Saudi Arabia but claims citizenship in Niger. He was arrested in Libya in 2005 and confined there until his release in 2011.

    Authorities in Italy arrested him after he was accused of assaulting officers on a refugee ship. He was extradited from Italy to New York in October and arraigned in Brooklyn during a sealed proceeding.

    “The United States will use every tool at our disposal to protect our nation’s security and stop terrorist attacks before they happen,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

    The FBI said the 43-year-old Harun, who uses the alias "Spin Ghul," trained in al-Qaida terror camps and attempted to fight American and Coalition forces in Afghanistan from Pakistan.  

    Harun is the latest al-Qaida-linked figure to be sent to New York for civilian trial.  

    Earlier this month, Sulaiman Abu Gaith, a son-in-law of and spokesman for Osama bin Laden, was sent to New York for trial on terror-related charges. He was sent to the city despite objection from some congressional Republicans who believe terrorists should be held in military custody at Guantanamo Bay.

     

     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    CVS has come under fire for asking employees covered under the company’s health care plan to disclose a range of personal information — from their weight to glucose levels — or face a financial penalty. But that company is far from the only one pushing workers to reveal detailed medical information.

    As health care costs tick up and employers rush to comply with new requirements tied to President Obama's Affordable Care Act, many companies are asking their workers (and in some cases, workers' spouses) to undergo rigorous health care screenings aimed at encouraging healthier living — and boosting the company’s bottom line.

    CVS Caremark introduced the health screening this year, and fines employees $600 if they don't comply. When news of the screening came out this week, the company was slammed on social media. But CVS isn't alone in using money to encourage employees to stay fit or aware of their health.

    At Home Depot, for example, workers covered by the company insurance plan are encouraged to fill out on an online questionnaire and take a “hidden health risk screening” that measures their waistline, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels. They're also given targets: Women should aim for a waistline under 35 inches, while men should try to stay below 40 inches. While no one is required to participate, those who do (regardless of whether or not they hit their targets) can earn an extra $25 every two weeks. Spouses covered by the plan can also participate.

    Some companies use data gathered from these tests to drive decision-making about the sort of health services they provide their employees, while others use it for targeted outreach, said Julie Watson, a senior consultant at Towers Watson.

    If a person is significantly overweight, for example, he or she may receive information about weight loss programs.

    The idea is that employees, inspired either by the promise of extra cash or the threat of losing cash, will work harder to be healthier. And healthier employees are both more efficient and cost the company less money.

    While health care costs have always been an important consideration for executives, they've become an even bigger priority since the Supreme Court upheld the president's health care overhaul law last year. In 2018, a provision of the law will kick in that taxes companies 40% for any coverage that exceeds a certain threshold — $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families each per year.

    To avoid the tax, employers are encouraging their workers to lead healthier lifestyles, and are asking them to pay more for their health coverage.

    “I absolutely believe that’s one of the root drivers for more of these companies looking at [health screenings] now,” said Watson. “It’s a really steep tax … I don’t know a single CFO who would say, ‘Sure, I’ll pay that tax, no problem.'”

    More than two-thirds of employers already offer financial rewards to encourage workers to participate in health and wellness programs, according to a survey released earlier this year by Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health. Sixteen percent of the 583 employers polled said their companies use rewards or penalties to gather specific biometric information from their workers, and another 31 percent said that they were considering implementing such a strategy for 2014.

    Companies emphasize that medical data collected during these screenings is intended to improve employee health and not to make employment decisions, though privacy advocates are wary.

    Home Depot, which describes its health program as "win/win," assures employees in a health guide posted to its website that the company "will not have access to your results and your results will have no effect on your employment or your medical coverage."

    CVS Caremark said in a statement that "all personal health data from these screenings are collected and reviewed by a third party administrator" and that the data "is never shared with CVS Caremark."

    Dr. Deborah Peel, the founder of Patient Privacy Rights, expressed doubts about CVS's assurances.

    "There's no chain of custody for health data," she told the Boston Herald. "So there's no way to verify that they don't really look at it."



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Employers racing to reduce their health care expenses are increasingly focused on their workers' medical status, including weight.Employers racing to reduce their health care expenses are increasingly focused on their workers' medical status, including weight.

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    The parents of a Virginia teenager who was shot to death by a neighbor early Sunday say they don't fault the man who killed their son.

    Caleb Gordley, 16, was a three-sport athlete and an aspiring rap artist.

    After a night of partying, the teenager mistakenly entered the house two doors down from his own in Sterling, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C. He was shot by the homeowner, who believed the boy was an intruder, according to a statement from Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

    "I want you to know, sir, I forgive you," said Jennea Gordley, Caleb's mother. "I understand this was an accident. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. My son, he's an angel."

    Caleb's parents met with reporters Tuesday to provide their understanding of the incident and to remember their son.

    "I love my son," said Shawn Gordley, surrounded by family outside their home. "I don't have many tears left. His mother and I are going to see his body for the first time today."

    Caleb sneaked out of the house Saturday night to go to a party, his father said. After several hours of drinking, the Park View High School student and his friends walked back to the neighborhood. That's when the teen made a fateful mistake.

    Caleb and a friend jumped a fence that runs behind his home and the neighbor’s, his parents said, but instead of entering his home, Caleb climbed through an unlocked window and began walking up the neighbor's stairway. That man — a Loudoun County volunteer firefighter — shot and killed Caleb.

    "Whether he gave a warning shot or yelled at him, I'm pretty sure Caleb thought it was me yelling at him," Shawn Gordley said. "He kept walking toward what he thought was his room, because the houses are identical."

    Shawn Gordley said he won't dwell on the neighbor's actions.

    "You want answers, but the more I looked for answers, the more it hurt,” he said. “All the answers in the world aren't going to bring him back."

    Caleb's family did have critical words for the Loudoun County's Sheriff's Office. They say they've been left in the dark and they are troubled they weren't allowed to see their son sooner.

    "I feel like I was robbed of the opportunity of even identifying his body," said Jennea Gordley, who traveled from her home in Dayton, Ohio, after she got word of her son's death.

    Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman said he met with Mr. Gordley Tuesday.

    "This is a tragedy all the way around," Chapman said.

    The department is still fact-finding and does not want to release inaccurate information on the case, he said. The State Medical Examiner's Office in Manassas took custody of the body, but Chapman promised to conduct a review to find out whether things could have been handled differently.

    "I'm in discussions with my investigative bureau right now to determine why there was not that opportunity in advance before the medical examiner, before the body was taken," he said.

    Caleb's parents said they are planning to hold two celebrations of his life, one in Sterling and one in Ohio. They find consolation in the many tributes on social media sites and they have their son's music.

    "I believe everything happens for a reason," said his mother. "My son was loved. He left us with so much music."

    A relative has gathered up all of Caleb's lyrics and put them in a binder.

    Finally, Caleb's parents also told reporters about the day their son was born after an emergency C-section. They said mother and son were in danger of death.

    "We got 16 1/2 awesome years out of this young man,” Shawn Gordley said. “We could have had none ... I will hold onto that. I will hold on to those 16 years."

    But he said he and Caleb's 13-year-old sister will soon move out of the house he shares with a college friend. After what happened, he said he can't stay on Pullman Court.


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    Nearly all of the scout leaders that testified Wednesday night in Bridgeport said the Boy Scouts of America is the best youth movement in the world. But not allowing openly gay scout leaders is against their message of inclusiveness.

    "This is a great movement but I think we need to be able to allow all of them," said Dave Chick of East Haven, a former cub and scout master himself. "We are building young productive adults of the future and it's a shame we're not allowed to extend that to all youth."

    Chick was one of nearly 100 that testified in Bridgeport that the Boy Scouts of America needs to change its ban on excluding gay scouts.

    "But not be able to be an eagle scout just because of their sexual orientation. I think it would be a travesty to continue on with that," said Scott Redfern of Monroe.

    "We feel very strongly that discriminating against gay scouts and leaders is not fair," said John Jesse of Danbury.

    The Connecticut Yankee Council held this town hall style meeting Wednesday at Klein Auditorium like so many other boy scout councils across the country--to be a forum for its scouting family to voice their opinions.

    "I'd say the boy scouts should stay who they are and what they're doing and be firm and true to god," said Paul Lesiw of Monroe, who's a cub scout den leader. He was in the vast minority at the meeting because he doesn't believe the boy scouts should let in any gay members of leaders.

    "How do I teach my boys their duty to god if the lifestyle they are choosing and their parents are raising them up in violates that?"

    Chick of East Haven says that when kids work their way through the program they eventually become more aware of who they are and that they can't be honest with themselves if they want to earn an eagle award.

    "Most of the time we read about things happening in history tonight we’re writing history," Chick added.

    The Connecticut Yankee Council will gather what they heard and then present it to the national board for review this May.
     



    Photo Credit: AP

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    A 14-year-old honor student from Northridge, California died this week after inhaling computer keyboard cleaner, a growing trend among students as young as eighth grade.

    "I'm positive my daughter didn't realize it had the potential to kill her," Carolyn Doherty said.

    A straight-A student at Nobel Middle School, Aria Doherty died Monday. She’d been home alone for a couple hours when she inhaled the duster. Her parents believe it was her first time huffing – also known as bagging or dusting.

    Her older sister found Aria in bed with a can of compressed air still attached to her mouth, her nostrils taped shut. A plastic bag was found nearby.

    "I would give anything to have her back," said Richard Doherty, Aria’s father. "It just took her, like that."

    "I just miss her. I wish she was here. It doesn't seem real," he said through tears.

    The Dohertys kept no dangerous weapons in their Porter Ranch home, stored prescription drugs under lock and key, and recently purged their home of all alcohol. They talked to their teen daughters about the dangers of substance abuse.

    But authorities said the practice of huffing does not involve the typical chemical culprits. Inhaling household cleaners, paint or glue offers a quick high and they’re accessible.

    "Death can happen very quickly. It can happen the first time," said Kezia Miller, a counselor with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

    Counselors are available at Nobel Middle School and are planning an inhalant education program for Aria's peers.

    "These are substances that are poison," Miller said. "They're toxic and they're being ingested."

    Long-term effects of inhalants include damage to the kidney, liver and brain. Short-term dangers include heart problems.

    "When you mess with the cardiac system, the electrical system of the heart, you can have a lot of issues, like arrhythmia," said Dr. Michael Lewis, with Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

    It’s possible the computer cleaner caused cardiac arrest or the teen asphyxiated. An autopsy is pending.

    The Dohertys said they want their daughter’s death to be a message to other parents to be aware of this developing threat.

    "We didn’t know," Carolyn said. "But clearly, the kids do know."


    Aria Doherty, 14, died on Monday, March 18, 2013, apparently after inhaling computer keyboard duster, a practice known as Aria Doherty, 14, died on Monday, March 18, 2013, apparently after inhaling computer keyboard duster, a practice known as "huffing," "bagging" or "dusting."

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  • 03/21/13--08:36: Board Approves Tuition Hike

  • The Board of Regents for High Education on Thursday decided to raise tuition and fees as state universities and colleges, much to the disappointment of students who attended the meeting, wearing stickers over their mouths that said "No Tuition Hike."

    The board approved a 5-percent increase of tuition and fees for the state university system, with two people opposing.

    Tuition and fees for in-state university students living on campus will increase by $778 a year, in-state students living off campus will pay $434 more and out-of-state students will pay an extra $1,251, according to figures the Board of Regents released.

    Community colleges will charge full-time students and extra $188 per year.

    Students had been fighting the proposed increases and many students gathered for a rally before and during that board meeting.

    Students at Central Connecticut State University held a rally last week to show opposition to increases.

    "Today we're asking the state to invest in us," Eric Bergenn, the student government president at C.C.S.U., said.

    Some students said they fear the increase would add to their student loan debt after graduation.

    "I don't have 800 more dollars. That's how much the tuition's going to go up. It's going to be very difficult for me to pay that," Chris Menapace, a junior at C.C.S.U., said.

    Others said it would deter some students from continuing to pursue higher education.

    "That could be the difference for some students in going to college next year," said Bergenn.

    Also, students voiced concerns about their representation on the Board of Regents. Currently, there are two student members -- one for the state universities and one for the community colleges.

    "The way the current system is set up, when the governor comes out with a budget, the Board of Regents isn't going to go to the State Legislature and ask for more money," Bergenn said.

    "The regents are mindful that any increase in tuition and fees -- regardless of the amount -- is difficult for our students to absorb in these tough financial times," Colleen Flanagan Johnson, the spokesperson for the Regents, said in a statement. "We respect the right of students to voice their opinions about this proposal and their concerns about their representation on the Board, as it underscores the importance of a healthy, robust dialogue on higher education campuses across our state."

     



    Photo Credit: Todd Piro, NBC Connecticut

    Students protested against tuition hikes, but the board approved them.Students protested against tuition hikes, but the board approved them.

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    A New York couple has been arrested and accused of plotting to babysit children as a cover to drug and sexually abuse them, federal prosecutors said.
     
    Special agents with the FBI and NYPD detectives arrested Bebars Baslan, 35, and Kristen Henry, 25, Tuesday night at a hotel in Jersey City, N.J. Prosecutors say they believed they were going there to meet an acquaintance and three children, including a 1-year-old and a 3-month-old baby, that the group was planning to drug with children's Benadryl and take sexually explicit photos.
     
    Prosecutors say that acquaintance was actually an informant who had contacted authorities last month to report that the couple possessed child pornography and were planning to open a babysitting business to find victims to abuse.
     
    According to the criminal complaint, the informant then began working with the FBI to record phone calls and obtain other evidence.
     
    In one recorded conversation, Baslan allegedly told the informant about drugging children before abusing them: "Trust me, all what I'm doing, nothing is going to be, no memories, nothing."
     
    The meeting planned for Jersey City was so that Baslan could get incriminating pictures of Henry before they began the business, the complaint said. He wanted collateral, and wanted to take pictures of her sexually abusing the baby.
     
    When the informant said he was concerned about the effect of the abuse on the baby, Baslan allegedly told him "if it's one minute he won't even know what's going on." 

    The pair are charged with aggravated sexual abuse and face 30 years to life in prison. Their lawyers had no comment.


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    A three-car crash on Route 15 South between exits 59 and 60, at the Hamden/ New Haven line, is causing heavy congestion.

    The crash is prior to West Rock and traffic is backed up to exit 61.

    One viewer reports moving about four miles in the course of one hour.

    A crash on Interstate 95 Southbound on the Q bridge is causing heavy delays prior to exit 51.


    A 3-car crash is causing congestion on the Wilbur Cross Parkway.A 3-car crash is causing congestion on the Wilbur Cross Parkway.

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    Sometimes that craving for ice cream hits in the middle of the night. It made one Missouri man break into a church kitchen and raid it for some frozen delight.

    Andrew Steven Jung, 23, was arrested and charged with three felonies for allegedly stealing ice cream  from the church's deep freezer on March 8, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

    Police found Jung walking approximately three blocks from St. Peter's Catholic Church in St. Charles. He was very intoxicated and had ice cream smeared all over his face and clothing.

    During his videotaped interview with the police, Jung proclaimed himself an “ice cream junkie.” He was charged with burglary, stealing and property damage and ultimately jailed on $30,000 bond.

    Police said they found a shattered church kitchen glass door, a damaged deep freezer, and an “undetermined amount of ice cream that had been taken.” Jung’s baseball cap was also left in the church kitchen, according to court records, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

    At the time of the incident, Jung was already on probation for his 2010 burglary of another church in the area, court documents show.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    A Missouri man was arrested and charged with three felonies for allegedly breaking into a church kitchen and stealing ice cream.A Missouri man was arrested and charged with three felonies for allegedly breaking into a church kitchen and stealing ice cream.

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    A drug task force hit the jackpot when they checked a lottery ticket machine in Manchester gas station and found K2, a form of synthetic marijuana, inside, according to the East Central Narcotics Task Force. And that’s not all they said they found that was illegal.

    After receiving tips that drug activity was happening at the Sunoco gas station at 385 Main St. in Manchester, the narcotics task force and staff from the Department of Revenue Services went to the business with a search warrant on Wednesday, police said.

    Police said packets of synthetic marijuana were hidden inside the lottery ticket dispenser and in other areas of the store. 

    Police said they also seized counterfeit movies and more than $2,800 in cash.

    The manager, Rehan Abro, 44, of South Windsor, was arrested and charged with possession of synthetic marijuana and possession with intent to sell.
               
    Bond was set at $10,000.

    The East Central Narcotics Task Force works to stop illegal narcotics sales and use in Manchester, South Windsor, Vernon and Glastonbury.  Anyone with information pertaining to any illicit drug activity is asked to contact the East Central Narcotics Task Force at (860) 645-5548.  All calls will remain confidential. 
     


    Rehan Abro was arrested after drug investigators found K2 hidden inside the lottery machine of a gas station in Manchester.Rehan Abro was arrested after drug investigators found K2 hidden inside the lottery machine of a gas station in Manchester.

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    State police have arrested a 27-year-old Worcester, Massachusetts man in connection with a fiery rollover crash that killed two people in Union in April 2012.

    Theophilus Asare turned himself in to State Police Troop C around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

    Willis Nanka-Bruce and Chavell Baker, both of Worcester, Massachusetts, were killed in the crash on Interstate 84 Westbound in Union just before 3:30 a.m. on April 4, according to state police.

    The Worcester Telegram and Gazette reported

    that Nanka-Bruce was 31 and Baker was a 19-year-old single mother. Both died of head injuries.

    Asare was charged with two counts of second-degree vehicular manslaughter, under the influence; criminal impersonation, interfering with an officer, false statement, interfering with an officer and additional charges.

    Asare is being held on bond, which was set at $175,000. He is due in Rockville Court on Thursday.
     


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    Tom Coughlin is not a man who often uses the media to fight his battles. 

    He likes to spout off that talk is cheap and that players should just play the game, but Coughlin isn't above using the power of the microphone every now and then. Wednesday was one of those times as Coughlin decided that a coaches' breakfast at the league meetings in Phoenix was the perfect time to hammer defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul for being overweight last season. 

    "He didn’t play as well as the year before. He was big when he came to camp. There’s not a lot of body fat [with Pierre-Paul], yes, but still," Coughlin said. 

    Let's hope Coughlin stuck with egg whites and oatmeal during the breakfast. It would be a bit of a stretch to crush a guy for being porky with a plate filled with bacon, after all.  

    It's easy to understand why Coughlin would take this motivational route with Pierre-Paul. He's a player who has gotten to this point on the back of his otherwordly physical skills, but they remain unrefined and the rest of the league will catch up to them before long. 

    To continue to thrive, JPP has to be in top shape while also adding more nuance to his game. That's about hard work, something the coach made it clear that Pierre-Paul has do more of in the future.  

    JPP said that the extra weight was muscle, an explanation that Coughlin didn't seem to be buying as he said that it took the end until the second half of the season to get back to his ideal playing weight. We won't argue that Pierre-Paul's play was at the the same level as it was in 2011, but we're not sure that the weight explains everything that went wrong. 

    Pierre-Paul was the only member of the front seven who made even a handful of memorable plays over the course of the season and the coaching staff never figured out a way to stop teams from exploiting JPP's desire to get up the field as quickly as possible. Perhaps the weight stopped him from chasing down ball carriers all over the field as he had in the Super Bowl year, but, at some point, you have to wonder why the coaches were allowing themselves to get beaten the same exact way every week. 

    Beyond that, there's the issue of the supporting cast. Osi Umenyiora had one of his lesser years and Justin Tuck was bad for the second straight season, leaving teams free to devote their blockers to Pierre-Paul without feeling any risk of reprisal on the other side of the line. 

    He'll see more of them in 2013 and he'll need to be able to beat them if he's going to be successful, but the Giants are also going to need to do more to help put him into a position to succeed. After all, putting all the weight on one player is going to make him look heavy when the rest of the defense is allowed to put up an anorexic front. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Pierre-Paul's the backbone of the defense, so Coughlin wants to see less of a belly.Pierre-Paul's the backbone of the defense, so Coughlin wants to see less of a belly.

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    It's a big week for social networking sites.

    Seven years ago on Thursday, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey sent his first tweet into the Twitterverse. The microblogging site celebrated its seventh birthday with a video on YouTube, which coincidentally had its own milestone on Wednesday. YouTube announced that it had hit 1 billion monthly unique users.

    "If YouTube were a country, we’d be the third largest in the world after China and India," YouTube wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. The Google-owned site did not explain when it reached the 1 billion user mark.

    Both Twitter and YouTube were born around the same time and have since experienced growth at breakneck speeds. They each boast the ability to connect people around the world through the exchange of real-time information.

    "As we’ve grown, Twitter has become a true global town square — a public place to hear the latest news, exchange ideas and connect with people all in real time," Twitter's editorial director Karen Wickre wrote in a blog post. "This is where you come to connect with the world at large. Get on your soapbox to critique elected officials, or go sotto voce to the neighbor next to you."

    The birthday video highlights landmark moments in its 7-year history: tweets about the dramatic U.S. Airways plane landing on New York City's Hudson River, the first tweet from space and tweets from Tahrir Square during Egypt's revolution in 2011.

    The video ends with the introduction of its own video service Vine, which launched in January.

    Twitter now has over 200 million users, who send over 400 million tweets each day, Wickre said, a user base that its start-up team only "dreamed about back in 2006." This is a marked increase from last year, when the company said it was seeing 340 million tweets per day.

    YouTube credits its growth to a group of people Nielsen calls Gen C, a generation of young people, ages 18 to 34, characterized by high connectivity through smartphones.

    YouTube viewership on smartphones from this group shot up 74 percent from last year, according to Google. Sixty-seven percent of members of Gen C watch YouTube on multiple devices, compared to 53 percent of the general population.

    Young users are tuning in while waiting in line, commuting and during TV commercials, according to Google, and advertisers take notice. Google says all of Ad Age Top 100 brands have campaigns on YouTube.

    YouTube had another milestone last December when Korean pop star PSY's music video "Gangnam Style" was the first in Internet history to hit one billion views.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Social media made headlines this week with some important milestones.Social media made headlines this week with some important milestones.

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    A Wolcott middle school has banned shirts with a certain cat because of what the logo represents, according to the Waterbury Republican-American.

    Students at Tyrrell Middle School were wearing shirts that have the logo of OFWGKTA, a band whose letters stand for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, and school officials said the logo “stands for something vile.”

    Joseph Macary, Supt. of Schools, issued a statement about the T-shirt controversy.

    "The Wolcott Public Schools believes in and supports the First Amendment rights of students, in accordance with both court decisions and the policies of the Wolcott Board of Education.  The Wolcott Public Schools has always and will continue to allow students their rights of free expression, so long as all students exercise their rights without creating a substantial disruption to the educational environment for all students," the statement said.

    This ban comes weeks after another student in Wolcott won his own battle to wear a controversial shirt. 

    Seth Groody, a Wolcott High School student, wore a shirt bearing a rainbow with a red bar through it during a "Day of Silence" at the school, part of a national event to bring awareness to the problem of bullying of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students in school.

    School administrators made him change the shirt and threatened him with suspension, but the American Civil Liberties Union stepped in and threatened to file a lawsuit on Groody's behalf. Last month, the school decided to allow Groody to wear the shirt.

     


     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 28:  Tyler the Creator from the band Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA), winner of the Best New Artist Award for LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 28: Tyler the Creator from the band Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA), winner of the Best New Artist Award for ""Yonkers" poses in the press room during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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    The state plans to release additional information next week on the investigation into the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, Gov. Dannel Malloy said on Thursday and he said he is “bewildered” by House Republican Leader Larry Cafero’s request for a special briefing.

    State Police Colonel Danny Stebbins recently spoke at the International Association of Police Chiefs and Colonels mid-year meeting and told other officers about an elaborate spreadsheet the shooter had in his home documenting mass shootings, according to a report published on Monday in the New York Daily News.
     
    That column prompted House Republican Leader Larry Cafero to call on police to release preliminary details on the investigation. He said police have an obligation to provide the same details presented during that conference to the public as well.

    In response to the reports, Lt. Paul Vance, of Connecticut State Police, released a statement. 

    "The families of the victims continue to be a priority in this investigation and this fact was clearly stated at the seminar," Vance said. "It is unfortunate that someone in attendance chose not to honor Colonel Stebbins’ request to respect the families’ right to know specifics of the investigation first."

    Malloy also said he was disappointed that certain information was “leaked.”

    “Like many others, I was disappointed and angered to learn that certain information about the Newtown shooting had been leaked, specifically with concern for the victim’s families who may have been hearing this news for the first time,” Malloy said in a statement.

    He said his office has contacted the Chief State’s Attorney and asked that release additional information relevant to the investigation be released and to provide a status on where the investigation currently stands. The Chief State’s Attorney has agreed and the information will be provided by Friday, March 29, Malloy said.

    “As to what information can reasonably be shared at this time – that is a question that must be left to the State’s Attorney and other law enforcement.  As a former prosecutor, I’m sensitive to the need for an independent investigation and believe that we must allow their work to continue without any undue interference,” Malloy said.

    Malloy, a Democrat, also questioned what information House Republican Leader Cafero and other lawmakers need to address legislation.

    “Having said all that, I will also say that I am bewildered by the demands of Mr. Cafero and others for a special briefing they claim is necessary in order for them to take a firm position on potential legislative responses to this horrific tragedy,” Malloy said. “To Mr. Cafero and those others I must ask: what more could you possibly need to know? We know for a fact that on December 14, a very disturbed young man took a military-style rifle with high-capacity magazines into a school and murdered 20 innocent children and six innocent adults.  We know he had access to that weapon and others, although they were registered to someone else.”

    Malloy unveiled his own set of gun control proposals in February http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Malloy-Unveils-His-Own-Gun-Control-Proposals--192290871.html and said this week that he was disappointed that the assault weapons ban was excluded from legislation the U.S. Senate is considering.

    “Today, more than three months later, the vast majority of people in Connecticut can agree on some simple, common-sense things we can do – right now – to ban the sale of the weapon he used, to outlaw the high-capacity magazines he used, and to put in place systems that will make it much more difficult for a weapon like that to fall into the wrong hands,” Malloy said in a statement released on Thursday.


     



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    A chaotic scene outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a mass shooting.A chaotic scene outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a mass shooting.

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    Three weeks before opening day for the New Britain Rock Cats, firefighters put out a fire at the team’s batting cages and the former team owner said it appears that some youths set the fire.

    Flames and smoke poured from the cages and the New Britain City Journal captured this video at the scene.

    Bill Dowling, who owned the team and sold much of the stake to an investment group, said some kids who were by the batting cages were apparently playing in the battling cages and lit small fires. One fire ignited the net and metal with fire and it quickly spread.

    Firefighters got the flames under control and contained it so it did not spread to any structures.

    Police have not yet released any information about the incident, but a crew from NBC Connecticut saw a youth in the back seat of a New Britain cruiser.
     



    Photo Credit: New Britain City Journal

    Firefighters put out a fire at the Rock Cats Stadium.Firefighters put out a fire at the Rock Cats Stadium.

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    Funeral arrangements have been set for Monday for a Connecticut Army Captain killed in Afghanistan.

    A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. George Church, 33 Whitfield Street in Hartford at 11 a.m. for Capt. Andrew Pedersen-Keel, according to Col. John Whitford, of the Connecticut National Guard.

    Pedersen-Keel, 28, was killed March 11 when a man dressed as an Afghan police officer opened fire on U.S. and Afghan forces in the eastern province of Wardak.

    He will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday.

    Pedersen-Keel graduated from Avon Old Farms in 2002 and then graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2006. He served two tours in Afghanistan and on his latest tour, was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

    He received several awards, including two Bronze Star Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the National Defense Service Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

    Pedersen-Keel's had ties to Madison as well. His parents moved there in 2003.



    Photo Credit: Department of Defense

    Capt. Andrew Michael Pedersen-Keel.Capt. Andrew Michael Pedersen-Keel.

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