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  • 06/18/15--05:15: McDonald's to Shrink in U.S.

  • The burger chain that put "supersize" into the American vernacular is slimming down: For the first time in more than 40 years, and perhaps ever, McDonald's says the number of U.S. restaurants it has will shrink.

    McDonald's plans to close more restaurants in the U.S. than it opens this year, according to the world's biggest hamburger chain. That hasn't happened since at least 1970, according to an Associated Press review of McDonald's regulatory filings.

    Becca Hary, a McDonald's spokeswoman, declined to provide a specific figure but said the reduction would be "minimal" compared with its total of about 14,300 U.S. locations.

    Still, the contraction is symbolic of troubles under the Golden Arches and how it's trying to regroup.

    The company enjoyed rapid expansion for much of its history by offering consistent food at affordable prices. It even thrived during the recession, when its Dollar Menu drew in people trying to save money and new products like McCafe coffee drove up sales.

    But since then, chains like Chipotle that market themselves as serving better food and ingredients have chipped away at McDonald's dominance. A new breed of "better burger" chains such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries is taking away customers, too.

    McDonald's past success led to "a natural overconfidence," said John Gordon, a restaurant industry analyst with Pacific Management Consulting Group.

    "McDonald's is such an internally focused organization, it's a situation where you don't have a fresh perspective coming in," Gordon said.

    McDonald's executives have also conceded that an overly complicated menu led to inaccurate orders and longer wait times, and that they failed to keep pace with changing tastes.

    CUTTING THE FAT

    In April, McDonald's said it would close about 700 underperforming locations around the world this year, including in the U.S. CEO Steve Easterbrook, who stepped into the role on March 1, also later laid out plans to restructure the company to remove layers of bureaucracy and move more nimbly.

    In any given year, some underperforming McDonald's restaurants will close. But previously, the number of closings has been outweighed by new restaurants that open.

    The U.S. store closings will be a mix of franchised and company-owned locations, Hary said. She noted that the closings are part of a strategic review intended to set the stage for the future growth. The company did not provide a list of locations expected to close.

    McDonald's Corp. has not reported an annual reduction in U.S. locations since at least 1970, according to archived filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For 1969, McDonald's did not include a U.S. store count in its annual report.

    The company declined to comment on the last time it reduced its U.S. store base. But given the rapid expansion that characterized its early years, it's likely McDonald's hadn't pulled back since Ray Kroc founded the company in 1955.

    SATURATION POINT OR ROOM TO RUN?

    Closing weak stores isn't unusual for companies trying to turn around their fortunes. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz shuttered hundreds of U.S. cafes after returning to head the company in 2008. Since then, the coffee chain has enjoyed healthy sales growth and expanded its footprint.

    Mike Donahue, who served as McDonald's chief communications officer before leaving in 2006, said McDonald's hasn't necessarily reached its limit in the U.S.

    "The only thing that stops growth is relevancy to the customer," said Donahue, who has since co-founded Lyfe Kitchen, a chain that positions itself as serving more wholesome food.

    Even though it's closing locations, McDonald's easily remains the country's biggest hamburger chain. It still has more than twice as many restaurants as No. 2 Burger King, according to the industry tracker Technomic.

    Among all fast-food chains, Subway has the most locations in the country with about 27,000 stores, though they do far less business than the typical McDonald's.

    And McDonald's is still growing globally. It plans to add about 300 restaurants to its worldwide total of more than 36,000.

    Donahue said that people were saying decades ago that McDonald's had reached its saturation point in the U.S. But within the company, he said there was always confidence that there was room to expand.

    Even when McDonald's closed underperforming stores in the past, he said it would open new restaurants in better locations. The closings this year appear to be a way to strengthen its base of stores, he said.

    "What they're doing is pruning the tree," he said. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    High school student Angel Torres's family won't see him cross the stage to get a diploma from Sport and Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford because the quote he submitted to the yearbook visually spelled out something profane.

    It was published and now Angel has made his mark.

    "It didn't have anything bad," he said Wednesday. "It was just how the words were lined up."

    Now, the principal at SMSA won't let Angel Torres line up in cap and gown to get his diploma. Angel read his yearbook quote out loud: "SMSA has taught me valuable lessons, such as friendship, unity, community, kindness, youth optimism and understanding. Thank you sports and medical sciences academy."

    His sister, Melissa Perez, said, "Since he read it to me, I didn't hear anything wrong with it. I said, 'It's good.'"

    You have to see the quote and capitalize the first letters of the words to realize Angel was, well, not being an angel.

    "All the students, they saw the yearbook quote, spread it and it got to the teachers then eventually it went up to the principal himself," Torres said.

    Angel's family got the fateful phone call from the school Tuesday. For what his quote has done to the SMSA yearbook, Torres won't be allowed to go to graduation Friday.

    "Everyone wants to cross the stage and since I can't, that's what really bothers me most," he said.

    Hartford Public Schools officials declined to comment.

    Angel's sister is offering to write letters of apology to everyone Angel has offended. He can still get his diploma, next week.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    High school student Angel Torres's family won't see him cross the stage to get a diploma from Sport and Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford because the quote he submitted to the yearbook visually spelled out something profane.High school student Angel Torres's family won't see him cross the stage to get a diploma from Sport and Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford because the quote he submitted to the yearbook visually spelled out something profane.

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    Whether you came to Chicago or watched from home, we have complete coverage of today's Blackhawks parade and rally.

    Check below for the as-it-happened updates and news on the events:



    Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

    Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks holds the Stanley Cup trophy during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship Rally at Soldier Field on June 18, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks holds the Stanley Cup trophy during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship Rally at Soldier Field on June 18, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

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    Police are investigating after burglars slammed a car into a gun shop and stole guns.

    Photo Credit: Woodbridge Police

    Police are searching for several people who crashed into Woodbridge gun shop early Wednesday morning and stole several guns.Police are searching for several people who crashed into Woodbridge gun shop early Wednesday morning and stole several guns.

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    Crews are responding to a gas leak at Family Dollar, at 380 New Hartford Road in Winsted, according to Litchfield County dispatchers, and the store has been evacuated.

    The store is in the Ames Plaza.

    Officials said no other businesses in the plaza are affected or evacuated.



    Photo Credit: NBC10

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    A 22-year-old woman is in the hospital after someone shot her as she drove in Hartford early Thursday morning.

    Police responded to 125 Martin Street just after 1:30 a.m. when they received a shot spotter alert of three gunshots and found shell casings, police said.

    As officers were heading to the address, the dispatcher alerted them about a gray or white vehicle speeding north on Martin Street.

    Police also learned that a 22-year-old woman with a gunshot wound to the leg arrived at Saint Francis Hospital’s emergency room in a private vehicle.

    Police questioned a passenger, who said they were traveling north on Martin Street when they heard three gunshots so the driver sped up, realized she had been shot and drove to the hospital, police said.

    Doctors treated the victim and the hospital released her.

    Police said the major crimes detectives are investigating. They have not identified any suspects or witnesses.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Brian Williams will not return to the anchor desk at "NBC Nightly News," the network announced Thursday, more than four months after he was suspended for misrepresenting his experiences as a journalist.

    Lester Holt, who has anchored the show since Williams was suspended back in February, will take over that position permanently, the network said.

    Williams will take on a new role anchoring breaking news for MSNBC, the network said.

    "Lester has done outstanding work for NBC News over the last 10 years, and he's performed remarkably well over the last few months under very tough circumstances," NBC News chairman Andy Lack said in a statement Thursday. "He's an exceptional anchor who goes straight to the heart of every story and is always able to find its most direct connection to the everyday lives of our audience."

    Holt called the new permanent role "an enormous honor" in his own statement.

    "The respect and admiration I have for the Nightly News team has only grown deeper over the last several months that we've been together," he said. "I'm very proud and grateful to be part of such an unflappable and dedicated team of professionals as we move forward together."

    NBC suspended Williams for six months on Feb. 10 after he admitted to erring when he said on-air that he had been in a helicopter hit by enemy fire during the Iraq War, when in fact his helicopter had not been hit.

    The network subsequently ordered an internal investigation into his reporting and the way he described his experiences, most often in talk show appearances.

    The review found Williams made a number of inaccurate statements about his own role and experiences covering events in the field. The statements did not for the most part occur on NBC News platforms in the immediate aftermath of news events, but usually years later.

    “I’m sorry. I said things that weren’t true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust," Williams said in a statement Thursday. "I will greatly miss working with the team on Nightly News, but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor. I will support him 100% as he has always supported me. I am grateful for the chance to return to covering the news. My new role will allow me to focus on important issues and events in our country and around the world, and I look forward to it.”

    This TV station is owned by parent company NBCUniversal.


    Brian Williams won't return to Brian Williams won't return to "NBC Nightly News" as the show's anchor. Lester Holt will become his permanent replacement.

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    A man who claimed that he was kidnapped and forced to break into his workplace, then pour gasoline has been charged with setting fire to the business.

    Officials started investigating a fire at Honey Cell, at 600 Bridgeport Ave. in Shelton, when they received reports at 12:30 a.m. on June 8, according to police.

    Several employees were at the company at the time and first responders found fire damage in an office, but sprinklers had gone off and extinguished the blaze.

    Soon after crews received the reports of the fire, Allister James, 31, of Ansonia called 911 and told dispatchers he’s been kidnapped, so officers rushed to the commuter lot on Bridgeport Avenue to speak with him.

    James told police he was kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to break into his workplace at Honey Cell and spread gasoline in an office, police said.

    He also told police that one of the kidnappers set the office on fire as he spread the gasoline.

    Medics transported James to the hospital to be treated for injuries sustained during the fire.

    Shelton Detectives, the fire marshal and the State Police Fire and Explosion Unit investigated.

    Detectives could not validate James’ claim of being kidnapped and determined he set it, police said.

    James has been charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree arson, first-degree reckless endangerment and first-degree criminal mischief.

    James was being held on a $250,000 bond and is expected to be arraigned on June 18 at Derby Court.
     



    Photo Credit: Shelton Police

    Allister James is accused of lying about being kidnapped and then setting a fire at his company.Allister James is accused of lying about being kidnapped and then setting a fire at his company.

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    A fire burning near Big Bear in the San Bernardino National Forest continues to swell, forcing evacuations and confounding firefighters' efforts to contain it.

    The blaze in the area of Jenks Lake in the Barton Flats was approximately 7,500 acres in size as of noon on Thursday -- growing five times in four hours -- and remained 5 percent contained, according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department. It was burning timber and grass and prompted more than 150 people to be evacuated.

    "When you have fires that burn in timber, the way this one's doing here, it creates its own weather," said Chon Bribiescas, with the U.S. Forest Service. "Because it's heavy timber ... there's a lot of heat. It kind of does what it wants to do"

    It was reported just before 4 p.m. Wednesday, and is burning east of Camp de Benneville Pines south of Jenks Lake Road. Resources deployed include 11 engines, five air tankers, five helicopters and an air attack plane

    An extra 300 firefighters have been called in to battle the fire, bringing the total headcount up to 400 firefighters. Bribiescas said winds gusted up to 35 mph.

    Jenks Lake Road and the San Gorgonio Wilderness are closed. No structures have been damaged so far, though several are at risk.

    Twenty to 25 residences were evacuated on Rainbow Lane in the Onyx Summit area by Thursday morning, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

    Campground evacuations include 120 people from Camp de Benneville Pines, one person from Camp Ta Ta Pochon, 24 people from Camp Alpine Meadows, 23 people from Camp Edwards, and 10 people from Camp Tulakes. Children from the camps were bused to Citrus Valley High School in Redlands to be reunited with their parents.

    Evauations also were ordered along Highway 38, east of Angelus Oaks to Onyx Summit. The road was closed Thursday morning between Angelus Oaks and Lake Williams.

    Strong wind gusts are expected Thursday in the mountain community east of Los Angeles.

     

    "This will definitely impact the firefight up in Big Bear," NBC4 forecaster Crystal Egger said.

    Authorities say travelers heading up to Big Bear should use state highway 330 to highway 18, and to stay off highway 38 as that is the main route being used by firefighters.

    Wildfire activity in California is nearly double the average for this time of year after a dry and warm winter, according to CalFire. The state fire agency responded to more than 1,100 wildfires that charred more than 4,200 acres between the start of the year and May.

    Conditions are much drier than normal across the state, raising the risk of rapidly spreading fires.



    Photo Credit: Dolf Castillo

    Smoke billowed from a wildfire being called the Smoke billowed from a wildfire being called the "Lake Fire" in San Bernardino National Forest, as seen in this NBC4 viewer-submitted photo form Thursday, June 18, 2015.

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    When 50 Cent makes an appearance at a bottle signing for his vodka label, the crowds follow.

    Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, made a name for himself as a singer and rapper, but he’s also an entrepreneur and the face of EFFEN Vodka, which will bring him to the Brookside Discount Wine in Bridgeport this afternoon.

    So, expect scores of people at Brookside Discount Wine and Liquor between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

    Jackson invests in the company, according to Syracuse.com, and crowds have been buying in mass quantities when he travels to do bottle signings.

    There are several varieties of EFFEN Vodka, including original, black cherry, cucumber, Dutch raspberry and salted caramel.

    If you go, share your photos with us by including @NBCConnecticut in your Tweets  or emailing shareit@nbcconnecticut.com
     



    Photo Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

    FILE - In this May 29, 2013, rapper Curtis FILE - In this May 29, 2013, rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson attends the "After Earth" premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre, in New York. Jackson has been charged with attacking his ex-girlfriend and trashing her Los Angeles condo last month. City Attorney Mike Feuer said Wednesday, July 3, 2013, the 37-year-old "In da Club" singer is charged with domestic violence and vandalism. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

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  • 06/18/15--09:52: More Clouds Than Sun Today

  • A warm front over Pennsylvania has resulted in more clouds than sun over Connecticut. There can be a sprinkle or spot shower through this evening with temperatures in the 70s.

    Scattered showers continue overnight in advance of a cold front.

    The front will clear the state tomorrow morning, so improvement will be the name of the day to close the workweek. Morning clouds give way to afternoon sun!

    Temperatures on Friday will be in the 80s inland, upper-70s at the shoreline with little humidity.
    Father’s Day weekend is split.

    Saturday is the pick of the weekend with mostly sunny conditions, temperatures in the 70s, and little humidity. A beach day!

    Bill’s moisture arrives on Sunday and unfortunately makes for a wet end to the weekend. It could be a soaking rain with temperatures in the 70s and high levels of humidity.

    Some locations in New England will get more than one inch of rain. The exact location of the rain bullseye still needs to be determined.

    Early and middle parts of next week appear to be dry with sun and clouds and temperatures in the 80s.

    Stay with the NBC Connecticut First Alert weather team for the very latest forecast on-air, online and on the app.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Two rollover crashed slowed the early-morning commute on Thursday morning, but one scene is clearing and another has cleared.

    There was a rollover on Interstate 84 East between exits 58 and 59 in East Hartford, but it is clearing.

    Police said two cars collided around 4:30 a.m. One car rolled over and one person was injured.

    There was also a rollover on Interstate 91 North by exit 12 in North Haven, but that has cleared.

    Minor injuries are reported in the North Haven crash.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

    This rollover in East Hartford was one of two that affected the early-morning commute.This rollover in East Hartford was one of two that affected the early-morning commute.

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    Sean Pesce was just 20 years old when he deployed to Afghanistan as an Army Ranger with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

    October 12, 2012 started like any other day on the tour of duty.

    “Normal day pretty much,” Pesce recalls. “Just woke up, the mission got called down, we geared up and got ready.”

    It was supposed to be the last mission before his unit returned home to the United States, but Pesce almost didn’t make it home at all. While securing the rooftop of a compound on the search for a wanted terrorist, insurgents opened fire.

    “I didn’t know the severity of the injury or how many times, I just knew that I got hit. From there, it was just a firefight,” Pesce said.

    The attack killed Sgt. Thomas MacPherson and left Pesce paralyzed from the waist down. He was shot 13 times and six bullets caused major organ damage.

    After 15 months of painful rehabilitation and surgeries, Pesce was finally able to return home to Connecticut. He moved back in with his parents and two brothers in his childhood home in West Haven.

    Although the family has made some modifications to the home, including an outdoor wheelchair lift, it’s a tight fit. Narrow doorways make it difficult to maneuver his wheelchair. Light switches are hard to reach. Even bathing is complicated; Pesce has to move chairs in and out of the shower in a small bathroom.

    “I can’t go upstairs to my brother’s room or anything, there’s no way for me to get up there,” Pesce explains, “so I’m pretty much just confined to this floor.”

    That’s why the nonprofit Homes For Our Troops wants to build him a mortgage-free, specially adapted home – and help him rebuild his life.

    Pesce hopes to attend college, open his own coffee shop and eventually serve his country again in the political arena. He said this home will give him the freedom and independence to achieve those goals.

    To help raise money for the project, local radio hosts Chaz and AJ of WPLR 99.1, 91.9 The Fox and 102.9 The Whale are hosting a Veterans Ball in Pesce’s honor on Friday night in North. Haven.

    “All these brave men and women who are fighting for our freedom, it’s the least we can do,” AJ said. “We want to give back, we want to say thank you so much, and we want to help.”

    To find out how you can help and/or attend the Veterans Ball, visit www.chazandajinthemorning.com or make a donation at http://www.hfotusa.org/pesce.
     



    Photo Credit: Submitted

    Sean Pesce was injured while serving in Afghanistan and now people are coming together to build him a home he can easily get around in a wheelchair.Sean Pesce was injured while serving in Afghanistan and now people are coming together to build him a home he can easily get around in a wheelchair.

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    Police have arrested an unregistered home healthcare aide who is suspected of stealing more than $100,000 in cash and jewelry from at least five Fairfield County families.

    Kris Marsan, of Fairfield, was supposed to be caring for elderly clients in their homes when the crimes happened, according to police.

    She is accused of stealing from elderly residents of Fairfield and Monroe and police in Norwalk and Westport are investigating her for similar crimes.

    Fairfield police arrested her on June 15 after a complaint was filed alleging she stole more than $5,000 while working as a home health aide for an elderly client between Sept. 10, 2014 and Sept. 15, 2014.

    She is accused of stealing several pieces of jewelry from the dresser drawers of the victim, who hired Marsan to care for her mother at their home.

    Police charged Marsan with third-degree larceny and she is due in court on June 30 for that case.

    This was the second time Marsan was accused of stealing from clients in Fairfield, according to police.

    In January, a man called police to report that he suspected Marsan of stealing $6,500 in cash and jewelry from his 87-year-old mother.

    He told police he hired Marsan to assist with his mother's care and had video of her stealing cash from her bedroom dresser drawer.

    Marsan is also suspected of stealing all the jewelry from an elderly woman in Monroe while house-sitting for the woman, who was recovering at Lord Chamberlain in Stratford.

    When the client returned home, all her jewelry was gone, police said.

    Marsan is also suspected of stealing more than $60,000 worth of jewelry from a Norwalk client, according to Fairfield police.

    The daughter of the victim in that case also told Fairfield Police to report that she’d referred Marsan to another family in Westport and Marsan was suspected of stealing a checkbook and writing herself checks for $30,000.

    The Norwalk and Westport case are under investigation and police are urging residents to investigate caretakers before hiring them.

    "People have to be very careful. This is a person who was clearly preying on senior citizens so people have to be very careful when you’re going to invite someone into your home to take care of your loved one," Lt. James Perez, of the Fairfield Police Department, said.
     



    Photo Credit: Fairfield Police

    Kris Marsan is accused of stealing from several elderly clients.Kris Marsan is accused of stealing from several elderly clients.

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    A 24-year-old uniformed NYPD officer assigned to transit foot patrol in Coney Island shot and killed a man who attacked him with an 11-inch hunting knife when the cop tried to arrest him for attacking a 78-year-old woman on a subway platform Thursday, police said.

    Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the 58-year-old suspect attacked the 78-year-old woman on the Ocean Parkway Q train platform around 1:30 p.m., not long after the woman, a stranger to the suspect, had tried to intervene in a separate dispute the suspect had had with a shop owner in a nearby store.

    The suspect wrestled the woman to the ground, and she suffered bruises in the altercation, authorities said. The 24-year-old police officer followed the suspect to the street and tried to arrest him, but the man pulled out the hunting knife and stabbed the officer in the neck, Bratton said. 

    The officer fired two shots, striking the suspect in the torso. The suspect, whose identity is being withheld pending family notification, was pronounced dead at the scene; his knife was recovered.

    Authorities said the injured officer, who has been with the department since January 2013, received a few stitches to his neck wound; additional testing showed no internal injuries and he is expected to be OK. Bratton said he would be held at the hospital overnight.

    Mayor de Blasio, who also met with the officer and the officer's family, said the cop was in good spirits and was proud of his actions. De Blasio said the city was proud of his bravery as well. 



    Photo Credit: nnagima07 / Instagram

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    A man suspected of supporting ISIS-related activities was arrested as FBI agents raided a home in New Jersey early Thursday, accused of conspiring with at least one of the other men arrested in the area this week in the same case, law enforcement officials said.

    The Fort Lee man, Samuel Rahamin Topaz, 21, was appeared in federal court in Newark Thursday on material support for terror charges. He is being held without bail.

    A phone message was left for Topaz's attorney. 

    The arrest is the fourth person allegedly linked to ISIS this week in the tri-state area.

    The investigation into Topaz, a U.S. citizen, began when a friend reported to the FBI that he may try to travel overseas, according to the criminal complaint. 

    Topaz watched ISIS videos with co-conspirators and held meetings with other suspects, including one near the World Trade Center site, the complaint stated.

    There were dozens of phone calls and text messages between Topaz and his alleged co-conspirators, including the Queens college student arrested Saturday in the same case. Text messages showed Topaz was planning to travel to Iraq or Syria by way of Jordan; one allegedly said: "I'm saving my money for it, bro, trust me, I got it." 

    A Facebook page showed photos of Topaz dressed as a jihadist fighter, according to the complaint. 

    The FBI said Topaz also met regularly with two others who have not been charged -- dual citizens of the U.S. and Jordan, ages 20 and 23. The younger one left the U.S. on May 5 for Jordan and presumably attempted to travel on to Syria, the FBI said. 

    Under questioning, Topaz said he sympathized with ISIS and watched videos, and admitted speaking with three others about wanting to join ISIS, the complaint stated. 

    On Saturday, 20-year-old Queens college student Munther Omar Saleh and a 17-year-old were arrested near the Whitestone Bridge.

    Saleh is accused of allegedly scouting possible targets for an ISIS-inspired attack. Court documents say Saleh also charged law enforcement officers with a knife when he saw them conducting surveillance of him and another alleged conspirator Saturday. No one was hurt.

    The 17-year-old faces state charges in Queens.

    The charges against Saleh accuse him of trying to acquire knowledge and materials to build a bomb and carry out some kind of attack here; the charges against Topaz make no allegation that he intended to carry out any kind of attack in the U.S. 

    FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Frankel said Thursday: "Topaz conspired to provide services and personnel to ISIL. Topaz discussed his desire to travel to Syria to join ISIL. Fortunately, this threat did not materialize due to the indefatigable efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. I ask the citizens of New Jersey to assist us in this task by remaining vigilant and contacting the FBI or the police if they see or hear anything suspicious.”

    On Wednesday, 21-year-old Fareed Mumuni was charged with attempting to murder an FBI agent after he allegedly tried to repeatedly stab the agent -- and others -- who entered his home to conduct a search warrant in connection with the ongoing ISIS investigation involving Saleh.

    No serious injuries were reported, and Mumuni was also accused of conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and trying to assist the terror group in carrying out an attack in the New York area. Saleh allegedly gave authorities Mumuni's name while cooperating with officials after his arrest.

    Mumuni allegedly discussed building pressure cooker bombs and using guns to target landmarks and kill police officers.

    Relatives and lawyers for Saleh and Mumuni have said they deny the charges.


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    The construction company that built the apartment complex in Berkeley where a balcony collapsed during a 21st birthday party, sending six students to their deaths, has been sued at least twice and paid $6.5 million to settle the suits in cases that claimed its balconies prematurely rotted and failed.

    Segue Construction, the Pleasanton-based contractor that built the Library Gardens apartments on 2020 Kittredge Street, was sued by homeowners' associations in San Jose and Millbrae. Among other allegations, Segue was accused of improperly waterproofing balconies.

    Court filings reviewed by NBC Bay Area showed that Segue paid $3 million in 2014 to settle a lawsuit over “water penetration” problems on dozens of balconies at the 245-unit Pines at North Park Apartments at 70 Descanso Drive in San Jose. The Irvine Co. accused Segue of “failing to design the breezeways, private balconies and stairwells at the project in substantial compliance with all applicable local and state codes and according to industry standard.”

    And in 2013, Segue paid $3.5 million to settle a case brought by the owners of a 109-unit condominium complex that had been completed just three years earlier on El Camino Real in Millbrae, according to court documents filed in San Mateo County.

    Segue was the general contractor in the Millbrae case but was not named specically as a defendant in the original complaint, according to attorney Rachel Miller, a senior partner at the Miller Law Firm in San Francisco. An insurance company that represents Segue and all the other building contractors involved that project ended up paying the settlement recovery to the homeowners, Miller said.

    However, Miller said the similarities of the Millbrae case and Berkeley are striking.

    In the Millbrae case, the contractor failed to waterproof the balconies, which caused "immense dry rot and mold." No one has been able to use the balconies there for 18 months, she said, and the Park Broadway Homeowners Association is is now in the process of opening up bids process to repair the balconies.

    The homeowners board discovered the issue, Miller said, while doing their "due diligence" and hired independent experts after several tenants complained.

    Segue spokesman Sam Singer said such litigation is common on large projects and "has no bearing on the tragedy" in Berkeley.

    "They are completely different projects. They are completely different types of balconies," he said. Singer said of the balcony collapse: "Segue Construction has never had an incident like this in its history."

    The company also issued a statement saying, "Segue’s hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the young people who died or were injured in this tragic accident. We have offered our assistance and full cooperation to investigating authorities. Segue Construction has built more than 6,000 apartment units and has never had an incident like this in its history."

    Cassandra Bujarski, a spokeswoman for the apartments' property management firm, Greystar, had no comment.

    As the city of Berkeley demanded that the property manager take down a second balcony and Berkeley's mayor, Tom Bates, speculated that water damage caused the wooden balcony to rot, hundreds came out to mourn the six who died in the collapse, and the seven sent to hospitals with serious injuries.

    The dead have been identified as: Ashley Donohoe, 22, of Rohnert Park, California, and Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh, all 21-year-olds from Ireland.

    Hundreds came out Wednesday night at vigils to remember them, and pray for a speedy recovery for the survivors.

    The Irish students were working and traveling in the U.S. over the summer on J-1 visas, a rite of passage enjoyed by thousands of their countrymen.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

    Crews take down a second balcony at 2020 Kittredge Street in Berkeley after another one collapsed and killed six students. June 17, 2015Crews take down a second balcony at 2020 Kittredge Street in Berkeley after another one collapsed and killed six students. June 17, 2015

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    Widening I-84 in Waterbury could take five years of construction, with traffic jams at any time.

    The state Department of Transportation has added a traffic map to the project's website, I-84waterbury.com.

    Solar-powered cameras and sensors along the highway tell users of the Internet map how slow traffic is going both eastbound and westbound. There are live camera views on the map.

    At the ends of the construction zone on the map, users can find out how long it'll take to get through the zone.

    What it doesn't tell you is how to avoid the zone. If you get off the highway you find the project has closed Plank Road at Harpers Ferry Road. Detour signs direct traffic through a residential neighborhood.

    "Ten times more traffic than there ever was," said longtime resident Jack Alseph, "and ninety percent of the people are going way too fast."

    Alseph's so frustrated he painted s-l-o-w on the pavement in front of his home. Authorities set up a speed meter drivers can see but it's not working.

    Drivers looking for East Main Street need to slow down for the sharp corner on White Oak Lane.

    "There is another street that runs parallel to this, that's straight," he said, knowing people on Knoll Street may hold it against him if the detour signs are moved their way.

    "It's flat, it's much wider, and it empties right into East Main Street," Alseph said, without the s-curve on White Oak or its blind corner.

    He's just hoping there won't be a head-on crash on his street. But he expects it.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    New Haven police have arrested a suspect in the 2014 murder of a 15-year-old boy.

    Authorities say Lamont Edwards, 37, shot and killed Jacob Cragget on August 8, 2014 in the area of Vernon Street and Davenport Avenue.

    Two others were shot, but survived, police said.

    Edwards is already in prison on unrelated charges. He is a convicted felon with a long rap sheet, including first-degree robbery, second-degree assault with a firearm and several drug charges, according to police.

    He now faces charges of murder, first-degree assault with a firearm, carrying a pistol without a permit and criminal possession of a firearm.

    Edwards is being held on $2 million bond.

    Police say they expect to make another arrest in connection with the incident.


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    Six firefighters were sent to Saint Mary's Hospital after fire broke out at a Waterbury home on Thursday morning.

    Around 10 a.m., crews responded to the fire at 768 Pearl Lake Road and Battalion Chief Bob Stoeckert said the firefighters were putting on masks and getting ready to go inside when fire was blown down on them.

    Some of the firefighters suffered minor burns and others were treated for heat exhaustion, but none of the injuries are life-threatening.

    Some will be returning to work, but others are being placed off duty.

    The cause of the fire is under investigation, but authorities said it started toward the back of the home, which is now uninhabitable.

    Joe Cegelka, a neighbor, rushed home after his wife heard the fire start and called him.

    "I understand, from what my wife told me, it started in the garage and there was some cars stored back there. That's all I know," he said.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Six firefighters were injured while battling a fire at 768 Pearl Lake Road in Waterbury.Six firefighters were injured while battling a fire at 768 Pearl Lake Road in Waterbury.

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