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Harvard Lets Students Rent Picasso Prints


Harvard University students will be given the chance to rent valuable original prints from artists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol.

The Student Print Rental Program run by the Harvard Art Museums will allow students in university housing to pay $50 to rent an original print, the registrar at the museum, Jessica Diedalis, said. 

This year, a wide variety of modern and contemporary pieces are available, including Warhol's "Fifth New York Film Festival-Lincoln Center" print and Picasso's "Goat's Skull on the Table."

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Reward Offered for Arrest of Old Lyme Bank Robber


Authorities are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the man who robbed a bank in Old Lyme on Wednesday.

The man, who was wearing a blue-and-white UConn cap and appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, entered the Webster Bank at 7 Halls Road just before noon Wednesday, according to police.

He put money in a satchel and left the bank on a bicycle.

Police said the man is between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet tall. He wore glasses and had "a day or two of facial hair growth." The man was clad in a white T-shirt with dark-colored sleeves, khaki shorts and white sneakers.

The Connecticut Bankers Reward Association is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to his arrest.

Police are asking anyone with information to call State Police Troop F in Westbrook at 860-399-2100 or Det. Jim McGlynn directly at 860-399-2118.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

High Police Presence at New Haven Station During Pope Visit


The pope’s visit to the U.S. means increased security around the country, including here in Connecticut, where commuters will notice a higher police presence at New Haven's Union Station over the next couple days.

Pope Francis, who finished out his first full day in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, continues his U.S. tour with a stop in New York on Thursday and Friday.

The pontiff's itinerary includes visits to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and an address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Police expect many will travel to see him.

"I heard that they are expecting some big crowds," said Kalin Kanov, of Hamden.

A couple who happened to be traveling to New York for business will be in the area of one of the pope's stops.

"I think our event (Thursday) afternoon is about a block away. So who knows, we might have a chance to run into him and if we did that’s great. He’s an honorable man who I think has tried to do some really good work in the body of the church," said Danville, Kentucky, resident John Roush.

Because of the expected increase in train travelers, additional officers will be present at Union Station on Thursday from noon until 6 p.m., according to police.

Commuters will notice increased patrols during the morning and afternoon rush Friday.

"It’s good because too many crazy things have been happening lately," said New Haven resident Dmario Parish.

Metro-North says its schedule for Thursday is normal, but changes including additional trains and cancellations will take effect Friday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Could Pope's Address to Congress Hurt GOP?


Members of the Republican party may be put in an awkward spot if Pope Francis’ historic address to Congress on Thursday resembles his speech at the White House.

The leader of the Catholic Church called out for a tolerant and inclusive society on Wednesday.

“As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.”

His comments contrast those made by some Republican presidential nominees, including Ben Carson, who suggested that a Muslim should not be president. The pontiff’s comments on his own heritage also set as a reminder of Donald Trump’s calls to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Motorcyclist Airlifted After Crash Near UConn in Storrs


A motorcycle driver was airlifted to the hospital Wednesday evening after colliding with a car on North Eagleville Road near the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs, according to emergency dispatchers.

The motorcyclist, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to Windham Hospital, then airlifted to Hartford Hospital for further treatment. The person's condition is unknown.

Dispatchers said a car and motorcycle collided around 4 p.m.

North Eagleville Road was closed in the area but has since reopened.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

New Britain Clears Hurdle in Plan to Bring Baseball Back to City


A unanimous vote by New Britain's Common Council on Wednesday night means the city is one step closer to bringing baseball back.

While the Rock Cats' move was a big loss for the Hardware City, common council members believe they've hit a home run by approving a measure that would lease New Britain Stadium to the Atlantic League.

"Baseball lives in New Britain. It's been here for 30-plus years, and it's going to continue. That makes it really good for us to be able to keep providing that family-friendly experience," said New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart.

The league still needs to formally pass the contract, but many officials consider it a done deal. It's a 15-year lease that will bring in $150,000 per year in rent.

"We had some give and takes with general operation of the stadium because they don't have a major league parent company they can go to," said Stewart.

The council put aside some money to make improvements like replacing bleachers and adding a fresh coat of paint. Having the stadium already in place was a big attraction for the Atlantic League, which plans to relocate an existing franchise.

"You don't have to build a ballpark in New Britain. They have a great facility, and that's a great advantage for the Atlantic League," said Atlantic League Executive Director Joe Klein.

Previous Rock Cats ticket holder Raymond Smith says there's no question where he'll go next year.

"I would definitely go to an Atlantic League game in New Britain versus going to Hartford," said Smith.

In the coming weeks, the city will be asking for name suggestions. For those who can't wait, Stewart says you can tweet her your ideas.

If things continue on track, opening day will be the third week of April.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pope Elevates Junipero Serra to Sainthood


Pope Francis canonized the first saint in North America -- Junipero Serra -- on Wednesday afternoon at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., before a crowd of thousands.

Francis celebrated Mass before a large group on a lawn from an altar that had been erected at the east portico of the shrine for this historic occasion.

At the Mass, the Rev. Ken Lavarone from San Diego, who was instrumental in pushing for Serra's canonization, presented the story of the 18th-century priest, detailing his missionary work in California and Mexico and laying the rationale for elevating him to sainthood.

Serra and Francis both come from the Franciscan order with Francis the first Franciscan pope.

The gathered crowd cheered and clapped when Serra was officially named a saint. 

"Today we remember one of those witnesses who testified to the joy of the Gospel in these lands, Father Junípero Serra," Francis said, in Spanish, according to the official translation of his homily.  "He was the embodiment of 'a Church which goes forth', a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God. Junípero Serra left his native land and its way of life. He was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters. Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it. Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people."

Read the full text of Pope Francis' Homily from the Canonization Mass 

The canonization ceremony was not without controversy.

To Francis, Serra was one of the United States’ founding fathers, a missionary who brought the Gospel to the New World.

But to Valentin Lopez, the chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of the Costanoan/Ohlone Indians, Serra was the architect of a brutal mission system that enslaved and terrorized Lopez’s ancestors in California.  

“We’re disappointed but we’re not surprised,” said Lopez, who plans to cut his hair as a sign of mourning. “The church has ignored indigenous people for over 500 years.”

This summer, Francis issued a broad apology for the church's treatment of indigenous populations. 

And Johyn Reyno, a Lakota Indian who lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and who attended the Mass, defended Serra's canonization.

"We've let too much of the secular society bring us to a place where we are no longer spiritual brothers and sisters," he said. "I think really honestly to have somebody give over their entire life, go to another continent and decide that they're going to live a ministry as a missionary, you're not giving over just a little bit. That's not a 40-hour job. And some people get focused on negative things rather than knowing that colonialism and Christianity aren't the same thing."

The Mass drew dignitaries among them Vice President Joe Biden and presidential candidate Jeb Bush. At least two Supreme Court justices were in attendance, Chief Justice John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor.

"Today feels amazing," said John Liston, executive director of Serra International, a international organization founded in 1935 that promotes priesthood and religious life within the Roman Catholic Church. "It’s the first canonization to take place on North American soil and it’s the patron of our organization. He was the spiritual father of western California and we’re very proud to bear his name."

Earlier Wednesday, on Francis' first full day of his six-day visit to the United States, he was welcomed to the White House by President and Michelle Obama. While there, Francis said that climate change was a problem “which can no longer be left to a future generation.”

American Catholics are committed to a “truly tolerant and inclusive” society in which individual rights must be protected, he said.

He greeted crowds in downtown Washington, D.C., riding in the popemobile along a parade route around the National Mall, and afterward held a prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with about 300 American bishops.

Emily Click, the assistant dean for ministry studies and field education at Harvard Divinity School, was in the crowd on the White House lawn. One of the highlights for her was the spirit of the crowd, she said.

"I could just feel the degree to which people really looked to him as a hopeful presence," Click said. "There were little children who were severely disabled and there were elderly people. You saw people who probably don't stand very often getting out of their chairs and standing, I think out of respect."

Francis was greeted at the basilica by about 3,600 American seminarians and men and women novices. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl and Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, the basilica's rector, accompanied Francis to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel for private prayer.

Francis celebrated the Mass on the steps of the east side of the basilica before about 25,000. The Mass and homily were be in Spanish.

Waiting for him before the Mass, 30-year-old Dari Herrera, a family case manager from Gaithersville, Maryland, at a not-profit social services agency, said she liked Francis’ naturalness and determination to forgo the symbols of privilege.

“He does things the other popes didn’t do,” she said. “He’s so natural and so — he didn’t even want to go in the limousine yesterday."

As a Latino, who is speaking out for the poor and for immigrants, he sends a message especially at a time of divisive debates over immigration, she said.

“For us as Latinos, we feel that he has represented us,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where we are from. We are human beings and we should help each other.”

Twenty-one-year Nallely Arriaga of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, said she especially liked the steps Francis has taken to welcome Catholics back to the church, giving priests the authority for a year to forgive women who had had abortions, for example.

“I think that would open a lot of doors for women who have actually aborted to not feel guilty and to get into church and feel closer to God,” she said.

Francis has praised Serra’s willingness to leave his native Spain for hardships in the New World, asking in a homily in May, “I wonder if today we are able to respond with the same generosity and courage to the call of God.”

The pope said that Serra defended Native Americans against abuses by colonizers and that his writings showed respect for indigenous people and their ways.

Teresa Berger, a professor of Catholic theology at Yale University’s Divinity School said that a number of factors could have drawn Francis’ attention to Serra, among them Francis’ knowledge of the missionary work in the Americas and his devotion to St. Francis.

“There are some things that one can praise in Junipero Serra,” she said. “And those are the things that I think Pope Francis has in his mind. And there are also things that are deeply troubling. And that of course is what particularly Native American communities have in mind because they still suffer the consequences of that.”

Francis has been accused of hypocrisy for planning to canonize Serra after apologizing in June during a tour of South America for the “grave sins of colonialism,” a charge leveled by some Native Americans.

Berger disagreed.

“No, they are just seeing different parts of a complicated legacy,” she said.

Harvard Divinity School Professor Francis X. Clooney said that any choice for sainthood would likely be criticized.

“Rarely, in modern times, do you find historical figures about whom there would not be some controversy,” he said. “Even recently with Pope John Paul II — many people were delighted that he was made a saint, but many people had problems with his papacy and questions about it and wished he hadn’t been made a saint.”

Lopez and other Native American leaders said that ceremony would signal that the Roman Catholic Church still treated Native Americans as pagans and savages. Little has changed since official papal documents or bulls of the 15th century considered indigenous people to be pagans, savages and heathens, he said.

In defending the beating of Native Americans, Serra wrote in 1780: "That spiritual fathers should punish their sons, the Indians, with blows appears to be as old as the conquest of the Americas; so general in fact that the saints do not seem to be any exception to the rule."

Lopez wrote this month in a letter to Francis that Indians were never told that once baptized they were be confined involuntarily at the missions and forced to labor for clergy and soldiers. They were captured violently, enslaved, tortured and raped; their unhealthy diet and squalid living quarters resulted in the deaths of an estimated 150,000 California Indians at the missions.

“How the Catholic Church and you, Holy Father, can consider Serra’s actions to be holy, sacred or saintly is incomprehensible to our Tribe,” he wrote.

The first saint to be canonized in the United States, Miguel Jose Serra was born in 1713 on the island of Majorca off the coast of Spain. He was influenced at an early age by St. Francis, and when he decided to enter the priesthood choose the name Junipero after one of St. Francis' companions.

Serra set sail from Majorca in 1749 and after almost two months at sea, he and other missionaries arrived in Puerto Rico. He traveled on to Veracruz, Mexico, walked 250 miles to Mexico City and eventually made his way to San Diego.

He founded nine missions in California before dying in Carmel in 1784. He is buried under the sanctuary floor of the mission church, Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo.

In California, many streets, highways, trails, schools and monuments bear his name. His statue is one of two representing California in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall along with one of former president and California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Its presence has come under debate as well. Some Californians want to replace him with astronaut Sally Ride, a proposal postponed until after the pope's visit.

Clooney said that the process to sainthood was typically a long one with multiple stages. A religious figure is usually identified by a local church, and when support grows, messages begin to be relayed to the Vatican.

“You don’t go from nothing to being a saint,” Clooney said. “What it’s supposed to be is that the pope and his advisors in Rome are recognizing a groundswell of the local church.”

Because the path to sainthood is complicated, Clooney said that the decision to canonize Serra probably preceded Francis’s papacy.

“The pope didn’t decide ‘Oh I have a trip coming up to the United States – who can we canonize while I’m there?’” said Clooney. “He probably was not the instigator of this in the first place, but allowed the process to be completed.”

But Berger said she thought it was Francis’ decision to move forward with the canonization during this trip. Serra was made “blessed” — the stage before sainthood — in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, and could have remained at that stage indefinitely.

The Vatican has recognized only one miracle performed by Serra, another controversial decision: A nun in St. Louis was cured of lupus after praying to him.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington

Three Children Shot in South LA


Three children eating at a taco stand were wounded in a drive-by shooting Wednesday night in South Los Angeles, police said.

Someone in a vehicle fired shots around 8:40 p.m. near the taco stand at the intersection of Figueroa and 94th streets, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

A 13-year-old boy and girl were wounded and transported to a hospital where they were in stable condition. A 10-year-old suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene before he was released, according to the LAPD. 

Police did not have a description of the shooter.

Police said they were looking for a dark-colored SUV and a dark small car.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: OnScene

Donors Support Ben Carson in Wake of Comments


Ben Carson’s fundraising efforts are still going strong, despite comments he recently made that he would not support a Muslim president, NBC News reported.

The Super PAC backing Carson sent an email from the GOP presidential candidate to his supporters saying he “will not back down.” In two hours, donors pledged $300,000 to Carson’s campaign, according to super PAC head John Philip Sousa IV.

"It broke all records,” Sousa said, adding, the controversy neither hurt nor helped the campaign. Instead, it seemed to have added an emphasis to Carson’s message against “political correctness.”

Campaign officials say it was not Carson's intent to anger Muslim-Americans.

Photo Credit: Meet the Press

Police Identify Man at Center of Southington Standoff


A standoff that drew a heavy police presence to Atwater Street in Southington on Wednesday has been resolved, according to police.

Police said Stephen Cieszynski, 46, who barricaded himself inside the house at 108 Atwater Street, has been taken to the hospital for an evaluation. No injuries have been reported.

Officers showed around 11:45 a.m. to check on him. It's not clear why they were called out to conduct a welfare check.

When police arrived, Cieszynski locked himself inside. First responders worked for hours make contact with him, according to police.

The standoff finally came to an end around 6:30 p.m., according to police.

Police have not said whether the man was armed.

Authorities set up a perimeter around the property and asked people to stay inside their homes and businesses.

Atwater Street was closed between Canal Street and the Interstate 84 exit off ramp but has reopened to traffic.

Photo Credit: Alisha Barbuito

2 Hurt, Including Elderly Resident, in East Hartford Fire


Two people, including an elderly resident, were pulled from a burning duplex in East Hartford and rushed to the hospital Wednesday night, according to the fire department.

Fire Chief John Oates said crews were called to the duplex at 25-27 Higbie Drive around 10 p.m. and arrived to find flames engulfing the unit at 25 Higbie Drive.

Firefighters rescued an elderly person from unit 27 and pulled a man from unit 25, according to Oates. Both were taken to Saint Francis Hospital. There has been no word on their conditions.

The fire was under control by 11 p.m. but Oates said crews are still working to put out hot spots. Both sides of the duplex sustained heavy damage.

Crews are investigating to determine the cause of the fire, which they believe broke out in 25 Higbie Drive, according to Oates.

Eversource also responded and cut power to the building.

Police are warning residents to expect road closures in the area.

No additional information was immediately available.

Facebook Crashes After 360-Video Feature Announcement


Facebook appeared to be down briefly midday Thursday for some users; a day after the company announced it was rolling out a 360-degree video feature.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced it was rolling out a new video format on the site's News Feed that would allow users to choose the angle from which they want to watch posted videos. 

The crash also came during Pope Francis' historical visit to the United States. Earlier in the day, the pope was giving a speech to Congress urging lawmakers to embrace migrants and act on climate change.

While it's not clear if the crash had anything to do with the trip, prior to the pontiff's arrival, social media platforms and wireless carriers anticipated activity to rival that of the Super Bowl and are using the big game as a guide for added capacity near pope's stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. 

People turned to Twitter to aired their frustrations about the social networking website, which appeared to be crashing sporadically in the afternoon. 

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Police Charge Man in Hartford Murder


Hartford police have arrested a man suspected in the murder of a 32-year-old father earlier this month.

William Prieto, of Prospect Street, in Hartford, was sitting on his porch at 11:57 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 31 when he was shot and police have charged Anthony Christiana, 27, of Hartford, in the murder

Police said Prieto was shot several times in the upper torso and paramedics at the scene pronounced him dead at 12:34 a.m. on Sept. 1.

Police continue to investigate, but said they believe the motive was connected to drugs and money.

Police picked Christiana up on Tuesday and arrested him on a probation violation for unrelated charges. He is a convicted felon who was previously arrested in Hartford nine times, according to a news release from police.

On Wednesday, they obtained an arrest warrant charging Christiana with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and several firearms charges.

He is being held on a $1 million bond.

ISIS Social Media Activity Down After Top Recruiter Killed


Activity of social media platforms used by ISIS to rage war against the U.S. and its allies appeared to ramp down since the death of a top recruiter in the terrorist group, according to U.S. intelligence sources.

British national Junaid Hassain was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Raqqa, Syria on August 24 and some intelligence officials say they're already seeing the impact of his absence. This wasn't the first time ISIS social media activity had weakened; in 2014 ISIS social media threats dwindled before Hussain brought it back with a vengeance. Hassain was a key player in hacking military websites and encouraging Americans to attack within U.S. Borders.

Some intelligence officials caution it's "too early" to "read too much into it," as ISIS may have switched at least some of its communication to the dark web.

Photo Credit: Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Juvenile Charged With Sex Assault, Attempted Murder


A juvenile suspected of sexually assaulting a woman in her East Hartford home early Saturday morning and stealing a gun has been arrested and charged with attempted murder, as well as additional charges.

East Hartford police responded to a Collimore Road home around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday after receiving a report of a break-in, theft and sex assault.

The victim was treated at St. Francis Hospital and released, according to police, and the nature of her injuries are unknown.

Police said the assailant was described as 13 to 20 years old, with dark hair and they have arrested a juvenile. 

On Thursday, police said they obtained a warrant charging a juvenile with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree sexual assault, home invasion, first-degree assault, first-degree strangulation, first-degree unlawful restraint, theft of a firearm and sixth-degree larceny.

He is being held at Hartford Juvenile Detention Center.

No additional information has been released.

What is the Hajj in Saudi Arabia?


Hajj is known as the most significant ritual in a Muslim person's life.

This is the fifth pillar of Islam and the rituals performed are based on those made by Prophet Muhammad during his last visit to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. 

The pilgrimage must be made by every Muslin who is financially and physically able to once in their lives. The event spans over five days. 

One of the main rituals is circling the Kaaba. Hajj symbolizes unity and Islamic's faith in one god, Allah. 

Stampedes have been a big issue over the years at the Hajj—this year over 700 people were killed.

Photo Credit: AP
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Tanker Truck Breakdown Causes Delays on I-84


Traffic is moving slowly on Interstate 84 after a tanker truck broke down on the eastbound side of the highway near exit 48 in Hartford.

The breakdown is in the far right lane and traffic is stop-and-go from West Hartford

State police do not have an estimate on how long it will take to clear the scene.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Yogurt Parfaits Sold at Starbucks Being Recalled


Yogurt and granola parfaits sold at more than 250 Starbucks stores in the northeast have been recalled over almonds not listed on the packaging, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The recall affects 6.1-ounce cups of Evolution Fresh Nonfat Greek Yogurt with Strawberry and Granola. Because almonds were not listed on the packaging, the FDA issued an "allergy alert".

The product, distributed by Rhode Island-based Greencore, USA Inc., is marked with UPC 762111074744 and a best-by date of Sept. 24, according to the FDA.

Affected parfaits were produced Sept. 21 and distributed to 266 Starbucks stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Maine.

There have been no reports of illnesses associated with the parfaits, which have been pulled from stores, according to the FDA.

Customers can bring back affected, uneaten parfaits to the stores where they bought them for a full refund.

"Greencore, USA, Inc. takes food safety and the protection of customers and consumers very seriously. It has robust traceability systems and took immediate action, working with our customer, on being informed of the potential problem," the company said in a statement posted on the FDA website.

More information is available by calling 800-782-9282 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Photo Credit: Food and Drug Administration

Rubio Calls Trump 'Touchy and Insecure Guy'


 Presidential candidate Marco Rubio called fellow GOP candidate Donald Trump a "touchy and insecure guy" who is not well informed.

"He had a really bad debate performance last week," Rubio said during an interview. "He's not well informed on the issues. He really never talks about issues and can't have more than a 10-second soundbite on any key issue. And I think he's kind of been exposed a little bit over the last seven days, and he's a very touchy and insecure guy and so that's how he reacts, and people can see through it."

Trump called Rubio a "lightweight" during the second GOP debate last week. 

Photo Credit: AP

Bank Robbery Suspect Caught in North Stonington


A woman suspected of robbing a bank in Boston has been arrested at a hotel in North Stonington, according to state police.

Police said Rachel Devine, 28, of Waymouth, Massachusetts, was caught Wednesday afternoon at the Star Dust Hotel at 544 Providence New London Turnpike in North Stonington.

Devine was arrested with help from the FBI Violent Task Force. She was charged as a fugitive from justice and with possession of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia.

She was held on $250,000 bond and was due in New London Superior Court Thursday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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