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See It Share It: December Sunset Photos


It was a gorgeous sunset last evening. Send your photos to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com!

Photo Credit: Eileen Waldron

Astronauts Watch New 'Star Wars' in a Galaxy Not So Far Away


That's no moon... It's a space station. And now, it's a movie theater, too.

British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted on Saturday that he and his fellow crew members would get to watch "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" from the International Space Station, Time reported. Peake, 43, launched into space on Tuesday and will spend the next six months with the ISS on its latest expedition.

The film, which comes out in the United States on Dec. 18, has received near-universal acclaim, although many fans are purposely avoiding the reviews, for fear of dreaded spoilers.

Thankfully for them, there's an app for that. Force Block, an extension for Google Chrome, scans websites for "Star Wars" movie titles and the franchise's name and flashes a warning if it finds potential spoilers.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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Fed Raises Key Interest Rate .25 Percent


The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday raised a key interest rate by 0.25 percent, the first increase in almost a decade, NBC News reported.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank's hike in its federal funds rate — the percentage that banks charge one another for short-term loans — will be followed only by "gradual adjustments" that can be slowed if economic activity doesn't continue to "expand at a moderate pace."

The rate hike will affect consumers on numerous fronts, ranging from interest rates on credit cards and mortgages to the returns on investments and savings accounts, but experts say the impacts will be modest to begin with. The fed has not raised rates since June 29, 2006.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mother, Daughter Struck by Vehicle While Walking in Shelton


A mother and daughter were struck by a car on Tuesday night in Shelton, police said.

The 66-year-old driver, a unnamed woman from Seymour, hit the mother, 46 and daughter, 10, on on Coram Ave. and Hill Street. Both were sent to the Yale New Haven Hospital after the accident. 

The mother has since been released while the daughter is still at the hospital in stable condition, according to the Shelton Police Department. 

Police are still investigating the incident and requests that anyone with information contact the station at (203) 924-1544 Ext. 4417.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

DOJ Hires Noble Wray to Lead Police Reform Project


The Justice Department said Wednesday it had appointed a retired police chief to run a new project to help police officers improve their relationships with their communities, part of a broader effort to build more trust in American law enforcement, NBC News reported.

Noble Wray, the former chief in Madison, Wisconsin, will lead the Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative, the department announced.

Wray served as a Justice Department consultant in Ferguson, Missouri in the aftermath of the August 2014 police shooting of an unarmed black man, helping local authorities confront problems associated with systemic racism. 

Photo Credit: AP

New Haven Breaks Ground on New Affordable Housing


Change is on its way as New Haven’s housing authority, known as Elm City Communities, is overhauling the crime-ridden complex. 

Brenda Harris has lived at the Farnam Court apartments on Grand Ave. for 53 years.

"They’re very old and we really, really need a change, those apartments are done," Harris said.

As part of the Farnam Redevelopment, 57 new affordable homes are being built in Fair Haven.

City officials held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday for units that qualify for the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.

"There is no substitute for a place to call home, a warm, dry place to sleep and eat and be with loved ones," Mayor Toni Harp (D) said.

The 25 houses going up in the dirt lot next to Fair Haven’s Eastview Terrace will look like the neighboring town-style homes.

"By giving people a unit where they have a front door and a back door, they feel like that’s their place as opposed to just a larger building," Elm City Communities Executive Director Karen DuBois-Walton said.

New affordable housing developments are being designed with safety in mind, DuBois-Walton said.

"We build them with the informed knowledge of the police department and security consultants on ways of laying out the properties so there aren’t hidden areas or places where police can’t see," she said.

Dubois-Walton said they hope to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony welcoming families to their new homes next November when construction at Eastview Terrace is complete.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

How Unseasonable Warm Weather Affects Plants


December's unseasonable warm weather isn't just surprising for folks in Connecticut, but also for plants.

The sights people in New England are used to seeing in the winter time are bare trees, dried out plants, and a lack of flowers.

However, flower bulbs have been peaking out for some plants which is uncharacteristic during this time of year. 

Jessica Lubell, Associate Professor of horticulture at the University of Connecticut specializes in native shrubs. She said the warm weather is confusing to some plants.

"When you get these warm periods they think its spring and they start to grow so you may see quints in your yard start flowering or forsythia or magnolias and these are plants that don’t require a lot of cold," said Lubell.

Lubell showed NBC Connecticut a pasque flower in bloom which is a perennial that’s supposed to flower around Easter time. Lubell said this means the pasque flower may not bloom as heavily or at all come the spring.

"I think some people have mentioned they’ve seen their bulbs growing in the yard maybe some iris, some daffodils and it's kind of the same thing they’ve accumulated a certain amount of chilling hours and we get a warm period like we’ve had," said Lubell.

The warming period may also affect certain trees.

“Like a Cornelia, Cherry Dogwood, not tree but early blooming viburnums, Witch Hazels -- you may see them blooming now,” said Lubell.

In the long run, the lingering warmth shouldn’t hurt plants. People may see less off them during their blooming season, but experts said they will adjust to the weather.

Servicemen Shot in Tenn. Rampage to Get Purple Hearts


The five Marines and one sailor who were shot in an attack on a Tennessee Naval reserve center this July will receive Purple Hearts, the Navy announced Wednesday.

Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen killd all but one of the servicemen in the July 16 shooting at the Chattanooga center. Police officers killed him in a gunbattle; Sgt. DeMonte Cheeley was injured but survived the attack, NBC News reported.

While authorities have debated whether the attack was act of terrorism, investigators determined that it was inspired by a foreign terrorist group – the final criteria needed to qualify the victims for the Purple Heart, the Navy said.

Photo Credit: AP

Shock After Officer is Accused of Sex Crimes, Kills Self


A Northern Virginia community is in shock after they learned a decorated police detective -- who had investigated online crimes against children -- was himself suspected of having inappropriate contact with two young teens.

David Edward Abbott, 39, of Gainesville, Virginia, killed himself Tuesday morning moments before police could serve him with search and arrest warrants.

Abbott was a Manassas City detective. He had served on the Northern Virginia-Washington, D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and was involved in high profile sex crime cases.

Police were investigating Abbott of having inappropriate conduct with two victims while Abbott was a Prince William youth hockey coach. He was to be charged with two counts of taking indecent liberties and two counts of using a communications device to solicit sexual offenses.

Police said Abbott made contact with the first victim when the boy was 11 years old.

According to police, Abbott solicited sex acts over phone, by text and through social media and email. He also had face-to-face contact with the boy, police said.

During the investigation, police discovered a second victim, whom Abbott contacted when the boy was 13 years old.

Some of the offenses date back to 2008, police said.

In 2014, Abbott was the detective in a high-profile case in which a 17-year-old Manassas teen was sentenced for sending explicit texts to his 15-year-old girlfriend.

At one point, police had sought to take a photo of the 17-year-old's genitals, including some in an aroused state, to make the case.

The request led to protests from the 17-year-old's lawyer, who said at one point, "Who does this? It's just crazy."

Abbott sued the lawyer for defamation.

Photo Credit: Manassas City Police

'Star Wars' Premiere Prompts Costume Rules at Theaters


It may be one of the most anticipated premieres of the year, but before anoyone dresss up for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," be aware of the new rules being enforced on costumes at movie theaters.

Bow Tie Cinemas has signs on its doors that say costumes will be allowed but face coverings, face paint, capes, cloaks or simulated weapons like lightsabers and blasters will not be permitted.

"I think it’s just a bunch of nerds coming together and enjoying a film so I think that’s a little overboard actually," William Colon of Holyoke, Mass. said.

With recent movie theater shootings in Aurora, where the suspect did wear a costume, and Lafayette, LA, some feel the precautions are necessary. 

"I think that’s a good plan we are going to leave our blasters at home for sure,” Kristen Burns of West Hartford said. “I don’t think you need props to go see a movie."

At AMC Theaters, masks and face paint are also banned. Moviegoers can bring a lightsaber, but must turn it off during the showing. Costumes are also welcome at Regal Movies, but weapon-like props and masks are not permitted.

Police regularly patrol the areas near movie theaters and will be monitoring the premieres Thursday night. Some moviegoers say the conversation on how to end crime should go beyond costumes.

"I think it’s more important to talk about gun control and gun violence aside from entertainment," Colon said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Sandy Hook 'Truther' May Lose Job For Calling Massacre a Hoax


Three years after the Sandy Hook tragedy, some people still believe that the shooting that claimed the lives of 26 people was a hoax -- and one of them may lose their jobs for saying so.

Professor James Tracy's blog and the negative attention his statements brought Florida Atlantic University since early 2013 could now cost Tracy his job.

Lisa Metcalf, Chief Press Officer at FAU, released a statement Wednesday that reads, in part, "James Tracy, an associate professor in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, was served a Notice of Proposed Discipline - Termination - by the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs."

In Connecticut, reaction to Tracy's statements nearly three years ago parallels reaction about his potential employment fate now.

“That's something an amateur would look at saying ‘when in doubt, in absence of facts, you blame the media’. There are plenty of facts in this tragedy," said Quinnipiac Associate Professor of Journalism, Rich Hanley.

Hanley believes professors should have a platform to offer opinions. Eventually, he said, some research should back those positions up.

“A professor holds a particular place in society where opinions matter because their opinions are supposed to be based on studied reflection of facts," said Hanley.

Florida Atlantic University said Professor Tracy will have ten days to respond to the disciplinary proposal before final action concerning his employment will be taken.

Photo Credit: AP

2nd Flu-Related Death of Season


A 95-year-old San Diego County man has died from complications from the flu, the second such flu-related death in the county this season, health officials said.

The man with underlying health conditions died Dec. 7.

The two flu deaths, including one of a 90-year-old man in October, are up from no flu-related deaths at this time last year in San Diego County.

Still, 97 people died from the flu last season, as the most serious flu months are January and February, health officials said.

County health officials recommend getting your flu shot now if you haven’t, as it takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

Thirty-six cases of the flu were reported in the county last week and there have been a total of 180 this season.

The flu vaccine this year will offer protection against H1N1 as well as influenza A H3N2 and influenza B strains.The vaccine is recommended for everyone older than six months.

Other ways to avoid getting sick are washing your hands often, using hand sanitizers, avoiding touching your face, cleaning surfaces and staying away from sick people, the Health and Human Services Agency says.

Following the Money Back to ISIS


Fighting terrorism might require governments to follow the money, NBC News reported. 

On Thursday, for the first time, a summit of finance ministers will take place at the U.N. Security Council to discuss how to combat ISIS financing.

The meeting will be led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. Ministers are expected to approve a resolution, co-sponsored by the United States and Russia, that would focus an existing al Qaeda sanctions regime on ISIS.

The resolution, which is expected to pass, would also make associating with ISIS a sanctionable offense and call for more information sharing between countries and private sector companies, like banks.

Photo Credit: AP

Rally to Support Boy with Autism


Supporters of a child with autism rallied in front of a Santa Clara County courthouse Wednesday to protest a lawsuit that claims the boy is a public nuisance.

Some Sunnyvale residents want the child to declared a public nuisance because of what they call uncontrolled physical attacks. Supporters of the child said going after the boy's family is the wrong thing to do and sets a bad precedent.

The Gopal family has been battling the case for month and has also moved out of Sunnyvale, where the locals claimed the boy pulled another child's hair and bit a woman in another instance.

A pair of neighbors then filed a lawsuit to declare the child a public nuisance after they claim they failed to get the boy's parents to help.

The Gopal family insists they did get their son help by hiring a caregiver and giving him special medication.

Still, a trial setting date has been set for Dec. 23.

"We believe they have a right to thrive in this community," said Areva Martin, an attorney representing the Gopal family.

The case could set a national precedent on how to deal with cases of children with autism.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Man Slashes Exchange Student's Face


A 16-year-old Chinese exchange student was slashed in the face with a box cutter by a man wearing a surgical mask and gloves Wednesday as she walked to school in Queens, New York, authorities say. 

The suspect sneaked up behind the victim as she walked east on 13th Avenue near 147th Street around 8:20 a.m. and slashed her twice in the face; one laceration ran from her ear to her throat, authorities said.

Surveillance video shows the suspect jogging behind the victim as she walks on the sidewalk. Both the suspect and victim move out of the frame for a moment, and then the video shows the suspect fleeing in the other direction.

The victim, a student at the Whitestone Academy school, has been in the United States for eight months, police said. Her brother and sister were by her side Wednesday at the hospital, where she was treated for nonlife-threatening wounds, according to police.

Authorities said the attacker, who had a hood up, came out of nowhere. He and the victim did not appear to know each other, authorities said.

Neighbors who knew the victim described her as quiet and unassuming. 

"It's sickening," said Karen Smith of Whitestone. "It's really sad and I feel bad for her, and something needs to be done." 

Photo Credit: Handout

Man High on 'Flakka' Rams Car Into County Jail to See Friends


A Florida man high on “flakka”, a synthetic drug similar to bath salts, told authorities he rammed his car into a county jail to see his friends, NBC News reported.

Patrick Rempe, 24, shattered the doors of the Indian Country River Jail in Vero Beach, Florida, barely missing a sheriff’s deputy. He didn't make it inside. 

Officials said Rempe then crashed his car into a fence, jumped out, climbed up the fence and became entangled in razor wire.

Rempe admitted to police he was high on the drug. He faces charges of aggravated assault, battery, driving under the influence and other charges.  

Photo Credit: Indian River County Sheriff's Office

Email Threat at Miami School Board


Miami-Dade County Public Schools confirmed the school system has received a threat, which was similar to the ones recently in Los Angeles and New York.

Officials told NBC 6 they do not believe this was a credible threat, however, they are working with local, state and federal law enforcement.

MDCPS officials encourage parents to still send their kids to school on Thursday, and said there will be additional resources on staff.

Officials believe the threat came from the same account that turned out to be a hoax in Los Angeles.

Stay with NBC 6 for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Qatari Prince Kidnapped in Iraq During Hunting Trip


Armed gunmen kidnapped a Qatari prince and his group of hunters who were in Iraq for sport, NBC News reported.

Iraqi security officials do not know if the kidnapping was politically motivated nor are they sure who the kidnappers are.

The raid occurred at night and the attackers wore military uniforms and appeared to be riding in government vehicles, according to officials who spoke to NBC News.

The group of 26 Qataris had entered the country from the Saudi border a week ago, an Iraqi official said, and they were last seen in a remote stretch of the Samawa province.

Photo Credit: Google

Bernie Sanders to Gain His Biggest Endorsement


Bernie Sanders is expected to gain the endorsement from Communications Workers of America Union, NBC News reported. 

The group represents about 700,000 workers nationally, making it by far the largest union to back Sanders yet.

The union's endorsement will be announced at a news conference at 11 a.m. Thursday at the union's headquarters in Washington. News of the endorsement comes as Sanders has lost out on a string of major union endorsements to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, whose campaign now claims the support of unions representing 12 million workers.

Photo Credit: AP

Russia's President Putin Annual News Conference


Russian President Vladimir Putin holds his annual news conference, answering questions from Russian and foreign journalists in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was facing almost 1,400 journalists at his annual question-and-answer session on Thursday.

Last year's press conference lasted around three-and-a-half hours.

Photo Credit: AP
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