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Merritt Parkway Reopens in Fairfield


Both sides of the Merritt Parkway were closed in Fairfield because of several crashes, but they have since reopened.

The northbound side was closed from exit 44 to exit 47 and southbound side was closed between exit 46 and exit 47, according to state police.

Tractor Trailers Stuck on I-84 East in Union


Travel has become treacherous around much of the state as of late morning.

I-84 East in Union is effectively shut down because so many tractor trailers are stuck on the highway and no one can get by, according to state police.

The bottleneck is happening by Exit 73.

State police have responded to more than 250 accidents through noon.

Video Shows Crane Topple Over in Lower Manhattan


Viewer video shows the moment the crane collapsed in Lower Manhattan Friday morning.

Clinton, Sanders Show Sharp Differences in New Hampshire Debate


Thursday's Democratic presidential debate on MSNBC offered the clearest, rawest, and most specific examination of two fundamentally different philosophies about the character and future of the Democratic Party voters have seen yet.

Not only was it the first one-on-one debate between front-runner Hillary Clinton and insurgent Bernie Sanders, but it came at time when the candidates are finally ready to hash out the core questions of what it means to be a Democrat.

Seven years of control of the White House has built up fundamental divisions within about who the party should represent and what it should do.

Clinton represents one view, calling for continuity and pragmatism, while Sanders represents the polar opposite, with his outspoken calls for "revolution."

Photo Credit: AP

President Obama Takes Victory Lap on Economy


Buoyed by wage-gains and record low unemployment, President Barack Obama underscored on Friday that his administration's efforts have helped usher in an economic recovery, NBC News reported.

"We should be proud of the progress we have made," Obama told reporters during an appearance at the White House press briefing. "We have recovered from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s."

U.S. employers added 151,000 jobs in January, a deceleration from recent months as companies shed education, transportation and temporary workers but hired others in manufacturing, retail and food services. The unemployment rate dipped to 4.9 percent, its lowest level since early 2008.

Photo Credit: AP

Sea Lion Pup Found Sleeping in San Diego Restaurant Booth


Tiny sea lion, party of one. A 20-pound sea lion pup was found sleeping in a booth at a popular seaside restaurant in San Diego, likely searching for a cozy nook and, fittingly, a bite to eat.

SeaWorld San Diego’s Rescue Team was called to The Marine Room restaurant on Spindrift Drive in La Jolla Thursday after staffers found the young sea lion curled up in a booth in the dining room, sleeping.

Somehow, the pup got into the dining hotspot and made his way into a booth with a scenic view of the beach below. Management wasn’t sure how the sea lion snuck in, but it appears he spent the night inside the restaurant.

The Marine Room's executive chef, Bernard Guillas, shared some photos of the whiskered patron on his Facebook page. In one of the images, also seen in the gallery below, the sea lion looks as if she's longingly staring at the sea below the restaurant.

As of Friday morning, Guillas' post had been shared more than 1,600 times on Facebook and had nearly 3,700 "likes."

SeaWorld rescuers were able to safely corral the 8-month-old California sea lion and take her to their Animal Rescue Center. There, caregivers determined the pup was extremely malnourished and dehydrated.

Jody Westberg, a SeaWorld Rescue Team member, said her team considers the sea lion a “micropup” due to her small size and low weight.

“She weighs 20 pounds, but should be about 40 to 50 pounds out in the wild,” Westberg explained.

She said SeaWorld San Diego has been handling many unusual sea lion rescues lately in part due to recent El Niño weather conditions.

“Southern California, and specifically San Diego County, has been having very high tides and very low tides, and also a lot of stormy weather. These pups are looking for high ground and warm areas for the night,” she said.
Westberg said the El Niño event also appears to be impacting food sources for some sea lions in California.

“Not only are they looking for high ground – they’re also searching for food,” she added.

She said an ongoing “unusual mortality event” is also heavily affecting the California sea lion population throughout the state. Because sea lions are having a hard time finding food sources, many wind up emaciated. The fish they typically eat in the wild keep the animals hydrated but without fish to eat, dehydration is common.

At SeaWorld San Diego’s Animal Rescue Center, the tiny pup was given fluids to rehydrate.
Animal experts were also keeping a close watch on the pup’s left eye, which remained shut and had some drainage coming out of it.

With proper care and nutrition, Westberg said the rescue team is “cautiously optimistic” the pup will be nursed back to health and eventually returned to the wild.

Over the past 52 years, SeaWorld San Diego has rescued more than 16,000 sea lions. So far in 2016, SeaWorld San Diego has rescued 47 marine mammals, including 40 sea lions, six harbor seals and one Guadalupe fur seal. In 2015, SeaWorld rescued a total of 990 California sea lions.

If you spot a sea lion or other animal that appears to be ill, injured or abandoned, you can call SeaWorld’s Rescue Hotline at (800) 541-SEAL.

On Jan. 21, another sea lion was rescued in La Jolla. That pup had climbed 145 steps to get inside The Cave Store, a shop that acts as the entrance to a manmade tunnel which delves down the cliffside and into the Sunny Jim Sea Cave.

Photo Credit: Bernard Guillas/Facebook
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Time-Lapse: Watch the Demolition of Candlestick Park


As the San Francisco 49ers’ new home, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, gets ready to host Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, the development company building a new mixed-used complex released time-lapse video of Candlestick Park being torn apart.

The video, provided on Thursday to NBC Bay Area by Lennar Urban and shot by OxBlue, shows about two minutes of the ‘Stick being taken down, seat by seat, and 19 seconds of what the future site should look like, including sweeping views of the San Francisco bay.

The eight-month demolition of Candlestick Park was finished in September to make way for a new urban mixed-use project at Candlestick Point in the southeast corner of San Francisco. More than 95 percent of the materials used to build Candlestick were recycled by the demolition firm, Silverado Contractors, according to Lennar Urban spokesman Dave Satterfield. The entire project should take 20 years and $8 billion to complete, thought the retail mall portion is expected to open in 2018, Satterfield said.

The complex, being built by Macerich Corp., will include an Africa diaspora-themed shopping marketplace, a hotel, movie theaters and 12,000 new homes at the site and nearby at the former naval shipyard of Hunter’s Point.

The 49ers left Candlestick Park after the 2013 season for a new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara. The Super Bowl will be played there on Sunday between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.

Photo Credit: Lennar Urban

Zika Scare Reopens Abortion Debate in Brazil


Fears over the Zika virus are reopening the debate over abortion in Brazil, where the procedure is illegal under most cases, NBC News reported.

Brazilian bishops opposed a petition seeking to expand abortion laws to cover women infected with Zika. In a statement, the bishops said the situation doesn’t advocate abortion “for cases of microcephaly.”

Groups that want to change the laws say advising women to avoid pregnancy is not enough. Activists want the government to provide pregnant women with Zika virus testing, and the option to choose whether they wish to continue with their pregnancy.

Abortion is legal in Brazil in cases of rape or incest, if it endangers the woman’s life of if the fetus is developing anencephaly — a rare condition where the baby is missing parts of its brain and skull.  

Photo Credit: AP

'Surprise! I'm Still Alive!' Contract Killing Doesn't Go as Planned


"Kill her," he said. Those were the words that Noela Rukundo heard come through the speakerphone. The voice on the other end of the line was her de facto husband, the BBC reported

Rukundo's partner, Balenga Kalala, had allegedly paid a group of professionals to kill Rukundo after she attended the funeral of her stepmother in her native Burundi, according to the Australian Broadcasting Company. Kalala was back at their home in Melbourne, Australia.

But the would be killers, some of whom knew Rukundo's brother, didn't do their job. She was released 7,500 miles from her home.

"We give you 80 hours to leave this country," Rukundo recalled the gang told her, according to the BBC.  

She did. Getting assistance from both the Belgian and Kenyan embassies as well as a local pastor in Melbourne, Rukundo was able to get back just in time to surprise Kalala — at her own funeral. 

“Is it my eyes?” she recalled him saying after he had just finished speaking. “Is it a ghost?”

“Surprise! I’m still alive!” she replied, the BBC reported

During the interview with the BBC, Rukundo said that Kalala actually reached out to touch her shoulder for confirmation.

"I'm sorry for everything," he cried. That wasn't quite enough for Rukundo. She called the police, and Kalala will now serve nine years in prison for incitement to murder, according to the Australian Broadcasting Company.

The saga started almost a year ago, when Rukundo had flown from Melbourne to Burundi to attend her stepmother's funeral. Shortly after, she was blindfolded, shoved into a car, and eventually tied to a chair in a building near Bujumbura, according to the BBC.  After her release, she made her way back to Melbourne, and her husband. 

Kalala told the community in Melbourne that Rukundo was killed in a tragic accident, the BBC reported.  Her funeral was well attended, including, of course, one very special guest.

For more details on Rukundo's journey, click here. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Warren Man Convicted in 2012 Drug-Related Murder Trial


A Warren man has been convicted of all nine counts, including felony murder, related to a home invasion turn murder in 2012.

Niraj Patel, 28, could face a total of 200 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of felony murder, accessory to home invasion, accessory to burglary with a deadly weapon and other charges. 

In August of 2012, Patel and two others allegedly broke into the home of Lucas Vitalis, 24 and tied up his mother Rita. Vitalis was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound. 

Prosecutors accused Niraj Patel of orchestrating the crime by setting up a fake drug deal. They said Patel wanted money to pay an attorney who was representing him on drug charges.

Patel will be sentenced on Apr. 15 and will be held without bond. 

911 Service Out in Killingly


Tolland County Mutal Aid is taking over all 911 calls in Killingly.

Tolland County confirmed with NBC Connecticut that service is out for emergency calls in Killingly.

Power is out for more than 63,000 households and businesses across Connecticut on Friday as heavy snow continues. 

It is not clear when service will be back on for Killingly.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

'Affluenza' Teen to Adult Jail


Ethan Couch, the Texas teenager who used an "affluenza" defense in a fatal drunken-driving crash, was moved Friday afternoon from a juvenile detention center to the Tarrant County Correction Center in Downtown Fort Worth.

Couch, 19, is currently being held for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, pending a hearing Feb. 19 to determine whether his case will be moved from juvenile court to adult court.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said during a news conference Friday afternoon that a juvenile court judge signed a revised order of detention that allowed for Couch's housing change.

Anderson said the sheriff's department was notified of the housing change once Couch was under way Friday afternoon and that he arrived at the downtown corrections center at about 1:30 p.m.

Couch is still under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and his case is still continuing under the original judge's order, Anderson said. The move to the adult jail doesn't change his juvenile standing.

A continuation hearing related to Friday's housing move will be held on Feb. 12, Anderson said.

Anderson added Couch is considered a high-profile inmate and is being held in a single cell, away from the general population, for his safety and not because he's considered a threat. Couch, Anderson said, has been soft-spoken, very respectful and has asked for no special treatment or accommodations.

Before the move Friday, Couch had been detained at the Tarrant County Juvenile Detention Center in North Fort Worth since he was extradited back to the U.S. last month. Couch had fled to Mexico, along with his mother Tonya Couch, after missing a meeting with his probation officer.

Authorities believe Couch and his mother fled Texas in her pickup truck after an online video appeared to show Ethan Couch at a party where people were drinking. Couch had been sentenced to 10 years' probation in juvenile court for the 2013 drunken-driving crash, and the terms prohibit him from drinking or leaving Tarrant County, Texas.

If Couch's case is transferred to the adult system and if he violates his probation again, he could face up to 10 years in prison for each person killed in the 2013 crash, a total of 40 years.

Photo Credit: El Instituto Nacional de Migración, Tarrant County Sheriff's Department

Las Vegas Newspaper Endorses Marco Rubio


The Las Vegas Review-Journal endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio Friday, NBC News reported.

"Our reasons for endorsing Sen. Rubio are many. Notably, the Florida senator has deep personal connections to the state," the editorial board wrote, noting that he spent ages eight to 14 in Las Vegas.

The paper said it required the candidate needed to meet with its editorial board. The paper also insisted the owner, Sheldon Adelson — who has yet to personally endorse a candidate — played no part in its decision.

Republicans in Nevada caucus in two-and-a-half weeks on Tuesday, February 23.  

Photo Credit: AP

Route 6 Closed in Killingly Due to Trees, Wires Down


Route 6 is closed in Killingly due to wires and trees down.

The route is closed between Dark Lantern Hill Road and I-695.

It is not clear when the road will open.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.


Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Power Out for 63,000 Connecticut


Power is out for more than 63,000 households and businesses across Connecticut on Friday as heavy snow continues.

Eversource is reporting more than 58,000 outages, which is about 5 percent of customers, while United Illuminating is reporting nearly 5,000 outages and Norwich Public Utilities is reporting several outages as well.

The Eversource outages are concentrated along the tree-lined Interstate 395 corrider around Windham, Killingly and Voluntown. 

Norwich Public Utilities is also working on four separate outages that are affecting around 100 customers. 

Do you have power where you are?

Photo Credit: heatherfeery

Aid Cut Off to Thousands in Syria


Humanitarian aid has been cut off to thousands of people as the city of Aleppo, Syria, has fallen under government siege, NBC News reported.

Russian airstrikes, which have increased in recent days, have also killed an estimated 150 civilians, according to U.S. officials on Friday.

The bombardment has also interrupted U.N.-led peace talks scheduled in Geneva this week. Officials said Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad were not in compliance with a U.N. Security Council resolution that called for access for aid workers and to end bombing of civilians. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

14 Dead After 6.4-Magnitude Quake Rattles Taiwan


A powerful earthquake struck southern Taiwan Saturday, toppling buildings, killing at least 14 people dead and leaving hundreds more injured, officials said, NBC News reported.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck about 30 miles east of Tainan, a city of around 2 million, just before 4 a.m. local time (3 p.m. Friday E.T.), the U.S. Geological Survey said. At least 484 people were hurt, Taiwan's Central Emergency Operation Center said.

Nine buildings collapsed in the temblor, which also caused at least five to tilt at alarming angles. Eight people were still missing, Taiwan's National Fire Agency said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

CT Jackpot Towns Dig Out From Heavy Snow


From 13 inches in Vernon to nearly a foot of snow in Manchester and Glastonbury, there was plenty of cleaning up to do long after the snow stopped in Connecticut.

“A lot of us know when you get home, the work is not done until it’s all clear,” Thomas Ritter of Manchester said.

His driveway was so buried in snow, he spent most of Friday night shoveling and snow blowing.
“I’ll take care of the driveway as much as I can and then I’ll probably have to do a little more in the morning like salting,” Ritter said.

The clean-up is exhausting especially when you have more than one driveway to do.

“I’ve been running around doing 30 or 40 driveways,” Bob Hadden of Vernon said. “It’s going to freeze tonight and then it will be harder to move.

From driveways to entryways, Hadden does it all and he is not complaining because as the snow adds up, so does the money in his wallet.

“I get paid basically by the inch,” Hadden said. “A three to four inch snow is the norm, but anything beyond that I usually charge extra.”

The wet, heavy snow was tough to shovel and plow, but perfect for snowman making on Cold Springs Street in Vernon where families were taking advantage of it.

“Every year we make a snowman as much as we can but you know some years it’s not enough good snow,” Ole Kushner Hermanson of Vernon said. “But this is really packed well and you roll down the hill and it’s good.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Some Connecticut Public Housing Families Make Over $100k


Connecticut has 144 families living in federally-funded public housing with salaries higher than the income limit for government-assisted living.

Twelve of those families make more than $100,000 a year. The top earner, a New Haven resident, brings home $161,000.

These families live in the same housing Abnisha Merritt and her four children have waited 11 years for.

“I’ve lived in garages. I’ve lost count after 17 different places,” said Merritt, who now lives in a New Haven homeless shelter. “All of this while you’re waiting for housing.”

Merritt has always considered New Haven home, even though home itself has always been temporary.

Violence and poverty crippled her childhood in the Newhallville neighborhood. Today, she and her family live across town. She wants their story to be different.

“What I’ve been dealt in life period… I’ve always tried my best,” said Merritt. “Always.”

She is one of thousands of people in Connecticut waiting for an affordable place to live. Meanwhile, Troubleshooters found an Inspector General’s audit indicating there are 25,226 over-income tenants nationwide. The OIG says that translates to more than $104 million of misused funds in the next year.

Each family has to meet the income limit upon application, but both state and federal law prevents landlords from evicting people simply for going over that limit.

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro says his agency is working with housing authorities to drive down the number of over income families.

“But really focusing on those who are egregiously over income,” said Castro. “Because we also don’t want to penalize some families who are just getting on their feet and have been working up towards self-sufficiency.”

In New Haven, housing director Karen DuBois-Walton told the Troubleshooters she does not know the specifics of any one family’s income, even those seemingly self-sufficient. She believes some over income families add a good balance.

“It helps stabilize a community because you have folks still needing some assistance, but who are working, [living] next door to people who are out of work temporarily, next door to people who are elderly and disabled and not expected to go back to work,” said DuBois-Walton.

HUD had a similar response in the OIG report saying, “Families working towards self-sufficiency serve as good role models for other tenants.”

For those egregiously over income, the Housing Authority of New Haven says it promotes home ownership by charging more for rent.

However, rent makes up less than five percent of HANH’s $92 million budget.

Most of its funding, or $85 million, comes from taxpayers.

“Something has to give,” said Merritt. “They need to shake something up in there because it’s not right.

Merritt might get her wish. The US House just passed bipartisan legislation that would require public housing authorities to report household incomes annually. Families defined as far over income — with incomes 120 percent higher than the municipal median for two consecutive years — would not receive taxpayer assistance.

That bill now sits in the Senate.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Fire Rips Through Avon Home


The fire department is on the scene of a fire in Avon, police confirmed.

A fire on 35 Vermillion Drive broke out on Friday night. Avon, Burlington and New Hartford fire departments are responding to the outbreak.

Police said they expect to be on the scene for a "couple hours."

Vermillion Drive is shut down.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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