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Lawmakers Say Takata Manipulated Data to Hide Airbag Problems


U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday stepped up pressure on federal regulators and Takata to accelerate the recall of millions of airbag inflators, citing evidence that the Japanese company manipulated data to cover up problems with its products.

A Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee report cited a series of internal Takata documents generated over the past 12 years that showed company officials argued data on inflator quality and testing was manipulated to disguise problems.

A redacted 2013 document released by the committee indicates an unidentified Takata manager told the company's senior vice president of quality assurance that proposed limitations to the scope of a 2013 airbag recall might be "a violation of our moral obligation to protect the public."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

55-Year-Old Man Shot in New Haven


 A 55-year-old man was shot in New Have on Wednesday, police said.

The victim said he was standing on Dorman Street when a thin, short man approached him and shot him in the leg, according to police. 

The suspect fled on food down through an alley way between 42 and 50 Dorman Street, New Haven Police said. 

The shooter remains at large.

Anyone who witnessed the crime or has information is urged to phone police at 203-946-6304. Calls may be made anonymously.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Non-Profit Helps New Haven Woman Move into Renovated Home


After four years of living in a rented room, Ernestine Richard now owns a three-story home on Newhall Street in New Haven.

“I waited a while because my credit all that plays a part in buying a house,” Richard said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning.

Richard was able to buy the house a price she can afford thanks to the Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven (http://www.nhsofnewhaven.org/), a non-profit organization that offers home buyer education courses for low-income residents.

“How to budget your money and how to go about working with people, it really brings you to another level to say, I can do this,” Richard said about her experience in the classes.

Part of the Neighborhood Housing Services’ mission is to acquire and revitalize rundown properties in neglected neighborhoods. Funding comes from donors, foundations, banks and businesses.

“This house was a complete ruin before we took title to it,” NHS Executive Director James Paley said. “The wiring, the plumbing, the roof, the windows, the insulation, the kitchens, the bathrooms, the heating system, everything is new in this house”

Moving in this week gives Richard, a Yale-New Haven Hospital employee, a new start.

“I would advise anybody that’s trying to get a house that don’t have a lot of money to come to neighborhood housing because they have really blessed me,” she said.

Right across the street, NHS has found a homeowner for another house scheduled to go through similar renovations.

Texas' Campus Gun Law Prompts Academic Sensitivity Guidelines


A new Texas law allowing people to carry guns on state college campuses doesn't go into effect until Aug. 1, but its already putting a big chill on fiery academic debate, NBC News reported.

Professors at the University of Houston have started preparing guidelines for dealing with gun-toting students that include warning faculty to steer clear of "sensitive topics" and dropping hot button issues from their curricula, according to a UH Faculty Senate.

The proposed guidelines also advise faculty to no "'go there' if you sense anger" and "limit student access off hours."

"It's not official policy," Faculty Senate President Jonathan Snow told NBC News on Wednesday.

UH is expected to release it's own "draft policy" on guns in classrooms next week, a university spokeswoman said.

Photo Credit: AP

Connecticut Man Indicted in Foreclosure Rental Scheme


Federal authorities have indicted Timothy Burke, the man at the center of a foreclosure rental operation in Connecticut.

Investigators say Burke, 64, of Easton, defrauded dozens of Connecticut homeowners in foreclosure by promising to intervene with their lenders, but instead rented out the properties and kept all of the money.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters began looking into Burke in 2014 and found that he used many aliases, including "Jimmy" and "Bill." An IRS investigator credits the Troubleshooters with exposing the alleged scheme.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey, in 2003, Burke pleaded guilty to several counts of "equity skimming," duping homeowners into signing over the rights to their properties with a promise of freeing them from their debts, then renting those properties out and keeping all the money.

Burke served four years in federal prison. His supervised release was terminated in 2009, and he started his real estate dealings in Connecticut soon after.

Now, investigators are looking for other potential victims. Anyone who thinks they may have been victimized is asked to call 860-240-9735.

ER Visits Double for Marijuana-Using Colo. Visitors


Tourists who come to Colorado and take advantage of the state's liberal marijuana laws often end up in emergency rooms, doctors said Wednesday.

Emergency department visits involving marijuana-using visitors doubled from 2013 to 2014, the first year cannabis use was legalized in Colorado, a team of Denver-area doctors said.

They found that rates of visits involving marijuana did not change for in-state Colorado residents, NBC News reported.

Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images

Judicial Employees Trained On Muslim Culture


The state’s judicial system hopes to help its employees have a better understanding of the Islam and Muslim cultures.

A state bail commissioners and juvenile and adult probation officers took the course.

The goal is to help them better communicate with Islamic cultures, be more sensitive to the needs of everyone and recognize the challenges they face.

The training comes in a time when religion is being discussed on the national political stage.

"And the reason why we are doing this is because we’re concerned about the stat that 62-percent of Americans have never met a Muslim before and so they are more likely to believe all those things that in the media.. all those negative misinformation that’s spreading," said Aida Mansoor, president of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut.

Mansoor said about 100,000 people make up the Muslim population in Connecticut.

"But that number is very approximate because many Muslims do not want to self-identify as Muslim because their fear of backlash."

The course is part of a yearly training in which employees can select electives that best suit the needs of the people they service.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

UConn Budget Negotiations Underway


A major negotiation is underway at UConn as the school works on a new contract with its faculty.
On Wednesday, people from staff to students rallied behind UConn faculty.

“We’re really here to just support and make sure they get a fair contract that represents their needs,” says Steven Manicastri, a UConn graduate employee.

UConn says its contract with the faculty union covers about 1,700 people at the Storrs and regional campuses.

One of the big issues being worked on in the negotiation of a new contract is the role of adjunct professors.

“There are lot of teaching staff who are very poorly paid who don’t even qualify for health insurance at their job. In fact that’s 25-percent of our members are adjunct faculty that get paid probably around 20 grand a year,” says Chris Vials, a UConn faculty member.

Also, faculty say there is a difference in what they’re looking for in a pay raise and what the school is offering.

The union says there’s also been debate about academic freedom and stopping the administration from taking decision powers away from the faculty.

UConn says the current faculty contract costs nearly $276 million a year.

As for a new contract, in a statement a spokeswoman wrote in part:

“We are limited in what would be appropriate to say, given that the parties are in negotiation. It’s most appropriate to negotiate at the bargaining table, not in the media.”

The current agreement between the faculty and UConn runs through the end of June.

Sports Medicine Doctor Makes Concussion Video for Awareness


After a year of planning and brainstorming, Dr. David Wang figured out a way to convey the importance of acknowledging a concussion through a platform specifically targeting the youth.

And today, I got to share his unique project with Sarah Buchanan, a patient at CCMC, seeing it for the first time.

"I didn't expect it to be like that and then I was like wait this actually makes sense" explains Buchanan.

The song titled, "Know the Signs: The Concussion Anthem" written by Dr. David Wang himself, was produced with collaboration and consideration from his patients.

"I said right from the start if we want the youth to listen to a message it's going to have to be good," says Wang. "It can't be a gimmick it can't be a joke it has to be a real song."

While the lyrics address symptoms to be aware of such as dizziness, headaches, and sensitivity to light...that's not all

Dr. David Wang explains, "The lyrics talk about pressure to compete or perform to push through the pain despite the fact that they have these symptoms"

Something that Sarah Buchanan, who was recently diagnosed with a concussion knows first hand.

"I see that all the time. People need to speak up and don't because it could damage your head forever"

The video currently on YouTube was produced by a Quinnipiac student that Dr. Wang had treated during her time as a student athlete. A second video featuring the same song will be released in the upcoming weeks that was made with the help of ESPN.

"The goal and the mission all along has been to deliver a message to the people that need to hear it that aren't really hearing it very well" says Dr. Wang.

And if they aren't hearing it very well, they're about to. Dr. Wang is working with iHeart Radio and iTunes to help spread the word.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Route 6 Reopened in Brooklyn After Crash

Voter Turnout Breaking Records for GOP Candidates


Voter turnout for Republican candidates in this year’s presidential primaries and caucuses is breaking records, NBC News reported.

The Nevada Republican Party reported Wednesday morning that more than 75,000 voters participated in the contest, demolishing the participation record from 2012, when about 33,000 GOP voters showed up to caucus.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump captured 34,531 votes in his victory in the state, showing his ability to capture support from every key segment of the electorate.

In South Carolina, more than 730,000 voters turned out during Saturday's GOP primary, up from about 603,000 in 2012. New Hampshire and Iowa saw the same pattern, with the Granite State receiving about 36,000 more Republican voters than in 2012, and the Hawkeye State garnering more than 180,000 participants, up from about 121,000 in the last election cycle.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hamden High School Moves Forward with Second Synthetic Turf Field


The Town of Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted in favor of installing a second synthetic turf field at Hamden High School, despite health and safety warnings.

With limited field space on school grounds, town officials say the new field will allow multiple teams to practice and play games at the high school, instead of having to travel to alternative locations.

“This will enable students to have full access to all the medical facilities available at the high school as opposed to when they’re on the road,” Hamden Legislative Council President James Pascarella said.

Long-time Hamden resident Martin Mador spoke out against the new turf field at Tuesday night’s planning and zoning meeting.

“I would like to see the town have good environmental policies that are protective of its residents,” said Mador, who is the legislative and political chair for the Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Mador said enough evidence suggests there are harmful health consequences for student-athletes playing on turf fields.

“Because of their exposure to toxic chemicals contained in the crumb rubber which is used to create the fields, (they) have actually developed cancers,” Mador said.

While Mador and other opponents say Hamden should put a halt on the project, town officials say they are moving forward until there is a definitive study linking crumb rubber turf fields and cancer.

“The moment a study like that should come and be produced,” Pascarella said, “then we would stop the project and replace the in-fill.”

Pascarella said there are 27 studies showing that synthetic turf is safe. Hamden High School’s football field is already made with crumb rubber.

The federal government has commissioned a study investigating the potential health risks of turf fields and playgrounds made with crumb rubber.

Hamden is looking for a construction company to take up the project and break ground in late spring, Pascarella said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

1 Person Treated for Minor Burns After Killingly Fire

Flu Vaccine 60 Percent Effective So Far, CDC Says


This year's flu vaccine is one of the most effective in years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

So far, people who got the vaccine were 59 percent less likely to get sick with influenza than people who didn't, the CDC said.

CDC recommends that just about everyone get a flu shot every year but usually only about half of Americans do, NBC News reported. 

Photo Credit: AP

Parents Outraged Over Moldy Sippee Cups


Parents across the country are outraged after discovering mold on their child's sippee cups despite following cleaning instructions. 

"They looked clean from the outside and I followed their cleaning directions, so it never occurred to me before," a Connecticut mother, who didn't want to be identified, told NBC Connecticut.

"The entire thing snaps out of the lid to wash. You can't snap them apart to clean inside the insert where the mold is. My husband had to cut it in half."

The mom said she even tried cleaning the pieces with a Q-tip and boiling water but was appalled after her husband pried open the valve to discover mold inside. 

Parents nationwide stormed to Tommee Tippee's North American Facebook page to air their frustrations with the company. Tommee Tippee said they are taking complaints seriously and investigating what may be going wrong in test labs. 

According to parents writing Tommee Tippee's Facebook page, the valve collecting mold is not able to be opened to clean but rather, needs to be opened forcibly. Some pictures taken by parents show the product torn open in order to see the mold.

One mother commented that her 19-month-old daughter has been sick continuously since October and only drank water out of her "favorite cup." She said she plans to file a formal complaint towards the company.

Tommee Tippee wrote to customers on Facebook apologizing for the experience some parents are having with the company's latest Sippee Cup valve:

Recently our Head Office Team and Careline advisers have spoken with parents directly about their feedback. We understand that the well-being of your little ones is paramount and we can reassure you that we have extensively tested the valves using recommended liquids and our specific cleaning guidelines, and the results have supported our view that when used and cleaned in line with instructions, everything is in order.

The Rhode Island-based company provided a range of FAQ's and tutorial videos for parents in regards to the product. They encourage all parents with an issue to call 1-877-248-6922.

Photo Credit: Allison Lara
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Wires Down in East Hartford, Greenwich


Wires are down in East Hartford and Greenwich on Wednesday night.

East Hartford police said a tractor trailer clipped low-hanging wires on the 300 block of Connecticut Blvd and brought down a transformer.

The road is closed as Eversource works to repair the fallen wires and transformer.

Eversource had to temporarily shut down power to geth the driver out but said it should be restored shortly. Eversource reported that more than 220 customers are without power in East Hartford.

Greenwich dispatch also reported Palmer Road being closed for trees and wirs down. 

Photo Credit: AP

More Questions After Culturally Insensitive Student Party Near Fairfield University


Hundreds of students, staff and faculty at Fairfield University gathered behind closed doors for an on-campus conversation about a now infamous off-campus party. An investigation was launched at the university after some students reporter that a 'ghetto' themed party was held over the weekend.

“I do know that students were offended and hurt," said Fairfield University Student Association President Anif McDonald, referring to the off-campus party Saturday night. McDonald said that some students took their concerns to social media, claiming that party attendees were asked to dress in what they considered to be 'ghetto' style.

“We’re not really sure to what extent things happened because there’s really no photo proof of anything like that, but we do know that students did voice their concerns," said McDonald. He said that students he spoke with had felt offended by what they had read online; and not offended by what they necessarily saw at the party. "That’s what really sparked the negative impact," he said.

Since then, the story has gained national attention, fueled mostly through social media.
A university spokesperson said there are few details about what happened at the off-campus party.

“We do know that there was a party on Saturday night," said Teddy DeRosa, Associate Director of Public Relations & Community Relations. "We have no confirmation that it was a themed party," she said. "There were also some reports that students were dressed in some kind of theme and we also have no confirmation of that.”

Still, the school refers to the incident as 'culturally insensitive' and has since launched an investigation. DeRosa said law enforcement is not involved in the investigation. No student is facing any disciplinary action at this time, she said. Interviews with students who may have attended the off-campus party are being conducted, according to DeRosa.

“We just want to make sure we have all the facts and all the correct facts," DeRosa said.
It is unclear how long the Office of Student Affairs investigation could take.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

30 Dogs Rescued From Dog-Meat Farm


Thirty dogs that were living in a Korean dog meat farm have been rescued by the San Diego Humane Society.

The 21 dogs and nine puppies; which are a variety of breeds, including huskies, golden retrievers and tosas; will be taken in by the local humane society.

The dogs were living in filthy, cramped cages in Korea, and a local team of animal welfare professionals coordinated their rescue.

They were taken from Korea to San Francisco and will be at the local shelter on Thursday, according to a news release from the San Diego Humane Society.

The rescue was coordinated in conjunction with Humane Society International.

Many of the dogs suffer from diseases and malnutrition and most have been subject to animal cruelty, the humane society said.

The dogs and puppies, all under 2 years old, will be medically treated over the next two weeks before they can be adopted.

Photo Credit: San Diego Humane Society

State Legislature Considers Making Veterans Day a State Holiday


The state legislature is considering a bill that would make Veterans Day a state holiday.

On Tuesday, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a public hearing to discuss the bill.

If Veterans Day were to become a state holiday, all schools would be closed. As it stands now, the decision is up to the individual districts.

Joseph P. Nolan, a Vietnam veteran from Waterbury,  testified in favor of the bill.

"As time goes on with no holiday, eventually Veterans Day is eventually just going to slip away," Nolan said.

Preserving the holiday is not only important to Nolan because he served in Vietnam, but also because he lost his son, Sgt. Joseph M. Nolan, in Iraq in 2004.

Many schools have an assembly, which Nolan agrees is a great idea, but he said it would mean more to have the day off. Nolan thinks schools should instead educate students year round on veterans, the sacrifices they make and the horror of war.

"I think people need to know what happened. We need to stop having a war every generation. And so I think the more we talk about, the more we discuss this, keeping this holiday a holiday in my mind is paramount," said Nolan.

Rep. Pam Staneski (R-Milford) agrees that we should never forget the sacrifice veterans make.

But Staneski said when she was on the Milford School Board 10 years ago, she asked a local veterans organization about having the holiday off and they told her they would prefer school stay in session so they could come into the classroom and teach students.

Staneski said she is concerned Veterans Day will be lost on our younger generations if schools closed.

The committee has not made a final decision.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued for Overnight


A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued by the National Weather Service until 2 a.m. 

Periods of rain will increase in coverage and intensity this evening but NBC Connecticut's Brad Field said the state's biggest issue will be wind gusts. 

The threat for wind gusts over 50 mph begins this evening and lasts until the cold front slices across the state in the predawn hours tomorrow morning.

Secondary concerns include heavy rain, small hail and lighting in the thunderstorms. Isolated power outages could result from any storms that hit the state.

The Storm Prediction Center has placed the entire state of Connecticut under a marginal risk for severe weather, though a higher-grade slight risk is just off to the west in the Hudson Valley.

Eastern Pennsylvania has an elevated risk, where a tornado or two is possible. A tornado watch has been issued there and points to the south until 11 p.m.

First Alert forecasters concur that the greatest threat for severe weather is in fact to the south and west, but the entire state should remain on guard tonight.

Small hail could accompany the strongest cells but it shouldn't be of the damaging variety.

More than an inch of new rainfall is expected by the time all is said and done early tomorrow morning, before sunrise.

Temperatures will be in the 50s. Much of the day will be dry with peeks of sunshine, except there can be another round of showers in the afternoon.

The weekend looks great.

Friday will feature sunny skies with a breeze and highs near 40.

Saturday should be the pick of the weekend, with lots of sunshine and highs near 40 again.

The dry weather continues Sunday, with temperatures soaring to near 50!

The next chance for precipitation comes in the form of rain showers on Monday, with temperatures still near 50.

The forecast for the end of February and the start of March certainly looks like spring.

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