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Scientists Use Stem Cells to Repair Cataracts


Two teams of scientists have come up with creative new ways to eventually replace clumsy cataract or cornea surgery to help people with vision problems regenerate their own eyes, NBC New reported.

In an early study of infants born with cataracts, researchers developed a new surgical technique that resets powerful stem cells in the eye to replace eye tissue damaged by cataracts and other eye diseases.

In another, a team of Japanese researchers found a way to turn ordinary skin cells into various types of cells found in the eye.

"These two studies illustrate the remarkable regenerative and therapeutic potential of stem cells," ophthalmologist Dr. Julie Daniels of University College London wrote in a commentary in Nature, which published both studies.

Photo Credit: UIG via Getty Images

2 Drown After Deadly Storm in Gulf Coast & South


Heavy rains continued to hit parts of the Gulf Coast and South on Wednesday, leaving millions under threat of flooding and two people dead in separate accidents, NBC News reported.

A 30-year-old man in Oklahoma drowned when his SUV was swept away from his home, close to the Texas-Arkansas border, according to the state highway patrol. Michael Liles was trying to maneuver over a low-crossing bridge on Tuesday.

Another man, identified as 22-year-old Francisco Ruben Garzaman, drowned Monday night in Texas when his canoe capsized near Galveston Bay, southeast of Houston.

Meteorologists say 7 to 11 inches have fallen in parts of Louisiana, with more expected in the next 24 to 36 hours.  

Photo Credit: AP

Flint Suspends Utility Billing Amid Water Crisis


The mayor of Flint, Michigan, announced the city will suspend billing for water services to residents exposed to lead poisoning, NBC News reported.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said the city is trying to get a program underway that will help affected residents. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder approved a $30 million plan to help Flint residents with water bills.

The city’s more than 99,000 residents have been told not to use unfiltered tap water after the municipality switched to the Flint River as a water source, exposing them to high levels of lead.  

Photo Credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

78-Year-Old Hamden Man Found Safe


A 78-year-old Hamden man who had been missing since Tuesday night has been found and he is safe.

Police said they responded to a home on Julian Drive around 8:30 p.m. after Kingsley Birdsall's wife reported him missing. He was known to stay at home, so his disappearance was of concern to authorities.

Officers notified nearby residents about Birdsall's disappearance.

As the State Police chopper searched by air and Hamden Police K9s combed the woods near Julian Drive, Dr. David L. Katz, decided to go searching for Birdsall.

“I hike these woods all the time and I know there are a lot of woods here, so this is pretty much the proverbial needle in a haystack,” Dr. Katz said.

With the help of his dogs, Dr. Katz says he trekked about a mile and half along a trail he marked himself. Around 11 a.m., he says he found the missing elderly man sitting on a stone.

“I think he was somewhat relieved to find out that he wasn’t going to be alone in the woods for too much longer,” Dr. Katz said.

Birdsall told Dr. Katz he got separated from his dog while walking in the woods yesterday afternoon.
“Somehow during the night and his adventure he lost his belt so his pants kept falling down,” Dr. Katz said, “so that plus his state of slight dehydration made it very difficult for him to walk out.”

When Dr. Katz noticed Birdsall’s heart rate go up, he told him to stay put and ran back home to alert police.

“Called in the cavalry and they showed up very promptly and they did the rest,” he said.

Birdsall could be seen sitting up on a stretcher before he was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

“I guess this is the upside of climate change right,” Dr. Katz said, “it was a very mild night, because had it been a very cold night which this time of year it could have been, I think this outcome could have been quite a bit different.”

Photo Credit: Hamden Police

Police Search for Suspect Who Led to Extra Security Efforts at 4 Southington Schools


Four schools in the Plantsville area of Southington were placed in secure mode after a man wanted by police ran from a bail enforcement agent.

Police said the agent approached officers who were working on a traffic detail in the area of 400 Burritt Street and he told them he was trying to serve John Sample, 29, with a warrant but he ran off.

Police alerted school officials and Plantsville Elementary, Derynoski Elementary, Alta at the Pyne Center and Kennedy Middle School were all placed in secure school mode as a precaution.

Police ended the search at 12:06 p.m. and the secure schools order was lifted.

Police said they are still looking for Sample.

Meriden have a warrant charging Sample with failure to appear and Southington police have three drug-related warrants, according to police.  

Photo Credit: Newsworks

Mourners Gather at Reagan Library to Honor Former First Lady


Mourners saluted from freeway overpasses and lined Southern California streets Wednesday morning as a memorial procession for former first lady Nancy Reagan traveled to the Reagan Library, where a funeral service is scheduled for Friday.

Thousands are expected to trek to Simi Valley, California, through Thursday to pay their final respects to Reagan, who died in Bel Air Sunday at age 94. The former first lady will lie in repose at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum from 1 to 7 p.m. and again from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

Her casket was taken from a Santa Monica funeral home in a motorcade Wednesday morning to the Library, about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles, where it will remain for the public viewing. Firefighters, police officers and others saluated the motorcade as it passed below several freeway overpasses during the journey north through West Los Angeles, into the San Fernando Valley and west to Simi Valley.

Eight U.S. Secret Service agents served as pallbearers. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Kinnersley was assigned to President Ronald Reagan after he left office, according to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. The seven others all served Nancy Reagan in the past: Supervisory Special Officer Christopher Cousino and special agents Thomas Feuerborn, Tim Yoshitake, Cory Chhiap, Steven Kulpaca, Nathan Judd and Melanie Lentz.

People hoping to view the casket will not be able to drive to the museum but will have to park at the former Bank of America property at 400 National Way in Simi Valley and take a shuttle.

Ronald Reagan Foundation officials noted that security will be tight and advised people not to bring large bags, cameras or strollers. Gifts and flowers will only be accepted at the bottom of Presidential Drive and at the shuttle pickup location.

According to the foundation, Nancy Reagan requested that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Ronald Reagan Memorial Fund at www.reaganlibrary.com.

The Reagan library will remain closed to the general public until 10 a.m. Sunday.

There's no estimate of how many people will attend during the two-day visitation, but the museum is bracing for large crowds since Nancy Reagan's funeral service at 11 a.m. Friday will be closed to the public.

A trio of former first ladies, including Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, are among those expected to attend Friday's funeral service, along with current first lady Michelle Obama, although President Barack Obama is not expected to be there. He is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, on March 11 and Michelle Obama was scheduled to speak there on March 16. 

"Mrs. Reagan was a woman of incredible strength and grace and she was a passionate advocate for so many important issues," Michelle Obama said Tuesday. 

"For the example she set both during her time in the White House and beyond, Mrs. Reagan reminded us of the importance of women's leadership at every level of society. And on a personal note, Mrs. Reagan also understood the value of mentoring," she said.

"She warmly and willingly offered advice and encouragement to me as I settled in to my role as first lady, and I am so grateful for her kindness and generosity to me and my family over the years."

Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday that Hillary Clinton "is going to drop off the (campaign) trail briefly on Friday to attend Nancy Reagan's funeral services in California."

Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are also expected to attend, along with former first lady Rosalynn Carter, according to officials at the Reagan Library.

Former President Lyndon Johnson's daughters, Luci and Lynda, are expected to attend, along with Tricia Nixon Cox, a daughter of President Richard Nixon.

Nancy Reagan will be buried next to her husband, the 40th president, with whom she had a love affair spanning five decades.

U.S. flags on public buildings across the country -- and at the Reagan\ Library -- were lowered to half-staff in her memory Monday, following a directive from the president.

A fierce protector of her husband's presidential legacy, the woman behind the "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign and the first lady known for tasteful glamour at the White House, Nancy Reagan died of congestive heart failure while asleep at the Bel Air home where she had lived since 1989, Ronald Reagan Foundation spokeswoman Joanne Drake said.

The Reagans were married in March 1952 and purchased a home in Pacific Palisades, where they lived until a move to Sacramento in 1966. They had two children together, Patti and Ron Jr., and she also helped raise Ronald Reagan's two children with his first wife, Jane Wyman.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan were both actors, but "Hellcats Of the Navy" in 1957 was the only movie in which they appeared together, although she continued to act in TV and minor movie roles.

Her biggest roles, however, were not on the screen, but as Ronald Reagan's adviser, counselor and protector when he was in public life, and later, as his chief caregiver after he became stricken by Alzheimer's disease.

Reagan died in June 2004.

Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis, said in a statement on her website that her mother "had been in poor health for quite a while, and recently had gotten markedly worse, so this wasn't a surprise."

"That said, death always feels like a surprise," she said. "I appreciate the attention and prayers of people I will probably never meet. Just as when my father died, there is comfort in feeling surrounded by gentle thoughts and kind wishes, often sent out by strangers.

"And just as when my father died, we will honor my mother publicly -- stand on the public stage and share as much as we can. Then, when that is completed, we'll draw the circle in a little tighter and deal with the often complicated map of personal loss."

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

Norwalk Police Still Look for Missing Teen 40 Years Later


Norwalk Police are still looking for a 14-year-old girl who went missing in 1976.

Forty years ago on Feb. 12, Mr Anijras of 2 Midwood Road reported his daughter, Maria Anijras, had run away after she did not return for her music lesson that afternoon. 

According to police, Maria left her house on a blue English racer bike sometime after 2:15 p.m. She was last seen wearing her Norwalk High School jacket with the number 79 and her nickname "Mia" embroidered. 

The blue bike was found at her friend Judy Altemose's house on 50 St. Mary's Lane but Judy and other friends told police they had not seen or heard from Maria. 

Over the days after Maria's disappearance, calls about seeing Maria at Duchess Restaurant on Main Street and possibly in an orange and black car were reported but the teen was never located. Police said they followed up with friends several times but they still said they had not seen or heard from Maria.

Police even followed one lead that Maria may habe been at the Charter Oaks Motorcycle club in Bethel.

Maria's father died in 1983 and her mother a few years after without ever knowing what happened to their daughter. 

In recent years, DNA samples were collected from Maria’s older siblings and entered into the University of North Texas database that is linked Nationally to CODIS in an effort to connect Missing Persons to Unidentified Persons/Remains.

Police have interviewed Maria's friends recently hoping they may have useful information or may realize as adults that they won't get in any "trouble" if they had spoken to Maria.

Anybody that spoke with Maria Anjiras in the weeks or years after she ran away from home or has information on the location of Maria Anjiras can contact Lt. Art Weisgerber at (203) 854-3028; or aweisgerber@norwalkct.org

Anonymous Internet tips can be sent through the Norwalk police website at: www.norwalkpd.com
Anonymous text tips can be submitted by typing “NPD” into the text field, followed by the message and sending it to CRIMES (274637).

Photo Credit: Norwalk Police

'I'm Stronger Than You': Suspect Hits Cop During Traffic Stop


A West Haven, Connecticut man struck an officer in the throat during a traffic stop, Orange Police said.

Luis Rivera, 25, allegedly struck an officer and attempted to get away during a traffic stop at 8:15 on Wednesday morning. 

Orange Police said they stopped Rivera because he was speeding and made a left turn that almost caused an accident with another driver.

When police pulled Rivera over and asked him to step out of the car, he allegedly got out and struck the officer before trying to run away on foot, according to police. 

The officer and the suspect began to scuffle when Rivera allegedly said, "I'm stronger than you," and "I will take you," implying he would hurt the cop, police said. 

The unnamed officer was brought to a local hospital and will require further medical follow-up for his injuries, according to Orange Police.

Rivera was placed on a $100,000 bond and is schedule to appear in Derby Court on Mar. 10.

It was not clear if he had an attorney.

Photo Credit: Orange Police Department

State investigators Called In To Determine Foundry Fire Cause


Twice in one day the Enfield firefighters called out to Yankee Casting Company on Shaker Road.
The second time they knew they were in it for the long haul.

“I could see the fire as soon as I came out of the fire house," said Shaker Pines Fire Chief Charles Macsata.

Macsata hadn’t even made it home from the first fire, which ignited at 9:30 Tuesday morning, when he was called back to Yankee Casting Company at 8:45 p.m. He said flames reached 40 to 50 feet in the air ripping through an aluminum production facility and the front offices. He and his deputy fire chief stayed on the scene until 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

“From what I understand it’s a pretty significant loss," said Enfield Economic Development Director Peter Bryanton.

The original building dates back to 1961, but there have been nine additions put on over the years.

“There was a lot of places with two roofs, two ceilings. The overhaul was very tough," explained Macsata.

Although the first fire was ruled accidental, authorities are still trying to determine how the second one started. Because of the fire's magnitude, state police were called in to investigate. They hope to have a preliminary cause on Thursday.

Meantime, the town of has offered their support to the family run company that's called Enfield home for half a century.

“They are a pretty important business to us here in town and we really stand ready to help them in any way we can," said Bryanton.

The business's owners have not put a price on the damage publicly, but investigators said some of the buildings are destroyed. They’ve indicated to city officials they plan to rebuild.

“They’re able to reposition some of the operations that were on that building to other buildings on the site, so at least they’ll be able to stay up and running," Bryanton added.

Bryanton said the state’s economic development team has also reached out to offer help to the business.

Route 66 in Portland Reopened Following Motorcycle Accident


Route 66 is reopened in Portland after a motorcycle accident.

The crash happened near the intersection of Route 66 and Middle Haddam Road. 

Police are responding to the scene and expect the road to be shut down for "some time."

The passenger on the motorcycle was transported but their injuries are unknown. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles


North Korea fired two ballistic missiles Thursday morning, according to a South Korean military official.

The two missiles — believed by analysts to be Scud-type missiles — flew about 310 miles and were fired from North Korea’s northern shore, NBC News reported.

The apparent launch comes after heated rhetoric from North Korea, which included threats of a preemptive strike.

North Korea was hit with sanctions by the United Nations after the country conducted a nuclear test on Jan. 6 and launched a long-range rocket on Feb. 6. 

Photo Credit: AP

Ex-UConn Student Accused of Changing Grades


A former UConn student is being accused of changing the grades for himself and eight other students, according to an arrest warrant.

Omar Faraj, 18, of Mystic, faces two counts of forgery in the second degree and two counts of third-agree computer crime after turning himself in police on Monday.

On Dec. 21 and Dec. 25 of last year, Faraj allegedly used a UConn chemistry teacher's credentials to change grades in the university's computer system, according to the arrest warrant. 

Faraj's grades were changed from a C to an A- and moved other student's grades either up or down, the affidavit said. In one instance, he changed a student's F to a B+.

The computer program automatically sends emails to professors to confirm grad changes. When the professor got the first email on Dec. 21, he alerted university officials. 

Police said Faraj was able to obtain his teacher's password by watching him type it in while visiting the professor over a few weeks. 

In January police were able to match the IP address used to change the grades with Faraj's IP address. During January and February, police said they tried several times to question Faraj but he told police he was dismissed from the school and did not wish to answer questions, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. 

Faraj's bail was set at $5,000. 

Photo Credit: UConn Police

3 Dead as Storms Rip Through Gulf Coast & South


A third person died Wednesday as storms hit the Gulf Coast and South, forcing evacuations and high water rescues, leaving millions under the threat of flooding, NBC News reported.

A 64-year-old man died outside Lucky, Louisiana, after driving through floodwaters on a road. His 70-year-old passenger was found clinging to a tree and was rescued.

Two other men died in separate accidents across the region since the storms began Monday, according to officials. A 30-year-old man drowned after his SUV was swept away in Oklahoma, while a 22-year-old from Galveston Bay, Texas, drowned Monday night.

Louisiana has suffered some of the worst flooding, where roads were washed out. Meteorologists say 7 to 11 inches have fallen in parts of the state, with more expected in the next 24 to 36 hours. 

Photo Credit: AP

Waterford Woman Faces Animal Cruelty Charges


A woman turned herself in to police in connection to an animal cruelty investigation on-going in Waterford, police said,

On Feb. 19, police searched a home on 471 Mohegan Avenue Parkway in Quaker Hill with a warrant. Police and animal control seized seven dogs along with "additional evidence" and found another dog dead on the property.

The seven dogs were taken to local animal shelters to be cared for but it was not clear what condition they are in. 

Aftin A. Perez, 28 who lives in the home, voluntarily turned herself into police after being notified of a warrant for her arrest.

Perez is accused of cruelty to animals, risk of injury to a minor, unlicensed dog, and no rabies vaccination. She was held on a $30,000 bond.

There were no further details on the crimes allegedly committed. 

Anyone with information regarding illegal activity in Waterford is asked to contact the Waterford Police at (860) 442-9451.

Photo Credit: Waterford Police

Bronin Meets with Lawmakers to Discuss Budget Crisis


The idea being kicked around the Bronin Administration to address a widening budget shortfall is to have the state assume some sort of role, that could provide him with legal cover to find savings for Hartford taxpayers.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin met with members of the city council and every member of the state's legislative delegation Wednesday night where he presented what he described as options in dealing with city's finances.

Bronin insisted it wouldn't be the same as the receivership OK'd by the General Assembly in 2001 for the City of Waterbury's financial crisis.

“We’re not interested in a state take over. We’re not interested in surrendering control" Bronin, a Democrat, told reporters following the 90 minute meeting.

"What we want to make sure is we have the ability and the authority to take responsibility to make the changes that are necessary to get the city of Hartford’s financial house in order.

When asked whether the budget shortfall was still on track to be in the $30 million range, Mayor Bronin said, "I expect it could be much higher than that."

A blog, We The People Hartford, initially broke the story of the possibility of what's known as a "State Oversight Board" Tuesday night and it was confirmed by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

Rep. Angel Arce, who represents Hartford, told NBC Connecticut before the meeting that he's willing to work with state lawmakers and push for a solution for the city.

“I want to find solutions and help this mayor and city council find solutions instead of blaming people" Arce said. "Let’s just find a solution and move this city forward.”

Gov. Dannel Malloy said even though he speaks with Mayor Bronin on a fairly regular basis and is aware of the budget situation in the Capital City, but cautioned, “With respect to the latest speculation we have not had those discussions.”

Malloy was also critical of budget decisions made by the administration of Pedro Segarra, Bronin's predecessor.

“I think there were occasions where it could have made better decisions and it didn’t but we all have to play the cards we’re dealt and he knew what he was running for and we’ll work together" he said.

Bronin says a combination of spending cuts, further efficiencies, and layoffs will all be needed to steady the city's ship, but added tax hikes can't be the only revenue remedy.

“I do not think we can responsibly raise the property tax year after year without killing the city and I’m not going to kill this city and I’m not going to accept a Hartford in decline. We need to get the city of Hartford back on the path to growth.”

Pistachios Recalled Due to Salmonella Outbreak


Wonderful Pistachios has voluntarily recalled its products following a salmonella outbreak linked to pistachios.

At least 11 people in nine states, including Connecticut, have been infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two had to be hospitalized.

Pistachios with the brand names of Paramount Farms and Trader Joe's have also been recalled.

Wonderful Pistachios said the products being recalled have a 13-digit lot code.

Salmonella is an organism that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and vomiting.

Photo Credit: poshcouture.xo/Instagram

Baby Left in Car, Dad in Strip Club


A 9-month-old baby girl was found alone in a car parked outside of a San Fernando Valley strip club while her father was apparently inside the venue Wednesday afternoon.

People near the parking lot at Synn Gentleman’s Club near Roscoe and Sepulveda boulevards saw the child in the car after hearing her cry, according to Senior Lead Officer Charles Chacon of LAPD’s Mission Division.

The concerned passers-by opened the car door to get the baby out and called 911.

“In the midst of them calling the police, the father came out from the strip joint and basically wanted to take the baby,” Chacon said.

The good Samaritans refused to let the father take his crying daughter and stayed with her until officers arrived.

“He basically was not thinking, is what he said,” Chacon said.

The little girl was taken to a nearby hospital and was suffering from mild dehydration.

“I thought it was unbelievable. I could not believe a father would put his child in that type of danger,” Chacon said.

The man was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment.

The baby was placed with Child Protective Services, who has contacted the child’s family, Chacon said.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV/Telemundo52

Victoria McGrath's Death Linked to Alcohol


Victoria McGrath, who survived the Boston marathon bombing, and her roommate were drinking before getting into an accident that killed them both in Dubai, NBC News reported.

The yellow Ferrari 458 Spider that they were driving in with two other people mounted a curb, split in two and then "lit on fire" early Sunday, Dubai's chief traffic prosecutor Salah Bu Farousha Al Falasi said.

The car's four occupants were thrown from the two-seater vehicle during the crash, he added.

"All were drinking alcohol," Al Falasi told NBC News on Wednesday, adding that while police could not confirm the 562-horsepower Ferrari's exact speed "they were driving fast."

Photo Credit: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Invision/AP

Police Officer Linked to Sex Trafficking Operation Fired


A Waterbury Police officer was fired after an investigation found he was linked to a sex trafficking operation, police said. 

Former Officer Jermaine Dunbar, an eight year veteran of the patrol division, broke several department policies including improper associations, truthfulness, conduct unbecoming to an officer, neglect of duty and insubordination. He was fired last Friday.

On April 13, 2015, the Waterbury Police Department got information about an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Watertown Police Department that was initiated from a complaint from the Department of Children and Families, Waterbury Police said.

The Watertown Police investigation led to two suspects being arrested for various charges including narcotics, illegal weapons possession, promoting prostitution and human trafficking. 

NBC Connecticut news learned that one of the suspects is Dunbar's family member and another is a friend. Investigators believe Dunbar was at the Watertown home where two 16-year-old girls were given drugs and having sex with men. One girl said she had sex with Dunbar but police said he denies this claim. 

This investigation and arrest led police to question Dunbar's off-duty conduct, according to Waterbury Police. While the former officer was not criminally charged, he was placed on administrative leave during an internal affairs investigation. 

After 11 months, the investigation found Dunbar had conducted himself in way that "negatively" reflects the department and is "inappropriate conduct for any law enforcement officer," according to Waterbury Police. 

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police

'Historic' Floods Expected to Worsen in South


The violent thunderstorms that left three people dead and 25 million Americans facing floods is set to tear through the Gulf Coast and the South on Thursday.

Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas have been hammered all week with downpours, large hail, and at least two tornadoes — and forecasters warned there was more to come.

Some areas have seen a foot of rain since Tuesday, with more than 16 inches falling near the northern Louisiana city of Monroe.

While severe thunderstorms were less likely Thursday, the rain was forecast to continue and shift eastward. Parts of Tennessee and Mississippi were also set to get soaked — with up to a foot of rain possible in New Orleans through Saturday.

Photo Credit: AP
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