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State Officials Urge Residents to Avoid Travel to Zika-Affected Areas


Four Connecticut residents have contracted Zika virus while traveling in Zika-affected areas overseas and state officials are urging residents, particularly those who are pregnant or might become pregnant, not to travel to infected areas.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino, and Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Director Dr. Ted Andreadis held a news conference on Friday to discuss preparedness.

Malloy said Zika is a "national emergency" and he criticized Republicans in Congress for not acting to authorize $2 billion in funds to fight Zika.

Should Congress authorize the funding, Andreadis has put in an application for some of that money, Malloy said. He said it could also go to local organizations for informational efforts and to step up efforts if needed.

In the absence of a vaccine for Zika virus, Andreadis said community involvement is necessary, including eliminating standing water from your property.

"We're not likely to see a vaccine for two years, and that's coming right from the NIH," he said. "So, in the absence of that, it really comes down to local community development to prevent yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes and we're strongly encouraging folks to clean up any artificial containers, get rid of standing water."

Andreadis said the lab in New Haven is conducting research and has Zika virus isolations from mosquitoes and humans from Mexico and Puerto Rico in a containment facility.

"We're doing some work with those viruses right now to see if our local mosquito populations are susceptible," he said. "There's no risk to the public."

Malloy said people who need to travel to affected areas should take precautions to avoid exposure to the virus. 

"If you're expecting to conceive a child, if that's your desire, this is the time to avoid possible infection," he said.

Rainy, Cool Weather Leads to Drop in Business for Nurseries


Nurseries are usually busy at this time of year with people picking up flowers and veggies, but the rain and cold weather have been impacting local businesses.

Michael Halas, the owner of Halas Farm Market in Danbury, said the days of rain make for more work and less traffic compared to other years.

“It’s been overcast and rainy for the last five or six days and it’s made us really work extra hard in the green house to keep everything looking fresh and looking great,” Halas said.

He said his clientele is down about 25 percent from what it usually is on a busy week prior to Mother’s Day and some customers said they’re just waiting for sunshine until they make their purchase.

“No I haven’t been doing anything outside because the temperatures … the swing has been 40, sometimes 45 degrees, so I haven’t been. Too timid even to go out,” Ginny Doyle, of New Fairfield, said.

The lettuce crops, asparagus, scallions and garlic, as well as trees and shrubs, are growing well, but you might want to wait a little longer to put out tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squash because those crops need some sunshine.

“I think I lost three plants from the weather, you know hot and cold, hot and cold,” Lillian Hallock, of New Fairfield, said.

Meanwhile, the nursery hopes traffic for Mother’s Day weekend will pick up. They are putting together hundreds of flower orders and hope customers will stop in and get a special gift for mom.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut,cin

School Honors Sandy Hook Shooting Victim With Wingman Program


Students at New Fairfield Middle School took a break from a typical day of math, science and social studies classes on Friday to teach each other life lessons instead. 

In September, the school was introduced to the Wingman program, which was created in memory of 6-year-old Dylan Hockley, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in 2012. 

On Friday, Dylan’s parents and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy went to the school and heard from the students taking part in the program. 

Through Wingman, students play the teachers a few times each school year and teach fellow classmates about social and emotional skills. 

Dylan Hockley’s dad, Ian Hockley, said he hopes one lesson the students learn is the importance of looking out for one another. 

“So if I think of Dylan -- and he was the little boy with Autism who needed everybody to be his wingman -- and if everybody would do that, just be looking out for him, those moments maybe when he needed help, maybe to understand the rules of the game or maybe just to get involved with something then he got all the joys in life that any other kid would get,” Ian Hockley said.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy also met with students to discuss what is and isn’t working in the program and said he hopes to pass the information along to other U.S. Senators.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

US Military Operating in Yemen: Pentagon


The Pentagon acknowledged publicly for the first time that the U.S. military is operating on the ground in Yemen, NBC News reported. 

Forces are providing intelligence, maritime support, airborne surveillance and medical aid to the Emirate, Yemeni and Arab coalition battling al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson. 

The deployment, according to Davis, is in response to the growth of AQAP in Yemen. He said four recent counterterror strikes conducted by the U.S. havekilled 10 AQAP operatives. 

Davis said this is a new deployment, but didn’t say how many forces are on the ground or where they are operating. A senior defense official said it is a very small number of troops.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Panama Papers Whistleblower Wants More Action From Leak


The anonymous, self-described whistleblower of the so-called Panama Papers issued a manifesto Friday, saying the controversy from the leak of 11.5 million documents hasn’t triggered enough action or condemnation, NBC News reported. 

"I decided to expose Mossack Fonseca because I thought its founders, employees and clients should have to answer for their roles in these crimes, only some of which have come to light thus far," wrote the leaker in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper that received the documents last year and then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 

The whistleblower acknowledged the media’s coverage has generated debate on the use of offshore shell companies to allegedly “carry out a wide array of serious crimes,” but added that not enough focus has been placed on how much of the abuse of tax havens is legal.

On Friday, President Obama urged Congress to enact measures to fight tax evasion by corporations and the rich, citing the Panama Papers as evidence. 

Iceland’s prime minister resigned over the leak and a spotlight has been trained on leaders in several countries, including Russia and China.

Photo Credit: AP

Maine Bus Joyride


Talk about a joyride - a 12-year-old boy stole a school bus and took it for a drive, according to police in Bangor, Maine.

John St. Germain was in the passenger seat when he and his friend, Amanda, saw a bus driving dangerously in front of them. In cell phone video, it can be seen swerving, hitting the sidewalk and signs.

"At first it was comical, because we both thought it was a new driver - like someone being taught how to drive a bus," said St. Germain.

And it was a new driver - a very young one.

"I kind of saw his body structure [when the bus turned] and I was like, 'Oh my gosh - I think that's a kid," said St. Germain. "That's when it got scary."

Police say the child got access to the keys of a bus at the Bangor Cyr bus lines terminal and took it for spin.

As his friend called police, St. Germain decided he had to intervene.

"I was like, 'Alright, I'm going to take over,'" he said.

St. Germain stopped recording the video, jumped out of his car, and run up to the bus. The doors were slightly ajar, so he managed to get inside the slowly-moving vehicle. Then, he came face-to-face with the child driver.

"He didn't realize I was there for about 10 seconds or so, and then he looked at me and said 'I know what I'm doing,'" said St. Germain.

And then the kid kept driving.

"Then I kind of took the wheel, and put my foot on the brake, and then stopped the bus," St. Germain said. "I looked at him and said 'Alright, you need to get in the back now.'"

But the boy hopped off the bus and walked away. Police eventually caught him and charged him with operating without a license and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Authorities called St. Germain to the police station.

"I thought 'I'm going to get in trouble for this. I'm going to go to jail or something, because I just high-jacked a bus,'" he said.

St. Germain was relieved, and honored, to learn the Bangor Police Department wanted to give him a challenge coin as an award.

"The term 'hero' is thrown around a lot, but this guy is a hero," said Bangor Police Sgt. Tim Cotton. "He stopped something from happening, he stopped injuries to the 12-year-old boy, he may have stopped other damage."

On the Bangor Police Department's Facebook page, Cotton writes that St. Germain very likely saved lives by taking action. The post has gone viral, and St. Germain isn't sure what to make of all the attention.

"I just did what anyone would have done," St. Germain said.

The boy was taken into custody.

Photo Credit: Bangor Police
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Syrian Refugees in Canada Help Fort Mac Evacuees


Some of the Syrian refugees who have resettled in Canada are stepping up to help those affected by the wildfire in Fort McMurray, NBC News reported. 

A call for donations was placed on the Syrian Refugees Support Group Calgary Facebook page. The group asked for help collecting diapers, toiletries, blankets and clothing as well as a $5 donation per person — if they could spare it. 

"Canadians have provided us with everything and now we have a duty we must do," group member Naser Nader wrote in Arabic. "Must help the people who lost their homes and everything in a fire (in) Oil City … Get ready, it's time to fulfill."

The Syrians have been able to collect six large hampers full of basic necessities for the evacuees so far. 

Photo Credit: Saima Jamal

Ritual Shrine Found in Jail Cell


A ritualistic shrine was discovered in the Florida jail cell of a man accused of killing his wife and her two young children.

Luis Toledo is charged in the death of his wife, Yessenia Suarez, and her children, 8-year-old Michael and 9-year-old Thalia, NBC affiliate WESH reported.

Suarez and her children were last seen in October 2013, Voulsia County officials said. Their bodies have not been found.

Toledo allegedly admitted to killing Suarez "with a single blow," according to WESH, but denied hurting his stepchildren.

During a routine jail cell sweep on March 27, Daytona Beach jail officials found drops of apparent blood on pictures of Toledo's wife and children, as well as a newspaper clipping with a red mark through the name of Circuit Judge Raul Zambrano, the Volusia County Division of Corrections said. Zambrano will be presiding over Toledo's murder trial, WESH said.

Officers also found a cast with a nose and eyes drawn in red, a cross made from a ripped-up white T-shirt, and a paper cup filled with water, an orange and bread.

The items were arranged in what appeared to some form of ritualistic manner, possible "Santeria," according to a correction officer's report. Santeria is a religious tradition of African origin that spread through Latin America.

Toledo's next hearing is set for May 18.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Volusia County Corrections

Worker Killed in Niantic After Power Line Accident

Two People Shot in New Haven


Two people were shot early Saturday morning in New Haven.

According to police, a man and a woman were discovered with gun shot wounds at the intersection of Arthur St. and Burton St. just after 3 a.m.

Wade Johnson, 29 of New Haven was shot in the hip. Taylor Barnes, 22 of New Haven was shot in the torso. Both were taken to Yale New Haven Hospital.

Johnson was treated and released and Barnes was taken into surgery. She will remain hospitalized listed in serious but stable condition.

Witnesses tell investigators there was an argument involving several people, including the victims before the shooting.

At this time, there is no description of a suspect or suspects.

Trump: Clinton Was 'Nasty Enabler' of Husband's Affairs


Donald Trump ramped up his attacks on Hillary Clinton Friday, calling the Democartic front-runner an "unbelievably nasty, mean enabler" who "destroyed" the lives of her husband's mistresses, NBC News reported.

The comments, made during an evening rally in Eugene, Ore., marked the sharpest tone he's taken against  Clinton since becoming his party's presumptive nominee.

Without citing specific examples, Trump asked the audience: "Have you ever read what Hillary Clinton did to the women that Bill Clinton had affairs with? And they’re going after me with women? Give me a break, folks."

His comments came as part of a defense against recent attacks from Democrats focused on his controversial comments and stances on women's issues. Trump told the crowd "nobody respects women more than me." 

Photo Credit: AP
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London Elects Its First Muslim Mayor


Labour lawmaker Sadiq Khan was elected mayor of London, becoming the first Muslim elected to lead a major Western city.

The official announcement was made early Saturday morning local time. Khan won with 1,310,143 votes, beating Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith, who got 994,614 votes, NBC News reported.

In a speech after the announcement, Khan said he was "humbled" by the result and promised "to always be a mayor for all Londoners."

Khan, 45, was a favorite to replace flamboyant Conservative Boris Johnson as mayor. His victory makes him London's first Muslim mayor and breaks the Conservatives' eight-year hold on City Hall.

Photo Credit: AP

Sad Grandma Photo Sparks Thousands to Send Messages


On the night of an 89-year-old woman's first art show in Thompson, Magdalene Jourdan dressed to the nines and arrived early inside the Thompson Public Library.

She said she wanted to welcome her fellow art lovers and hoped to chat all night.

"Oh, I was so excited. Finally I can talk to people. I can talk to people in my own heart and soul," said Jourdan.

Except no crowd ever arrived. Only a couple people stopped by, and no one dressed up.

"We were patient. One hour, two hours, nothing happened," said Jourdan. "I said to myself, 'Is that it? Is that what you were preparing so carefully for?’"

"I felt like a fool."

After a disappointing night, her granddaughter, Lily, posted a picture to Twitter of her grandmother dressed up and back at home. She wrote "Dressed so nice for her art showing at the library and no one went." From there, social media took over.

"Next thing I know is it's 12 o'clock and people are starting to favorite and retweet my tweet," said Lily.

Hundreds and then thousands shared, liked, and commented an outpouring of support all around the world for this grandmother of nine.

"I am overwhelmed because I thought no one gave a damn, you know? I am overwhelmed," said Jourdan.

Jourdan figures the miserable weather is why people didn't come to Thursday night's show.

"It was cold, and I don't blame the people for not coming because I wouldn't come out on a day like this, on a night like this," said Jourdan.

The 89-year-old says she's thankful for even the few who showed up because speaking with them made her feel alive.

And Jourdan has a message for those who have reached out through social media to say how much they love her art.

"I thank you."

If you would like to see Magdalene Jourdan’s paintings up close, you still have time. They'll remain up at the Thompson Public Library until May 25th during regular library hours.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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Connecticut City Considered Most 'Normal' American Area


If you ever wondered what city in the United States was the epitome of "normal America", the answer may be closer than you think.

Known for the Green, famous pizza and Yale University, a new report named New Haven the number one metropolitan area that looks most like the United States in 2016. 

The study, put out by FiveThirtyEight, a data-focus blog, was based on age, edcuation, race and ethnicity. 

The Hartford area is not too far behind at number three, while Tamp-St. Petersburg, Florida, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, are other places that ranked near the top.

“I think there are academics, I think there are working class people,” Caren Carpenter said, adding she likes New Haven’s diversity.

Carpenter belongs to the Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green.

“Our church represents that,” she said, “We have all types of people that come here.”

The FiveThirtyEight story dispels the myth that most Americans still live in small towns in rural parts of the country.

“It hit the nail on the head,” said Jeffrey Debies-Carl, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of New Haven. “We have this idea that we are living in the 1950s era suburb predominantly white, predominantly middle class, and that’s not necessarily the case.”

Debies-Carl pointed out the last census in 2010 found 80 percent of America’s population resides in urban areas.

“This image we have of America may not actually be the America we live in,” he said.

The study found Connecticut to be the state that is fourth most like America today. Illinois ranked first, followed by New York and New Jersey.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Person of Interest in Custody After Armed Man Robs NY Hospital


Police were interviewing a person of interest Saturday after an armed man entered a hospital outside of Niagara Falls, New York, claiming he had an explosive device, NBC News reported.

Lockport police say a man entered Eastern Niagara Hospital early Saturday morning armed with two rifles and demanded drugs from staff. The suspect also claimed to have a bomb, according to authorities.

Officers arrived within minutes, and the man fled on foot and dropped the two guns and a backpack in the hospital parking lot, police said.

Hospital officials said in a statement that staff did provide the man with a "limited amount of drugs" and that no shots were fired inside the facility.

Witnesses described the suspect as a white male with blonde hair, about 6 feet tall and in his early 20s.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

5 People Hospitalized Following Major Crash in Hamden

Trump: 'I Got Blindsided' By Paul Ryan's Comments


Donald Trump says he was blindsided by Paul Ryan’s recent comments that he’s "just not ready" to support the presumptive Republican nominee. 

Trump told NBC News’ Chuck Todd he doesn’t know the House Speaker very well, but called Ryan a "very good guy."  

"He called me three weeks ago, and he was so supportive. It was amazing. And I never thought a thing like this. I got blindsided by this," Trump said. 

Ryan's office disputed Trump's claim about the timing and content of the conversation, saying the last time the two spoke was in March. Trump's campaign confirmed to NBC News the conversation Trump was referring to was that March chat.

The two are set to have a meeting on Thursday in Washington D.C.

Photo Credit: NBC News
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'El Chapo' Transferred to Mexican Jail Across US Border Town


Drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was transferred Saturday morning from central Mexico to a prison located across the from U.S. border town El Paso, Texas, NBC News reported.

Mexico’s National Security Commission said the move was not related to his extradition, even though officials began the legal process to deport him to the U.S. shortly after his capture. He is currently being held in Ciudad Juarez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

A U.S. government official also confirmed to NBC News that his move wasn’t related to his extradition to America, where at least five jurisdictions — including New York, Chicago and San Diego — are vying to prosecute Guzman on charges from drug trafficking to money laundering to murder conspiracies.

Guzman tunneled his way out of a maximum security prison in Mexico last July and was finally recaptured in January.

Photo Credit: AP

Police Investigate Attempted Burglary in Meriden


Police are investigating an attempted burglary in Meriden.

Officers were called to SpoonShoppe Brooke Deli and Farm Market at 1320 East Main Street, after a report of a break in overnight.

Security camera footage shows the suspect smashing the building with a brick, then taking off in a car.

No further information was immediately available.

If you have any information, you are asked to call Meriden Police at (203) 630-6215.

Nine Arrested After Rowdy Student Partying in Willimantic


A wild day involving rowdy Eastern Connecticut State University students has Willimantic police saying enough.

Officers dodged flying beer cans, corralled hundreds of partiers filling the streets, and arrested those who crossed the line.

Police and neighbors say in recent years the partying had improved and students acted more respectful.

But Saturday took a loud and potentially dangerous turn.

NBC Connecticut was there as police busted what they say was an out-of-control event on Chestnut Street in Willimantic.

“It’s getting worse. It’s getting real bad, real bad,” says Felix Salgado of Willimantic.

Neighbors say they’ve had to put up with parties like this all day.

“It is a little loud. But this is the first year they started at 9 o’clock in the morning,” says Brenda Bourgoin of Willimantic.

At times, hundreds of Eastern Connecticut students filled the roads.

“A lot, a lot of people. Like, the whole street was full,” says Bourgoin.

Police doubled up patrols on Saturday to handle what revelers nicknamed the “stumbler.”

“The stumbler is basically kids going house to house and drinking,” says Corporal Stanley Parizo, Jr., Willimantic Police.

And when police stopped the rowdy drinking it did not always go over well.

“What we saw (Saturday) just it crossed the line. When you start attacking the police with beer cans that are full and open and police cars and taunting the police dog, unacceptable behavior,” says Parizo.

Thankfully no officers were hit.

They ended up arresting nine people for charges including breach of peace and interfering with an officer.

“Very disappointed, the cell blocks are full here,” says Parizo.

Officers handed out tickets to at least 16 others.

Police say until now this had been a good year for parties and they’re frustrated problems from earlier, wilder years resurfaced on Saturday.

“Now that I’m a parent and grandfather, I see this it kills. It kills me,” says Felix Salgado.

Students we talked to say they felt they were being unfairly targeted and that the problem was being blown out of proportion.

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