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Five Shot at Sweet 16 Party in Bridgeport


One girl’s sweet sixteen party came to a violent end in Bridgeport, Saturday night. Several teens were hospitalized with gunshot wounds after a fight broke out at the Italian American Club, Club Sportivo.

“It was chaotic. It was very chaotic. They almost made you feel like the people were coming back to shoot some more, we didn’t know,” said Arthur West.

West, a church elder at Triumphant Christian Church, was holding a men’s meeting with teen parishioners. As he talked to the teens about making good life choices, they heard gun fire erupt next door.

“Young people running, crying, very upset,” said West.

Police said a large group of unwanted guests crashed a sweet sixteen party around 10:30 Saturday night. Investigators said a fight broke out inside, and spilled out into the parking lot, where upwards of 300 teens had gathered.

“Upon arrival, officers discovered a couple of people with one shot in the leg and then one shot in the wrist,” said Bridgeport Police Chief AJ Perez.

The bullets injured five teens; one was hospitalized in serious condition. The four others had been released by Sunday morning.

Councilwoman Jeanette Herron lives five blocks away, and heard the gunfire.

“This is sad. People don’t have respect for each other anymore. These children should have been able to have fun without anyone invading their space,” she said.

Police said at least two suspects were behind the gunfire that ruined the celebration. They hope surveillance video will help identify the suspects. So far, they believe the suspects fled in a silver Honda Crosstour.

“It’s all nonsense between kids. They’re all kids. Kids with guns,” stated the police chief.

The weapon recovered was a .45 caliber semi-automatic weapon, according to Bridgeport Police Captain Brian Fitzgerald.

“It looks like the serial numbers may have been obliterated on it,” said Fitzgerald.

West asked the teens how the fight started, “They said it was the ends of town the north end the south end and different areas, came together here and a fight ensued.”

Police said there was adult supervision at the party, but the cross-town rivalry was a recipe for disaster. They are investigating whether the fight was gang-related.

“I am very confident that we will make an arrest this week,” Perez added.

Police said the host renting the party room from the Italian American Club didn’t need a permit because alcohol was not being served. Police said the club’s management will now require security when they rent out the facility.

Anyone with information is asked to call Bridgeport police at (203) 576-TIPS (8477).

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Anti-Trump Protests Continue For Fifth Day


After thousands of people took to the streets across the country on Saturday to display dissent for Donald Trump's election, many more demonstrations were planned and expected to occur on Sunday — the fifth straight day of protests, NBC News reported. 

Organizers have created Facebook events to help coordinate anti-Trump protesters in a number of large cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Oakland and San Francisco as well as smaller cities such as Springfield, Massachusetts; Erie, Pennsylvania; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and New Haven, Connecticut.

Thousands of accounts on Facebook have indicated interest in joining these protests.

According to the NYPD, an estimated 25,000 turned out in New York City on Saturday. They chanted phrases such as: "We reject the president-elect." Protests were also held in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Miami, Birmingham, Alabama and Fresno, California among others.

Police in Portland, Oregon used tear gas and "diversionary bang devices" to make 19 arrests on Saturday during an "unpermitted" march, police said. This comes a day after a protester was shot in a confrontation with an individual on a bridge. Two suspects were arrested in connection with the shooting.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bethel Man Caused Disturbance at Polls: Police


A Bethel man faces multiple charges after causing a disturbance at a polling location on Election Day.

Bethel police said Brian Mansfield, 55, was issued a misdemeanor summons after disrupting voting operations and polling staff on Nov. 8. Police allege that Mansfield intentionally knocked over election materials and knocked into a Girl Scout cookie table.

According to police, when an officer issued the summons at Mansfield’s residence the next day, Mansfield spit in the officer’s face.

At that point Mansfield was arrested. He faces charges of assault on a police officer, refusal to be fingerprinted, and second-degree breach of peace. He is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 22.

Photo Credit: Bethel Police Department

Linda McMahon Considered for Secretary of Commerce: Sources


Sources close to Linda McMahon and President-elect Trump's transition team confirm the former Senate candidate is one name under consideration to become Secretary of Commerce in the new Trump administration.

There has been much speculation over who Trump will chose for his administration since the election.

Trump announced his transition team on Friday. That team will not necessarily carry over into the Trump administration — though members of past transition teams often have. Instead, they are in charge of putting together hiring recommendations, working with outgoing appointees and laying the groundwork for administration's opening months.

McMahon, a former World Wrestling Entertainment executive and two-time U.S. Senate candidate has been involved in campaigns across the country, including the presidential election. She hosted an event for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was her top choice in the Republican primary, then threw her support behind Trump, a longtime friend.

Besides attending the Republican National Convention, she's been a frequent guest at fundraisers for federal candidates, rubbing elbows with top GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan. This election she was considered a Republican mega donor.

McMahon served on the Connecticut Board of Education starting in 2009 for just over a year before resigning when a new legal opinion by state elections officials restricted political activities by board members.

McMahon ran for a U.S. Senate seat in the 2010 general election and lost to Democrat Richard Blumenthal. McMahon spent $50 million of her own money, more than any other candidate in that election, and secured 44 percent of the vote, while Blumenthal spent $8.7 million, $2.5 million of which was his own money, and secured 54 percent of the vote.

She was the 2012 Republican nominee for Connecticut’s other senate seat to replace retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman but lost again, this time to Democratic Representative Chris Murphy.

McMahon lives in Greenwich with her husband, WWE executive Vince McMahon.

Photo Credit: AP

More Anti-Trump Protesters Take to New Haven Streets


Protestors gathered in New Haven to once again rally against President-elect Donald Trump.

Hundreds marched through downtown New Haven Sunday afternoon, many carrying signs with messages encouraging love over hate and decrying the President-elect’s anti-immigrant stance.

Tomas Rogel – an undocumented immigrant, held a sign that read “No nos vamos,” which translates to “we’re not going anywhere.”

"I'm here putting my body on the line risking a lot in order to say something and make a statement, you know, and I'm also thinking about my family and other people in the country who are here undocumented," Rogel said.

Trump’s proposed policy to cut funding for sanctuary cities prompted a response from New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, who reassured the Elm City’s immigrant population when asked about the threat to cut funding.

“I know there’s a whole lot of frustration felt by the American working class but we can’t go out and make vast portions of our population feel like they don’t belong in our country,” said New Haven resident Stephen Urchick.

Sunday marked the fifth day of protests across the nation. Organizers have created Facebook events to help coordinate anti-Trump protesters in a number of large cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Oakland and San Francisco as well as smaller cities such as Springfield, Massachusetts; Erie, Pennsylvania; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and New Haven.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

East Lyme Police Seek Shoplifting Suspects


East Lyme police are searching for two shoplifting suspects.

Police said the subjects pictured above stole makeup products from the Rite Aid on Flanders Road around 12:30 p.m. Friday. Police believe the female suspect acted as a distraction while the male suspect stole the merchandise.

Anyone who recognizes the suspects is asked to contact East Lyme police at 860-739-5900 or on Facebook. All tips will remain confidential.

Photo Credit: East Lyme Police Department

Women Donate to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence's Name


Donald Trump and Mike Pence's election has sparked protests across the country, and while thousands of people took to the streets, some expressed their displeasure a bit differently.  

Activists have been opening their wallets to make a donation to Planned Parenthood - with a twist. Countless people, largely women, posted on social media that they donated in honor of Indiana Governor and now Vice President-elect Mike Pence, using the address for his office so he will receive a certificate of thanks.

Celebrities also got in on the trend, with actress Amber Tamblyn and comedian Amy Schumer posting their support on Instagram.

Pence has been a long-time opponent of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights. While serving in Congress before being elected governor in 2012, Pence authored multiple anti-abortion pieces of legislation, including the first bill to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding. 

This most recent outpouring of donations isn't the first time Pence has been the target of a social media initiative. After he signed a controversial abortion ban into law in Indiana in March, women began contacting the governor's office to send updates on their menstrual cycles in protest of the measure.

The law, which was ultimately blocked by a federal judge, sought to prohibit women from seeking an abortion if they discovered any fetal genetic abnormalities, in addition to a ban on any abortions performed because of a fetus’ race, sex or ancestry. Doctors who performed any of the abortions forbidden under the measure would have been subject to discipline or potentially sued for wrongful death. Abortion providers would have also been responsible for burying or cremating "fetal remains," and donating fetal tissue would have become a felony. 

While Planned Parenthood hasn't commented in detail on the post-election trend of donating in Pence's honor, the organization did thank advocates, saying they've "been blown away by the support" and acknowledging that many people are donating in both Pence and Clinton's names.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Powerful Earthquake Rattles New Zealand


A powerful earthquake struck New Zealand's South Island early Monday, killing at least two people, damaging buildings and infrastructure, and prompting emergency services to warn people along the coast to move to higher ground to avoid tsunami waves.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Meriden Home Destroyed by Fire


Emergency crews knocked down a fire that heavily damaged a home on Hanover Road in Meriden Sunday night. 

Firefighters were called to Hanover Road around 7 p.m. on reports of a fully involved house fire. Crews worked quickly to get the fire under control. 

According to the Meriden Fire Chief Kenneth Morgan, the home was vacant at the time of the fire and will be a total loss. 

The road was closed while crews worked to contain the blaze.

“I think the biggest challenge was the fire was well advanced when we got here and it was unsafe to go in. So that was a challenge. We’re very limited to get water where we need to get it because we’re shooting from the outside,” Morgan said.

The road reopened around 9:45 p.m. 

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Chili's Apologizes After Manager Takes Meal From Veteran


Dallas-based restaurant chain Chili's Grill & Bar has apologized and vowed to correct a wrongdoing after a local restaurant manager took away a free meal offered to veterans on Veterans Day.

U.S. Army veteran Ernest Walker, 47, of Cedar Hill, Texas, said he was served the meal as part of a promotion offering U.S. military veterans free meals on Veterans Day.

Walker finished his food and was preparing to leave the restaurant when the trouble began.

Walker, accompanied by his service dog Barack, said he believes an elderly man wearing an American flag shirt and Trump sticker told the restaurant manager that Walker was wearing his camp indoors and was not a U.S. veteran and should not receive the free meal.

In an encounter captured on video by Walker and posted to Facebook, the manager asked for Walker's military ID, which he provided. Walker also provided his discharge paperwork.

Walker said the manager then took his to-go meal.

"I looked around and I'm embarrassed at this point," Walker said. "People are looking. I'm a soldier. I'm a person and everybody's looking like I stole food."

The manager also indicated the service dog was not a service dog, despite having a red service vest and certified service tags.

On Sunday, Chili's issued the following statement on Walker's Facebook page and to NBCDFW. It reads:

"We are aware of the situation that occurred at our Chili's Cedar Hill restaurant on November 11th. Our goal is to make every guest feel special and unfortunately we fell short on a day where we serve more than 180,000 free meals as a small token to honor our Veterans and active military for their service, hence these actions do not reflect the beliefs of our brand.  We are taking this very seriously and the leaders in our company are actively involved with the goal of making it right. Since the incident occurred, we have extended an apology and we are reaching out to the guest."

"They're doing what they should do, but they still haven't validated me as a soldier," said Walker. "I just need him to say, 'I see your ID, I see your DD214, and I respect you as a soldier, and as a man and as a customer.'"

Walker said he served in the Army's 25th Infantry Division, serving from 1987 to 1991. He said he was in an Army uniform without his name or rank on it on Veterans Day because he did not want to be mistaken for an active-duty soldier.

"I wear this one day a year," said Walker. "I'm not some kook that's reliving the past."

Walker has retained an attorney, Kim Cole, who said she had a meeting planned with Chili's corporate on Monday.

A representative for Chili's, or the chain's owner, Dallas-based Brinker International, has not responded when asked what discipline the manager may face.

Monday afternoon, the mayor of Cedar Hill, Rob Franke, said the situation was not reflective of his community and that people should be concerned for the veteran as well as the restaurant's manager.

Franke's entire statement can be read below:

This is not what we are about. I find it sad and much too prevalent in our society today that we apply the actions of individuals to entire cities and entire groups, and in so doing make the exception the rule. This situation is indeed the exception in Cedar Hill. It is interesting to me that just yesterday afternoon, on the patio at City Hall, we had a ceremony honoring and praying for veterans and their service dogs. We hosted veterans and their service dogs from several cities around Cedar Hill as we honored their service, dedication, training, and hearts of giving. These positives expression of community and unity don’t get the recognition they deserve. I also find it sad that we, as a people, too easily resort to demonstrations to express our frustration and the wrongs of this world rather than taking the harder and more sustainable route of working things out. My concern for the veteran is paramount, but we must also consider the manager and how he can become a better person and perhaps do better the next time he is put in a difficult situation. People do best and learn the most from experience. To learn requires patience and grace, neither of which can occur in the heat of emotion, demonstration, and anger. Please know, this situation is not reflective of our community, nor the way we prefer to handle wrongs. Peace and blessings, Rob Franke.

Photo Credit: David Bridewell, NBC 5 News

Horse Rescued After Getting Stuck in the Mud on Haddam Trail


Emergency crews in Haddam responded to rescue a four-legged resident that got struck in mud during a trail ride Sunday afternoon.

The Haddam Volunteer Fire Department said it was called to the red trail at the Turkey Hill Reservoir around 2:45 p.m. Sunday after a quarter horse, named Trisha, sunk into three feet of mud and couldn’t escape. The rider fell off during the incident, but was not injured.

Another horse, named Shiloh also walked into the muddy area but was able to escape.

While firefighters searched for the riders, Trisha's owners used rocks and a saddle pad to give the animal the traction to pull herself out. By the time firefighters arrived everyone was out of the mud and no one was injured. Firefighters then led the riders out of the state forest.

Photo Credit: Haddam Volunteer Fire Department

Cow Rescued from Swimming Pool in Harwinton


Harwinton volunteer firefighters responded to a rather unique call Sunday evening – a cow in a swimming pool.

The Harwinton Volunteer Fire Department said around 6 p.m. they were called to a home on Locust Road. The caller reported that a cow had wandered onto a swimming pool cover and fell through.

It took a heavy rope and about a dozen people to pull the animal out of the water, the department said. Once it was safely back on ground the cow began walking around and appeared uninjured.

Photo Credit: Bud Wilkinson

Hazy Future for Legal Pot Under President Trump


Americans may not have agreed on much in this election, but they were united around one issue: marijuana legalization.

Eight states legalized marijuana in some form on Election Day. California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada showed up to support recreational marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota passed ballot initiatives legalizing medical marijuana. Only in Arizona did voters reject cannabis in 2016.

Marijuana is now legal for medical or adult use in 28 states, accounting for more than 60 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), an advocacy group that lobbies for federal marijuana reform.

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"Tuesday night’s results send a simple message – the tipping point has come," said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith.

But jubilation over marijuana's victory was tempered by the election of Republican Donald Trump and GOP majorities in both the Senate and House.

“The prospect of Donald Trump as our next president concerns me deeply,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “His most likely appointees to senior law enforcement positions — Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie — are no friends of marijuana reform, nor is his vice president.”

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Under President Barack Obama, federal authorities largely took a hands-off approach to state-level legalization efforts. But an incoming administration more skeptical of drug reform could easily reverse that approach.

Still, analysts and advocates alike say, the industry may be too big and valuable for a Trump administration to stop, especially after voters in California — home to the world's 6th largest economy — legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

"It's obviously a different ball game than what we anticipated under a [Hillary] Clinton administration," says Taylor West, NCIA deputy director. "But regardless of who the president is and who is controlling the Senate, this is still an issue that Congress is going to have to wrestle with."

The industry continues to face some unique challenges. Shut out of banks, businesses can't get loans and shops are stockpiling cash, creating a significant security threat.

In August, the Drug Enforcement Administration reaffirmed marijuana's classification as a Schedule 1 drug, the same category as heroin, with no recognized medical use or value — and without access to financial institutions. Subsequently, financial institutions have been prohibited from doing business with dispensaries, growers, distributors and other marijuana-related businesses that are operating legally under state laws, forcing them to run cash-only businesses.

The amount of money changing hands is substantial. By the end of 2016 the legal pot market is expected to reach $2.6 billion in sales, according to The ArcView Group, a cannabis-focused investment firm that gathers market research. 

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, of Colorado, who has pushed for reforming federal banking laws, calls it “an issue of public safety.”

“As a result of being denied access to the banking system, there are millions of dollars in cash moving around the streets of Colorado,” Perlmutter said. “These businesses are forced to operate as cash-only enterprises, inviting crime such as robbery and tax evasion and adding to the burden of setting up a legitimate small business.” 

The owner of one Denver-based marijuana business, who asked not to be named for fear of being targeted, said because she is forced to operate in all cash, she has to factor the threat of robbery into every business decision.

"We only operate in daylight hours, we rotate pay schedules, and we have a buddy system where we walk employees to their cars to make sure they get there safely," she said, adding that her vendors, utility bills and landlord are all paid in cash. "I never travel alone."

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In 2013, the Obama administration said it wouldn’t prosecute financial service companies that choose to serve state-sanctioned marijuana businesses, as long as they can assure that their clients are in compliance with the guidelines set forth by the Justice and Treasury departments. The administration stopped short of offering blanket protection against enforcement.

National banks have remained wary of being implicated for money laundering and have avoided the industry for fear that if an account turns out to be a front for the illegal drug trade — no matter how diligent the vetting process is — it could put the institution at risk of losing its FDIC insurance, or its employees may face imprisonment.

Still, those guidelines have been enough to encourage a small number of community banks and credit unions to start offering basic services in states with thorough "seed-to-sale" enforcement programs, which track pot from cultivation to purchase.

Carmella Houston, vice president of business services at Salal Credit Union in Washington state, said they monitor accounts closely to makes sure clients are complying with the DOJ's Cole Memo priorities, which require states to prevent legally grown marijuana from crossing its borders, sales to minors and the use of legal sales as a cover for illegal activity.

"With seed-to-sale traceability, we can ensure federal compliance," Houston said. 

Salal began serving state-licensed businesses in Washington in 2014. It is one of a handful of credit unions openly serving the industry, though, according to Houston, several others are doing it "not openly." Applicants go through a thorough review process to obtain an account with Salal. 

"We not only review the business, but also the owners, develop an understanding of the types of products being sold, and where the initial start up funds came from to launch their companies," Houston said.  

The enormous regulatory and compliance burdens don't come cheap. Salal charges clients fees based on the number and amount of transactions.

Between March 2014 and March 2016, the number of banks and credit unions across the country willing to handle pot money under Treasury Department guidelines jumped from 51 to 301, The Associated Press reported, citing federal data.

Merchants, however, say there are not nearly enough banks willing to take their cash. In the meantime, "potrepreneurs" are developing creative, non-cash payment options.

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PayQwick has been dubbed the PayPal for pot.

Much like the online payment system, PayQwick allows customers to use its platform to pay for cannabis and marijuana-related services via loadable cards, a smartphone app and, soon, debit and credit cards.

Dispensary owners can use the online payment platform to pay vendors, landlords and employees. Customers can use the preloaded PayQwick card to make purchases and collect rewards. 

The Calabasas-based company operates in Washington and Oregon, where state regulations enable PayQwick to comply with the Cole Memo guidelines, according to CEO Kenneth Berke. Berke hopes to expand to other states once a strict tracking system is in place. 

“The key to our platform is seed-to-sale traceability. Colorado is still a little bit of the wild, wild west because it doesn’t have the traceability system,” Berke said. “We assure every dollar deposited into a PayQwick account comes from the legal sale of marijuana. Every dollar going through the PayQwick system can be tracked back to legitimate marijuana sales."

Applicants undergo a rigorous screening process and the company conducts its own compliance checks four times a year, Berke said. Clients who aren’t following the rules or refuse inspections are dropped from the system. 

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Even with some relief from cash stockpiles, security concerns still plague canna-businesses. Many continue to operate unbanked and their product is lucrative in the black market and across state lines, leaving them vulnerable to robberies.

The concern for safeguarding cannabis businesses has led to a boom in the security industry in states like Colorado and Oregon.

Derek Porter, a former special operations Marine who worked on an anti-terrorism security team before he founded Security Grade Protective Services in 2012, says there is a need for well-trained security teams that are used to handling important cargo.  And many former veterans are finding employment on patrol at dispensaries and marijuana growers.

"Veterans are a much better fit because they have a great work ethic and are still in a heavy security mindset," said Porter who noted about 70 percent of his employees are vets. "For a lot of these guys, they're doing work they see as familiar to the patrols assigned to them in Iraq and Afghanistan."

In July 2016, Travis Mason, a former Marine, was shot and killed during a botched robbery at an Aurora, Colorado, dispensary where he worked as a security guard. Mason's killing alarmed the industry and security firms like Porter's saw an increase in requests for armed guards.

Transport is another complication. The cannabis has to move from the cultivators to the stores, and cash needs to move between businesses and to state authorities for tax payments.

"Cash is a pain, time consuming and costly for everyone," Porter said. "We need to pay guards to go pick up the cash. It’s a risk for them to have a large amount of cash on hand. We count the money twice on our end, and then we have to take it to the bank and they have to count it."

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Security isn't just a concern for those directly involved in the cannabis industry. The government is also reckoning with the risks and impracticality of bundles of cash.

In states where marijuana is legal for recreational and medicinal uses, businesses are subject to state sales taxes. 

Oregon, for instance, has collected $6.84 million from the pot tax’s first two months of 2016 — exceeding expectations for the entire year — and more than half of the state’s pot dealers paid that in cash, the AP reported. Of the $15 million-plus Washington collected from marijuana sales in February, nearly $4 million was cash carried through the lobby of the liquor board’s headquarters in Olympia.

In California, 100 percent of the taxes collected on $662,956,249 of taxable medical cannabis sales, roughly $59 million, was paid in cash, according to the state Board of Equalization (BOE). And without any access to banks or credit unions, marijuana businesses in the state have also incurred a 10 percent penalty when taxes over $10,000 were paid in cash. The penalty will be waived starting Jan. 1, 2017.

"Security is a concern," NCIA's West said. "Aside from the financial problems, the safety is one of the biggest. Employees are at risk since people know where and when there will be large amounts of cash."

To curb the risk of robberies, the California BOE says it changes its marijuana tax day collection, also known as "cash day," monthly, avoiding routine habits that could place taxpayers and employees at risk. 

Meanwhile, tax collection offices are doing what they can to manage the heaps of pungent cash pouring into their buildings. Offices in Oregon and Colorado have bolstered security, hiring more guards and investing in safety glass and security cameras.

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The marijuana industry remains eager for a federal solution to their banking problem.

Now, they’re awaiting signals of how a Trump Justice Department will approach cannabis. Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, didn’t respond to a request seeking comment.

"I’ve been urging my colleagues in both the House and Senate to quickly address this issue in the next Congress," congressman Perlmutter said. "We must allow legitimate marijuana businesses access to banking services and in order to keep our communities safe.”

California's "Yes" vote could tip the scale federal reform given the size of the state's economy and the economic impact of the marijuana industry there. Arcview estimates that legal annual California pot revenues could exceed $7 billion by 2020.

"This is the beginning of the end of the war on marijuana in the United States," said said California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who helped craft the state's ballot measure.

A recent Gallup poll found that a record 60 percent of Americans support making cannabis legal. West said that bills to amend marijuana laws have gotten bipartisan support, but they haven't moved out of committee because committee chairs don't want to talk about it.

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"They aren't feeling the pressure to take on the issue," West argues. "But when you have 101 members of the House and 18 senators representing millions of constituents in legal adult-use states, Congress won't be able to keep looking the other way and pretending it isn't happening." 

Photo Credit: File--AP
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Diving as Therapy for Vets


Veterans who return home after serving can have a long and difficult road to recovery, but one nonprofit is helping veterans find emotional and physical therapy just off the coast of Southern California. 

Dive Warriors is a nonprofit organization founded by Brad Mirman. The organization teaches veterans how to scuba dive and takes them out to the ocean once a month.

"If you’re a disabled veteran in the Southern California area, we will teach you how to dive, we will get you certified, and you come on the boat and Dive Warriors pays for it all," Mirman said.

Mirman is not a veteran, but he gave up his career as a screenwriter to grow Dive Warriors after what he saw in veterans who came to the organization.

"A lot of them when they come … there's a darkness in their eyes, there's a broken spirit to them," Mirman said. "As they immerse in this group … bonds form, and that light comes back in their eyes."

Jared Lemon is one of the veterans who says that diving makes him feel free. The 35-year-old from Temecula lost his arm while deployed in the army, but once he is underwater, he can no longer feel the phantom pain.

"It helps release them demons, all them negative thoughts and the things that stay with you after war," Lemon said.

Being part of Dive Warriors has even brought some veterans back from the brink.

Kelly McCumisky is confined to a wheelchair and suffers from PTSD. The first time she took a dive, she had planned never to come back up.

"My whole experience was to commit suicide and that nobody would figure out that that's what I had done," McCumisky said.

Now, like Lemon, McCumisky feels free when she is underwater.

"That’s the time I'm free, out of this chair and feel like everybody else," she said.

These veterans also find comfort in each other and being around people who can understand them.

"I needed a group that could understand me and I could understand and feel safe in," McCumisky said. "These guys do that for me."

Kyle Schneider, a Navy veteran, said that being part of Dive Warriors "brings us into becoming an overall family."

For more information about Dive Warriors, visit their website.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV
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Samsung to Buy Stamford-Based HARMAN in $8 Billion Cash Deal


Samsung has announced plans to buy Stamford-based HARMAN International Industries, Inc. in an $8 billion cash deal.

HARMAN manufactures safety and entertainment features on connected cars and about 30 million vehicles on the road are equipped with their audio systems. The move comes as the South Korean-based Samsung tries to grow its stake in the connected car market.

Samsung will pay $112 per share. Samsung said that when the deal closes, HARMAN will operate as a stand-alone subsidiary and maintain its current management team, and that they plan to keep HARMAN’s workforce, headquarters and facility intact. Both companies said the combination will increase career development and advancement opportunities for employees.

“This compelling all-cash transaction will deliver significant and immediate value to our shareholders and provide new opportunities for our employees as part of a larger, more diversified company,” HARMAN Chairman, President and CEO Dinesh Paliwal said in a press release.

Photo Credit: AP

Four Campers Destroyed in Stafford Campground Fire


Emergency crews are on scene at a large brush fire at the Sun Valley Campground in Stafford, Tolland County officials confirm.

West Stafford Fire Chief Joseph Lorenzetti said crews were called around 10:30 p.m. He said when crews arrived they found at least two campers on fire and fire moving through the brush, spreading quickly because of dry conditions.

“The scene was extremely hazardous for personnel. We had multiple exploding propane tanks,” Lorenzetti said.

There were some people in the campground at the time, but no injuries were reported. Four campers were destroyed by the blaze.

Lorenzetti said the campground has narrow dirt roads and the area was congested, making it easy for the fire to move quickly and difficult for firefighters to get apparatus through to contain the fire.

“All I can tell you is it was extremely congested up in there and the exposures are very closed together,” he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Rainy Tuesday


Finally, a steady rainfall is likely in Connecticut.

The rain will begin Tuesday morning and last through the afternoon. One half inch of rain is a good bet across much of the state.

But, the rest of the week is dry.

So, while the rain will be beneficial, the week as a whole will still end up below average – since on average, one inch of rain falls each week.

High tides over the next few cycles will cause minor splashover because of the full moon.

Sunshine returns Wednesday and lasts through at least the end of the workweek, with temperatures remaining above average.

Motorcyclist Seriously Injured in Branford Accident


A motorcyclist was seriously injured in an accident in Branford Sunday afternoon.

Police said the rider, identified as Christopher Scranton, 52, of West Haven, was traveling west on East Main Street around 4:30 p.m. when he was struck by a vehicle turning left onto Mill Plain Road.

Scranton suffered life threatening injuries and was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment. The driver of the other vehicle, identified as Ellsworth Mcguigan, 79, of Branford, was not injured.

The road was closed in the area but has since reopened.

The South Central Connecticut Traffic Unit was called in to investigate. Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to contact Branford police at 203-481-4241.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Supermoon Sightings From Around The World


Early Monday's supermoon, the biggest full moon since 1948, won't be back until 2034. See photos of the phenomenon from around the world.

Photo Credit: Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

Childcare Worker Arrested After Student Licks Xanax: Police


A former child care employee with a town-run before-school program in South Windsor was arrested after a 6-year-old found a bag of Xanax on a classroom floor and licked crushed pills, according to police. 

Benjamin Boilard, 22, of South Windsor, admitted the drugs were his and said they were prescription Xanax, but declined to speak with officers about whether he had a valid prescription for the drug, police said. 

According to police, the bag of pills fell out of Boilard's pocket and a the child found them on the floor of a classroom at PR Smith School on Avery Street in October, and licked the crushed Xanax thinking it was gum. The child is OK, officials said. 

"The bag had been stepped on and the child in fact thought it was gum," Scott Custer, of South Windsor Police, said.  

Boilard's attorney, Robert Brit, had no comment on Monday.

Boilard, who was working for the parks and recreation department in South Windsor, was immediately terminated, according to the parks and recreation department. 

Officers served Boilard with a warrant this morning and he was charged with risk of injury to a minor, illegally obtaining prescription drugs, possession of drugs within 1,500 feet of a school and illegal possession of narcotics. 

He was held on $30,000 court-set surety bond and will be presented at Manchester Superior Court later today.  

Photo Credit: South Windsor Police
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