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Takei Rejects Muslim Registry as 'Prelude to Internment'


Speaking from experience, actor and activist George Takei strongly objected the idea of a "Muslim registry" after an outspoken supporter of President-elect Donald Trump cited internment camps as legal "precedent" for tracking individuals based on faith, NBC News reported.

"Registration of any group of people, and certainly registration of Muslims, is a prelude to internment," Takei said.

As a child he was was forced to relocate to multiple internment camps

"A registry is this simple categorization of a people of one faith. In our case, it was people of one ancestry.

"We were American citizens, and yet, because we looked like the enemy, we were treated like the enemy and imprisoned. This is what's going to happen with a Muslim registry, and we as Americans will not tolerate that again."

A former Navy SEAL and supporter of President-elect Donald Trump cited World War II internment camps as a precedent for Trump's proposed Muslim registry during an interview Wednesday night on Fox News.

Photo Credit: AP

City of New Britain to Buy Water From MDC Beginning December


With the anticipation of no rain and low water levels, the City of New Britain will now buy water from the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) beginning Dec. 1 for 30 days.

Water levels in the city’s six reservoirs are now at 31.5 percent capacity, compared to what they were on November 3 at 36 percent capacity.

"We’ll be spending about a half million dollars to pump for 30 days. We’ll be taking that from our reserve fund and the New Britain water company budget, which is a separate entity from the New Britain general fund budget," Said New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart.

The city has a 1958 interconnection agreement with MDC which states if requested by the city of New Britain, they can supply the city with untreated water up to an annual average of 5 million gallons per day, not to exceed 10 million gallons a day.

The City of New Britain uses about 8 million gallons of water each day.

Mayor Erin Stewart says the extra 2 million gallons each day will help replenish some of the city’s water supply.

"Once we pump from Nepaug (Reservoir) and start filling back up Shuttle Meadow Reservoir, right now we are in a water supply emergency phase two; based off the New Britain Emergency Contingency Plan, we will be bumping ourselves back up to an emergency phase one."

The purchased water will be coming from one of MDC’s two reservoirs: the Nepaug Reservoir in Canton, which is one of the largest reservoirs in the state.

“That’s about 9.5 miles of pipe. The pipe is 36 inches in diameter,” Said Gilbert Blight, Deputy Director of the Public Works Department Utility Division for the City of New Britain.

That water will flow to the filtration plant at Shuttle Meadow before it enters residents’ homes.

Still residents are being asked to do everything they can to conserve water.

The worry from residents?

"Please do not increase the water rate in New Britain," said Paulette LaRose of New Britain.

But the mayor wants to assure residents the rate isn’t changing for now. In fact, the city’s water company hasn’t raised water rates in 10 years.

Kanye West at Concert: 'I Would Have Voted for Trump'


Kanye West interrupted his show on Thursday night for at least 15 minutes to reveal that he didn't vote, but if he did, he would have checked the box for Donald Trump.

The crowd attending the concert at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, gave him a mix of boos and cheers, video shared on social media showed. Some even threw their shoes at the super star. A man whose Twitter handle is @RaptorJessus documented the evening heavily.

"I told you all I didn't vote right? ... But if I were to have voted, I would have voted for Trump," Kanye said, adding at some point, "the internet is going to take this out of context."

Like Trump before him, West has been talking about a shift from the world of entertainment to politics. But what made the singer's vocal support for Trump pretty surprising is that West has previously said that he would run in 2020, but as a Democrat. His wife, Kim Kardashian West is a big Hillary Clinton supporter. She posted a selfie with Clinton on Twitter in 2015 with the hashtag #HillaryforPresident — Kanye West was also in the picture. In 2012, West donated $1,000 to Barack Obama's campaign and also reportedly contributed to the Democratic National Committee.

Why West was jumping in to support a Republican was not addressed at the concert.

What West did talk about, for at least a little bit, was being a black man who supported Trump and racism in the United States.

According to @RaptorJesuss. West said that as a black man and as a celebrity, he felt persecuted for supporting Trump. Now, that Trump won, West said he feels vindicated.

And West said that he believed that neither Clinton nor Trump would end racism.

"[Voting for Trump] don't mean that I don't think that black lives matter, that don't mean I don't believe in women's rights, that don't mean that I don't believe in gay marriage," West said.

But then he also urged the audience to "stop focusing on racism" because "we're a racist f***ing country — period." He said that "not one or the other candidate was going to instantly be able to change that."

Many who attended said in interviews later that they didn't appreciate the political diatribe, when they paid to hear music.

After the concert, David Murray of San Jose said: "People came to listen to music. I came to hear a concert, I didn't come to hear politics. I think he talked a little too much."

Another man leaving the concert shouted out, "Next time you're going to rant, do it on your own time."

But others felt differently, saying that West's star power means he can use it as he wishes.

AJ, a 20-something man from Hayward, said West had every right to express himself, and he respects that. Paul of Fremont added: "He said what he had to say, and he used his platform to tell everyone how he felt."

Roni of Palo Alto, who also didn't give her last name, said she was all for people speaking their minds, but that West's "banter about politics didn't make any sense."

Before he stopped live-tweeting at the concert, @RaptorJessus summed up the experience with a prescient thought: "Kanye said some crazy s---. People are upset and rightfully so. I'm sure this will be all over the news tomorrow."

Photo Credit: AP
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Price of More Than 40 Prescription Drugs Will Rise in 2017


Two major pharmacy benefit managers—CVS Caremark and Express Scripts—serve 200 million Americans and plan to drop certain drugs from their formularies, causing the cost of those drugs to rise sharply January 2017.

The PBMs’ formularies determine which drugs make the cut for insurance companies, which helps the PBMs negotiate discounts with drug manufacturers. In short, policyholders who take prescription drugs will likely see changes regardless of their carrier.

“The drug companies do want to be on peoples’ formulary listings,” said Kathy Walsh from the State Department of Insurance. “So it is a balancing act, so that list could change next year.”

Some popular drugs on the list include Novacort, Nexium, Orencia, Crestor and Lantus.

The changes might not feel justified for the consumer who, for the first time, sees their prescription on the chopping block. A trip to the pharmacy might soon involve paying hundreds of even thousands of dollars out of pocket.

“There’s a lot of different steps people can take when facing those kinds of decisions,” said the Office of the Healthcare Advocate’s Demian Fontanella. “First is, talk to your doctor. That’s a key thing that most people don’t think about.”

Doctors know the choices patients have within their insurance plan, such as any generic versions, a different dosage, or any new drugs on the market.

If those alternatives are still too tough to swallow, policyholders should talk to their employer for ways they can appeal.

“As long as it’s a covered medication, the insurer could make a determination to cover it in a certain way to allow that member to continue to receive that benefit,” said Fontanella.

Click for links for the CVS Caremark formulary and Express Scripts formulary.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Some Dems Hope to Draft Biden for DNC Chair


While some new faces look to lead the Democratic National Committee, others hope Vice President Joe Biden will take the job as committee chair, NBC News reported.

It's not clear if Biden is interested and his office declined to comment. But those behind the idea are making a concerted effort to line up support in the hope that it will convince the vice president to take the helm of a party in crisis.

The idea would be for the DNC chairmanship to be split into two roles, as it was during Bill Clinton's presidency. Biden would serve as the party's figurehead, spokesperson, fundraiser and cheerleader, while someone else runs day-to-day operations. 

Biden, who's one of the least wealthy officials in D.C., is said to be considering numerous lucrative private sector options for his post-government life.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

6-Year-Old NY Boy Who Offered Refugee a Home Meets Obama


The world was horrified by images of a wounded Syrian child sitting dazed and bloodied in an ambulance after an airstrike in Aleppo in August, but a 6-year-old from New York who offered the boy a home lifted peoples' spirits.

That boy has now gone to Washington to meet President Barack Obama.

The White House posted a copy in late September of the handwritten letter from "Alex" to President Obama. Alex asks the president to bring the boy, identified as Omran Daqneesh, "who was picked up by the ambulance in Syria" to his home in Scarsdale.

"Can you please go get him and bring him," he wrote. "We'll be waiting for you guys with flags, flowers, and balloons. We will give him a family and he will be our brother."

On Thursday night, the White House posted video of Alex and his family meeting the president last week.

"I was very proud of you," the president told Alex in an Oval Office meeting.

Obama shared Alex's letter at a UN refugee summit in New  York City in September, telling world leaders that the letter was from a child "who hasn't learned to be cynical, or suspicious, or fearful of other people because of where they’re from, or how they look, or how they pray, and who just understands the notion of treating somebody that is like him with compassion, with kindness."

"We can all learn from Alex," the president noted.

A video of the boy reading his letter has been viewed more than 28 million times on Facebook. 

The Syrian boy's three siblings and parents were also rescued from the rubble after their building in Aleppo was bombed. His 10-year-old brother died as a result of injuries. One of the cameramen who filmed him said he had never seen such a look of shock on a child's face. 

The image of the stunned and weary looking boy, sitting in an orange chair inside an ambulance covered in dust and with blood on his face, encapsulated the horrors inflicted on the war-ravaged northern city and was widely shared on social media.

Photo Credit: The White House
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Mother Injured in Meriden Fire That Killed Son Moved Out of ICU


The mother injured in a house fire in Meriden Monday that killed her 8-year-old son is still in the hospital and being treated for injuries sustained in the fire, but she is no longer in critical condition, according to police.

Karin Ziolkowski has been moved out of the intensive care unit and her recovery is progressing well, Meriden police said Friday morning.

The fire that injured 40-year-old Ziolkowski and killed her 8-year-old son, Elijah, is under investigation, but police said it was intentionally set.

Elijah Ziolkowski was a third-grade student at the Israel Putnam School.

Anyone with information about the fire should call Detective Angelo Stavrides at (203) 630-6233.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Complaint Reveals Chilling Details in Stamford Man Death Mystery


Two men have been arraigned in the case of a missing Hofstra graduate from Stamford, Connecticut who prosecutors say was stabbed 15 times in the chest in a luxury Manhattan apartment and then buried in a shallow grave in New Jersey.

James Rackover, 25, and Lawrence Dilione, 28, were held on $3 million bond or $300,000 cash bail after their arraignment Thursday on charges of concealment of a corpse, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. Police had arrested both men on second-degree murder charges in the death of Joey Comunale, but prosecutors did not bring that charge against them in a criminal complaint.

Nonetheless, during the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Antoinette Carter alleged that "one or both of these people committed a murder." 

Police said the 26-year-old Comunale appears to have been stabbed to death in some sort of dispute after he, Rackover, Dilione, and three women returned from the Gilded Lily nightclub on 14th Street late Saturday or early Sunday.

One official said that Comunale was stabbed sometime after the three women left Rackover’s apartment, but police aren't sure how the body was removed from the apartment.

According to a criminal complaint, an informant told authorities Rackover was seen late Saturday leaving his apartment building and putting a large duffel bag into the trunk of a black Mercedes with tinted windows that was registered to Rackover's father.

Records show the car leaving Manhattan and traveling through the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey, the criminal complaint says. On Wednesday, after Dilione allegedly admitted he and Rackover dumped Comunale's body, detectives found the young man's remains in a shallow grave in Monmouth County's Oceanport, behind an old police stationhouse. Comunale had been stabbed more than a dozen times in the chest; his legs were burned and a gas canister was discovered nearby, the criminal complaint says.  

Bloody clothing, sheets and towels were found in Rackover's apartment during the course of an investigation, prosecutors said. The black vehicle that Rackover had been seen driving was later returned to Manhattan, left in a parking garage on East 58th Street, and a cadaver dog made a positive alert for a body or bodily fluids in the trunk area, the complaint says. 

"I look forward to what our review of the evidence will reveal," Rackover’s attorney said after his client was arraigned Thursday night. 

Dilione's attorney, Daniel Parker, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Rackover was born James Beaudoin in Florida and has a criminal record, including for burglary. The Broward County Sheriff's office provided NBC News with several mug shots of him from as early as 2007.

He was also charged with driving while intoxicated in New York City in 2015. 

Court records shows that Beaudoin changed his last name to Rackover in 2015 after he was taken under the wing of jeweler-to-the-stars Jeffery Rackover, who owns Jeffrey Rackover Diamonds on Fifth Avenue. The two met in 2013 and became so close that Rackover referred to Beaudoin as his son, according to former NYPD detective Bo Dietl, who is a friend of the famed jeweler.

Rackover was aware of Beaudoin’s rough past and helped him get a job and an apartment in his building after meeting him, Dietl said, adding that Rackover never had kids and embraced Beaudoin as his own.

“You know how you fall in love with a puppy dog? He fell in love with this kid. He just wanted to help him,” Dietl told NBC News.

He added, "He was here for this kid and now poor Jeffrey is caught in the middle."

Comunale graduated from Hofstra University and was an avid hockey player.

"He was one of a kind," Comunale's stunned father, Pat, told reporters from his Connecticut home Wednesday. "We're just in denial. This is not something that happens to kids like this. I don't know if it was pre-meditated. I don't know how it happened."

"He didn't deserve this," he added. "He didn't go looking for trouble. It wasn't right. This is not right."

Hawking Gives Humans 1,000 Years Left on Earth: Report


Physicist Stephen Hawking spoke at Oxford University Monday and presented an ominous prediction: if humanity continues beyond the next 1,000 years, it will be on another planet, according to a report. 

Hawking reportedly argued that humans may not be able to overcome threats of nuclear warfare, climate change and the rise of artificial intelligence, and that humankind is catalyzing the end of earth’s habitability by quickly depleting its resources.

“I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet,” he said, according to the Daily Express. In order to survive, Hawking humans must “continue to go into space for the future of humanity.”

Hawking believes that leaving the planet behind is the best chance for survival. He voiced hope that space expeditions would be more advanced by the time a catastrophic disaster threatens Earth, so that humans may evacuate to another planet, the Daily Express reported.

Still, despite the challenges he foresees, Hawking reportedly said it is a “glorious time to be alive and doing research into theoretical physics.”

Hawking, 74, is the director of research at Cambridge University's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. His renowned career in phyiscs and cosmotology has focused on the basic laws that govern physical reality, including groundbreaking theories about the nature of black holes. He continued researching despite Lou Gehrig's disease all but limiting his ability to move. 

This isn't the first time Hawking has expressed the view that humanity needs to leave its home planet if it wants to survive. 

In September, the Guardian newspaper published an excerpt from the theoretical physicist's book "How To Make A Spaceship" in which he says, “I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers.”

Earlier this year, the BBC reported that Hawking said progress in science and technology will actually create "new ways things can go wrong" at a lecture, and that artificial intelligence should not be underestimated for its potential to advance quicker than humans can it takes off on its own and designs itself.

"We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we have to recognize the dangers and control them," Hawking said at the January lecture. "I'm an optimist, and I believe we can."

Photo Credit: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File

Islamic Association to Hold Solidarity Rally After Election


The Islamic Association of Greater Hartford will be holding a rally this afternoon to promote healing after the presidential election and a tumultuous political season.

Dr. Reza Mansoor, the president of the association, has said many Muslims have felt scapegoated or stereotyped and the group wanted to organize an event to promote coming together.

“So we are living out our faith, trying to be aware of our diversity but welcoming the differences in diversity that we have in this beautiful nation that’s built on different faiths of different parts of the world,” Mansoor said.

The rally begins at 2:30 p.m. at the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford on Berlin Turnpike. Organizers said people of all faiths are welcome and they hope people from across the state will attend.

“You’ll hear a diversity of leaders speak to the fact that we need to work together to be in solidarity, especially in difficult times. And these are difficult times,” Mansoor said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Snow Showers Sunday and Monday


High pressure is in control of Connecticut's weather through Saturday, meaning dry, sunny weather. But big changes are in sight.

High temperatures will be up near 60 degrees Saturday with lots of sunshine.

A cold front blows through Saturday night, leading to rain and snow showers on Sunday. It will be much cooler with a gusty wind. Temperatures won't get out of the 40s.

Minor snow accumulations are possible in the higher elevations of northwestern Connecticut.

By Monday, it will be chilly again with temperatures in the 30s most of the day. More snow showers are expected.

Tuesday and Wednesday should be dry, but it won't last.

A chance for rain is in the forecast for both Thanksgiving Day and Friday.

Temperatures will be far more seasonable by then, only peaking in the upper 40s.

New Britain Man Has Been Missing Since January


New Britain police are asking for help to find a 32-year-old New Britain man who has been missing since January. 

Orlando Perez has been missing since Jan. 12 and his family reported him missing in May 2016. 

Police do not know where Perez is and they are asking anyone with information on where he is to call Detective Kevin Artruc at 860-826-3149. 

Perez is 5-feet-6, weighs 140 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes.

Photo Credit: New Britain Police

Buckingham Palace to Get $458M Makeover


Buckingham Palace will receive a major facelift at a cost of £369 million ($458 million), officials revealed Friday.

Miles of aging cables, lead pipes and electrical wiring will be replaced at the London home of Queen Elizabeth II, many for the first time in 60 years.

The U.K. monarch will remain in residence as the work is carried out over several phases spread over a 10-year period, the statement said.

Although the cost given for the works is listed as $458 million, royal officials said that is expected to be reduced to $275 million when benefits, efficiencies and adjustments for inflation are taken into account.

The work will be funded by a temporary 10 percent uplift in the Sovereign Grant, the mechanism by which the U.K. government funds the official running costs of the queen's household, official royal travel and maintenance of occupied royal households.

Photo Credit: AP

Lab Closed After Chemical Release at Boehringer Ingelheim


Crews from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have responded to Boehringer Ingelheim, a pharmaceutical company on the Danbury-Ridgefield line, after chemicals were released in a lab there. 

The part of the facility where the lab is located is closed, according to state environment officials. 

They said pressure built up in a bottle in an unoccupied lab and a small amount of chemicals were released. No one was hurt. 

Another bottle with a smaller amount of the same material remained stable, according to DEEP. 

The Danbury fire department, State Police and DEEP are at the facility, where they are evaluating the situation, and making plans to enter the lab, remove the second bottle, and prepare it for proper disposal. 

An environmental contractor will clean the lab to remove materials that were sprayed. 

Photo Credit: AP Images

Congress Prepares for President Trump, Legislative Action


Congress has been stuck in a numbing gridlock for six years, due to a Republican majority, Democratic White House and widening ideological gap between the parties.

But in Congress' first session since President-elect Donald Trump's victory, leaders in both parties were talking about immediate action, NBC News reported.

It just isn't clear on what.

Republicans are now in charge across the board, opening up the possibility of major legislation passing. But some Republican lawmakers opposed Trump and his policies have at times been vague, contradictory or extreme.

Now both parties can foresee a best-case scenario in which Trump pushes shared policy goals and a worst-case scenario where they are bitter political enemies.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Dad of Girl Abandoned at Bus Terminal Cuffed in NYC: Sources


Authorities have arrested the father of a 5-year-old girl who was found abandoned inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal Monday morning after her mother was discovered dead in Connecticut, law enforcement sources told NBC 4 York.

Elmer Gomez Ruos was cuffed by U.S. Marshals as he walked down a Brooklyn street, according to the sources. Charges against the man weren't immediately available.

Ruos' daughter, who only speaks Spanish, was spotted on the second-floor concourse inside the terminal by Port Authority police. Officers were able to determine she had allegedly been left there by her father and the child was taken into custody by the city's Administration for Children's Services. 

Authorities said on Monday that Ruos was seen at the bus terminal around the time the girl was spotted. 

Police said the girl's mother, who is in her early 30s, was found inside a third-floor apartment on Courtland Avenue in Stamford, Connecticut. There appeared to be some signs of a struggle.

Police said there were a few friends and family over the small one-bedroom apartment Sunday night and that there was some sort of domestic dispute after guests left the party, and that's when she was killed.

It's not clear if the girl witnessed the dispute or the killing. 

The girl and her mother had just moved into the Stamford apartment from Flemington, New Jersey, over the weekend. Police said the girl's parents had just separated. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY/Stamford Police
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Immigrants' Advocates Grapple With a Trump Presidency


Jason De León spoke to a Mexican man before the election who asked if he thought a mass deportation was likely. Like most pundits and political analysts, De León, assistant professor at the University of Michigan and founder of the Undocumented Migration Project, couldn’t fathom a Donald Trump presidency. He told the man it was “an impossibility.”

Now, he’s eating his words. 

Since the election results rolled in, undocumented U.S. immigrants and their sympathizers have had to accept the reality of President-elect Trump. For many of them, the election symbolized a possible revolution in policy, with their fates hanging in the balance.

Building a wall along the Mexican-American border was a focal point for Trump’s campaign, and the president-elect has promised to get tough on undocumented immigration to the interior when he takes the Oval Office in January.

Despite deporting 2.4 million undocumented immigrants between 2009 and 2014, President Barack Obama has been criticized by the GOP, and Trump especially, as being too easy on those who came to America "improperly," or without legal status. 

An estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants now live in the United States. On CBS' "60 Minutes," Trump said he plans to deport or incarcerate two to three million undocumented immigrants who have criminal records or are gang members or drug dealers. 

The claim that there are up to three million undocumented immigrants who are dangerous criminals is an exaggeration, according to FackCheck.org. A 2013 federal report said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimated there were "1.9 million removable criminal aliens" in the U.S. But "criminal aliens" also includes green card holders or those on temporary visas who have committed a crime. The number of undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor is closer to 690,000, according to a July 2015 report by the Migration Policy Institute. 

“I don’t know how possible, whether he’s going to be able to do all of it. But certainly he can make an effort,” said Ira Mehlman, spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Improper entry into the United States is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months imprisonment. Reentry is a felony, which means that anyone who tries to cross the border again after being deported has a criminal record. Many of those who attempt reentry want to reunite with their family despite American laws that restrict deportees from applying for visas for up to 20 years after their removal from the country. 

Of the remaining undocumented immigrants without felonies, Trump said he would make a determination "after the border is secured and everything gets normalized."

He called those individuals "terrific people."

Andy J. Semotiuk, a U.S. and Canadian immigration lawyer who works out of Los Angeles and Toronto, said it may take politicians a while to get to immigration because “thankfully, we all know how slow government works.”

He hypothesized that the Trump administration will have to first focus its efforts on repealing the Affordable Care Act, reforming tax policies for businesses, and resolving existing wars in the Middle East.

A mass deportation that rid the country of all undocumented immigrants would require a lot of resources. "Deporting 11 million people is a mission impossible,” Semotiuk said. “It’s just a fact, whether you like it or not.”

Another factor that slows mass deportation: America has due process, which means anyone who’s been accused of illegal activity gets a trial.

“You can’t just pick someone up and send them back to Mexico,” Semotiuk said. “You have to give them a chance to explain themselves, or defend themselves.” 

Trump would have to increase the number of judges, prosecutors, clerks, coordinators, and other officials in the court system to meet demand. That would be expensive and time-consuming. Semotiuk said that even if the accused immigrant cooperated completely with his or her trial and didn’t make any arguments to remain in the U.S., a court would at the most be able to process 10 cases a day. For two million cases, that’s 200,000, or about 548 years, of court days. Trying 11 million cases would require over a million court days. 

“If a dictator was in charge of a country, even then it would be hard for someone to marshal all the resources,” Semotiuk said.

According to The Associated Press, the U.S. judicial branch now has a "backlog of more than half-a-million cases already pending in immigration court." The holding cells where undocumented immigrants stay until their hearings are also overfilled and overflowing, and immigrants have brought a lawsuit against the Border Patrol in Arizona because of the cells' crowded, unclean, and cold conditions. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security told the AP that there were 41,000 immigrants in detention centers across the U.S. 

On CNN's "State of the Union," House Speaker Paul Ryan came out against erecting a deportation task force. He said that plans in Congress were to concentrate on securing the border, a virtual continuation of Obama’s policy.

Still, Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, is “confident that there will be a reduction in the size of the illegal population,” partly because “the career immigration personnel (will be) allowed to do their job,” and partly because undocumented immigrants, fearing arrest, will leave on their own. “Most people don’t want to be subject to enforcement,” she said. Mehlman called this exodus “induced voluntary compliance.”

But Vaughan emphasized that deportations won’t be cartoonish, with officials knocking on doors and rounding up undocumented immigrants in box cars.

Trump has also promised to get rid of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals system, Obama’s solution to protect immigrants who came over improperly as children. Mehlman called DACA an “inducement for illegal immigration” that “carves out a lone exception” to policy toward misdemeanors. 

To repeal it, Trump wouldn’t need congressional support, just a stroke of his pen. Obama used an executive order to put DACA into practice in 2012, and it is not law. “He can definitely rescind that,” said Cesar Vargas, an undocumented immigrant in New York who fought for four years to become an attorney despite his legal status. Without DACA, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children would not have exceptional means to petition to stay here.

Vargas tried to put a positive spin on Trump’s immigration reform, noting that the president-elect has claimed that he doesn’t want to deport people who have lived here for years. DACA was always meant to be temporary, Vargas said, and he’s hoping that Trump’s plans may actually help the immigrant community by creating a more direct path toward citizenship. 

“It’s unpredictable,” he said. “So I think that while there is concern, there is an opportunity there.”

Meanwhile, Vargas is holding free consultations to inform undocumented people of resources at their disposal. For example, he spoke with a couple whose children are in the military -- if you’re a member of the service and your family is undocumented, you can request that they receive a special immigration status. He also said that for those in a healthy relationship with an American citizen, a green card marriage is a viable option. 

Resource centers for undocumented immigrants are experiencing an influx of concerned people who fear deportation. The AP reports that phones are ringing off the hook at Chicago's National Immigrant Justice Center and the New York Legal Assistance Group as immigrants try to find ways to protect themselves before the President-elect takes office. 

According to the AP, 740,000 young people who benefit from DACA have the "most urgent inquiries" about the effects of Trump's presidency. 

"We're operating with a lot of unknowns, and a certain amount of fear comes with that," Vanessa Esparza-López, a managing attorney at the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center, told the AP.

Semotiuk remembered undocumented immigrants he had met over the years through his work. At first, he “had no sympathy,” but then he listened to why they were here. 

“It’s worthwhile to get to know some of them… and once you get to know them, how they got to the United States, it’s one sad story,” he said.

Between 2007 and 2014, 164,000 Mexicans have been victims of homicide, Frontline reported. Many undocumented U.S. immigrants who come from Mexico are fleeing cartel violence in search of a better, safer life.

While undocumented immigrants come from around the world, during his campaign Trump zoomed in on the 59 percent who are originally from Mexico, calling them “rapists” and “killers” and posing them as threats to national security. In fact, the overwhelming majority of migrants coming through the border with Mexico have been people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the Obama administration said earlier this year. 

De León said that in Michigan, there seems to be “a conflation between Latinos and undocumented people.”

“As a documented, overeducated male, I’m still a Latino,” he said. “I have never in my life feared for my safety -- the safety of my kids and my friends -- and I have in the last couple of days. I’ve never in my life felt afraid to speak Spanish in public until yesterday.”

Mayors of cities across the United States, from Los Angeles, to New York, to Burlington, Vermont, have declared their jurisdictions "sanctuaries" for immigrant communities. What the term "sanctuary" means varies by city. In some cases that means refusing to let ICE know when an undocumented immigrant is about to be released from custody.

Offering such shelter comes with possible retaliations, as Trump has threatened to pull federal funding from areas that don't follow his immigration policy.

Photo Credit: Zach Gibson/ Getty Images
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100M Dead Calif. Trees: Survey


Federal surveyors found an additional 36 million dead trees across California since its last aerial survey in May, bringing the total number of dead trees found in the last six years to over 102 million in the state's drought-stricken forests, the government on Friday.

Sixty-two million trees have died in 2016 alone, a 100 percent increase in dead trees across the state from 2015, according to a joint statement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service. Millions of additional trees are weakened and expected to die in the coming months and years, officials said.

"This is sad for the state," US Forest Service Tree Mortality specialist Stephanie Gomes said on Friday from her base in Vallejo, California. "Forests provide water, electricity and cleaner air for everyone in the state. This impacts everyone in California.

She is on a team that has been surveying the dead trees, and they all knew that there would be more to report to the public. Her team discovered that 36 million dead trees in the last five months, and 102 million dead trees have been tracked since 2010.

To that end, USDA spokesman Mike Illenberg said Friday in a phone interview from Washington, D.C, that the agency wants to re-classify large wildfires as natural disasters, to be able to draw from an emergency fund of federal money. Currently, the fires are fought with "restoration" money, Illenberg said.

“Instead of treating catastrophic wildfires as a normal agency expense," Illenberg said, "we must treat them more like other natural disasters, such as tornadoes or hurricanes.”

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service officials said finding this money is crucial if California residents don't want to be continually hammered and evacuated by devastating wildfires. This year, California had a record-setting wildfire season, officials said, with the Blue Cut fire in the Inland Empire alone scorching over 30,000 acres and triggering the evacuation of 80,000 people.

"These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California," Vilsack said in a statement. "We can't break this cycle of diverting funds away from restoration work to fight the immediate threat of the large unpredictable fires caused by the fuel buildups themselves."

The majority of the 102 million dead trees are in ten counties in the southern and central Sierra Nevada region. The Forest Service also identified increasing mortality in the northern part of the state, including Siskiyou, Modoc, Plumas and Lassen counties.

They are dying, officials note, because of five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures on the planet.

Illenberg said that by 2025, the cost of fire suppression is expected to grow to nearly $1.8 billion. And if nothing changes, he said, the Forest Service will be forced to take an additional $700 million over the next 10 years from all the other programs.

Photo Credit: AP, File

Police Investigate Gun Theft from Wallingford Gun Shop and Range


A Bloomfield man accused of stealing a gun from a gun shop and range in Wallingford has been arrested and police said he is suspected in several gun thefts. 

Police said the theft that led the the arrest today happened at Delta Arsenal, on Quinnipiac Street at 4:20 p.m. Thursday.

The business was open at the time and employees noticed a gun missing from a display case, so they watched surveillance video and noticed a man reach over the counter and steal a gun, police said. 

Employees posted photos on the Delta Arsenal’s Facebook page Thursday and the post, which was shared more than 7,500 times in 19 hours, generated leads that led police to a suspect, police said.

On Friday, Wallingford police officers arrested 36-year-old Michael Sasportas, of Bloomfield, and said they found a gun at his home that was stolen from West Springfield, Massachusetts in 2012. 

He was charged with two counts of theft of a firearm, two counts of fifth-degree larceny and carrying a pistol without a permit. 

He is being held at the Wallingford Police Department on a $100,000 bond.  

Police said Sasportas has pending criminal cases in Newington stemming from two separate incidents in September for thefts at a local gun store, police said.

Photo Credit: Wallingford Police

Attorney General: Spike in Hate Crimes 'Deeply Sobering'


In a video message Friday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch responded to a spike in hate crimes that the federal government found in 2015, saying the increase should be "deeply sobering" to Americans. 

The FBI reported a six-percent increase in hate crimes nationally in 2015, with anti-Muslim crimes increasing by a staggering 67 percent, Lynch said on the video. 

"These numbers should be deeply sobering for all Americans," Lynch said. 

She also mentioned of recent news of a spate of reported hate crimes in the U.S., and encouraged Americans to report the incidents to the police, saying it is the "right and just thing to do." 

"Some of these incidents have happened in schools. Others have targeted houses of worship," Lynch said on the video. "And some have singled out individuals for attacks and intimidation."

She continued, "We need you to continue to report these incidents to local law enforcement, as well as the Justice Department, so that our career investigators and prosecutors can take action to defend your rights." 

Lynch acknowledged that people were concerned about the more recent incidents, which the government does not yet have statistics on, but she noted enforcing hate crime laws is "about staying true to our highest ideals and most cherished principles" of equal protection under the law. 

"I want the American people to know that as long as that work is necessary, the Department of Justice will continue to carry it forward," Lynch said.

Photo Credit: AP, File
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