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US Sailor Killed by IED in Syria on Thanksgiving ID'd


An American sailor killed in northern Syria on Thanksgiving from wounds suffered in a improvised explosive device blast has been identified as an explosives specialist from Virginia.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton, 42, of Woodbridge, Virginia, became the first U.S. service member killed in Syria, NBC News reported. The explosion took place in the vicinity of Ayn Issa.

He was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve and was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two, which is based in Virginia Beach, the Defense Department said on Friday. 

"We offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Dayton, who made the ultimate sacrifice on a day we set aside time to give thanks for our freedom and to recognize the men and women who defend that right," said Rear Adm. Brian Brakke, commander with the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter earlier said Thursday that he was "deeply saddened by the news on this Thanksgiving Day that one of our brave servicemembers has been killed in Syria while protecting us from the evil of ISIL. It is a painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe.

"Please keep this servicemember's family, friends and teammates in your thoughts and prayers, and this Thanksgiving I hope you will join me in expressing thanks to all of our dedicated troops who selflessly protect us everyday." 

Dayton joined the Navy on Feb. 17, 1993, and received 19 awards during his service including the Bronze Star.

U.S. troops are part of a multination effort to fight the Islamic State group in the region. 

Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve, extended condolences to the victim's family.

"On this Thanksgiving, please be thankful that there are service members willing to take up the fight to protect our homeland from ISIL's hateful and brutal ideology," Townsend said.

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy

77-Year-Old Middletown Woman Reported Missing Found Safe


A 77-year-old woman from Middletown reported missing on Friday has been located safely.

Marjorie Beecher reported missing after she left her home on Cooley Avenue around 3:30 p.m. and did not return.

On Saturday Middletown police said Beecher was found in good physical condition and nothing was out of the ordinary. No other information was available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Millions May Be Misdiagnosed as Allergic to Penicillin


Some 90 percent of those diagnosed with a penicillin allergy can actually tolerate the antibiotics, according to a study presented recently at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

In a finding that many doctors may not be aware of, an estimated 25 to 50 million Americans who may have been told they had the allergy could have been initially misdiagnosed or grown out of it, NBC News reported.

The solution for many is a simple two-step test, followed, as needed, by a low-dose oral penicillin, taken under a doctor's observation.

"The whole process takes about three hours and then we can say they're free to take penicillin in the future," said Dr. Elizabeth Phillips, a professor at Vanderbilt University.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Next Stop Flavortown: Guy Fieri's Foxwoods Restaurant Opens


This is no diner, drive-in, nor dive.

Guy Fieri's newest trip to "flavortown" is at Foxwoods Resort Casino at the brand new Guy Fieri's Foxwoods Kitchen + Bar, which opened on Friday.

"This is going to be the Guy Fieri-style. So we're going to have a eclectic food, scratch made food, lots of flavor," Fieri told NBC Connecticut.

NBC Connecticut spoke with him last month about why he chose southeastern Connecticut as a destination.

"I've come here and cooked as a chef, there's been some fantastic food and wine festivals here. But my wife's family is from North Providence, I got a bunch of cousins down in Boston, so this is a place to come. This is going to be a great destination for our family," he said. 

Those at the restaurant on day one said they're happy it's here.

"Something new in Connecticut with national reputation is great," said Carole Wagner of Hartford.

"It's pretty cool. I've watched all of his shows and it's interesting to see that he's bringing some of that food," said Lorenzo Gallo of Westerly, Rhode Island.

From a tatted-up turkey burger to chicken fried chicken to sashimi won-tacos, when you see this menu, you'll understand why.

"Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and pickled onions doesn't sound like it would be too appetizing but it's fabulous," laughed Linda Curry of Mystic.

Fieri said there are some special items for this Foxwoods restaurant that customers won't find anywhere else, including his other restaurants across the country.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Connecticut Shoppers Out in Full Force for Black Friday


Shoppers were out in full force on Friday after Thanksgiving. 

At the Toys R Us in Manchester, Eileen Maher filled up her shopping cart past the brim. NBC Connecticut followed her as she checked out at the cash register to find out if the discounts were worth it.

"I did pretty good, you know, as far as some of the stuff was on sale," said Maher.

With sale tag, after sale tag, after sale tag lining the toy store, located at the Plaza at Buckland Hills, finding deals are what Eileen and other Black Friday shoppers hope for before they hit the register.

But the shopping plaza wasn't the only busy area.

"Now it’s getting much worse," said Rayna Fedorcyk of Manchester, who had been out since the early morning hours. "Over at Evergreen Walk, it’s like, horrible.”

Fedorcyk described the area as a 'mob scene.'

The Promenade at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor was filled with shoppers who were hopping to snag a good deal.

"It’s been busy but manageable," said Deana Tiffin of Glastonbury, who was out with her daughter buying presents. They ended up buying more than they planned because of the good deals.

"We got some really, really good deals like 60 percent off. I buy her Christmas present when we’re out and she buys mine. We pick out what we want and it’s a great deal," said Tiffin.

The National Retail Federation estimates about 137 million people shopping this weekend with Friday being the busiest day.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Plainfield Valero Gas Station Armed Robbery Suspect Arrested


Police arrested a 21-year-old in Plainfield on Friday for his involvement in an armed robbery at a gas station last month. 

On Oct. 12, a robbery took place at the Valero at 50 East Main St. in the Central Village section of Plainfield sometime in the evening. Store clerks told police the robber pulled what looked like a gun and demanded money. 

After getting some money, the robber ran western toward Interstate 395, police said. 

On Friday, police tracked down the suspect, identified as Cody H. Lester.

Lester was also arrested for committing another armed robbery at the Best Way Gas Station on Prospect Street in the Moosup section, police said. 

Lester was charged with robbery and sixth-degree larceny. His bond was set at $100,000. 

Photo Credit: Plainfield Police

Fidel Castro, Cuba's Revolutionary Leader, Dies at 90


Fidel Castro, the father of communist Cuba who led the country for nearly half a century, died Friday night at the age of 90, President Raul Castro announced on state TV.

The former president was expected to be cremated, as he wished, on Saturday, his brother said in the brief televised message, which he concluded with the revolutionary rallying cry, "onward toward victory, always."

The Cuban government announced nine days of national mourning beginning Saturday and culminating with a burial ceremony Dec. 4. In the meantime, a mass gathering will be held in the capital Tuesday. The following day, his ashes will embark on a four-day tour of the country retracing the "Caravan of Liberty" he led after ousting his predecessor in 1959.

Celebrations erupted on the streets of Cuban-American neighborhoods in Miami and remembrances from world leaders poured in when word spread that the divisive, iconic figure had passed away.

Castro retreated from the public eye in 2006 following emergency surgery for intestinal bleeding. His health problems forced him to temporarily hand power to his younger brother, who permanently took his place as president in 2008. 

Castro's death follows a historic thawing of relations between Cuba and the United States with the announcement in mid-December that the countries planned to restore diplomatic and economic ties.

Six weeks after that announcement, Castro made his first comments about the deal, writing that he backs the negotiations even though he distrusts American politics.

"I don't trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts," he wrote in a letter to a student federation read at the University of Havana.

In a statement released Saturday, President Obama called for continued partnership between Cuba and the United States.

"Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro's family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people," Obama said in the statement. "In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America."

"We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries," he wrote.

President-elect Donald Trump, meanwhile, assailed Castro as a "brutal dictator" in a statement Saturday. 

"Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades," Trump said in the statement. "Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights."

Trump's statement goes on to say that his administration will work toward ensuring "prosperity" and "liberty" for the Cuban people. 

"Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty," the statement read. 

Since relinquishing power, Castro's health had been the topic of intense speculation. On several occasions, media reported inaccurately that he was near death or had died. Once in 2012, Castro replied to the rumors himself in an article published on Cuba Debate, a state-run website, in which he boasted that he was not only alive, but didn't "even remember what a headache is."

Castro had defied death many times before, both as the revolutionary who led an armed uprising against dictator Fulgencio Batista, and as Batista's communist successor who inspired a number of U.S.-backed assassination plots. Nine U.S. presidents came and went during Castro's rule, which, like him, proved resilient, outlasting most other communist governments around the world. 

For 49 years Castro ran Cuba, transforming what was once an American playground with striking social inequalities into a poor, isolated country with a notorious record on human rights. To some, he was a hero. Through a rigid system of socialized medicine, education and cultural facilities, Castro's government elevated Cuba's most impoverished citizens and reduced the sort of racial inequalities prevalent throughout the Americas. For challenging and insulting U.S. policies and presidents, he won the devotion of like-minded leaders, including the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. In a 2004 speech slamming the U.S. war on terrorism, for example, Castro accused President George W. Bush of hypocrisy and fraud, while in 2011 he penned an op-ed in the Cuban press calling President Barack Obama "stupid."

His own critics, however, were not tolerated. To those who challenged his revolutionary vision or lived outside of the rigid framework he established on the island—which for years quarantined its HIV-positive citizens and jailed everyone from dissidents to homosexuals—he was a brutal dictator.

U.S. politicians were among the most harsh Castro critics. Florida Senator Marco Rubio condemned Castro in a statement Saturday, writing in part: "One thing is clear, history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people."

Castro's human rights abuses and economic policies prompted throngs of Cubans to flee, many risking their lives to do so. One of the largest mass exoduses came in 1980 when Castro opened the exits to more than a hundred thousand citizens, including prisoners and mental patients who were loaded on boats bound for Florida. In a speech to supporters, Castro happily bid them farewell and mocked the United States for "doing an excellent sanitation job for us."

In his final years, however, Castro appeared to be taking a more critical look at the policies he had enacted, calling his government's treatment of gays, for example, an "injustice," and saying in 2010 that "the Cuban model [of communism] doesn't even work for us anymore."

Indeed, Raul Castro has loosened both travel restrictions and the government's grip on the economy since taking power in 2008, allowing citizens to open some small businesses and legally buy everything from computers and cell phones to foreign cars, however exorbitantly taxed they may be.

The agreement to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States came as prisoners in both countries were freed, among them U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross, sentenced in 2009 to 15 years in prison for trying to set up internet access for the Jewish community in Cuba. But the U.S. trade embargo in place for more than 50 years remained in place. Only Congress can lift it.

Raul Castro, currently 85, has said that he will not seek reelection at the end of his second term in 2018, which will leave the leadership of the country open to someone other than an original Cuban revolutionary for the first time since the overthrow of Batista.  

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, the son of a wealthy Spanish-born landowner and his cook, was born Aug. 13, 1926. His upbringing, which exposed him to both the privilege and poverty of his nation, laid the groundwork for his revolutionary path later on.

His political views were further shaped at the University of Havana, where he studied law. After graduating, he delved deeper into revolutionary politics and ultimately organized the rebellion that would overthrow Batista. Joined by his brother Raul, and the legendary guerrilla fighter Ernesto "Che" Guevarra, Castro succeeded in ousting his predecessor in 1959 after two failed attempts, one of which landed him in prison. 

While the United States quickly recognized Castro's new government, it cut off diplomatic ties as the country's communist policies – such as the nationalization of U.S. properties in Cuba – became clear.

The next few years were marked by increasingly desperate attempts on the part of the U.S. to remove Castro from power. The Bay of Pigs invasion, a botched mission that sent U.S.-trained Cuban exiles back home to take down Castro, became one of the biggest embarrassments of John F. Kennedy's presidency, and emboldened Castro and his supporters. 

Months later, Castro green-lighted the construction of Soviet nuclear missile sites on the island, well within range of U.S. targets. When Kennedy caught wind of the plans, a 13-day standoff ensued, with Kennedy ultimately convincing the Soviets to back down in exchange for the removal of U.S. missiles from Turkey. The so-called Cuban Missile Crisis was a defining moment for both Kennedy and Castro and further embittered relations between the two countries.

Castro's prolific writing and famously long-winded speeches regularly featured tirades against the U.S. and insistence that Cuba would never change course. "Socialism or death! Fatherland or death!" was the motto.

Though he demonstrated, throughout his life, his willingness to die for his vision and values, he survived one of the longest and most controversial political careers of the 20th century, only stepping down as the result of his declining health.

Little is known about how Castro spent his final years. The topic of both his health and personal life have been closely guarded secrets, with Castro revealing only as much as he wished. It is unclear, for example, just how many children he fathered. Asked in an interview for Vanity Fair in 1993, Castro replied, "it's almost a tribe."

What is known is this: He was married twice, first to Mirt Diaz-Balart, whom he divorced in 1955 after having one child, and later to Dalia Soto del Valle, with whom he had five sons. Others have been cited as mistresses and children, including Alina Fernandez, a Cuban exile who published a memoir about growing up as Castro's daughter in 1960s Cuba.

After leaving the presidency, Castro wrote a series of his own personal reflections, though his focused mainly on past and current events. In his final post, published in September 2013, Castro expressed relief that the U.S. appeared to be backing away from plans to intervene militarily in Syria's civil war—a move, he said, that could prevent "global catastrophe."

Photo Credit: AP

U.S. Cubans React to Castro Death


Across South Florida, the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro is being met with a sense of celebration from memebrs of the exile community.

Castro, who spent nearly five decades ruling the country after launching a military takeover in 1959, died Friday night at the age of 90. His death was announced on Cuban television by his brother, Raul - who took over as leader of the nation when Fidel Castro stepped down in 2006.

Hundreds of Cuban Americans crowded to the roads in Hialeah and Little Havana to celebrate the demise of the father of communist Cuba.

People waved Cuba's flag and banged on pots and pans along Bird Road and southwest 87th street.

At one point, it appeared a firecracker was lit in the middle of the road.

For more than five decades, thousands of Cubans have been escaping the communist island to gain freedom in the United States and elsewhere.

Many South Florida Cubans told NBC 6 Fidel's death is symbolic and may pave the way for true change in Cuba.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who had vocally opposed the Castro regime, said the crowds were not celebrating death, instead they were celebrating "an opportunity to begin a new chapter of freedom".

Other South Florida members of Congress, including Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart as well as Debbie Wasserman Schultz, echoed those thoughts in calling for a change to the island to ensure freedom for those still living on the island.

The mayors of City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, who are both Cuban American, also reacted to the death of Castro. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, described his death as a "victory", while Miami-Dade Carlos Gimenez said the announcement was "something that we've been waiting for".

Florida Senator Marco Rubio released a statement saying that "the dictator has died, but the dictatorship has not. And one thing is clear, history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people."

Florida's other U.S. Senator, Bill Nelson, said that the U.S. should "continue to take steps to support the Cuban people" until Raul Castro provides basic rights. Governor Rick Scott said today's news should "usher in an era of freedom, peace and human dignity".

Other politicians have also chimed in - including Texas Senator Ted Cruz. His father came to America from Cuba in the 1960s:

Alan Gross, an American citizen who spent five years in a Cuban prision following his arrest on charges of being a spy, also reacted to Castro's death:

In the religious community, Pope Francis called the death "sad news" while Archbishop Thomas Wenski called for peace for both Cuba and its people.

Fidel Castro's death comes on the 17th anniversary of when Elian Gonzalez was rescued off the Florida coast.

In 1999, the Cuban boy landed in Miami after his mother and her boyfriend drowned during their journey from Havana.

Elian, who was five years old at the time, became embroiled in an international custody battle and eventually returned to Cuba.

SF Cop Assaulted With Skateboard


A South San Francisco police officer who was left in critical condition Thursday after being hit in the head by a suspect's skateboard was identified Friday, police said.

The violent attack started around 2:20 p.m. Thursday near the 300 block of Grand Avenue when officer Robby Chon, a 12-year veteran of the force, attempted to approach a suspect reportedly disturbing the peace at a local business, police said. The suspect, who was later identified as Luis Alberto Ramos-Coreas, a 28-year-old resident of South Francisco, did not yield to the officer's commands, prompting Chon to call for backup.

When a second officer arrived, Ramos-Coreas took off from the scene on foot, according to police. During a subsequent chase, Ramos-Coreas immediately came to a screeching halt, pivoted and smacked Chon in the head with the skateboard.

Chon, who is married with two children, was transported to a local hospital with a "major head injury" and taken into the operating room, police said.

"The officer underwent emergency surgery for traumatic head injuries," police said in a press conference Friday. "He remains hospitalized in critical condition at this time."

The second officer on scene was able to detain Ramos-Coreas after another brief foot pursuit, police said. Ramos-Coreas was booked on suspicion of numerous felony charges, including attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

Ramos-Coreas does have a history of "criminal contacts" with police, but the specifics of those run-ins were not detailed by officials.

South San Francisco Mayor Mark Addiego said Friday that this attack is unacceptable.

"This city will not tolerate violence of any nature directed against its police forces," he said.

Since the assault, a GoFundMe campaign to support Chon and his family gathered over $20,000 in just three hours. That donation number is expected to grow.

Officials are currently investigating the attack. Anyone with information is asked to contact the South San Francisco Police Department at (650) 877-8900 or the anonymous tip line at (650) 952-2244.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Ramiro Castillo
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The World Reacts to the Death of Cuba's Fidel Castro


World leaders, U.S. politicians and notable Cuban figures are reacting to the news that Fidel Castro, Cuba's longtime president and leader of its Communist revolution, passed away on Friday at the age of 90.

Current president Raul Castro announced his brother's death in a televised statement Friday night prompting Cuban-Americans in Miami to take to the streets in celebration. Online, responses to the iconic leader's death—a mix of praise and condemnation—reflected the divisiveness he stirred throughout his life. 

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Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro, a strong ally of the Castro family, tweeted that he called Cuban president Raul Castro to send his solidarity and love to the Cuban people. He also shared iconic photos of Fidel Castro from the early days of the Cuban revolution, along with the revolutionary slogan, "toward victory, always."

El Salvador's president Salvador Sanchez lamented the passing of "our dear friend and eternal companion," while Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto expressed his regret for the passing of an "emblematic" figure of the 20th Century.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi also called Castro "one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th Century" and said India stands in support of the Cuban government and people.

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Pakistani politician and former cricket star Imran Khan tweeted that the world lost an “iconic revolutionary leader” who “liberated his nation from all vestiges of imperialism,” reasserting Cuba’s dignity and self worth.

South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma acknowledged the strong bond of “solidarity and friendship” struck between Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela as the late South African leader led a struggle against apartheid. 

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Former Soviet statesman Mikhail Gorbachev hailed Castro as an "outstanding man," noting his efforts to dismantle the colonial system and strengthen his country in the face of U.S. blockades."His role in strengthening his country was immense even in the last years, when he gave up formal power,” Gorbachev told the Inferfax news agency.


President Obama called for continued partnership between Cuba and the United States in a statement. 

"Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro's family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people," Obama said in the statement. "In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America."

Obama's statement also referenced the impact Castro had on the lives of the Cuban people and the entire world. "History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him," the statement read. 

President-elect Donald Trump posted his first reaction to the news on Twitter Saturday morning, writing simply: "Fidel Castro is Dead!" 

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Trump then issued a scathing criticism of Castro later Saturday morning, writing in a statement: "Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights." 

U.S. Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio also condemned Castro in a statement, writing in part: "One thing is clear, history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people."

Florida Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman Emeritus of the House Foreign Affairs Committee called Castro “a tyrant" in a statement heralding "a new beginning" for Cuba, "the last remaining communist bastion of the Western hemisphere.”

Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, the son of Cuban exiles, tweeted in both English and Spanish, "The passing of the dictator marks the end of a long, horrifying chapter in #Cuba's history. The #Cuban people need our solidarity."

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Singer Gloria Estefan, who's father worked as a bodyguard for Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, wrote on Instagram that Castro's death has "renewed hope" for Cubans who fled his dictatorship. 

"Although the death of a human being is rarely cause for celebration, it is the symbolic death of the destructive ideologies that he espoused that, I believe, is filling the Cuban exile community with renewed hope and a relief that has been long in coming," Estefan wrote. 

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Cuban-American major league baseball star Jose Canseco tweeted that he can't say he feels anything in response to Castro's death. "There is a reason many defected to USA."

Photo Credit: AP
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The Life and Times of Fidel Castro


Cuba's Fidel Castro came into power in 1959 after leading an overthrow of the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Castro transformed the country into the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere, handing off power to his younger brother Raúl Castro in 2008.

Plainfield Officer Injured in Crash with DUI Driver: Police


A Plainfield police officer is recovering after being injured in a crash involving a DUI driver Friday night, police said.

Plainfield police said officer Daniel Wolfburg was on patrol in a marked police vehicle when the accident occurred. According to police, Wolfburg was driving south on Norwich Road when he collided with a vehicle turning left from Railroad Avenue onto Norwich Road. 

Police said at the time of the crash Wolfburg had a flashing yellow light and the other driver, identified as Christopher Bessette, 28, of Sterling, had a red blinking light.

Both drivers were taken to Backus Hospital for treatment. Bessette was found to be under the influence and charged with Operating under the influence, and failure to grant right of way at an intersection. He was treated for minor injuries and released on a $5,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 5.

Wolfburg was treated and released from the hospital and is expected to fully recover.

Photo Credit: Plainfield Police Department

Trump Slams Recount Push as 'a Scam,' Says Election is Over


President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday condemned a growing push to force recounts in three states pivotal to his Nov. 8 victory, confronting the Green Party-backed effort for the first time even as he worked to address key Cabinet vacancies.

The New York billionaire, who charged the election was "rigged" on a daily basis before his victory, called the developing recount effort "a scam" in a statement released by his transition team.

Trump had been ignoring Green Party nominee Jill Stein's fight to revisit vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Wisconsin officials announced late Friday they are moving forward with the first presidential recount in state history.

"The people have spoken and the election is over," Trump declared Saturday. He added, "We must accept this result and then look to the future."

At the same time, Trump was scrambling to address unfilled administration jobs, having barely scratched the surface of creating the massive team needed to run the government before his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Experts say presidential transitions are periods of great vulnerability for the nation, and among the vacancies on the Trump team are leaders of the departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security.

Trump, who has virtually no experience in foreign affairs, offered a one-line tweet Saturday morning in reaction to the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro — "Fidel Castro is dead!" — before issuing a more detailed statement.

"While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve," Trump said.

His transition team did not respond to requests to clarify his Cuba policy, which was inconsistent during the campaign.

The incoming president paid little if any attention Stein's recount push, but Democratic rival Hillary Clinton forced his hand on Saturday by formally joining the effort. Stein, who drew 1 percent of the vote nationally, is raising millions of dollars to fund the recounts.

"Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves," Clinton campaign attorney Marc Elias wrote Saturday in blog post. "But now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides."

Elias said Clinton would take the same approach in Pennsylvania and Michigan if Stein were to follow through with recount requests those states, even though that was highly unlikely to change the election outcome.

"Regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself," Elias wrote.

Clinton leads the national popular vote by close to 2 million votes, but Trump won 290 electoral votes to Clinton's 232, with Michigan still too close to call. It takes 270 to win the presidency.

Trump, who repeatedly challenged the integrity of the U.S. election system before his win, called the recount push "a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded."

"The results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing," he said in the statement, which didn't mention Clinton's involvement.

Trump was spending the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with family at his Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago. He had planned to focus on filling key administration posts over the working vacation. On Friday, he named Fox News analyst Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland as deputy national security adviser and appointed campaign attorney Donald McGahn as White House counsel.

McFarland has worked for three presidents, although none since Ronald Reagan. Fox News said Saturday that her contract has been terminated in light of the appointment.

Trump planned to return to his New York home on Sunday ahead of a series of Monday meetings with prospective administration hires, including Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. He's seen as a possible Homeland Security pick. Clarke's vocal opposition to the "Black Lives Matter" movement has made him popular with many conservatives.

Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence also have Monday meetings scheduled with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., former Security and Exchange Commission commissioner Paul Atkins, World Wide Technology chairman David Steward and General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Mathrani.

Internal divisions over his choice for secretary of state have delayed that critical decision. The options include former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who lacks foreign policy experience, but was intensely loyal to Trump, and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who aggressively opposed Trump's candidacy but is largely regarded as more qualified. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is also a possibility.

Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Hartford Woman Killed in West Hartford Crash


A 33-year-old Hartford woman was killed in a crash in West Hartford Friday night.

West Hartford police said the accident happened on Albany Avenue near MDC Reservoir 6 around 11:45 p.m. It appears the driver, identified as Breanna Segundo lost control and crashed into a tree.

When first responders appeared on scene the vehicle was on fire. Police and bystanders pulled Segundo out of the vehicle, and she was taken to Saint Francis Hospital where she died of her injuries.

No one else was in the vehicle at the time.

Albany Avenue was closed while police investigated the crash but has since reopened. Officers reported that the road was wet from a light rain and it was foggy at the time of the crash.

Photo Credit: Chris Weedon/NBC Connecticut

2 Arrested After Fleeing from DUI Checkpoint: State Police


Connecticut state police arrested two men after the pair tried to flee a DUI enforcement checkpoint Friday night, police said.

According to police the driver, identified as Leroy Sterling, 28, stopped before the checkpoint at the exit 38 entrance ramp to I-91, make a u-turn and drove the wrong way on the ramp to avoid police.

When police tried to stop Sterling, he continued driving south on Route 75 until he reached Hansom Hill Road. Police said Sterling and his passenger, identified as Charles Miller, 28, then got out of the car and ran off.

Police said when they caught up with Miller he was uncooperative and a trooper had to deploy his Taser to take Miller into custody.

After an hour-long search by troopers, two K9 teams and Windsor police, Sterling was found and taken into custody.

Sterling was charged with disobeying the signal of an officer, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, improper entry/leaving of highway, and engaging in a police pursuit.

Miller was charged with interfering with an officer.

Both are scheduled to appear in Enfield Superior Court on Dec. 9.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Clinton Police Seek Four Suspects After 25 Cars Burglarized


The Clinton police department is looking for four suspects in connection with a rash of car burglaries and thefts in town early Saturday morning.

Police said around 25 vehicles were burglarized around Clinton in areas like Rocky Ledge Drive, Hurd Bridge Road, Fairy Dell Road and Ironworks Road.

Three vehicles were also stolen, one of which was found after an accident in Hamden. A .380 semi-automatic handgun was also stolen.

Police released surveillance photos of four suspects who reportedly used credit cards stolen from the vehicles in Hamden and Wallingford. The suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone who recognizes the subjects pictured above is asked to contact Clinton police at 860-669-0451.

Photo Credit: Clinton Police Department

Hate Letter Sent to Calif. Mosques


A hateful and Islamophobia-laden letter was delivered to a South Bay Muslim community Thursday, prompting law enforcement authorities to commence an investigation.

Copies of the same letter were also delivered to two Islamic Centers in southern California, the Los Angeles chapter of the Center for American-Islamic Relations said Friday. Long Beach and Pomona police have not yet responded to requests for confirmation.

The short hand-written letter, which was mailed to the Evergreen Islamic Center in San Jose and addressed to the "Children of Satan," called Muslims a "vile and filthy people" and urged them to "pack your bags and get out of dodge."

The note also made reference to Donald Trump and said that the president-elect is "going to cleanse America and it make it shine again. And, he's going to start with you Muslims."

In the final paragraph, the message read, "This is a great time for patriotic Americans. Long live President Trump and God bless the U.S.A."

Faisal Yazadi, Chairman of the Board at the Evergreen Islamic Center, was baffled by the letter, but not surprised based on the recent tension brewing in the United State following a divisive election season.

The Islamic center warned parishioners to remain alert and keep an eye out for potential violence, but it is not planning to add visible security to watch over the mosque at this time.

Yazadi is still pleased that the San Jose Police Department is taking the message seriously.

"Within minutes of letting them know, I had three cop cars pulled up our our property," he said.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese was alarmed by the behavior displayed in his jurisdiction.

"It's threatening," he said. "It's obviously threatening. It indicates a state of mind you would hope doesn't exist in Santa Clara County."

The Council of American-Islamic Relations issued a statement Friday clamoring that police and government leaders step up and protect local mosques.

"We urge local law enforcement authorities to work with Muslim community leaders to ensure the safety of all houses of worship," Zahra Billoo, the Executive Director for the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of CAIR, wrote. "Our state's political and religious leaders need to speak out against the mainstreaming of Islamophobia that we are witnessing in California and nationwide."

In a similar fashion, CAIR's Los Angeles chapter called for "stepped-up police protection of local mosques" in response to the letters.  

Less than two weeks ago, an anti-Muslim note was left on a woman's car in Milpitas.

Anyone with information regarding the recent letter is asked to contact the San Jose Police Department's Assaults Unit, which is responsible for handling hate-related incidents, at (408) 277-4161. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (408) 947-7867.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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Winning $420M Powerball Ticket Sold in Tennessee


A winning Powerball ticket was sold in Tennessee, netting an unknown victor the entire $420.9 million jackpot. 

No winner had come forward to claim it as of Sunday morning, though the Tennessee Lottery did tweet that the winning ticket was sold in Lafayette.

The prize is the second largest overall jackpot for the Tennessee Lottery. The first was a $528.8 million Powerball prize won by a family in January 2016, who split the $1.58 billion record pot with winners in two other states.

The latest jackpot surged over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend after no winning numbers were selected in a Wednesday night drawing.

The latest winning numbers called Saturday night were: 17-19-21-37-44, Powerball: 16, Power Play: 2 

The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are one in 292.2 million. The popular game is played in 44 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Photo Credit: AP

Jerry Falwell Jr. Says Trump Offered Him Cabinet Post


Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says President elect-Donald Trump offered him the job of education secretary, but that he turned it down for personal reasons.

Falwell tells The Associated Press that Trump offered him the job last week during a meeting in New York. He says Trump wanted a four- to six-year commitment, but that he couldn't leave Liberty for more than two years. 

Falwell says he couldn't afford to work at a Cabinet-level job for longer than that and didn't want to move his family, especially his 16-year-old daughter.

Trump announced Wednesday he had selected charter school advocate Betsy DeVos for the job. Falwell says he thinks DeVos is an "excellent choice."

Trump spoke at the Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, in January and Falwell later endorsed him.

Photo Credit: AP

Cards Against Humanity Digs Hole


No one does Black Friday quite like the team behind Cards Against Humanity.

The Chicago-based company behind the popular card game continued its tradition of absurd Black Friday antics by raising thousands of dollars to dig a massive hole. 

Yes, you read that correctly – the "party game for horrible people" launched its "Holiday Hole" campaign at 12 p.m. CST on Friday with a livestream of a hole being dug with a countdown clock and an option to donate.

"As long as money keeps coming in, we'll keep digging," promises holidayhole.com, the website dedicated to the cause. For every dollar donated, about 0.5 seconds is added to the countdown clock. 

As of Saturday afternoon, the promotion had raised more than $80,000 with about 23 hours of dig time remaining. 

The site's FAQ page answers some of the burning questions on the minds of fans and critics alike:
What’s happening here?
Cards Against Humanity is digging a holiday hole.
Is this real?
Unfortunately it is.
Where is the hole?
America. And in our hearts.
Is there some sort of deeper meaning or purpose to the hole?
What do I get for contributing money to the hole?
A deeper hole. What else are you going to buy, an iPod?

This is hardly the first time Cards Against Humanity has launched a campaign mocking the busiest shopping day of the year. In 2013, the company increased the game's price by $5 in lieu of offering a Black Friday sale, only to outdo itself the following year by selling boxes of actual poop

That promotion sold out to more than 30,000 customers, many of whom were shocked when bull feces arrived on their doorstep. The company then donated the proceeds to nonprofit organization Heifer International. 

In 2015, the "Give Cards Against Humanity $5 Sale" raked in more than $71,000 by selling literally "nothing" for $5 and distributing the haul among employees who spent it on a variety of hilarious purchases that included a suit of armor, several trips and thousands of dollars in charitable donations.

For those thinking that the company with a track record of holiday giving would put the "Holiday Hole" money to another good cause, the site kills that hope in answering the question, "Why aren’t you giving all this money to charity?"

"Why aren’t YOU giving all this money to charity? It’s your money," the FAQ retorts.

"You’re supposed to think it’s funny," the site tells readers wondering how to feel. "You might not get it for a while, but some time next year you’ll chuckle quietly to yourself and remember all this business about the hole."

Photo Credit: Cards Against Humanity/YouTube
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