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What Obama Said to Putin on Red Phone About Hack


Determined to stop Russia's interference in the presidential campaign, at least one of President Obama's senior advisers urged him to make the ultimate threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. officials told NBC News: Mess with the vote and we will consider it an act of war.

In October, the U.S. used the latest incarnation of an old Cold War communications system — the so-called "Red Phone" that connects Moscow to Washington — to reinforce Obama's warning that the U.S. would consider any interference on Election Day a grave matter.

Part of the message sent over the Red Phone on Oct. 31, according to a senior U.S. official, said: "International law, including the law for armed conflict, applies to actions in cyberspace. We will hold Russia to those standards."

The so-called "Red Phone" system is used to communicate in moments of crisis. Formally known as the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center line, it is no longer a literal phone, and instead sends email messages and attachments.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Norwalk Police Continue Search for 'Scream' Mask Bank Robber


Police in Norwalk are continuing to search for a bank robber who was wearing a "Scream" mask when he robbed the First County Bank on Main Avenue around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6 and said the man was driving a Jeep with New York plates.

The robber, who was dressed in black and wearing the mask, spoke in a deep voice and said, "Give me all the money in your drawer," when he robbed the bank at 660 Main Ave., according to police.

He was also wearing a black leather jacket, a black hooded sweatshirt, gloves with design, dark pants and white shoes.

He fled in a dark colored 2002 to 2007 Jeep Liberty with New York plates.

Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call the Norwalk Police Tip Line at 203-854-3111.

Photo Credit: Norwalk Police Department

Crash Victim Trapped For 12 Hours in Car


A Pennsylvania man is recovering after spending 12 hours trapped in the wreckage of his crashed car. Family members and state troopers began searching for 52-year-old Brian Smith Saturday afternoon after he failed to return home after leaving work at 8 a.m.

Photo Credit: WBRE-TV

Meriden Man Crashed Into Cruisers During Chase: Police


A 19-year-old Meriden man is in police custody after a police chase from Meriden to Cromwell overnight.

Meriden police officers responded to City Park at 11:30 p.m. Monday to identify someone suspected of suspicious activity near a business that has been burglarized several times and the person fled and hit two police cruisers, police said.

Raymond Ward, 19, of Meriden, led police on a chase from Meriden, through Berlin and into Cromwell, where he lost control and flipped the car on its roof, police said.

Ward was charged with disobeying an officer's signal, failure to maintain lane, unsafe backing, suspended driver’s license, operating a motor vehicle without registration or insurance, misuse of registration plates, disobeying a stop sign, disobeying a traffic light, two counts of failure to drive right, two counts of evading responsibility, reckless driving, two counts of engaging in pursuit, reckless endangerment, interfering with an officer and two counts of assault on a public safety officer.

He is being held on a $100,000 surety bond.

No one was injured during the incident.

Photo Credit: Meriden Police

Obama Admin. Web Page Preservation


A team of researchers and skilled web archivers is working diligently leading up to the President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration to preserve web content from the Obama Administration.

A group of institutions, composed of the Library of Congress, the Internet Archive in California, the University of North Texas and more, has been working since June of 2016 to harvest the content, which may disappear from government web pages, on the End of Term Web Archive.

Researchers from each institution spend countless hours archiving internet sites and content that pertain to the federal government during each presidential terms. Since they started in 2008, the database has collected more than 160 million documents harvested from 3,300 government websites, mainly ones that end in .gov and .mil.

“When there is a transition of power and someone new comes into office, we forget that government websites change as well,” UNT Digital Libraries associate dean Mark Phillips said. “The way the new administration will communicate to citizens through the web will be different than the previous administration."

Scientist and researchers fear that, without their work, each administration's content via the web would disappear. Phillips has found that 83 percent of PDF files on the .gov domain in 2008 were missing from the web four years later. 

“If we weren’t doing this, no one would,” Phillips said.

The Internet Archive says it has, on its own, preserved more than 3.5 billion web pages and more than 45 million PDFs from the .gov domain over its history. Pages can be removed from what the archive calls the "gov web" for any number of reasons; they may be taken off the web entirely or folded into other domains.

"These sites include significant amounts of publicly-funded federal research, data, projects and reporting that may only exist or be published on the web. This is tremendously important historical information, Jefferson Bailey, the Internet Archive’s director of Web Archiving, said in a statement.

The team of institutions has grown to manage the increase in social media content online. George Washington University is handling the social media effort by archiving the over 8 thousand Twitter accounts for government agencies, projects, programs and elected officials.

Online: End of Term Web Archive

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Dow Ends Within 50 Points of 20,000


Stocks rose on Tuesday, led by financials, while the Dow Jones industrial average kept marching toward 20,000, but never hitting the major milestone.

At session highs, the blue-chips index came within 13 points of hitting the milestone mark, before closing 90 points higher, after hitting a new intraday high, with Goldman Sachs contributing the most gains, as CNBC reports. The Dow also ended within 50 points of 20,000.

Since Nov. 8, the Dow has surged more than 8 percent and has posted 17 record closes.

U.S. equities were trading higher as investors remained unfazed by geopolitical tensions involving Germany, Turkey and Russia.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Board to Consider Staff Cuts, More Fees for Avon Schools


The Avon Public Schools Board of Education will review a budget proposal Tuesday that could have ramifications for students, staff and sports programs. 

Superintendent Gary Mala proposed the 2017-2018 budget at a meeting in November that includes cutting 20 staff positions, including some teachers. Salaries and benefits make up 79 percent of the district’s budget. 

The proposal to cut staff has parents and taxpayers concerned. 

"Cutting teachers and some of the other activities or benefits in the school system is going to be problematic in the long run. The town is only growing," Erin Lawless, of Avon, said. 

“One of the reasons we have such good schools is because they spend the money on things like this and we have great teachers here. I would hate to see classes get bigger. I would hate to see programs get cut, like special education," Tonia Peters, of Avon, said. 

Another reality might be higher taxes. 

The district’s mill rate could increase by eight cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value, from $29.52 to $29.60. 

"It's not something that I mind paying increased taxes on, but I know not everyone in the community is going to feel that way," Lawless said. 

The proposed budget also includes adding a student activity fee. Middle and high school students could be charged $80 per club they participate in. Students are already charged $175 per sport they play. 

The junior varsity golf, junior varsity tennis and developmental football team for freshman could also be eliminated. 

Mala said he thinks the board of education will not approve the activity fee or the elimination of the teams. 

The board of education is scheduled to review the budget on Tuesday at 7 p.m. 

Anything that passes will then go to the town manager and a budget hearing would then be scheduled for April.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / maroke

Thousands Flock to Bethlehem, CT for Christmas Season


It’s been a Christmas tradition since the 1930s to travel to the little town of Bethlehem – Connecticut – to mail out Christmas gifts and card and the post office is busy with thousands of people coming in.

“Bethlehem is the Christmas town, affectionately known by most residents and visitors,” Deloris Lyttle, postmaster of the Bethlehem Post Office, said.

The extra traffic to Bethlehem this time of year comes from thousands of people who want to adorn their packages and cards with special season’s greetings stamps and a postmark from the New England town that shares a name with place of Christ’s birth.

“There are people that take road trips and they make Bethlehem a stop that they can partake in this,” Lyttle said. “We’ve talked to people from Tennessee, Florida, Ohio.”

Customers get to choose from one of 82 stamps and then send their parcels off with some extra Christmas cheer.

Millie Schempp, a Bethlehem resident, has been postmarking her Christmas greetings from Bethlehem for decades.

“When I was in here yesterday, I just about couldn’t get in the door,” she said.

The post office adds two stamps to the Christmas collection each year.

“I love the small town and I love that it’s Bethlehem, the Christmas town,” Vera Rosa, a clerk at the Bethlehem Post Office, said. “We just really embrace it and enjoy it.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Britain Schools Closed on Feb. 13 Over Contract Dispute


There will be no school in New Britain on Monday, Feb. 13 after the union and superintendent failed to reach an agreement on the observance of Lincoln’s birthday, according to the superintendent’s office, and a day will be added on to the end of the school year.

For several years, the Consolidated School District of New Britain has observed Lincoln’s Birthday to coincide with the long Presidents’ Day Weekend, but the union recently indicated that no Memorandum of Understanding for this year was signed and they were electing to celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday as an official holiday, according to the superintendent’s office.

Lincoln’s Birthday falls on a Sunday, Feb. 12, so the contract for Local 1186 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 4 – AFL-CIO has the official observance is Monday, Feb. 13.

This is a change from the calendar the school board voted on last year, which celebrated Presidents’ Day on Monday, Feb. 20 and Lincoln’s Birthday on Tuesday, Feb. 21, according to the superintendent.

“Unfortunately, neither side brought this to the table during negotiations, yet we were both aware of the issue through requests from administration and a signed Memorandum of Understanding from the union for the last several years,” Supt. Nancy Sarra said in a statement. “They have always agreed to adjust Lincoln’s Birthday to meet the calendar needs of the district.”

The current school calendar scheduled Feb. 13 as a full school day, but the Board of Education has now modified the calendar to have Feb. 13 as a day off for students, teachers and Local 1186 employees.

All other staff will be expected to report to work as they were normally scheduled, according to the superintendent’s office.

Officials from the superintendent’s office said the cost to open school and pay the Local 1186 employees double-time on Feb. 13 would be just under $70,000 in personnel costs.

“It is an extremely unfortunate situation that the leadership of Local 1186 could not come to an agreement with us in regards to Lincoln’s Birthday,” Sarra said in a statement. “This has not been a problem in the year’s past but it is now an issue this year. It is not prudent to spend taxpayer dollars in this way. Due to this, we have decided to make this change in the school calendar. We understand that this may be a hardship for some of our working families but also understand our commitment to our residents to be fiscally responsible. Spending $70,000 in this way is just not fiscally responsible.”

“This is not a decision the Board of Education took lightly,” Nicholas Mercier, the Board of Education president, said in a statement. “We understand the hardships that this may cause with families now needing to find childcare. It is unfortunate that Local 1186 could not come to an agreement with Superintendent Sarra. I am hopeful that we will resolve this issue with Local 1186 before the next school year.”

Staff and students will still be off on Feb. 20 and 21, but all Local 1186 employees will be required to report to work or take a vacation day on Feb. 21 and the canceled day of school on Feb. 13 has been added to the end of the school year.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Woman Hit By Car in Greenwich


A woman is being treated for head injuries after a car struck her on Mill Street in Greenwich on Tuesday morning.  

Police said the victim, a Stamford woman in her 30s, was working in the Byrum area when she was hit at Mill Street and Mead Avenue.

She sustained serious injuries and was taken to the emergency room at Stamford Hospital, police said.

Officers are investigating and are notifying the woman's employer and family.  

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Car That Hit Man in Hamden Found: Police


Hamden police said they have located the vehicle that left the scene after hitting a 58-year-old pedestrian early Sunday morning.

Harris Tendler, 58, was crossing Dixwell Avenue near Church Street around 2:15 a.m. Sunday when he was hit and paramedics declared him dead at the scene, police said.

The first driver hit Tendler and kept going, heading north on Dixwell Avenue, police said.

Then a 70-year-old Bridgeport man hit the victim and immediately stopped and called for help, police said.

The front windshield of the second driver's car was shattered during the collision and the driver was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Police said they were looking for a four-door light colored vehicle and have found it. 

Police are continuing to investigate and ask anyone with information to call the Hamden Police Department Traffic Division on 203-230-4036.

Alert Canceled for 6-Month-Old West Haven Girl


Police have canceled a Silver Alert for a 6-month-old baby girl from West Haven. West Haven police said the alert for Ariza Cirino was issued due to a custodial issue and she was not in danger.

The alert said she was last seen with her father, 37-year-old Anthony Cirino and police were working to determine who is supposed to have custody of the baby.

Former New Haven Attorney Sentenced for Embezzling from Clients


A former New Haven attorney has been sentenced to two years in prison for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from client funds, according to the state division of criminal justice.

Terence Hawkins was also ordered to repay more than $400,000 in restitution.

On Monday, Judge Philip A. Scarpellino sentenced 60-year-old Hawkins to 10 years in prison, execution suspended after two years served, and five years’ probation.

Hawkins, who previously surrendered his license to practice law, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree larceny.




Southwest Airlines says it is working to fully restore functionality of its online check-in system Tuesday evening after an issue earlier in the day.

Several people on social media reported the issue – which appeared to be preventing people from checking in to their flights – and Southwest Airline's official Twitter account said the issue was affecting all customers.

When reached for comment, the Dallas-based airline's statement said the unspecified issue was affecting only some of the website. They did not give an estimate for when it'd be fixed.

"We are currently experiencing issues with some of Southwest.com’s functionality," the statement said. "We are working hard to solve the issues and get it back up and running. We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work behind the scenes to get full functionality back to our website."

An error message appeared on Southwest.com when accessed in New York about 3:30 p.m. ET: "Please do not refresh your browser. We will automatically transfer you to Southwest.com as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience."

In a tweet posted at 5:46 E.T. the airline said, "We have reports of successful transactions and online check in. We appreciate your patience as we work to restore full functionality."

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

Seymour Police Radio Frequency Hacked


Someone hacked the Seymour Police Department’s radio frequency on Tuesday and the police chief has contacted the Federal Communications Commission to help find out who did it. 

Police Chief Michael Metzler said someone sent out a tone on their frequency four times today as of 2:15 p.m. and it’s not interfering with police business or public safety. 

Metzler said he has contacted the FCC.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File

Shelton Police Arrest 2 on Prostitution Charges


Shelton police have arrested two people on prostitution charges after hotel employees noticed a lot of foot traffic in and out of one room Monday.

Police responded to a Bridgeport Avenue hotel to investigate a complaint that many visitors, mostly men, were frequenting a room on the third floor. When police responded to the room they found the suspects, 20-year-old Lesley Michelle Reyes of Bridgeport, and 51-year-old Albert Beckwith of Beacon Falls, inside.

According to police, Beckwith solicited Reyes for sex online, determined a price, and the pair then met at the hotel.

Reyes was charged with prostitution and released on a $1,000 bond. Beckwith was charged with patronizing a prostitute and released on a $1,000 bond. Both are scheduled to appear in Derby Superior Court on Jan. 3.

Photo Credit: Shelton Police Department

State Troopers Play Santa at Connecticut Children's


Christmas came early Tuesday morning at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford, with some very deserving kids getting presents from folks dressed not in red and white, but rather, blue and gray.

For the twentieth year, Connecticut State Police troopers played Santa for patients, their sleigh a gurney filled with toys collected over the past week at Toys R Us stores in Newington, Manchester, and West Hartford.

"We stand out in the cold, the rain, the sunshine, whatever it is, at the toy stores and it's just thousands of people coming in and out," said Trooper First Class James Nolting.

Some toys were handed out today. Most will be given to kids who come to the emergency room. "To be able to provide them with a gift and our support and let them know that we're here for them, it's just a good thing overall," said Nolting.

Over the years, this program has collected a half a million toys and $280,000, thanks to sponsors and the public.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Winter Takes a Break Leading up to Christmas


After a very cold start this morning, a warming trend is expected heading into Christmas.

Starting Wednesday and continuing through the start of Hanukkah and Christmas Day, high temperatures will be in the lower and middle 40s.

The winter solstice occurs Wednesday morning at 5:44 a.m. Thursday, the amount of daylight will begin increasing.

A few rain and snow showers are possible Thursday, but there are no "big ticket" items until just after Christmas. Most of Thursday's snow will be in northern New England and Canada.

Late Sunday or on Monday, a storm will likely bring a wintry mix or rain. So, still, not very winter-like.

The average high temperature this time of year is 38 degrees, while the average low is 22 degrees.

First Archimedes Screw in U.S. Installed At Meriden Dam


Named after the ancient Greek scientist, the Archimedes screw is an eco-friendly tool that generates electricity using the natural resource of water.

New England Hydropower Company installed the first of its kind in the United States Tuesday at the Hanover Dam in Meriden.

“They looked at the site, they liked it,” City of Meriden IT Director Steve Montemurro said, “they felt it would be a perfect fit.”

European countries have been utilizing this type of renewable energy technology for the past decade.

“Our Industrial Revolution in New England was based on water power so what we’re doing is recapturing that energy that people have ignored for 150 years,” New England Hydropower CEO and Founder Michael Kerr said.

For centuries, the Archimedes Screw has been used to pump water up-hill. Ten years ago in Europe, Kerr explained inventors decided to invert the screw.

“They could extract the potential energy of falling water and that was like a big “a-ha” moment,” he said.

Power will be generated when water from the Hanover pond falls down the screw, causing it to rotate.

Once operational in the first quarter of 2017, Montemurro said the small-scale hydropower generator will cut the city’s electricity costs.

“We estimate at maybe $20 thousand a year,” he said, “it’s not all about the money, but it’s about technology, green energy and setting the stage for other communities to do the same thing.”

Kerr told NBC Connecticut he does not think the ongoing drought in the state should discourage investment in water-based renewable energy.

“You’re always going to get some dry years, but you’re going to get some wet years, too as we all know,” Kerr said, “but over a forty or fifty year period it’s generally going to be reliable.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Town of East Lyme Reaping Benefits of Electric Boat Hiring


The Electric Boat hiring surge is already in full effect, and with thousands of people making their way into the southeastern part of the state, surrounding communities are benefiting from the spillover.

The company is planning to increase its workforce from 14,500 to 18,000 by the year 2030.

The new EB hires need a place to settle down, a good school district and things to do. Leaders in East Lyme said these new employees are looking to them, and already the town is feeling the "EB effect."

The extra money in her register and the extra people at her tables this winter makes Tabatha Miranda realize Electric Boat’s hiring push is upping business at Café SoL.

"I've noticed a lot more kids at the bus stop from when my kids used to be at the bus stop," Miranda said.

"They've hired many over the last couple of years but so many more are coming," said Town of East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson.

According to Nickerson, the town is already reaping the benefits. East Lyme even opted to keep an elementary school open that was on the chopping block.

"All of a sudden we've gone up 150 kids," Nickerson said. That kind of growth took about three years. It's the school district's reputation that helped, he added.

But he said the town felt the loss of Pfizer. Several families moved out of East Lyme.

Now real estate agents said they're coming back.

"We are starting to see people from EB come in and purchase homes and actually renting in the area," said Amanda Lewis of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties.

So far this year, the agency has sold around 10 percent more homes and condos in New London County compared to the same time last year.

While more people are moving into town, the housing market it just now leveling out, according to Lewis. She said the town felt the hit when Pfizer employees moved out over the last few years.

There aren't too many homes on the market, but when houses are, they're snatched up quickly, Lewis said.

People strolling the Niantic Bay Boardwalk said the fact East Lyme is a beach town also helps.

"It's obvious that it's picking up just by the looks of our town, especially around Christmas time, and the traffic in town," said East Lyme resident Larry Richardson.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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