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Mosul University Fully Liberated by Iraqi Troops: Military


U.S.-backed Iraqi government troops on Sunday fully liberated the sprawling complex of Mosul University, an Iraqi military spokesman said, a major step in the massive operation to retake the Islamic State group-held city of Mosul.

The spokesman for the Joint Military Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, declared the campus was under the full control of Iraqi special forces, officially known as the Counter Terrorism Service, who raised the Iraqi flag over its buildings.

The troops searched campus buildings and removed bombs left by IS militants, Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of the special forces said. Fadhil added that the troops also entered the nearby Andalus neighborhood, which he expected would be fully retaken later in the day.

Iraqi forces had entered the university grounds Friday and managed to secure more than half of the campus the next day amid tough resistance from IS militants, who mainly deployed sniper and mortar fire to slow down the advancing troops.

Sunday's progress is the latest in a string of swift territorial gains in recent weeks by the U.S.-backed Iraqi military. Some 30,000 troops — a force that includes not only Iraq's conventional army but an array of other armed groups, including Shiite and Sunni paramilitary troops and Kurdish fighters — are taking part in the Mosul offensive which begun October 17. 

The Islamic State group captured Mosul in 2014 along with nearly a third of Iraqi territory and large parts of neighboring Syria. Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul is the last major IS urban bastion in the country.

Photo Credit: AP

Serbia Warns Intervention in Kosovo Amid Balkan Train Row


Fueling tensions in the Balkans, Serbia warned Kosovo on Sunday it will defend "every inch of its territory," including its former province where Serbs allegedly are under threat from Kosovo Albanians.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic issued the warning after a Serbian train, bearing signs reading "Kosovo is Serbian," was halted Saturday before it entered Kosovo due to reports of a planned attack by ethnic Albanians.

"Yesterday, we were on the verge of clashes," Nikolic said after a meeting of the country's top security body and the train's overnight return to Belgrade. He accused the Kosovo Albanians of "wanting war."

"We are a country which has to protect its people and its territory," Nikolic said.

Kosovo leaders saw the train, painted in the colors of the Serbian flag and decorated on the inside with Serbian Orthodox images, as a provocation and a threat to the sovereignty of the former Serbian province.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia and its ally Russia do not recognize the split. Serbia has sought to maintain influence in Kosovo's north, where most of the country's Serb minority is located.

NATO-led troops have controlled Kosovo's borders since a three-month air war in 1999 to stop a bloody Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists.

Serbia officially is seeking European Union membership, but has been sliding toward the Kremlin and its policies to increase its influence in the Balkans.

Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said Saturday he had contacted the United States and the European Union to express his country's concerns.

Nikolic, who is staunchly pro-Russian, said the EU and the West have never been on Serbia's side or come to its aid.

"Why were the so-called international community and the Albanians so upset about one train?" Nikolic asked. "Maybe because it had 'Kosovo is Serbian" written on it, and because it had pictures of our icons inside."

Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo soared following the recent detention in France of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister, on an arrest warrant from Serbia.

Kosovo has called the warrant illegitimate and urged France to ignore it, while Serbia is urging Haradinaj's quick extradition to face war crimes charges.

Photo Credit: AP

Vigil for Sterling Teen Who Was Found Stabbed to Death


Dozens of people in Sterling came together for a vigil to remember the teen who went missing the day after Christmas and was found stabbed to death this week

“It’s good to see everybody here. It just goes to show you how many people he touched,” Megan Malbaurn, of Sterling, said about Todd TJ Allen.

Long-time friends donned Allen’s favorite kind of t-shirt: tie dye. 

“He was just a really fun-loving human being. Just the image of the classic, happy-go-lucky hippie kid that got along with everybody and never had a bad word to say about anybody,” Malbaurn said.

Friday police revealed one of Allen’s friends stabbed him to death during a drug deal in the woods.

The revelation ended weeks of speculation since Allen disappeared on Dec. 26 and concerns he had been seriously hurt while riding a dirt bike.

Hundreds, including some at the Saturday night vigil, had tirelessly searched for the teenager.

“Everybody had a glimmer of hope,” Malbaurn said.

On Friday, police found the teenager’s body in woods near the home of 19-year-old Kevin Weismore.

Weismore told detectives he planned on selling Allen marijuana and he only grabbed a knife after Allen pulled out a gun.

Police say they never found a gun and Allen’s mother believes he never owned one.

It's a case still with unanswered questions and that has rattled many in this close-knit community who knew both teenagers.

“It really hit close to home,” Melissa Malbaurn, said.

As for the suspected killer, Kevin Weismore is locked up on a million dollar bond. He’s due in court on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

More Democratic Lawmakers Refuse to Attend Inauguration


Twenty Democratic lawmakers now say they are skipping Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, a number that grew Saturday after the president-elect dismissed a congressman who is a civil rights icon as "all talk," NBC News reported.  

Some Democrats had said they were boycotting the event prior to Saturday, but more Democratic members of the House said they would not attend after Trump in a series of tweets attacked Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who a day earlier said he doesn't see Trump as a "legitimate president" due to alleged Russian interference in the election.

Trump dismissed Lewis, a Freedom Rider who was beaten during a 1965 march in Selma and was arrested and jailed repeatedly in opposition to segregation, as "all talk, talk, talk - no action or results."

Photo Credit: AP

Kidman Says Comments About Trump Support Weren't Endorsement


Nicole Kidman says her comments that Americans should support President-elect Donald Trump were merely a statement of her belief in democracy, not an endorsement of the incoming president.

The Oscar-winning actress's earlier remarks sparked both criticism and praise online after they were aired by the BBC earlier this week.

Kidman tells Access Hollywood that her comments were misconstrued. She says, "I was trying to stress that I believe in democracy and the American Constitution, and it was that simple."

When an interviewer pressed her for more details, Kidman threw up her hands and said she was done commenting on the topic.

Kidman was born in Hawaii to Australian parents and holds dual citizenship in Australia and the U.S.

Kidman won an Oscar for 2002's "The Hours" and currently stars in "Lion."

Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Rep. Lewis: I Would Not Invite Trump to Selma


Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), said he would not invite President-elect Donald Trump to visit Selma, Alabama, with him, though he also would not "do anything to prevent him from coming," NBC News reported. 

On Bloody Sunday in 1965, Lewis was badly beaten by Alabama state troopers on Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge during a march for voting rights.

Politicians and leaders from both parties - including Vice President-elect Mike Pence - have visited Selma with Lewis over the years. In 2015, Presidents Obama and Bush, went to Selma with Lewis and others to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

"By going to Selma," Lewis said of Trump, "maybe he would learn something." But, he added, "I would not invite him to come."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photos Help Family Remember Twin Who Died After 11 Days


When Lyndsay and Matthew Brentlinger took home their newborn twins a few days after Christmas, they knew that baby William’s days would be short. Even though he looked perfect and healthy, he had a severe heart defect, identified in the womb — doctors had told his parents that he would likely be stillborn, the Today Show reported.

William defied the odds to go home with his family, with hospice care. He died just 11 days after birth.

While they didn’t have long with William, his parents and his twin sister Reagan will always have the memories of those 11 days — thanks to a stunning photo shoot that’s now being shared around the world.

Photo Credit: Getty
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Dog Stays by Owner's Side for 20 Hours After He Fell on Ice


What was supposed to be a quick dash to get some firewood turned into a 20-hour, near-death ordeal after a man fell in the snow and broke his neck outside his northern Michigan home, the Today Show reported.

The 64-year-old man was saved in part by his dog, Kelsey, who kept his owner warm and alert by lying on his body and licking his face and hands until help arrived.

“He has marks on his arms from her pawing at him when he was losing consciousness," said the man’s daughter, Jenny. "It was like, she knew that he had to stay awake because if he fell asleep he wouldn’t wake up again."

Photo Credit: Getty

Two Garbagemen Bring Hope to Family of a Girl With Cancer


Rosie Evenson of Blue Earth, Minnesota, who turns 4 this month, was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer in September 2016. Rosie's mother, Angie Evenson, says all three of her daughters have, for years, had a standing date with their garbagemen every Thursday — when they gather in the window to wave hello to Olsen and Fritz as they collect their family's trash, the Today Show reported.

When Rosie was diagnosed the pair immediately began brainstorming ways they could help the family, and approached their boss, Mike Johnson, the general manager of Hometown Sanitation, to ask if they could donate their own free trash pick-up service — an employee benefit — to the Evenson family for a year.

Evenson says the act of kindness from Hometown Sanitation was one of many small acts that have given strength to her family during Rosie's treatment.

Photo Credit: AP

Car Submerged in Icy Milford Pond


A rescue operation is underway after a car went through the ice of a Milford pond on Sunday. 

A car went through the ice and is submerged in a pond behind the intersection of Tomahawk Lane and Brooklawn Drive, Milford police said. 

PFC Michael DeVito said it appears that no one was in the car when it went into the lake.

No other details were immediately available for this developing story. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Ex-Wrestler Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka Dies at 73


Professional wrestling legend Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka died Sunday, his family announced. He was 73. 

The news was first widely shared on Twitter by former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. 

"Our family @TaminaSnuka asked me to share the sad news that her dad Jimmy Snuka has just passed away. Alofa atu i le aiga atoa. #RIPSuperfly," Johnson wrote. 

World Wrestling Entertainment confirmed the news on their website Sunday.

"Snuka is regarded by many as the pioneer of high-flying offense because of his Superfly Splash from the top turnbuckle," the company wrote. "His dive off the top of the steel cage onto Don Muraco at Madison Square Garden as hundreds of flash bulbs went off will forever live as one of the most memorable moments in WWE history.

WWE extends its condolences to Snuka’s family, friends."

Photo Credit: Getty
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Drunk Man Caught Stealing Liquor Bottles From Clinton Home


A drunk man was caught trying to steal liquor bottles from a Clinton home, police said. 

A resident of Brush Hill Road called police at 12:38 a.m. on Sunday to report an intruder inside her home. The resident told police she confronted the man and he fled. Police said they conducted a systematic canvass of the area, police said. 

About an hour later, another resident on Carriage Drive called police and said someone was currently in his garage or basement, Clinton Police said. 

Officer already in the area responded and caught the drunk 23-year-old suspect attempting to leave the home through a broken garage window, according to police. 

Samuel Schultz was taken into custody after police found a large bag containing several bottles of alcohol that he was trying to steal from the home, police said. 

Police said they determined that Schultz was responsible for committing both reported burglaries while being highly intoxicated. 

Schultz was charged with two counts of burglary, two counts of disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and sixth-degree larceny. 

His bond was set at $25,000. 

Photo Credit: Clinton Police

Sunny Skies for Monday with a Wintry Mix on Tuesday


Expect a clear and chilly night with temperatures falling back into the teens for most locations. Some of the valley locations could experience single digit temperatures by morning. 

Monday will be a pleasant day with abundant sunshine and temperatures climbing above normal into the low to middle 40s by afternoon. 

The next weather system will be in State on Tuesday. Right now we are forecasting a wintry mix for inland Connecticut and rain for the shoreline. The precipitation will move in during the afternoon hours and likely have an impact on the evening commute.

Areas north of I-84 especially in Litchfield county could experience a prolonged period of freezing rain. We will of course continue to monitor the latest data and update our forecast accordingly. 

Temperatures really warm up for the middle of the week. We're forecasting middle to upper 40s with partly cloudy skies for Wednesday and Thursday. 

Snow lovers, unfortunately we don't have any snow in the forecast for the next 10 days. The good news is it looks like the weather changes to more of a wintry pattern by the end of the month and especially into February.

Several Dogs Die in House Fire in South Windsor


Emergency and fire crews confirm that several dogs have died in a house fire that destroyed a home in South Windsor Sunday night. 

Fire officials said 10 dogs were lost in the fire on Griffin Street. 

According to animal control the dogs were various breeds and ages. 

No people were home when the fire broke out and no injuries to any firefighters have been reported. 

The family who lives in the home has said they bred dogs. 

The cause of the fire has not been determined and is still under investigation. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Trump Quickly Recalling Ambassadors Is ‘Risky Move’: Experts


A plan by Donald Trump to toss out dozens of ambassadors on the day he takes office risks months of uncertainty in some of the most sensitive parts of the world, according to several experts, NBC News reported.

The president-elect's stance that all politically appointed ambassadors must, with no exceptions, be gone from Day One risks cutting off nations' direct line to the president while Congress wades through the lengthy process of approving their successors, analysts said.

This could be especially pertinent because of Trump's penchant for making candid foreign policy statements from his Twitter account; a good ambassador might be able to provide their host government with reassurances and explanation perhaps absent from the president-elect's forthright 140-character messages.

"You do not want to have a situation where countries are left without a direct link to the president for that long," said Julianne Smith, director of the Strategy and Statecraft Program at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Photo Credit: Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Black Vietnam Veterans Reflect on MLK's Anti-War Stance


Martin Luther King, Jr. will be honored as one of the fathers of the civil rights movement on Monday. Many will focus on Selma or the Montgomery bus boycott, and not his opposition to the Vietnam War, as they celebrate his legacy. But for him, it was all part of the same battle.

Milton McIntyre sat in a room at the ACES Museum in Philadelphia before the holiday, surrounded by vintage wartime memorabilia that commemorated the service of black soldiers. When he talked about the friends he lost in Vietnam, his voice cracked and his eyes welled with tears. The 79-year-old remembered a time when human rights were being challenged both abroad and at home.

Asked about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s unpopular view opposing the Vietnam War, he said that when King branched out beyond civil rights to address other movements, he believed that placed a target on King’s back that led to his assassination.

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“I think he was becoming more and more aware that the problem was more than that of a civil issue,” McIntyre said. “It was sort of a global issue. The wars that they were sending us off to were being fought against people who looked like us.”

Near the end of King's life, the civil rights leader drew connections between inequality and factors other than race, like economics. He noticed how poor Americans, many of whom were minorities, were disproportionately affected by the Vietnam War.

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Nearly 50 years ago, on April 4, 1967, 3,000 people gathered at Riverside Church in upper Manhattan to hear King speak at a Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam event. His words would go down in history as some of his most powerful when he decried the government throwing resources into the Vietnam War while ignoring poverty at home. 

“We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem,” King said. “And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.” 

The now acclaimed 1967 speech was one of many times King spoke out against American involvement in Vietnam, both publicly and privately. Harvey Cox, a former professor at Harvard Divinity School and a friend of King’s, remembered when at a meeting of the board of advisers for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King suggested that he might take a page from Mahatma Gandhi’s book and fast to protest the bombings in North Vietnam.

“He was thinking of fasting until they stopped the bombing, which might have meant a long time,” Cox said.

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Even many of King's allies did not support a shift in priority from civil rights to the peace movement, and could not appreciate their nexus. Lyndon B. Johnson was distraught over King's opposition to a war he was determined to win, and the media criticized King for merging domestic and international matters. 

“There are no simple or easy answers to the war in Vietnam or to racial injustice in this country," wrote the editors of The New York Times. "Linking these hard, complex problems will lead not to solutions but to deeper confusion.”

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But American intervention in Vietnam was a civil rights issue. Between October 1966 and June 1969, 41 percent of draftees were black, though only 11 percent of Americans were of African descent. Twenty-two percent of the 58,000 soldiers who died over the course of the war were African American.

At the then predominately black Edison High School in Philadelphia, 54 alumni died in Vietnam, the highest casualty rate nationwide at a high school. Reverend Sharon McClan was a teenager then, and she remembered how shocked everyone was as Edison students returned in body bags, including her friends’ older brothers.

“It really hit me really strong because… some of the brothers I knew,” she said. “And then (in) ’70 and ’71, they were dead. And that’s when I said, ‘Boy, this is a war.’ They were calling it a conflict. I said, ‘This is no conflict. It’s a war. It’s a war. People are dying.'”

When Cox traveled to Europe as part of the Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam to visit soldiers who had gone AWOL, he met a 19-year-old black man who had chosen exile over combat.

“He said that his father was a veteran of World War II, and this guy I think was in the Army,” Cox recalled. “He talked to his father, and with his father he decided that he simply wasn’t going to go to Vietnam. It was an unjust war. It was killing people of color.

“He told his unit he was not going to show up,” Cox continued. “He received a telegram that said that he should report to a certain place, I think a port in Los Angeles, and he would be transported in irons as a prisoner to Vietnam and forced to join his unit. His father looked at the telegram and said ‘no, the white people have kept us in chains too long. They’re not going to keep my son in chains.’”

Cox’s example was not the norm. Most black men did not resist the draft, and many actively chose to defend their country. Herbert Sweat thought that key to his manhood would be earning his wings after five jumps at Fort Benning, Georgia. His father, uncles, brothers, grandfather, and great uncles had all served in the military, and a paratrooper uniform was part of the family wardrobe. But when he enlisted out of high school in the 1960s, it was about more than continuing a tradition.

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“Going in the war wasn’t only a legacy then, or a passage of rights, but again it was to prove myself to be equal and even Americanized,” Sweat said. “Like any other man, you’re supposed to fight for your country.”

After joining up, black troops found themselves in daunting situations on southern bases. Originally from Philadelphia, McIntyre traveled down to Fort Jackson in South Carolina to get his equipment, then loaded onto a military bus to Fort Benning with other recruits.

“We were going down through a pine forest out of which a highway had been cut, and when we reached the border between South Carolina and Georgia there was a big sign board that said ‘Welcome to Georgia, Knights of the KKK,’” McIntyre remembered. “I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m in the Army and I’m on my way to fight for freedom and justice for people I don’t know. And I’ve been welcomed to Georgia by the knights of the KKK.’”

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While soldiers waited for deployment to Vietnam and its surroundings, civil rights activists were staging sit-ins, bus rides, and other peaceful protests. But black G.I.s were urged to think hard before exercising their First Amendment rights.

“As soldiers, sometimes you got punished doubly… if you got in trouble with the law in the town because you protested against segregation and second class treatment,” McIntyre said. “When they released you from jail, you got punished at the Army post as well because you brought dishonor."

"Racism —it was just part of life, it was just part of the culture," he added. "It was no big deal.”

“But when you go into the war, you got to protect each other’s back,” interjected Monroe Handy, another Philadelphian who was stationed in Hawaii and deployed to Laos between 1962 and 1963. “And no matter how much racism you got, you tried not to look at it.”

Overseas, black soldiers were assigned to more dangerous positions than their white, upper-class counterparts. “You thought about that, but you didn’t speak of it,” Handy said. “More or less you had a place and you stayed in it.”

"People of color were still being used as the forebrothers into the worst of job sites," Sweat said. "You would think, ‘I would love to have been a secretary, or an administrative worker,’ where we were on some kind of fire support base, or some kind of rear echelon base." 

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As a veteran service officer and a board member at Black Veterans for Social Justice in New York, Sweat often speaks to other minority veterans who served in more recent conflicts, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They will tell you that even to this day it’s still what’s going on out here in our world,” he said. “There’s still a lot of racism. There’s still a lot of discrimination. There’s still a lot of oppressing the people of color.”

Sweat says he’s keeping a cautious eye on the Black Lives Matter movement to further the work of civil rights advocates like King. 

“When I see a Black Lives movement, these are my children, I feel,” he said. “Do I support them? Of course I do.”

Photo Credit: Alexandra Villarreal
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Trump Signals ‘Insurance for Everybody’


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President-elect Donald Trump said he is working on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that would seek to provide "insurance for everybody," The Washington Post reported Sunday night, according to NBC News.

Trump made the comments in a telephone interview late Saturday, The Post said. He gave no details of his replacement plan.

The Post reported that Trump also said he would force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices of prescriptions covered under Medicare and Medicaid.

"They're politically protected but not anymore," he said, according to The Post.

Photo Credit: AP

Victim Shot, Car Stolen on Kent Road in Norwalk: Police


Norwalk police are investigating after a person was shot and had a car stolen Saturday night.

Police said the incident occurred on Kent Road and the victim’s injuries were not life threatening.

No other details were immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven Homeowner Shoots Alleged Burglar


A suspected burglar was shot trying to enter a home on Pine Street in New Haven Monday morning, according to New Haven police.

New Haven police said around 3:35 a.m. a man allegedly trying to break into a home at 199 Pine Street was shot by the homeowner. It appears a male in his mid-30s forced the front door open and the homeowner shot him.

The suspect was hit in the shoulder and alert when transported from the scene, police said.

Police said a neighbor called 911 to report the shooting.

The homeowner used a legally registered handgun and is cooperating with police.

No charges have been filed at this time but New Haven police are actively investigating the incident.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

John Lewis Leads Charge Against Trump as US Marks MLK Day


John Lewis may turn 77 next month — but he's energized and ready to rumble as Donald Trump's presidency approaches, NBC News reported. As America honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis — member of Congress, Freedom Rider, top organizer of the 1963 March on Washington — is taking on a new fight.

Lewis, D-Georgia, said in an interview on NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday, that he doesn't believe Trump is a "legitimate president" and that he wouldn't be attending the presidential inauguration for the first time in his 30-year political career.

Lewis is set to speak to be the keynote speaker for the Martin Luther King Scholarship Breakfast in Miami on Monday. Lewis is the final surviving member of the Big Six, a group of civil rights leaders, including King, that led the massive March on Washington, D.C., in 1963. Lewis, the youngest member of the Big Six at age 23, took to the same podium where King gave his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.

In 1965, Lewis was severely injured by Alabama state troopers during a march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery. "When I go back, I remember. The bridge for me is almost a sacred place," he said, referring to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where protesters were met with violence. "That's where some of us gave a little blood and where some people almost died."

Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
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