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Girl's Treehouse, Taller Than Law Allows, Could Be Torn Down


An 8-year-old New Jersey girl's treehouse might have to be torn down after a neighbor has complained that it violates city laws.
Katie Tenebruso's family built the 19-foot-tall treehouse as a birthday present last summer. It cost $6,000 to build, and features swings, windows and a staircase.
"I don't like being in the house all the time, I like being outside more," Katie said.
Her mother, Paula Tenebruso, says she researched the town's laws before the work began on the structure.
"I called the town and asked if there were laws governing treehouses and I was told 'No,' so we went ahead and built it," she said.
After a neighbor complained, the family was in court Thursday, arguing to keep the structure.
They will need a variance to bypass Emerson town laws that require sheds and other auxiliary structures to stand no taller than 15 feet. The family will also need proof of insurance to keep the playhouse.
No decision was made Thursday — the family applied for a zoning permit and will be back in court next month.
Several other neighbors have written letters on the family's behalf, saying they like the treehouse and want it to stay.
Some of them argue that it's healthy to promote outdoor play instead of electronics.
"The kids have a ball in there, I don't understand what the big deal is," said neighbor Marci Piserchia.


Grumpiness Leads to Productivity, Study Finds


Grumpiness can lead to productivity, a new study's findings suggest.

A recent study published in the Academy of Management Journal found that creativity improves when people experience negative emotions at the start of their day and shift to a more positive outlook by the end of it.

Examining 102 people, researchers discovered that people who begin their day in a negative state are more motivated to focus on solving problems than those who are in a positive state throughout the day.

"Firstly, the narrow, alert focus on issues can be useful by focusing on things that are in need of a solution and spurring motivation to act on these," The British Psychology Society explained in its Occupational Digest. "Once this focus has been set, allowing the negative emotions to slide away and positive emotions to explore the possibility space is a good recipe for getting to innovative solutions."

The study does not show when creative spurts occur, but it is important to not dismiss negativity, the researchers said. Instead, it can be used to channel creativity.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Letters Ask Judge to Teach Jesse Jackson Jr. a Lesson


While the court files are packed with sympathetic and supportive letters for former Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Sandi, who will be sentenced in a Washington, D.C., courtroom next week, others have not been so generous.

“Please do not be too soft on Jesse Jackson Jr.,” writes Aris Tomac of University Park, Ill. “He needs to learn his lesson.”

“Many of us in his district would like to see him in prison for a long time,” Tomac adds.

Bob Miller of Chicago warns Judge Amy Berman Jackson that the argument that the Jacksons’ children need them “is a false one.”

“Everyone who is incarcerated has someone who needs them,” Miller writes. “Although I am currently out of work, I have worked for nearly forty years, and can assure you was never able to accumulate a Rolex watch, elk heads, or mink capes for my wife.”

Chicagoan Patricia Coleman, who tells the judge she has a “clinical background,” calls Jackson’s claim that his bipolar condition contributed to his actions “absolutely ridiculous.”

“These individuals who have gained the trust of so many should pay dearly for their illegal actions,” Coleman tells the judge in a letter dated June 9. “I know the Jacksons have young children, and frankly I don’t care, as they should have thought of that before engaging in these activities.”

“An example needs to be set to ensure that people think twice before engaging in felony activities.”

John Polacek of Evergreen Park, Ill., says Jackson and his wife conspired to deceive the public.

“Once the power couple of Chicago has now become infamous culture of public corruption,” he writes. “History proves Illinois is a cesspool of corrupt politicians and putting them behind bars does not seem to be a deterrent.”

Far outside Jackson’s former district, Larry Ettner of Lincolnshire says the former congressman and his wife gave little or no consideration to the voters who put them in office. 

“If the Jacksons had not been confronted and caught, they would be living off others with little or no remorse,” he writes. “Thus they need to confront their crimes and be punished to the full extent of the law.”

The Jacksons face sentencing July 3.

Photo Credit: AP

Police Seek Second Man in Connection to Hernandez Case


Police say they're seeking another man in connection with the killing of Odin Lloyd.

Authorities issued an alert and wanted poster for Ernest Wallace, who's considered armed and dangerous. They say he's wanted for accessory after the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd last week in North Attleboro, Mass., near the former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's home.

State police say they're also looking for a silver or gray 2012 Chrysler 300 with Rhode Island license plates 451-375.   Wallace was seen driving that vehicle.

North Attleboro police confirm the last known address of Wallace as 114 Lake Ave. in Bristol. That is the same home police searched on Wednesday. The house is listed as the home of Hernandez's uncle.

Hernandez has been charged with murder for what prosecutors say was Lloyd's execution-style killing. He was denied bail Thursday. His lawyer says he wants to clear his name.

Another man was arrested Wednesday in Hernandez's hometown of Bristol, Conn., as part of the investigation. The Patriots cut Hernandez that day.
Associated Press/NBC Connecticut

Top News Photos of the Week

US & Senegal's First Families: First Lady Michelle Obama and US President Barack Obama pose with Senegal President Macky Sall (R) and his wife Marieme Faye Sall (L) on June 27, 2013 outside the presidential palace before meetings in Dakar to kick off the Obamas' weeklong trip to Africa. Click to see more photos from June 21 through June 28.

Residents Call on Mayor to Help Clean Up Neighborhood


Dozens of Waterbury residents held a meeting Thursday night and demanded the city to get involved in cleaning up their neighborhood.

The dozens of abandoned homes in the Willow Plaza Neighborhood have been more than just an eyesore. Willow Plaza includes 45 abandoned houses in a radius less than three miles.

“It’s disgusting, it really is,” explained Cynthia Robinson of Waterbury. She lives by a few of them on Elmwood Avenue, and says she has had enough. “You’re scared to come home at night. You don't know whose coming at you out of these abandoned buildings,” Robinson said.

Robinson told NBC Connecticut the homes are not just an invitation for criminals. The dilapidated buildings are hurting property values. “I'm just done. I’m tired," she said. I want to sell my house, but I know if I sell it, what am I going to get, $45,000?”

The community faced the mayor Thursday night and demanded change.

“This neighborhood is probably in one of the worst states it’s ever been in,” Mayor Neil O’Leary explained.  He said plans were in the works to clean up the mess absentee landlords left behind. “This is one of our top priorities right now,” O’Leary said.

The mayor said some abandoned homes would be leveled in the next few weeks. The goal is to find new owners for all the nuisance properties in the coming months, owners that will help this neighborhood flourish.

“Proof is in the pudding… you can talk the talk if you can walk the walk, that's what it boils down to,” said Robinson. 

After nearly a decade of dealing with this, neighbors just need their quality of life to improve.


City of New Britain Releases Storm Report


"A city potentially put at risk," was the phrase used in a new report to describe New Britain during the February blizzard.

The city ordered up an independent review and found that it has work to do.

"It was a good opportunity for the city to just review our procedures and our responses during an emergency situation," said New Britain Democratic Alderman David DeFronzo. DeFronzo pushed for the bipartisan committee report.

Several recommendations were made, including the necessity of updating an outdated radio system.

Mayor Tim O'Brien said the upgrade was in the works before the blizzard hit. The improvement would cost about five million dollars.

"We have actually already done most of the things in that report because they also came up in our internal review," said O'Brien.

The city has also begun to compile a list of at-risk populations like the homebound.

"So that we can identify them before a storm and get in touch with them to make sure their needs are met," said DeFronzo.

Even with further preparations being made to battle the next emergency weather event, the city hopes the once-in-a-hundred-year storm really does stay away for the next one hundred years.

The Common Council will hold a special meeting Thursday at 8 p.m. Included on the agenda is discussion of getting funds for items listed on the report including snow blower attachments and heavier equipment.

New Owner for Historic Race Rock Lighthouse


New London's historic Race Rock Lighthouse has a new owner. 

The lighthouse, formerly under the control of the federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA), was transferred to the New London Maritime Society on Thursday at no cost.

Race Rock was used as a beacon for boats near Fishers Island and the northeastern end of Long Island Sound as far back as 1879. Most lighthouses like Race Rock allowed the young U.S. economy to grow by facilitating the trading of goods on the seas. 

“These lighthouses are what made it possible for America to become the economic powerhouse that it became during the 20th century,” said GSA Regional Administrator Robert Zarnetske.

The transfer of Race Rock is a win-win situation – the federal government removed it from its books, meaning taxpayer dollars don't have to pay for upkeep anymore, and New London can add it as a maritime tourist attraction. 

“Now adding Race Rock, it’s possible to have boat tours of all of these lighthouses, which is one of the most historic maritime corridors in the Northeast,” said New London Mayor Daryl Finizio.

For locals, Race Rock means more than just history.

“I go to sleep every night hearing it,” said New London boater Scott Loring. “With the tidal current and so forth, [lighthouses] mean everything still today.”

The National Light House Preservation Act has already transferred 96 lighthouses out of the federal government’s hands, most of them at no cost to preservationists.

Suspect in Theft of PTO Funds Charged


Ansonia police have charged a 48-year-old local woman with larceny in connection with the alleged theft of funds from the Prendergast School Parent Teacher Organization in Ansonia, police said.

Police said around $21,000 was missing from the account and a complaint made in January 2012.

Police served a warrant around noon on Thursday and Kelly Kahyaoglu turned herself in, police said.

Kahyaoglu was charged with larceny in the first degree, given a court date of July 11 at Derby Superior Court and released on a promise to appear.

Photo Credit: Ansonia Police

Man Charged With Hate Crime in Assault on Wesleyan Professor


Middletown police have charged a man with a hate crime in connection with an attack on a Wesleyan professor.

The incident occurred Monday evening in front of LaBoca Restaurant on Main Street. Officers were alerted to a disturbance and saw a man running from the scene.

The victim told police he was waiting for a car to leave a parking space in front of the restaurant and was about to pull his car into the space, when a man on a motorcycle sped the wrong way down Main Street and took the parking space. The victim got out of his car to complain when two men, both wearing red baseball caps approached him and told him to get back in his car.

According to the victim, one of the men, later identified by police as Jason Levesque, began to assault him and shouted racial slurs at him during the attack.

Levesque, 32, fled on foot, but was found a short time later in an "employee only" room at LaBoca Restaurant, according to police. Officers found Levesque's red baseball cap, with the word "NOMADS" on it, nearby.

Officers asked Levesque if he was a member of the Nomads Outlaw biker gang, but Levesque told them he didn't know what they were talking about, police said.

Levesque also told police that the victim threatened him with a gun, but no weapon was found and the victim told police he has never owned a gun.

Levesque is charged with second-degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias, breach of peace and interfering with an officer. He was released on $25,000 bond and is scheduled to be in court July 3.

Photo Credit: Middletown Police

Army Blocks Newspaper Website With NSA Leaks


Government workers at the Presidio in Monterey were blocked from accessing parts of the Guardian newspaper's website this week according to reports.

The Guardian was one of the outlets to first publish information about accused leaker Edward Snowden, a former NSA worker who provided details about secret spying programs to the public.

Workers at the Presidio of Monterey -- including the United States Military's Defense Language Institute with thousands of active-duty military personnel as students -- were not able to access parts of the Guardian's online presence this week, the Monterey Herald reported.

The source of the block is still being located. The Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command is in control of network access, the newspaper reported, and was not yet sure Wednesday where the block in the network originated.

It could be a block initiated locally at the Presidio, according to reports.

Access to the Washington Post, which also broke news of Snowden's leak was not blocked, the newspaper reported.

Photo Credit: AP

One Killed in I-95 Crash in Greenwich


A 57-year-old Weston man was killed while attempting to change a tire on a tractor-trailer along Interstate 95 in Greenwich early Friday morning.

Police said Henry Wagmeisler, a 57-year-old technician from Weston, responded to change a tire on a disabled tractor-trailer by exit 2. He was outside his service truck when another tractor-trailer hit his  vehicle just before 3 a.m., according to state police.

Wagmeisler was killed.

The driver of the disabled truck, Landy Narcisse-Parra, 25, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, suffered minor injuries and was transported to Stamford Hospital.

Police said Garfield Simmonds, 48, of Florida, was driving the truck that hit Wagmeisler’s vehicle and was also transported for medical treatment.

The crash is under investigation. 

The northbound side of the highway was closed for hours as police responded.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Teen Arrested in Shooting Death of NJ High School Grad


A New Jersey teenager has been arrested in the shooting death of a high school senior who was killed just hours after he received his diploma at his graduation ceremony, prosecutors say. 

Casey Cole, 18, of Wayne, N.J. faces murder and robbery charges in the killing of Isaac Rinas, also 18. The Passaic County prosecutor's office says Cole shot Rinas in the neck inside Rinas' vehicle in Paterson, N.J. 

Rinas walked the stage in a cap and gown at Wayne Valley High School Wednesday, then made a trip to nearby Paterson, N.J., according to authorities. Rinas stopped his Infiniti in front of a building on Fair Street, and an armed man entered his car and demanded money.

Prosecutors have not said why Rinas was targeted or why he stopped in Paterson. Another teen who was in the car with Rinas was not injured. 

Bail has been set for Cole at $2 million. Attorney information was not immediately available.

Friends and family gathered at Rinas' home Thursday night to remember the graduate who they said loved football, his family and friends.

"He was happy. He was thrilled," said one classmate. "Everyone was thrilled to graduate, to party. He was a great guy." 

"He was a very friendly person," said another friend, Manny Espinal. "If you got to know him, you would know he was a very caring guy." 


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Thousands Celebrate Chicago Blackhawks Victory


Holding the Stanley Cup high to thousands of cheering Blackhawks fans, team captain Jonathan Toews described it all as "unbelievable."

"For the guys that were here in 2010, we didn't think there was a chance we could match that performance by the fans," Toews told the crowd, "but you guys did somehow. This shows how unbelievable this city is."

It was a moment throngs of fans waited all morning for.

Buses departed the United Center just before 10:30 a.m. local time, to kick off the team's Stanley Cup victory parade en route to Grant Park

Thousands of fans gathered in Grant Park hours before gates were set to open Friday morning for a victory rally and parade to celebrate the team's win. Fans began arriving as early as 1 a.m. CDT for a rally planned at Hutchinson Field roughly at 11 a.m CDT.

Chants of "USA, USA" were heard as Jim Cornelison completed the National Anthem. Team leaders and players were announced to raucous applause and cheers.

"We will never waver from our one goal," Hawks CEO and President John McDonough told a sea of red-clad fans.

"To each and every one of you, I can't tell you how proud we are of you," Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz said of the players. "When people ask me what you guys are like, I tell them you're incredible, you're decent young men, a little furry at times but without question, truly gifted athletes."

The last victory celebration for the Stanley Cup-winning team, in 2010, drew a crowd that officials estimated to be nearly two million people. A ticker tape-covered crowd stretched all the way to Grant Park, and throngs of fans crowded the intersection of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue to celebrate that Stanley Cup victory.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Metal Clipboard With Flight Docs Mysteriously Falls from Sky


A Long Island, NY, man is still shaken after he says a metal object plummeted from the sky and slammed into the pavement just feet from where he was standing outside his home Thursday.

Gus Binos was washing a van outside his home at about 3:30 p.m. when he heard the startling noise -- a metal clipboard landing 20 feet from where he was standing in the driveway of his home on Oakwood Drive in the Suffolk County hamlet of Shirley.

"I just jumped and turned," Binos said.

"Wow, what if I got hit with it?" Binos said. "It is a very sharp piece of metal. I mean, with the velocity that it was coming down, it would have stuck a hole in my head."

Jammed inside the clip was a thin stack of aviation documents, including flight patterns and navigation guidelines for flying through New York City's Hudson River corridor and around the Statue of Liberty. The clipboard also held a runway map of nearby MacArthur Airport in Islip.

Adam Rosenberg, who is both a pilot and an FAA examiner, uses a clipboard similar to the one that landed in Binos's driveway. The clipboard has a strap that can secure to an aviator's leg, allowing for flight papers to sit on the lap while both hands are at the controls.

It's possible, Rosenberg said, that a pilot accidentally left the clipboard resting on the exterior of the aircraft before takeoff.

"Sometimes in the process of preparing to 'pre-flight' an airplane, or after you get out of an aircraft, you will put something on the wing. However, the odds of it making it off the airport property once the airplane begins taking off are very slim," Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg said it is highly unusual -- but not unheard of -- for a pilot to accidentally lose an item like a clipboard while in mid-air. A cockpit door could accidentally come open and some planes have exposed cockpits.

Jim Peters, a spokesperson for the FAA, said it is not mandatory for a pilot to report when a personal item accidentally falls from an aircraft. Official reports are required, however, if something falls to the ground that might impact the air-worthiness of an aircraft.

"If a part of a plane becomes loose, they must report it," Peters said.

Peters said FAA investigators want to speak with Binos and examine the clipboard to find out where it came from.

Girl's Treehouse Sparks Court Battle


An 8-year-old New Jersey girl's treehouse might have to be torn down after a neighbor has complained that it violates city laws. NBC 4 New York's Jen Maxfield reports.

Chicago Blackhawks Parade, Rally Pose Big Security Challenge


Long suffering Chicago sports fans dream of days like a Blackhawks victory parade, but for law enforcement personnel such events are security nightmares.

"Boston was a reawakening," says former Chicago police commander Neil Sullivan, noting that police can't afford to assume that such a happy event will be ignored by those who would do Chicagoans harm.

"We have to be right 100 percent of the time," he says. "They only have to be right once."

Sullivan has played the scenarios over hundreds of times. During four decades with Chicago police, he helped design security plans for countless big events, ranging from sports championships, to the 1996 Democratic Convention, and President Obama's 2008 victory rally in Grant Park.

"Our citizens today are the ultimate force multiplier," he says, noting that in a long un-secured area like a parade route, police can't see everything, but often, citizens will.

"If you had a trash container and you see a fellow with a backpack and all of a sudden the individual abandons it and puts it into a garbage can....a perfectly good backpack in a garbage can?"

He urges citizens at such events not to be shy.

"If you saw somebody put a backpack down and just walk, stroll away, say 'Sir, sir, you forgot your backpack!' If that individual ignores you, get a good look at him from head to toe, and look immediately for somebody from public safety," Sullivan advised.

Now a private security consultant, Sullivan makes clear he was not a fan of tight venues like the 2010 Blackhawks victory rally at Michigan and Wacker or the White Sox party five years earlier at LaSalle and Wacker.

This year's event will be held on Hutchinson field at the south end of Grant Park. It's a wide but confined space, which will have only two entrances.

"They're following the same model that we used in 2008 for the Obama rally," he says. "basically it's an easy venue to secure for a public event, because there's limited streets to it."

Sadly, everything has to be taken into account. And with that in mind, organizers know that the Grant Park site is also much easier to evacuate than the previous spots on Wacker Drive.

"If something were to happen, the crowd is going to be able to move, and move more freely," he says. "Because there's unlimited areas they can escape to."

The Blackhawks victory rally is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. NBC Chicago's coverage begins at 9 a.m.

Businesses Prep for Parade, Rally


Object Falling from Sky Nearly Lands on Man


A Long Island New York man is still shaken after he says a metal object fell from the sky and slammed into the pavement just feet from where he was standing outside his home Thursday. Chris Glorioso reports.

4-Woman Ring Drugs, Steals From Men: Deputies


Florida authorities are searching for a four-member ring of women who have gone home with men they meet at upscale bars, drug them and then steal from them.

The Broward Sheriff's Office has gotten arrest warrants for Subhanna Beyah, 25, Johnnina Miller, 25, Keshia Clark, 27, and Ryan Elkins, 23. They target men and steal money, guns, jewelry and other valuable items from them, authorities said.

Beyah has identified herself as Crystal at least once, the sheriff's office said. A man ran into her at an upscale restaurant on Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas Boulevard one Saturday night in March, they talked and went to his Pompano Beach house where she made him a vodka cocktail, according to authorities.

He woke up the next afternoon, she was gone and so was $6,000 in cash and four watches – two Rolexes, a Cartier and a Paniere – which were in his bedroom. They were worth about $100,000.

A detective who worked the case created a composite sketch of Crystal. Beyah has an extensive criminal history, authorities said. 

“It's sad," said Giselle Thackray, who was out on Las Olas Boulevard Thursday night. "You think you're going out for fun and all of a sudden just wake up. It's bad.”

Anyone with information about these crimes should contact Det. Ron Cusumano at (954) 786-4200 or report information anonymously at (954) 493-TIPS (8477) or online at www.browardcrimestoppers.org.  A reward of up to $1,000 will be paid for an anonymous tip that leads to an arrest.

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Photo Credit: Broward County Sheriff's Office

Perry and Davis Clash in Texas Abortion Debate


Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday admonished the star of a Democratic filibuster that helped kill new Texas abortion restrictions, saying state Sen. Wendy Davis' rise from a tough upbringing to Harvard Law graduate should have taught her the value of each human life.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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