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Low-Cost Health Clinics See Increase in Calls as ACA Repeal Looms


With President Donald Trump eager to repeal the Affordable Care Act, some low-cost health clinics said they’ve been seeing an increase in the number of calls from people who are worried they may lose health coverage.

While anyone currently insured under the Affordable Care Act is guaranteed coverage through 2017, concerns over what’s next has one East Hartford clinic busier than ever.

First Choice Health Centers provides both primary and specialty care services from behavioral health to OBGYN services, but Dr. Tess Kryspin Lombard, chief medical officer at First Choice, said as the Trump Administration talks about repealing the Affordable Care Act, the clinic is receiving a number of worried callers.

“People are definitely worried people that were able to qualify for insurance previously are now concerned that they’re not going to be able to,” said Lombard.

Some of those people are exploring low-cost clinics, like First Choice Health Centers.

“We do have the benefit that for people without insurance to be able to get covered still. We take care of patients regardless of their ability to pay through our sliding fee scale,” said Lombard.

Depending on that person’s income level and the number of people in their household – they can receive discounted rates.

Of course it's all contingent on the service they’d receive, but they can pay as low as $20 in co-pays.

It’s an option Tracey Poulin, who has health insurance through the ACA, said she may have to explore.

“If I needed to be seen by a physician I would if I did not have Obamacare because obviously the ER would be more expensive,” said Poulin.

She just started a new job. And says she likely wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance provided by her company.

“I’ll probably be in big trouble,” said Poulin.

The ultimate message from First Choice Health Centers CMO is that they're ready to help.

“It really is a matter of saying to patients and saying to everyone it’s going to be OK. We will work with you no matter what happens,” said Lombard.

The number or patients the clinic has been getting has also increased.

Lombard said each year over the last 4 years the number of patients at First Choice has grown by 12 percent and now they serve more than 20 thousand patients.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/OJO Images RF

New Britain Bakery Opens in New Location


A New Britain bakery has opened it’s doors once again Wednesday.

For the last 16 years, the Borinquen Bakery has been serving food specializing in Puerto Rican cuisine here on Arch Street. The curtains there are closed.

But not because they’re closed for good; they moved to a much larger facility down the road.

The grand opening was held before city leaders and the community.

Co-owners Mary Ortiz and Katherine Robles say it wasn’t easy to open the new bakery.

“We definitely implemented different techniques as far as custom cakes we started off with traditional ones and throughout the past 3 years we’ve been working hard to attract different customers, and do different things and I think that really showed through,” said Robles.

That's when business started booming.

They started with 14 employees and with the expansion, hired four more. They are still hoping to hire at least another 10 people.

The best part for Mayor Erin Stewart? The bakery stayed in New Britain – still on Arch Street.

“It just goes to show that we have businesses that are maintaining their presence here, they want to be a part of our New Britain community, they’ve worked extremely close with our department of economic development and our chamber of commerce to help make this happen and we’re just really glad to be able to support them along the way,” said Mayor Erin Stewart.

The city has previously designated Arch street as the “Barrio Latino.” It's similar to what Little Poland is to the polish community in New Britain.

The mayor said today’s opening is just one step closer to revitalizing the “Barrio Latino”.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

HPD, Wool Company Venture in City Tunnels to Give Out Socks


Hartford Police Department (HPD) teamed up with a wool apparel company to give out nearly 100 pairs of socks to homeless people in the capital city on Valentine's Day. 

The company, WEWOOL, and officers passed out wool socks, shoes and hand warmers to the homeless community in Hartford with hopes that the act was appreciated by those who might not have shelter during these frigid days.

"To put it quite simply, yesterday morning we made a choice," WEWOOL CEO Matt Siracusa said, according to Hartford Police.

HPD and WEWOOL bundled up and ventured into tunnels and under highway bridges at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Their mission was to find individuals who are not often visited and provide them with a few things to keep them warm this winter season, WEWOOL said. 

"(It) might seem silly to most that a pair of socks can change someone’s life, but until you have seen a grown man cry after receiving them you cannot truly understand," Siracusa said.

The team traveled about 100 yards deep into a train tunnel to find homeless individuals sleeping in temperatures less than 20 degrees. They delivered over 100 pairs of Alpaca and Merino wool socks, cheering up the lives of those who truly needed it.

WEWOOL donates a pair of socks to World Vision USA for every pair bought, which was instated by their charity policy. 

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

UConn, State Colleges Face Budget Crunch


The governor's budget didn't spare cuts to both of the state's college systems, UConn and the Connecticut State College and Universities.

In the case of UConn, it faces close to $30 million in overall reductions, while the CSCU system faces $38 million.

"We’ll manage the cut that he’s given us but it’s very worrisome," said UConn President Susan Herbst during testimony to the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee, Wednesday.

Mark Ojakian, the President of the CSCU system, took a proactive step Wednesday by announcing a hiring freeze for all campuses.

“I think it’s important not only to send a message that budget cuts are serious but that we are not going to be staffing up at a time when we need be cutting and looking at costs throughout the system," Ojakian said.

But new Appropriations Committee Chair Senator Cathy Osten said as the state tackles a $1.5 billion budget deficit in 2018, and a $1.7 billion deficit in 2019, every agency and institution will face heightened scrutiny.

“I think higher education, and any part of the budget needs to be looked at the same. We have to make sure we can afford what we put forward and that will be in conjunction with expenses and those two numbers need to balance and that’s what I’m going to look at.”

UConn Student Body President Daniel Byrd made the argument to lawmakers that UConn is as much an economic development as it is a taxpayer retention tool.

“Yes, we need to maintain our academic programs but my case at least to the state is that this state is in dire economic straits, we have people fleeing this state, I think we’re the number one state in terms of people who don’t want to live here. If you want people to stay here and pay taxes, you have to invest in UConn," he said.

Ojakian also discussed how he intends to take a deep look into the way his system spends money across all departments.

“Everything needs to be on the table. If you look around the country, with systems that have had similar challenges, you will see consolidations, closures, mergers, shared services. We are trying to learn from those as best practices and be sensitive to the state that we live in which is Connecticut,” Ojakian said.

Osten said such moves won't do many favors in a struggling state.

“I’m glad they’re recognizing the economic state of the State of Connecticut and I appreciate them acting proactively on a piece of it, but that does not solve our whole problem and we need to look at this comprehensively," Osten said. “Higher education is important, but it’s not any more important than any other piece of the budget.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Windsor Students Taught How Syrian Refugee Impacts


High school students at a CREC Academy School in Windsor are showing off two projects they've built aimed at helping Syrian refugee's in our state.

The 9th grade students were given an assignment after completing the immigration lesson in their U.S. History class and students had to create something that would impact Syrian refugees in Connecticut.

"I wanted to make sure they understood immigration from a different standpoint " said History Teacher Parag Bhuva.

One group created an adjusted Google Map which highlights mosques, restaurants and offices Syrian refugees could visit in Hartford.

"When we all started putting all these layers and points i realized this is going to benefit everybody," said student Ethan Goodman.

The second project is an app that helps refugee's understand American sayings.

"If I were to type 'blue' into this, you would see it automatically pops up, 'I'm feeling blue,' and 'I have the blues'. I can click on feeling blue it would give you a basic definition of feeling blue is basically feeling sad," said student Ben Keilty.

The students showed off their projects a room full of Syrian families. Student said the families enjoyed the projects.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Autistic, Emaciated Teen Dies in Hartford, Mom in Custody


The mother of a severely autistic teen in Hartford- who appeared to be emaciated- was arrested on Wednesday after her son died the day before, police said. 

Matthew Tirado was pronounced dead at 5:15 a.m. on Tuesday after Hartford Police said he was brought to the hospital a couple hours earlier. 

"The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) contacted us here at the police department and said they wanted to show us some suspicious things with the victim," Deputy Chief Brian Foley told NBC Connecticut. 

The 17-year-old, who police learned was severely autistic, was 5'9", weighed approximately 88 pounds and had injuries like cuts, bruises and broken bones, Foley said. 

On Tuesday, a caller reported at 2:53 a.m. that the boy had been sick and vomiting at an apartment on 519 Park Street before he was transported to the Hartford Hospital. When the OCME called down detectives, police began to investigate the incident as a homicide, Hartford Police said. 

The OCME has not concluded the autopsy and it is pending further studies. 

The investigation led to the arrest of the boy's mother, Katiria Tirado, 33 on Wednesday. She has been charged with cruelty of a person and her bond was set at $200,000.

Tirado has outstanding motor vehicle-related arrest warrants in Wethersfield but has no criminal history in Hartford, Foley said. 

While the teen had sustained burises on his arms, face and chest, along with broken bones, another child living in the Park Street apartment was in "good health" and underwent evaluation, according to Foley. 

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

GOP Chairmen Ask DOJ Watchdog to Probe Flynn Leaks


House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asked the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate leaks of classified information that led to the resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn stepped down late Monday following reports he misled Vice President Mike Pence about contacts with a Russian diplomat.

In a joint letter sent to Michael Horowitz Tuesday night, the chairmen of two powerful committees expressed “serious concerns about the potential inadequate protection of classified information” and asks the DOJ to launch an “immediate” investigation.

“According to some of the reports, the information may come from classified intelligence products. In one case, reports indicate the National Security Division of the Department of Justice applied for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to intercept electronic records from Russian banks,” they wrote. “Other reports cite to a U.S. intelligence agency’s monitoring of Flynn’s call or calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.”

The congressmen notes that intelligence agencies collection activities and the information gathered during those pursuits are considered classified. “The release of classified national security information can, by definition, have grave effects on national security,” they add.

“In light of this, we request that your office begin an immediate investigation into whether classified information was mishandled,” they said.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump criticized the intelligence agencies that he oversees and the media for what he described as unfair treatment of Flynn and for "illegally leaked" information and reported contacts between his campaign aides and Russian officials.

“From intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. It’s criminal action, criminal act, and it’s been going on for a long time, before me, but now it’s really going on,” the president said during a White House news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “People are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.”

Trump repudiated a New York Times report that alleged his aides engaged in "repeated" contact with Russian officials throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, taking to his Twitter account on Wednesday morning to blast the intelligence community for continuing to leak information to the media.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are demanding the formation of an independent, bipartisan panel to examine possible links between the Trump administration and Russia intelligence officials. At issue is whether Flynn broke diplomatic protocol and potentially the law by discussing U.S. sanctions with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, before Trump's inauguration. The sanctions were imposed in December by former President Barack Obama after U.S. intelligence reported that Russia had interfered in the presidential election.

The Times’ report Tuesday night raised further questions and prompted Democratic leaders to convene an emergency meeting of its caucus Wednesday.

Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said after the meeting that Democrats also want the Justice Department to continue investigating the allegations that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in an attempt to help Trump win. But they are insisting that former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., now the attorney general, recluse himself from the proceedings.

Schumer also said Democrats believe an independent investigation was the best way to answer questions about the Trump administration's ties to Russia. But Republican leaders continue to refuse to consider that option and said three congressional investigations underway were enough.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Changes Coming to New Britain School Uniforms


Changes are coming for students in the New Britain consolidated school district when it comes to their uniforms.

Students at elementary and middle schools within the New Britain consolidated school district have to wear uniforms. Beginning next school year all students must wear either khaki or blue pants. For shirts students must wear only white or navy blue collared shirts.

"If we just go to that white or navy blue no matter where they move if they have to move in the city for hardship or whatever reason they have to move into the city they will go into the school and have the exact same uniform," said Superintendent of New Britain Consolidated School District Nancy Sarra.

If parents have difficulty affording the new clothes the school is offering help.

"We are also looking to do a uniform swap because a lot of our children, as they grow they grow out of their clothing. So we'll take gently used clothing and we'll have sites available at the building," Said Sarra.

The first "uniform swap" is being planned for August 2017.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Metro-North Connecticut Branches Lose Ridership


From New Canaan to Waterbury to Danbury, ridership on Metro North's Connecticut branch lines fell in 2016, compared to the year prior, the fifth time in six years that's happened.

While the decreases on all three lines were less than 3 percent, it stands in stark contrast to the increase in riders on the New Haven Line, the busiest commuter rail line in the country.

"When you start to tell people that their train isn't guaranteed to be on time and they're not even guaranteed a train, they're not coming. It's that simple," said Jim Gildea of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council, an independent board selected by the governor and legislature to advocate for commuters.

He says it's not just reliability issues that are driving commuters away. "Sit in old cars that are antiquated, that on good days the heating and air conditioning doesn't work and on bad days the toilets and the restrooms don't work and it's not a pleasant experience," he added.

Like many things in this world and in Connecticut, the fix appears to be more funds. "I think it's time that the state of Connecticut, who has the Let's Go Connecticut funds, had money appropriated and available, start to show the branch lines the same level of respect and commitment and move ahead on purchasing new equipment for those lines as well," said Gildea.

The good news is that the branch in Waterbury will be getting a $70 million upgrade. But it won't be complete until the end of 2018. And there is no scheduled upgrade to the branches in Danbury or New Canaan.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Meet Harvard Law Review’s First Black Female President


ImeIme Umana made history when she was elected the first black female president of the Harvard Law Review, following behind a pretty famous president who made history 27 years ago. In 1990, former President Barack Obama became the publication's first black president as a 28-year-old law student. 

As NBC News reported, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, native received a Bachelor's degree in African American studies and government from the Harvard College in 2014 and is a third-year student at Harvard Law School as well as the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

She has been actively involved in politics and law on campus as community Aation chair of the Harvard University Institute of Politics, professional developmental chair for Public Interest for the Harvard Black Law Students Association, and criminal law intern for Public Defender Service.

"It is a great privilege to be able to serve and work with the remarkably talented and committed group of editors on the Law Review," Umana said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Harvard Law Review

Trump's Budget Chief Pick Set to Be Confirmed


Mick Mulvaney gained a key Senate supporter Wednesday, all but clearing his path to confirmation to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, NBC News reported.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, had been withholding backing for Mulvaney, conservative member of the House from South Carolina, but she said Wednesday that she would support him, likely giving him the support of the majority of senators.

The Senate is set to vote on Mulvaney on Thursday morning. The Senate will then to move to debate the confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mulvaney's confirmation vote comes the day after fast food chain chief executive Andy Puzder became the first Cabinet nominee to withdraw as his support, even among Republicans, waned.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Man Struck in Wallingford Is in Critical Condition


A 74-year-old Meriden man was hit by a car in Wallingford on Wednesday night and is in critical condition. 

Police said Frederick Krampitz, 74, of Meriden, was trying to cross the road at Main Street and Route 68 in the Yalesville section of Wallingford just before 6:30 p.m. when a 57-year-old Wallingford woman in a 2003 Toyota Corolla hit him. 

Krampitz was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital and police said he is in critical condition and has life-threatening injuries.

Police noted that the area Krampitz was hit in was flat, straight and relatively well lit, but there was heavy rain. 

The road was closed for several hours and police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Anthony Baur at 203-294-2819 or Lt. Anthony DeMaio at 203-294-2838.

Photo Credit: Stringr

Discovery of Likely Alien Worlds Has Scientists Buzzing


Astronomers have spotted more than 100 new potential alien planets, including one in the fourth-closest star system to the sun, a new study reports.

This haul of newfound possible exoplanets, which have yet to be confirmed as bona fide alien worlds, comes from a new analysis of 20 years' worth of data gathered by the HIRES (High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer) instrument at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

"HIRES was not specifically optimized to do this type of exoplanet detective work, but has turned out to be a workhorse instrument of the field," study co-author Steve Vogt, of the University of California, Santa Cruz, said in a statement. "I am very happy to contribute to science that is fundamentally changing how we view ourselves in the universe," added Vogt, who designed and built HIRES.

Photo Credit: Getty

HPD Arrests 2, Seizes 746 Bags of Heroin in Narcotics Op


Harford police officers conducting a covert narcotic operation arrested two people and seized over 700 bags of heroin in a sting Wednesday, according to police.

Police said detectives from the Vice & Narcotics Unit were conducting surveillance in the South End after multiple complaints of trafficking and an increase in heroin-related overdose deaths. Through investigation police obtained a search warrant for 69 John Street, Apt 4B.

When detectives executed the warrant they seized 746 bags of heroin, 101 grams of powered heroin, 56 grams of cocaine, $16,115 in cash, two semi-automatic pistols, digital scale and processing and packing materials.

Two residents of the apartment were arrested as a result.

Wilbert Ruperto, 26, was charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, operating drug factory, criminal possession of a pistol, altering the ID of a firearm, reckless driving, evading responsibility, attempted assault on police, interfering with police, and driving without a license.

Braulio Maysonet, 25, was charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, operating a drug factory, and altering the ID of a firearm.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Hamden Cracks Down on Those Who Don't Shovel Sidewalks


Hamden town officials are cracking down on residents who do not clean up after snow storms. 

Dixwell Avenue is one place in town where footprints in the snow mark where a sidewalk should be showing.

“The snow is really deep and I see children walking in the road," Dan Garrett, a Hamden resident, said.

Hamden Mayor Curt Balzano Leng said not shoveling sidewalks can become a public safety issue. 

“When people are walking on Dixwell Avenue or Whitney Avenue -- because there’s no other place -- to walk in four lanes of traffic, it’s incredibly unsafe," Leng said. 

Hamden's engineering department and the designated 'sidewalk inspector' are increasing enforcement of an ordinance that requires property owners to shovel or snow blow their sidewalks within 24 hours of a storm. 

“It’d be great if all the sidewalks were shoveled, but it doesn’t always happen," Garrett said.

Violators of the ordinance could face penalties. A first offense will come with a warning or citation, a second offense could come with a fine of $100 and repeat offenders could be hit with additional fines. 

“We don’t want to fine anybody. We don’t even want to yell at anybody," Leng said. "But we want people to take their responsibility seriously.” 

“You have to call on the community," said Hamden resident Hind Elghazzali, who is on board with the town's initiative. "We all live in the same neighborhood and we all want to keep our children safe," she said.  

Police Investigate Robbery at Bank of America in Hartford


Police are investigating a bank robbery at a Bank of America branch in Hartford on Wednesday. 

Police responded to the Bank of America at 185 Asylum St. at 2:41 p.m. Wednesday after a hold-up alarm went off and officers met with the teller. 

She told officers that she handed over money after a man approached her and handed her a note that said he was a robber and to give him the money. 

The robber fled with $1,092 in $20s, $10s, $5s and $1s, according to Hartford police. 

Police have not been able to locate the robber and major crimes detectives have taken over the case.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Car Thief Led Police on Chase, Crossed Train Tacks: Police


A juvenile stole a pizza delivery driver’s car in Stamford, led police on a chase on Interstate 95, crashed it in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot and ran across Metro-North tracks Wednesday night, according to police. 

The pizza delivery driver contacted police just before 7 p.m. Wednesday to report that his 1999 Honda Civic had been stolen from Henry Street. Police said the left the keys in the vehicle while he was making the delivery. 

Police responded and Officer Richard Dabrowski saw the stolen vehicle on Interstate 95 northbound within minutes and tried to pull the vehicle over, but they said the driver did not stop and Stamford police chased the car into Darien, until the driver pulled off the highway at exit 11. 

While driving back to Stamford, Oficer Anna Futyma saw an accident in the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts at 967 Post Road in Darien and noticed that one of the car’s in the crash was the stolen vehicle, police said. 

A witness said the suspects ran from the car after hitting a parked, unoccupied vehicle and ran to the train station platform and across the tracks, police said. 

Stamford police, Darien police, state police and MTA police units set up a perimeter on the area and arrested juvenile subject. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

50+ Danbury Businesses Closed Thursday to Support Immigrants


Dozens of Danbury businesses are closed Thursday to stand in solidarity with immigrants as part of a nationwide protest called “ A Day Without Immigrants,” meant to represent the importance of immigrants to the US economy.

Organizers across the country told immigrants to miss class, miss work and not shop Thursday to show the country the impact they have on the US economy and way of life. The protest gained momentum of social media and comes in respond to President Donald Trump’s actions on immigration.

The president has pledged his administration will increase deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally, build a wall across the Mexican border, and ban residents from certain majority-Muslim countries from entering the US. He has also blamed high unemployment on immigration.

Fliers written in Spanish with the title “Todos somos inmigrants” – we are all immigrants - circulated on social media earlier in the week. Combined they listed over 50 Danbury businesses that planned to stay closed Thursday to support immigrants.

Actions are planned in major cities across the country including Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Boston, New York, Houston, Chicago and California’s Bay Area.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Russian Spy Ship Spotted off Connecticut Coast Heads South


A Russian spy ship spotted off the Connecticut shore Wednesday is now headed south along the East Coast, according to US officials.

The U.S. Navy said it was actively monitoring a Russian spy ship that has been operating in international waters along the East Coast of the United States, according to a senior United States official. On Wednesday, Connecticut lawmakers responded to reports from several news outlets that the ship was “loitering” in the waters off the coast of Connecticut, near the submarine base. 

The senior U.S. official said the Navy is monitoring the ship on its radar systems. NBC Connecticut has not independently confirmed the reports of the ship being off the shores of Connecticut.

A U.S. defense official told The Associated Press that a Russian intelligence-collection ship has been operating off the East Coast, in international waters.

If the ship is in international waters, it is legal for them to be there, and the action is not unprecedented.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said Wednesday "the fact that we know that it's there is probably a good thing and I suspect that we have some of our ships in delicate places as well."

"I think it’s getting a lot of coverage because of the President’s changed policy towards Russia, which is very different than has been sustained by other administrations. It’s not that we shouldn’t be talking to the Russians, but we shouldn’t necessarily be embracing everything they are doing. And quite frankly, now that we understand that they have recently been active in our own elections, we should be wary of that. But that there are spy ships in the world – we shouldn’t be surprised,” Malloy said.

The reports that the ship is near the submarine base in Groton also brought a response from many Connecticut congressional representatives, who by and large called the action aggressive and concerning.

NBC Connecticut reached out to officials at the base, who said they don’t have a comment and referred inquiries to the U.S. Department of Defense. Officials from the DOD have not yet responded.

The White House didn't respond to a request for comment.

Groton is home of the Naval sub base, as well as Electric Boat, which designs and builds submarines.

“I think that clearly they like to track submarines. We know that they do," Malloy said about the ship's proximity to Groton. "This is not something that is brand new. It’s getting a lot of coverage because, again, I think of other Russian stories related to the Trump administration. They seek to understand how we have the best submarines in the world. And they’re made here.”

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy’s office said that this is not “unprecedented,” but the senator is concerned this is “part of a pattern of continued Russian ‘boldness.’”

“Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach,” Murphy tweeted. “Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why?” 

"While this is not wholly unprecedented, it’s part of a series of aggressive actions by Russia that threaten U.S. national security and the security of our allies," Murphy said in a statement. "Just yesterday, news broke that Russia violated an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Coupled with escalating fighting in eastern Ukraine and Russian jets buzzing a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Black Sea, Putin clearly thinks the Trump administration has given him a permission slip to flex his muscles. President Trump and his administration must end their silence and immediately respond to these threats to our national security.”

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said in a statement that the presence of the spy ship "has to be regarded very seriously because Russia is an increasingly aggressive adversary."

"It reflects a clear need to harden our defenses against electronic surveillance and cyber espionage. I am personally monitoring this situation and remain in close contact with both the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard," Blumenthal said in the statement. "The return of a Russian vessel is particularly concerning in the context of escalating Russian aggression - within days of the Russian's buzzing a U.S. Navy ship in the Black Sea, as well as deploying a cruise missile in violation of our arms control treaty - which only underscores the need for an independent investigation into possible collusion between the Trump administration and Russian agents."

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes issued a statement saying residents should know that the presence of the ship does not present "a direct threat to our physical safety."

"Its appearance is troubling, however, viewed in conjunction with the ongoing stories of Russian ties and interference in the Trump Administration and the recent deployment of a Russian cruise missile in apparent violation of international agreements," Himes said in a statement. "In my opinion, Russia is making a show of strength and pushing established boundaries and norms to gauge the reaction of a new administration in disarray.”

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro tweeted that “Russia is flexing its muscles.”

U.S. Rep. John Larson responded to the reports with a tweet as well.

"This is a stark reminder of why we need a full account of Russia's influence in the White House & meddling in our election," Larson tweeted.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney also responded to the reports in a statement.

“A Russian spy ship patrolling 30 miles from the Groton SUBASE underscores that the threats posed by a resurgent Russia are real,” Courtney wrote. “This unacceptable, aggressive action, combined with the buzzing of US Navy ships in the Red Sea yesterday are clearly testing the resolve of a new administration. While I have total confidence in our Navy’s vigilant, responsible readiness, the White House needs to move past their seeming infatuation with Putin and treat him like the serious threat to global peace and security that he has been for the last five years.”

Courtney also made a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives about this ship.

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty also responded with a statement.

“Russia’s escalating aggression is a serious national security threat," Esty wrote. "Yet again, the Kremlin is testing the resolve of the Trump administration. It is long past time for the White House to stop making excuses for Vladimir Putin and respond to his acts of thuggery with the toughness our security demands.”

US officials said Thursday that the ship headed south. Its current location and destination are unknown.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
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Powerball Swells to $349M After No Jackpot Winner


There were no jackpot winners for Wednesday's $310 million Powerball drawing on Wednesday night. That means the haul grows to $349 million for Powerball's next drawing on Saturday. 

Wednesday's winning numbers were: 33, 5, 42, 38, 28 and the Powerball number was 19. It was the biggest jackpot since 20 company co-workers in Tennessee took home a combined $420.9 million right after Thanksgiving. 

There hasn't been a jackpot winner in 2017, according to a list maintained on the game's website. It's been a year and a month since three winning tickets were sold for a $1.59 billion jackpot. 

The odds of winning the grand prize are pretty slim, according to the game's website: 1 in 292,201,338.

Photo Credit: AP
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