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Obama Spotted in NYC, Greeted by Screaming Fans


Former President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance in New York City Friday afternoon, where he was spotted and greeted by adoring fans.

It was not immediately clear why Obama was in the city, but he was seen leaving an office building at 160 Fifth Avenue, near the Flatiron Building, around 12 p.m.

There was a strong security presence around the entrance to the building prior to Obama's exit, and by the time he made his departure the street was thronged the people waiting to catch a glimpse of the former president.

Video posted on Instagram showed a relaxed Obama walk out of the building with a coffee cup in hand, smiling and waving to the crowd.

The crowds can be heard screaming "I love you" as he makes his way to a waiting car.

More to come.

Photo Credit: Instagram / @bk_fox

Malloy's Proposed Budget to Shut Down 7 Rest Stops


The proposed state budget is looking to shut down seven rest areas in Connecticut.

For people like Robert Cohen, a truck driver from Meriden, the cuts can hurt.

Cohen has been a truck driver for 25 years, moving cars up and down the East Coast and working long hours. On Thursday, NBC Connecticut found him winding down at the Wallingford rest area.

"We have guys that have to get off the road and if we don’t have a spot to park safely were in trouble," said Cohen.

Wallingford is just one of seven rest areas the state is looking to shut. The others include Danbury, Southington, East Willington, West Willington, Stonington and Middletown.

"You close off our seven rest areas and we lose probably 200 to 300 truck spots," said Cohen. "That’s 200 to 300 trucks that will be parked on the shoulder of the road."

These are the same stops the state has already scaled back. They now close overnight, forcing the public to use the port-a-pottys outside.

"You are subject to now stopping to use a port a potty in the middle of the night. What if it is someone’s wife or daughter?"

Democratic Congressman Antonio Guerrara co-chairs the transportation committee and says he has received numerous constituent complaints about the current state of the rest stops. He worries closing them completely could only increase the problems, but also understands it is a difficult budget and, "everything is on the table right now."

"There has to be a way maybe we can try to resurrect some of these rest areas and were working on it," said Guerrara.

State Senator Toni Boucher said the closures would be a negative reflection of the state.

"We need to have a discussion on the potential of having private sector sponsorships provide the funds to keep them open until the state fixes its problems," Boucher said. "Too many motorists and truck drivers depend on them."

"It is murder to close these," said Cohen. "It is going to cause a giant nightmare safety hazard and there is no place else to go."

Photo Credit: AP

6 Arrests in UConn Fatal Fire Truck Accident


Six people linked to the death of a UConn student, who was struck by a university fire department vehicle in October, were arrested. 

Patrick Callahan, Matthew Moll, Austin Custodio, Dominic Godi, Dylan Morose, Jonathan Polansky were arrested and charged with various counts including permitting a minor to illegally possess alcohol and sale or delivery to minors.

Last fall, Jeffny Pally, 19, of West Hartford, was sitting on the ground with her back against a garage bay door at the UConn Public Safety Complex at 126 North Eagleville Road in Storrs when the fire department received a call for service around 1:15 a.m. Sunday, according to police.

When the bay door Pally was leaning against opened, she fell back onto the ground and a fire department Chevy Tahoe leaving the bay drove over Pally, according to police.Crews from the fire department found Pally around an hour and a half later, when they returned from that call and state police said they were called at 2:48 a.m.

Officials from the medical examiner's office determined she died of blunt injuries to her torso and head and classified her death as an accident.

In January, arrest warrant applications were issued for the people who hosted the off-campus party Pally attended that night on Oct. 16, 2016. 

Patrick Callahan, 21, of Mansfield was charged with eight counts of permitting a minor to illegally possess alcohol. His bond was set at $2,500.

Matthew Moll, 21, of Mansfield, was charged with eight counts of permitting a minor to illegally possess alcohol. His bond was set at $2,500.

Austin Custodio, 21, of Pine Bush, New York, was charged with two counts of sale/delivery to minors. His bond was set at $5,000.

Dominic Godi, 21, of Bolton, was charged with conspiracy to commit sale/delivery of alcohol to minors and possession of alcohol by a minor. His bond was set at $2,500.

Dylan Morose, 22, of Mansfield, was charged with eight counts of permitting a minor to illegally possess alcohol. His bond was set at $2,500.

 Jonathan Polansky, 22, of Beverly, Massachusetts, eight counts of permitting a minor to illegally possess alcohol. His bond was set at $2,500.

Jeffny was a sophomore majoring in allied health and aspired to be a nurse, according to the university. The 19-year-old worked as a resident assistant and was joining a sorority.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Experts: Warm February Doesn't Guarantee a Sweaty Summer


This week's weather has been perfect for a picnic across much of the United States. But while you're snacking on a salad in the sun, don't let stressing about whether this unseasonably temperate February will mean an extra-hot summer rain on your parade.

Experts say that warm weather across the East Coast and the Midwest does not necessarily mean it’s going to keep steaming in the next few months.

“There’s no strong statistical link between a warm February and what the summer will be like,” said Jon Nese, associate head of Pennsylvania State University’s undergraduate program in meteorology and host of the school's "Weather World" broadcast.

The U.S. has seen 3,146 record high temperatures in February as of Thursday, according to nonprofit climate news organization Climate Central. With only 27 record lows, that makes it the “most lopsided monthly ratio” in recorded history, the site said.

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American cities that are typically snow-dusted in mid-February felt mild on Thursday and Friday. The sun is shining and spring has seemingly arrived early in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York. In Boston, thermometers recorded 71 degrees Friday, making it the city's warmest documented February day ever. 

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Chicago hit the upper 60s for most of this week, and residents played volleyball on North Avenue Beach Wednesday. The Windy City doesn’t usually warm up this much until mid-May, according to WGN’s weather blog.

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But there's a good reason for all the nice weather: storms on the west coast, not a larger trend, according to Nese and other meteorologists.

“You do not want to draw a line between the unusual warmth that we’re seeing this week and climate change. Instead, you need to take a much broader look at trends over a period of years and decades,” Nese said.

The south also got some heat. Dallas and Houston enjoyed steamy temperatures in the 80s, and Austin and San Antonio were a smoldering 90 degrees long before university kids head to nearby beaches for spring break.

NBC Dallas-Fort Worth meteorologist Brian James crunched the numbers on what a warm winter means when summer comes around — plenty of people have been asking him if "we'll be baking our butts off in the summer," he said.

Turns out there's not much of a correlation at all.

This is North Texas's warmest average winter so far. But the next warmest winter only led to the area's 14th warmest summer, back in 1999-2000, James found. The third warmest winter was 100 years ago, and that turned into the 86th warmest summer on record.

"You don't even correlate a top eight, or even a top 10 for that matter," James said.

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Thomas E. Downs, a meteorologist for WeatherBELL Analytics, said that drawing correlations between seasonal weather patterns can prove misleading.

Winter weather is mostly influenced by El Nino and La Nina cycles in the Pacific Ocean that cause movements in the jet stream, he said, whereas high pressure and warm, calm winds are more of a factor in summertime.

This temperate spell on the East Coast has been a product of an extreme storm that’s now bombarding the West, not evidence of global warming, he explained. 

“This is really just a sign of one storm,” Downs said.

In the past few years, people have mistakenly associated radical but temporary temperature shifts with climate change. Those have instead been due to dramatic El Nino and La Nina cycles, Downs added, while climate change tracks persisting trends over longer chunks of time. These small but significant alterations are much subtler and more difficult to perceive and conceptualize.

“In the short-term, it’s hard for people to relate to things that happen over the course of their lifetimes,” Downs said.

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Meteorologists sometimes use analogue forecasts, which compare current weather to similar situations in the past, to predict future months. Nese said that “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” and he and his colleagues have other tools in their toolkit.

That’s not to say that it won’t be hot in a few months — WeatherBELL is predicting an early warm summer that may taper into cooler days after July. But that's down to El Nino, not the storm passing through this week.

Neverthelss, given recent events, it may be time to fire furry favorite Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog that predicted another six weeks of winter earlier this month. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center forecasts above-average temperatures for the bottom of half of the Lower 48 through March.

Photo Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images
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Facebook Users Report Account Outages, Technical Errors


Some Facebook users are getting logged out of their accounts Friday afternoon due to a technical issue, according to reports being sent on Down Detector. The reports started just after 1 p.m. EST.

Users are getting a message saying "Someone May Have Logged Into Your Account," according to the reports being sent to the site. Facebook prompts them to verify their identities and change their passwords to unlock their accounts.

Users of the popular social media site are also receiving another error message which says "Sorry, this feature isn't available right now. An error occurred while processing this request. Please try again later," with an option to "join Facebook" or "log in to continue."

The error did not appear to affect all accounts.

A Facebook spokesperson reached out to offer the following comment: 

"Earlier today an error in one of our systems designed to help prevent suspicious account access sent a small set of people to our account recovery flow unnecessarily. We have fixed the issue and are in the process of clearing the affected accounts from this recovery flow. We apologize for any inconvenience."

It appears that users getting locked out of their accounts are not victims of a security breach but victims of a technical difficulty.

Users don't need to take any immediate action, but they can change their passwords to unlock their accounts. If no action is taken, the technical issues should be resolved by Facebook soon.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, File
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Majority of Americans Want Trump-Russia Probe: Poll


About half of Americans believe that Congress should investigate whether Donald Trump's presidential campaign had contact with the Russian government in 2016, while only a quarter say that lawmakers should not probe the issue, according to a new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.

The poll, conducted Feb. 18-22, shows that 53 percent of the American public wants Congress to look into the alleged communications, while 25 percent disagree and 21 percent say they don't have an opinion.

A similar share - 54 percent - believe that Congress should look into Russian interference in the election generally, while 29 percent disagree.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

FBI Dunkin' Donuts Park Investigation Underway


The FBI has launched an investigation into the troubled Dunkin' Donuts Park project in Hartford. 

The probe was prompted by information shared by the city. 

“The probe being reported today is not focused on the City of Hartford, and we believe that it was prompted by information proactively shared by the City of Hartford," Mayor Luke Bronin said. "My administration contacted the FBI to share concerns about Centerplan’s handling of the project, including their failure to pay subcontractors for their work. This is one more demonstration of our commitment to absolute accountability, because that’s what taxpayers deserve.”

Public bond money given to Centerplan to pay subcontractors working on the the ballpark site apparently never made it to those various contracted workers, a source confirmed with the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, on the condition of anonymity. 

The Yard Goats' stadium project started early in 2015. Construction was suspended last year in May when the city fired Centerplan and DoNo Hartford LLC. 

A new contractor is working to finish the stadium in time for the Yard Goats opening day on April 13. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

DHS Puts Out Notice for Border Wall Design Pitches


The Department of Homeland Security will solicit prototype pitches next month to fulfill President Donald Trump's promise to build a border wall with Mexico.

The department announced online Friday that it intends to provide contractors an opportunity to offer proposals for the design and building of "several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico," NBC News reported.

According to the announcement, the pitch process will have two phases.

The first will require a concept paper to be delivered to Homeland Security by March 10. They will then condense the pool of pitches by March 20.

The second phase would require the remaining contractors to fulfill the full proposal request and provide the potential price.

Photo Credit: AP

Norwich Murder Victim's Mom Wants to See Immigration Crackdown


A Connecticut mom is asking Gov. Dannel Malloy to enforce the immigration laws after the state released guidance to law enforcement and school superintendents this week

A Haitian national stabbed Wendy Hartling’s daughter, Casey Chadwick, to death in Chadwick’s Norwich apartment on June 15, 2015.

Convicted killer, Jean Jacques, was sentenced to 60 years for Chadwick’s death, but months before the stabbing, he was released from serving a 17 year prison sentence for attempted murder.

The U.S. government tried to deport Jacques, but Haiti would not take him back.

In a response to President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration, Malloy released a set of directives on immigration this week, one being: "Local law enforcement should not take action that is solely to enforce federal immigration law.”

“I don’t understand his thought process,” Hartling said about the governor.

“The laws that are already out there. They’re already there. They’re here. They’re in cement. I don’t understand why (Malloy) thinks that Connecticut should be exempt,” Hartling said.

Hartling added that she thinks local police are the best enforcers because they know the people in their community.

Malloy told Tucker Carlson on Fox News Channel Thursday night that the federal government needs to enforce federal law and not rely on local police.

“The federal government has its obligations. We should not be expending local dollars, state dollars, to do the government’s job,” Malloy said to Carlson.

Hartling agreed the federal government needs to also step up.

“This is a very serious problem and they need to buckle down, hire more people if that’s what’s necessary to go over all the caseloads that they have.”

Hartling said she also wants to hear from Connecticut’s U.S. senators and congressmen on what they think of this.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Clinton Calls for 'Resistance,' Party Unity in New Video


Hillary Clinton has come up with a new equation for Democrats who are looking for change.

“Let resistance plus persistence equal progress for our party and our country,” she said in a video posted to the Democratic Party’s Twitter page.

The former Democratic presidential nominee released the statement Friday lauding recent solidarity efforts, from global women’s marches to actions against President Donald Trump’s travel ban at airports across the country.

“Nearly 66 million votes are fueling grassroots energy and activism, and everywhere people are marching, protesting, tweeting, speaking out, and working for an America that’s hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted,” Clinton said. 

She added, “Among those millions making their voices heard are future mayors, city and state officials, governors, members of Congress -- even future presidents.”

Clinton thanked her base for supporting her presidential bid, which she called “the honor of a lifetime.” She said that during the general election she had run on “the most progressive platform in history” and emphasized the need for Democrats to pull together and “stay focused on the elections we must win this year and next.” 

“As Democrats, we have diverse views and backgrounds,” she said. “We are Democrats, after all. But we’re bound together by the values and hopes we share for our country.” 

Clinton’s call for unity comes before Democrats are expected to choose a new chair for the Democratic National Committee on Saturday.

Tom Perez, Barack Obama’s former labor secretary, is running to “protect President Obama’s accomplishments” and “listen to Democrats at every level,” according to his campaign website.

One of his opponents, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, has been endorsed by former presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and is perceived as an alternative to Perez's establishment background.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana,  has emerged as an underdog among D.C. political veterans.

According to the Associated Press, the role of DNC chair is “part cheerleader, part fundraiser, part organizer and recruiter, part public messenger.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Woman in Fatal Litchfield Crash Arrested


A Litchfield woman involved in the crash that killed one person and injured five other last year. 

Elizabeth Waterbury, 57, is accused of operating under the influence, failure to drive in the proper lane, tampering with evidence, interfering with an officer, manslaughter and assault. 

Waterbury was arrested on Friday after an investigation found that she had been involved in a fatal collision on Oct. 23, 2016. The collision that happened at the intersection of North Street and Talmadge Lane killed Aislinn Kern, serious injured four people and caused minor injury to one person, police said. 

Her bond is set at $1,000,000. 

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Still No Answers For QU Students’ Withheld Security Deposits


A local landlord from property management group Uhouz has yet to provide answers to students who claim he kept their security deposits for reasons he hasn’t justified.

NBC Connecticut Responds first shared this story in November. Shortly after, several students, including Central Connecticut State University senior Ayana Shell, reached out saying the same thing happened to them.

“When I found out it was happening to Quinnipiac students, I was like, ‘Okay, so this isn’t personal,’” said Shell.

She told us she too got a damage report with charges that just didn’t add up, such as a 50 dollar fees for makeup stains on the wall, a hole in the siding, and a dirty washing machine in unit, in the basement.

“I think they just made up a number with the damages just to scare us off, which they did,” said Shell. “Because eventually I just stopped contacting them.”

When Shell moved in, she didn’t take thorough pictures, so she can’t prove those damages weren’t hers.

She says she tried contacting her landlord, Uhouz owner Mat Florian, several times before her final plea for attention—withholding her last month’s rent until he responded.

That didn’t work either.

“Obviously I owe them something, so I mean they can take that,” said Shell. “But I just don’t appreciate being taken advantage of.”

A similar situation happened to Linda Lucy’s son Christopher just a few towns over, in Hamden.

“I kind of thought from the beginning, well, you’re not going to get your whole deposit back, that’s just how it goes,” said Lucy. “But I never thought it would be anything like this.”

She says Florian initially withheld almost 3,700 dollars from their 5,600 dollar security deposit. When the boys complained, Lucy says, Florian lowered the damage down to 3,050 dollars for reasons her family still doesn’t understand.

Lucy said her son tried scheduling a final walk through before going home for summer break, but Uhouz waited until after the boys moved out.

“We would’ve gladly gone and walked through the house with them,” said Lucy.

At the time, Lucy didn’t think the legal fight was worth it. Town and state agencies typically won’t get involved unless they get multiple complaints. So far, neither the Connecticut Department of Banking nor local housing authorities have anything on record.

NBC Connecticut made several attempts to get a comment from Florian.

In November 2016, Florian said:

“It’s discouraging to have a case like this after all the efforts we have put forth, nor only in the lease term, but this matter as well. They are aware our doors are open.”

Since then NBC Connecticut has called, emailed and took him up on his open door policy. An associate said he was not there.

In the meantime, it’s a tough lesson for parents like Lucy.

“Take pictures when you first move in,” she said. “Get everything in writing and know what you’re getting into.”

She hopes other tenants won’t have to learn that lesson the hard way.

“This is money that you paid almost a year before you even moved in,” said Lucy. “So I think a lot of people don’t even pursue it. They just write it off as a loss and move on.”

To file a formal complaint with the Connecticut Department of Banking, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Girl Dresses as Female Icons for Black History Month


Photo Credit: Cristi Jones

UConn 100 Wins And Counting

53 People Displaced After Fire at Wallingford Apartment Building


Dozens of people were displaced after a fire at a Wallingford apartment building on Friday afternoon. 

Wallingford Fire Department said they were on the scene of the fire at the Silver Pond Apartments located at 656 Center Street around 4:30 p.m.

One person was transported to the hospital, but their condition remains unclear.

A firefighter sustained a knee injury and two people were treated at the scene for minor injuries, Wallingford fire said. 

Officials said 53 people were displaced. 

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. 

No other details were immediately available. 

Brookfield Man Charged in Bethel Robbery


Bethel police have arrested a man accused of robbing the Wheels convenience store on Stony Hill Road Wednesday night.

According to police, surveillance footage shows a suspect, later identified as 32-year-old Maxwell Mulligan, paying for items at the register around 9:30 p.m. When the cash drawer opens for change, the suspect is seen jumping across the counter and pushing the clerk aside to steal money from the drawer.

On Friday Mulligan, who lives in Brookfield, was located by Wilton police and arrested on the Bethel arrest warrant.

Mulligan was charged with third-degree robbery and fifth-degree larceny. He was held on a $20,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Photo Credit: Bethel Police Department

Putnam Woman Arrested on Drug Charges After Traffic Stop


Connecticut state police arrested a Putnam woman on drug charges after a traffic stop Saturday.

According to state police, the suspect, identified as 35-year-old Alicia Marando, of Putnam, was a passenger in a car that troopers pulled over in Woodstock for traffic violations around midnight Saturday.

Troopers said that Marando admitted to having heroin on her and turned over 110 bags of the drug prepackaged for sale.

She was arrested and charged with possession of heroin and possession of heroin with intent to sell. She was released on a $5,000 bond and scheduled to appear in court on March 9.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Hundreds Rally in Support of Affordable Care Act in New Haven


A group including concerned residents, students and clinicians are scheduled to rally in New Haven in support of the Affordable Care Act.

According to a press release from organizers, the rally is meant to express “outrage” over the potential repeal of the ACA.

The rally will be followed by a town hall meeting. Senator Blumenthal (D) , Congresswoman Rosa Delauro (D) and representatives from Planned Parenthood, HAVEN Free Clinic, IRIS, Action Together CT, Yale Democrats, Yale School of Medicine, and Yale School of Public Health are expected to speak.

Several rallies have been held across the country in opposition to the potential repeal of the plan, which opponents say will strip millions of the most vulnerable Americans of health insurance.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

One Dead, One in Custody After Hartford Crash


One person is dead and another in custody after a crash in Hartford early Saturday morning.

The accident occurred on Main Street near Mahl Avenue around 2:30 a.m.

According to police, officers were parked at a nearby church when they saw a vehicle barrel down Main Street. As the car passed through the intersection of Pavilion and Mahl Avenue, he hit another vehicle that was turning.

Police said the impact was severe, but the first driver was not injured. The driver of the second vehicle was killed.

The victim has been identified as 52-year-old Juan Ortiz of Hartford.

Witnesses said they could tell it was a serious accident from the sound of the collision.

“From the sound of the impact I knew somebody wasn’t going to make it,” said David Cook of Hartford.

Police said the first driver took off after the crash.

"The suspect was able to get out of his vehicle and then run from the officers. The officers set up a perimeter. A canine was called in and we called in some detectives. Through some investigative leads we were able to locate the suspect," said Hartford Police Deputy Chief Brian Foley.

The suspect faces several charges, including the possibility of a vehicular manslaughter charge. He has not been publicly identified.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued for Part of State Saturday


Some thunderstorms will move through the state Saturday night and a severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for Litchfield County.

The NBC Connecticut meteorologists said some areas could see gusty winds and heavy rain. A severe thunderstorm watch was issued until 9 p.m. for Litchfield County.

Saturday will be cloudy and humid with highs in the low 60s inland and upper 50s along the shoreline. A line of showers will move into the western part of the state between 6 and 7 p.m. and last until between 9 to 10 p.m. as they move from west to east.

After the storms come a drop in temperature, with lows in the 30s. Sunday will be much cooler, with highs in the low to middle 40s.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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