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Planned Parenthood Funding in CT in Jeopardy


On the same day Gov. Dannel Malloy called for the General Assembly to cover the federal share of Planned Parenthood reimbursement in the event a Republican healthcare reform bill becomes law, the president of Planned Parenthood visited the state.

"It would be a shock," Malloy said, if federal reimbursements for Planned Parenthood services were to be blocked under the new healthcare bill being pushed by Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump's administration.

“Breast screenings, cervical screenings, all kinds of work being done by them and it would be a gigantic loss," Malloy added

Wednesday evening, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England honored Judy Tabar, the President of the region, for her 20 years of service.

Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood nationally, traveled to New Haven for the event. She said she's working to make sure Planned Parenthood services are protected.

Richards said, "I think what we’re looking at is an administration and a congress that is trying to roll back the clock."

The measure in Congress, which only needs a simple majority in both the House and Senate to go to President Trump's desk for his signature, would remove Planned Parenthood as a healthcare provider that would be reimbursed for services provided to Medicare and Medicaid patients.

"They’re actually saying to women, ‘you can no longer choose the healthcare provider of your choice,'" Richards said. "We are actively working with Democrats and Republicans to make sure that doesn’t happen."

Malloy proposed having the state cover the costs where the federal government wouldn't. Last year, the state of Connecticut paid out $8.9 million for Planned Parenthood services. The federal government reimbursed $5.3 million of that, meaning if the new healthcare proposal went through, Connecticut would be on the hook for the entire bill.

Rep. Themis Klarides, the top Republican in the House, said she wouldn't rule out covering the entire bill in the state budget, but did caution that any spending plan will be very tight and such an expense would have to fit.

There are 17 Planned Parenthood locations in Connecticut, and 70,000 total patients were seen last year by locations in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Richards, who had praise for Malloy, said she would rather see the federal government deal with ensuring Planned Parenthood is protected, rather than working with states.

“We want to fight this first in Congress. I really believe the proposal that Congress has made, the proposal that Speaker Ryan has put forward isn’t good for women, it isn’t good for families and it isn’t good for women of all parties."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Vulto Creamery Recalls Raw Milk Cheeses Over Health Risk


Vulto Creamery is recalling all of its soft washed-rind raw milk cheeses after the Food and Drug Administration tested the Ouleout cheese positive for Listeria.

The raw milk cheeses being recalled are Ouleout, Miranda, Heinennellie and Willowemoc cheeses.

The FDA found Ouleout lot number 617 positive for Listeria monocytogenes, and New York Department of Agriculture and Markets found the possible contamination of Ouleout lot number 623, said the FDA.

FDA advises consumers to not consume the cheese items being recalled.

The New York-based company distributed soft raw milk cheeses nationwide, with most being sold at retail locations in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic Sates, California, Chicago, Portland and Washington D.C., according to the FDA.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems.

Consumers can return the cheeses to the purchase location for a refund. 

For more information, consumers can call 607-222-3995 on Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST, or email Vulto Creamery at vultocreamer@gmail.com

Photo Credit: FDA

Malloy, CT Activists Vow to Fight New Travel Ban


Governor Dannel Malloy and immigrant and Muslim activist groups pushed back today against the newest travel ban announced by the Trump administration.

Six of the same countries were listed as potential threats to the United States, so bans remained in place, but Iraq was removed from the list.

David McGuire, the executive director of the ACLU in Connecticut, wasn't convinced of any real policy change.

“Make no mistake, this is still a repackaging of the original ban. It’s still targets predominantly Muslim countries,” McGuire said.

The governor, who has been outspoken on matters relating to refugees and immigration, said the country has a vital role to play when it comes to helping refugees from war-torn countries, and this new executive order flies in the face of that mission.

“This is not intended to be 90 days," he said of the stated time-frame of the executive order. "This is intended to be a long-term ban on accepting our responsibilities in the United States to resettle refugees.”

Abrar Omeish with the Muslim Student Association at Yale, said the newest executive order ignores the contributions of refugees and immigrants to the country.

Whether they have jobs on campus or whether they are students contributing to the academic nature of Yale and publishing and providing scholarly input that their wonderful minds bring from their countries, I don’t think that’s something that makes them have to feel validated.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Bobcat Sighting in Middletown


A bobcat sighting in Middletown earlier this week has some residents talking.

Jeremy Glazewksi was on a sales call on Timber Ridge Road when he saw a bobcat in the area.

He spotted the bobcat around 10 on Monday morning and took photos. He posted the photos on social media and the word spread-- including at the Stables at Westfield, which is located around the corner from where the bobcat was spotted.

“It’s nice that someone actually put that notification out there. We haven’t seen the bobcat. Our main concern is the safety of the horses and our people that are here on our property," said Dan Abbate, owner of the farm which houses about twenty horses.

Abbate said he has been keeping an extra eye on the horses.

“They may be a little bit spooked by it if anything but as long as I’m here," he said.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) wildlife biologist, Chris Vann, said bobcats are seen more frequently during the summer months.

But it’s likely this one was spotted because bobcats’ mating season began in February.

“Bobcats tend to have a bigger range of mating periods. The males may be more active looking for mates so that looked like a big male," Vann said.

He said people should leash their pets while taking them out at night because that’s when bobcats are most active.

“I’m on the look out regardless, I don’t want anything surprising me! Believe me!" Middletown resident, Ann Riza, said.

DEEP has not received any complaints about the bobcat sighted in Middletown.

NBC Connecticut reached out to Middletown Animal Control. We have not heard back from them.

Pressure's on April After Woman in Spoof Video Has Baby, Zoo Quips


April the pregnant giraffe is in "great physical and mental condition," the upstate New York zoo updating tens of millions of adoring fans said in its Thursday morning briefing, but "we start the day without a new calf."


The Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville said loyal supporters should be patient, adding "All in due time and without a rush."

Though April has yet to deliver, a pregnant woman who posted a now-viral Facebook video of her imitating the giraffe did give birth to a healthy baby boy. Erin Dietrich had a baby boy Wednesday. The zoo offered congratulations Thursday, joking, "April doesn't appreciate the extra pressure."

Dietrich and other fans worldwide have been glued to a live stream of April for weeks as they wait for the now famous giraffe to deliver her baby, which will be the first calf born at the park, the zoo has said. 

April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of commenters voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.

Fans had quite a scare late Wednesday when severe winds at the zoo knocked out the feed for a period of time. It was back up shortly before 10 p.m. The15-year-old April and her younger mate Oliver weren’t hurt during the evening windstorm, but continued strong gusts and cold weather were expected to keep the couple inside over the next few days.

Watch the live stream below.

More than 65,000 people were watching the YouTube stream before 9 a.m. Thursday as April chewed calmly on a snack, her tongue flicking in and out of her mouth as she flicked her ears in contentment. At one point, she looked right at the camera, whipping her tail as if to say hello to her fans.

April has had periods of edginess in recent weeks brought on by her kicking calf and stretches of cold weather. But vets who have been monitoring her say they're pleased with her progression.

Jordan Patch, owner of the Animal Adventure Park, says the natural curiosity surrounding giraffes and their birthing process has been a huge factor in drawing crowds. 

"I think the fact that she's a giraffe and she's a neat species that people are interested in, that's fostered a lot of the attention," he said. "The fact that you're gonna get to witness the miracle of birth from an animal that you really don't get to see give birth — that's neat."

He added that April's pregnancy is not just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education.

Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf, which will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour.

The zoo said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.

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Obamacare Creators Tell GOP: We Told You So


President Donald Trump said last week that "nobody knew that health care could be so complicated," NBC News reported. 

But the aides and advisers who worked on health care for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — they knew.

"Maybe I should just say karma is a serious thing," said Neera Tanden, who was a top health official in the Obama administration. "Health care is hard. Governing is hard. And Republicans are now living with the fruits of never putting forward a plan and making promises they can't keep."

It's a strange place to be for the Democratic operatives and elected officials who saw their party devastated in part by Obamacare. And some can't help but feel a bit of cosmic justice as they watch Republicans stuck in a policy quagmire they know all too well.

Photo Credit: Getty

Bridgeport Man Dead After Hitting Truck at I-95 Rest Stop


A 23-year-old Bridgeport man is dead after crashing into the back of a tractor-trailer that was parked in a no-parking zone at a rest area on Interstate 95 South in Fairfield early Thursday morning, according to state police.

Police said Lucky Keophannga, 23, of Bridgeport, pulled into the rest area on I-95 South at 1:11 a.m. and his 2003 Mini Cooper hit the back of a tractor-trailer that was straddling the fire lane and travel lane, according to state police.

Keophannga was pronounced dead at the scene, according to state police. They said the driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.

The police report states the fire lane and no-parking zone was clearly marked.

Police said they have not taken any enforcement action.

Pregnant Woman in Giraffe Spoof Video Gives Birth


The 39-week pregnant South Carolina woman who posted a nearly 8-minute-long video of herself prancing around in a giraffe mask in honor of April the giraffe gave birth to a baby boy. 

Erin Dietrich posted a photo of her and her son Porter Lane to Facebook on Wednesday evening. Staying true to her now-viral persona, she even wore the giraffe mask as she posed for the photo with her bundle of joy. 

“He’s here!! He is perfect, healthy and just beautiful!” Dietrich said in the post. “Our hearts are overflowing.”

Dietrich said that Porter arrived at 6:11 p.m., weighing 8 pounds 2 ounces. He is Dietrich’s fourth child and was due March 14.

The post was liked more than 23,000 times by Thursday morning. Hours before, Dietrich posted a video of her waiting in her hospital bed wearing the famed giraffe mask.

In the new video, she pulls off her best April impression, sitting and essentially twiddling her thumbs as she waits patiently for her baby boy to be born. 

April the giraffe has been waiting for her baby calf to arrive as millions of people across the world watch on via live stream. 

On Sunday, Dietrich posted a nearly 8-minute-long video of herself prancing around in a giraffe mask, hands on hips, belly displayed in all its glory. More than 30 million people have watched Dietrich's clip since then and it has been liked more than 294,000 times.

Dietrich said she had ordered the mask from Amazon a few days ago and created the now-viral Facebook video once it arrived Sunday.

"Omg I did not think this many people would get a kick out of this," Dietrich responded to one commenter. "All our friends have been making fun of me and my obsession with April so we just thought, 'Hey we should order a giraffe mask.'"

According to Dietrich's Facebook page, she owns her own photography company and lives in Myrtle Beach, though is originally from Middletown, New York.

Meanwhile, the world has been waiting for April to have her fourth for weeks.

April lives at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, and the zoo has been live streaming her pen in anticipation of the birth.

Watch the stream below.

April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's live stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of commenters voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.

Giraffe pregnancies last for 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf, which will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour.

The zoo said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.

Photo Credit: Erin Dietrich
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Police ID Man Shot and Killed in Hartford


A 26-year-old Hartford man is dead after a shooting at a Hartford housing complex Wednesday night.

Police responded to 2441 Main St. around 9:15 p.m. after Shotspotter and 911 callers alerted police to shots fired in the area. As officers responded to the scene, they were directed next door to 45 Alan Green Way, where they found Stephen Payne in a second-floor unit.

He'd been shot several times in the torso, according to police. Paramedics tried to revive Payne, but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:34 p.m.

"The victim did have two different identifications on him, which is problematic for our officers, so we're going to wait for fingerprints to come back," Deputy Chief Brian Foley said before the identification was made.

Police said it appears there were shots fired inside and outside of the building.

"Shotspotter told us there were three shots outside. We have a lot more shell casings than that at this point," Foley said.

Payne was a resident of 45 Alan Green Way, according to police.

Major Crimes detectives are investigating and anyone with information is asked to call Hartford Police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Car Crashes Into Avon Pond

Crews Work to Repair Broken Water Main in Willimantic


Crews are working on repairing a broken water main in Willimantic and hope to have water restored by noon. 

The break is on Orchard Hill Lane at Southridge Drive and police are asking drivers to avoid the immediate area until it can be fixed.

Around 30 houses have no water because of the break.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

US Infrastructure Gets Another D+ From Engineer Society


Airports and roads are clogged, bridges are reaching old age and dams are getting more hazardous across the United States, says the American Society of Civil Engineers, as it issued American infrastructure a grade of D+ in its quadrennial report card Thursday.

"Deteriorating infrastructure is impeding our ability to compete in the thriving global economy, and improvements are necessary to ensure our country is built for the future," the report card said.

The report card was released with infrastructure in the public eye, weeks after a Northern California dam's damaged spillways prompted the evacuation of thousands and with President Donald Trump promising a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure.

The engineering group says the U.S. needs twice that amount, and recommends Congress invest $206 billion more in infrastructure each year to raise the grade.

The D+ remains the same as it was four years ago, though the engineers say some small progress has been made since. No category got an A grade, and most received Ds. The B issued to rail was the highest grade, and transit's D- was the lowest.

The costs of the infrastrucutre gap are high, according to the report card: $3,400 in disposable income for each American family each year.

"In infrastructure, you get what you pay for and for decades we haven't been paying nearly enough. It shows in the grades," said Norma Jean Mattei, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, in a letter accompanying the report.

Read the full report here.

The dangers of failing infrastructure got an up-close look in February when the back-up spillway at the Oroville Dam, the tallest in the nation, neared failure. Nearly 200,000 people in the community down-river were evacuated over the risk of uncontrolled flood waters, and state and national emergencies were declared.

The report card gives American dams a D, with more than 2,100 dams with high-hazard potential found to be deficient, and $45 billion needed to repair aging dams with high-hazard potential.

Photo Credit: California Dept. of Water Resources
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East Windsor High School Locked Down Due to Unruly Student


East Windsor High School was placed on lockdown because of an unruly student on Thursday morning, according to police. 

The student is now calm, police said, and it’s common practice to lock down the school in the event that a student is unruly.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Missing Mass. College Student Last Seen in Conn.


A missing Massachusetts college student was last seen in Connecticut and school officials are asking anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact police or school security.

Nathaniel Whittle, a Williams College senior from Houston, Texas, was last seen in Bloomfield on Wednesday, according to a statement from the school.

He drives a 2013 gray Toyota Tacoma truck with Texas license number CBJ0333.

School officials said they are concerned about Nathaniel and are working with area law enforcement and Nathaniel's family to search for him beyond the campus.

Anyone who was seen him or has information should call the Williamstown police department at 413-458-5733 or Williams College campus security at 413-597-4444.

Photo Credit: Williams College

EPA Chief Claims CO2 Not ‘Primary Contributor’ to Warming


Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming, a view at odds with the opinion of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NBC News reported.

"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see ," Pruitt told CNBC's "Squawk Box.""But we don't know that yet ... We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis."

In fact, there is a global scientific consensus on carbon dioxide's role in climate change.

NASA says on its website that "humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution began. This is the most important long-lived 'forcing' of climate change."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts across the world, said in its Fifth Assessment Report that "there's a more than 95 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet" and "a better than 95 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth's temperatures over the past 50 years."

Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Staples to Close 70 Stores as US Sales Decline


Staples announced Thursday it would close 70 stores in 2017 after reporting fourth-quarter sales that were far weaker than analysts expected.

The largest U.S. office-supply chain reported a $548 million loss and a 3% drop in sales in the fiscal fourth quarter that ended in January.

Staples stock gave up 19 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $8.77 during morning trade, The Associated Press reported.

A spokesman for the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company said those results prompted Staples’ decision to close 70 stores in 2017, or 4.5% of its 1,600 remaining locations as it works to overhaul operations.

The latest store closings come on the heels of 48 shutterings last year, and a combined 242 in the two prior years. Staples had 1,255 U.S. stores and 304 Canadian locations. The retailer also operates some stores around the world.

The retailer tried to merge with rival Office Depot, but that deal was blocked by the Federal Trade Commission a year ago.

"I’m increasingly confident that we have the right plan and the right team to transform Staples and get back to sustainable sales and earnings growth,” said Shira Goodman, Staples’ Chief Executive Officer. “I am particularly proud of our ability to grow our delivery business by continuing to enhance our offering and satisfy our business customers.”

Traditional brick-and-mortar stores have been under pressure for some time due to greater competition from online outfits such as Amazon.

On Wednesday, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy for the second time in two years, announcing it would close 200 of its 1,500 stores and placing the future of the remaining stores in doubt.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Children, 1 and 4, Found Alone in Middletown Home: Police


A 40-year-old Middletown woman has been charged with several counts of risk of injury to children after a social services employee contacted police about four children between the ages of 1 and 4 being left alone in a home. 

The employee went to an undisclosed address Wednesday because she had an appointment with the parents and one of the young children answered the door, according to police. 

Police were then called to the home just after 3:30 p.m. to investigate a report that four young children were home alone and authorities determined two 1-year-old children and two 4-year-old children had been alone for around an hour and a half, according to the arraignment report. 

Jennifer Gambo, 40, of Middletown, was charged with four counts of risk of injury to a child. She was released on a $5,000 surety bond and is due in court today.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crews Responding to Brush Fires in Bridgewater, Middlefield


Emergency crews are battling brush fires in Bridgewater and Middlefield. 

The brush fire in Bridgewater is on a hillside in the area of Main Street and Sarah Sanford Road and several fire crews have been called in to provide mutual aid. 

Officials said there are several structures in the area, but it’s not clear in anything has been compromised. 

No information was immediately available on the size of fire or what started it. 

The Middlefield brush fire is affecting an acre on top of Beseck Mountain and four fire departments have responded, including Durham and Westfield, according to Valley Shore Dispatch.

The fire was reported at 10:35 a.m. 

No structures are in danger and no injuries have been reported.

There are also several power outages in Middlefield, Eversource is reporting that power is out for 116 customers. 

Photo Credit: Mike Jacquemin

Police Investigating Death on I-95 North in Stamford


On- and off-ramps are closed on Interstate 95 North in Stamford as police investigate the death of a person who appears to have jumped from an overpass and into the path of a car.

State police said it appears that a person jumped from the overpass to East Main Street around 11:49 a.m. and was hit by a car.

The exit 9 on- and off-ramps were closed for the investigation but the right lane and the on-ramp are now open.

Police urge drivers to reduce speeds and said first responders might be working in lanes of the highway.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transporation

Cigarette Thief Dragged Employee of Cromwell Gas Station: Police


Police are searching for a cigarette thief who they said dragged the employee of a Cromwell gas station when the clerk tried to stop the man from getting away.  

Police responded to Alltown Mobil at 04:42 a.m. Tuesday to investigate a report of cigarette thefts. 

Officers learned that an employee of the gas station chased the shoplifter into the parking lot, opened the driver side door of the man’s blue Honda Fit and tried to stop him from driving away, but the driver dragged the employee backward, then forward across the parking lot for around 50 feet. 

Police said the man who stole the cigarettes then got onto Route 9 South toward Middletown. 

Medical personnel evaluated the employee and police are looking for a heavy-set man in his mid-30s who is between 5-feet-8 and 5-feet-10.


Anyone with information should call Cromwell police at 860-635-2256.

Photo Credit: Crowmell Police
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