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1 Injured, 9 Displaced After Fire in Norwich


One person was taken to the hospital after fire broke out on the first floor of a home on McKinley Avenue in Norwich and 10 people have been displaced. 

First responders found the man unconscious when they responded on Thursday morning and he is being treated for smoke inhalation. 

Nine adults and a child have been displaced. 

A neighbor said she tried to help, but all the windows and doors were locked, so she and another neighbor broke a window. 

Several pets were also in the home. 

The American Red Cross is working with the victims. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Tesla Recalls 53K Model S & Model X for Brake Issue


Tesla is voluntarily recalling 53,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over a potential issue that could prevent the parking brake from releasing, CNBC reported.

The company issued an update Thursday saying electric parking brakes installed on Model S and Model X vehicles built between February and October 2016 "may contain a small gear that could have been manufactured improperly by our third-party supplier."

"We do not believe this issue could ever lead to a safety concern for our customers, and we have not seen a single accident or injury relating to it," said Tesla on its website Thursday. "However, in order to be overly cautious, we are going to be proactively replacing these parts to ensure that no issues arise."

Tesla estimates that only 5 percent of the cars it is recalling will be affected and that the replacement will take about 45 minutes.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

O’Reilly Could Leave Fox With Up to $25M: Sources


Based on his amended contract, Bill O'Reilly could receive up to one year’s salary after being ousted by Fox News, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC Thursday.

His annual salary is worth about $25 million, NBC News reported, citing a person with direct knowledge of O’Reilly’s contract. 21st Century Fox said Wednesday O'Reilly would not be returning to Fox News following a New York Times report that O’Reilly and Fox had settled five cases of sexual harassment allegations for about $13 million.

In an internal memo, Fox said the decision to remove him was made with outside counsel. 

Photo Credit: AP, File

Woman Rescued After Van Plunges Into Hamden Lake


A woman was in a van that plunged into a lake in Hamden this morning and she has been taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Firefighters and police officers responded after the van went into a lake along Waite Street.

The woman was the only person in the vehicle and she was conscious, according to officials, and the van has been pulled from the water.

No additional information was available. 

Photo Credit: Hamden Fire Department
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Police Have Warrant Charging Man With Murder of Wife in New Britain Homicide


New Britain police said they have a warrant charging a local man who sparked an Amber Alert with the murder of his wife, but they have not arrested him yet.

Police previously said Patrick Miles, 36, of New Britain, was a potential suspect in the death of 33-year-old Yasheeka Miles, who was found with a gunshot wound to the head in a home at 48 North Mountain Road in New Britain earlier this month.

Authorities said they believed Patrick Miles fled to New York City with his 2-year-old daughter, Paisley Miles, after the incident.The little girl was found safe with a relative in Brooklyn, New York.

According to New Britain police, Patrick Miles does have a criminal history in Vernon and New London.

Photo Credit: New Britain Police

4,200 State Layoffs Possible if No Union Concessions: Malloy


Gov. Dan Malloy said Thursday that his stance, and budget figures for that matter, haven't changed. 

As many as 4,200 state positions might need to be eliminated if his administration didn't achieve a saving target of $700 million in union concessions, he said during a news conference. 

The Malloy administration informed the State Employees Bargaining Coalition, or SEBAC, which represents tens of thousands of state workers in union negotiations, that his office had to start making plans for layoffs, which means some notices could be sent out in the near future. 

"This isn't new, guys and gals," Malloy said Thursday. 

He also said he is not attempting to use layoffs as leverage. 

"I'm not doing that," the governor proclaimed. 

The two-year budget proposal that the governor laid out in February depends heavily on union workers providing givebacks on things like wages and benefits. Negotiations started last summer and are ongoing, but it appears little progress has been. 

Malloy said he wouldn't negotiate in public over specifics with SEBAC. 

The fiscal year ends in June, but lawmakers have a deadline of June 7 to come up with a final budget.  

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Groups Take Aim at USDA for Document Takedown


Thousands of public records about animal welfare have vanished from the internet, part of a government database that included atrocious puppy mill conditions, improper veterinary care and other mistreatment of animals. Now activists are hitting back at the USDA in the courtroom and by posting deleted records online.

The United States' Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) cited ongoing litigation and privacy concerns as the reason for its database's removal two months ago.

APHIS, an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), previously hosted open records on its website pertaining to the administration of the Animal Welfare Act. The law regulates the treatment of animals in research facilities, maintains a minimum standard of care for warm-blooded animals and requires cats and dogs to be held in pounds for five days before being released to dealers. Included in the records are inspection reports, research facility reports and enforcement actions. The documents provide information on animal experiments, puppy mill conditions and the treatment of animals at circuses, among other things.

APHIS' explanation for the documents' removal wasn't sufficient for those passionate about animal rights, or defenders of public information. They say the information is crucial for public oversight, and that it takes away animal-rights groups' ability to ensure the law is being enforced. 

One man took it upon himself to collect and post thousands of the deleted documents using his website The Memory Hole.

"When I first heard that the database had been pulled offline, I remember I proactively grabbed some of those documents," said Russ Kick, a writer and editor who runs the site.

While some of the records were the result of his own research, many have been sent to him by others who have also taken interest in the deletion of APHIS' database.

Talk of scrubbing the database began before President Donald Trump's administration took office in January. Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Washington Post in February the department responsible for enforcing the Horse Protection and Animal Welfare acts had recommended removing the database from the web and making the documents available through a Freedom of Information Act request. He said he did not act on the recommendation because he did not have enough time left to review it before leaving his job. 

The documents were removed from the department's website in early February, and only some have been returned since. Some enforcement records are also available on the Office of Administrative Law Judges' website. 

Delcianna Winders, an academic fellow in the Animal Law and Policy Program at Harvard Law School, said that no new enforcement records had been posted online since 2016. 

On its website, APHIS said it decided to make adjustments to posting the records before the change of administration. 

"In addition, APHIS is currently involved in litigation concerning, among other issues, information posted on the agency's website," the agency said on its site. 

Though APHIS said it is defending against the litigation, its statement added, "in an abundance of caution, the agency is taking additional measures to protect individual privacy."

Kick, with The Memory Hole, isn't alone in his effort to share the documents with the public.

Winders, who uses the documents for her own work at Harvard, sent thousands of the records she's saved to Kick to publish on his site.

"The impact is huge, I don’t think it can be overstated," she said of the documents' removal.

Numerous groups use the records regularly in order to ensure that the agency is complying with the Animal Welfare Act, she added. 

"Those laws have basically become unenforceable now," she said.

She isn’t the only one who feels that way.

"Animals across the country are in jeopardy so long as the USDA's illegal deletion of records continues," said Brittany Peet, the director of captive animal law enforcement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

She said PETA is part of a coalition that has filed a lawsuit against the USDA to force them to restore the documents. Winders is a plaintiff in the same lawsuit, according to the complaint.

PETA has also made available through a Dropbox over 21,000 of its own copies of the deleted records, which Kick also said he linked to on his site.

APHIS has restored some of the deleted documents, but the amount is a far cry from the volume that had been maintained online for years, experts say.

In a statement to NBC, APHIS spokesperson Tanya Espinosa said the agency began reposting some information online on Feb. 17. The statement added that people can submit FOIA requests for the records.

"If the same records are frequently requested via the Freedom of Information Act process, APHIS may post the appropriately redacted versions to its website," Espinosa said.

Kathleen Conlee, vice president of Animal Research Issues at the Humane Society of the U.S., said her organization won’t stop working until all of the information is restored. 

"[This] has a major impact on the public and consumers and it spans a wide avenue of animal issues," Conlee told NBC.

Peet echoed Conlee’s sentiment, saying, "This isn’t just about animal welfare. The Animal Welfare Act also regulates important human safety issues."

Some of these issues include being able to find out about diseases at zoos, or attacks by dangerous, captive animals, she said.

This isn't the first time animal rights groups have had to battle it out with the USDA.

In the early 2000’s, Conlee said, the same information was inaccessible for a short time. The organization filed a lawsuit, which resulted in a settlement that compelled APHIS to make documents public.

All annual reports, including pain and distress information, had to be made available to the public electronically. The USDA was also forced to indicate on its site which facilities didn't submit annual reports. 

The Humane Society issued a notice of violation of court order and intent to enforce or reopen the lawsuit in February shortly after the documents were removed from the internet. The notice states that the USDA violated the terms of the 2009 agreement.

APHIS hasn’t always received a gold star for its enforcement of the law, either — something experts were quick to point out.

In a 2014 report, the Office of the Inspector General "cites specific examples of enforcement deficiencies, poor oversight, inadequate penalties, lack of deterrence, and many examples of animals suffering and dying," according to the Animal Welfare Institute.

Politicians are also backing efforts to get the records fully restored through legislation to compel the agency to make the documents public.

Peet said public scrutiny has been the primary thing holding the agency's feet to the fire when it comes to ensuring that basic animal welfare standards are upheld.

"And that's been taken away," she said. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

This Startup Wants to Retrofit Your Home Through Your Phone


A homeowner who wants to retrofit their home with green, energy-saving technology usually has to hire inspectors, engineers and contractors — a long and costly process. 

This Earth Day, a green startup is releasing an update to its green retrofitting app that let users' phones scan their property to assess how a feature in their home or business like a boiler can be upgraded, and how much it could save.

It's one of three new features being launched on BlocPower's retrofitting app that crowdsources funding, construction and jobs to retrofit properties across low- to moderate-income communities. The New York-based company's CEO says the updates put the ability to green a property directly into the property owners' hands, to cut out the red tape. 

Green building "is a highly technical and expensive skill set and we at BlocPower are trying to make that available for the common property owner,” said Donnel Baird, BlocPower's co-founder.

Two years old, BlocPower takes on retrofitting projects by invitation and connects home- and propertyowners with investors, local communties or even crowdfunding websites. Among the retrofits it's completed is Trinity United Church of Christ, which Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey have attended, on Chicago's South Side. 

There are a few steps to get through the green process that the app tries to make easy: grouping properties for bigger, more cost-efficient projects; financial analysis; engineering analysis and financing and payment options. After a project is finished, the retrofitted building might have soalr panels, energy-saving windows or a boiler or greener insulation.

Baird grew up in a Brooklyn neighborhood where hearing gunshots and having no heat was normal. His childhood experience pushed him to become a community organizer and he went on to join Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

After the elections, he spent a few years as a community organizer in Brooklyn, which led to his role as contact director for Obama For America. He went on to manage a national Laborers' International Union of North America campaign with the Department of Energy to manage energy efficiency financing to create green construction jobs throughout America under the Obama administration’s Better Buildings Initiative.

After working with the White House, he connected with the Washington Interfaith Network to help gain government funding for underserved communities in Washington, D.C.

But for Baird, the initiative, funded by Obama's Great Recession stimulus package, was not cost-effective enough for his community. The missing ingredient gave birth to BlocPower, he said.

“There is an engineering problem, there is a financial problem, there is a customer problem and an acquisition problem — these are all super hard and expensive to solve. We solve that in a transparent way,” Baird said.

The three new mobile features being launched — visual recognition, progress tracking tools for city governments and crowdsourcing for houses of worship or community-based properties — streamline the BlocPower app, said Baird and CEO Tooraj Arvajeh, speaking in Microsoft's tech hub in Manhattan.

"A customer can take photo of a boiler then it goes into our visual recognition technology to find out which boiler it is. We can also recognize building [materials] like brick or stone or concrete," said Tooraj Arvajeh, BlocPower's CEO.

Baird added, "A high-end engineering company might charge $40-50 thousand dollars for doing an analysis for a small building and so we are trying to bring that cost down for free by using machine learning, visual recognition technology and big data. These [services] that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for an engineering analysis, we are trying to make that basically a free commodity."

BlocPower is not first tool of its kind but it does have a niche, its community-based resources.

“What is interesting is its crowdsourcing [financial] model,” said Dan Reicher, executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University. “That can help lower the costs, or there won’t be any costs at all.”

Typically there are two ways to finance green building projects, Reicher said, either through investors or taking on loans. Usually investors look at smaller buildings as risky.

Reicher said investors look at credit risk, what kind of building it is and whether the investment would actually improve the value of the property.

Those risk factors make it difficult for community-based organizations to make small but effective changes. For example, BlocPower's New York City pilot program is in the middle of helping the Fordham United Methodist Church in Bronx change its boilers, among other energy-saving features, so it can save money and reinvest back into the community.

“There are many factors that can deter investors: if it is lower quality, less attractive and there are tenants, it’s not an attractive investment,” said UCLA professor Magali Delmas, who has studied Los Angeles green building programs.

"Over $10,000 to $200,000 investment can be a real hurdle for property owners," she said. They "look at the initial investment rather than the long term benefits."

Delmas said upgrading a building or a home really benefit the larger community, not the individual, because it improves the local environment. But it can be difficult to do if a building- or homeowner doesn’t have extensive knowledge of engineering or finances.

In Brooklyn, BlocPower was assigned by the New York City government to help retrofit buildings that were eating up power and led to brown-outs, when lights dim due to ebbing power. Retrofitting buildings prone to brown-outs in the area would help keep the lights on during extreme hot or cold weather.

“We are trying to make that a free commodity so people learn about their buildings and the sustainability opportunity each building has,” Baird said.

Photo Credit: Courtesy BlocPower

Feds Seize Docs From American Flight Academy in Hartford


Federal and state agents have been at the American Flight Academy (AFA) all day Wednesday removing boxes of documents.

Sources tell NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters that investigators are zeroing in on a maintenance hangar at AFA at the Brainard Airport in Hartford.

Agents have been hauling nearly 12 boxes of documents from inside the flight school's offices to several law enforcement vehicles, according to NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters on the scene.

State police confirm they are assisting the U.S. Department of Transportation's Inspector General Office.

AFA is owned by Arian Prevalla, the survivor of a deadly plane crash back in October, that killed his student Feras Freitekh. Prevalla said he fought and struggled with Freitekh before the crash. Officials called the crash intentional early on in the investigation.

On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said their final report of the deadly student crash was referred to the FBI.

Four incidents involving AFA have been reported since last October— including two deadly crashes, an emergency landing and a small crash with no injuries.

NBC Connecticut reached out to Prevalla's attorney.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

5-Month-Old Contracts First Confirmed Case of Tick-Borne Disease


A 5-month-old baby in eastern Connecticut has contracted the first case of a tick-borne disease, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In November, the baby developed a fever and started vomiting. Over the next several days, the right side of the infant's face started twitching that progressed to seizures that included eye deviation and right arm stiffening, the CDC reports. 

The parents said a tick, that most likely had been brought in by a family member, attached to the infant for about three hours. With this information, plus MRI and clinical findings, the CDC was able to determine that the child had contracted Powassan virus (POWV).

“The first confirmed case of Powassan Virus in Connecticut further underscores the urgent need for research into tick-borne diseases,” Senator Richard Blumenthal said in a statement on Thursday.

Blumenthal visited the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station to discuss the surge of Connecticut's tick population. 

The CDC explained that about seven cases of POWV are reported each year in the United States. Cases are predominantly in the northeast and great lake region. Minnesota, New Hampshire and Virginia reported their first POWV cases within the last seven years.

"It is not known whether this represents spread of the virus within the local tick population, or increased testing and recognition of the virus as a cause of human disease," the CDC said.

5-Month-Old Baby Missing in Hamden

Emergency Officials Warn of False 911 Calls from Apple Watches


Emergency officials in Tolland County are issuing a warning after receiving several false 911 calls from people wearing Apple Watches.

In the last week, Tolland County Mutual Aid Fire Service has received about nine false 911 calls from Apple Watch users and they are concerned that the problem will grow as more people buy the devices.

Emergency officials are warning people who use an Apple Watch so they know the watch could easily dial 911 without warning if the Apple SOS feature is enabled.

If you do accidentally wrist-dial 911, stay on the line and let dispatchers know what happened or they will waste time calling you back to ensure that there is not a real emergency, Tolland County Mutual Aid Fire Service urges.

The Apple support web page says that making a call with SOS on an Apple Watch will automatically connect you to the local emergency number. 

You can change the setting so that holding the side button won't call emergency services automatically. To do so, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap the “My Watch” tab. Then tap “General > Emergency SOS” and turn off “Hold to Auto Call.”

If you turn off this setting, you can still use the emergency SOS slider to make a call.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Top Administrators At Whiting Forensic on Leave


An investigation into allegations of patient abuse at the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital has now reached the top levels.

The state has just confirmed to us that Whiting's acting director and director of nursing have both been put on administrative leave in connection the investigation. That brings the total number of employees on leave to 22.

Sources tell NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters that staff at Whiting Forensic, which treats patients in both maximum and medium security settings, were told today that the two were put on indefinite leave. This all concerns allegations of abuse against a patient, or patients at Whiting.

Not everyone on leave is accused of committing the abuse and some may have been mandated reporters that failed to act, sources said. 

The state said it is prepared to take action against these employees if the accusations are confirmed, including termination. Sources add the evidence includes surveillance video from inside the maximum security portion of the psychiatric hospital.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Champs-Elysees Attacker ID'd, Carried Note Defending ISIS


The gunman who killed a police officer and wounded two others in the heart of Paris before being killed himself was French and had a long criminal record, NBC News reported. 

Karim Cheurfi, 39, was a Paris resident, according to a representative of the Paris prosecutor's office. The city's prosecutor said he was carrying a note defending ISIS, The Associated Press reported. 

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet earlier told radio station France Info that officials found a shotgun and knives in the suspect's car, and three people from his family were being questioned.

Cheurfi was fatally shot trying to flee the scene of the shooting on the Champs-Elysees Thursday, in which what French President Francois Hollande has called a terrorist attack.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu

ME to Release Hernandez's Brain After Lawyer's Accusation


The stunning suicide of Aaron Hernandez led to another surprising turn -- a fight over his brain.

Hernandez's family wants his brain to be studied by the Boston University CTE Center for a brain disease found in some football players. While state officials have now said they would release the brain to the family, that announcement wasn't made until after accusations from the former New England Patriots tight end's lawyer.

"It is our position that they are holding Aaron Hernandez's brain illegally," attorney Jose Baez said.

Baez added that BU's CTE Center is "the finest lab in the country," and said medical examiner's office does not have the same level of expertise.

BU's CTE Center refused to comment on the matter Thursday.

"If it's not preserved properly, they won't be able to take proper specimens and we won't be able to get the information and the knowledge we want," said Baez. "It is literally a destruction of evidence issue."

The Medical Examiner's office released a statement saying the brain was being kept because it was part of the investigation into Hernandez's death and could require further analysis. But just hours later, just as quickly as the tension escalated, it seemed to come to an end.

When the Worcester County District Attorney's Office announced that Hernandez's death had officially been ruled a suicide, it added that the state would do as the family asked.

"Now that the cause and manner of death have been determined, the brain will be released to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center as Mr. Hernandez’s family wishes," DA Joseph Early Jr. said in a statement.

Baez says the family hopes the brain can be examined to help future athletes, and to shed any more light on his client's death.

"We need to specifically do everything possible to find out what happened," Baez said. "Why not? Doesn't everyone want to know?"

Truck Carrying Wonton Noodles Catches Fire on I-395


Photo Credit: Lisbon Fire Department

US Spy Planes Watch for Possible North Korea Nuke Test


The U.S. military has deployed “sniffer aircraft,” drones and U-2 spy planes in preparation for a possible North Korean nuclear test, NBC News reported. 

The sniffer aircraft is capable of detecting evidence of a nuclear explosion, according to NBC News. 

In a statement to NBC, the U.S. Air Force said the plane, known as the WC 135, "has been deployed on a routine mission to Northeast Asia. These missions are planned well in advance."

Officials also told NBC that a nuclear test by North Korea could come without warning.

"We expect that they are able to do it at any time, without any real warning," one official said. "They have been engaging in steady preparations."

Photo Credit: AP

Bebe Is Closing All 175 of Its Stores


Bebe expects to close all of its brick-and-mortar locations by the end of May, the clothing retailer said in a filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The chain had previously said it was committed to closing 21 locations, which represented roughly 12 percent of its total outlets, CNBC reported.

The move comes amid speculation that the company plans to transition to an online-only model.

Bebe didn't immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Photo Credit: AP

Rain Causes Issues for Morning Commute


Rain, which is coming down heavy at times, is causing a mess of a morning commute in parts of the state, but the precipitation will be moving out quickly.

Follow Hanna Mordoh on Twitter for traffic updates.

Rain falling after 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. will be lighter and scattered, tapering off as we approach lunchtime.

Clouds will start to break tonight and tomorrow morning, leading to partly sunny skies for Saturday and Sunday.

Photo Credit: NBC10
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'Not a Distraction': Maine 6th Grader Stands Up to School Dress Code


She’s on the pages of Teen Vogue, Allure, and Cosmopolitan magazines – not a celebrity, but a sixth grader.

Molly Neuner, 11, of Portland, Maine, is making national headlines after she stood up to school officials enforcing a dress code she thinks is "unfair and sexist."

The dress code at King Middle School prohibits students from wearing "short or tight-fitting skirts or shorts, (no shorter than finger-tip length) thin strapped, revealing tops."

Neuner said sixth graders recently had a meeting with teachers, and when the topic of the dress code came up, two teachers told them it was because their clothing can be a "distraction" to boys.

Neuner said the next week at school, a teacher measured the width of her tank top straps and the length of her friend’s shorts in front of the class.

"It just made us feel uncomfortable," she said.

When she told her mother about it, Christina Neuner showed Molly the hashtag “I am not a distraction” on Instagram. It inspired Molly’s next outfit for school.

"The minute I saw that, I knew that’s what I wanted to do," she said.

Neuner wore a spaghetti-strap style tank top to school, and instead of sleeves, wrote the words "I am not a distraction" on her arm in marker. When her female classmates saw her, they joined in.

Their movement caught the attention of blogs and national magazines, and has been shared by the ACLU and Huffington Post, among other major outlets.

It has prompted school officials to review the dress code policy, and ask for student input at the end of the school year to make possible changes.

Superintendent Xavier Botana said they are carefully reviewing policies and considering "smart adjustments" to the dress code.

Neuner said she would like to see those changes sooner, but she's glad school officials were receptive.

She has received comments from students and parents across the country, and the world – some telling her she’s not distracting, but inspiring.

"It just felt so empowering to know that other girls have looked up to me, and that they are going through this," she said. "Now they have another reason to stand up for themselves."

Photo Credit: Molly Neuner
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