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Biden Talks Sex Assault Awareness at GMU Rally


Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke Wednesday at a campus sexual assault awareness event at George Mason University.

Biden has long been at the forefront of the movement fighting to end violence against women. In the '90s, as a senator, he wrote the Violence Against Woman Act that changed how the U.S. criminal justice system responded to domestic violence and sexual assault.

As vice president, he appointed the first-ever White House adviser on violence against women and has been a champion for the "It's On Us" campaign, which the Obama Administration launched in 2014 and aims to reduce campus sexual assault.

"My dad used to say the greatest sin a man can do is ignore the abuse to all," Biden said during Wednesday's event. "You have an obligation to say something. This is about truth."

Biden also talked about the recent firing of Bill O'Reilly following allegations of sexual harassment.

"You know you're making progress when you have the most popular talking head lose his job for sexual assault," Biden said. 

Actress Alisha Boe, known for her role as Jessica in the Neflix's series "13 Reasons Why," also spoke at the event.

George Mason has made eradicating sexual assault a top priority, offering a 24-hour crisis hotline which is managed by the Student Support and Advocacy Center, and obligating students to take the Mason pledge to end sexual violence.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington

Sen. Ted Cruz Wants El Chapo to Pay for Border Wall


U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz wants funds seized from El Chapo, and other drug lords, to pay for the border wall.

On Tuesday, Cruz introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act that would "reserve any amounts forfeited to the U.S. Government as a result of the criminal prosecution of “El Chapo” (formally named Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Lorea) and other drug lords for border security assets and the completion of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border."

In a statement Tuesday, Cruz said the U.S. government is seeking the criminal forfeiture of $14 billion in drug proceeds from El Chapo.

“Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border,” said Cruz. “Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities. We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget. By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and his ilk, we can offset the wall’s cost and make meaningful progress toward achieving President Trump’s stated border security objectives.”

El Chapo is the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel who escaped a Mexican prison in July 2015 before being recaptured in January 2016 and extradited to a U.S. prison in January 2017. He's expected to face criminal prosecution for numerous alleged drug-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder and money laundering.

False Alarm Prompted Lockdown at Naugatuck High School


A false alarm about an intruder prompted a lockdown at Naugatuck High School this morning as police and school officials were actually getting ready to hold an intruder drill. 

Police said the intruder drill was schedule to start at 10:40 a.m., but an alarm went off at 10:15 a.m. about an intruder in the child care unit of the high school, which was not part of the drill, police said. 

Naugatuck High School was placed into lockdown and the school was evacuated as a precaution while police investigated until they determined the intruder entry was a false alarm. 

The lockdown was lifted at around 10:55 a.m. All students have returned to the high school and the planned drill event was cancelled.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Strange Odor Prompts Evacuation of Derby Middle School


The Derby Fire Department responded for a strange odor at Derby Middle School Wednesday morning.

According to the Derby Public Schools Superintendent's office, a strange odor was reported around 11:30 a.m. The school was immediately evacuated and both fire and police responded.

The fire department determined the strange odor was coming from a computer monitor. The building was cleared and students were able to return to class.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

2-Year-Old Found Wandering Street in Torrington


A 2-year-old child was found wandering on the side of the road in Torrington Wednesday, according to Torrington police.

Police said that a passing driver spotted the child standing near the road at Lovers Lane and Goshen Road (Route 4) shortly after midnight. The child was taken to the hospital for evaluation, and was in good health.

Officers began searching for the child’s parents. Around 5 a.m., a resident at the apartments at 187 Lovers Lane reported her child missing and said her front door was wide open.

Police said it appeared the child crawled out of bed and left the apartment complex on his own. The Department of Children and Families was notified, but police said it does not appear there was any foul play or criminal aspect to the case. No charges are expected.

The child has been reunited with the family.

The family wanted to thank the driver who stopped for his concern and for contacting authorities to insure the child's safety.

Amazon Announces Fashion-Tracking Camera Echo Look


Amazon launched the Echo Look Wednesday, a new device that observes how users dress and offers fashion advice based on algorithms and technology, CNBC reported.

The Echo Look is similar to Alexa, the voice-operated device that plays music, provides weather forecasts, traffic and news updates and more.

The Look takes "full-length photos and short videos" with a computer-generated background blur and stores them in a companion app. Its "Style Check" service "combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists," Amazon says.

The Echo Look will feature all of the other functions of the Echo Dot and standard Echo.

Photo Credit: Amazon

Coast Guard Trains First Responders on Conducting Water Rescues


Police officers and firefighters from across Western Connecticut trained on water rescue in real-world conditions Wednesday in Bridgeport.

The U.S. Coast Guard hosts the trainings four times per year in Connecticut to help first responders who are called to water rescues respond quickly and hopefully avoid tragedy.

The departments met at Captain’s Cove in Bridgeport, boarded rescue boats, headed into the Long Island Sound and rehearsed a simulated emergency scenario – an active shooter on a Connecticut ferry with passengers jumping off the boat to escape.

“In situations like that where you have a lot of people entering the water, it’s important that you have a large, combined rescue effort,” Lt. Matt Richards, of the US Coast Guard, said.

The Coast Guard conducts rescue-response simulations throughout the year to keep the skills of police and fire department personnel up to date so they can be ready to save when – not if – an emergency happens.

“If they’re going to be the first ones on scene a lot of times, we’re trying to educate them on first search patterns. They’ll get on scene, determined drift and see which way the currents are pushing the person and then they go into a search pattern,” BMC Kevin Wyman, of the U.S. Coast Guard, said.

And while the water emergencies they’ll face might never be as extreme as the one they rehearsed, Coast Guard leaders said that as temperatures climb and more people head out onto the water, the rescue skills they’re practicing will be put to the test.

“We want to make sure we have the same terminology and the same goals and we have the same procedures as we conduct search and rescue,” Lt. Richards said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Police Officers Disciplined in Excessive Force Case


Seven Hartford police officers involved in an excessive force investigation have been found in violation of the department’s code of conduct following an internal investigation into an incident in June, according to an internal affairs report released Wednesday.

On June 4, 2016, police began pursuing a driver in a stolen Toyota Camry at Zion and Glendale streets in Hartford who sped off, ran stop signs and led officers through several residential streets before the chase ended on Flatbush Avenue in West Hartford when officers deployed "speed sticks," according to a Hartford police report.

A West Hartford police camera appears to show Hartford officers kicking or stomping one of the two suspects, who was in handcuffs, police said.

The suspects, Ricardo Perez, 34, of Hartford, and Emilio Diaz, 38, of Hartford, had to be hospitalized and Hartford police launched a preliminary investigation the following day when the suspects' bruised and cut faces appeared in mugshots and raised concerns in the department.

The report from the Hartford Police Department said Perez violently struggled with officers and a West Hartford officer used a stun gun, but it did not affect the suspect, so an officer punched Perez in the torso.

Perez's mug shot shows a swollen eye and bandages, while Rivera's shows a gash in his head.

Police said Perez they found PCP and marijuana in the car. Both suspects were charged with drug offenses and Perez was also charged with traffic violations at the time of the incident.

Various officers were involved in this response and the majority of the Hartford officers involved were found to be in compliance with department policy in their use of force.

However, seven officers were found in violation of various department policies and procedures, including excessive use of force.

Hartford Police Deputy Chief Brian Foley said that everyone learned a lesson from this.

"Every cop is this police department's seen what's going on here. Every cop saw the people that just got punished from it, and every cop saw a supervisor get arrested from this."

Officer Ricardo Colon, Officer Stephen Barone and Det. Christopher Mastroianni were all suspended after the investigation determined that they violated the Hartford Police Department’s Code of Conduct. Officer James Prignano and Sgt. Luan Bojka received “oral reprimands” at the conclusion of the investigation.

All of the officers were ordered into remedial training from the Hartford Police Department.

"We are a police department of humans and with humans there are human and emotional errors that do occur," Foley said.

Det. Samuel Cruz was also found to be in violation of the code of conduct, but received no formal discipline because he was out for injuries for five weeks following the incident and was counseled by Internal Affairs and retrained upon his return.

Sgt. Sean Spell was also found to be in violation of the Code of Conduct, but was not subject to discipline because he retired from the department following the pursuit.

Spell was charged with assault in connection with this incident. He pleaded not guilty and the next pre-trial hearing in his case is scheduled for May 11.

The Litchfield State’s Attorney’s Office and Connecticut State Police were responsible for an investigation into whether any criminal charges should be filed.

Hartford police said that neither Perez nor Diaz ever filed a formal citizen's complaint with the department, and they were unwilling to participate in the Internal Affairs review.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin commended the police department's leadership for the transparency and for holding the officers accountable.

“Clearly this is something that we in Hartford take very seriously, that the leadership of this department takes very seriously, and it’s important to us that our police department always has the trust of the community,” Bronin said.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to the Hartford Police Union president for comment but has not yet heard back. NBC Connecticut has also reached out to Diaz's attorney for comment.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police

Trump Says He Won't Terminate NAFTA


President Donald Trump told the leaders of Mexico and Canada on Wednesday that he won't terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement "at this time," according to a statement from the White House.

The Trump administration has been considering a draft executive order to withdraw the U.S. from the trade agreement. 

Senior White House officials have been discussing steps that can be taken to start the process of renegotiating or withdrawing from NAFTA before the end of Trump's first 100 days in office, according to a person familiar with the president's thinking. Trump railed against the decades-old trade deal during his campaign, describing it as a "disaster."

But the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations, said a number of options remain on the table, and discussions are ongoing about the best way to proceed.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment on the order, which was first reported by Politico.

"The president has made addressing the problems of NAFTA a priority throughout the campaign, and once the president makes a decision about how he wants to address that, we'll let you know," he said.

The administration appears to be divided over how and when to proceed, as they balance a newfound cautiousness with the desire to rack up accomplishments before Trump's 100th day on the job.

Some are gunning for Trump to sign a draft order this week, while others are weighing the complications surrounding withdrawing from or renegotiating the deal without Congress fully onboard. The debate played out in the press Wednesday as some outlets quoted officials insisting the signing was imminent, while other officials dismissed the reports as "just a rumor."

"My practice is to comment on things we've actually done or are doing as opposed to commenting on rumors," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters at an unrelated White House briefing Wednesday evening.

Trump can withdraw from NAFTA — but he has to give six months' notice. And it is unclear what would happen next. The law Congress passed to enact the trade pact might remain in place, forcing Trump to wrangle with lawmakers and raising questions about the president's authority to raise tariffs on Mexican and Canadian imports.

And while an executive order could direct the United States Trade Representative or others to look into steps needed to renegotiate or withdraw, the same could be accomplished with a simple phone call, making an order largely symbolic.

The discussion comes days after the administration announced it would slap hefty tariffs on softwood lumber being imported from Canada. Trump has also been railing against changes in Canadian milk product pricing that he says are hurting the American dairy industry.

Trump told The Associated Press in an interview last week that he plans to either renegotiate or terminate NAFTA, which he and other critics blame for wiping out U.S. manufacturing jobs because it allowed companies to move factories to Mexico to take advantage of low-wage labor.

"I am very upset with NAFTA. I think NAFTA has been a catastrophic trade deal for the United States, trading agreement for the United States. It hurts us with Canada, and it hurts us with Mexico," he said.

Another senior White House official declined to comment on "rumors" of specific actions. But that official said NAFTA has been a top priority for the president since day one and the administration has been working on addressing the issues since the president took office. That person also spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's thinking.

The Trump administration last month submitted a vague set of guidelines to Congress for renegotiating NAFTA, disappointing those who were expecting Trump to demand a major overhaul.

In an eight-page draft letter to Congress, acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn wrote that the administration intended to start talking with Mexico and Canada about making changes to the pact, which took effect in 1994.

The letter spelled out few details and stuck with broad principles. But it appeared to keep much of the existing agreement in place, including private tribunals that allow companies to challenge national laws on the grounds that they inhibit trade — a provision that critics say allows companies to get around environmental and labor laws. 

Photo Credit: AP

Human Remains Found in Greenwich Park


Human remains have been found in a park in Greenwich and police said the death was not recent.

Greenwich Town Parks employees were clearing debris from a wooded area of Helen Binney Kitchel Natural Park around 9:12 a.m. Wednesday when they found the remains in the southwest area of the park, according to police.

The office of the chief medical examiner responded and the preliminary indications are that the remains are human, according to police, and an anthropologist determined this was "not a recent event."

Greenwich police do not expect to release any additional information until getting more from the office of the chief medical examiner.

State police detectives are assisting Greenwich police with the investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-372-1176 or email tips@greenwichct.org.

Photo Credit: Greenwich Police
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Trump Tax Reform Plan Cuts Personal and Corporate Rates


A tax reform plan outlined by the Trump administration two days before the president's 100th day in office proposes deep cuts to personal income tax as well as corporate taxes. The plan also repeals the estate tax. 

Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Pickup Truck Hits Marriott in Downtown Hartford

Historic Goodwin Hotel to Reopen Next Week


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Britain High School Valedictorian Accepted Into 4 Ivy Leagues


New Britain High School's valedictorian has been accepted into four Ivy League universities: Yale, Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton. 

Saimun Habib, who aspires to be an engineer, was recently ranked among the top 30 finalists in the statewide Chemistry Olympiad Competition. 

The New Britain High School senior is a co-captain of the school's robotic team which is ranked in the top 20 percent of teams around the world. 

Habib said he has narrowed his school selection down to two universities. 

“This is a decision I do not take lightly. I have always worked hard to do well in both my classes and extracurricular activities, and I am excited to study chemical or biochemical engineering at either Harvard or Princeton,” Habib said.

Teacher Manila Mathur said Habib is one of her most passionate and driven students. 

“I have come to know Saimun as a strong student and a role model for his peers. Saimun is a rare type of student who combines exceptional natural ability with a willingness and eagerness to learn. Although he is aware of his natural ability, Saimun is constantly challenging himself, asking advanced questions in chemistry class in pursuit to deepen his level of understanding of concepts,” Mathur said. 

In addition to his intelligence, the high school's principal Joseph Pinchera notes Saimun's remarkable character. 

“I can’t say enough about Mr. Habib. His academic record speaks for itself. He is a great young man who cares about people. I personally enjoy his humorous approach in everything he does. There is no question that Saimun Habib is a game changer. His future is beyond bright!” Pinchera said. 

Photo Credit: New Britain School District

Silver Alert Issued for 10-Year-Old in Stamford


A Silver Alert has been issued for a 10-year-old girl in Stamford.

Cashmere Robinson was taken by a non-custodial parent, Samantha Cuevas. Police believe they could be in the Bronx, New York.

Robinson is described as being 5 feet tall and 100 pounds with brown heyes and black hair.

She was last seen wearing a burgundy shirt, jeans and Michael Kors boots.

Anyone who may have seen Cuevas or Robinson is asked to call Stamford Police at (203) 977-4921.

Will Trump’s Border Wall Prevent Human Trafficking?


President Donald Trump has said that his border wall could potentially curb human trafficking, but experts say that isn’t a sure thing, NBC News reported.

Traffickers could use different paths as leverage over their victims if they have trouble getting into the United States, according to one expert. The Department of Homeland Security is unable to comment on whether a border wall could curb human trafficking through the border.

Polaris, a partner of "Blue Campaign," the DHS program to combat human trafficking, keeps records of calls made to Línea Nacional Contra la Trata de Personas and Polaris' National Human Trafficking Resource Center to gain data on trafficking at the border.

Between Sept. 30, 2015 and Aug. 31, 2016, 508 human-trafficking victims were reported. The data also said a majority of traffickers were male adults of Mexican nationality.

Photo Credit: AP, File

Historic Goodwin Hotel to Reopen in Hartford


Hartford’s historic Goodwin Hotel is set to reopen after nearly ten years.

“The Goodwin was a well-known name and it’s nice to have it back,” said Al Bourjaili, of Southington.

The Haynes Street hotel has been shut down since 2008. The owners at the time reported more than $6 million in losses.

Two new Connecticut-based developers purchased the building last year for $5 million and transformed the space.

The hotel is being promoted as an upscale boutique hotel. It now has modern rooms, a gym and brand new restaurant, the Harlan Brasserie.

“I think it’s great for Hartford, especially the restaurant on the first floor,” said William Moran of Simsbury. “It’s nice to have development on the main level.”

Following the opening of Dunkin' Donuts Park, local business owners say they’re hoping this is another sign of Hartford’s redevelopment.

“Now that the hotel is opening we’re really looking forward to the guests coming in and the increased traffic flow,” said Nigel Clark, owner of the Juiced Up Juice Bar.

The Goodwin is taking reservations beginning May 5. The restaurant will open to the public May 2.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Waterbury Schools Revoke More than 150 Dress Code Suspensions


More than 150 students at Waterbury’s Wilby High School missed a day of class for violating the dress code, but now the school district is removing those suspensions from their records.

“They decided to suspend everyone that was not in the dress code,” Wilby student Jessica Rivera said.

Four of Rivera’s friends were suspended as part of the dress code enforcement sweep, she said.

“They were surprised, some of them were mad, because there’s only two months left, so why would they worry about that now?” Rivera said.

The 1,086 students were warned last week about the dress code crackdown.

“We were left in the dark, we had no knowledge” said Robert Brenker, the Waterbury Public Schools’ interim chief operating officer.

While the district officials support dress code enforcement, Brenker said Wilby administrators did not follow the proper protocol of progressively disciplining students.

“Each one of those 156 should have had a review based on their individual record,” Brenker said.

Some of the students should only have received a written warning or an afterschool detention. District police calls for a suspension only after a fourth dress code violation.

“All the suspensions have been revoked for the 156,” Brenker said of the district’s decision after a parent notified them Monday about the mass suspension.

The Waterbury schools dress code prohibits high school students from wearing hats, caps and hoodies.

“It teaches them how to be professional to a degree,” parent Lygia Rinaldi said.

But Rinaldi does not like how Wilby High School is trying to enforce the dress code.

“I think suspension is a little much for dress code,” she said, “c’mon for clothes, what if people can’t afford it.”

NBC Connecticut reached out to the Wilby High School Principal Michele Buerkle for comment, but she did not respond to our email.

Person Hit by Train in Madison

Family, Friends Welcome USS New Mexico


The Virginia Class, fast-attack submarine, U.S.S. New Mexico, returned to its homeport Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London after a six month deployment at sea.

“I'm just going to hug him,” said Ret. Chief Quartermaster Rick Perritt of the U.S. Navy. He waited for his grandson to arrive on the submarine. For Perritt, it’s a new, proud experience being the one waiting on the pier.

"He picked a career that I was proud of,” he said. 

U.S. Air Force veteran, Capt. Edward Denalsky, flew B-17s. The 95-year-old was waiting to welcome his grandson-in-law back.

"The livelihood and the excitement and the (exuberance), you know? It's just terrific!” Denalsky said.

This homecoming was a birthday present for military mom, Cristy Barham.

She comes from a military family, but said, “As a wife it's hard, but as a mom, somehow it's harder. It's just on a different level.”

The first coupd to hug one another was producer Alexandra Rizk Keane and her husband, Lt. Junior Grade Michael Keane.

In the six months he was gone, Alexandra Rizk Keane produced the movie "Literally, Right Before Aaron," starring Cobie Smulders, Justin Long, and written and directed by NBC’s "The Blacklist" star Ryan Eggold. It premiered on Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival and her husband will see the last screening on Thursday night. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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