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State Employee Layoff Notices Begin Going Out


Layoff notices have begun going out to Connecticut state employees, Gov. Dannel Malloy said Friday. 

During a news conference after the state bond commission meeting, Malloy said the layoff notices have begun to go out, but did not specify which departments are affected or how many have been sent out. 

The governor previously said layoff notices could go to as many as 1,100 state employees. Even though notices are distributed, some employees have "bumping rights," allowing them a limited ability to move into another position. 

On the same day the state authorized $350 million in new borrowing, the Fitch ratings agency downgraded the state’s credit to A- from A.

The news comes as a blow to the state’s already struggling economy.

A spokesman for the governor wrote in a statement, “The action by Fitch is disappointing, and should be taken extremely seriously as we chart a course on our next biennial budget.”

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Len Fasano wrote, “Lawmakers need to recognize that their policies have consequences and have created an environment that is now in desperate need of significant change. What is clear is that any biennial state budget for Connecticut cannot resemble the fiscal policies of years past.”

The projects approved by Malloy and the bond commission ranged from improvements for the Waterbury Branch Line of Metro North to a package of economic incentives for a pharmaceutical company that announced it would create hundreds of jobs.

The governor had said previously back in March that he would not hold future meetings to approve new borrowing until progress was made on budget talks. Even though there has been no tangible progress on the next two-year state budget, the governor changed his mind, saying he felt an obligation to approve some projects.

“I thought that needed to have this meeting,” Malloy said. He later added, “I have curtailed spending where I thought it was appropriate and then moving forward. I mean should we allow people’s houses to flood?”

To that end, Malloy challenged legislative leaders to start making decisions they never thought they would have to when it comes to cutting spending and changing the way state government operates in Connecticut.

“Leaders of the legislature don’t want to do the hard things and this is all about doing hard things,” Malloy said following a meeting of the State’s Bond Commission. “That’s what government is.”

The first layoff notices were also sent to state workers who will be the first casualties of the state’s fiscal crisis this year. The governor said they were sent out, but did not specify how many or which departments may be impacted.

He said future layoffs can be avoided if organized labor reaches a deal with the state on at least $700 million in givebacks each year for the next two years.

“Discussions have been respectful and I hope they lead to an agreement that can help move the state forward.”

If a deal is not struck in the coming weeks, the fiscal year ends June 30, then the governor said he can’t rule even more drastic reductions.

“We need to have an agreement relatively soon or else we have to find those other ways.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bad Repairs Caused $4M Damage to Air Force One Oxygen System


One of the president's Air Force One planes was put at risk when mechanics used contaminated tools during "heavy maintenance" last April, resulting in roughly $4 million in damages, according to the Air Force.

The contamination occurred while Barack Obama was still president, NBC News reported. The unsafe cleaning procedures increased risk of fire breaking out on the plane.

Boeing repaired the damages at its own expense. 

Before taking office, Trump threatened to cancel an order with Boeing for two updated 747's that would join the Air Force One fleet.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Gymnastics Doctor Faces Sex-Abuse Accusers in Court


A high-profile gymnastics doctor who allegedly molested dozens of patients, including an Olympic medalist, faced two of his accusers Friday in a Michigan courtroom, NBC News reported.

The women testified at a preliminary hearing that will determine if there's enough evidence for Dr. Larry Nassar to stand trial on sexual assault charges. Both accusers described his "degrading" treatments.

A 22-year-old woman who competed through a local club recounted how Nassar repeatedly penetrated her with ungloved hands while treating her in the basement of her home, starting when she was about 13 years old.

She said she knew he did the same to other gymnasts.

Photo Credit: David Eggert/AP Photo

Crews Respond to Lisbon Boat Launch


A search is underway at the Boat Launch near Route 169 in Lisbon.

Police said there were reports of property found near the water.

Check back with NBC Connecticut for updates.

DHS Wants Criminal Histories of Displaced Haitians in US


Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly asked his staff for the criminal history of thousands of Haitians living in the United States on protected immigration status as he mulls the decision of whether to extend the program set to expire in July, NBC News reported. 

The Trump administration must soon decide whether to renew "Temporary Protected Status" for some 50,000 Haitians currently living in the U.S. 

In 2010, the Obama administration granted the status to Haiti after a massive earthquake struck the country, killing an estimated 220,000 and displacing 1.5 million. 

The move has raised concerns among immigration advocates who worry about how the information will be used given the administration's more hardline positions on immigration.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

FBI Investigating Bank Employees Exposed to White Powder


Four people are being treated after they were exposed to a white powder at KeyBank in Coventry Saturday morning.

Police said an employee found an envelope containing white powder and a note in the overnight drop box.

It is unknown at this time what the substance is.

Police said the four employees exposed are not showing any signs of being sick but will be getting decontaminated.

Officials said there is no threat to the public and the investigation is ongoing.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Child Injured in Bicycle Accident at Powder Ridge


A Life Star helicopter was called to transport a child injured in a serious bicycle accident at Powder Ridge in Middlefield on Saturday.

The accident happened during a cycling event being held at the ski resort, according to police.

The child's condition is not known.

Runners Race to Find A Cure


The rainy weather held out long enough for runners to take their marks for the 24th annual CT Race in the Park on Saturday.

The 5K, held every year in New Britain’s Walnut Hill Park, drew thousands of people all with the same goal: to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer.

At the survivors’ breakfast, women wore pink ribbons on their hats like a badge of honor. Each one signifies another year of being cancer free. Anne Clark, of Newingtom, has 37 ribbons.

“Everybody’s together in here. We’re all in the same situation,” said Clark.

Hundreds of survivors gathered inside a tent to share their personal stories of hope.

“It’s all nice to see the same people that are in the same boat and it’s always inspirational,” said Barbara Metzen, of Newington.

Outside thousands lined up, raising money for researchers racing to find a cure.

Since the first 5K 24 years ago, the CT Race in the Park has drawn survivors, their families, and the loved ones of those who’ve lost their brave battle with this deadly disease.

“It’s the cause, it’s the hope, it’s the celebration of life,” said Joyce Bray, President of the CT Breast Health Initiative.

Over the years, the race has raised more than $3 million for breast cancer research going on in Connecticut.

“A lot of research and grant work is done and it would be nice to find a cure right here in Connecticut,” said Rick Buckley, a past board member and race volunteer.

Joanne Bozadjian has been part of this race since the start. Saturday, she volunteered in honor of her late sister-in-law.

“I think of Kathy and the strides that have been made and hope that we can find a cure right here in Connecticut,” said Bozadjian.

The finish line that those gathered on Saturday believe they’re one step closer to crossing.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Inmate Fatally Shot After Taking Hospital Employee Hostage


Authorities were responding to an ongoing hostage situation at Delnor Hospital in suburban Geneva on Saturday, according to police.

The incident began around 12:30 p.m., Geneva city officials said in a release.

An inmate at the Kane County Jail, who was being treated at the hospital, somehow gained control of a correctional officer's gun, according to the Kane County Sheriff’s office.

The suspect then took one hostage, an employee at the hospital, authorities said. 

Shortly after 3 p.m., Geneva officials confirmed that Delnor was under lockdown and sent an alert advising the public to "stay out of the area as police deal with this standoff."

Officers from multiple agencies, including the Geneva Police Department, the Kane County Sheriff's office and SWAT teams, surrounded the scene as Geneva Police Commander Julie Nash said they continued to address the “developing situation.”

Hospital personnel and medics were ready with ambulances to transport anyone coming to the hospital who needed emergency attention, officials said in a statement. 

Around 5 p.m., a person in contact with the hostage's family confirmed that the hostage was able to get out of Delnor safely and was not injured, though the standoff with the suspect remained ongoing.

A patient inside Delnor told NBC 5 that she was in the emergency room when an official came over the intercom and called out a code that the woman, who is a nurse at a different hospital, knew meant an active shooter situation.

She said a police officer took her and several other patients to a bathroom, where they hid inside the stalls for about 15 minutes.

They were then escorted to a conference room, she said, where they stayed for approximately 45 minutes before they were able to leave the hospital.

It was not immediately clear if there were any injuries, and authorities declined to release further information as the situation remained ongoing.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Sky 5

Demonstrators in Miami Urge Protected Status Extension for Haitians


Activists are marching the streets of Miami Saturday urging the Department of Homeland Security to renew Temporary Protected Status for Haitians.

Organizations from across South Florida are rallying alongside TPS recipients outside of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, located at 8801 NW 7th Ave., calling for an extension of TPS-- which is set to expire July 22.

"I have friends and I have family who are now facing deportation and this is why I'm here today," said Haitian demonstrator Eltard Alexis.

Earlier this week, Secretary John Kelly asked Department of Homeland Security staff for the criminal history of thousands of Haitians living in the United States on protected immigration status.

Federal law regarding TPS does not specify a recipient's behavior as criteria for extending the program. Those who receive the status immigration are heavily screened before they are granted the protected status, according to immigration experts.

Congress created TPS back in 1990 for people whose countries are too devastated by political or natural disasters to safely return. The Obama administration granted temporary protective status to Haiti in 2010 after a massive earthquake devastated the island-nation, killing an estimated 220,000 and displacing 1.5 million.

"The situation on the ground in Haiti is not the type of situation you want to send people back to," said Pedro Gassant with the Haitian Lawyers Association. "You have about 58,000 Haitians who have temporary protective status on the basis of the earthquake that occurred in 2010 and last year in the fall you had a significant hurricane that occurred that has displaced entire villages."

Gassant says Haitian immigrants see the United States as a country of hope, change, and economic stability. now their calling on President Donald Trump to extend TPS.

Demonstrators say they can not ignore the TPS issue given the large Haitian community in South Florida.

"We are l'union fait la force," Gassant said. "We believe in unity. Unity is strength and that's on our flag because we believe with unity we can accomplish anything and that's why we're here today."

Photo Credit: NBC6.com

Elon Musk Moves Forward With 'Boring' Traffic Remedy


Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk can claim a perhaps unparalleled string of visionary company creations -- PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, The Boring Company.

The Boring Company?

"We're trying to dig a hole under LA," Musk explained during a recent TED Talk interview.

WARNING: The video below contains flashing lights, which has potential to induce motion sickness and/or seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised. 

After months of social media musing on tunneling to escape traffic congestion in metropolitan Los Angeles, Musk is moving ahead with test boring in a Hawthorne parking lot across Crenshaw Boulevard from SpaceX.

It appears to be a step toward what Musk foresees as a "3D network of tunnels to alleviate congestion."  What Musk calls "electric sleds" would carry cars piggyback through the tunnels at speeds up to 125 mph.

Going from Westwood to LAX would take six minutes or less, Musk predicted.

Cars could access and depart the tunnels through roadside auto elevators, each of which Musk said would require the room of only two parking spaces. The scenario is depicted in an animation video posted on The Boring Company's website.

Musk contends that unlike surface roadways, underground you need never run out of room to add lanes, because you can simply go down another level.

But transportation engineers have doubts about the feasibility of Musk's tunnel vision, and apart from benefiting the tunnel users, how much it would reduce traffic and improve transit overall.

"How such a narrow system could contribute to that is not clear to me," said Jim Moore, director of the USC Viterbi Transportation Engineering Program.  Be that as it may, Moore said he considers Musk a "bona fide genius," and applauded his investing in researching such a novel approach.

Musk believes autonomous driving technology will enable car travel to be more efficient, and that cars -- not public transit -- will continue to carry a large percentage of ground travelers.

A major obstacle to underground travel is the cost of boring tunnels. The cost of new underground transit lines runs into the billions of dollars.

Musk said the Boring Company is focusing on ways to improve technology and efficiency enough to reduce cost by at least tenfold.

The Boring Company did not respond to a request Friday for details on what is being done at the Crenshaw site.  This appears to be a separate project from the proposed--but yet to be started--pedestrian tunnel which the city of Hawthorned has approved to be bored beneath Crenshaw Blvd.

Musk acknowledged improvement in boring technology may have crossover benefit for another vision of his for using tunnels to speed travel: Hyperloops, in which passengers would be transported in pods at near supersonic speeds through tubes with reduced air pressure. Musk sees this as a step beyond high speed rail, such as exists in Japan and the state of California currently is constructing.

The test Hyperloop that SpaceX built in Hawthorne alongside Jack Northrop Boulevard is above ground. But future Hyperloops for congested urban areas, such as the Washington-New York corridor, would best be placed underground, Musk said during the April TED talk recorded in Vancouver, Canada.

Musk spoke with enthusiasm for the Boring Project, but during the TED talk put it in context -- at this point, it is receiving only 2 to 3 percent of his time.

Photo Credit: Elon Musk

394 Fallen Officers Honored During DC's Police Week Vigil


The 29th Annual Candlelight Vigil at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial honored 394 officers who have died in the line of duty.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security John Kelly spoke at the event and lead the crowd in the candle lighting.

The names of 394 officers that were killed in the line of duty were read out loud, 143 of those officers have died last year. The other 251 died before 2016, but their names had never been added to the memorial.

“We gather tonight on the National Mall, under the shadows of two of this city’s most recognizable monuments, joined by the need and desire, the privilege, to honor the 21,183 names on the sacred Memorial walls,” said Craig W. Floyd, President and CEO of the Memorial Fund.

“We dedicate the names of the 394 officers added this year to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, recognizing the sacrifices these men and women made to protect their country and communities," Floyd continued.

Twenty-four officers from Texas were added at Saturday's memorial, including the five that were killed in the July 2016 ambush in Downtown Dallas.

With this year's additions, there are now 21,183 names engraved on the memorial. The names represent all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, federal law enforcement and military police agencies.

An estimated 30,000 people attended the ceremony, including surviving family members, friends, law enforcement colleagues, and others, according to the Memorial Fund's press release.

Photo Credit: @dallasPD

Protest Fatigue: Have Weeks of Protests Made an Impact?


Have weekend after weekend of protests really made a difference?

A Pew Research survey published Thursday found that roughly half of Americans (48 percent) said they supported the goals of April's March for Science, for instance. But the country is sharply divided along party lines as to whether the demonstration would actually help the cause.

More than half of Democrats and liberal-leaning voters surveyed (61 percent) said they believed the march would "increase public support of science." But nearly the exact same number of Republicans and conservative-leaning participants surveyed (60 percent) said the demonstration would make no difference.

Less than 4 percent of participants Heaney surveyed at Inauguration Day demonstrations, the Women's March, the March for Science identified as Republican or "Independent who leans Republican."

Photo Credit: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images

Trump, 'Spicey' Tackle Russia Ties and Comey on 'SNL'


Alec Baldwin's President Donald Trump sat down for an exclusive interview with NBC's Lester Holt (Michael Che) for this week's "Saturday Night Live" cold open, mirroring the real interview that took place Thursday.

Baldwin's Trump spoke candidly about the real reason he decided to dismiss former FBI Director James Comey.

"I fired him because of Russia," he said. "I thought, 'He is investigating Russia, I don't like that, I should fire him.'" 

The "Nightly News" anchor looked stunned at Trump's blunt confession to obstructing justice. 

"Wait, so, did I get him? Is this all over?" Holt asked a staff member on the phone. "Oh, no I didn't? Nothing matters, absolutely nothing matters anymore?"

Holt went on to ask if he taped Comey in secret, because Trump insinuated doing so in a tweet Friday. 

"Listen Keenan, I don't know, okay? Probably," Trump said. "I tape a lot of people, I tape whoever I want, whatever I want. Some people have called me a 'serial tapist' and it's true, I am. When you're president, they let you do it."

In explaining how he was not like former President Richard Nixon, Trump repeated Nixon's infamous line: "I am not a crook." 

This week, Melissa McCarthy hosted "SNL" and reprised her role as White House press secretary Sean Spicer. But Spicer didn't start on the podium —instead, the press secretary was hiding in nearby bushes, mocking the real Spicer's attempt to elude reporters following Comey's dismissal.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Aidy Bryant) called the hiding a "naval exercise" before Spicer pushed her out of the way to take over the press briefing. 

"That's right — Spicey's back, Sarah's out," McCarthy said.

Reporters grilled Spicer on Trump's sudden decision to fire Comey. But "Spicey" stood by the president.

"Alright, let me just put this whole Russia thing to bed, once and for all," the press secretary said. "Trump is innocent. How do we know? Because he told us so, period."

But reporters pushed back against Spicer, asking if Trump had lied to his staff and was purposely making Spicer look like a fool at each briefing.

"But he wouldn't do that," Spicer said, looking unsure. "He's my friend."

Spicer then abruptly ended the press briefing to look for Trump in New York City, rolling through Manhattan on a podium to Trump Tower. After finding Trump at a golf course in New Jersey, he asked if Trump has ever made him lie to the public.

"Only since you started working here," Trump said. 

Spicer then asked if the rumors about getting fired are true. The president responded with an attempt to give Spicer the "kiss of death."

Photo Credit: NBC
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Tillerson Unconcerned About Independence After Comey Firing


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Chuck Todd that he is not concerned about his independence in the wake of President Donald Trump dismissing James Comey as FBI Director, NBC News reported.

"I have a great relationship with the president," Tillerson said in a "Meet the Press" interview to be aired Sunday. "I understand what his objectives are. When I'm not clear on what his objectives are, we talk about it."

Trump fired Comey Tuesday in a move that sparked calls among some Democrats for a special prosecutor to be appointed in the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Photo Credit: AP

Just 29 Percent Approve of Trump’s Firing of Comey: Poll


Just 29 percent of Americans say they approve of President Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, while 38 percent disapprove, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found, NBC News reported.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted May 11-13, after Trump's dismissal of Comey. 

Thirty-two percent of those polled said they do not have a say in the matter, according to the NBC News report.

But among those who say they have read, seen or heard "a lot" about the firing, 53 percent say they disapprove, versus 33 percent who approve.

The poll does not show a significant change in the president’s overall standing. 
Trump's job-approval rating stands at 39 percent, which is one point lower than last month's NBC/WSJ survey — well within the poll's margin of error.

The poll does not show a significant change in the president’s overall standing. 
Trump's job-approval rating stands at 39 percent, which is one point lower than last month's NBC/WSJ survey — well within the poll's margin of error.

Photo Credit: Alex Brandon/AP (File)

Driver Repeatedly Rams Chicago Woman Into Tree, Killing Her: Cops


An 18-year-old woman was killed Friday night when a 24-year-old woman repeatedly rammed her into a tree with a car on Chicago's Far South Side, according to police.

The incident occurred around 11:10 p.m. in the 11400 block of S. May St. in the city's Morgan Park neighborhood, authorities said.

The two women were in a verbal argument, according to police, when the older woman entered a vehicle and chased the victim down the sidewalk.

She then crashed into the teen, repeatedly striking her against a tree before fleeing the scene, police said.

The 18-year-old was pronounced dead on the scene, officials said. The Cook County Medical Examiner's office could not immediately confirm the fatality.

The 24-year-old woman was taken into custody and charges are pending, according to police, who continue to investigate.

Photo Credit: Network Video Productions

Scattered Showers Throughout the Day


Good news if you have outdoor Mother's Day plans. The heaviest of the rain is wrapping up and will exit the state through the morning hours. Here's a look at 'First Alert Future Radar' at 9 a.m. Sunday.

There will likely be a few peeks of sunshine as we head into the late morning and early afternoon hours of Sunday.

Scattered showers and even an isolated thunderstorm are possible by Sunday afternoon and even into the early evening hours. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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Teen Rammed to Death Identified as Chicago Officer's Daughter


The 18-year-old woman killed in a gruesome attack Friday night has been identified as the daughter of Chicago police officer, according to sources close to her family.

Tatyanna Lewis was killed when a woman repeatedly rammed her into a tree with a car on the city’s Far South Side.

The incident occurred around 11:10 p.m. in the 11400 block of S. May St. in the city's Morgan Park neighborhood, according to police.

Officials said Lewis and a 24-year-old woman were in a verbal argument when the woman entered an SUV and chased Lewis down the sidewalk.

She then crashed into the teen, repeatedly striking her against a tree before fleeing, authorities said.

Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

She died from multiple blunt force injuries, the medical examiner found, and her death was ruled a homicide.

Brittany Patrick lives in the house next to where the violent attack took place and said she heard arguing before witnessing the horrific incident.

“I looked outside and I just saw the accident - you know, the impact,” Patrick said.

Bystanders said the SUV jumped the curb at a high rate of speed, tearing through the front lawn before the crash. 

“As soon as I looked out my window I saw a girl being rammed into the tree, and ran over and backed over and over again,” Patrick said. “She hit my car, backing over the body and then backed back over the body and got away.”

The following day, tire marks were clearly visible across the sidewalk, as well as damage to the tree and a piece of the SUV still laying beside it.

"To run somebody over just cold-blooded, it's unthinkable,” said neighbor Paul Thomas.

Just hours before her death, Lewis had posted on Facebook about a possible impending confrontation, with neighbors saying the argument was over a man.

Community activist and anti-violence advocate Andrew Holmes said a child was in the backseat of the car at the time, calling the incident “very disturbing.”

“I mean, an altercation between two females, two women and one was a mother – and it went wrong,” Holmes said.

The 24-year-old woman fled the scene, but was later apprehended by police. Investigators recovered the SUV about a mile and a half away, near W. 115th and S. LaSalle Sts.

The driver remains in custody and charges are pending, according to police, who continue to investigate.

Photo Credit: Andrew Holmes

Mayor Chooses New Police Chief in New Haven


New Haven Police Interim Chief Anthony Campbell has officially been named Chief of the department, both Campbell and a spokesperson for the city confirmed on Sunday. Campbell had been serving as Interim Chief since September when former Police Chief Dean Esserman stepped down.

According to Director of Communications Laurence Grotheer, Mayor Toni Harp completed the interviews of three finalists, including Campbell, last week. As of Friday evening, Mayor Harp was still conversing with other city officials about the decision. Harp made her final decision to select Campbell as the permanent chief sometime over the weekend, Grotheer said. 

"I am humbled to be selected as the Chief of Police for the city of New Haven,” Campbell said. “I am eager to serve the women and men of the department and all of the members of the New Haven community. Today I feel truly blessed,” he added.

Esserman stepped down as the New Haven police chief on September 2. Previously, the former police chief had been on disciplinary leave that began on July 25 and transitioned to temporary sick leave in mid-August. New Haven officials said Esserman’s resignation was a "mutual agreement".

When Esserman left his post in the fall, Campbell said among his top priorities as interim chief would be to raise morale within the department and start ‘the healing process’.

Originally from Harlem, Campbell moved to New Haven more than 25 years ago to attend Yale University. After graduation, he considered becoming a priest but instead applied to become a New Haven police officer.

Campbell said he will be sworn in on June 2.

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