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Huge Russian War Games Test NATO, Rattle Neighbors


Russia on Thursday kicked off a massive mobilization of military forces expected to be the largest exercise since the Cold War. The war games have triggered unease among U.S. officials and their allies in Eastern Europe, NBC News reported.

Land, sea and air units will be taking part in the exercise across a huge area encompassing western Russia, Belarus, the Baltic Sea and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

Moscow says fewer than 13,000 troops are participating, meaning they don't have to invite international observers. But NATO members and Western military experts believe as many as 100,000 troops may be involved in the drills.

But analysts don't believe that Russia is about to launch a war.

"NATO remains calm and vigilant, and committed to keeping Estonia and all our allies safe," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week in Estonia, one of the tiny Baltic nations that borders Russia and often worries about undue influence from Moscow.

Photo Credit: Vayar Military Agency photo via AP

2 State Cruisers Involved in Crash on I-95 in Bridgeport

Marriott Blames Dock Security for Denying Some Ferry Access


Marriott International officials said Wednesday dock security in hurricane-ravaged St. Thomas prevented it from allowing more than two dozen stranded people onto a ferry set to carry 600 Marriott customers to Puerto Rico.

A second storm, Hurricane Jose, was unpredictable and Marriott had a short window of time to get visitors on their way, Tim Sheldon, president of Caribbean and Latin America for Marriott International, said in a detailed interview with Forbes.

One of the stranded visitors documented the ferry leaving behind victims of Hurricane Irma in a Facebook video, saying she was being denied access by the Marriott crew. 

Another stranded visitor wrote in a Facebook post that the company denied "humanitarian aid to women, elderly people and children."

Marriot International released a statement giving details of the incident: 

"On Friday, Marriott was able to secure a ferry to transport about 600 of our guests from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico. These were guests who had to stay behind after the airport closed in advance of Hurricane Irma. The ferry departed St. Thomas Friday, September 8, with the Marriott guests onboard. 

There were a number of additional people gathered at the dock who were not our guests who also expressed a desire to leave St. Thomas. We very much wanted to assist these other travelers to Puerto Rico, however, the Marriott team on-the-ground was told they had no authorization to board additional passengers who were not on the manifest. This was enforced by dock security. 

With Hurricane Jose on a path to St. Thomas, the ferry had a tight window to pick up passengers and safely depart. As a company, Marriott places a priority on the safety and security of our guests, but we also have a long tradition of looking out for the greater community. In this case, we weren’t able to help and as grateful as we are that we were able to transport our guests, we are saddened that we were not able to do the same for more people. We continue to work with local authorities in St. Thomas to help support the relief efforts there."

Photo Credit: AP/Ricardo Arduengo
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Route 110 in Shelton After Crash, Motorcyclist Injured


Part of Route 110 in Shelton is blocked off this morning after a serious crash around 6:45 a.m. in the area of 122 River Road, which is also Route 110. 

Police said a motor vehicle and a motorcycle crashed and the motorcycle driver was transported to Bridgeport Hospital with serious injuries. 

Route 110 is blocked off from Grove Street to Belmont Avenue, according to police, and the Shelton Police Department Accident Reconstruction team is at the scene to investigate. 

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information about it should call the Shelton Police Department Traffic Division (203) 924-1544. 

East Windsor Police Get Roaming Cow Home

Man Tried to Get Girl Into Van in Hartford: Police


Hartford police have arrested a man accused of approaching a 10-year-old girl who was on her way to school Monday, asking her to get into his van and exposing himself to her when she refused. 

Hartford police said they responded to Stonington Street at 7:39 a.m. Monday after receiving a public indecency complaint and learned that a man in a white van pulled up near the victim as she was walking to the bus stop, asked her if she wanted a ride and told her to get in the van. 

The girl refused to get in and the man exposed his genitals to her, according to police. 

Police said analysts located video within minutes that showed a white 2003 Econoline van leaving the scene. 

Using technology, police obtained the license plate number and said they identified the suspect’s pattern before the incident and pulled him over a short time later. 

Police identified the suspect as 34-year-old Jose Jalpa-Yanes, of Hartford, and said they obtained a warrant charging him with public indecency, risk of injury and operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license. 

He was taken into custody at his home and is in custody on $750,000. 

Photo Credit: Jason Ryan/NBC Connecticut

Lawmakers Could Pass State Budget Today


The state has not had a budget for two and a half months, but that could end today, two weeks before significant cuts to education are scheduled to go into effect. 

Democratic lawmakers who spent Wednesday at the State Capitol with Gov. Dannel Malloy said they are on the brink of a budget and believe they are close to having enough support in their own party to bring the latest version of the budget to a vote today. 

The latest version of the budget does not appear to have the tax increases that Democrats had initially pushed for and that the governor said he would veto. 

Multiple sources said the proposed sales tax increase, from 6.35 percent to 6.5 percent, and the proposal for a new real estate tax aimed at transactions over $850,000 will likely be ruled out. 

Lawmakers who met with the governor Wednesday said the negotiations are significant because striking a deal with Malloy is the only way to get a spending plan in place to avoid somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million in education cuts statewide, meaning there will be fewer Democrats, if any, voting no. 

It still remains to be seen exactly how lawmakers plan to fill a $3.5 million shortfall over the next two years. 

Some of the burden to cover teacher pensions looks to be shifting to cities and towns. 

Republicans said they want the chance to present their own balanced budget today as well. 

The budget they proposed earlier this week called for no new taxes and no tax increases and now they said they are being shut out of talks. 

What’s in the final budget will not be clear until it comes to a vote, which is expected to happen today.

If a budget is not passed by the end of the month, Malloy’s education funding cuts to 135 cities and towns go into effect in October.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Floridians Leaving Connecticut to See What They’ll Find After Irma


Floridians who have been stranded in Connecticut because of Hurricane Irma are beginning to head back home. 

"There's no power in some places, there's no food. We are still waiting to get power, food, gasoline, the traffic is horrendous,” said Josh Pattek, who visited Cheshire for a wedding on Friday with his family. 

On Wednesday, he and his family were finally returning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

Pattek said he's unsure what he'll find when he returns. 

"Hopefully we get home and everything is still intact and we are ready to go," Pattek said. 

Flights were delayed for dozens of travelers who were heading south from Bradley Airport but those issued cleared up by the late afternoon. 

Pattek said he is eager to get home, yet worried to find his home damaged. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Blue Paint Dumped on Wall Street Bull's Head


Police are looking for vandals who dumped blue paint over the iconic "Charging Bull" statue on Wall Street.

Authorities say the paint was noticed on the bull's head at about 7:30 a.m. Thursday. A sash was also draped over the neighboring "Fearless Girl" statue. It read "Draw the blue line" - which police call an apparent reference to the Paris climate accord.

The paint and sash were quickly removed.

The bull was also vandalized with blue paint in 2008. The statue was installed in 1989 by artist Arturo Di Modica.

The statue of the little girl with her hands on her hips was temporarily placed on a traffic island facing the bull on March 7, and will stay until Feb. 2018.

Photo Credit: NYC Mayor's Office

McDonald's Employee Gives Birth, Tries Flushing Baby Down Toilet: DA


A McDonald’s employee in Redwood City has been charged with attempted murder after trying to flush her newborn baby down a toilet at the fast-food restaurant, prosecutors said Wednesday.

According to prosecutors, Sara Lockner, 25, delivered the baby in a bathroom stall while working the night shift at McDonald's on Labor Day. Lockner was reportedly going to the bathroom frequently due to "stomach pain" before a co-worker found blood all over the restroom stall. She attributed it to a heavy menstrual cycle, prosecutors said.

Another co-worker later looked into the stall and reportedly saw a newborn baby's face in the toilet before hearing Lockner flush, prosecutors said. Lockner allegedly asked witnesses not to call the police. 

“It’s a real sad story,” said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagestaffe. “She said she didn’t know she was pregnant.”

The newborn was not breathing when first responders arrived, but they were able to revive the infant before transporting the baby to Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. 

Lockner has been jailed on $11 million bail and has also been charged with one count of assault on a child becoming paralyzed. She is expected to be assigned a lawyer next week. 

Photo Credit: Redwood City Police Department
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Just-Married Mnuchin Requested Government Jet to Honeymoon


Earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin asked to use a government jet to fly to Europe for his honeymoon, but withdrew the request, a department spokesman told NBC News.

ABC News first reported Mnuchin's request and withdrawal, which touched off an "inquiry" by the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General. Officials told the outlet that the unusual request could have cost about $25,000 an hour.

The request for the government jet was made so Mnuchin could have "secure communications" during the flight, but he was able to obtain them without it, so he withdrew the request, a Treasury spokesman said Wednesday night.

Mnuchin and his wife, actress Louise Linton, were criticized last month, when they traveled to Kentucky, where he participated in an event at Fort Knox, on a government plane. He also spent part of the day watching the eclipse, and Linton's response to a critic on Instagram drew condemnation, prompting her to apologize.

Photo Credit: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Windsor Police Officers Help Deliver Baby


South Windsor police officers helped deliver a baby last night when they responded to a home on Oak Street.

The South Windsor Police Department is designated as a first responder for all medical calls, and the department said it's not often they get to assist with such a happy event.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Access Health CT Extends Open Enrollment Period


Access Health CT has extended the end of open enrollment from Dec. 15 to Dec. 22.

The announcement comes a day after one that Anthem and ConnectiCare Benefits, Inc. will continue to offer plans on the exchange in 2018.

“This is great news for our customers,” said Jim Wadleigh, CEO of Access Health CT (AHCT), said. “We are very pleased that both Anthem and ConnectiCare have decided to stay with us next year so that Connecticut residents can continue to have multiple health insurance plan options.”

“In collaboration with our carrier partners, we’ve decided to extend the Open Enrollment Period from December 15 to December 22 so that individuals have more time to shop, choose and use the best plan for them. Anyone enrolling in health insurance during this time will have coverage that begins on January 1, 2018 once the first premium payment is made,” Wadleigh said in a statement.

Open Enrollment starts Nov. 1.

Access Health CT is also opening several in-person enrollment locations. 

Wadleigh said there is still a tax penalty for not having coverage and residents are extended to visit AccessHealthCT.com.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

'What Time Is It?': Top Google Searches in Connecticut


Google compiled a list for NBC Connecticut on the top searches in the state with its most recent data. 

The data was split into two categories: top questions and top searches.

Google was able to provide information with analytics from 2014, 2015 and 2016. This year's data has not been released yet. 

Questions over the three-year span ranged from "What is my IP address?" to "What time is it?"

Searches included Facebook, YouTube and Google.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alan Diaz
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Ansonia Woman Puts Feces on Estranged Husband's Toothbrush


A woman in Ansonia is accused of smearing feces on her soon-to-be ex-husband's toothbrush, police said. 

Leslie Laing turned herself in to the Ansonia Police Department on Thursday for violating a protective order. Laing had been the subject of a protective order from a previous domestic violence arrest involving her husband. 

According to police, Laing's estranged husband called police to say the 48-year-old tampered with her personal property. 

While Laing was retrieving items from her husband's home, she put what police said was feces on his toothbrush. Police seized the toothbrush and DNA testing was able to determine that the suspected feces was Laing's.

Laing's bond was set at $1,000 and she is expected to appear in court on Sept. 15.

Photo Credit: Ansonia Police

Man Injured at Reservoir Was There All Night: Police


A man who was injured when he fell off his bike Wednesday night was taken to the hospital this morning after being out at a reservoir in West Hartford all night, according to police.

Police said they responded to MDC Reservoir 1 at 1420 Farmington Ave. at 6:06 a.m. after the 34-year-old man called 911.

The officers who responded found the victim's vehicle in the parking lot and West Hartford firefighters arrived to help and found the victim lying in the grassy area on the "red loop," police said.

The victim was conscious, but had injuries on his face, jaw, right arm and legs and was responsive to some of the fire medic's questions, police said.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Tracking Jose for Impacts Here in Connecticut


We continue to keep a close eye on Tropical Storm Jose for possible impacts here in Connecticut.

Jose was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm earlier today as it travels over cooler water.

Jose is expected to strengthen once again into a category 1 hurricane by Friday evening. 

The latest track from the National Hurricane Center has the cone including parts of the Eastern Seaboard.

The trend over the past couple of days has brought Jose further west. A track further west means a higher chance of impacts here in Connecticut. The majority of our computer models still have the storm offshore but only by a few hundred miles. 

A new update from the National Hurricane Center will be in at 5 p.m. which could have Connecticut in part of the forecast cone. 

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CT Apple Crop Could Produce Record Harvest: Officials


After a lackluster apple harvest last year, Connecticut growers said the crop is bouncing back in a big way.

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture said Thursday the state’s apple harvest could reach record numbers.

At Drazen Orchards in Cheshire, there is a variety of apples to choose from like Honeycrisp, McIntosh and Sun Fuji.

Last fall, the harvest was nowhere near as plentiful for two main reasons.

"The big, big part of it was a freeze that we got Valentine’s Day (2016)," owner Eli Drazen told NBC Connecticut. "Then several freezes afterward and the drought put the icing on the cake so to speak."

The orchards have been owned by Drazen’s family since 1951. He said business in 2016 was down by about 80 percent.

"It created a little bit of havoc for us because we didn’t have our pick your own customers and our wholesale customers," Drazen said.

This year the Drazen Orchards are recovering in a big way with Mother Nature being more generous.

"Maybe overly generous this year," Drazen said. "But we’re not going to complain about it, there was a lot of water."

"There’s nothing better than a Connecticut apple," said first-time customer Jane Kampf.

She came looking for Macoun apples, but the plan is to start picking them this weekend.

"I will definitely come back," she said. "But I will get some Honeycrisp while I’m here."

In addition to all the many apples that are ripe for the picking, Drazen said the peach crop is also blossoming.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

6th Grader Creates Fundraiser for School Affected by Harvey


In the halls of Our Lady of Mount Carmel School is a heart that sees well beyond classroom walls.

"It all really made me feel really sad and I felt the pain that they were feeling," Ava Kijewski said.

The 6th grader not only keeps an eye on her books but for the well-being of other students hundreds of miles away.

"The kids are going to have to come back to school and they're not going to have any supplies left because it was flooded and everything," Kijewski said.

Kijewski couldn’t just sit and just watch the devastating images of what Hurricane Harvey left behind; she had to help.

"We found the school site that you could adopt a school and we adopted the Vidor Middle School," Kijewski said.

Within a week she organized a school fundraiser. Between an ice cream sale and class competitions, Kijewski was blown away by the outpouring of support.

"Final tally was $1,714," Kijewski said.

Francesca Corona, director of admissions and advancement at Kijewski's school could not be more proud of the young philanthropist.

"To me, it's really rewarding because you know that you're doing something right something is rubbing off on them and they're seeing this on their own," Corona said.

The money raised will go to school supplies, desks and books for Vidor students, all items made possible by the heart of this young student.

"It makes me feel really proud of everyone and how everyone did everything and how much money we raised to have the children of Vidor Middle School," Corona said.

New Haven Group Seeks Ideas to Improve Wooster Square


Residents in New Haven are getting the chance to use city funding to improve one neighborhood. 

Through a competition organized by the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team, the New Haven neighborhood will get a facelift. 

For the people who live around Wooster Square, pedestrian safety is an ongoing concern.

"People just race through here," Linda Varone, who lived in the neighborhood for 15 years, said.

Thanks to about $10,000 in funding from New Haven’s Livable City Initiative, the community management team chair Caroline Smith said drives will see a speed radar on Olive Street within the next six months.

"This will be a mobile speed sign that they’ll be able to put all along Olive Street to show individuals how fast they’re driving," Smith said.

Smith’s team will decide how to spend the remaining $3,000 through a neighborhood pitch competition.

"You fill it out, its things like what’s your idea, how much is it going to cost," Smith said. "What impact will it make on the community, really simple things."

There have been nine submissions so far, Smith said. Some ideas include placing a public piano in Wooster Square and translating more signs into Spanish.

Both Varone and Vicki Mackowka, who moved to the area about a year ago, have similar recommendations.

"I would suggest just kind of general beautification type things," said Mackowka, who added she may enter the competition.

"Maybe cleaning up some of the sidewalks and putting in some flowers," Varone said.

The deadline to enter the competition is October 1.

Four to six submissions will be selected by the community management team to give presentations at the monthly meeting on October 17 before voting on the winner.

Previous funding has supported park benches, public art and pedestrian crossing signs.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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