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Suspected Cocaine Dealer Held on $1 Million Bond


A Stratford man accused of dealing large amounts of crack and cocaine is being held on $1 million bond after a raid this morning.

Several months ago, police started investigating David Vereen, 33, in connection with crack and cocaine sales in Stratford and surrounding communities.

Police executed a search warrant at Vereen’s 175 Cannon Drive home on Tuesday and found around 300 grams of cocaine, 20 grams of crack, 30 roxycodone pills and several items used for cutting, packaging and processing narcotics.

He was taken into custody and charged with three counts of sales of narcotics, possession with intent to sell more than half-an-ounce of cocaine, operating a drug factory, risk of injury to a minor and other charges.

Bond was set at $1 million. He is due in court on Aug. 15.

Photo Credit: Stratford Police

Trumbull Man Accused of Stealing Truck, Running from Police


Trumbull police have arrested a 22-year-old man accused of stealing a pickup truck in Bridgeport and leading police on a chase when officers tried to pull him over.

Ac coring to police, Ean Szalan, of 25 Moorland Road in Trumbull, was in the passenger seat of a stolen white pickup truck when police recognized him as the subject of an arrest warrant and tried to stop the truck. Police said the truck had been stolen Aug. 3.

Police said the truck sped off down Old Town Road, driving through two stop signs and crashing into a phone pole after trying to turn left onto Frenchtown Road. Szalan and the driver took off running, police said.

Bridgeport police and state police brought in police dogs to help with the search, but couldn’t find the suspects, authorities said.

Trumbull police later found Szalan in the back seat of his grandmother’s car while she was pulling into the driveway at 25 Moorland Road. Anna Szalan, 72, was issued a summons for interfering with police after officers learned she had tried to hide Szalan from police, officials said.

Szalan was arrested and charged with interfering with an officer, in addition to sixth-degree larceny from the prior warrant. He was held on a total of $2,000 bond and was due in court Tuesday morning.


Photo Credit: Trumbull Police Department

Powerball Jackpot Hits $425 Million


The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday drawing has grown to $425 million after no one won big on Saturday night.

As Powerball fever hits Connecticut, state lottery officials warning people to play responsibly.

"While Lottery games are fun and entertaining, it is important that consumers use good judgment when playing games of chance," Anne Noble, president and CEO of the Connecticut Lottery said in a statement released when the jackpot exceeded $200 million.  "The public must be conscious and aware of the risks of problem gambling, and at the Lottery we make it our priority to educate consumers about responsible play."

Powerball is a multi-state lottery and the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 175.2 million, according to the Powerball Web site.

The largest Powerball jackpot to date is $590.5 million and the winning ticket was sold in Florida on May 18.

There have also been five Powerball jackpot winners in Connecticut since 2003.

For information about the CT Lottery, call (860) 713-2700, or visit ctlottery.org.

If you have a problem with gambling, you can call the 24-hour confidential problem gambling helpline at 1-888-789-7777.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia

Southwest Nose Gear Likely Failed from "Stress Overload": NTSB


The National Transportation Safety Board says a Southwest Airlines plane's nose gear appears to have failed because of "stress overload" when it collapsed during landing at LaGuardia last month, causing the plane to skid and spark down the runway. 

The NTSB said in an investigative update statement Tuesday that "no mechanical anomalies or malfunctions have been found."

The gear appears to have failed because of stress overload, the NTSB said. The agency did not elaborate and said no interviews would be given Tuesday.

Sixteen people suffered minor injuries during Flight 345's landing, and passengers had to escape on emergency chutes.

The NTSB also said Tuesday that the first officer, not the captain, was flying the plane on approach into LaGuardia. At some point below 400 feet, there was a change of control and the captain made the landing. It's not clear why.

The NTSB had said already that the plane was at an altitude of about 32 feet, with an airspeed of about 134 knots and a pitch attitude of 2 degrees nose-up about four seconds before landing.

A former senior NTSB investigator told NBC News it's suprising the captain would make such a drastic move unless he had profound safety concerns.

"To try to take command, get established, get the tactile feel for the airplane, and successfully touch the airplane down on the runway is very challenging," said Greg Feith.

The NTSB said the crew was experienced. The first officer had 5,200 flight hours, 1,100 of those in a 737, although this was his first trip in command.

The captain had 12,000 hours of flight time, most in the 737, but this was his first flight with the first officer. 

Investigators are still studying the more than 27 hours of recorded data from the entire flight from Nashville, Tenn. to New York, and on Tuesday the agency said it had obtained five videos showing the crash landing that would be analyzed.

-- Andrew Siff contributed to this report. 

Crash Causes Mess on I-91 in Enfield


Interstate 91 southbound was closed in Enfield during rush hour after a car carrier struck the Route 5 overpass at exit 49, state police said.

The accident happened around 5 p.m. and caused a mess in the southbound lanes.

 Police began to allow cars to pass the accident on the right-hand shoulder, but traffic remained congested for drivers traveling southbound, police said.

State police said no injuries have been reported.

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West Nile Virus Found in 12 Conn. Towns


Don’t forget your bug spray – mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been found in twelve Connecticut towns so far this summer.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) and the State Mosquito Management Program have found infected mosquitoes in Bridgeport, East Haven, Fairfield, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Manchester, New Haven, Norwalk, Plainfield, Stamford, Stratford and Westport.

“Over the rest of the summer and into early fall, we expect to see further build-up of West Nile virus with increased risk for human infection throughout the state, especially in densely populated communities where the virus is found,” said Dr. Theodore G. Andreadis, Chief Medical Entomologist of the CAES, in a release from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Mosquitoes in Voluntown were found to be carrying eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) last month, but since then, all mosquitoes trapped have tested negative.

For more information on the West Nile virus and how to prevent it, visit www.ct.gov/mosquito.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Pedestrian Seriously Injured After Bridgeport Crash


A 51-year-old man is in serious condition after he was struck by a car on Old Town Road in Bridgeport Monday morning.

Police said Donald Denke was securing an excavator onto a parked trailer near the intersection of Sunnydale Road. A car traveling east on Old Town Road slammed into the back of the trailer around 8:18 a.m. Monday, according to police.

Denke, whose last known addresses were in Wilton and Bridgeport, is being treated at Saint Vincent’s Medical Center. He suffered severe head and leg injuries, authorities said.

The driver is tentatively identified as John Lang, 87, of Trumbull, police said.

The accident is still being investigated. No charges have been filed.

Artemis Loses First Race Since Sailor's Death


The first official race of the ‪Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals was held on a beautiful San Francisco Bay Tuesday as team Artemis Racing took on team Luna Rossa Challenge.

Luna Rossa crossed the finish line first and took an early lead in the best of seven Louis Vuitton Cup series.

Artemis won the start and led by 29 seconds at the first mark rounding, but Luna Rossa proved faster downwind. The Italian AC72 consistently averaged 2-4 knots more boatspeed on the downwind legs, which allowed it to sail lower and faster.

Watch race highlights here.

The winner of the semis advances to face Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals starting Aug. 17. The winner of that series faces defending champion Oracle Team USA in the 34th America's Cup beginning Sept. 7.

Tuesday's competition was the first race since a capsizing claimed the life of one of the Sweden-based Artemis sailing team earlier this year. Artemis Racing missed several preliminary races in the Louis Vuitton Cup after losing crewmember Andrew "Bart" Simpson, who died after the team's boat capsized during a May 9 practice run out on the Bay.

The capsizing also destroyed the team's first 72-foot yacht. The yaught the team will be using Tuesday is a brand new vessel.

Artemis skipper Iain Percy said last week that that his team will likely not be in top form since they have only begun to train on their new boat.

"To say that we're ready to go would absolutely not be the case,"  Percy said in a released statement. "Our competitors launched their boat nine months ago. We launched our boat nine days ago."

Defending champion ORACLE TEAM USA will compete with challengers Artemis Racing (Sweden), Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 (Italy) for the oldest trophy in international sport next month.

Below is the breakdown of upcoming competition:
Emirates Team New Zealand will face the winner of the  best-of-seven semifinals between the Swedish and Italian teams.
NBC Bay Area will broadcast all the events surrounding the Summer of Racing.
The televised racing schedule is as follows:
LVC Semi Race 1 (KNTV)
Tue. 8/6; 1 – 2:30 p.m.
LVC Semi Race 2 (KNTV)
Wed. 8/7; 1 – 2:30 p.m.
LVC Semi Race 3 (KNTV)
Fri. 8/9; 1 – 2:30 p.m.
LVC Semi Race 4 (COZI-TV)
Sat. 8/10; 1 – 2:30 p.m.
LVC Semi Race 5* (KNTV)
Mon. 8/12; 1 – 2:30 p.m.
LVC Semi Race 6* (KNTV)
Tue. 8/13; 1 – 2:30 p.m.
LVC Semi Race 7* (KNTV)
Thur. 8/15; 1 – 2:30 p.m.
LVC Finals Races 1 & 2 (COZI-TV)
Sat. 8/17; 1 – 3 p.m. 


In addition, an America’s Cup Discovered Magazine Show will air every Sunday through 8/25 at 6:30 – 7 p.m. on KNTV.
A summer concert series will also take place in an outdoor arena at America’s Cup Park at Piers 27/29 featuring several popular artists. The America’s Cup Village will also be open on race days at Marina Green presenting educational, interactive, and entertainment features as well as food and drinks and official America’s Cup and team apparel available for purchase. Entry is free.
The America’s Cup Concert Series schedule is as follows: 
  • Cheech & Chong with WAR – Sat. 8/10
  • Train – Sun. 8/11
  • The Jonas Brothers – Tue. 8/13
  • Steely Dan – Sat. 8/17
  • Heart – Wed. 8/28
  • Jazon Mraz – Sun. 9/1
  • Sammy Hagar – Sat. 9/7
  • Fall Out Boy with Panic! At The Disco – Sat. 9/21
  • The Lumineers with Dr. Dog and Nathaniel Rateliff – Wed. 9/25
  • The Avett Brothers with Nicholas David – Sat. 10/12
 More concert details as well as a complete history of the America’s Cup can be found on the official America’s Cup website.


Feds Bust Mexican Drug Cartel in LA


In one of the largest single crackdowns on organized crime in L.A. County history, a major drug raid Tuesday netted nearly $20 million in meth, and the arrest of eight accused gang members, busting up what federal authorities called an alliance of Mexican outlaws that threatened to wreak havoc on Southern California.

A multi-agency task force raided areas in Montebello, describing the operation as a major salvo in a 20-year federal fight against the U.S.-based Mexican Mafia prison gang.

Agents from the DEA and ATF partnered with local law enforcement to nab the suspects, who were key to an alliance being forged between the Mexican Mafia, known as La Eme, and La Familia, a Mexican drug cartel that has made inroads into the illegal drug market in the U.S. in recent years.

The illicit pact, dubbed "The Project" by gang members, would have seen La Familia provide a steady supply of meth to La Eme each month to sell throughout Southern California, according to Sarah Pullen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

In exchange, La Familia was promised free reign on the streets and protection in prison, said Steven Bogdalek, special agent in charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In addition to the arrests, police seized an array of handguns and other firearms and about 600 pounds of meth which had been accumulated over a span of three years, estimated to have a street value of $19 million.

“Our joint efforts have helped disrupt the plot that could’ve flooded our neighborhoods with tons of methamphetamine and other narcotics,” said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. “We have put to an end an alignment of criminal organizations that would have been unprecedented."

Before Tuesday’s bust, the DEA had indicted 13 people in connection with “The Project” and arrested five others. After Tuesday’s arrests, all but one are in custody, according to Pullen. The final gang member under indictment is believed to be hiding in Mexico.

“We believe that we have initiated a crippling effect to those members who are still loyal to the Mexican Mafia criminal organization,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca in a statement issued by the ATF.

In a separate indictment, the ATF named 31 street gang members charged with crimes ranging from possession of firearms, drug offenses, aiding and abetting, racketeering and conspiracy. They all face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The last large-scale crackdown on the Mexican Mafia in Southern California occurred in Orange County in 2007, when 100 members and associates were charged. Five were sentenced to life without parole in federal prison.

Ice Cream Man Sold Cocaine from Truck: DA


A Brooklyn ice cream man has been arrested for selling cocaine and painkillers out of his truck full of treats as children bought frozen sweets just a few feet away.
Mina Gatas, 20, is accused of selling drugs to an undercover investigator, once near a deli where he works and another time from the ice cream truck, which he jointly owns.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office said Gatas sold $830 worth of cocaine, or about 15 grams, to the officer from the ice cream truck one day in July.
Prosecutors say the undercover officer met Gatas near the truck, which was parked at Owls Head Pier in Bay Ridge.
They got into the truck together and the officer asked for a vanilla ice cream cone and took off his hat, which contained $830. At that point, Gatas took the money, went to the other side of the truck, and returned with an ice cream cone and clear plastic bag with cocaine and oxycodone pills, prosecutors said.
He asked if the officer wanted sprinkles, and placed the bag in the officer's hat.
The alleged exchange was caught on video.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said Gatas "chose to use these busy, family-oriented public venues to facilitate and negotiate his drug deals."
Brooklyn residents said the choice of an ice cream truck was troubling.
"It's like an advertisement for little kids," said Modesta Nolasco.
"I was really seriously appalled," said Miriam Alexander. "The nerve of this person to sell drugs. That's a whole new ballgame."
The alleged ice cream truck buy came a few days after the undercover officer had already purchased 13 grams of cocaine from Gatas out of his car in another location, prosecutors said. 

Gatas is charged with several counts. He had no attorney on file.

Worker in Critical Condition After Hartford Incident


A 38-year-old man is in critical condition after a work accident in the area of 75 Van Block Avenue in Hartford this afternoon, according to fire officials.

The man, an A-1 Seamless Gutters worker, lost control of the ladder and pulled down a power line, electrifying a fence. There was an explosion but no fire, authorites said.

He was shocked and suffered severe burns to the face, hands, torso and chest. Officials said he was rushed to Hartford Hospital for treatment.

A witness said he was inside the apartment building at the time of the accident when he heard a loud boom and the power went out.

Connecticut Light & Power responded to the scene to de-energize the area.

The scene is mostly clear, but the street is still blocked off.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

RHAM Student Killed in Hebron Crash


A 17-year-old RHAM high school student was killed in a crash on West Street in Hebron just before 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Paige Houston, of Amston, was a passenger in the back seat of a 2000 Toyota Tundra that crossed lanes of travel and struck a tree in the area of Martin Road, according to state police.

She was ejected from the truck and pronounced dead at the scene. She was not wearing a seatbelt, police said.

According to state police, driver Connor McKee, 17, of Hebron, suffered an arm injury.

He and two other passengers, Andrew Burton, 16, of Hebron, and  Zachary Trapp, 18, of Hebron, were all wearing seatbelts. They were transported to area hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Houston was a cheerleader and worked at a local CVS, according to her friends.

School is out for the summer, but grief counselors will be at RHAM from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m, according to high school staff.

Police are investigating the crash.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut and submitted

Newington Police Chief Injured in Crash


Newington Police Chief Richard Mulhall was injured in the two-car accident that shut down Route 175 in Newington Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

Route 175, or Cedar Street, was closed between Fenn Road and Maple Hill Avenue while police investigated the crash.

It happened right outside the Dunkin Donuts at 548 Cedar Street around 4:30 p.m., police said.

Chief Mulhall sustained non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Newington Police

Officer Donates Kidney, Saves Detective's Life


When they joined the Manchester police force, officer Adam Marois and detective James Moore figured they would be part of a brotherhood, but never knew they would get this close.

"After the surgery, he is part of my family now," said Moore.

Marois helped save his life.

Moore has polycystic kidney disease, and his kidney has been operating at about 10 percent.

He needed a transplant, so his friends put out a call for help in the department. Marois tested positive for a match.

"Jim is like a brother to me here in law enforcement, so I do whatever I can in my power to help someone out here," said Marois.

On June 27, they both went under the knife.

Marois now has one kidney and Moore has the other.

Because of the transplant, Moore, a father of three, can continue to do the work he loves without going on dialysis.

"You try to express how much that means but again you don't want it to be weird. But I think Adam knows how big this thing was for me, that's just kind of the person he is," said Moore.

If Moore had gone on the transplant list, he would have waited an average 5 to 8 years for a donor.

But now he’s on the road to recovery, thanks to his co-worker and lifesaver.

"It's a life-changing thing for me,” Moore said. “Who knows what would have happened if he wasn't willing to do this.”

Marois will be back in the field in two weeks and Jim will be on light duty in September.

Photo Credit: Manchester Police Department

Silver Alert Issued for Elderly Vernon Man


The Vernon Police Department has issued a silver alert for an 84 year old man last seen  in Rhode Island.

According to police, Alex Zadrozny was last seen renting a car at the TF Green Airport in Providence.

Zadrozny is described as 5'5'', 100 lbs. He is a white male with white hair and brown eyes.

He was wearing a blue and white pinstripe polo shirt, jeans and black loafers. Zadrozny also wears glasses with a gold trim and walks with a limp.

He maybe operating a blue 2012 Dodge Avenger.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts should contact police at 860-872-9126 ext. 226.

Woman Found After River Search


Emergency officials in East Windsor searched the Connecticut River after reports that a woman maybe missing in the water.

The police and fire departments, along with the Enfield Fire Department, searched the water in the area of Bridge St. for about an hour Tuesday night.

Police later found the woman not in the water, but instead a few blocks away from the river.  She was unharmed.

Why We Love “Hump Day” So Much


Camels love hump day, and so do most American workers.

Chances are you’ve seen the Geico insurance commercial starring a camel excitedly interrupting everyone in the office on Wednesday, also known as hump day.

The video has social media by storm and goes viral every single week, according to David Waterhouse, of the technology research firm Unruly.

The “vast majority” of branded videos usually peak on day two, but the Geico ad has attracted a “huge spike in sharing activity” every Wednesday since its launch on May 22, Waterhouse said.

It may seem obvious that a commercial about hump day would garner more hits on Wednesdays. But experts say there is something more profound going on.

Most American employees are not happy at work, and they welcome any sign of the weekend, according to Rich Hanley, director of Quinnipiac University’s graduate journalism program.

“The commercial fed into that preexisting condition,” Hanley said. “When you get to the middle of the week the end is in sight; the proverbial hump has been passed. Americans celebrate this by sharing this video.”

There’s plenty to celebrate, namely the end of another unhappy week for many Americans who feel miserable at work.

A recent Gallup poll found that only 30 percent of Americans are engaged in their jobs.

Seventy percent of American workers are either not engaged or are actively disengaged from their workplaces, the 2013 State of the American Workplace Study also said.

Actively disengaged workers are defined as employees who are “miserable and roam the halls spreading discontent,” Gallup CEO Jim Clifton wrote in the report.

The brains behind Geico’s camel ad are capitalizing on that.

“People seek out this [hump day ad] in particular because people are always looking for a pick-me-up during the week,” said Wade Alger, Creative Director at The Martin Agency, which created the Geico Campaign. “This one people keep coming back because it’s a weekly tradition.”

There is a disagreement between academics of when exactly "hump day" was first coined. Estimates seem to range from the early 1900s to 1970. Hanley, who follows the intersection of social media and advertising, said the phrase became more common once American workplaces became more computerized. The phrase TGIF – Thank God It’s Friday – originated around the same time, also celebrating the end of an unpleasant workweek, Hanley added.

Workers rejoicing on Friday have added another YouTube tradition to their weekly ritual: watching (or at least sharing) Rebecca Black’s music video “Friday.” In the song, Black proclaims such end-of-the-week nuggets as, "Gotta get down on Friday" and “Everybody is looking forward to the weekend.” YouTube spokesman Matt McLernon said views of the pop music video still spike weekly on Friday. The video came out in March 2011.

So are jaded employees wasting time on the company’s dime by watching viral videos all day in the office? YouTube says: not necessarily.

“Our data differs a bit from what you might be thinking—the peak time for watching YouTube is during primetime evening hours across the globe,” McLernon said by email. He cautioned that people are more likely watching web videos at home than at work.

Nevertheless, it’s the message of the videos, more than the medium, that seems to resonate with workers.

Hanley, of Quinnipiac, said it doesn’t matter whether people watch videos at work or home. Either way, Americans are uniting around the feeling of relief they get as they head toward the weekend, he said.

Photo Credit: Geico/YouTube

Family and Friends Remember Teen Killed in Crash


Hundreds gathered at RHAM High School Tuesday night to remember the life of Paige Houston.

"I don't want Paige's death to be in vain. I want to make something positive out of it," said Michelle Houston, Paige's mom.

Houston's mom became overwhelmed surrounded by family and friends as they joined together for a vigil outside Rham High School where the 17-year-old would have attended as a senior this fall.

Students lit paper lanterns and held on to one another as they tried to heal.

"She was one of those people who lived life to the fullest. She was a great girl, and she was friends with everyone," said Carolyn Reidy, a friend of Houston's.

State Police say a newly-licensed teen driver had three teenage passenger with him, including Houston, when he lost control of the vehicle at one in the morning on Tuesday and crashed into a tree on West Street. Investigators said Houston was thrown from the vehicle and was the only one not wearing a seat belt.

As the hours passed a makeshift memorial grew at the site of the crash. Flowers and memories were brought by those who knew and loved the vivacious teen.

"She was honestly like a sister to me, and she had such a vibrant personality. She was always laughing, always lighting up a room, and she never met someone that she didn't make happy immediately," said Allie Aglieco, a friend of Houston's.

It's the love Houston exuded that those who knew her want remembered.

Her friends say Houston has two younger brothers and was set to be captain of the cheer squad. They say she lived a life full of remarkable possibility and they want the light she was for them to remain bright.

"All the light and happiness that she brought to people and not just remember the tragedy, remember her life and honor that," said Reidy.

"I want people to remember her and talk about her and keep her alive as much as they can and remember the story and remember her because she's not someone who should ever be forgotten," said Aglieco.

The principal of Rham High School said there will be something planned to remember Paige during the coming school year.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing. State Police have not yet said if alcohol or speed played a role.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut and submitted

Powerball Jackpot Climbs to $425 Million


Wednesday's Powerball jackpot is now at an estimated $425 million, the third largest Powerball jackpot ever.

This jackpot started as a $40 million prize on June 26 and is the result of 12 draws without a jackpot winner.

Winning Powerball tickets were sold in Bells and Murphy in May, giving Texas its first-ever Powerball jackpot winners. The holder of the Bells ticket won about $25 million on a cash-value option quick pick ticket for the $40 million jackpot.  The Murphy ticket holder took home about $1 million from the drawing after matching 5 of 5 numbers but not the Powerball.

The jackpot is the current largest jackpot available and the fourth largest jackpot in history for any lottery game.

Odds of winning the jackpot prize are one in 175,223,510, and overall odds of winning any prize are one in 32.

Earlier this year, the Powerball jackpot reached a record $600 million.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

Obama on Leno: Don't Overreact to Terror Threat


President Barack Obama gave an unexpectedly serious and wide-ranging interview to Jay Leno on Tuesday night, weighing in on a terror threat, U.S. tensions with Russia and even his recent lunch with Hillary Clinton on "The Tonight Show" — a venue where he was more accustomed to light-hearted joking.

Obama used his appearance on the show Tuesday – his sixth – to give his first public comments on recent warnings of a possible terrorist attack on U.S. interests in the Middle East. The warnings have prompted the State Department to shutter 19 embassies across the Middle East and North Africa until Saturday.

"Well, it's significant enough that we're taking every precaution," Obama said to Leno, adding that the radical violet extremism "is still out there, we've got to stay on top of it."

The president also reiterated the White House's warning that the threat was significant and urged Americans to act "prudently" when planning travel, checking in with the State Department and embassies to see what precautions they should be taking. 

"The general rule is show some common sense and some caution," Obama said. 

He also said that Americans have shined in times of danger and peril, pointing out that people kept going to ball games and went on business as usual after the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April. 

"That's the right reaction. Terrorists depend on the idea that we're going to be terrorized," Obama said. 

The president also commented on the case of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, plus the secret government data surveillance programs his leaks to the press uncovered.

"We don't have a domestic spying program," Obama said, defending some surveillance as a "critical component to counterterrorism" and saying the information it gathered was "useful."

But NBC News' correspondent Andrea Mitchell told "The Rachel Maddow Show" Tuesday said that he also appeared to express some caution about the surveillance, suggesting some level of discomfort with the NSA's programs.

Obama didn't comment on the legality of Snowden's leaks. Snowden faces espionage charges for them and has been granted temporary asylum in Russia in the face of them.

"We don't know exactly yet what he did," Obama said. "It's important for me not to prejudge something."

The president also said he was disappointed by Russia's decision to grant Snowden asylum, but maintained that the U.S relationship with Russia is still intact. 

"There's still a lot of business that we can do with them, but there are times when they slip back into Cold War thinking,"Obama said. 

The president also confirmed to Leno that he will attend the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg — despite some protests that he should not, due to Russia's granting Snowden asylum, and others over Russia's new spate of laws cracking down on gay Russians' civil rights. Obama did not say whether he would meet privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, Andrea Mitchell noted on "Rachel Maddow."

Leno himself told MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell in an interview on his show "The Last Word" Tuesday night, after the Obama taping, that the question of Russia — and of its crackdown on gay rights — was one he had most looked forward to asking Obama, who was the first sitting president ever to go on the show and has been on it four times now since taking office.

Another topic Leno had most wanted to ask Obama about: The high-profile case of Trayvon Martin and his fatal shooting by George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter last month.

Leno praised the president's public comments on the case and on the experiences of black men and boys in America and asked him about his remarks.

"I think all of us were troubled by what happened," Obama told Leno. "It doesn't mean Trayvon was a perfect kid. None of us were."

Obama said he thought the attention paid to the Martin shooting was indicative of how badly Americans want a fair and just criminal justice system.

"What I wanted to explain was why this was a particularly sensitive topic for the African-American community," he continued. "The system should work for everyone, and what I'm trying to do is just make sure that we have a conversation."

On "The Last Word" Tuesday night, after taping, Leno said he had been particularly interested in hearing about the comments on the shooting's impact. "He put every American in the shoes of the average black teenage boy," Leno said.

Leno also asked the president about the economy and the constant partisan battles in Congress over whether to boost the economy with infrastructure projects and other spending. And it was also pointed out that the president's health care law goes into full effect on Oct. 1.  

The late-night host also took a few swings at the president for becoming a bit closer to his 2008 presidential rival, John McCain, who was recently instrumental in pushing a comprehensive immigration bill through the Senate. 

Obama's appearance on Leno's show wasn't all serious, however, and he managed to have at least some fun with the late night host, with the help of some chat about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he lunched with recently.

"Who invited who to lunch?" Leno asked.

"I invited her, and we had a great time," Obama said. "She had that post-administration glow — you know, when folks leave the White House, and two weeks later they look great."

So was Clinton, a speculated 2016 presidential contender, measuring the Oval Office drapes for a possible future stint there?

"She's been there," Obama said of the former first lady. "She doesn't have to measure them."

Photo Credit: AP
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