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Facebook Announces New Shared Photo Album Feature


Facebook announced Monday a brand new feature that will allow multiple users to upload images to the same photo album.

With shared photo albums the album's creator can add up to 50 "contributors," who can upload their own photos – up to 200 of them – to a specific album. And the album creators can choose to allow contributors to invite others to add to the album or have control over invitations, according to Mashable.

The new shared album feature also has three privacy settings: public, friends of contributors and contributors only, which gives the album creator control over who has access to the album's images.

"I think one thing that's really fun about creating products at Facebook is that you're never quite sure how people will use the product in the end," Facebook software engineer Bob Baldwin told Mashable. Baldwin headed the project with colleague Fred Zhao.

Facebook began rolling out the new feature to small groups of English users on Monday.

Murder Suspect Arrested on Vacation in Florida


The suspect in the murder of a 19-year-old man outside “Up or on the Rocks” nightclub in Hartford earlier this month was arrested at a restaurant while on vacation in Orlando, Florida, police said.

Mike Cruz, 23, whose last known address was in East Hartford, was arrested on Friday, according to police.

He has been charged with the murder of Brian Simpe, 19, of Manchester,.

Simpe was shot in the chest outside the club around 2 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4.

Police said the fight that started inside the nightclub and continued on the street after the club closed was over a girl.

Simpe’s friends said he was trying to break up that fight when he was shot.

Police had identified Cruz as a suspect and obtained an arrest warrant on Aug. 20, charging him with murder, reckless endangerment in the first degree and criminal possession of a pistol/revolver.

Detectives obtained information that Cruz had planned a Disney vacation. U.S. federal marshals and the fugitive task force, working with the major crimes division detectives, found him by the pool in Orlando and took him into custody at a nearby restaurant on International Drive, police said.

He is being held in Florida pending extradition.

Cruz had been arrested six times before in Hartford for violation including narcotics sales and various gun offenses.

He is being held on a $2 million bond.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police

11 Major Wildfires Burn in California


The 250-square-mile Rim fire that spread into Yosemite National Park as it continued to scorch a wide area of Stanislaus National Forest is one of 11 major wildfires burning this week during what has been an active fire season in California.

Photos: Southern California Wildfires

Nearly 9,000 firefighters from several local, state and federal agencies have been deployed to attack the fires amid windy conditions, according to officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The Rim Fire -- by far the largest and most active -- is now the 13th-largest fire in the state's history and one of seven that has scorched more than 10,000 acres this summer.

Nearly 3,700 firefighters were battling the Rim Fire as of Monday night. It has charred 22,000 acres in Yosemite and caused road closures around the famed national park, according to the National Park Service.

Gov. Jerry Brown toured the Rim fire burn area Monday morning. He said he's making sure the "resources" in terms of "funding and talent" would be made available to continue fighting the Rim Fire.

"Firefighters have a real challenge on their hands," Brown said. "This is one of the worst."

Brown spoke Sunday to President Barack Obama, who reiterated his commitment to providing needed federal resources, according to the White House.  Brown told NBC4 that he is confident he will need to request more federal money to help fight the state's wildfires before the end of the season.

Through Aug. 17 of this year, 4,715 fires have been reported in the Cal Fire state responsibility area and the local responsibility area under contract with Cal Fire. Those fires burned nearly 95,000 acres.

During the same period last year, 3,443 fires burned about 76,000 acres.

The state has averaged about 3,000 wildfires per year since 2008, according to Cal Fire statistics.

"This is something we have to live with, and it's going to get worse in years to come," Brown said Monday.

Monday Night Update: Wildfires Larger Than 10,000 Acres

Deer Fire, Tehama County
Acreage: 10,378 acres
Containment: 70 percent

Rim Fire, Tuolumne County
Acreage: 160,980 acres
Containment: 20 percent

American Fire, Placer County
Acreage: 24,684 acres
Containment: 81 percent
Spring Peak Fire, Mono County
Acreage: 14,230 acres
Containment: 98 percent
Note: The fire is primarily in Nevada, but burned into California

Orleans Complex, Siskiyou County
Acreage: 21,188 acres
Containment: 45 percent

Corral Complex, Humboldt County
Acreage: 11,732 acres
Containment: 5 percent

Salmon River Complex, Siskiyou County
Acreage: 14,771 acres
Containment: 95 percent

Aspen Fire, Fresno County
Acreage: 22,800 acres
Containment: 95 percent
On Sunday, crews contained the 4,500-acre Mission Fire at Fort Hunter Liggett in Monterey County.

The two largest Southern California fires are the Little and Gobblers fires, burning east and southeast of Los Angeles.

The Gobblers fire began Aug. 19 in steep terrain near Lytle Creek, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The 400-acre fire was 90 percent contained Monday morning.

Fire investigators said a lightning strike started the fire.

The Little fire began Aug. 24 in chaparral and scattered timber south of Lake Hemet, about 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The 100-acre fire was 50 percent contained Monday morning.

The fires were sparked after one of the driest California winters on record. A May snowpack survey found levels at only 17 percent of normal, raising concern about summer fire activity.

The map below displays Cal Fire wildland fire incidents.

View California Fire Map in a larger map

More Southern California Stories:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Cookie Dough Recalled for Peanuts


A number of Kroger's Break 'N Bake chocolate chip cookie dough packages are being recalled after peanut butter cup cookie dough was accidentally packed into the product, according to a statement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

ConAgra Foods recalled the 16-ounce packages due to a risk of possible reactions by those with peanut allergies. No illnesses have been reported.

The recalled items were sold in 26 states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The recalled items were sold at stores such as Kroger, Dillons, Baker’s, Gerbes, Foods Co., Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Jay C, Owen’s, Pay Less, Scott’s, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s stores.

The affected package has the following UPC and use-by date:

  • Unit UPC: 11110 87530
  • Use by: 24NOV13C21

Anyone who purchased this product should return it to the store where originally purchased for a full refund.

Kroger’s Southwest Division stores in Texas and Louisiana were not affected by the recall. The recall also didn't apply for Kroger’s Delta Division stores in western Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, western Kentucky and southern Missouri; and King Soopers and City Market stores in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Consumers with questions should call 800-252-0634.



Students Return to Hartford Schools Today


The first day of school was extra special for students in Hartford on Tuesday morning as the city unveiled three state-of-the-art schools.  

“I love my new school,” Malik Webb said.

“I’m all excited … to try the new technology and experience a lot more than I’m used to,” Nardia Gayle said.

Mayor Pedro Segarra joined Supt. Christina Kishimoto and other leaders, as they toured the Global Communications Academy, along with the Michael D. Fox and the Journalism and Media Academy Magnet schools.

The schools are focused on preparing students for college or a career by the time they graduate by making technology accessible at their fingertips.

The Journalism and Media Academy features a new television studio, the Global Communication Academy has a few computer labs and the Michael D. Fox school includes “state-of-the-art technology in all classrooms,” along with a 600-seat auditorium.

“We want our students to understand that they’re going to school to fulfill their aspirations,” Kishimoto said.

Mayor Segarra said these new schools are part of Hartford’s bigger plan to boost its 65-percent high school graduation rate.

“The goal is to get to a 100-percent graduation rate. It’s very important to our city,” Segarra said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Sandy Hook Students Return to Class


When students from Sandy Hook Elementary return to school to start the new school year today at the former Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, armed officers will be in place.

School officials have said making the students feel comfortable and safe is the priority today.

The school in Monroe is arranged and decorated to look just like the former Sandy Hook Elementary, which has been closed since a gunman shot and killed six educators and 20 first graders  in December 2012.

In May, a Newtown task force approved a plan to tear down the former Sandy Hook School and build a new one on the same property.

That proposal is still awaiting approval by town residents.

City Employee Accuses Mayor Filner of Gender Violence


A district manager for the City of San Diego has filed a new sexual harassment claim alleging the mayor held her in a choke hold and pressed his elbow into her breast.

Special Section: Mayor Under Fire

Stacy McKenzie, the Mission Bay Park District Manager, decided to introduce herself to Mayor Bob Filner at a family event on April 21 at De Anza Cove in Mission Bay.

McKenzie said Filner asked her to lunch then grabbed both of her hands and explained that it would not be a business lunch but would be a date.

She removed herself from the conversation and walked across the parking lot and found two of her employees, park security guards.

Soon after, she claims that Filner put his hands on her from behind and grabbed her in what she describes as a chokehold that ended with Filner's elbow resting on her breast. 

"It was an intimate hold that was getting more and more sexual," McKenzie told NBC 7. 

McKenzie explained to the mayor that he was embarrassing her. She said he laughed and walked away.

Later on, she said she was disappointed in the mayor.

"He was going to hold me in place until he was done with me," she recalls. "He got his little chuckle out of me turning red."

It wasn’t until McKenzie heard the mayor’s address to the city council on Friday that she decided to file a legal claim.

NBC 7 has obtained the claim against the city of San Diego and Filner filed by attorney Dan Gilleon on Aug. 26.

She has decided to file a claim for $500,000 alleging sexual harassment involving a supervisor, negligence of the city to prevent it and gender violence – that the mayor battered her for sexual gratification.

“It was a slap in the face to all women who have filed or who have not filed or just women in general,” McKenzie told NBC 7 on Monday.

McKenzie reported the incident to people within the city and on July 16 filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity office according to her attorney.

She also contacted state and federal authorities as well as with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's victim hotline.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith was not surprised to learn of the claim Monday morning. “We had investigators all over City Hall,” Goldsmith told NBC 7 News. “We were aware of this.”

Goldsmith said the case is among the category of claims that should the city be on the hook, his office will be able to seek reimbursement from Filner should they choose to do so.

More than a dozen women have spoken out publicly alleging sexual harassment or other unwanted sexual advances by Filner during his time as mayor and as U.S. Congressman.

Mayor Filner, who has resigned effective Friday, faces one sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson.

On Friday, after the council agreed to terms leading to his resignation, Filner likened the allegations to unsubstantiated rumors.

“Not one allegation, members of the council, has been independently verified or proven in court. I’ve never sexually harassed anyone," the mayor said.

If she could say something to Mayor Filner right now, McKenzie said she would tell him to own his actions.

“What you did was sexual harassment,” she said. “It’s time to stop pointing fingers at everybody and start looking at yourself.”

Start of NHL Season Crucial For USA Hockey Hopefuls


Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., will serve as base camp for USA Hockey over the next two days, as players, coaches and management prepare for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. 

Except for participating in youth practices, however, none of the 48 players who could potentially represent the United States in international competition will take to the ice during the orientation camp due to the exorbitant insurance costs needed to cover their contracts (the combined total of 47 contracts -- Rangers restricted free agent center Derek Stepan is currently unsigned -- is about $1.06 billion). 

Without the benefit of on-ice instruction, USA Hockey's brain trust will rely heavily on the first three months of the NHL season to evaluate which 25 players will ultimately make the roster, which will be announced around Jan. 1, according to general manager David Poile.

"There has to be a body of work that you look at when evaluating players," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "There's no trial, there's no on-the ice time here, there is a body of work from each player here. Having said that, the next three, four months is the key time to establish that. How you're playing for the three, four months will be important."

The group tasked with selecting Team USA for the Olympics in February includes Poile, associate general manager Ray Shero, director of player personnel Brian Burke and USA Hockey assistant executive director Jim Johannson. An advisory council of American NHL general managers, comprised of Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles), Stan Bowman (Chicago), Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia), Dale Tallon (Florida) and Pittsburgh scout Don Waddell, will be responsible for scouting and grading players throughout the 2013 portion of the 2013-14 season. 

Every game between October and December will serve as an audition. While most players said Monday that their primary focus will be on helping their respective NHL clubs, others admitted that impressing the USA Hockey management team will be on their minds as well. 

"You've got a job to go do with your team, but it will always be there knowing that if you had a bad night, you're like, 'Oh boy, you've got to turn it around quickly because you're going to run out of opportunities to make it,' " Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien said. "You've got to make every chance count."  

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

WATCH: Julian Assange Wears Mullet Wig in Rap Video Parody


Julian Assange might be going stir crazy at the Ecuadorian embassy where he has been holed up for a year.

The WikiLeaks founder appeared in a rap video released on Monday wearing a mullet wig as he sang and lip synced to a parody of John Farnham's 1986 hit "You're the Voice." The lyrics were rewritten to include lines like "We've got to make things leak, so we can get much bolder."

The video, produced by Australian duo Juice Rap News, mocks the upcoming federal elections, comparing it to HBO's hit show "Game of Thrones." Assange is running for a seat in the Australian Senate, even though he is stuck at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He is wanted in Sweden on a sexual assault charge.

The show's producers, who worked with Assange in a previous episode, wanted to make their season finale a "really special event," according to a statement.

"We realized that doing another rap cameo with Julian would be something that our audience had seen before, so we searched for some ways to make it bigger, better and more mind-blowing," show producers Giordano Nanni and Hugo Farrant said in the statement.

To pitch the idea, Nanni visited Assange at the embassy with a backpack full of mullet wigs in tow.

"Julian tried on the power mullet and gave it some good hard thought of the course of the afternoon. In the end he was happy for us to write the episode and come back a week later to film it," they said.

The video cuts to Ecuador's embassy in London at about the 3:45 mark, where Assange appears in a normal suit. He's then given a makeover and shows up on camera wearing a mullet wig, a neck tie around his head and a muscle T-shirt with the word "Australia" on the front.

Then the lip syncing begins. The famous whistleblower - now appearing in black and white - fist-pumps and dances his way through the 80s pop song while b-roll of fighter planes and spaceships loom in the background.

Check out the music video below:

Photo Credit: YouTube/The Juice Media

Waterbury Backup Cleared


Two tractor-trailer crashes affected the morning commute.

Only one lane was getting by in Waterbury on Interstate 84 East and traffic was backed up from exit 23 to 16 near Southbury. It has since cleared.

A jackknifed tractor-trailer in Tolland on I-84 East was also causing some traffic backups this morning.

According to the director of public safety, the tractor-trailer jackknifed into the Jersey barrier between exits 67 and 68 just before the Mt. Spring Overpass.

There were no reported injuries or gas leaks in the Tolland crash.


Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

D.C. Preparing to Bid on 2024 Summer Olympics


Could the Washington area play host to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games?

Local nonprofit DC 2024 announced its intention Tuesday to submit a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The group says the district, Maryland and Virginia are more than equipped to handle the event.

"With more state-of-the-art sports infrastructure in a 40-mile radius than any other U.S. city, thousands of hotels and lodging options, and a vast and expanding transportation system, the Greater Washington region is one of the best and most qualified in the world to host an event of this magnitude...," DC 2024's President Bob Sweeney said in a statement released at 10 a.m.

The group says hosting the Olympics would cost the region $4 billion to $6 billion. But they claim with proper planning, the economic impact could be greater than the cost.

News of a possible bid got quick support from Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who released this statement:

"We look forward to assisting the Washington Olympic Committee in presenting the nation's capital and fabulous surrounding region to the Olympic sporting world. We are fortunate to have most of the venues needed in an internationally recognized city that is accustomed to staging high-profile events."

DC 2024 suggests using existing stadiums in the region, and building out the region's existing transportation and housing options.

The announcement comes six months after the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) sent letters to the mayors of 35 U.S. cities to gauge their interest in hosting the games.

Over the next few months, D.C. 2024 group will work on its bid to the USOC, which is expected to make a decision on a U.S. city partner in September 2015.

This isn't the first time Washington's thrown its hat into an Olympic ring. A joint effort by D.C. and Baltimore to host the 2012 Olympics failed in 2002. New York ultimately won the chance to be the United States' candidate, but London's bid was selected.

The 2012 D.C. Olympics committee said their Olympic plan was built around a "relatively compact corridor" through Baltimore, Prince George's County, Washington and Northern Virginia.

The Olympics last came to the United States in 2002, when Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Games. Atlanta was most recent U.S. city to host the Summer Games, in 1996.


SoCal Harbor Floats Plan to Host Mega-Yachts


A so-called "mega-yacht" may be coming to a Southern California harbor this weekend. But some residents are opposed to plans to have this and possibly another yacht moor right in their backyards.

It is described by some as a personal cruise ship. Harbor officials say there has never been a boat the size of the Invictus on Newport's waterways. It stands five stories tall and 216 feet long, or the size of a 20-story building.

The yacht belongs to billionaire Rick Caruso, who plans to christen the vessel as early as this weekend, and there is only one place deep enough to moor the 580-ton yacht: the Newport Harbor at the Lido Marina Village.

"I think it would be weird to have a boat sitting directly in the middle of the harbor, but if they're paying for it they might as well get what they're paying for," said Nathan Bryant, owner of Suplove, a paddle board business.

Bryant said he hopes that the boat brings him big bucks from people who are curious enough to see the ship and then maybe try out paddle boarding.

But Cassandra Vasquez, of Windward Sailing Co., said she would rather see the water than a big boat.

"Why would they let a 216-foot long boat moor in here?" said Vazquez. "It's a small harbor, I think."

Other residents are concerned the yacht will be noisy and emit fumes.

City officials are poised to give Caruso a two-month permit, with the promise that the boat will only be in the harbor for four weekends. There are no docks big enough to hold it, so The Invictus must bring its own moorings.

"Our focus is really to attract a different size vessel and to be more visitor friendly," Harbor Resource Director Chris Miller said. "Certainly there is a [mooring] fee involved."

Based on what the city charges at $38 per foot per year, the fee comes out to $1,368 for two months. But harbor officials said they are not doing it for the money.

"Our goal is to test it and see if it works," Miller said.

Caruso's office declined to comment on the situation.

The owner of a second boat that is about 130 feet long is also asking for a permit to moor at the harbor and have a wedding onboard. The "mega-yachts" would not be parked at the same time.

More Southern California Stories:

Photo Credit: Mr. Malibu Productions

Police Shoot, Kill Monitor Lizard in Ledyard


Ledyard police shot and killed a monitor lizard after receiving a 911 call on Sunday from a resident who said something was attacking her chickens.

The Shewville Road resident called 911 around 3:30 p.m. and said she thought an alligator was in the chicken coop at her house.

Ledyard police officers and the Ledyard Animal Control Officer responded to the house and found a reptile they actually believe was a monitor lizard.

Police shot the lizard because of the “further risk” to livestock, domestic animals and human life, according to a news release from police.

Police said they have received several monitor lizard sightings at various locations in the eastern part of Ledyard, police said.

One of them was on Spicer Hill Road on July 14. 

Monitor lizards are illegal in the State of Connecticut and can be extremely dangerous, police said.

Photo Credit: Submitted to Ledyard Police

Asthma Caused UConn Student's Death: Coroner


A former standout Killingly High School running back was found dead in his UConn dorm room over the weekend.

The medical examiner has determined that Jesse Richeeds, of Danielson, died of natural causes stemming from asthma.

Richeeds, also known as “Jay-R,” graduated from high school in 2012 and was a sophomore at UConn, according to the Norwich Bulletin.

The UConn Fire Department responded to a 911 call reporting a male having trouble breathing in the Shippee Hall Dormitory at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Richeeds’ friends said the Danielson native had asthma and started having trouble breathing early Sunday morning.

“Jay-R started to have asthma problems. He always had asthma problems. He told us to call 911, so we did,” Justin Walters, a UConn sophomore, said.

The group had gone to the UConn block party, then back to their dorm room in Shippee Hall to hang out. 

That's when Jay-R had trouble breathing, they said.

“The operator told me to keep him calm and continue breathing, and I tried to keep him calm,” Waters said. “It became difficult, so I had to try and perform CPR, but I’m not certified so I didn’t know exactly what to do, so I tried my best.”

The UConn Fire Department and a Windham County Memorial Hospital paramedic began to render aid and transported Richeeds to WCMH and he died at the hospital after arrival.

UConn police said on Monday that investigators were investigating the circumstances surrounding Richeeds' death, but there was no indication of any contributing factors other than a pre-existing medical condition.

The UConn Center for Counseling & Mental Health Services has been providing counseling to affected students. 

Students who want to learn more about the services provided by CMHS can visit their website

Friends say the Danielson native was a good kid and always there to make them laugh.

Jay-R was always the one to start a laugh, start a joke,” Schneider Jean-Baptiste said.
 Schneider said Richeeds was also a talented musician.

“He had a dream of becoming a pharmacist, not only to provide for himself, but also for his family,” Jean-Baptiste said.

Richeeds was not playing football at UConn, but was focusing on academics and music.

Photo Credit: Submitted by Justin Walters

Investigation Underway After Missing Girl's Body Found


Fairfax County Police say a criminal investigation is being conducted into the death of a missing 16-year-old girl whose body was found in an affluent Vienna, Va., neighborhood.

Her family had called police Aug. 21 to report her missing, saying she had run away.

The girl's body was discovered Friday between fences separating two million-dollar-plus houses in the affluent Vienna area, police confirmed.

McLean High School identified the girl as Emylee Lonczak, from McLean, Va.

"It is with great sadness that I must inform you that one of our students died unexpectedly Friday," Principal Ellen Reilly wrote in a letter home to families of students at McLean High. "Emylee Lonczak was a rising 11th grader at our school. She was a cherished student who will be greatly missed by all who knew her."

Police went to the quiet neighborhood near Tysons Corner when they got a tip that Lonczak might be found there. When officers began to look in the area near a pipe stem on Madrillon Estates Drive, they found the girl's body on the ground, hidden by bushes between two fences.

Neighbors are anxiously waiting to learn more about how her body ended up there. Police say that while an active criminal investigation is underway, the circumstances surrounding Lonczak’s death pose no threat to the neighborhood or community.

"I can certainly understand why people should be concerned," said Bud Walker, of Fairfax County Police. "This is not obviously something that happens in everyone's neighborhood. What I can say is that everything that is involved in this case has been identified by the police. There are no outstanding people; there are no outstanding items; there is no outstanding information. People in that neighborhood can rest assured that nothing from this case is a threat to them or their children."

Neighbors watched as police spent almost 12 hours at the scene.

“I wouldn't wish it on anybody,” said neighbor Dorothy Brown, a mother of teenagers. “I'm very sad for them. I’m very sad for whatever happened to her”.

Police will not disclose any details, and Walker said that he couldn't "speculate about what the end of this investigation will be.”

“I can confirm that it is criminal in nature, that detectives are looking into any potential criminal acts that may be involved,” he added.

Police also will not say whether the teenager died in the location where her body was found or whether her body was placed there by someone else.

The medical examiner has not determined Lonczak's cause of death.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com

Protective Mei Xiang Blocks Exam Attempt on Cub


A very protective Mei Xiang kept the panda team at the National Zoo from getting a second look at her new cub.

Mei Xiang gave birth to the cub Friday afternoon after approximately two hours of labor. The zoo said a second cub birthed by the giant panda the next day was stillborn. Officials said the second cub was malformed in utero and never alive.

Zoo personnel were able to examine the first cub hands-on for the first time Sunday, but they weren't so lucky when they tried to perform a second exam Tuesday.

The panda team says Mei Xiang was more alert and aware of their presence and positioned her body so that the cub couldn't be reached. Despite attempts to distract her, Mei Xiang constantly moved out of reach, keeping her cub close.

The keepers stopped their attempt as to not upset her.  

While they won’t know the sex of the cub for another couple of weeks, they were able to take vital sign readings Sunday. The cub weighed 137 grams or 4.8 ounces, had good heart and lung sounds, and good signs for intestinal function.

Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated twice March 30 after failing to breed naturally with the zoo's male panda Tian Tian. It's not clear who the proud father is: Mei Xiang was inseminated with previously frozen semen from both Tian Tian and Gao Gao, a panda at the San Diego Zoo.

Mei Xiang has given birth to two cubs in the past. A female cub, born last September, lived only six days. Her birth was a surprise; she had not shown up on any ultrasounds. An autopsy determined she may have been born prematurely. Mei Xiang's only surviving cub, Tai Shan, was born in 2005 and now lives in China.

According to an agreement with the Chinese government, the cub will stay at the National Zoo for four years and will then be sent to China. 

Tuesday also marks Tian Tian's 16th birthday. The zoo will celebrate with a fruitsicle cake made of sweet potatoes, carrots, pears, apples and juice.



Photo Credit: The National Zoo

Yahoo! Launches "Watchlist" to Recycle Old Usernames


Yahoo's quest to reclaim old usernames continues with the launch of Watchlist, a service that will send a notification to a user once an unused name becomes available.

Those who filled out a Yahoo! username wish list by Aug. 7 can find out this week if the name they wanted is available. But for those who missed the deadline, users can add up to five usernames to Watchlist for $1.99. Once an old username becomes available, participants will have up to 14 days to claim it.

The three most requested names for guys have been David, Michael and Alex. Ladies wanted Maria, Jennifer and Jessica.

The move is part of Yahoo's effort to delete accounts that have not been used in the last year so that others may take them. Previous username owners can rest assured that Yahoo! is working with Facebook and other services to make sure that important emails meant for the previous owner don't go to the new owner's account.

More of Pachaug State Forest Closed Over EEE


The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is expanding the areas of Pachaug State Forest closed to the public because of the presence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in mosquitoes.

The state will also be conducting ground spraying in the area to reduce the number of mosquitoes. 

The portion of the park to be closed and treated is commonly known as the Mt. Misery or Chapman area and will encompass the forest interior roads and campground areas (all on state property) bound by east of Route 201, north of Route 138, west of Route 49 and south of Hell Hollow Road.

On August 21, DEEP closed two of its campgrounds in Pachaug State Forest because of EEE and the campgrounds and this portion of the state forest will remain closed until further notice.

“Based on the continued presence of EEE in this portion of Pachaug State Forest, and in consultation with the mosquito management team, it was decided to close a larger area of the forest and to spray in an attempt to minimize the number of mosquitoes in the vicinity,” said DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty.  “CAES will trap and test mosquitoes both before and after tonight’s spraying so that we have sound information to assist us in deciding on our next course of action.”

DPH recommends that communities around the forest curtail any outdoor activities scheduled after 7 p.m. 

The mosquitoes that have currently tested positive for EEE were trapped in Voluntown on August 21 and 22. 

Mosquitoes with EEE were previously identified at the same site on July 10, July 17, and August 13. 

While those EEE-infected mosquitoes trapped on July 10 and July 17 were limited to a bird-feeding species, the mosquitoes trapped on August 13, 21, and 22 include both bird-feeding mosquitoes and those that feed on birds and people.

Signs have been posted in this portion of the forest by DEEP staff advising visitors of the closure due to the presence of EEE. 

Visitors can go to the DEEP website at http://www.ct.gov/deep for alternate camping areas and outdoor recreation areas.

Hasan Rests, Says Nothing in Fort Hood Sentencing


Maj. Nidal Hasan rested and said nothing during the sentencing phase of the Fort Hood shooting trial Tuesday.

Sentencing will begin at 9 a.m. Central time Wednesday. That's when the jury will be given instructions and closing arguments will be made.

The prosecution rested on the second day of testimony, then the jury went to lunch,  with Hasan set to present his defense starting at 2 p.m. Central time.

He could have made a sworn statement subject to cross examination, an unsworn statement with no cross, or both. Instead he chose to rest without saying anything to the jury.

Hasan was convicted Friday of killing 13 people and wounding dozens more. Now, the jury is deciding whether he will receive the death penalty or life in prison.

Hasan originally said he'd like at least half a day to prepare a sentencing-phase defense. But he said Tuesday more time wasn't necessary.

He mounted virtually no defense during his trial and is not expected to call any witnesses or present any documents in his defense.

Prosecutors presented testimony on the effect of the crime Monday and Tuesday, while asking the panel of 13 high ranking military officers to impose a death sentence. Jurors will have to come to a unanimous verdict in order for Hasan to be put to death.

Family members described the terrible hours before learning what happened to their loved ones after learning about the November 2009 shooting.

Teena Nemelka, stepmother of murdered Pfc Aaron Nemelka said two soldiers came knocking on her door around 11:30 p.m. that night.

“You just freeze, you don’t want to open that door. You don’t want to hear that news that you lost your son,” she said.

Jerri Krueger said her daughter, Sergeant Amy Krueger, joined the Army after September 11, 2001.

“When a parent loses a child it’s something permanent,” she said. “There’s apart of you missing. I live with that every day.” Krueger said.

Retired Lt.Col. Randy Royer was shot twice that day and still walks with a cane because of his wounds. 

He received a medical discharge from the Army after the injuries he suffered in the shooting at a crowded medical processing building.

Royer said he also has anxiety problems, especially when visiting the local pharmacy.

“They have all the chairs lined up. I don’t do well,” Royer said.

Photo Credit: Brigitte Woosley

Senator Boucher Explores Bid for Governor


Republican state senator Toni Boucher is considering jumping into the governor's race. 

Boucher, who represents the 26th Senatorial District, announced on Tuesday that she is forming an exploratory committee for governor.

Other Republicans considering running for governor includes Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton,  who also formed an exploratory committee. 

State senate Republican leader John McKinney has announced plans and Tom Foley has yet to state what he plans to do.

The most recent Quinnipiac Poll taken in June shows Gov. Dannel Malloy leading Boughton. 43 to 36 percent.

In a primary, Foley tops the field with 36 percent, McKinney with 11 and Boughton with 8. 

Malloy has not yet said whether is will run for re-election.

Photo Credit: Senate Republicans Web Site
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