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Watertown Woman Sexually Assaulted at Home: Cops


Watertown police are investigating a sexual assault in the Oakville section of town.

According to police, a man broken into the home of a 41-year-old woman Thursday night and sexually assaulted her. The incident took place in a neighborhood surrounded by Straights Turnpike, Bunker Hill Road and Davis Street.

The man knocked on the victim's door and asked for "Rita," which is not the woman's name, police said. He then forced his way inside and sexually assaulted the victim, according to police.

The attacker is believed to be in his 30s and is about six feet tall. Police are asking anyone who may have seen something suspicious in that area to give them a call.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sex Offender Sentenced to 120 Years in Prison


A registered sex offender was sentenced to 120 years in prison Friday for an assault on a child in 2010.

Brian Wright, 48, was arrested July 29, 2010 on charged he attempted to abduct and sexually assault a child under the age of 13 in Pope Park in Hartford on July 20, 2010.

According to police, Wright was released from prison in December 2009 after serving 25 years for raping several women. He moved into a shelter in Hartford after his release, police said.

Wright received the 120-year-sentence after one of the first successful prosecutions under Connecticut's "Jessica's Law" statute, according to police. Under the law, which was enacted in Connecticut in 2007, sex offender who commit sex crimes against children under the age of 13 are subject to strict sentencing guidelines.

The aggravated sexual assault of a minor charge against Wright carries a 50-year minimum sentence, according to police. He also faced two other charges with a 25-year minimum sentence each.

"Jessica's Law" was named for Jessica Lunsford, a 12-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted and murdered by a convicted sex offender in 2005.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police

Volleyball Tournament To Provide Economic Bump to Hartford



Businesses in Hartford geared up for a busy weekend, as a three-day volleyball tournament kicked off at the CT Convention Center in Hartford, Saturday.
“This is really exciting. It’s a big deal,” said Morgan McCarthy, a volleyball player with the Huskies.
The event is a big deal for the 1,900 players who are competing from all over the Northeast, California and Bermuda at the Mizuno New England Winterfest Volleyball Tournament; but an even bigger deal for downtown businesses who are hoping for a big spike.
“This is a busy weekend—all kinds of stuff going on…anything that brings business to Hartford we’re always very excited about,” said Mary Spain, Manager of the City Steam Brewery and Café.
Spain expects City Steam to boom come Saturday evening.
“We’ve already had [full] reservations from 2:00 until 10:00 tonight, and the same tomorrow. We have reservations through the evening.”
Other businesses are expected to get a boost, too. The three-day event is predicted to pump about $4 million into the local economy.
“[Visitors] come to restaurants and those entities pay taxes, so the state benefits as well,” said Laura Soll, with the Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau.
More than three dozen teams from Connecticut are participating in the games. Admission to the event is free.



Authorities Vigilant for Inauguration


President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration was, from a security standpoint, about as hairy as it gets: the most important people in American government, from the commander-in-chief to the Supreme Court, assembled outside the Capitol, surrounded by nearly two million people at a time of heightened terror risk.

The circumstances make Obama's second inauguration, to take place Jan. 21 with about half the attendance and fewer parties, seem sort of quaint in comparison.

But authorities aren't any less tense. The Secret Service, FBI, armed forces, Metropolitan Police Department, Capitol Police, U.S. Park Police and an array of local law enforcement agencies began planning for the event long before Obama's re-election. They're being just as meticulous as they were four years ago -- perhaps even more so.

"You don't want to be the person who makes a decision…to cut back and something happens. That's a legacy you don't want," said Joseph Funk, a retired Secret Service agent who protected two presidents and ran the agency's Washington D.C. office. "So you will not see anything different this year."

Thousands of troops, agents and cops will be in the streets, trying to manage crowds and eying potential threats. There will be sharpshooters on rooftops, undercover investigators among the spectators and analysts poring over surveillance images. There will be airport-style magnetometers, high-tech bomb-detecting equipment and armored "tactical vehicles." There will be roadside checkpoints and dozens of closed streets and tunnels. Parking will be a nightmare.

Washington D.C. estimates that between 600,000 and 800,000 will gather on the National Mall and along the inauguration parade route. That's a considerably smaller number than in 2009, but "still a big crowd," said Christopher Geldart, director of the city's Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.

The city, which has been planning since June, is borrowing 3,200 National Guard troops, and another 500 or so police officers from other local departments, for help with traffic control and other logistical duties, Geldart said.

While the crowd-management concerns won't be quite as acute as four years ago, Geldart pointed out that there are other areas that have drawn more attention, in part because of breakdowns at the 2009 inauguration. Although the celebration ended with no arrests, there were some relatively minor snafus: hundreds of ticket holders were misdirected into the Third Street Tunnel and remained stuck there for hours, and poorly designed signs and understaffed entrances led to interminable lines.

This time, authorities are bringing in temporary cell phone towers to make sure they can better communicate with each other. Officials will be monitoring Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to get a better idea of where people are massing and if there are problems. There will be clearer directions for visitors; Geldart encouraged out-of-towners to check out the city's inauguration website.

Organizers say that people who enter secured areas should expect the same level of security that they see from the TSA at the airport.

Washington D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier said her entire 3,900-member force will be working the inauguration. They've gone over the security plan to the point of obsessiveness, and technology has been a huge help. Instead of lugging around 200-page manuals as in prior years, each of her commanders now carries it in a digital tablet, with the ability to make last-minute changes, share observations and monitor surveillance video and social media sites.

"This is the third inauguration I've had direct planning over, and this is one of the best plans I've seen," Lanier said. "I feel real comfortable with it."

In 2009, intelligence officials heard reports that Somalia-based Islamic militants were planning some type of attack on Obama's inauguration, and Osama bin Laden warned that the new president would inherit a fight against guerrilla warfare. There were also lingering concerns from the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India. And there were some threats posted on white supremacist message boards that appeared credible.

There has been no credible threat so far this year, said Debra Smith, acting assistant director in charge of the Washington field office of the FBI.

As was the case in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security has declared the inauguration a National Special Security Event, meaning that the lead agency is the Secret Service, with the FBI taking over investigative duties in case of an attack or other disaster.

The Secret Service declined to answer questions about its preparations.

"Although we cannot discuss our means, methods, specific resources or numbers we utilize to carry out our protective responsibilities, we can say there is a tremendous amount of advance planning and coordination," spokesman Brian Leary said in a statement.

No matter how good the intelligence, and how extensive the planning, there's always a bit of anxiety gnawing at you, former security officials said.

Retired Army Major Gen. Richard Rowe, who headed a military task force in charge of the capital region during the 2009 inauguration, said he didn't think the risk of an attack had diminished.

"I have trouble imagining that anyone thinks the threat here is any less, because of the types of things that could happen," Rowe said. "If anything, there probably more technological capabilities out there that could be applied."

But the inauguration is the Secret Service' equivalent of the Super Bowl, and the agency never really stops thinking about it.

"I don't think people have a true understanding of the enormity of it," Funk said. "It's hard to equate it with anything else. It would be New Year's Eve in Times Square times ten in terms of the security that goes into it."

He added: "This is the pinnacle of what we do."

Chris Gordon contributed reporting.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Man Pleads Not Guilty to Taking Girl


A Connecticut man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he drove to eastern Kentucky to pick up a 14-year-old girl.

David Hernandez of New Britain is charged with custodial interference and unlawful transaction with a minor in the case. Police say he and his son picked up the girl on Jan. 2 from her home in Pineville and drove her to Connecticut.

WYMT-TV reports Hernandez entered the plea Friday in Bell County District Court after being extradited to Kentucky on Thursday.

He told the station he thought the girl was 18 and believed he was rescuing her from an abusive situation. He said his son had an online relationship with the girl.

Copyright Associated Press






Police Looking for Man Wanted in Attempted Arson


Police are seeking a man suspected of trying to start a fire at an apartment building in Hartford Friday night.

A woman confronted a man pouring gasoline over the bushes and front windows of a building at 34 Wethersfield Ave at around 9 p.m., according to authorities.

The man told the woman he was robbed by someone around the building and stated he was going to burn the building down, said police. After the woman stated she was going to call police, the man ran off and left behind a gas container.

Police describe the suspect as a black man about 5 feet and 7 inches tall. He weighs 180 pounds, and has a beard and dread locks. He was wearing a black hoodie and blue jeans.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call Hartford Police, Major Crimes Division, at 860-757-4463

Hundreds of Gun Rights Advocates Rally in Connecticut


Hundreds of opponents of gun control legislation held a rally at the Connecticut state Capitol, part of a series of demonstrations being held across the country.

Organizers say the rallies enable lawful gun owners to express their concerns about gun control efforts following the Dec. 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Police say about 1,000 people showed up on the Capitol grounds Saturday afternoon for the "Guns Across America" rally.

Demonstrators urged state and federal authorities not to introduce new restrictions on gun ownership, saying such moves would erode their Second Amendment rights.

Task forces created by the legislature and Gov. Dannel Malloy are considering changes to state gun laws.

President Barack Obama has proposed gun control measures.

Gun control supporters plan a Valentine's Day rally at the Connecticut state Capitol.


Copyright Associated Press

Flu Season Fuels Debate over Mandatory Paid Sick Leave


NEW YORK (AP) -- An unusually early and vigorous flu season is drawing attention to a cause that has scored victories but also hit roadblocks in recent years: mandatory paid sick leave.
       Supporters and opponents are particularly watching a debate over a paid sick time proposal in New York City.
       Dozens of doctors, nurses, lawmakers and activists pointed to the flu outbreak as they rallied Friday on the City Hall steps for passage of the measure. It's awaited a City Council vote for nearly three years.
       San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut have such laws.
       Advocates see paid sick time as a workforce issue and a public health priority.
       But some business owners say it's an impractical and unfair burden for small businesses. Critics also say the timing is bad, given the shaky economy and the damage done to businesses by Superstorm Sandy.

Obama Starts New Term With Eye on History


President Barack Obama began his second term on Sunday, emboldened by his renewed political capital but still chasing the grand vision he laid out four years ago, when he promised to lead a battered nation on a path to greater hope, unity and prosperity.

The next step in that journey comes at noon Monday, when Obama will stand outside the Capitol, place his left hand on Bibles used by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. and take the ceremonial oath of office.

He took the official oath of office at 11:55 a.m. Sunday in a private ceremony in the East Room of the White House. That's because Jan. 20, the first day of the presidential term mandated by the Constitution, falls on a Sunday.

Just a handful of people attended Sunday's ceremony, but more than a half-million people will pack into the National Mall to cheer him on, an impressive crowd but considerably smaller than the 1.8 million who showed up to witness the inauguration of America's first black president in 2009. Security will be just as tight as it was then, although authorities say there are no credible threats of any attack, terrorist or otherwise.

Obama, still riding his dominant re-election performance and a triumph in the fiscal cliff showdown, will then deliver an inaugural address to a country in need of a good pep talk.

Most Americans remain worried about the economy and see tough times ahead, polls show. And although Obama remains a popular and in many ways transcendent leader, they don't think he's achieved many of the lofty goals he set out for himself in his 2009 inauguration, namely rising above the partisan fray, reversing America's fiscal woes and pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

Obama is expected to address those challenges and remind the country of his most impressive victories, including health care reform, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, while sketching his plans for his remaining time in office.

Spurred by the schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn., Obama has put gun control at the top of his agenda, along with reforming immigration and tax laws and taking on climate change. He may choose not to delve into specifics of these plans on Monday, and instead save the details for his State of the Union speech Feb. 12. By then he could very well be engaged in a battle with Congress over the debt limit and automatic spending cuts.

Obama might also make reference to the fact that his second inauguration falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, nearly 50 years after the civil rights leader delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech across the mall at the Lincoln Memorial. It would be a reminder that the president is still negotiating his role as a "post-racial" black leader, even as he tries to show African Americans that he remains focused on issues of inequality.

Barbara Perry, a presidential scholar at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, likened a second inauguration to a couple renewing their wedding vows. "They've had all the fights, they know all the strengths and weaknesses, but they try to fall in love again," Perry said. "After his re-election, the American people want to fall in love with Barack Obama again."

Will Obama aim to make his second term about building an ideological legacy? He is already a transformative president, by virtue of who he is, and what he represents. So he will likely approach the next four years as more of a pragmatist, using his talents as a strategist and tactician to secure meaningful but measured advances from a combative Congress, analysts say.

"Obama has four years of job training under his belt. He has a better sense of what's possible and what's not," Perry said.

In 2009, "he believed more in the hope and change business, and he probably thought he could be more of a change agent in that realm…But I think he's learning how to deal with Congress and in the last few weeks he does seem more aggressive in putting forward new policies, such as gun control."

History is lined with second-term presidents who overestimated their political capital and stumbled, or lost focus and allowed stasis or scandal to set in. Obama, the 20th president—and the third in a row—to serve all or part of a second term, hopes to strike a balance between boldness and prudence.

He'll be working against the clock. Historians warn of a turning point somewhere at the two-year mark where allies and enemies alike begin to think of the next election, and a sitting president's influence begins to wane.

At his first inauguration, with the country reeling from a near-economic meltdown and "a sapping of confidence across our land," Obama told Americans they had "chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord." He called for "a new era of responsibility."

That goal remains a work in progress.

About a third of Americans think the nation is headed in the right direction, and nearly three-quarters don't like where the economy is headed. Democratic pollster Peter Hart told NBC News last week that the results of his latest survey showed that "if 2009 was all about hope, 2013 is about the ability to cope."

But Obama still has a way of inspiring positive vibes. Most Americans say they like him and that he has been a good president.

For his second term, he'll need to draw on that source of goodwill.

Photo Credit: AP

Two Children Hit by Car


Authorities in Vernon say two children were hit by a car as they crossed the street Saturday.

According to police, 50-year-old Kristopher Hansen of Vernon was driving southbound on West Street when he struck the two children. The incident happened just after 5 p.m.

A 9 year-old child was transported to Connecticut Children's Medical Center with unknown injuries. Police said the second child suffered minor injuries. The identity of the children are not being released.

An accident reconstruction team is investigating.

Anyone who witnessed the accident is asked to contact Officer Aaron Grechko at 860-872-9126.

Man in Custody After Police Standoff in Waterford


A man is in custody after an hours-long standoff with police at the Woodland Mobile Home Park in Waterford.

Police and SWAT teams responded after an armed man barricaded himself inside a trailer Saturday afternoon, according to officials.

Police said the suspect wanted to harm himself and others.

The incident started just after 3 p.m., near Boston Post Road. Police evacuated residents inside the trailer park and officers blocked off Woodland Grove Road for hours.

Kathleen Clark was one of the residents rushed out of her home because she was too close to the scene.

"This place is a great place to live and I used to say this was really boring, but this is scary," Clark said.

Neighbors tell NBC Connecticut they heard yelling coming from the mobile home. Beverly Rose is one of the neighbors that claims to knows the suspect. She says he has a history of mental health issues.

"Everything I've always seen is on TV, but never in my backyard," one resident said.

After several hours, swat teams finally made their move and entered the mobile home. The man surrendered to police without incident and was taken to a local hospital.

During the standoff, a temporary shelter was set up at the Waterford Community Center for residents in the area.



Prominent NYC Minister to Speak at Newtown Church


Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many members of the community continue to struggle to heal. The Rev. James A. Forbes Jr., who led one of the country's most prominent liberal Protestant churches, plans to speak in Newtown and bring the town together at a worship service honoring the victims of last month's school shooting.

The event takes place on the day before our country recognizes the sacrifice and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Local clergy in Newtown believe there is no better time to recognize those that lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14th. Forbes is scheduled to deliver a sermon Sunday evening inside the Newtown Congregational Church.

He is internationally known for his work as a preacher and was recently named by Newsweek as one of the top 12 most effective preachers. His sermon will consist of reminding people to believe in hope.

On Sunday afternoon, Forbes spoke to about 50 religious leaders from throughout Connecticut about the importance of not rushing the healing process. He also told religious leaders they need  support too.

"The idea is that when you are on the front lines of trying to help people, we need support, so he had some scripture so we can share that God is with us in our anguish and in our joy," said Kathy Cunliffe, from Southington.

A large turnout is expected at this event. The prayer worship begins at 7:30 p.m.

Forbes is senior minister emeritus of historic Riverside Church in New York City and retired from there in 2007.


Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Panel to Meet


The panel charged by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to recommend possible changes to state laws and policies in the wake of the deadly elementary school shooting in Newtown is meeting for the first time.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission will convene Thursday at the Legislative Office Building. Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson is heading the 16-member group, which includes mental health and public safety experts. Commission members have until March 15 to submit their initial report to Malloy.

Meanwhile, the school safety subcommittee of the General Assembly's Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and School Safety is holding a public hearing on Friday at the Legislative Office Building.

A hearing on gun safety is planned for Jan. 28. Another hearing on mental health issues is scheduled Jan. 29.

Copyright Associated Press

Flu Shots Recommended for Healthcare Workers

The latest strain of influenza has been deemed "widespread" in California and some experts are strongly recommending that health officials get flu shots. Ted Chen reports from Santa Monica for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Jan. 20, 2013.

Valerie Jarrett Discusses Opportunities for Obama's Second Term

President Barack Obama's senior advisor Valerie Jarrett talks about the benefit of having four years under the belt moving forward into a second term. Mary Ann Ahern reports for NBC News on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013.

David Gregory Previews Obama's Second Term

"Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory joined NBC Washington's Angie Goff and Richard Jordan to discuss the issues that will likely define President Obama's second term.

Photo Credit: AP

Apple Looks to Make Siri More "Witty"


Apple apparently is looking for someone to sassify Siri, its iPhone virtual assistant, according to reports.

9to5 Mac spotted the Apple ad on its corporate jobs site, which asked for a job candidate to "refresh and refine" Siri content. From the ad:

We’re looking for a uniquely creative individual to help us evolve and enrich Siri, our virtual personal assistant. Siri’s known for ‘her’ wit, cultural knowledge, and zeal to explain things in engaging, funny, and practical ways. The ideal candidate is someone who combines a love for language, wordplay, and conversation with demonstrated experience in bringing creative content to life within an intense technical environment.

When we searched for the ad on the Apple site, we found a page that read, "Sorry -- this job is no longer available," but apparently TechCrunch and other sites reported the ad did exist as of Thursday. We think that press-averse Apple probably disliked the unwanted attention its job opening received, so it pulled the ad. We will continue to see if it makes another appearance, or if Apple received an enormous amount of applications.

Photo Credit: FILE Getty Images

Babysitter Took Child to Motel Pool Party: Cops


Police have charged a Bridgeport babysitter after the woman went missing with the 2-year-old girl she was watching.

A Silver Alert was issued for Samya Quinones, 20, and 2-year-old McKenzie Hill around 3:15 a.m. Sunday.

The child's mother called police just past midnight and said she left her daughter with Quinones, but when she called to pick up her child, she could not get in touch with Quinones.

Police issued a Silver Alert for Quinones and the 2-year-old and began an hours-long search for the two.

Authorities eventually found Quinones. According to police, Quinones took the baby to a pool party at a motel in Stratford without the mother's permission. The child was returned to her mother unharmed, police said.

Quinones was charged with risk of injury to a minor. Bond was set at $20,000, according to police.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police

Inauguration Around the Web: Cake, Blood and Typos


President Barack Obama's second inauguration takes place today, and there's a lot going on. Some highlights from around the web: 

  • Though enthusiasm is more subdued that at Obama's first inaugurationl, there is one guy who wanted so badly to witness history that he's been selling his blood to pay for his trip to D.C., CNN reports
  • The first piece of cake eaten by Obama during his second term will no doubt have been baked by former "Ace of Cakes" star Duff Goldman, and served at the Commander in Chief's Ball. Dessert will be about four feet high, weigh 50 pounds and "glitter is going to be all over the place," Fox News says.
  • And this is your last chance to learn how to spell inaugration inaguration "inauguration," a word that has vexed hundreds of Twitterers and reporters over the past month, ABC says.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Woody Johnson Says Tim Tebow Was "Forced" on Him: Report


"I think you can never have enough Tim Tebow."

That was Jets owner Woody Johnson back in August, when the Jets still had a glimmer of hope for the year to come. Johnson said that at the height of the Jets' shadow quarterback competition, one that existed only through their words and attempts to stoke the fires of what Tebow would mean to the offense. 

It was a centerpiece of the belief that Tebow was only on the team because Johnson desired his name and celebrity over players that might actually help the Jets win a few games, a belief that was never shaken as it became clear that Rex Ryan and his coaching staff had no faith that Tebow could play quarterback. Now Johnson is apparently backtracking on his former love for Tebow. 

Former Broncos G.M. Ted Sundquist interviewed for the Jets G.M. job that wound up going to John Idzik, and told ESPNNewYork.com that Johnson said during the interview that Tebow was "forced" upon him. Sundquist also said that the team indicated they were looking for an "exit strategy" for Tebow after realizing the level of divisiveness he brought to the team. 

Frankly, there have been more believable assertions made throughout the history of the world. Those that believed the Earth was flat might even have an easier time selling their line of thinking than Johnson. 

Owners of businesses don't have things forced upon them. They might follow bad advice or hire the wrong people to fill key roles, but things don't happen without at least their implicit approval or reminder that the football decision makers have free rein to make their own calls. 

Johnson has already fired Mike Tannenbaum, which is a pretty good indication that the owner feels he received bad advice from someone who wasn't a good fit for the job. Trying to take it even further doesn't come off as a stronger statement of Tannenbaum's failings, it comes off as an organization that operates without the proper attention to detail and collaborative spirit that winning teams feature just about everywhere you look. 

It also further erodes confidence that hires like Idzik and new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are being made by a group that really understands what it takes to be successful. One of those things is leadership willing to own up to their mistakes, something Johnson punts when he absolves himself of any role in a move that went spectacularly wrong. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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