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Text Messages Sent as Part of Simsbury Bank Phishing Scam


Two weeks after police alerted residents of a phone scam claiming to be with Simsbury Bank, the scam has taken on new life in the form of text messages prompting residents to call for information about how their accounts have been compromised, according to police.

Police said the text messages are a variation of the phishing scam first reported in the area of Simsbury and Granby a couple weeks ago.

The fraudulent text messages read as follows:


According to Simsbury police, calling those numbers leads to a recording from “Professional Property Management.” The message refers callers to another number for information about property sales and lock-outs.

One of those numbers claims to be with Simsbury Bank’s fraud department and asks callers to provide their 16-digit account numbers.

Police said the scam automatically generates numbers and has targeted more than just Simsbury Bank customers.

Victims of the scam who have given out personal or account information should contact their banks to report fraud and notify police.

The phone scam is not affiliated with Simsbury Bank. The bank posted an alert on its Web site reminding customers that the bank will not call, text or email asking for information.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Felon Googles Himself, Surrenders


Be careful when you Google yourself, Bay Area authorities are warning.

In the case of Christopher Viatafa, who Googled himself and found his photo on Northern California’s Most Wanted website, he turned himself in to police.

Viatafa – who has a pretty unique last name – was wanted by the San Leandro Police Department for his involvement in a shooting.

On August 8, 2013, Vaitafa attended a private party at the San Leandro Senior Center located at 13909 East 14th Street. Police said he started arguing with some people at the party, pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and fired a few rounds into the ground.

Vaitafa was forced out of the area and he proceeded to fire several more rounds, police said.

Investigators were looking for Viatafa for discharging a firearm toward an inhabited dwelling.

According to the San Leandro Police Department detective that interviewed Viatafa, Viatafa turned himself in after seeing his photo on the “Most Wanted” site, which is managed by the Northern California Intelligence Center.

On Friday, Viatafa was listed as a “captured fugitive” on the “Most Wanted” website.

Photo Credit: San Leandro police

Crews Rescue Injured Person at Case Mountain


Emergency crews responded to Case Mountain in Manchester this morning to rescue a person who was injured at the top.

The Glastonbury Fire Department sent an ATV to the scene to assist the rescue effort.

Crews said the call for help came in around 10:30 or 10:40 a.m.

The extent of the victim's injuries are unclear. That person has not been identified.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBC 5

Roads Closed for O’Hartford 5K


More than 3,000 runners are showing their St. Patrick’s Day spirit by donning their green gear and heading out for the annual O’Hartford 5K Road Race.

The children’s race kicks off at 12:30 p.m. and the main event starts at 1 p.m. The race will begin on Trumbull Street in front of the XL Center.

The following roads will be closed for the race:

  • Trumbull Street is closed between Asylum Avenue and Jewell Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Pearl Street is closed between Ann Uccello Street and Trumbull Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Trumbull Street is closed between Church Street and Asylum Avenue from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Pearl Street is closed between 12:30 and 2 p.m.
  • Jewell Street is closed between 12:30 and 2 p.m.
  • Main Street is closed between Pearl Street and Park Street from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
  • Park Street is closed between Main Street and Park Terrace from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
  • Park Terrace is closed between 12:30 and 2 p.m.
  • Capitol Avenue is closed between Park Terrace and Trinity Street from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
  • Trinity Street is closed between Capitol Avenue and Ford Street from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

Traditional Irish bagpipers, Celtic fiddlers and corned beef and cabbage will await runners as they cross the finish line.

For more information, visit www.HartfordMarathon.com.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven St. Paddy's Day Parade Draws Huge Crowd


Are you feeling festive? Gear up in green and head to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New Haven.

The parade, which typically draws a crowd of more than 200,000, is the sixth-oldest parade in the country and the single largest spectator event in the state.

"We have all of our traditional bands coming: the pipes and the drums and a couple new groups, including a couple drill teams," said parade chairman Tim Gallogly. "We have the hula hoop girls coming and all of it, a lot of the ones we've had before."

It kicks off at 1:30 p.m. at the intersection of Edgewood and Sherman avenues, then proceeds down Edgewood to Howe Avenue, turns onto Chapel Street and continues to Grove Street.

The parade runs about three hours long and will end on Orange Street.

All 1.8 miles of the parade route will be closed to traffic Sunday. The Muster area, which encompasses a block to either side of Edgewood Avenue between Sherman Avenue and Norton Street, and from Edgewood back to Ella T. Grasso Boulevard, will also be shut down.

Most road closures take effect at 11 a.m., but Church Street from Chapel to Grove streets closed earlier this morning.

The streets will open one by one as the parade passes through.

Parade VIPs kicked off the morning with a traditional Irish breakfast at Anna Liffey’s at 17 Whitney Avenue.

Grand marshal Kelly Canning-Ruickoldt said the breakfast has become a family affair.

“I’ll be in the history books, as well as my daughter Melinda, who was parade queen in 2005, so it’s just like a family role,” Canning-Ruickoldt explained. “My son sang the Irish national anthem at the Irish ball last week, my oldest Irish dances and everybody has their piece, so it’s just exciting.”

The parade route was shifted north a block this year due to construction in the city.

"The city has done a fantastic job getting everything nipped and tucked," Gallogly said, "filling potholes and getting our flags all set up on the corner up there, and I think we're ready to roll."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crews Respond to Water Main Break in Colchester


Crews are responding to a water main break on Stollman Road in Colchester.

It's not clear how many people have been affected by the break or how long water service will be impacted.

The water company is at the scene.

State police said no road closures are in effect.

Check back for updates.

Route 202 Reopens in Torrington Following Crash


Route 202/New Litchfield Street, near Peck Road, has reopened in Torrington following a head-on collision, according to police.

The crash was reported around 3 p.m.

According to police at the scene, the drivers of both vehicles suffered non-fatal injuries. One driver suffered a broken leg and was transported to Saint Mary's hospital in Waterbury.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates. 

Photo Credit: Rick Kelsey

Police Standoff Underway in Chicago


Editor's Note: A live stream was available of the scene but NBC Chicago took down the stream for concern of unwanted footage being seen.

A police chase on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive ended with a crash on the Near North Side, where police reported an "active barricade situation" that lasted for more than eight hours, officials said.

Police said the suspect was taken into custody just before 9:45 p.m. Sunday after a "safe resolution was negotiated."

A "distraction device" was used to remove the suspect from the vehicle and the man was later transported to an area hospital for treatment, according to Bureau of Patrol Chief Wayne Gulliford. His condition was not immediately known, but police said his wounds were self-inflicted.

Harvey Police Department spokeswoman Sandra Alvarado said the suspect in the vehicle that was being pursued is wanted in connection to a murder in Hampton, Ga. and the chase was the result of an investigation involving Harvey police and police in Georgia.

Alvarado said Harvey Police were contacted by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Henry County Police Department in McDonough, Ga. requesting assistance in locating a homicide suspect. They provided Harvey police with a vehicle description and registration, GPS location and arrest warrant information.

The suspect is a male black subject wanted in connection with a homicide that occurred in Hampton this month, authorities said.

Alvarado said Illinois State Police, Cook County Sheriffs and the Chicago Police Department were involved in the chase, which began just after noon Sunday and ended on Lake Shore Drive at Fullerton Parkway.

Police said the driver struck a police car and a another vehicle, sending an officer, two adults and a 10-year-old child to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Scanner information indicated that shots were fired after the vehicle was stopped near Fullerton, but police could not confirm that information. Witnesses reported hearing up to three or four shots following the crash.

Police said the suspect was armed with knives and told negotiators he had "a large number of guns and he was not coming out of the vehicle alive." He displayed what negotiators said was erratic and unstable behavior.

The suspect's sister was at the scene and told NBC Chicago's Regina Waldroup that she was told her brother was asking for her. She said the family learned yesterday that he was wanted for murder.

"We just found out about that yesterday, we had no idea about that so police are working with us," said Lastella Felton. 

Lastella Felton was escorted by police at the scene, but said she could not get close enough to her brother.

She said her brother has a history of violence and called him "a bad seed," but she noted the incident "could have been resolved many, many hours ago."

"The ultimate goal is to resolve this safely without anybody getting injured," Gulliford said. "During negotiations the suspect threatened to harm himself and police. A safe resolution was negotiated."

Police were still investigating the scene Sunday night. It was not immediately clear if weapons were recovered from the vehicle.

A witness near the scene said a black car had crashed and was surrounded by dozens of police cars.

"A black car was crumpled up on top of a ridge and there were maybe 20 cop cars surrounding it," said Ronald Rubino.

Rubino, who was driving southbound on Lake Shore Drive, said several ambulances and even more squad cars were at the scene.

Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Janel Sedevic said northbound traffic was being diverted at North Avenue and southbound traffic at Belmont.

The incident snarled traffic on Lake Shore Drive and throughout the North Side.

Gators, Cavs, 'Cats, Shockers No. 1


The surprises start at the top of the NCAA tournament bracket: Virginia is a No. 1 seed.

Oh, some things went to form. Florida earned the top overall seed as expected and will be joined on the '1' line by Wichita State and Arizona. But there were head-scratchers nearly everywhere else.

Last year's national champion, Louisville, was seeded fourth in the Midwest despite playing well enough to be considered a No. 1 by many. And speaking of the Midwest — Wichita State and Michigan are there as well, making it three of last year's Final Four participants all vying for one spot this year.

SMU, the team led on a renaissance by coaching lifer Larry Brown — nowhere to be found. And Michigan State, the team that geared things up in time to win the Big Ten tournament, is only a No. 4 seed.

The tournament begins Tuesday with a pair of First Four games, and things get going in earnest Thursday when 32 of the 64 teams in the main draw take to the floor. The Final Four is set for April 5 and 7 in Arlington, Texas.

In the end, the individual matchups mean much more than the numbers by a team's name. Still, some of the numbers the selection committee came up with this year were a bit puzzling — yet another reason Warren Buffett felt perfectly comfortable fronting the insurance money to pay a $1 billion prize to anyone who can fill out a perfect bracket.

Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, the chairman of the selection committee, said Virginia's twin ACC championships — regular season and tournament — made the Cavaliers (28-6) the choice for a 1 seed over Michigan and Villanova, despite an RPI rating of 11.

"Virginia's total resume was very impressive," Wellman said. "They continued to impress us throughout the year."

The last four bubble teams were 12th-seeded North Carolina State and Xavier, who play Tuesday, and 11th-seeded Iowa and Tennessee, who play Wednesday.

Sitting out was SMU — a team almost all the experts had securely in the bracket, but not the folks in the conference room, who couldn't overcome the Mustangs' strength of schedule: 129.

"When I saw Louisville (was a 4 seed), I kind of figured that they didn't have a lot of respect for our conference," Brown said. "But we only can blame ourselves, that's the way I look at it."

Led by Rick Pitino's Cardinals, the new American Athletic Conference placed four teams in the tournament.

And while the committee didn't show much love for the AAC, it did dole out plenty of at-large spots to the big conferences, while only seven spots went to the mid-majors after they took 11 in each of the last two seasons.

In the South, Kansas got lots of talk about a possible 1 seed, but ended up a 2 in part because of those nine losses. The Jayhawks have to get through the first weekend without lottery-pick center Joel Embiid, out with a back injury, but could face a third-round game against New Mexico. The Mountain West Conference tournament champions got a surprisingly low 7 seed.

"There's more good teams and less great teams," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "The difference between a 2 seed and a 7 or 8 seed is as narrow as it's ever been."

In the West, Arizona's second game could come against eighth-seeded Gonzaga, which lost its second game as a No. 1 seed last year, or No. 9 Oklahoma State, which has one of the nation's best players in Marcus Smart. The nation's top scorer, Doug McDermott (26.9 points per game), is on the other side of that bracket with No. 3 Creighton.

On Virginia's side of the East bracket are two teams nobody wants to play come tournament time — No. 4 Michigan State and Harvard. Yes, No. 12 Harvard, which shook things up last season by knocking out New Mexico for its first tournament win in 102 years of basketball.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

UConn Earns No. 7 Seed, Will Face St. Joseph's


A day after losing to Louisville in the finals of the American Athletic Conference, the Huskies found out their NCAA Tournament fate. On Thursday, No. 7 seed  UConn (26-8) will face No. 10 seed St. Joseph's  (24-9) in the East Region in Buffalo, New York. The winner of that game will face the winner of the matchup between No. Villanova (28-4) and No. 15 Milwaukee (21-13).

A year ago, UConn were 20-game winners but couldn't play in either the conference or national tournaments because of NCAA sanctions. Now that they've returned to the Big Dance, the goal is simple: Win.

"I'm planning to come back here in April and raise a banner," coach Kevin Ollie told the Gampel Pavilion crowd last week after the Huskies beat Rutgers.

"The only way you're going to have a blessing is if you believe and have faith," Ollie continued. "I believe we're going to be back here. I'm going to say it. I'm not going to say 'we're going to lose.' I believe we are going to win the national championship, and that's the only way I believe. I believe we're going to win the next game at Louisville. I just got faith in my team."

"It's something we think we can do," senior center Tyler Olander, who was a freshman when the Huskies last won a national title, said last week. "We have the pieces of the puzzle, the experience. We can make a run like that and that's our goal. It's just taking a page from Coach Blaney's book, he'd always say, 'you don't play in tournaments to lose, you don't play for second place, you play to win.' We've got some guys who know what it takes, and we've got some guys who know what it feels like to get bumped out first round (which happened in 2012, a year after winning the national title). You definitely don't want to feel like that."

Ollie added: "I have confidence in my guys. I have confidence we're going to win every game. If you don't believe it, you're never going to have anything. I came here as a coach, I believed in myself, I believed in my coaching staff. No matter what the situation was. We've got a chance, like every other team. Like 68 other teams, we've got a chance, so why not think it?"

Photo Credit: Getty Images

NFL Player Arrested at Nightclub


Former NFL player John Moffitt was arrested in Chicago Sunday after he allegedly punched another man at a nightclub.

Moffitt, 27, who left the NFL in November after he was traded to the Denver Broncos last summer, was at The Underground nightclub in the 0-100 block of West Illinois Street early Sunday when he was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor in the battery of a 40-year-old man.

After his arrest, police said Moffitt was found to be in possession of narcotics and was charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of cannabis and felony possession of a controlled substance and possession of between 15 and 100 grams of ecstasy.

Moffitt, of the 2100 block of Lake Washington Boulevard in Renton, Wash., was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2011 and played offensive line for two years before he was traded to the Broncos last summer, according to NFL.com.

He retired from the Broncos in November, just months before the Broncos lost to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl XLVIII in February.

Guinness Won't Sponsor Parade


The makers of Guinness, the popular Irish beer, announced Sunday that they have withdrawn sponsorship of New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade, citing the event's "policy of exclusion."

The parade has increasingly come under fire from the gay and lesbian community for not allowing members of the LGBT community to identify as gay, though they are allowed to march.

"We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade," the company said in a statement. "As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation."

Guinness' move to withdraw sponsorship followed an earlier announcement Sunday that Greenwich Village's Stonewall Inn had intended to stop stocking the beer because of its support for the parade.

GLAAD, the LGBT advocacy organization, applauded Guinness' decision.

"Today, Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: discrimination should never be celebrated," said GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is boycotting the parade because of its policies.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

WATCH: Chicago River Turning Green


Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend started off with the annual dyeing of the Chicago River.

The Saturday morning event, along with the afternoon St. Patrick’s Day Parade, drew hundreds of thousands of spectators as the city kicked off a series of holiday festivities.

One celebrator made an incredible time-lapse video showing the river’s transformation.

Peter Tsai posted the 30-second video on YouTube, titled “Greening of the River 2014,” which shows the dyeing from start to finish.

The river dyeing tradition is in its 52nd year and going strong. It is said that the green water connects Chicago to Ireland, as the green water flows into the Illinois River, the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean all the way into the Irish Sea.

Police Investigating Untimely Death at Doc Hurley's Former Home


Police are investigating the untimely death of a woman at the former Ridgefield Street home of Walter "Doc" Hurley. 

Hurley was a legendary figure in Hartford who started a scholarship fund that helped hundreds of students with college expenses. He passed away at 91 last month.

Authorities said Hurley's daughter, Muriel, has been living at the home.

Investigators are waiting for an autopsy tomorrow before they can make a positive identification and find out the cause of death.


Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

6 Snubbed Teams From NCAA Selection


Griping has been a part of the NCAA tournament selection process pretty much since its inception. Didn't matter if it was eight teams or the current field of 68, there have always been teams that felt slighted and left out after being left off the bracket.

This season was no exception.

When the NCAA's selection committee unveiled the teams for this year's tournament on Sunday, there were collective groans across the country from teams and their fans that didn't get a golden ticket.

Here's a few:

SMU: The Mustangs might have the best argument among the snubbed. They had a resurgence under 73-year-old Larry Brown in his return to college coaching, going 23-9 overall and 12-6 in the American Athletic Conference. On their resume are two wins over Connecticut, and splits with Memphis and Cincinnati, both NCAA tournament teams. The problem was SMU's schedule. The Mustangs had a soft non-conference schedule and their overall strength of schedule was 129th — 38 higher than the worst team that made the field.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears got the Pac-12 season off to a great start, winning their first five games. A collapse at the end of the season cost them a spot in the dance. Cal lost nine of its last 14 games and went 3-7 to close out the home schedule. The Bears (19-13) have wins over Arizona, Stanford, Oregon and Colorado on their resume, but also lost to last-place USC and UC Santa Barbara. Cal could have gotten a big boost by making some noise in the Pac-12 tournament, but got bounced by fellow bubble team Colorado in the quarterfinals.

FLORIDA STATE: The Seminoles gave their bubble chances a boost with a last-second win over Maryland in the second round of the ACC tournament. It apparently popped with a loss to Virginia in the quarterfinals. Florida State finished the season 19-13 overall and went 9-9 in the ACC, but it wasn't good enough for the selection committee. The Seminoles missed a huge opportunity by losing to stumbling Syracuse at home to end the regular season and have a loss to Miami on their resume with no jump-out-at-you wins to boost their rating.

WISCONSIN-GREEN BAY: NCAA selection committee chair Ron Wellman called the decision to leave Wisconsin-Green Bay out of the bracket a very difficult one. That's not going to make the Phoenix feel any better after winning the Horizon League title and failing to get a bid. Wisconsin-Green Bay finished the season 24-6, but a loss to fifth-seeded Milwaukee in the conference tournament title game apparently killed its chances. Phoenix coach Brian Wardle hoped the selection committee would consider the impact injuries to Keifer Sykes and Alec Brown had in the loss to Milwaukee, but it did no good.

ARKANSAS: Two image-busting losses killed the Razorbacks. Still on the bubble, Arkansas closed out the regular season with a 25-point loss to Alabama and opened the SEC tournament by bowing out to South Carolina. That offset all the good the Razorbacks did in the weeks before, when they won six straight. Arkansas was hoping it first postseason appearance since 2008 would be in the NCAA tournament, but now it's headed to the NIT to face Indiana State.

GEORGETOWN: The Hoyas entered the Big East tournament on the bubble. They were blown off it with an opening loss to DePaul, a last-place team that hadn't beaten Georgetown since 1994. Georgetown had some good wins on its we-should-go docket, including Michigan State and Kansas State. On the other side, there was a loss to Northeastern in Puerto Rico and a 22-point loss to St. John's, a team the Hoyas beat by 17 earlier in the season. Georgetown also killed itself on the eye test, losing five of its final seven games.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bus Overturns in Virginia


Police have charged a commercial bus driver with reckless driving after his bus overturned on Interstate 95, injuring four passengers.

According to Virginia State Police, Qilong Xiao, 50, of Flushing N.Y., was "going too fast" for the weather conditions when the bus went off the left side of the road and overturned onto its side on I-95 South near exit 136 just after 4 a.m. Police say 58 people were on the bus when it crashed.

The 2005 Van Hoos bus is registered to Princess Tours.

The four injured passengers suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries. All passengers were transported to area hospitals by county schools buses.

Police say the bus was heading from New York to Doraville, Ga. Authorities are having a hard time with the investigation because there is a language barrier between them and the passengers.

Xiao is being held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail on a $5,000 bond.

Snow quickly accumulated overnight, leaving roads treacherous for many drivers. Between three to six inches of snow fell overnight throughout the Washington, D.C. metro area. The snow tapered off around 8 a.m. Monday.

Storm Team4 meteorologist Tom Kierien says lingering flurries in the afternoon will bring an additional half inch of snow to the area.

Stay with NBCWashington on-air and online for more on this developing story.

Large Crowd Gathers for Doctor-Assisted Suicide Bill Hearing


More than a hundred people signed up to testify at a public hearing in Hartford, Conn. on Monday as debate began on a controversial bill that would allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives.

The public health committee of the state legislature is hearing both sides of the debate as they decide on a bill that would give patients who are at least 18 years old the right to obtain lethal medication from doctors.

Advocates arrived at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford as early as 7 a.m., more than three hours before the hearing began.

Quinnipiac University conducted a poll earlier this month that found Connecticut voters support physician-assisted suicide, 61 percent to 32 percent.

Barry Williams, a former lobbyist from Glastonbury, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and said he could see himself making this decision down the line.

"It's the last choice that people have in their lives to make," he said.

A 1969 Connecticut law states that a person who ‘‘intentionally causes or aids another person, other than by force, duress or deception, to commit suicide’’ is guilty of second-degree manslaughter.

Last year, two doctors and end-of-life advocates sued to seek a clarification of the state’s decades-old ban on assisted suicide, citing concerns about Connecticut doctors being prosecuted for giving medications to their dying patients.

A judge ultimately dismissed the suit, saying it was a matter for the legislature to decide.

State Attorney General George Jepsen was among those who testified in support of the measure.

"It's an idea that's time has come," Jepsen said at the hearing.

Many people say this proposed legislation is dangerous and promotes under-treating of patients.

Michael Culhane of Connecticut Public Affairs said the "aid in dying" bill would violate a major tenant of the Catholic Church – "that life is sacred from conception to natural death."

Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of Hartford called upon parishioners to ask lawmakers to vote against the bill.

“As we Bishops have pointed out, ‘physician-assisted suicide does not promote compassion because its focus is not on eliminating suffering, but on eliminating the patient…,” a letter from Archbishop Leonard Blair says. 

Opposition at the hearing was not limited to religious grounds.

"The medical society, the various hospice associations in Connecticut, they all say it's not necessary and they are the ones who take care of us at the end of our lives," said Peter Wolfgang of the Family Institute of Connecticut Action.

But Jepsen emphasized that the bill wouldn't compel patients to decide in favor of doctor-assisted suicide.

"Choice means choice," he said.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said earlier he supports people having a document that spells out their final wishes, but he's "a little uneasy" when it comes to enacting state policy that calls for "proactive actions to end life.

The hearing began at 10:30 a.m. in Room 1D of the Legislative Office Building. Lawmakers had expected a big crowd and set up Room 2D as an overflow room.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

WATCH: NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade


New York City celebrated St. Patrick's Day Monday with a parade that drew hundreds of thousands of spectators and participants along Fifth Avenue, but the shivering, bundled-up crowd was only about a half as thick as in previous years.

The parade kicked off at 44th Street and made its way north up Fifth Avenue past St. Patrick's Cathedral to 79th Street, amid frigid temperatures.

New York's Irish, their descendants and the Irish for a day reveled in the celebration of Irish culture, but Mayor de Blasio skipped the parade, which does not allow expressions of gay identity.

Parade organizers have said gay groups are not prohibited from marching, but are not allowed to carry gay-friendly signs or identify themselves as LGBT.

After protesters had planned to dump Guinness beer from the shelves of the Stonewall Inn, the beermaker said in a statement Sunday it had dropped its sponsorship of the parade.

Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny refused to be sidelined, however, saying the holiday is about Irishness, not sexuality.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, said he believed there were thousands of gay people marching Monday, and was happy about that.

"I'd like to think it's a celebration of roots and family and friendship and faith and heritage and culture and song and music," Dolan said. "I'd like to think it's a celebration of New York, this tremendous tapestry and this diversity all rallying around." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Ollie Happy With UConn's No. 7 Seed


The NCAA has spoken and the Huskies are the No. 7 seed in Buffalo's East Region, where they will face No. 10 St. Joseph's in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament this Thursday.

A quick look at the bracket and it's readily apparent that the selection committee didn't think much of the American Athletic Conference. Louisville, the No. 5 team in the country, is a No. 4 seed. Memphis, which was in the top-25 for most of the season, is a No. 8 seed.

It's all a non-issue as far as UConn coach Kevin Ollie is concerned.

"I'm happy with the seeding," he said. "You always want to get a lower seed, but I'm happy for our team. This is their prize for a great season and a great tournament down in Memphis. Now, we have to see what we're going to do with that prize."

Twelve months ago at this time the Huskies were on the outside looking in. NCAA sanctions kept them out of the Big East and NCAA Tournaments, despite a 20-win season in Ollie's first year on the job. Now, UConn is back in the Big Dance, which it won three years ago.

"It's been a while," said senior point guard Napier, who was on a rookie on that championship team. "Guys were asking me how to react - I didn't know. It's been two years. ...

"I stayed, I gave myself this opportunity," Napier continued. "The journey is still in progress. I want to hoist that trophy at the end of the day, I want to get as close to it as I possibly can."

Ollie concedes that getting to this point wasn't easy.

"There were some dark days there," the coach said. "But everybody in life is going to have dark days. I'm just so proud of the guys, how they stayed together, planting seeds.

The March Madness Effect


March Madness is a few days away and the annual college basketball tournament has an effect on fans that goes beyond what takes place on the court.

An estimated 50 million people took part in office pools last year, which means an inevitable dip in worker productivity. Experts estimate that companies will lose $1.2 billion for every unproductive work hour during the first week of the NCAA tournament, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

So if every employee takes an hour to fill out their brackets, companies can say goodbye to $1.2 billion. Workers also spend time updating those brackets and checking on scores. Internet speeds will slow down as workers stream the games online. The good news is, the impact to the bottom line is minimal and the event helps to boost office morale, the report said.

Check out four more bizarre effects of the NCAA tourney:

A spike for snips
The Cleveland Clinic reports it performs 40 or 50 more vasectomies a month before and during the tournament, CNN reported. Men who plan on watching the games at home are taking advantage of the couch time to recover from the procedure.

Illegal gambling
The pot of money that goes to the office worker with the best predictions on their brackets appears to violate the penal code on gambling for many states, NBC News reported. There are also at least three federal statutes against NCAA tournament pools done online.

Vegas madness
A combination of sports events including the basketball tournament made March the busiest month of 2013 for Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. An estimated 3.54 million people visited Sin City this time last year for NASCAR, MLB, boxing and NCAA events.

Billion dollar bets
Warren Buffett teamed up with Quicken Loans to give one lucky person a billion dollars for the perfect bracket. The odds of winning the cool billion is 9.2 quintillion-to-1, according to The Washington Post. The odds go up to one in 128 billion for fans who are knowledgeable about college basketball, the Post said.


Photo Credit: AP
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