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Haircuts, Unicorns, Wild Dogs: North Korea Fact or Fiction?


A new report says men in North Korea are being forced to cut their hair in the fashion of leader Kim Jong Un, but there's reason for suspicion.

A trio of experts interviewed by the Washington Post said they were skeptical of Wednesday's report, which seems to originate with a Radio Free Asia story that's online only in Korean.

Not only does such a diktat not make much sense, the experts said, but also Kim's haircut — which appears to split the difference between a high-top fade and a fauxhawk — is distinctive in his country.

But such stories' allure just underscores how little reliable information the rest of the world has on the reclusive country.

North Korea's over-the-top reverence for its leaders (where else names flowers after them?) and stranglehold on independent news media leave the country ripe for fantastic rumors and help blur the line between rumor, reporting and state propaganda.

Here are three other tales of North Korea's leaders that could be too outlandish to be true.

"Unicorn lair"

Remember the report that North Korean archaeologists had claimed had found a unicorn lair? They hadn't found one, obviously — and never really claimed they had, either, despite an odd story from North Korea's state media. File that report under Unfortunate Mistranslations of State Propaganda.

The "unicorn lair" in question was actually a mistranslation of the name of Kiringul, a historical site associated with the founder of an ancient Korean kingdom.

Essentially, experts told both the Guardian and i09, North Korea was claiming to have discovered that ancient site — and suggesting, in true state propaganda fashion, that North Korea might be the inheritor to that ancient kingdom's greatness, as Foreign Policy magazine explained.

Corpse-eating dogs

It was shocking enough that Kim Jong Un had his own uncle Jang Song Thaek executed, so plenty of news outlets — NBC News among them — also cited a report that the purged uncle, once a close advisor, had been fed alive to 120 hungry dogs.

But the story originated with a single Hong Kong-based newspaper, in a report that didn't cite a source, the Washington Post noted. One U.S. official told NBC News at the time that the report wasn't "ringing any bells here."

It was not picked up by the mainstream South Korean news media, which often does report many other stories out of the North, often citing defectors as sources in light of the northern neighbor's media blackout, The New York Times explained in its Lede blog. Chinese media didn't report it, either, despite their relatively close ties with North Korea, the Washington Post added.

How many holes-in-one?

Then there are the supposed claims that Kim Jong Un's late father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, was some kind of golf prodigy — a narrative that news site NK News calls the "granddaddy" of North Korea rumors.

Of all the fabulous claims about the eccentric former leader, the supposed claims about his prowess at golf are some of the hardest to pin down and trace to their origins.

Some reports have North Korea claiming that Kim recorded five holes-in-one on his first-ever round of golf back in 1994. Other reports say it was 11 holes-in-one. Reports of how many under par his country claimed he putted varied widely, too.

The trouble is, none of the mentions seems to cite an actual source. Instead, stories cite each other or else North Korean media generally. Nothing about the late Kim's golf record can be found on state news agency KCNA's website.


Mom Charged After Child Found Wandering Outside in Diaper


West Haven police arrested a woman Thursday after finding her 3-year-old child wandering in nothing but a diaper and a blanket.

A patrol officer saw the boy wandering in the area of Greta and Highland Streets around 8:30 a.m., when the temperature was about 25 degrees.

The officer quickly put the boy in his cruiser to warm him up and called fire department personnel to check on the child's condition.

Police began to search the area and found the boy's mother asleep in a nearby motel room, along with three other children under the age of 12, according to authorities. The motel room was in what police described as "deplorable condition," with garbage, old food, and dirty diapers throughout the room. Officers also found a dog and a ferret in the motel room.

Police arrested April Pardy, 30, of Jacksonville, Florida. She was charged with risk of injury to a minor and leaving an unsupervised child in a public place. She was held on $5,000 bond.

The Department of Children and Families took custody of all four children, police said.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Hartford Correction Officer Accused of Sexual Assault


A Hartford correction officer was arrested early this morning after a sexual assault was reported on Huyshope Street in Hartford early this morning.

Officials from the state Department of Correction said Kelvin Grisales has been placed on administrative leave after being arrested and charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, first-degree threatening, weapons in a motor vehicle and facsimile firearm.

Police said they responded to a report of sexual assault with a firearm displayed at 12:38 a.m.

At first, the victim told police that she was walking on Wethersfield Avenue to go buy cigarettes when Grisales drove up in a blue SUV, pulled a gun on her and ordered her to get in the car.

He brought her to a “quick mart,” ordered her to buy a condom, then ordered her to get back in the car and sexually assaulted her, she said, according to police.

When police asked the victim why she did not ask for help in the store, she said she was scared and feared Grisales would but her. 

Police located a car matching the description the woman gave police, took Grisales into custody and the victim identified him as the person who assaulted her.

When the victim went to the police station, she gave a written statement with a different account of what happened, police said.

She said he had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend and said she was going out to make money when Grisales approached her on Wethersfield Avenue and asked where she was going, the woman told police.

She told him she had no particular destination and her told her to get into his car.

They went to the store to buy a condom and discussed a price for sex. She said $40, but Grisales said he’d give her $60, according police. When they got back into the car, Grisales pulled out a gun and demanded a sex act, according to police.

After the assault, she got out of the car, ran toward a vehicle that was running and that is when police arrived, according to police.

When police questioned Grisales, he said the victim flagged him down on Wethersfield Avenue, said it was cold out and asked for a ride to the quick mart, so he brought her to the store. He also told authorities that she had a black eye and he felt bad for her. 

Grisales told police the victim talked to him about her downfalls with heroin, a falling out with her father, getting kicked out of her apartment and said her boyfriend was mean and would not kiss her, so Grisales kissed her on the cheek, according to the court documents.

He then went on to say that the victim bought the condom and the sexual acts were consensual.

Then, the woman asked Grisales for $60 for the sex and said she had to buy heroin, he said. 

He went on to say she threatened him and began reaching in his pockets, so he grabbed his son’s BB gun from under the passenger seat and put it in his lap because he was in fear, according to court paperwork.

Then he told the victim to get out of the car or he could drive her home, but she became more aggressive and he ordered her out of the car, he told investigators.

After ordering her from the car, he felt bad and drove back, but saw her speaking with police, he told officers.

Grisales has worked at Hartford Correctional since September 2008.


How NYC Autistic Boy Went Missing


Three lines of defense -- teachers, school guards and administrators -- all failed the day autistic teen Avonte Oquendo disappeared from school, a special commissioner said about his investigation.

Special Commissioner Richard Condon said all three failed to do what they were supposed to when a child goes missing from school. He commented Thursday after releasing a report that detailed a series of shortfalls and circumstances that contributed to the teen running out of the school unnoticed last October.

Avonte's remains were found along the shore of the East River in Queens in January.

  • Download the full Special Commissioner of Investigation's report

Among the failures the day he went missing: Avonte Oquendo's mother told his teacher that the autistic teen was prone to running and needed one-on-one supervision, but that information was never shared with school administrators. 

The survey sent home by Avonte's teacher and filled out by his mother was the only indication the school had of his tendency to run away, according to the report.

But that was not the only contributing factor. The staff members who escorted Avonte and other students from the cafeteria were distracted by other students and didn't realize he was missing until later. And one school guard was on break, so the lone remaining guard couldn't leave her desk even when she saw Avonte running down the hall.

A principal refused an initial request for a soft lockdown, and didn't have the password for the video system, delaying the viewing of security footage that showed Avonte leaving unsupervised.

Avonte's mother, Vanessa Fontaine, said Thursday "there's a lot of anger" after reading the report. 

"Answers? We don't have any," she told reporters. "We have no closure. There's no closure for us." 

The report by the Special Commissioner of Investigation is being sent to prosecutors.

Avonte's teacher had sent home an informal survey to parents asking for more information about the parents. In it, Avonte's mother wrote: "Safety concerns -- please make sure you keep an eye out he likes to run. Need 1-1 supervisor will leave the building."

  • School's Response to Avonte Oquendo's Disappearance Was Delayed, Disorganized, Attorney Says

Despite this information, Avonte wasn't given one-on-one supervision. The teacher shared his mother's concerns with aides in her classroom, but not with school administrators. Other staff who escorted Avonte the day he left school didn't know.

The report details Avonte's last moments in the school before he slipped away:

He was in the cafeteria for lunch, then was being escorted with about 11 other students to a technology room.

Three adults were escorting the kids, but one broke away to deal with an unruly student. Another told investigators that he stayed with a student who was rushing ahead of the others. The third said he was focused on a student who was "fairly aggressive."

When the last adult arrived in the technology room, she counted the students and realized Avonte was missing. One of the teachers went back into the hallway to look for him. According to surveillance video, that was 16 minutes after he was last seen with the adults.

The school had two guards -- school safety agents who are employed by the NYPD -- but did not have a supervising guard. One guard was on break when Avonte ran by the front desk post, the report said. The remaining guard called out to him, but he didn't stop and she couldn't leave the desk unmanned, the report said.

The guard was also distracted with a parent who was picking up his sick child, the report said.

That guard thought Avonte had run upstairs and didn't realize he left the building, according to the report. She later closed the door where Avonte had left.

The report doesn't answer the question of who initially left the door open. A man was seen on surveillance video exiting the door without closing it behind him. He remains unidentified.

  • Family, Friends Gather for Funeral of Avonte Oquendo

Photo Credit: AP

Train Cars Removed After CTA Crash


The Chicago Transit Authority has removed the smashed Blue Line cars involved in Monday's derailment at O'Hare International Airport.

CTA officials hope to reopen the station by the weekend, but crews must first assess damage to the platform, stairs and escalators before determining if it's safe to reopen.

The eight-car train jumped the tracks and landed on the stairs and escalators leading to the airport terminals just before 3 a.m. Monday. The crash left 32 people injured, and three passengers have since filed lawsuits against the CTA.

The National Transportation Safety Board estimates the crash caused about $6 million in equipment damage.

The NTSB said the operator admitted to dozing off at the controls as the train pulled into the station.

"She did not awake again until the train hit close to the end of the bumper," investigator-in-charge Ted Turpin said.

Shuttle buses remain in place from the Rosemont Blue Line station to O'Hare.

Riders on the shuttles said they think the crash means more eyes on public transportation safety.

"I think they'll be more in tune to potential problems," shuttle passenger Elaine Price said, "and the discovery of what actually happened will be a benefit."

"I believe once they mess up something, they can truly fix it so it doesn't happen again," Wesley Ferguson said.

"My feathers might be a little ruffled, but I still have faith in it," Justin Ickes said.

Sex Harassment Study: Surprise Effect on Military Men


Frightening and threatening sexual harassment in the military may cause its male victims more distress than its female victims, a new study by the American Psychological Association has found.

The study analyzed Pentagon data from 2002, in which 6,304 service members who reported sexual harassment were asked to define how the incident made them feel. Fifty-two percent of women said they faced frightening and threatening sexual harassment, compared with 19 percent of men.

Although women more frequently reported frightening experiences of sexual harassment, men were more often distressed by them, according to the APA study, published this month in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Researchers were surprised to find that men had more trouble coping with the incidents of sexual harassment and had more issues with work performance as a result than women did.

“Men may be less likely to think they’ll be sexually harassed, so it’s a particularly strong violation of their expectations and that could result in stronger negative reactions,” Dr. Isis Settles wrote in the study. “Another possibility is that men feel less able to cope with their sexual harassment than women, who know it’s a possibility and therefore are perhaps more emotionally prepared.”

Military members endure a lot while in combat, and that stress, in combination with sexual harassment, can leave long-lasting negative psychological effects, explained Dr. Carrie Bulger, who chairs the psychology department at Quinnipiac University.

“The types of effects after discharge would mostly be related to psychological health, such as depressive symptoms, anxiety, and even some physical health issues such as frequent headaches,” said Bulger, who has done extensive research on the prevalence of sexual harassment in different settings.

Bulger cautioned that the APA study's findings do not imply that experiences of sexual harassment are less negative for women, but rather suggest that the effects on men were more pronounced.

“Sexual harassment of men should be given more attention than it is in the military and in other work organizations,” Bulger said. “This is not just a women's issue. It should be something we are all concerned about for the health of our military members.”

Bulger added that although the study analyzed data from 12 years ago, its findings are still valid, because the issue of sexual harassment still persists in the military. However, now that the military's "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy has been repealed, it is possible that conditions may have changed for openly gay military members, she noted.

Mom: Brain-Dead Girl "Still Asleep"


A little more than three months after doctors and the state of California declared a 13-year-old girl brain dead, the mother of Jahi McMath says her daughter's movements in bed are fueling her faith that she will one day recover.

In her first interview since Jahi McMath was transferred out of Children's Hospital Oakland to an unknown care facility, her mother said Jahi moves in her bed, bends at the waist, moves her head from side to side, gets her nails painted every Friday and has an "energy level that is way up."

"She's still asleep," Jahi's mother Nailah Winkfield of Oakland said in a satellite camera interview. "I don't use the word 'brain dead' for my daughter. I'm just waiting and faithful that she will have a recovery. She is blossoming into a teenager before my eyes."

Winkfield spoke exclusively to NBC Bay Area and NBC's affiliate in Philadelphia, where she was being honored Thursday night by the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network at the group's 2nd Annual Award Gala. The award is for a relative who protects "a loved one against overwhelming odds." Jahi's heart has continued to beat, and Winkfield appeared more upbeat and rested than she has in months.

Winkfield first took her story public in December after Jahi was declared brain dead following tonsil, uvula and adenoid surgeries that went awry. But Winkfield and her family have shunned the cameras ever since they won a court order in January to have Jahi transferred from the hospital during a heated and publicized battle over patients' rights what constitutes the "end of life."

Winkfield told NBC Bay Area she decided to speak publicly on Thursday because she was thankful to be awarded for her struggles by a like-minded organization. Terri Schiavo's brother, Bobby Schindler, runs a nonprofit in memory of his late sister who was in a vegetative state for 15 years. His family waged a similar war against Schiavo's husband, who argued his wife had wanted to be taken off life support. Schiavo died in 2005.

"I feel really honored that I'm getting this award for saving my daughter's life," Winkfield said. "So I figured today would be a good day, because I'm in a better mood, I'm in better spirits today."

Winkfield is in better spirits because she said she witnesses her daughter moving about in her bed, describing the teen as "very responsive." Jahi is now moving her head side to side, something she hadn't done before, her mother said.

Jahi undergoes physical therapy three or four times a week, her mother said, and can bend at the waist, even if she can't sit up. Plus, her mom said that Jahi turns over in bed.

"No matter how many times you position her to the right or in the middle, she always ends up on the left side," Winfield said. "She will reposition herself over and over if she is uncomfortable."

Still, Winkfield said Jahi is unable to speak or squeeze her hand. Jahi is on a ventilator and is nourished through a feeding tube. Her mother gives her vitamins and fish oil herself "to feel useful."

Children’s Hospital doctors declined to comment on Winkfield’s interview and analyze what Jahi's movements might indicate. In court papers, Children’s Hospital Dr. Heidi Flori testified that Jahi’s brain stem, which controls all critical bodily functions, can not regulate “life sustaining functions over time”  and that “aggressive medical intervention will not stop but only serve to slow post-mortem deterioration.”

In a phone interview on Thursday from the University of Washington  where he is head of pediatric neurology, Dr. Sidney Gospe said he couldn't put a "whole lot of weight" into what Jahi's mother had to say about her movements without a neurological examination. "Someone with expertise would have to characterize those movements as either reflexes or something initiated by her cerebral cortex," he said. Gospe added that a ventillator has the ability to help maintain a patient's vital signs. Dr. Chris Feudtner at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia cited a study where 13 percent of the brain dead patients he studied spontaneously moved because of spinal cord neurons, including toe jerks, extensions at arms and shoulders and flexing of the arms and feet. These movements, the researchers wrote, "may certainly delay decision making...because of difficulties in convincing the family."

Winkfield, who left her job of 12 years at Home Depot to sit by Jahi's bedside, would not disclose where she and Jahi are staying, or who is paying for Jahi's care, because she wants things to remain "peaceful."

Jahi's mother said her daughter gets her nails painted every Friday.

"I don't want to discuss that," she said.

Winkfield said she has a place to stay outside of the care facility, but that she is mostly at the center, where she called the staff  "angels." She acknowledged it's been very challenging to leave her other three children -- two daughters, ages 19 and 5, and an 11-year-old son -- at home without her.

"I definitely miss my other children," she said. "But my family is super supportive, so even though I'm gone,  my children definitely understand why I'm gone, and they're definitely in agreement with me staying here to take care of their sister."

There are many who have criticized the family for keeping a brain-dead daughter on machines.

Winkfield, however, is paying those critics no mind.

She's too focused on spending her days caring for Jahi, giving her a manicure and pedicure every Friday, like she did at home. On St. Patrick's Day, she painted her daughter's toes and nails green with black and silver tips.

Winkfield also pores over case studies on people who have come out of deep comas, and she spends long hours reading the pages of the Bible, looking for hope and wisdom.

"Literally," Winfield said. "That's the only book I read."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area/Philadelphia

Fairfield Crash Victim Speaks about Ordeal


A woman caught in the middle of a crash caught on camera in Fairfield talks about her frightening ordeal.

Kayla Velez was in her car with her 18-month-old child when a car came flying off an exit from I-95 in Fairfield and hit them.

"I just felt darkness come and then a big boom and I jerked forward," Velez said, not realizing what had hit her car at the time but now she remembers. "Then I saw a car flip over my car and land on the other side and it started to catch on fire. My first reaction was to turn around and check on the baby."

Her daughter Brooklyn was in the back seat.

"She was just staring at me so like I panicked," Velez said. "I thought she died."

Police said Kayla's car was one of six involved in Monday's horrific wreck.

Investigators said 30-year-old Rosa Medina was driving drunk with a suspended license and never stopped as she came off exit 24. In all four people were hurt in the crash.

"In the video you can see another car pulling out about to park," said Velez. "If that car didn't pull out when it did that lady would've hit me dead on."

"I didn't hear any skid marks. I didn't hear anybody breaking," said Freddy Gonzalez, boyfriend of Kayla, who had gone into the Cumberland Farms to play lottery leaving his girlfriend and daughter in the car.

"I heard like a loud bang and I remember everything shaking," said Gonzalez who ran out to check on them before darting over to help the driver behind the mess.

"I know the lady might have caused the accident and what not but she was in a place where she needed help. The car was on fire. Everybody was going crazy."

NBC Connecticut cameras captured Brooklyn walking with her mom in a less crazy setting Thursday. Kayla says she can only think what if.

"It could’ve cost me my life, my own daughter’s life. It just wasn’t worth it," Velez added.

Gonzalez knows no million dollar ticket could replace the jackpot he landed that night.

"We hit the lottery that night and we did because my daughter walked out with not even a scratch on her," Gonzalez.

As for Kayla's injuries she says she has some minor bruises on her side. At last check Medina is still in the hospital. Four others injured in this crash are looking to file a lawsuit.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Man Shot on Babcock Street in Hartford


A 24-year-old Hartford man was shot on Babcock Street in Hartford on Thursday night and police are looking for the shooter.

The victim told police he was standing on the second-floor porch of 175 Babcock Street around 9:15 p.m. when someone shot him from the street, hitting his right buttocks and left leg.

A witness who was inside the apartment dragged the victim back inside and the shooter fled north on Babcock Street, the victim said.

The injuries sustained are not life-threatening and the victim was transported to Hartford Hospital to be treated.

He could not identify the shooter and is not cooperative with officers, police said.
Investigators recovered seven .9 millimeter shell casings form the scene and found a “projectile” behind the exterior porch door.

Lime Prices Skyrocket


The second most important ingredient in your next margarita might just be missing.

The price of limes has risen approximately 500 percent in recent weeks — from around $20 for a case to more than $100 as of this week, according to a produce buyer for Hardie's Fruit and Vegetable Co. The Dallas-based produce distributor supplies limes for major chain restaurants like Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

"This is something we've never seen for any fruit or vegetable," said a buyer for Hardie's, who did not want to be identified.

There has already been a trickle-down effect for the consumer.

On Tuesday, San Antonio-based Tex-Mex chain Taco Cabana tweeted the following:

A check of four different Taco Cabana locations Wednesday — one each in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Irving — revealed that the policy is already in effect.

The primary culprit: the weather.

The majority of the limes consumed in Texas and the rest of the United States are grown in Mexico. Too much rain in the growing region of Michoacán this season has led to a reduced lime crop, according to multiple reports.

Additionally, a disease contributed to the shortage of limes, and according to the LA Times that same bug may be headed to California.

In addition to those shortages, Mexican drug cartels — including the Knights Templar — operate in the same growing region, making it difficult for lime growers to conduct their business, according to a report from NPR.

As for that lime in your margarita, it will still be there at Joe T. Garcia's in Fort Worth. But perhaps not for long.

"It just won't be on there automatically. You know if people request it we'll serve it," said owner Joe Lancarte. "I'm still gonna buy limes. I'm just not gonna put them on every single glass, probably, if it gets to that point."

Lancarte said he paid $2,200 for 20 cases of limes on Thursday. Those limes will last through the weekend, he said, and would have cost one-fifth of that amount just three weeks ago. 

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Man Gives Heroin to Sister: Cops


A southeastern Pennsylvania man was arrested after he allegedly gave heroin to his teenage sister so that she could learn the horrors of the drug.

Back on Jan. 27, police were called to Simon Youth Foundation Rose Tree Media Academy high school in Media, Delaware County. When they arrived, they found a 14-year-old girl who they say was high on heroin.

The incident sparked an investigation which led police to the girl’s brother, Matthew Robbins. Robbins, 32, allegedly confessed to police that he had provided heroin for his sister at least four times over the past two months.

"...He wanted to be able to control how much heroin she had so that she would not overdose," read a police affidavit. " Because he was an addict, he wanted her to try it so that she knew how bad it was and that she would hopefully stay away from it."

Last week, police arrested Robbins and charged with endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of minors and recklessly endangering another person, according to court records.

Online court records don't list an attorney for Robbins who remained in Delaware County Prison unable to post 10 percent of $20,000 bail.

He faces a preliminary hearing next week.

The Robbins siblings' mother Eve Robbins said she had no knowledge of her daughter's heroin use.

"I want everyone here to understand, I don't care where you are, this drug is available to everyone and these kids, you have no idea what they're doing," said Eve Robbins.

Robbins said her son began using heroin to cope with a car crash and the death of a close friend.

She says she loves her children "unconditionally" but makes no excuses for them.

Photo Credit: NBC10

Student Found With Bullets at Woodland School in East Hartford


Woodland School in East Hartford was on lockdown for a period of time this morning so police could search the school after a male student was found with bullets in his possession.

No weapon was found and police have not said how many rounds were found.

The lockdown was lifted around 9 a.m. Police said it was issued to keep students and faculty in place as they searched the building.

The school, located at 110 Long Hill Drive, is a day treatment type of program for students in kindergarten through grade 12 who require a smaller more structured, nurturing environment, according to its Web site.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

UConn Excitement Brewing


Excitement is brewing in Connecticut because the UConn men’s basketball team will be playing in the Sweet Sixteen tonight against Iowa State tonight at Madison Square Garden.

UConn is expecting a lot of fans to make the short trip to New York to support the team and Metro-North has added an extra New Haven Line train today to accommodate fans traveling to New York City. 

The Metro-North train will leave New Haven at 4:15 p.m., make a stop in Bridgeport at 4:36 p.m. and arrive in Grand Central Terminal at 6 p.m.


This game is so hot that tickets are even more expensive than for the Final Four in Texas.

On StubHub, ticket prices range from $500 to well over $1,000.

Officials from UConn’s athletic office said NCAA allocated 1,250 tickets to the university. Those tickets go to the players and coaches for their families and UConn staff as well as major donors, The 200 tickets that were left were available to  students, based on a lottery.

John Shuster, a senior from Manchester, said he'd love to go, but it's a little much and people grabbed tickets pretty fast, even with the high prices.
Dan Garofalo, a junior from Southbury, said he supports the team and goes to all the games, but it is not fair to students that the tickets are so expensive.

“We've got more interest in this game than any other game the entire year,” Jay Mullarkey, vice president of TicketNetwork, a national online marketplace based in South Windsor, said.

He attributes part of the high interest to proximity.

"Everyone wants to see a basketball game at Madison Square Garden and the fact that UConn's in the game makes it even more desirable," he said.

He also attributes it to history because UConn was ineliglible last year. 

Since not everyone can go to the game, parties are also planned in Manhattan.

The UConn alumni association will be holding a pre-game pep rally at Affinia Manhattan Ballroom, 371 Seventh Ave., in New York. Tickets are $25 per person and pre-registration is required.

You don’t need a game ticket to attend, but you do have to wear blue and white.

The alumni association is also inviting people to watch the game with fellow Huskies at The Thirsty Fan, 254 W 31st St.

Metro-North is adding extra cars on several trains leaving New Haven between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., especially the 3:50 p.m. train from New Haven.

After the game, Metro-North will add cars to New Haven-bound trains, where possible, on trains departing Grand Central between 9:30 and 11:22 p.m., according to UConn.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Waterbury Teacher Placed on Leave Over Bullying Allegation


A Waterbury teacher is on administrative leave for allegedly bullying students in her classroom after she was secretly recorded her saying she wanted to go "one-on-one" with a "crybaby" student so she could "punch him right in the face."

The recording of Mary Lou Addona was taped after eighth grader Jesus Velez got into a disagreement with the reading teacher during lunch.

"She just screamed at me, so she just found a way to pick on me," the 13-year-old student said.

Classmate Aaron Stewart, who shares Jesus' discomfort with the teacher, suspected her frustration might continue, so he decided to record the beginning of the next class on his iPod.

NBC Connecticut listened to the entire recording, which was done without Addona's  knowledge. In a portion of the recording, you can hear the teacher lash out at Jesus, who wasn't in the room.

"Me and him one-on-one, I'd punch him right in the face and break that glass in his eye," she said.

About 10 seconds later, you can hear her go on about Jesus.

"I wanted him suspended, but what does he do, he just cries," she said. "I can't stand a crybaby."

Waterbury school administrators have placed Addona on leave and have launched an investigation into what they are calling the "belittling" of a student.

Jesus' mom, Ellise Vasquez, said she felt "disgusted, upset, mad, angry everything else" after she heard the recording for the first time.

"How can she? How can she talk to my son that way," the mother of three said.

Later in the four-minute recording, you can hear Addona confront another boy, who was apparently a new student in her class.

"What is your name anyway? Blake. Blake, what kind of name is Blake? Irish, Italian, French, what are you? White?" she said.

NBC Connecticut went to Addona's home to get her reaction to the recording, but no one answered the door.

Both Aaron and Jesus say their teacher is generally "cool," but will sometimes lose it out of the blue. Aaron said she's been "saying rude comments for about two months now."

"It seems like this is a pattern for her. It's not the first time that she did it, it's just the first time that she got caught," Vasquez added.

She hasn't sent Jesus back to school since Tuesday because he's nervous about how the students and other teachers are going to react.

Addona is on administrative leave pending the district's investigation into the recording.


Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Car Narrowly Misses Fire Chief's House


A car narrowly missed the house of Middlefield's volunteer fire chief on Thursday night.

State police said they were trying to pull over Edwin Rodriguez, 29, of Meriden, on Jackson Hill Road for driving without a back license plate when he careened off the road and struck four parked cars outside the garage of  Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company Chief Peter Tyc.

Rodriguez was driving as fast as 60 to 70 miles per hour, according to police, and the car ended up on its side near the garage.

Rodriguez was conscious and alert when first responders pulled him from the car.

He was transported to Hartford Hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

State police are investigating and said Rodriguez was charged with reckless driving, operating a motor vehicle under suspension. engaging police officers in a pursuit and failure to display marker plates.

He is due in court on April 11.




Part of Windsor Locks Trail Closed for Bald Eagles


The southern end of the Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail will be closed through June to protect a pair of nesting bald eagles, according to the state Department of Energy Environmental Protection.

This eagle pair first nested along the canal trail in 2011 and had two chicks, but nesting attempts in 2012 and 2013 were unsuccessful.

“Although bald eagle numbers are increasing in the state, the birds are still a state threatened species and need our protection,” DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen said in a statement. “Because disturbance can cause the adult eagles to abandon their nest, causing the eggs or chicks to die, it is necessary to close the trail until the chicks can fly.”

DEEP and Ahlstrom Nonwovens LLC , which maintains a lease agreement with the state, will only keep the trail closed until the young eagles have reached flying stage, which is expected to be in mid-June 2014.

If the nest fails or the young can fly before the end of June, the trail will be opened earlier.

While the trail is closed, visitors can still walk or bike the trail from the northern section for about two miles until they come to a gate and are instructed to turn around. The southern end of the trail will remain closed.

Nesting bald eagles returned to Connecticut in 1993, after an absence of almost 50 years. More information about bald eagles is posted on the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Web site.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

Seagull Strike Blows Hole in Plane


A JetBlue flight made an emergency landing at JFK after the plane slammed into a flock of seagulls and one blew a hole in the nose of the aircraft upon takeoff from Westchester Airport Friday morning, authorities said.

The FAA said the Airbus A320 bound for West Palm Beach, Fla. with 142 passengers declared an emergency at about 9:30 a.m.

"On departure we hit numerous seagulls, one took a direct hit right on the nose, just below the windshield," the pilot said on air traffic recordings posted by LIVEATC.net.

The bird remained stuck in the nose of the plane.

"The way I'm looking at it right now, I don't think we can carry on to West Palm, because it does look like we have some damage to the nose here," the pilot said, adding that the damage appeared to be "part of the pressurization capsule."

The plane, which took off from the airport in White Plains at 8:53 a.m., landed safely at JFK Airport at 9:55 a.m.

JetBlue said the captain chose to land at JFK "out of an abundance of caution."

No injuries were reported.

Customers were given the choice of being taken back to Westchester County or being placed on another flight to West Palm Beach.

According to the FAA, Westchester had 22 reported bird strikes in 2013, down from 44 in 2012. This is the first reported bird strike in 2014.

Eight of the strikes in 2012 and 2013 involved JetBlue aircraft.

Photo Credit: Lucille Spiegel

Lockdown Lifted at New Britain High School


New Britain High School was briefly on lockdown as police investigated an armed robbery at Southside Package store, which is located at 268 South Main Street.

Capt. William Steck said this was just as a precaution and there was no danger to the school or the students.

Men Indicted in 2006 Fatal Branford Arson Case


A federal grand jury in New Haven has indicted two men in connection with a 2006 Branford fire that killed a 39-year-old mother of three.

John Vailette, 42, and Steven Martone, 45, have been charged in connection with the fire at 27 Little Bay Lane in Branford on the morning of March 7, 2006 that caused the death of Kathy Hardy.

The indictment was returned on Tuesday.  Martone was arrested this morning at his home in North Branford and is being detained until a hearing on April 2. 

Vailette is currently incarcerated in federal prison.

Firefighters responded to the fire around 8:45 a.m. on that March day and found Hardy’s body on the second floor. An autopsy determined that she died of smoke inhalation and her death was ruled a homicide.

A couple days after the fire, investigators found a truck that Vailette used, authorities said. It was at the home of an associate and inside, were a silver serving platter and jewelry that had belonged to Hardy, federal officials said.

Officials said both Vailette and Martone made incriminating statements to other individuals after the fire.

Through tears, Vailette told someone he'd done something horrible, rotten and as bad as can be, according to the indictment, and went on to tell another person the he'd done something very. very bad that involved a fire.

When someone confronted Martone about his alleged involvement in the fire, he did not deny it and said it was impossible for the police to have any DNA evidence "because of the way we left that," the indictment states.

“These two defendants are charged with setting the fire that killed Kathy Hardy, a mother of three, in 2006,” U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said in a statement.  “This lengthy, complex and ongoing investigation is being conducted with great care and professionalism by dedicated members of the FBI and Branford Police Department, with the assistance of state and local fire investigators.  I want to thank them and our state partners from the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office for their diligence and excellent work in this ongoing investigation.  Together, we seek justice for Ms. Hardy, her family and loved ones.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Gov. Malloy to Run for 2nd Term


Gov. Dannel Malloy said today that he and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman will run for a second term.

He made the announcement this morning at the Legislative Office Building.

Lee Whitnum, a former U.S. Senate and House candidate known for strongly criticizing U.S. ties with Israel, announced earlier this month that she plans to run for the seat.

A statewide Quinnipiac University poll done earlier this month shows Greenwich businessman Tom Foley has a large lead over his fellow GOP contenders.

He was the Republicans' 2010 gubernatorial candidate and Malloy narrowly defeated him.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican, has announced he will run for governor.

State Senator John McKinney is another Republican candidate for governor and State Senator Toni Boucher is exploring a run for the top job.

Martha Dean, an attorney who helped gun rights advocates challenge the constitutionality of Connecticut's recent gun control law, also plans to run for governor.

This year's state Republican convention will be held from May 16 to 17.




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