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Route 2 West Reopens in East Hartford


Route 2 westbound has reopened in East Hartford following the motorcycle crash that closed the highway for hours Wednesday night.

Police said a motorcycle crashed in the area of exit 3 for Pitkin Street just before 8 p.m. Wednesday. The highway was closed just prior to the ramp to Interstate 84 eastbound until around 10:30 p.m., according to the Department of Transportation.

There has been no word on injuries.

Check back for updates.


Fallen Trees Close Roads in Wilton, New Haven, Cornwall


Strong thunderstorms moved through western Connecticut earlier this evening, and gusty winds brought down trees in Wilton, New Haven and Cornwall.

Ridgefield Road/Route 33 is closed near Scarlet Oak Drive in Wilton while crews work to remove a fallen tree from the roadway, according to police. No one was injured when the tree came down and no power lines were affected.

Route 4 is closed near Todd Hill Road in Cornwall after a tree fell on wires, state police said. Connecticut Light & Power crews are at the scene and expect the road to remain closed for several hours.

A downed tree is also blocking part of West Prospect Street near the intersection with Fairfield Street in New Haven.

There have also been reports of fallen trees and wires in Warren and Newtown.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Sterling "Will Never Ever" Sell


Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling took the stand again Wednesday and continued to taunt his wife's attorney as he proclaimed that he would "never, ever, ever sell this team" and would sue the NBA until the day he dies.

The trial will decide whether his wife Shelly was within her rights when she negotiated a sale of the NBA team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

"She has no rights whatsoever," Sterling testified Wednesday. "She may be a trustee, but she has no stock, no authority to make a sale."

He went on to proclaim his commitment to keeping the team under his ownership.

"I'm not a racist. I love all people, but I was the poster boy!" Sterling said in court Wednesday. "Make no mistake today. I will never, ever, ever sell this team. And until I die, I will be suing the NBA."

"This is the worst corporation in America, and everyone will find out how terrible they are," Sterling said.

Attorneys agreed last week to focus the case on whether Sterling was induced into mental examinations by doctors arranged Shelly without being told that they could be used to remove him as a trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, which controls the Clippers and provides the framework under which the team can be sold.

Sterling's testimony often crossed into insults toward his wife’s attorney and the doctors that ruled him mentally incapacitated, claiming one of the doctors was drunk and implored Sterling’s attorney to "stand up and be a man."

He continued his combative attitude toward his wife's legal team on Wednesday and went on further about his feelings toward his wife.

"She deceived me. I trusted her. I believed her. I never thought a woman wouldn't stand by her husband," Sterling testified.

When Shelly's took the stand Wednesday, she was ask whether she is separated from her husband, to which she replied, "Uh, sort of."

Under cross-examination earlier in the trial, a neurologist and a psychiatrist both testified that they had found Sterling mentally incapacitated, but also admitted they did not tell him their exams could be used to remove him as an administrator of the trust. Sterling's attorneys continued with cross-examination of the neurologist Wednesday.

During her testimony, Shelly denied claims by Donald that the neurologist who examined him was drunk.

Shelly approached Donald after leaving the stand.

"Stay away from me, you pig," he said to Shelly. "How could you lie?"

Shelly's attorney then asked the judge to remove him from the courtroom. The judge asked Sterling not to speak and called his remarks disturbing.

"Emotions were really high in the courtroom today," Sterling's attorney Bobby Samini said. "Sixty years married, I know that Donald felt very upset watching her testimony. I think he felt betrayed by it."

"Today he was rude to his own lawyer, he was rude to the court, and then to turn to his wife that he has pretended he loves...she walks off the stand and he says, 'You pig,'" Shelly's attorney Bert Fields said,

"That's who he is. Sometimes he's combative, sometimes he's witty, sometimes he's charming, sometimes he's funny," Samini said. "It's not a vaudeville act. That's who he is."

Ballmer's attorney said the testimony by Sterling shows why the team needs to be sold.

"It was a shameful display by a seriously demented tyrant, and he proved today he absolutely has to go," Adam Streisand said.

Shelly’s attorneys assert she organized the medical examinations under terms of the trust that indicate incapacitation can be determined by two licensed doctors without ties to the family who are specialists in their field. A trustee must cooperate with the exams.

"The judge has ruled he's only going to look into whether there was proper certification so I don't want to get into whether he's competent but you guys can draw your own conclusion," Shelly Sterling's attorney Bert Fields said. "Is this a guy you'd employ to sell hamburgers?"

Attorneys for Donald Sterling counter that he was “blindsided” by the exams and agreed to them under false pretenses.

The $2 billion deal to sell the Clippers was negotiated with Ballmer after after the NBA moved to oust Donald Sterling because of racist remarks made during a recorded phone conversation.

In order for the deal to proceed, a judge must find that Shelly Sterling acted in accordance with the trust and that the deal is part of a "winding down" or the trust's affairs, as her attorneys claim.

NBA owners are scheduled to meet July 15 to vote to approve the deal. Ballmer's offer is set to expire on the same day.

If the sale isn't completed by Sept. 15, the league said it could seize the team and put it up for auction.

Christina Cocca contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Bill Robles

Shed Struck by Lightning, Man Shocked in Shelton


Lightning sparked a shed fire in Shelton as storms swept through the western part of the state Wednesday night, and a neighbor also reported being shocked, according to the fire department.

Fire officials said a shed on High Ridge Road burst into flames after it was struck by lightning. While firefighters were on scene, they learned that a man living nearby may have been shocked while holding a metal railing on his garage.

The shed fire is under control, and the resident is alert and conscious, fire officials said.

EMTs responded to the scene and will take him to the hospital for an evaluation, according to the fire department.

Photo Credit: [UGCDFW-CJ-weather]

WATCH: Panda Cub Slurps a Fruit Pop


Bao Bao is back and cuter than ever.

As if being a roly-poly panda cub wasn't enough, footage has emerged of her adorably slurping down a frosty treat.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo has released a YouTube video of giant panda Mei Xiang and her cub Bao Bao enjoying what they call a "fruitsicle."

The video description says that the zoo gives the pandas a frozen treat every day during the summer and that Bao Bao is "showing more interest in solid foods."

Bao Bao was born at the zoo Aug. 23 last year and is Mei Xiang and mate Tian Tian's second surviving cub.

Watch the video above, or click here to watch it on YouTube.

Deer Comes Crashing Into Liquor Store


Employees and customers at Quick 6 Liquors in Weymouth, Massachusetts were in for a surprise Tuesday when an unexpected guest came barging in.

Surveillance footage shows a deer leaping through the store's front window, then racing through the aisles as the disoriented animal tries to find a way back out.

Customers can be seen dodging the deer, which, according to NBC affiliate WHDH, knocked over a few high-end liquor bottles in its attempt to flee.

The store owner told WHDH no one was injured but the deer had a few cuts when all was said and done.

Photo Credit: Quick 6 Liquors

Accused Paving Scammer Facing Charges in Bristol


Bristol police have arrested the owner of a private paving company accused of continuing to solicit business door-to-door after his license expired in March, according to police and the Department of Consumer Protections.

Brian Curylo, 28, owner of Hot Top Paving, was arrested in Bristol on Monday while he was paving a driveway on Geary Avenue, according to police.

His name has been on their radar for several weeks as part of a scam investigation, and police said he has a history of defrauding the elderly.

The Department of Consumer Protections told police Curylo was not authorized to perform the home improvement work because his license had been revoked, police said.

Bristol police said last month that Curylo has frequently been paid up front for jobs he has failed to complete. The Department of Consumer Protection said Curylo has reportedly scammed residents out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Curylo is charged with offering home improvement without a license, no notice of cancellation, failure to provide notice of cancellation rights, failure to provide oral cancellation of rights and second-degree larceny.

He was released after posting $5,000 bond and is due in court July 21.

Photo Credit: Ramon Rivera and Bristol Police Department

Mom Issued Misdemeanor for Leaving 11-Year-Old in Car


Bristol police have issued a misdemeanor summons to a mom who they say left her 11-year-old daughter in the car while she went into a store Tuesday.

Police arrived at 60 Middle Street in Bristol to find the girl alone in the car with the windows rolled up. She was alert and responsive and told officers she had asked to stay in the car while her mom ran inside, according to police.

Police said the outside temperature was about 85 degrees and the car’s interior “was not excessively hot.”

The girl’s mother, 30-year-old Christina Williams, was issued a misdemeanor summons for leaving a child unsupervised in a motor vehicle.

Six children in the U.S. have died this month after being left in hot cars, including a 15-month-old boy from Ridgefield.

New Haven Plans for Winter Snow Removal


With temperatures near or above 90 degrees this week the last thing on people's minds is snow . But city leaders in New Haven are vowing not to repeat this past winter’s snow removal mistakes.

"The snow was out well into the middle of the road and there was barely one lane to drive down," said Jeremy Cushman who would rather not think about the memories of snow piling up in front of his Pearl Street home last winter.

"Some snow plows were coming by earlier and had hit some cars on other streets and everybody was really nervous about their car being out," Cushman added, referring to problems that people all over the Elm City faced.

Now the city and the Board of Alderman are trying to make sure everyone is on the same snow removal page.

"We suspect we may see more of these major snow events and so we want to make sure the city is ready to do an even better job of clearing the streets," said Alderman Marchand, who represents Ward 25.

He says the city needs to work with residents to figure where cars will go, for one, and whether that's sharing driveways in some neighborhoods or using empty parking lots.

"What made the last storm really bad is that it snowed a pretty good volume of snow then it rained," Marchand added.

The other issue city officials can't predict is if mother nature will cooperate. Transportation Director Doug Hausladen believes the city can improve and that means "having a game plan that we can actually follow and having a written policy that the city and residents understand."

Officials admit communications between city hall and residents needs to be better.

"it's more like putting all the puzzle pieces together that we're more intune with the population," said Alderman Salvatore DeCola, who represents Ward 18.

For Jeremy Cushman, "The most important thing is actually ticketing and towing cars that are blocking the snow plow."

The city says it ticketed and towed as many cars as it could during the storms but they need to be cleared in their messaging. Department of Public Works is also adding six plows to its fleet. Also being discussed is whether snow routes need to be added to or tweaked.

"Pillowcase Rapist" Released in CA


A convicted serial rapist whose pending release spurred protests across a Southern California community arrived in Lake Los Angeles on Wednesday to live in his court-assigned home, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Christopher Evans Hubbart, 63, admitted to raping more than three dozen women between 1971 and 1982. He was dubbed the "Pillowcase Rapist" because he muffled the screams of his victims with pillowcases.

He will now live in a home in the 20300 block of East Avenue R, east of Palmdale, officials said.

Video from his arrival about 1:40 p.m. shows him walking to the door as neighbors yell, "Be afraid! Be very afraid! Because we won't let you scare us! We want you out! Get out!"

Residents, some of a group called the Ladies of Lake LA, said they would try to force Hubbart out of the area.

"I will stay until he wants to leave. I will stay here until he asks the judge that he wants to leave," resident Norma Valenti. "We don't want him here. We don't want him in this community. We don't want him wandering around our town, our children, our mothers, our grandmothers, our wives. We don't want him around."

Hubbart's release was postponed last week from July 7 to July 21 by a judge after a norovirus outbreak at the state hospital where he was in custody.

It was not immediately clear why he was released before the postponed date.

"The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has been extremely persistent in its advocacy for the community and has exhausted every possible legal recourse to prevent the release of this predator," LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich said in a statement.

"Once again, the State’s criminal justice system failed to uphold its responsibility to protect the public’s safety," the statement read. "The Santa Clara County Judge’s decision to dump a convicted serial rapist in our community is dangerous and reckless."

Hubbart will be released under a program that contracts with the state to place and supervise sexually violent criminals. Hubbart must wear a GPS ankle monitor and will be transported to individual therapy sessions twice per week.

He will be accompanied by a supervisor when he goes out in public for the first six months to a year, according to terms of his release.

Assemblyman Steve Fox, who represents the 36th District which includes Antelope Valley communities as well as Lancaster and Palmdale, said he was not pleased with the decision to release Hubbart.

"Words cannot express my frustration at Christopher Evans Hubbart’s release to Lake Los Angeles. In the last year I’ve heard a great deal about Mr. Hubbart’s Constitutional rights," Fox said in a statement.

"However, I believe the court that ordered his release has put the rights of this one rapist above the rights of the families of the Antelope Valley -- especially women and children. This fight is not over. Serial rapists and pedophiles belong in prison, not next door."

Hubbart was ordered to Los Angeles County because of a state law that states a judge can send a sexually violent predator back to his "alleged county of domicile."

Michelle Valles contributed to this report.

4 Hospitalized After Chemical Leak at New Haven Walgreens


Four employees at a New Haven Walgreens pharmacy were taken to the hospital after a chemical leak at the store.

The incident happened at the pharmacy at 88 York Street, according to police. The store was closed for several hours following the spill but reopened shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Employees noticed a container leaking and put it in a trash bin and took it outside, according to Fire Chief Allyn Wright. The leaking chemical reacted with something in the trash bin, making the employees sick.

The victims were vomiting when firefighters arrived on the scene just before noon, Wright said. Witnesses told NBC Connecticut at  two women were on the floor and very dizzy.

One of the four victims was released from the hospital by Wednesday afternoon, but the other three were still being observed, fire officials said.

Walgreens issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"We can confirm that team members noticed an odor and contacted the local authorities. The safety of our employees and customers is our top priority. We are assisting with the investigation but I would refer you to the authorities for further information.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Name Ridgefield Baby Who Died in Hot Car


The 15-month-old boy who died Monday in a hot car in Ridgefield, Connecticut has been identified as Benjamin Seitz.

Police said Wednesday that the child's father was supposed to drop him off at daycare but instead drove to his workplace at 38A Grove Street in Ridgefield with the baby still in the car.

According to investigators, Benjamin's father parked his vehicle at his place of work with the child inside and left him there for "an extended period of time."

Town officials say the boy's dad works at Owl Computing Technologies.

Later Monday afternoon, Benjamin's father drove him to Danbury Hospital after discovering him in the vehicle, police said. Police said Wednesday that no 911 calls were placed regarding the baby's death.

Temperatures in the area reached 88 degrees on Monday.

Hospital staff notified Ridgefield police of Benjamin's death around 6 p.m. on Monday.

Investigators are conducting interviews to determine how long the child was left in the vehicle, police said. State police and the Danbury State's Attorney's Office are assisting with the investigation.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has not yet determined the child's cause of death.

Benjamin's father has not been charged, but police said he's under investigation. He has not been publicly identified.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Flight Attendant Found in Trunk


A longtime United Airlines flight attendant was found dead in the trunk of a car in Gary, Indiana, on Monday.

DeCarol Deloney-Cain, 54, of Crown Point, was discovered in a burgundy 2008 Toyota Solara in a remote wooded area in the 2000 block of East 22nd Place.

The victim suffered multiple stab wounds, blunt force trauma to her head and her body was wrapped up, according to the Lake County Coroner who didn't make a make a positive identification until Wednesday.

The victim's son, Blake Deloney, says his mother had been with United for 25 years.
"Always smiling, big smile, always happy, never really down much. And if she was, she'd come out of it quickly," Deloney said. "She means everything to me."

Deloney said he became worried after his mother's employer called him on Sunday when she didn't show up for work. He said she's never missed a shift in her entire time with the airline.

"She's standing right behind me right now, probably smiling. I can already see her smile," Deloney said.

Gary police say they have a promising lead in the case, but no arrests had been made by early Thursday morning.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Gary Police Department at (219) 881-4748 or Lake County Sheriff CSI at (219) 755-3340.

Milford Man Spit on Woman, Yelled Slur: Cops


A 69-year-old man has been charged with a bias crime after allegedly spitting on a neighbor.

Police say John Uberti approached a woman who was sitting on a lawn chair in front of an apartment building on Naugatuck Avenue just after noon Monday, yelled a racial slur and spit on her.

Uberti, who lives at 36 Naugatuck Avenue, was charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias and breach of peace, and was released on a promise to appear in court on Aug. 5.

Attempts to reach Uberti for comment Thursday morning were not successful. A phone number listed for him was no longer in service.

What to Know About the Immigration Crisis


The news that thousands of unaccompanied children are crossing the U.S. border is just making headlines, but the surge has been happening for months, even years. President Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to tackle the issue, which has become a flashpoint in the debate over immigration.

The number of children has overwhelmed the U.S. immigration system, which faces a backlog of hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, according to The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama says that violent crime is driving migrants north, while Republicans blame Obama’s policies, saying they have given migrants an incentive to come.

Here’s what you should know about the crisis.

How Many Kids Are Trying to Cross the Border Alone

Since October, 52,000 children have been caught traversing the U.S.-Mexico border without an adult. That’s double the number in 2012 and triple the number in 2011, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Border Patrol was already noticing an increase in children coming up from Central America in the fall of 2011. Most of the apprehended children are between 14 and 18-years-old, according to the Women's Refugee Commission.

Three-fourths of the kids caught since October have traveled over 1,000 miles — by car, train, raft and foot — from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The rest are from neighboring Mexico, according to Border Patrol data.

Making the trek is uncertain and dangerous. Smugglers, or coyotes, charge up to $10,000 for each child, according to The Associated Press. These smugglers may take the children’s money and run, or worse, assault or traffic them. The journey is also physically challenging, with dense forests, dry deserts and rugged mountains along the way. One stretch of land in Texas is referred to as the "killing fields."

Migrant children aren't just traveling to the U.S. All of Central America is seeing an increase. Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize jointly documented a 712 percent increase in the number of people seeking asylum from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, according to the Washington Office on Latin America.

Why They Left Central America

The mass migration is chiefly caused by three things: gang-related violence, poverty and rumors that migrant children will be welcomed to the U.S. if they make it to the border.

Violence. A good portion of the drug trade is now in Central America and plenty of gangs capitalize on this. Incompetent police forces do little to stop them. Children are actively recruited as "foot soldiers" for cartels. These gangs give children an ultimatum: work in the drug trade or face death. Honduras’ homicide rate was 90 killed per 100,000 people in 2012. That’s the worst in the world and six times the global average. Guatemala and El Salvador aren't far behind.

Gangs run rampant in these countries, and many children find themselves in the crossfire. It is not uncommon for children to arrive at hospitals riddled with bullets. Fifty-eight percent of children migrating north are motivated by violent conditions in their home country, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Trust in the police is low in the children's countries of origin. In many places, gangs and police are intertwined. "You never know who is who," several migrant children told the Immigration Policy Center.

Poverty. Nearly two-thirds of the Honduran population lives below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. One in three infants is malnourished, and most kids in rural areas will only get four years of schooling on average. Guatemala's poverty rate is 26 percent. In El Salvador 17 percent of the population is living on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

Rumors. The recent surge may have its roots in rumors that a change in U.S. immigration policy means any child who crosses the border can stay. This is a false belief, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Children who arrived after 2007 are not eligible for deferred deportations or a path to citizenship. A Border Patrol report that was leaked in June says families' misconception that they will obtain "permisos" when they arrive in the U.S. is driving most migration, according to Vox.com. They believe "permisos" means work permit, but it's actually a notice to appear in immigration court.

• Family. Over a third of Central American children who traveled to the U.S. alone were looking to reunite with one or both parents. It is common for relatives to send children north to reunite with family members, who also have questionable legal status, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

What Caused the Crisis

In addition to the violence and poverty in Central America, some have said the U.S. government is at the root of the influx, particularly policies put forth by the last two presidents.

Obama's order. Republicans have blamed the Obama administration for the rumors, saying that poor policy and communication has led migrants to believe they can stay, according to the Los Angeles Times. They say the president has been weak at enforcing border policy and that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was authored by the Obama administration in 2012 and gives some undocumented migrants temporary legal status, has given Central American families a false hope.

Bush's law. A bipartisan law that President George W. Bush signed in 2008, known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, seeks to combat sex trafficking by granting protections to children traveling alone from countries that are not Mexico or Canada. Under the law, unaccompanied children can’t be hastily sent back and are instead allowed an immigration hearing and must be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services. The Obama administration said the law is partly to blame for the crisis, according to The New York Times. The White House and Republicans are both looking for ways to adjust the law's requirements to make it easier for children to be returned to their home countries.

Where the Migrants Arrive and What Happens When They Get Here

The crisis is happening all along the United States’ Southwest border. The greatest number of migrants are entering through southern Texas, where there has been a 178 percent change in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border from 2013 to 2014, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Border patrol agents in Texas are overwhelmed and facilities are brimming with migrant children.

The city of Murrieta, California, made national headlines after protesters blocked buses carrying undocumented children and families to immigration processing facilities in Southern California. Overcrowded facilities in Texas looked to ease the burden by sending some migrants there. About 140 migrants ended up in San Diego.

When migrant children are apprehended by Customs and Border Protection they are held in a detention center — usually a sterile place that resembles a warehouse. They will remain there until they are transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement's Division of Children Services (ORR/DCS). These facilities range from group homes to juvenile detention centers that are locked and surrounded by barbed wire.

Children stay at ORR/DCS facilities for an average of 55 days while authorities attempt to locate a parent or guardian. If none can be found, the child remains in DCS custody for the entirety of her immigration case. Ultimately, she will either end up with her parents or foster parents in the U.S. or be sent back to the country she came from.

What's Being Done About the Influx of People

More cash. The White House is asking Congress for more than $3.7 billion to address the wave of migration. Most of that cash would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, while Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection would also get a share. Almost $300 million would go towards efforts to “repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America.” The request must pass both houses of Congress, though, and it's not clear how, or whether, the GOP-led House will vote.

More shelters. Immigration officials are scrambling to find more shelter space for new arrivals. Dallas County in Texas agreed to shelter 2,000 children if the federal government foots the bill. Hospitals and schools no longer in use are among the buildings that could possibly house the children.

Foster care. Organizations and families in parts of Texas and the Southwest are taking up kids, particularly those who have no family in the U.S. or no safe places to return to in their home countries.

Programs in Central America. The Obama administration has earmarked $300 million for programs in Central America to boost the quality of life of people and address the underlying root causes that are driving migration. It hopes to do this by improving economic and security conditions and helping migrants reintegrate into their communities instead of returning north.

Ad campaigns. U.S. officials are trying to counter the flow of migrants with a Spanish-language ad campaign that looks to frighten them from coming in the first place. The ads warn that smugglers are criminals who could subject migrants to violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking or forced labor.

Border security. Some in Congress, especially Republicans, have said the focus should be on strengthening border security. Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a congressional committee that unaccompanied kids should be deported immediately to show the U.S. is serious about enforcement. Advocates for migrants have criticized the Obama administration, saying that future funding should go to ensuring migrant children with legitimate claims of asylum see their day in court, not border security.

What's Next

As protests continue and politicians try to figure out the best way to tackle the crisis, migrant children keep pouring in. The Obama administration expects the number of migrant children arriving in the U.S. to rise to 90,000 by September 2014. While visiting Texas, President Obama urged Congress to approve the $3.7 billion he asked for to help deal with the surge.

Officials at the United Nations want many of the people fleeing Central America to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict. This designation would increase pressure on the U.S. and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum, according to The Associated Press.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Cheetah Cub, Puppy Turn 1 Year Old


Two very special friends at the Dallas Zoo are celebrating an important milestone: their first birthday.

Winspear the cheetah and Amani the black Labrador both turned 1 year old Thursday. They were treated to a chicken-flavored popsicle cake.

The best friends live, eat and play together at the Dallas Zoo. Zookeepers have raised the duo together since they were two months old.

Zoo experts found the lab had a calming influence on the cheetah cub, which was important in his preparation for spending time in the public eye.

A second cub, Kamau, was also being raised with Winspear and Amani but sadly died of pneumonia in January.

Photo Credit: The Dallas Zoo

2 Hurt on Coaster Sue 6 Flags


Two riders who suffered head injuries when a tree branch fell on the track of and derailed a Six Flags Magic Mountain roller coaster Monday in Valencia have filed a lawsuit against the Southern California amusement park, a lawyer said Thursday.

Jeremy Ead and Olivia Feldman are seeking unspecified damages after suffering “direct trauma,” according to attorney Barry Novack.

Novack questioned why Ninja, which opened more than 25 years ago, was built around the “wilderness,” referring to the trees that weave in and out of the approximately 2,700 foot long ride.

“They owe the highest degree of care to its passengers,” Novack said. “You don’t build it going through trees.”

Ead and Feldman are seeking reimbursement of medical expenses, past and future; loss of earnings, past and future; and emotional distress. A dollar amount was not specified in the lawsuit.

A report by the California Department of Industrial Relations was expected to be released with an analysis of the crash.

Twenty-two passengers, including four who suffered injuries, had to be rescued by firefighters over the course of about two hours on Monday as they dangled about 40 feet above ground.

"The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority and as a precaution, the ride will remain closed until a thorough inspection of the area is complete," park officials said in a statement following the derailment.

"Vicious Dog" Attacks New Haven Officer: Police


A New Haven police officer is recovering after a pit bull got loose in a city park and bit the officer’s leg, authorities said.

Police said a passerby called to report a “vicious dog” that had gotten loose and seemed out of control at the College Woods area of East Rock Park.

When officers arrived on scene, the dog’s owner flagged them down and said his dog had escaped and was behaving violently, according to police.

Police shouted warnings to other people in the park, and the dog ran up and bit one of the officer’s legs, police said. The officer shot the dog twice.

The pit bull died and was taken for rabies testing, police said.

The injured officer was taken to the Saint Raphael’s campus of Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Police said the dog’s owner was not charged and no one else was hurt.

Confederate Battle Flags Removed From Virginia University Chapel


Reproductions of Confederate battle flags have been removed from a campus chapel at Washington and Lee University.

However, at least one historic flag will go on display in the Lee Chapel Museum, President Kenneth P. Ruscio wrote in a message to the W&L community, describing the venue as the appropriate place for an artifact.

The decision comes three months after a group of African-American law students -- who refer to themselves simply as the Committee -- called on administrators to make amends for the school's Confederate background, the Washington Post reported in April.

"The issue that [we] had is that it felt like the school was promoting a very horrible time in American history, and a flag that, to many African Americans, myself included, was a signal of oppression," law student Brandon Hicks told NBC Washington.

"The museum is the appropriate place for the Confederate flag," he said.

Confederate battle flags have been on display in the school's Lee Chapel since 1930.

Initially, the flags on display were originals that had been captured by or surrendered to the Union Army during the Civil War. They were on loan from the Museum of the Confederacy, which is now part of the American Civil War Museum. 

But in the 1990s, the university returned the original flags to the museum because the manner of display was causing them to deteriorate.

The flags were replaced by reproductions, "which are not historic and are not genuine artifacts," Ruscio wrote.

He used that as part of his decision to remove them, and to bring back at least one of the original flags for display in the chapel museum:

Consequently, we will remove these reproductions from their current location and will enter into an agreement with the American Civil War Museum, in Richmond, to receive on loan one or more of the original flags, now restored, for display on a rotating basis in the Lee Chapel Museum, the appropriate location for such a display.

Rising senior David Thomas, a member of the College Republicans, said he supported Ruscio's decision.

"When you walk around campus, you see elements of history all around us," said Thomas. "There are positive aspects of history and negative ones as well. ...You have to have both; you can't just erase an aspect of history that was extra important to those of us in Lexington."

Law student Hernandez Stroud said he was also comfortable with the decision to display artifact flags in the chapel museum.

In fact, he said they probably should have been there in the first place.

"I think it helps to make clear the purpose of the flags, because people won't then be guessing what those flags are and why they're there," said Stroud, who served as president of the Black Law Students Association last year but wasn't a member of the group that called upon the university for the changes.

"Placing [the flags] in a historical, educational context is what's best," he said.

Rising sophomore Alexandra Seymour said she was upset that some saw the flags as tarnishing the reputation of the school.

"The issue of whether they remain in the actual chapel or not does not really make a difference to me; what upsets me more-so is the fact that students would accuse W&L of promoting slavery and racism instead of understanding the educational purpose behind the flags," she wrote in an email to NBC Washington.

"Robert E. Lee was a Confederate, which is something that we can't change or should have to apologize for," she wrote. "While Lee was not perfect, he was a man of impeccable integrity who had an enormous impact on W&L."

Washington and Lee, a private university in Lexingon, Virginia, has struggled with the diversity of its small student population, consisting of about 2,200 undergraduate and gradudate students, according to data on Forbes.com.

According to that data, 2.96 percent of W&L students identify as black or African American, with another 2.07 percent identifying as multiracial.

"My biggest concern was not with the lack of diversity, but a white-washing of history, some aspects of history that I felt should kind of be repudiated," Hicks said. "That was my biggest concern."

The university has also acknowledged a history with slavery, which Ruscio wrote on Tuesday is a "regrettable" one that needs to be confronted.

In 1826, the school inherited between 70 and 80 slaves. "Until 1852, the institution benefited from their enslaved labor and, in some cases, from their sale," Ruscio wrote.

He said the university is developing a timeline of African-American history on campus.

"We are committed to telling the University's history accurately, including the stories of many individuals who should not be overlooked," he wrote.

Stroud said he was pleased by the university's response.

"These are tough issues," he said. "They are age-old and as challenging as they were controversial, and no solution would have appeased everyone."

However, a request by the Committee to cancel classes on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day remains unresolved. Ruscio said Tuesday that he'll leave the decision up to the undergraduate faculty -- but is urging them to rule against it, citing other university events that honor King. 

Nonetheless, Hicks was pleased by the progress he's seeing.

"It feels awesome," he said. "And it feels awesome to know that the university really values making the campus a more welcoming place. The letter that was issued by the president is a great first step. There's more to do, but it's a great first step."

Photo Credit: Margaret Voelzke

Co. Paints Drought-Stricken Lawns


Business is booming for a South Bay company thanks to California's severe drought.

Los Gatos-based Green Canary has been painting lawns that have turned brown due to a lack of water. The company uses green, water-based paint to transform grass that has turned drought dull.

"This is environmentally sound," said Shawn Sahbari, Green Canary's president. "We engineered it so that the green paint is kid-friendly and pet-friendly."

Green Canary has also helped golf courses, soccer fields and cemeteries impacted by the drought.

San Jose's Almaden Valley Athletic Club plans to use the service to keep the front lawn green while using 90 percent less water.

"One of the main reasons was the concern of members who wondered what are we doing as far as conservation," said Jeff Griffith, the club's general manager.

Sahbari said the paint will not kill grass and lasts at least three months.

Photo Credit: Marianne Favro
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