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Dad Does Not Want Killer Released Early


A Norwich man is pleading with state lawmakers to ensure that the man who killed his wife and son 20 years ago stays in prison as a bill moves through the General Assembly that would allow him to be released early.

Michael Bernier, a neighbor, was convicted.

Bernier, who is now 34, was 15 years old when he killed John Cluny's wife and son and he is serving a 60-year-sentence at Cheshire Correctional Institution.

However, lawmakers are considering legislation that would make teenagers who were sentenced to 10 or more years in prison eligible for a review of their sentence, no matter what crime they committed.

Supporters of the bill argue that children's minds aren't fully developed.

“He didn't only commit one murder, he committed two murders,” John Cluny said. “He fact that you have to bring this up when the politics or legislature changes is sickening.”

If the bill passes, Bernier’s sentence could be reduced to 30 years.

Photo Credit: Getty

New Pope to Take on 8 Official Titles, But Pope's Not One


Whoever is elected to succeed Pope Benedict XVI will be taking on the awesome responsibility of leading a church with more than 1 billion followers, a job that comes with eight official titles — none of them "Pope."

To hear Dr. Terrence W. Tilley, Chair of the Theology Department at Fordham University, tell it, calling the pope "pope" is a little like calling your CEO "chief."

"'Pope' comes from the Italian 'papa,'" explains Tilley. "It's actually a colloquial term rather than a formal term. In America, we often use the phrase, especially the bishops — 'Holy Father,' 'Sancta Papa,' — which is where you get 'Pope.'"

The pope's proper title, according to the Vatican's website, is Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.

What does it all mean?

Bishop of Rome
"Bishop" comes from the Greek "episcopas," meaning "overseer," and Rome of course being HQ for the Catholic Church. The term "pope," or "papa," didn’t emerge until later.

St. Peter is considered by many to be the first Bishop of Rome, but Father Raymond Schroth of America Magazine says there is a fair amount of doubt surrounding that claim.

"Raymond Brown was the best scripture scholar we had, and he's written several things on this. (He) said it would be a mistake to say that Peter was the first pope, as if he were the founder of the church. That's an exaggeration. The evidence for Peter's presence in Rome is not airtight — that's a nice way of putting it. They have a tomb under St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, where it's believed that St. Peter is buried. But, you know, it took 'em a long time to find the grave," says Schroth with a laugh.

Vicar of Jesus Christ, aka Vicar of Christ
"A less formal title that is rooted in his primacy," says Tilley. "That is, his political headship of the universal church. So a vicar would be something like a vice regent. I believe it is a medieval or early modern title."

Successor of the Prince of the Apostles
Another direct reference to St. Peter, who was deemed Prince of the Apostles on the strength of Jesus declaring in Matthew 16:18, "That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." Another dubious claim, according to Schroth.

"Historically, this is a stretch, in the sense that the evidence is not there that Peter was the first leader of the church," says Schroth. "If you said to Peter, if you were to flash back in history and say, 'Are you the pope?,' he wouldn’t know what you were talking about. That term 'pope' did not come along for another couple hundred of years.

"This is a baroque title. It's one of those 'let's puff up the pope' titles," concedes Tilley.

Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church
The word "pontiff" comes from the Latin "pontifex," meaning "bridge-builder." "Pontifex maximus" was the great bridge-builder of ancient Rome, a title held by the likes of Julius Caesar. Tilley believes the title was assumed by the Bishop of Rome post-Reformation, as an assertion of his "juridical and communicative status."

"More hierarchical jargon that keeps emphasizing that he's the number one guy," says Schroth. "What I think is implied (by Universal) is that this includes the Greek Catholic Church — not the Orthodox — as well as the Roman Catholic. They don’t call themselves Roman Catholics, but they are Catholics, and they acknowledge the sovereignty of the Bishop of Rome... It's power talk."

Primate of Italy
Nothing to do with monkeys. Like with any massive bureaucracy, the Catholic Church has layer upon layer of jurisdictions, and this title affirms the pope's status among the other bishops in his home country.

"A 'primate' is the head — or the 'primus,' the first one — of a region of the world. So the 'primate of Italy' says that he is the first in line of the Italian bishops," says Tilley. "As primate of Italy, he is the number one bishop of Italy... So when the Italian cardinals meet, he would be in charge of the cardinals."

Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province
Yet another layer. The universal church is divided into regions, for which there are primates, and then the diocese, for which there is the "archbishop and metropolitan" (in this instance "metropolitan" is a noun, not an adjective) — think Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

Sovereign of the State of Vatican City
"He's a king! He's a king of 29 acres," says Tilley. "In previous centuries, the pope was the sovereign of the papal states, so they had political jurisdiction over much of central Italy."

Following the unification of Italy in 1870, Vatican City's status — "The Roman Question" — was up in the air until the Lateran Treaty of 1929 established it as a sovereign state within Benito Mussolini's Italy.

Servant of the Servants of God
From the Latin "Servus servorum Dei" and rooted in Matthew 20:26-27, which says, "whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."

"That's a great title, because it's the most biblical — it's probably the only biblical one," says Schroth. "At the Last Supper, Jesus gets down on his knees and washes the feet of the 12. He's saying, 'I'm trying to show you something: you're servants.' And there are plenty of these little incidents in the Gospels.

"The apostles think this is a power trip. They think Jesus is going to be made king or messiah or have some earthly power. And they want jobs in the administration. One guy sends his mother, the mother of James and John, and she says to Jesus, 'Take care of my boys when you come into power.' And he says, 'We'll see how well they take persecution.' The apostles are not perfect in that they have certain ambitions, and he's trying, up to the very end, to teach them to get over it."

Photo Credit: AP

Betting and Bribes: Bizarre Tidbits from Conclaves Past


The oaths of secrecy, locked doors and smoke signals that give modern papal elections an air of intrigue trace their roots back to a political solution much more practical than mysterious.

Their origins date back more than 700 years to a papal election that dragged on so long that two cardinals died before a successor was selected.

The chaos of that election prompted a series of reforms, which, after a few bumps — a Papal Schism, monarchial meddling and a string of "secret" elections tainted by blatant leaks — ultimately formed the more orderly foundation of modern conclaves.

When Pope Clement IV died in 1268, partisan cardinals were unable to muster the requisite two-thirds majority to elect a successor — leaving the seat of the Supreme Pontiff vacant for nearly three years.

Frustrated by the enduring deadlock, citizens of Viterbo, Italy, where the cardinals were gathered, sealed the doors of their meeting place and drastically restricted the voters' food supply in an effort to hasten their decision-making. As weeks passed, a crowd went a step further to "unroof" the building, presumably hoping exposure to the elements might expedite consensus.

According to the account in Virginia Tech history professor Frédéric J. Baumgartner's "Behind Locked Doors: A History of the Papal Elections," the locals "supposedly acted on the humorous comment of the English cardinal present that the roof should be removed to give free access to the Holy Spirit."

Others say the "unroofing" is a bit of a stretch.

Brother Charles Hilken, professor of medieval history at Saint Mary's College of California, describes it as "more of a case of the town fathers dragging their heels in repairing leaks and openings in the roof. The conclave continued for another year after the complaints of the cardinals."

Eventually, voters were able to agree on Pope Gregory X— but not before two cardinals died and another left because of poor health.

Inspired by the lockdown's success and eager to limit outside influence, which often made for rocky transitions of papal power, Gregory introduced new election procedures in a charter that set the foundation for modern-day conclaves.

Under his decree, all cardinals would be barricaded in a voting room and forced to share sleeping quarters until they could achieve a two-thirds vote. Under threat of excommunication, no one was permitted to leak or receive messages from the outside world. If after three days a pope had not been elected, food rations would be reduced.

(A number of present-day conclave procedures, from the use of cell phone jamming devices to the tradition of burning ballots and emitting those famous smoke signals, are tied to Gregory's efforts to curb information leaks.)

Gregory's reforms at least initially expedited elections. But they were no match for some of the corruption that would later find its way into the papacy.

In 1309, the papacy relocated to Avignon. But by 1377, Romans, eager to see a local pope return the papacy to their hometown, gathered outside the Lateran Palace, where cardinals were voting for a successor, and chanted their demands.

In the end, the cardinals picked Urban VI — an Italian, though not a Roman. Fearful that the crowds might not like the selection, cardinals discussed ushering him out through a back door and presenting the crowd with a well-known elderly Roman cardinal in papal robes, in the elected pope's stead. Some accounts indicate that the cardinals actually carried out their plot.

Shortly after Urban's reign began, cardinals who came to believe they had elected an insane pope ordered new elections. Pope Clement VII was selected, but Urban clung to power. He and Clement excommunicated each other, divided the church in what was later labeled the Papal Schism, and ushered in decades of utter confusion.


The papal conclave of 1549 to 1550 had all the signs of corruption Gregory X's decree had aimed to stamp out.

The conclave dragged on for weeks. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and King Henry II of France had their favorites and did everything they could to sway the vote, with Henry threatening to pull funding if the pick weren't to his liking. After voting began and France’s ambassador saw it didn't favor his country, he convinced authorities to halt voting until several French cardinals still en route had arrived.

Even after the missing cardinals had trickled in, the process was delayed once again — after a cardinal died in the conclave of possible poisoning. Meanwhile, bookmakers in Rome were solidifying their bets on the outcome — something that was legal and commonplace at the time.

Baumgartner, author of "A History of the Papal Elections," notes that this conclave was one of the best-reported ever thanks to the incessant leaks both into and out of the "secret" proceedings.

"For one thing, the ambassadors were allowed to enter the conclave," Baumgartner said. "They could bring in information and carry out information to their kings. On top of that, conclavists were in close touch with the bookies of Rome."

Thanks to a compromise, an Italian named Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte won out as pope. He took the name of Julius III.

Photo Credit: AP

School Bus Driver Charged With Sexual Assault


A 39-year-old female Torrington school bus driver was arraigned in Bantam Court today after being charged with a sexual assault involving a 17-year-old male student.

According to court documents, Tina Scapin, 39, was arrested and charged with second-degree sexual assault on Sunday, March 3.
The alleged incident occurred in Torrington, but not on any type of bus or during Scapin's work day, according to police. 
Scapin was released from custody on a $10,000 non-surety bond and her case will be continued at Litchfield Superior Court on Tuesday, March 26.
Scapin is a driver for All Star Transportation, the company that buses for Torrington Public Schools, and the board of education has pulled her off the route.
“We don't believe there should be anything they should be worried about, as far as that happening again,” Ken Traub, of the board of education, said.
Later today, the Torrington School District will be sending a letter to parents about the arrest.


Michael Vick Book Signings Canceled Due to Threats of Violence


Several book signings by Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick have been canceled due to threats of violence against Vick and his family, according to a family spokesperson.

Vick was scheduled to sign copies of his book “Michael Vick: Finally Free” at Barnes and Noble stores in Atlanta, New Jersey and Exton, Pennsylvania. All three appearances have been canceled however because of safety concerns.

“This was a joint decision between Michael Vick’s advisers and the publisher,” said Vick family spokesman Chris Shigas. “They were canceled because of a recent uptick in credible threats of violence against Michael Vick, his family, the bookstores and the book store employees.”

Many people flooded the Barnes and Noble's Facebook page with comments after word of Vick's scheduled appearances spread.

One person wrote, "I would go there to slit your throat knowing how you treat animals."

Another person wrote, "Hope your kids don't fall in a pool with a battery."

Shigas claims multiple threats were made, with some even being posted on Vick’s Facebook page.

“There just seemed to be a collective, very few extremists who were noting the time and the place where these events would be,” said Shigas. “They were working to gather support to commit acts of violence. They wrote and said disgusting things, including going after his fans with words of racism, including the N-word."

Police continue to investigate the threats.

“We’re going to work with authorities and we’re confident that they’re taken the threat seriously and that they’ll investigate it accordingly,” said Shigas.

Byron Williamson, the President of Worthy Publishing, the company who published Vick’s book, also told Philadelphia Magazine the following:

While we stand by Michael Vick’s right to free speech and the retailers’ right to free commerce, we cannot knowingly put anyone in harm’s way, and therefore we must announce the cancellation of Mr. Vick’s book-signing appearances. We’ve been assured these threats of violence, which have been reported to the police, are being taken very seriously by local authorities.

Vick has been surrounded by controversy since he joined the Eagles in 2009 following a 19-month stint in federal prison for running a dog fighting operation.

"It's kind of ridiculous that after being a part of the Philadelphia community for this long which is supposed to be the City of Brotherly Love, he's receiving death threats," said Brandon Bower of Coatesville. "It seems kind of ridiculous to me."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

No New Truck for Women Shot During Dorner Manhunt


The two newspaper delivery women who were shot at during the manhunt for Christopher Dorner will not be getting a new replacement truck as promised by the LAPD, according to their attorney Glen Jonas.

It has been more than a month since LAPD Chief Charlie Beck promised the truck to Emma Hernandez, 71, and her daughter, Margie Carranza, who had been working in Torrance, Calif. before dawn on Feb. 7.

Police said it was a "case of mistaken identity" that prompted officers to open fire on the women. Beck later apologized and promised to replace their truck, now riddled with bullet holes.

According to Jonas, LAPD and Galpin Ford wanted his clients to pose for a photo opportunity and pay income tax on the truck. The women no longer want the truck after they were told they needed to fill out a 1099 form for the donation, Jonas said Monday.

"You tried to murder the woman, now you're telling her she can't have a four-wheel drive, you're telling her she can't sell it and you've got to be taxed on it?" Jonas said. "How would anyone react to that?"

Jonas plans on filing a government claim, which is a precursor to any lawsuit filed against a government agency. He said he felt the truck was being touted as a "reward or prize" instead of a sincere gesture by the LAPD.

Galpin Ford estimates the value of the truck – a 2013 Ford 150 SuperCrew – at $32,560. The dealership had planned on paying the sales tax, vehicle registration and title on the truck, according to a dealership spokesperson.

"It's really sad for us because we want to help these women move on with their lives, and help them move forward with that, we just can't get past the 1099 issue," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said. "The government has to take their bite out of it, I guess."

The women's Toyota Tacoma was pierced with 102 bullet holes from the Feb. 7 shooting, according to Jonas. Emma Hernandez is still recovering from two bullet wounds to her neck, which are giving her life-threatening complications, according to Jonas, who described what his clients went through that morning.

"The grandmother, Emma, starts saying, ‘God have mercy on us,’ because she thinks for sure they're going to die," Jonas said. "She then clutches around the back seat of her daughter to protect her from the gun shots because her daughter has children."

The pair was driving a dark-colored pickup truck with its lights off when they slowly approached the home of an officer named in ex-officer Christopher Dorner’s angry manifesto. Apparently thinking Dorner was inside, police opened fire on the truck.

After the shooting, Jonas said he was shocked by the officers’ actions. He said neither the size of the women nor the blue Toyota Tundra truck they were in matched the description of Dorner's Nissan Titan.

Eight officers were involved in the shooting. They were assigned to non-field assignments "until the (police) chief decides otherwise."

Photo Credit: AP

Parents Want to Silence High School Musical


Sweeney Todd is a Tony-award winning Stephen Sondheim musical and one that Amity High School students plan to put on this spring, but some parents feel it is not age-appropriate for high schoolers.

In Tim Burton’s 2007 film, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," Johnny Depp plays an English barber who kills his customers with a straight razor and processes their corpses into meat pies all for revenge.

Amity is a regional school district for Bethany, Woodbridge and Orange and some people in the communities are concerned about the violence Sweeney Todd depicts, especially after the school shooting in Newtown.

“What are the sort of images, ideas, values that we want to celebrate and champion?” Leticia Hashem, a parent who feels it’s too violent, asked. “The entire plot is filled with darkness. The macabre. Murder.”

“We have a responsibility and a duty to protect our children and youth from those influences that can have a detrimental affect on their developing minds and moral compass,” Reverend Ann Ritonia, a pastor in Orange, said.

Nearly 100 students are working on this production, including Ann Beadle's daughter, who is still taking part in the musical.

“I'm not sure it was the best choice, in my mind. We're just here to hear each other out, not to protest,” she said.

Beadle, along with 10 other parents and educators, spoke to the school board on Monday night during a meeting at Amity High School.

Many had positive encouragement.  “We are talking about art. Sweeney Todd goes back 150 years,” Garrett Stack, a former educator, said.

“The themes of Sweeney Todd are not murder and cannibalism and rape. They are actions,” Howard Sherman, a theater consultant and Amity High School alum, said. “The theme of Sweeney Todd is about the uselessness of revenge.”

Supt. John Brady said this is the sixth most frequently performed musical in high schools across the country.

Even Newtown High School performed the musical last spring, he said, and linking it to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a stretch.

“Our kids here want to be challenged. This is a challenging musical. The music itself is challenging,” Brady said.

The school has five performances scheduled, starting April 5.

The superintendent said they are nearly 80 percent sold out and have raised a considerable amount of money.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Hartford Murder-Free so far in 2013

During his state of the city address, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announced this is the first time in decades that the city has experienced no homicides this late into the year.

Chicago Baby Shot Five Times Dies


A 6-month-old baby has died after she was shot Monday while her father was changing her diaper.

Johnylah Watkins passed away Tuesday morning, Chicago Pastor Corey Brooks confirmed.

Johnylah's father, identified by family members as 28-year-old Jonathan Watkins, remains in critical condition. He was bent over the girl to change her on the front passenger seat of the family van when the shooting occurred, police said.

Johnylah and Watkins were both taken to hospitals in critical condition after shots rang out at about 12:45 p.m. Monday in the 6500 block of South Maryland Avenue. Watkins was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Johnylah was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital.

"The city of Chicago should be outraged that a 6-month-old baby could be shot and killed in our city," Brooks said. "It's horrific."

Brooks said the baby's mother is distraught and in a lot of pain. "We're going to find who did this and make sure they are brought to justice," he said. "We're not going to be afraid. We're going to take back our neighborhood."

Police were still looking for the shooter, who ran up from behind Watkins, fired, and then took off to a nearby blue conversion van, said department spokesman John Mirabelli. Bullets struck Jonathan Watkins in the buttocks and on the right side of his face. His young daughter was hit five times: in the thigh, shoulder, lung, liver and bowels, the family later said.

Witnesses reported hearing at least 10 gunshots.

"I just heard like a lot of shots and skid marks, so that's when I ran to the corner," said Patricia McGowan, who lives near the scene but was at a salon at the time gunfire rang out. "There is always gunshots and crime in the neighborhood, Always drug activity in the neighborhood. ... It's heartbreaking. We're looking for a place to move out immediately because that could have easily been me coming from the bus."

Police said Watkins has known gang affiliations.

Mary Young said her daughter, Judy Young, and Watkins were just recently married. Judy was grazed by a bullet in the knee about seven months ago, she said, while Johnylah was still in the womb.

Pastor Brooks late in the day offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the little girl's shooter. Brooks gained notoriety last year for camping out on the roof of a south side motel in an effort to raise money for a community center.

Earlier in the day, Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy touted progress in his department's efforts against crime. As of Monday, shooting incidents in the city are down 19 percent year-over-year, he said.

This is the baby's second brush with gun violence. Johnylah's family says her mother was shot in the leg when she was eight months pregnant.




Lots of Rain for Today


Grab the umbrella before you leave the house this morning.

The day will bring periods of rain, which will be heavy at times and a flood watch is already in effect for portions of northwestern Connecticut.

The wet weather will continue through the day, and into the overnight and the high temperature on this mild and breezy day will be 50 to 55, with winds between 10 and 22 miles per hour.

Check the interactive radar here.

Check the forecast to see what the weather looks like for the rest of the week.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Man Tried to Lure Boy in Bristol: Cops


Bristol police are looking for the man who they said tried to pick a 9-year-old boy just before 7:30 p.m. on Monday at Beech and North Pond streets.

Police said the 9-year-old was walking home when a van, described as grayish/green with no back windows, parked across the street and the driver got out of the van, approached the boy and yelled, ”Get in the van!,” police said.

The 9-year old ran away and went home.

Police searched for the man in the van, but could not locate him. They said he has a beard, possible a goatee, and is approximately 5-feet-7.

He was wearing a dark winter coat and a baseball-style cap during the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Bristol Police at 860-584-3011.

Malloy Expected to Sign Bill to Help Sandy Hook Responders

Gov. Dannel Malloy is expected to sign a bill into law today that will help the first responders, teachers and others who have suffered the effects of post-traumatic stress after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.
A bipartisan group of state lawmakers formed The Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Fund, which  will be administered by the state, but funded through private donations.
Current workers compensation laws don't allow first responders and others to take time off for post-traumatic stress disorder and this legislation would give people directly affected by the tragedy the financial safety net to take the time off- to cope.
The fund is expected to help between 150 and 200 people.
Most officers with the Newtown Police Department continue to cope with the horror they experienced on Dec. 14 and the days and weeks that followed.
Most have returned to work, but many continue to have challenges.
"Some of us come back too early and realize we should have stayed home and rested a little longer," Det. Jason Frank, a 17-year veteran of the Newtown Police Department, said.
AT&T, Dominion Resources, Covidien, WWE, CT Trial Lawyers, Northeast Utilities, CT Bar Association as well as The New England Cable Television Association are contributing to the fund.
Companies have already pledged several hundred thousand dollars.
"I cannot imagine the horror and tragedy that these first responders, teachers, I can't imagine what they saw and went through," Stephanie McMahon, of Stamford-based WWE, said. "It is incredibly important to unite together to support this community."
WWE pledged $10,000 and McMahon said she will personally match that amount.
The United Way will also take donations from the public.
Both the House and Senate easily passed the bill and Malloy expressed full support for the fund and said he will sign it into law.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Students Rally Against Proposed Tuition Hike


Dozens of students rallied on the campus of Central Connecticut State University on Monday to speak out against proposed increases to their tuition and fees.

"Today we're asking the state to invest in us," Eric Bergenn, the student government president at C.C.S.U., said.

Some students held signs in protest. Others marched and chanted, voicing concerns about being unable to afford the proposed 5 percent increase.

They said they fear it would add to their student loan debt after graduation.

"I don't have 800 more dollars. That's how much the tuition's going to go up. It's going to be very difficult for me to pay that," Chris Menapace, a junior at C.C.S.U., said.

The proposed increase the the Board of Regents is considering for the state university system would raise tuition and fees for in-state students living on campus by $778 a year, in-state students living off campus would pay $434 more and out-of-state students would pay an extra $1,251, according to figures the Board of Regents released.

"That could be the difference for some students in going to college next year," said Bergenn.

Also, students voiced concerns about their representation on the Board of Regents.

Currently, there are two student members -- one for the state universities and one for the community colleges.

"The way the current system is set up, when the governor comes out with a budget, the Board of Regents isn't going to go to the State Legislature and ask for more money," Bergenn said.

"The regents are mindful that any increase in tuition and fees -- regardless of the amount -- is difficult for our students to absorb in these tough financial times," Colleen Flanagan Johnson, the spokesperson for the Regents, said in a statement. "We respect the right of students to voice their opinions about this proposal and their concerns about their representation on the Board, as it underscores the importance of a healthy, robust dialogue on higher education campuses across our state."

Students also plan to board buses and rally outside to the Board of Regents meeting later this month in Hartford when the final vote is expected. Students from all of the state universities are expected to attend.

"We have to make college affordable for people, especially if we want to advance the economy," said Melissa Soto, a graduate student at C.C.S.U.

Malloy Approval Rating Hits New High” Q Poll


As the gun-control debate heats up at the state Capitol, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s job approval rating is at 48 percent to 39 percent, his highest ever, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Tuesday morning.

"Connecticut voters say Gov. Dannel Malloy is a good man to have in a crisis and give him very high grades for his response to recent crises in the state," Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said. "On the day-to-day issues of governing, such as budget, taxes and the economy, he gets failing grades."

During a survey Quinnipiac University conducted on March 6, his approval rating was split: 43 percent to 43 percent.

State lawmakers are debating on the state’s gun policy after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and Quinnipiac University asked voters about that issue.

Most, 48 percent, approve of the governor's handling of gun policy, while 39 percent did not.

By a margin of 66 percent to 29 percent, voters support stricter gun-control laws in Connecticut, with 70 percent to 27 percent support for a statewide ban on ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds and 71 percent 26 percent support for expanding the statewide ban on the sale of assault weapons.

However, 53 percent of voters said Republicans and Democrats in the State Legislature will not be able to work together to reduce gun violence in the state.

By a 49 percent to 27 percent margin, voters trust Democrats more than Republicans on gun policy, but they still are divided 48 percent to 47 percent on whether the governor and the State Legislature will be able to get something done to reduce gun violence this year.

"Connecticut voters by wide margins want action on gun-control, but they have less confidence that the State Legislature will deliver on this issue," Schwartz said. "Voters trust Democrats more than Republicans on gun-control and overall they dislike Democrats less than they dislike Republicans."

Voters approve, 76 to 17 percent. of Malloy's response to the Newtown shootings and 80 to 14 percent approve of his response to the February blizzard, up from 78 to 16 percent approval for his response to Hurricane Sandy.

Sixty-seven percent of voters said Malloy is a strong leader in a crisis, opposed to 27 percent.

Voter approval on his handling of other issues is mixed:

  • 57 - 33 percent disapprove of his handling of the state budget;
  • 45 - 39 percent approve of his handling of education;
  • 61 - 29 percent disapprove of his handling of taxes;
  • 56 - 35 percent disapprove of his handling of the economy.
  • Only 42 percent of Connecticut voters said Malloy deserves to be reelected, while 45 percent said he does not deserve four more years.

In the latest poll, the Democratic governor’s approval rating was 72 percent to 15 percent among Democrats, while his disapproval is 69 percent to 21 percent among Republicans and 45 percent to 41 percent among independent voters.

Women approve of Malloy, 51 percent to 33 percent, while men are divided 45 percent to 46 percent.

Democrats in the State Legislature get mixed grades, with 44 percent of voters approving and 46 percent disapproving. Republicans get a negative 32 - 55 percent grade from voters.

You can read the rest of the poll on the Quinnipiac University Web site.


WATCH: Hooters Ball Girl Mistakenly Fields Fair Ball


Spring training is a time during pre-season where players get to practice, play and make mistakes. This year, even the ball girls are getting in on the blunders.

The Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays were in the top of the sixth inning this weekend when Rays' hitter Shelly Duncan hit a ground ball that bounced into left field foul territory.

The ball was ruled fair, but a Hooters ball girl picked it up with her glove and handed it to a fan in the stands.

The embarassing move wasn't a total loss.

"She has no idea that she has interfered with the play," the announcer said. "But she's making a young fan very happy with that ball."

Once she realized her mistake, the woman covered her face with the same glove and sat down. Her name hasn't been released.

This is the second time this week a Hooters girl made this mistake on Bright House Field, where the Phillies play their spring games. On Wednesday, a another ball girl took a fair ball for a foul one in a  game against the Washington Nationals.

1 Hurt in Andover Fire


One person was taken to the hospital after a structure fire at 62 School Road in Andover on Monday morning.

Someone who was passing by the house saw smoke coming from second floor and called 911 at 10:15 a.m. 

Departments from Columbia, Hebron and Willimantic also responded.

The fire was under control at 10:36 a.m.


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Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Debra Bogstie

L.A. Schools Settles Some Elementary School Sex Abuse Claims


The Los Angeles school district has settled dozens of claims in the scandal concerning an elementary school teacher accused of lewd acts involving dozens of students.

Several groups of parents and about half of the students who filed claims against former Miramonte Elementary School teacher and accused molestor Mark Berndt have agreed to a multi-million-dollar settlement with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Miramonte Abuse Scandal: Timeline of Events

All told, nearly 200 claims were filed, close to two-thirds by students. Of those, 119 participated in mediation, and 58 students are covered in the settlement, according to David Holmquist, general counsel with the LAUSD.

The monetary value of the individual settlements is close to half a million dollars per plaintiff, with the total sum equaling an estimated $30 million according to an attorney for the victims. It could take several months for the judge to approve the settlement, Holmquist said.

The story broke on NBCLosAngeles.com Tuesday morning. The agreement was confirmed to NBC 4 Los Angeles by three attorneys representing more than two dozen of the plaintiffs. Holmquist confirmed the settlement at school district headquarters Tuesday afternoon.

The claims were filed with the district after the arrest of Berndt and another Miramonte teacher, Martin Springer, one year ago. 

Those suing the district agreed to postpone pursuing lawsuits in court to make time for mediation.  That process resulted in the settlement agreement.

However, some two-thirds of the plaintiffs have not yet settled with the district. Those not accepting the terms include families represented by Luis Carrillo, John Manly and Martha Escutia.

"They tried to shove it down our throats," Manly said, criticizing the amount of the settlement offer as "small" for this type of case. "After attorneys' fees, there's not enough for counseling for most of our families."

Manly said he and his plaintiffs also feel it is unwise to settle until the legal discovery process has provided more information regarding the district's culpability. No documents have been provided, nor have there been any depositions, according to Manly, who represents 30 plaintifffs. 

If unable to reach more favorable terms, Carrillo's group of plaintiffs "will go forward" with litigation, he said.

The civil settlement agreement does not affect the criminal cases against the former third-grade teachers. Berndt is accused of blindfolding students and feeding them his bodily fluid, sometimes taking photographs. The initial investigation was prompted by a South Bay film lab contacting law enforcement about photos of children brought in to be developed. 

Springer is accused of improperly touching a child in his classroom. Springer's case has already been through preliminary hearing and is headed to trial. Berndt awaits his preliminary hearing.

FDA Issues Heart Warning About Popular Z-Pak


Check your medicine cabinet. You might have a common drug which a new FDA warning says may carry serious or even fatal heart risks.

The warning comes 10 months after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a small increase in cardiovascular deaths among people being treated with azithromycin, usually called Z-Pak capsules.

The capsules are a good, broad spectrum antibiotic taken over five days to fight respiratory infections.

But now the FDA says people with certain heart problems are at a higher risk of having serious side-effects from azithromycin, which the FDA warning says "can cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart that may lead to a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm."

Doctors and pharmacists are taking note.

"The warning is meant for prescribers just to alert them that there is this incidence of increased risk of cardiac death for people that took Z-Pak that already had this heart defect," said Andy Komuves with Dougherty’s pharmacy in Dallas.

"The warning specifically deals with the patient group of people that have heart defects that cause arrhythmia, people who have something called prolonged QT interval, which is a type of arrhythmia and people who have slow heart rate or people who are potassium or magnesium deficient," said Komuves. "If you're not one of those patients, you don't have to worry about the Z-Pak."

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The FDA says patients should not stop taking the Z-Pak without first talking to your health care professional, and seek immediate care if you experience an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting while taking it.

But if you do have a heart defect, Komuves recommends that you talk to your doctor before taking another dose.

More: FDA Azithromycin Warning

Photo Credit: NBC 5

Willimantic Police Shoot, Kill Suspect


State Police are investigating after Willimantic police officers shot and killed a man who was wielding a hatchet.

Police responded to an apartment building at Main and Clark streets just before 8 p.m. when someone reported that a man was acting in a threatening manner outside the building, according to state police.

There was some sort of confrontation between the officers and the man, according to state police.  Police told the man to put down the hatchet, but he did not.

One Willimantic officer used a stun gun and the other shot his service weapon, according to state police.

Emergency crews brought the man to Windham Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Major Crimes Squad was been called in and an investigation will be conducted to determine whether the shooting was justified.

The two officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative duty.

The name of the person who was shot has not been released.

Naked Man Captured After Taking Baby: Police


Bridgeport police have arrested a man they said was high on PCP as he ran naked through the streets of the city, carrying a baby, and crossed Interstate 95.

Surveillance cameras showed the man, who police identified as Santos Rodriguez, walking around naked around 4 a.m. on Saturday as he carried his girlfriend’s son. 

He stopped on Burr Road, near his apartment, took off the baby’s diaper, then tossed it in the middle of the street, according to police.

Seconds later, Rodriguez ran through the BP gas station on Fairfield Avenue, then onto Interstate 95 with the baby boy and streaked through both lanes of traffic. Police finally caught him on an exit ramp after receiving frantic calls from drivers.

“It was crazy,” Rodriguez’ neighbor said. “I never saw him do anything crazy like that. … A first time for me.”

Police said problems started when Rodriguez showed up at his apartment after a night of partying.  
They said he got into a fight with his girlfriend, snatched her baby out of his playpen and took off with him.

“I think he's gotten progressively worse, then just slipped off the deep end,” Sal Zucaro, a relative of Rodriguez’ landlord, said.

Police said the baby was checked out at the hospital and was not injured. He is back with his mother.
Rodriguez was in prison on Tuesday night, charged with first-degree kidnapping, risk of injury to a minor, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.

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