<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:13:53 -0400 Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:13:53 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[1 Marine Killed, 11 Hurt in Helicopter Hard Landing]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 11:56:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/060511+Military+helicopter+generic.jpg

One Marine has been killed and 11 others were hurt when a helicopter made a hard landing at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, the U.S. Marine Corps said, NBC News reported. 

The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter came down hard during a training exercise around 9 p.m. Wednesday, officials said in a statement.

The name of the dead Marine would not be released for 24 hours.

Of the 11 hurt, nine were released from the hospital and two are in stable condition. The landing remains under investigation, Capt. Kendra Motz told NBC News.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Toddler Found Drowned on Turkey Beach Identified]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 09:52:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_905349993017.jpg

Images embedded in this article are graphic. 

The toddler whose lifeless body on a beach in Turkey sent shock waves around the world has a name: Aylan Kurdi, NBC News reported. 

Images were published Wednesday of a boy found face-down on the beach in the Turkish resort of Bodrum. The pictures were splashed on international front pages on Thursday and shared on social media — drawing more attention to the desperate and deadly refugee struggle to reach Europe. 

Turkish media and Canada's National Post identified the victim as 3-year-old Aylan — a Syrian. He died along with his 5-year-old brother Ghalib and mother Rehan while their father survived, according to the Post. The newspaper spoke to the boy's aunt — Teema Kurdi, a Vancouver hairdresser — who confirmed the tragedy.

Canadian lawmaker Fin Donnelly had been working with the dead boys' aunt to appeal to the country's immigration minister to help the family gain entry, according to the Post. 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[U.S. Catholics Accept Non-Traditional Families: Survey]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 10:31:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/112861802.jpg

American Catholics are markedly tolerant of non-traditional families, with large majorities open to divorced, single, unmarried and gay parents, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday in advance of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States for a meeting on families.

Although nine in 10 U.S. Catholics say a family headed by a married mother and father is ideal, most say other types of families are acceptable. Eighty-seven percent are okay with single parents, 83 percent with divorced parents, 84 percent with unmarried parents and 66 percent with gay parents.

The findings, many out of step with church teachings, come as Francis tries to change the tone of the 1.2 billion-member church that he leads. He has refused to judge gay priests, called for a larger role for women, and though not approving of contraception has said that being a good Catholic does not mean “you have to be like rabbits.” He has criticized what he called an obsession with abortion, gay marriage and contraception and wants the Catholic church to be a home for all.

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In the latest break with tradition, the Vatican announced on Tuesday that Francis would allow all priests to forgive women who have had an abortion during the church’s upcoming Holy Year of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8. A woman who has had an abortion is usually excommunicated unless she confesses and receives absolution, typically from a bishop.

Six in 10 Catholics say abortion is a sin, according to the report.

The survey examined topics that could be discussed at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia later this month and at the October Synod of Bishops in Rome, among them family life and sexuality. It also looked at Americans' connection to the Catholic church, whether as their religion, culture or ancestry. Most of the question in the survey are new, said Jessica Hamar Martinez, a senior researcher in Religion & Public Life for the Pew Research Center.

Forty-five percent of Americans are Catholic or are in some way connected to Catholicism. One fifth say it is their religion now, while one tenth say they were raised as Catholics but have fallen away from the church, according to the survey. A similar share say they still have a cultural connection to Catholicism. Of those cultural Catholics who were raised in the church, four in 10 say they could imagine returning one day.

But many views expressed by Catholics are not in accordance with the church’s beliefs.

Fewer than half say homosexual behavior, remarriage without annulment, living with a romantic partner and contraception are sins, the report found. Seven in 10 Catholics support married couples who choose not to have children.

Many Catholics say they would like their church to be more flexible toward those who are divorced, who are living with a partner without marriage or who are in same-sex relationships. Six in 10 think Catholics living together or divorced and remarried without an annulment should be allowed to receive Communion. Nearly half, 46 percent, say the church should recognize same-sex marriages.

On many of the questions, Catholics resemble the general public in their views. But there were significant differences in the responses to some questions, Martinez noted. For example Catholics are about as likely as Protestants to say that having an abortion is a sin, 57 percent of Catholics to 60 percent of Protestants, but less likely than Protestants to say engaging in homosexual behavior is sinful, 44 percent of Catholics to 62 percent of Protestants. And Catholics are more likely to say it is acceptable for a man and woman to live together without being married, 55 percent, than white evangelical Protestants, 27 percent, or black Protestants, 42 percent, but less likely than those who are religiously unaffiliated, 81 percent.

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The report notes that Catholics’ own experiences may be influencing their attitudes toward families and sexuality. One in four Catholics has divorced, and one in 10 has also remarried. One in 10 is living with a partner and more than four in 10 have done so at some time.

As with other views on families, Catholics who say they attend Mass regularly, about four in 10, were more in agreement with church teachings than others. Many Catholics remain dedicated to their church and seven in 10 say they cannot imagine ever leaving it.

As for some of the beliefs Francis has focused on, six in 10 say working with the poor is essential to their Catholic identity. But only half as many say the same about working to address climate change, the report noted. Hispanic Catholics are more likely to be concerned about the morality of excessive consumption, the report found.

Among ex-Catholics, more than half have a positive view of Francis. And among all Catholics nine out of 10 view him positively, according to a Pew poll in February.

A different poll, done by Gallup in July, found that Francis' popularity in the United States had dropped dramatically, especially among Conservatives. Fifty-nine percent had a favorable view of the pope, down from 76 percent a year ago.

The 2015 Survey of U.S. Catholics and Family Life was conducted among 5,122 adults, among them 1,016 self-identified Catholics, from May 5 to June 7. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for Catholics and 1.6 percentage points for the full sample.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Ky. Clerk Blocking Gay Marriages to Appear Before Judge]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 07:10:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_220157184201.jpg

The Kentucky clerk who has defied the U.S. Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling by refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples will appear Thursday morning before a federal judge to explain why she should not be held in contempt of court, NBC News reported. 

The judge ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and all of her deputies to appear before him at 11 a.m. Lawyers for four couples who sought marriage licenses from her but were turned down urged the judge "to impose financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous to compel Davis' immediate compliance without further delay."

Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses a few hours after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in June, saying she's following "God's word" and that granting licenses to gay couples would violate her religious convictions.

A question for the judge will be whether she is unable to comply or, instead, unwilling.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Labor Day Travel Is on the Rise]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:54:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/travel+generic+photo.JPG

More Americans will take to the streets and skies this Labor Day weekend than last year, in a continuation of recent travel trends.

According to the AAA Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast, 35.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Labor Day weekend, a 1 percent increase from 2014 and the fourth consecutive year of growth in Labor Day travel.

The report cites the current labor market as a factor in the increased number of travelers this year. Its strength "has helped increase personal income, which, combined with flat prices, has resulted in a boost to disposable income, which is expected to increase 3.5 percent compared to last year."

Drivers can also expect to pay less at the pump this holiday weekend than they have in more than a decade. The average gas price earlier this week was $2.47 nationally, the lowest since 2004. Approximately 30.4 million Americans, or 85.8 percent of all travelers, are expected to jump behind the wheel this weekend. An additional 2.64 million people will travel by air, and 2.4 million will travel by train, bus, watercraft or another mode of transportation.

Americans are expected to pour $13.5 billion into the economy this weekend, up 2 percent over 2014, according to a survey by TNS for U.S. Travel.

The travel industry group also made the case, however, that failing surface and air travel infrastructure will keep 4.1 million potential travelers at home, costing the economy $1.4 billion in spending. U.S. Travel's analysis concluded that the inability of Congress to pass long-term bills on the nation's highways and air travel system will contribute to and worsen Americans' travel woes.

Though consumers appear to be willing to shell out some extra travel money this year, the slight increase in travel is likely because cautious consumers are foregoing travel in order to save or pay off debt, according to AAA. 

—Damian Geminder contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/The Washington Post]]>
<![CDATA[Air Force Vet to Reunite With Girl He Rescued in Katrina]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:02:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Maroney_Katrina.jpg

It has been 10 years since former Air Force pararescuer Mike Maroney rescued a then three-year-old girl from the despair of Hurricane Katrina. A military photographer captured the little girl in a pink shirt smiling and hugging Maroney in a widely shared 2005 image.

Her hug "recharged me and gave me a little bit of a silver lining and some hope…that kept me going through rough times," Maroney told People magazine of the moment. But after the rescue, the two never saw each other. 

Now a reservist, Maroney will be reunited with LeShay Brown later this month, according to People. An effort to bring them together again began with a #FindKatrinaKid campaign on Instagram. 

Photo Credit: A1C Veronica Pierce / U.S. Air Force
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<![CDATA[Lost Sheep Yields 30 Sweaters Worth of Fleece]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 12:05:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/overgrown+sheep.JPG

A lost, overgrown sheep found in Australian scrubland was shorn for perhaps the first time on Thursday, yielding 40 kilograms (89 pounds) of wool — the equivalent of 30 sweaters — and shedding almost half his body weight.

Tammy Ven Dange, chief executive of the Canberra RSPCA, which rescued the merino ram dubbed Chris, said she hoped to register the 40.45 kilogram (89 pound, 3 ounce) fleece with the Guinness World Records. An official of the London-based organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The most wool sheared from a sheep in a single shearing is 28.9 kilograms (63 pounds, 11 ounces) taken from a wild New Zealand merino dubbed Big Ben in January last year, the Guinness World Records website said.

"He's looking really good, he looks like a new man," Ven Dange said, as the now 44-kilogram (97-pound) sheep recovered at the Canberra animal refuge. "For one thing, he's only half the weight he used to be."

Champion shearer Ian Elkins said the sheep appeared to be in good condition after being separated from his huge fleece under anesthetic.

"I don't reckon he's been shorn before and I reckon he'd be 5 or 6 years old," Elkins said.

Chris was found near Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary outside Canberra by bushwalkers who feared he would not survive the approaching southern summer. He was found several kilometers (miles) from the nearest sheep farm. A bushwalker named him Chris after the sheep in the "Father Ted" television comedy series.

Chris was rescued by the RSPCA on Wednesday and taken to Canberra, where he was shorn under anesthetic because he was stressed by human company and because of the potential pain from the heavy fleece tearing skin as it fell away.

Ven Dange said he had suffered skin burns from urine trapped in his fleece and could have died within weeks if left in the wild.

"When we first brought him in yesterday, he was really shy, he was shaking, he would move his head away from people and he could barely get up and walk," she said.

"The drugs might be wearing off right now, but he's actually coming to you and actually wants a pat. He's certainly moving a heck of a lot better," she added.

She said Chris would be found a new home after vets gave him the all-clear.

Elkins said the fleece was too long to be sold commercially. He hoped it would end up in a museum.

"I wouldn't say it's high quality, but you wouldn't expect it to be running around in the bush that long unshorn," he said.

Australian merinos are bred for wool and are shorn annually, with fleeces averaging about 5 kilograms (11 pounds).

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Defendant in Kidnapping Case 1st Dismissed as Hoax Says Vaccines to Blame]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 11:37:33 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/muller-mug.jpg

The man charged in a California kidnapping that police initially dismissed as a hoax said he acted alone, and that mental illness and a side effect from a vaccine contributed to his behavior, the FBI said in a court filing.

Matthew Muller made the comments to a television news reporter during a jailhouse interview in July, FBI Special Agent Wesley Drone said in an affidavit in support of a search warrant. The reporter was not allowed to record the interview and had been asked by Muller not to reveal his comments about acting alone and the vaccine. She did report that Muller said he felt bad for the kidnapping victim and thought the victim deserved an apology.

But the jail, which warns people that it records conversations with inmates, recorded the interview, including the portions that were off the record, Drone said. When discussing the kidnapping, Muller said there was no gang, and it was just him, according to the FBI affidavit.

The affidavit was in support of an application filed last month to search laptops, cellphones and other devices found at the South Lake Tahoe home where Muller was arrested and inside a Ford Mustang that has been linked to him.

Federal prosecutors charged Muller — a disbarred Harvard University-trained attorney — with the March kidnapping of Denise Huskins from her Vallejo, California, home after he was arrested in connection with an attempted robbery in Dublin, California, in June.

Muller's attorney, Thomas Johnson, said he had no comment on what his client allegedly told the reporter. Johnson is asking a judge to throw out much of the evidence in the case, saying it was obtained through the illegal search of a cellphone. Authorities have said they found the cellphone at the scene of the attempted robbery in Dublin.

Johnson has previously said his client will plead not guilty to the kidnapping charge and has pleaded not guilty to the home-invasion robbery in Dublin.

Huskins' boyfried, Aaron Quinn, reported that kidnappers broke into the couple's home on March 23, abducted Huskins and demanded money. His lawyers have said he awoke to a bright light in his face, and that two kidnappers bound and drugged him.

Huskins, 29, turned up safe two days later in her hometown of Huntington Beach, where she says she was dropped off. She showed up hours before the ransom was due.

After Huskins reappeared, Vallejo police said at a news conference the kidnapping was a hoax.

Palo Alto police have said Muller was also a suspect in a 2009 home invasion in that city, but they did not have enough evidence to recommend charges.

According to the FBI search warrant affidavit, Muller's wife reported him missing later in 2009. Muller said he was going off the grid, had problems beyond his mental health and was living in terror, the affidavit said.

He later called his wife from Utah, and she picked him up, according to the affidavit.

Photo Credit: Alameda County Sheriff]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Hillary Clinton Staffer to Invoke the Fifth]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 06:35:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_32190678465.jpg

A former Hillary Clinton staffer who helped set up the former secretary of state's private email server has vowed to invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions after a congressional committee subpoenaed him, MSNBC confirmed late Wednesday.

Bryan Pagliano, who worked for Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign and at the State Department, has been identified in digital records as the person who set up her email server in 2009.

The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is investigating Clinton's emails, subpoenaed Pagliano last month to testify. But his lawyer said Monday that the IT specialist would refuse to answer questions, asserting his constitutional right against self-incrimination, The Washington Post first reported Wednesday.

A Clinton campaign aide said in a statement to NBC News Wednesday the candidate has encouraged aides to answer any questions.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bizarro Bust: D.C. Police Intercept 19K Packets of Synthetic Marijuana in 'Unprecedented' Seizure]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:36:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bizarro+Seizure+090215.JPG

D.C. police seized more than 250 pounds of a berry-flavored synthetic marijuana marketed as Bizarro from a storage space in northwest Washington this week in the largest-ever bust for the drug.

Siraj Issa, 33, and Yenework Tefera Abera, 41, are charged with possession with intent to distribute synthetic cannabinoids worth an estimated $2.3 million.

Maryland State Police and the Metropolitan Area Drug Task Force intercepted a large shipment of synthetic drugs from the West Coast at a shipping company in Howard County, Maryland last Thursday when a police dog detected the drugs. Their final destination was northwest D.C., according to charging documents.

The shipment contained more than 19,247 packets of Bizarro, which contained the Schedule I controlled substance known as XLR-11, according to charging documents. The packets were in sizes of 3.5 and 10 grams, police said.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said at a community meeting Wednesday night that detectives raced to keep the berry-flavored drugs off the street. 

"I guarantee you that that shipment that we got today, that was destined for the gas stations and the little variety stores all through this community and all across the city," she said. 

"This is a massive and unprecedented seizure," Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham said. "This operation is symbolic of the success law enforcement can have when we work collaboratively with our federal and regional partners and focus our efforts on the sources of these types of drugs, which are wreaking havoc in our city."

Police made a controlled delivery of the shipment of more than 250 pounds to a storage facility in northwest D.C. Tuesday. Issa signed the delivery receipt, and he and Abera loaded the shipment's 14 boxes on to handcarts and place them in a storage unit, according to charging documents.

Abera told police he went to the storage facility several times in recent months to get black trash bags from Issa to distribute at various street corners in the city, according to charging documents. He received up to $200 for a single delivery, he said. He told police he thought the bags carried hair products or other dollar-store items.

Previously, D.C.'s largest seizure of synthetic drugs was about 2,000 packets in 2014.

D.C. has seen a sharp increase in use of synthetic drugs in recent months. That spike is partially responsible for violence in the city this summer, officials have said. 

"The synthetic drug problem we have in the District, which seems to be increasing significantly, is contributing to that violence," Newsham said.

The Metropolitan Police Department will continue to pursue sellers of synthetic drugs, Lanier said. 

"We are committed to going after these synthetics, where ever they're coming from, and getting at that source," she said. "Today's bust sends a tremendous message that we are not going to give up."

Issa, of northwest D.C., and Abera, of Alexandria, Virginia, face a maximum 20 years in prison and fines.

<![CDATA[Migrants Storm Train at Budapest Station]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 07:12:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/191*120/hungary+migrants.jpg

Hundreds of migrants stormed a train in Budapest’s main railway station on Thursday hoping to travel to Austria and Germany after Hungarian police withdrew following a two-day standoff.

Over 2,000 migrants, many of them refugees from the Middle East and Africa, had been camped in front of the Keleti Railway Terminus, closed to them by authorities saying European Union rules bar travel by those without valid documents.

The standoff has become the latest symbol of Europe's migration crisis, the continent's worst since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Loose Chicken, Goose Slow San Francisco Bay Area Commute]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 21:50:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/240*120/chickenmainpic.PNG

First there were reports of chickens on the Bay Bridge near the toll plaza Wednesday morning just as the early morning commute kicked off.

Then, about 7:30 a.m., a goose was seen meandering on U.S. Highway 101 at Alum Rock Avenue in San Jose. Cars slowed and swerved to avoid hitting the fowl on the freeway.

A California Highway Patrol officer on a motorcycle rode behind the goose, urging the bird to waddle back to the side of the road and into some bushes.

Initial reports surfaced that the goose was a duck, but Twitter users were quick to correct that misidentification.

The goose complied and no injuries were reported as the bird flew off to safety.

As for the chicken, or chickens, at least one appeared to have finally crossed the road to get to the other side, but it did delay commuter Jeff Chu, who snapped a photo of one bird while sitting in nightmarish traffic. CHP Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said there were reports of possibly four chickens near the toll plaza, but only one was captured by two officers about 10 a.m.

The chickens prompted the CHP to issue this warning: "Please DO NOT try and grab on the freeway. Let #CHP find out why the chickens crossed the road, it's not worth getting hit."

They also prompted this Twitter account: @BridgeChicken. Its first tweet: a rooster emoji.

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<![CDATA[Chair Built for Pope Francis' Mass in NYC Unveiled]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 21:01:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/pope+chair.jpg

A wooden chair that will be used by Pope Francis when he celebrates Mass at Madison Square Garden was unveiled Wednesday, with church officials saying its simple design reflects the pontiff's wishes. 

The chair has a light brown finish with a darker mahogany trim and a white cushioned seat, back and arms.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said the symbolism of a chair was "very important in Catholic imagination."

"A chair represents unity and a chair represents teaching authority," Dolan said, adding that the pope wanted something simple and wooden without any designs.

The chair was constructed by a group of immigrant day laborers in a garage in Port Chester. The Archdiocese of New York said immigrants were specifically chosen because of Francis' concern over those who are marginalized and for his desire for justice in the world.

Inmates at a Philadelphia prison are also constructing a chair for the pope's visit there.

In New York City, Francis will wear green vestments for the Sept. 25 Mass that 20,000 people are expected to attend. About 200 deacons and 150 volunteers will assist him in giving out communion. The readings will be said in English and Spanish, and other prayers will be in Gaelic, Polish, German and other languages.

"It's going to a joyful occasion. It's going to be filled with enthusiasm and exuberance, but it's also going to be a very prayerful, reverential occasion," Dolan said.

Before Mass begins, Francis will circle the crowd inside the Garden while standing in a vehicle that resembles a golf cart.

"He wants to do that so he can see the people," Dolan said.

Francis added a trip through parts of Central Park to his schedule as another opportunity for people to see him, and Dolan said there could be even more additions to his itinerary.

"Surprises are kept to a minimum because this has to be carefully choreographed and we have to pay special attention to the legitimate requests of the pros at security, but balance that out with the fact that we have a pope of surprises," he said. "So stay tuned because I think we will probably see some."

During his visit to the United States, Francis will also travel to Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Beluga Steals the Spotlight During Governor's Press Conference]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:46:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/juno+gov+malloy+mystic+whale.jpg

Juno the beluga stole the show Wednesday at a press event with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.

The governor visited Mystic Aquarium to discuss travel in Connecticut ahead of Labor Day Weekend, touring the facility's Animal Rescue Clinic, Arctic Coast and Pacific Northwest exhibits before addressing the crowd in front of Juno's tank.

As the governor speaks, Juno appears behind him, swimming up to the governor and hovering over his shoulder. At one point, the beloved beluga presses his forehead to the glass, seeming to know he has an audience.

It's not the first time Juno has been playful with visitors or the camera.  He interacted with a mariachi band in 2011 and checked out the work of a sketch artist in 2012.

Watch Juno ham it up for the camera in the video above.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Slain Officer Manhunt: Woman Accused of Making Up Sighting of Suspicious Men]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 11:00:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Volo1.png

A suburban Chicago woman allegedly lied to police when she reported seeing two suspicious men in a far northern suburb, prompting a massive police response as authorities continue their search for three suspects in the fatal shooting of a Fox Lake police officer.

In a court appearance Thursday, prosecutors allege Kristin B. Kiefer called Fox Lake police saying she had a lead in the search for three armed suspects who fatally shot a veteran officer. 

Around 9:20 p.m., Kiefer allegedly told police she was traveling northbound on Route 12 south of Route 120 in Volo, Illinois, about 5 miles north of Fox Lake,  when she pulled to the side of the roadway because of car trouble. 

After pulling over, Kiefer said two men, one white and one black, came out of a cornfield near the road and asked her for a ride to Wisconsin but she refused, prosecutors said. Kiefer then said one of the men grabbed her door and tried to get in but the pair fled into the cornfield when she grabbed her phone.

Dozens of armed officers, canine units and air support descended on the fielded area in Volo following Kiefer's report.

Lake County Sheriff's Deputies and about 85 federal, state and local law enforcement officers responded to the scene. 

Officials searched for about five hours before investigators determined Kiefer "lied about the entire account of her events."

Prosecutors said when police swabbed Kiefer's car she changed her story and said the man never grabbed her door, and after further questioning she admitted the story was a lie.

"She fabricated this story because she was looking for attention from a family that she nannies for," Detective Christopher Covelli with the Lake County Sheriff's office said. 

Police also alleged Kiefer told them she chose that location because "she was aware of the death of a police officer in the area."

"It’s very disappointing that our resources could have been used somewhere else this afternoon and this evening and several hours were wasted here today," Covelli said.

Kiefer has no prior criminal history but was accused in 2014 of falsely reporting information on a missing person, prosecutors said. She was never charged in that case, however. 

Residents in the neighborhood where Kiefer lives said she had previously reported suspicious people and activity in the area.

"Now I’m wondering if those reports were true," said resident Paul Shaw, who is on the homeowner's board. "It just brings a lot of questions. How you could justify doing this I don’t understand. How a person, with all of the turmoil that’s going on in Fox Lake, could justify doing this to the police, to everybody."

Kiefer, 30, of the 0-100 block of Tanwood Court in Vernon Hills, was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct — falsifying a police report, a felony and a misdemeanor.

She was being held at the Lake County Jail and ordered held on $100,000 bond Thursday morning. 

<![CDATA['It's All Gone': Couple Hopes to Recover Baby Pictures After Cameras Go Missing at Disneyland]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 08:38:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/andrew+heintz+family+photos+3+web.jpg

 A San Diego couple who lost a camera bag at Disneyland Saturday is hoping the power of social media will compel someone to return five lost memory cards filled with baby photos.

“It’s all gone,” said San Diego resident Andrew Heintz. “There’s not a single video…Everything was on there.”

Heintz and his wife, Victoria, were at Disneyland with their 21-month-old daughter when their large black bag carrying their Canon Rebel EOS T3i SLR camera, Sony Handycam camcorder, USB plug-ins, battery chargers and several SD cards, went missing. Only one of the memory cards was backed up.

The incident happened around noon that day when the couple was getting ready to change the baby. By the time Heintz realized he had put the bag by Disney’s Imagination Room and ran back to get it, it was gone.

“That was unreal,” Heintz said. “We couldn’t even really look at each other.”

Heintz filed a report with the Anaheim Police Department in hopes they would be able to access the security footage in the park to help find the perpetrator. The couple also filed a report with Disneyland Lost and Found.

“The gravity of what we lost started really taking over,” Heintz said. “We couldn’t talk.”

As more time goes by, the more the couple believes someone stole their bag. The couple, who bought the cameras before their baby was born, said they went to a store to find top-of-the-line equipment so they would be able to capture every moment of their baby girl growing up. 

“We really did turn into those parents, maybe a little too much, taping and taking photos of everything,” Heintz said. “Everything on there is baby. There’s not a single photo of me and my wife somewhere. Every single shot is baby, baby, baby, just getting older.”

The couple has taken to social media, hoping the person who took their camera will consider returning the property.

“There’s always success stories,” Heintz said. “We’ve found items there before and turned them in and even found the owner of property there.”

At the very least, Heintz said, he hopes someone will return memory cards.

“It’s a plea,” Heintz said. “It’s a plea to the deepest, deepest piece of soul you have.”

Photo Credit: Andrew Heintz]]>
<![CDATA[Dozens Held Hostage After Suspect Breaks Free]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 09:18:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/James+Richard+McCutchen1.jpg

Dozens of people were held hostage at a jail's visitors' center after a suspect broke free from his handcuffs, commandeered a police car and took an officers' shotgun, officials said.

James Richard McCutchen, 40, allegedly attempted the dramatic escape while being transported to the county jail in Gallatin, Tennessee, on Wednesday on charges of domestic violence, vandalism, and resisting stop, halt, frisk.

Upon his arrival at the Sumner County Jail, McCutchen managed to escape his handcuffs and got into a struggle with his accompanying officer, according to a statement from the Gallatin Police Department.

He got in a police car and then took a police officer's gun at the jail's security gate. McCutchen then ran into the jail's visitors' center, according to police, where he ordered 30 people to get on the ground at gunpoint before being tackled by the civilian and a correctional officer.

Photo Credit: Gallatin Police Dept]]>
<![CDATA[President Obama Takes Selfies on Alaska Trip]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 06:33:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/208*120/obama+alaska+fish.jpg

President Obama visited the remote villages of Dillingham and Kotzebue in Alaska for the first time Wednesday, but also posted an online travelogue of his journey and used a GoPro to shoot it himself, selfie style.

He's also taken over the White House Instagram feed, posting only photos he takes himself, like a selfie with reality TV star Bear Grylls.

It's President Obama unleashed — relishing his final 15 months in office as a chance to tick off items from his policy to do list and bucket list at the same time.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Wanted Man Killed for Giving Grandkids Lice: Cops]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 08:57:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/line111111.jpg

A Florida woman is charged with trying to hire a hitman to kill a homeless man who she said was giving her grandkids lice, according to police and court records.

Pamela King Vanorsdale, 50, of New Smyrna Beach — who's also referred to in Volusia County court records as "Vanarsdale" — is free on $25,000 bond pending her arraignment Sept. 17 on a second-degree charge of solicitation to commit murder. 

According to the charging affidavit, Vanorsdale called her ex-son-in-law to ask him to "pop" the intended victim with a gun and ammo she would provide.

Referring to a 22-year-old homeless man she said was having an affair with one of her married daughters, Vanorsdale asked the would-be gunman, identified as Daniel E. Dionne of Daytona Beach, to "get him out of here" because the man was "messing with" her grandchildren, according to the affidavit.

She specifically complained that the children were "coming home with lice," investigators said.

Photo Credit: New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Police]]>
<![CDATA[Taco Bell is Testing New Taco Shell]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 18:41:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-485939211.jpg

The rumors are true.

Taco Bell is testing crispy chicken taco shells. A spokesperson for Yum Brands, Taco Bell's parent company, confirmed the news Wednesday, adding that the shells were being tested exclusively in Bakersfield, California restaurants.

The test began Aug. 27 and will end Sept. 23. The company will then evaluate whether to go forward with a wider launch based on the response from consumers, according to the spokesperson.

Taco Bell fans seem excited by the new taco shells, as evident from comments on a Reddit thread titled "New Naked Chicken Taco."

In the past, Yum, which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut, has introduced mash-ups such as the Double Down Dog and the "Chizza," a pizza that has a chicken crust.

The new item is called the "Naked Crispy Chicken Taco" and it's filled with lettuce, tomato, cheese and avocado ranch sauce, Foodbeast reports.

Way to think outside the box.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Mom's Message to Bike Thief]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 08:58:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/bike+theft+sign.JPG

A Dallas mom has a strong message for the person who stole her 7-year-old daughter's bicycle.

She has it written on a piece of poster board and secured to the pine tree out front of her Pleasant Grove home.

The sign reads:

"To the person that stole my daughter’s new bike, I hope you are proud of yourself for making a seven year old child cry. Congratulations, you have succeeded in becoming a low life!!! – One pi--ed off Mom"

"She's only had it for a month, so I was really angry," said Tommi Mika, the woman who posted the sign. "It makes me very mad."

Someone stole the Hello Kitty!-themed bicycle belonging to Mika's daughter Lorelai some time after dark Monday night. The girl's bike was taken from the family's front porch on the 8600 block of Woodcastle.

"It makes me sad," the second grader said. "Because that bike, it was mine. It's not theirs. It's mine. If it wasn't theirs they shouldn't have stole it."

"I'm tired of people taking my daughter's stuff, you know?" Tommi Mika told NBCDFW about why she posted the sign. "So I posted that hoping whoever would see it, whoever stole it, would see it and maybe they'd feel bad about it."

"I doubt we're gonna get the bike back, but maybe they'd feel bad and realize that maybe next time they'll think twice before stealing from a child," Tommi Mika added.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Search Underway For Prison Escapee]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 12:08:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/joshua+drinnon.jpg

A prisoner who escaped Wednesday at an I-80 rest stop near Princeton, Illinois, remains at large, state police said Thursday, and multiple police agencies continue to actively search for the man.

Joshua Drinnon, 35, escaped at the westbound Great Sauk Trail rest area (I-80 West at Mile Marker 51), according to police. The Inmate Services Transport Company contacted Illinois State Police about the escape at around 4:45 p.m.

Drinnon, who was imprisoned for aggravated robbery, escaped a transport vehicle and was last seen entering a field north of the rest area, according to state police. The vehicle originally picked up Drinnon in Blountville, Tennessee.

"Residents in the area are encouraged to lock all vehicles, out buildings and residences," police said in a statement. "Please alert authorities to any suspicious activity. If Drinnon is spotted, do not attempt to capture, immediately call the police.

Drinnon is described as a white male, standing about 6-foot-1-inch tall and weighing about 200 pounds. He is bald and has blues eyes. Police say he was last seen wearing a white t-shirt and red wind suit pants.

The state police have sent patrol troopers, air operations, investigators and K9 units to the area as they search for Drinnon.

Sauk Trail rest areas located on I-80 at mile marker 51 in Bureau County will remain closed until further notice.  

Anyone with information should immediately contact authorities.

<![CDATA[Teen Killed by Police on Drugs: ME]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 20:20:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Christian_Taylor_Arlington.jpg

An unarmed teenager was under the influence marijuana and a psychedelic drug when he was shot and killed by an Arlington, Texas, police officer Aug. 7, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office says.

A report released Wednesday by the medical examiner said 19-year-old Christian Taylor was under the influence of hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs when he was shot and killed by 49-year-old rookie police officer Brad Miller during a confrontation at a South Arlington car dealership.

Police officers were responding to a burglary call at Classic Buick GMC when they discovered someone had driven an SUV through the showroom glass.

Surveillance video would later show Taylor outside the dealership before police arrive acting erratically, standing on top of and jumping on cars before driving through a gate and through the showroom glass.

Instead of helping to set up a perimeter around the showroom, Miller confronted a person inside the showroom, later identified as Taylor, and ordered him to get down on the ground, said Arlington Chief of Police Will Johnson last month.

Taylor did not comply and, instead, began "actively advancing toward Officer Miller," Johnson said.

Miller's field training officer, who had followed Miller into the showroom, drew his own Taser. The training officer heard a single pop of what he thought was Miller's Taser, but Miller actually had drawn his service weapon and fired it at Taylor, who is believed to have been 7 to 10 feet away from the officer, Johnson said. After Taylor continued to approach, Miller fired his gun three more times.

The officer's Taser had been deployed, according to the medical examiner, but only one of the prongs entered Taylor's body rendering the device ineffective.

A toxicology report from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office confirms Taylor was shot four times, in his chest, throat, abdomen and forearm, and that the presence of drugs were present in both his blood and urine -- specifically THC, 25h-NBOMe and 25i-NBOMe.

THC is the chemical responsible for most of the psychological effects found in marijuana while 25i-NBOMe and 25h-NBOMe are a psychedelic and hallucinogen, respectively.

Following the shooting Johnson fired Miller, saying he breached protocol and that his actions led to the deadly confrontation. Johnson, who has lobbied the Arlington City Council for funding to outfit his officers with body cameras, reiterated his support for the body camera program following the shooting.

Photo Credit: @_lawjohnson / Twitter, Classic GMC Buick
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<![CDATA[Clerk Blocking Gay Marriages Has Divorced 3 Times]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 06:44:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_1656506643342.jpg

The Kentucky clerk who says she's following "God's word" in her refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples is a longtime civil servant with her own history of marital struggles.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was divorced three times and had children out of wedlock before experiencing a religious awakening that cemented her obedience to Christian scripture — and her defiance of the country's highest court.

Her act of resistance has rocked her small Appalachia community 60 miles east of Lexington and made headlines nationwide, fed by a video of her denying a marriage license to David V. Moore and his partner of 17 years, David Ermold. The Tuesday confrontation sparked a protest inside the Rowan County Courthouse, with supporters of the couple and of Davis shouting over each other. A similar scene unfolded Wednesday, when a second same-sex couple asked for a marriage license. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Fatally Shot by Cops May Have Had Knife: Investigators]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:28:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Gilbert+Flores+Shooting.png

Investigators believe that a Texas man shot to death by deputies with his hands up was holding a knife, the sheriff told reporters on Wednesday.

Footage was posted online of the shooting of 41-year-old Gilbert Flores in San Antonio that appeared to show him raise his hands before being shot. The first piece of footage of the Aug. 28 incident was filmed from a distance. It does not show one of Flores' hands, which was apparently obscured by a utility pole.

A second video that provides more "clarity" of the shooting is being investigated by police, who have not made the video public yet.

"We believe that Mr. Flores had a knife in his hand, and that video will help us have a better idea of exactly what he had in his hand," Sheriff Susan Pamerleau of Bexar County told reporters.

<![CDATA[Taylor Swift Fan Pleads Not Guilty]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 00:02:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Christian+Ewing+09022015.jpg

A Taylor Swift fan is facing multiple charges after he allegedly jumped a fence and rushed on stage during the pop star's San Diego concert. 

“When asked why he went on stage, he said, ‘I love that girl,’ referring to Ms. Swift,” said Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto in court.

Christian Ewing, 26, appeared in a San Diego court Wednesday, pleading not guilty to two felony charges, a misdemeanor and a municipal code violation. Those charges could land him behind bars for almost five years combined if convicted.

The incident occurred Saturday night at Petco Park, where viewer video shows a person running on-stage, just steps away from where the singer was performing her hit, 'Style.' 

Ewing, who appeared in court with a bandage on his head, is accused of hopping a fence at the concert. When a security guard told him he could not be in the area and tried to grab him, Ewing escaped and ran onto the stage, Coto said in court.

When Ewing took off, an altercation occurred, Coto said, and Ewing was eventually dragged off stage. 

One of Swift's security guards suffered severe rib injuries and will need at least eight weeks to recover, Coto said. 

When he spoke with police later, Ewing gave them a false name, Coto said. Officials are investigating whether he had a valid ticket to enter the arena and the entire incident is under investigation. 

Coto said Ewing has an active warrant for a theft-related offense in Florida and has an assault-related offense in Georgia. He was previously convicted out-of-state of attempting to manufacture or manufacturing drugs in 2013. 

Ewing was formally charged Wednesday with assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, battery with serious injury, both felonies, and a misdemeanor for giving police the wrong name. For entering an area he was not supposed to enter during an event, he also faces a municipal code violation. 

Bail was set at $100,000 due to his flight risk. He is due back in court on Sept. 14.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Stocks Close Higher in Rebound]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:08:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_675155668178.jpg

U.S. stocks closed sharply higher Wednesday, trying to recover from the worst start to a September in 13 years, NBC News reported. 

The Dow Jones industrial average quickly gained 293 points as the major averages advanced more than 1 percent to bring the S&P 500 out of correction, or less than 10 percent away from its 52-week high.

U.S. stocks closed nearly 3 percent lower on Tuesday for the worst first day of September trade since 2002.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Shots Fired at Mass. Police Cruiser]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 22:26:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Millis+Cruiser+090215.jpeg

A police cruiser was shot before crashing and catching fire Wednesday in Millis, Massachusetts, sparking a manhunt and the closure of public schools on Thursday.

State police, local police and a SWAT team, with large rifles drawn, responded to Forest Road after the Millis Police cruiser was shot just before 2:30 p.m. The state police air wing was also on the scene, as were a ballistics unit, crime scene techs and fire investigators.

Police confirm the officer has been hospitalized, but no information on his condition was immediately available.

Investigators are searching for a maroon pickup truck, possibly a Ford F-150. The suspect is described as a man between 25 and 40 who fired a black handgun.

Around 10:30 a.m., Millis Middle School received a call from someone who "indicated a crime may occur" in the town on Wednesday, according to police. About an hour later, the school received a bomb threat by telephone.

"It is bizarre to have the bomb scare and then that, as well," said Heidi Perkins, who lives near the spot where the cruiser crashed.

While police are not sure whether these events are connected, the town's schools will not be open Thursday.

"Basically, we had an officer who was driving down Forest Road here. He was shot at. We believe two to three shots were fired at his vehicle," said Millis Police Sgt. William Dwyer. "He returned fire, we believe three shots."

"It's kind of hectic right now. The police are doing a wonderful job," said neighbor Bill Whelan, who has lived there for 53 years. "Been here a long time, and I've never had anything like this, and I'm sure it's an isolated incident."

With a community on edge as police investigated, one concerned citizen and Army veteran decided to search for the suspect himself.

"I started following the scanners and listening to the descriptions of the vehicle and the person," said Nick Sheridan. "I just, on my own time, my own fuel, just drove around."

In neighboring Norfolk, a reverse 911 call was sent to residents as police worked to find suspect.

"We were nervous. I brought my friend home instead of her walking home because there are woods behind us," said Norfolk resident Susan Antonio.

Buses from the schools in Norfolk were held until police were able to clear the area.

Both the Millis library and town hall were closed Wednesday during the investigation.

Forest Road remained closed Wednesday night, but a shelter-in-place order that had been issued is no longer in effect.

Anyone with information is asked to call (508) 376-2233.

Photo Credit: necn
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<![CDATA[Brothers Awarded $750K Each in Wrongful Convictions]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 12:30:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP287350833863McCollum.jpg

Two North Carolina brothers are finally receiving compensation, three decades after they were wrongfully convicted in the killing of an 11-year-old girl. They were awarded $750,000 each on Wednesday by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Henry McCollum, 51, was given the money on behalf of himself and his half-brother, Leon Brown, 47, who is in the hospital and could not attend.

McCollum and Brown were released in September 2014 after a judge vacated their convictions, citing new DNA evidence that points to another man in the killing and raping of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie in 1983. McCollum had been the longest-serving inmate on North Carolina's death row. Brown had been sentenced to life in prison.

In the months since their release, both men have had trouble adjusting to the outside world after spending most of their adult lives in prison. Money has been a problem, but McCollum told The Associated Press in June that the most important part of the pardon was having his name cleared. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2 Bears Euthanized After Encounter With Hiker in Burlington]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:35:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/stephanie+rivkin+bear+encounter+crop.jpg

State officials have euthanized a bear that confronted a hiker in Connecticut last week, along with a second bear that also displayed aggressive behavior, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The male bear has been at the center of controversy since a hiker released video of her close encounter with the animal at the Sessions Woods Wildlife Area last Friday. Footage shows the bear approaching her and putting its mouth on her leg.

Wildlife experts analyzing the video said the bear, which was tagged, had a history of aggression and had been relocated in the past. Authorities deemed the animal a danger to the public and opted to euthanize it.

DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said staff members seeking out the aggressive animal Tuesday night at Sessions Woods found a male and female bear near the area of the encounter.

Schain said the female, which had been tagged for research, matched the description of the bear they were looking for.

According to Schain, the female bear "exhibited similar aggressive behavior" to the animal involved in Friday's incident and charged at DEEP Wildlife Division staff. The female bear, which had also been tagged for research, was euthanized shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"It was definitely not the outcome anybody was hoping for," said hiker Stephanie Rivkin, whose bear encounter is at the heart of the issue.

DEEP returned to the woods Wednesday and euthanized the male bear.

"Given the incident on Friday and the previous behavior of the bear there was serious concern that it could have injured a person in any future encounter," Schain said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Annie Hornish of the Connecticut Humane Society criticized DEEP's decision, saying the agency "overreacted" and that "the bear did not need to be killed."

Hornish said the Humane Society interpreted the bear's actions as curious rather than violent.

She offered to help educate residents about what to do during bear encounters and said parks in northwest Connecticut need better signage warning hikers about the animals.

"I don't think anybody in this position expects something like this to happen, the consequences, the outcome, the backlash," Rivkin said. "But when it does happen, I think it's a great point to learn from it and start a discussion."

Petitions circulated after DEEP announced plans to put down the animal, along with a Facebook group bearing the hashtag #sparethebear.

Sessions Woods remains closed to the public.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Rivkin]]>
<![CDATA[Search for Burglary Suspect in Off-Road Pursuit Called Off]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 01:05:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/09-02-2015-suv-pursuit-off-road-1.JPG

A search was called off Wednesday afternoon for a driver after a freeway chase that turned into an off-road pursuit east of Los Angeles.

The driver, believed to be a burglary suspect, jumped from the Toyota sport utility vehicle after coming to a stop in a riverbed area next to a railroad track, according to the sheriff's department. The driver got out of the SUV in a cloud of dust before running down an embankment, climbing a fence and taking cover in thick brush.

Deputies searched for hours for the driver near the San Gabriel River in Santa Fe Springs in southeastern Los Angeles County.

Deputies worked with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power personnel to determine whether the man might have entered a network of tunnels near the river. Neighbors expressed concerns that the man might come up through a manhole cover, said Sgt. Andrew Serrano.

"He could come into one of the houses," said a neighbor, Manual Gonzalez. "I've got a lot of kids right here. They're probably freaking out right now walking home from school wondering what's all the cops doing."

Authorities said they believe the manhole covers were bolted down, Serrano said.

At midday, the pursuit was on the 210 Freeway in the Glendora area before the driver transitioned to the southbound 605 Freeway. The driver of the silver SUV had been on several other San Gabriel Valley freeways after the pursuit started in the Diamond Bar area.

Speeds ranged from 65 mph to 90 mph.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Seal and Diver Become Instant Besties]]> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 17:34:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/f_seal_diver_cute_150902.jpg.jpg

When a diver meets a seal underwater, they have an adorable encounter.

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