<![CDATA[NECN - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2018 https://www.necn.com/news/top-stories http://media.necn.com/designimages/clear.gif NECN https://www.necn.com en-usSat, 22 Sep 2018 10:12:26 -0400Sat, 22 Sep 2018 10:12:26 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sunny, Mild Today Before Temps Dip Tonight]]> Sat, 22 Sep 2018 08:07:54 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/09222018-wxam.jpg

A gusty southerly wind last night is shifting to northwest and diminishing rapidly this morning.

We have a cold front, with most overnight showers evaporating near the coast early. As the front weakens and moves off Southern New England coast, clouds will give way to more sunshine.

Wind from the northwest allows cooler air to flow in. Temperatures may start near 70 in Southern New England Saturday, but we’ll then drop into the 60s. Autumn officially begins with the Autumnal Equinox at 9:54 PM tonight.

Tomorrow brings partly cloudy skies and highs in the 60s. Monday will be even cooler, with a chilly morning and a cool afternoon. Highs will be in the 50s and 60s. Temperatures recover, back into the 60s and 70s, during the middle of next week along with rain and warmer air.

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Jogger Struck, Killed by Car in Westford]]> Sat, 22 Sep 2018 08:33:48 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Police+Lights+Generic+NBC4_15.jpg

Police said a jogger was struck by a car and killed last night in Westford.

The incident was reported at about 9 p.m. as police responded to a report of an accident on Route 110 in the area of Technology Park Drive.

The jogger, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was struck by a Toyota Highlander.

Police identified the driver as a Westford man in his 40s. Officials said the driver remained at the scene after the jogger was struck.

No charges have been filed in connection with the investigation, according to police.

The Middlesex District Attorney's Office, Westford police, and the Massachusetts State Police are investigating the accident. Police said the jogger's identity will be released pending notification of family.

<![CDATA[NYC Cop, EMT Brothers Answer Same 911 Call, Help Deliver Baby Together]]> Sat, 22 Sep 2018 09:58:43 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/42247248_10156511028020729_940893791135465472_o.jpg

Two brothers, one an NYPD cop and the other an FDNY EMT, responded to the same call for a woman in labor in Times Square and together helped deliver her baby.

NYPD officer Yan Poon was among the first cops responding to the 911 call from a hotel on West 43rd Street just after 12:30 p.m., according to police. In the room, he and officers Zhan Ren and Nicole Davis found Kristen Smith and her 35-year-old wife, Heather Smith, who was in active labor.

"When we got to the scene, it was a little chaotic, and I knew I needed to be the one to keep everyone calm," Poon said in a statement. "I instructed her to breathe and push." 

By the time EMS arrived, Heather Smith had given birth. 

"We arrived on scene, and I saw my brother in the hotel room with the patient," said EMT Yan Hao Poon. "The baby was already out, so my brother and I went to work assessing both patients, keeping the baby warm and providing oxygen." 

The brothers both work out of the Times Square area, and they happened to be working the same shift Friday: "We end up on the same call at least once a week," said officer Poon. 

Officer Poon went in the ambulance with the Smiths and their new baby, and all three are doing well at the hospital, according to the FDNY. 

"The FDNY would like to congratulate Heather and Kristen Smith on the birth of their baby, Jackson," they said. 

Photo Credit: FDNY
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<![CDATA[Wareham Firefighters Battle 3-Alarm Church Fire]]> Sat, 22 Sep 2018 10:05:00 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/09222018-wareham.jpg

Wareham fire officials extinguished a three-alarm fire at the Saint Patrick Church early Saturday morning.

The fire was reported just after 1 a.m. 

"Upon arrival, the duty captain reported smoke coming from the roof and fire showing inside the structure from the front," fire officials said in a prepared statement.

Fire officials in charge at the scene struck three alarms to summon additional firefighters to the church, located at 88 High St., and to cover the fire station. Mutual aid was provided by Wareham Police, Wareham EMS, Onset Fire, Carver Fire, Marion Fire, Rochester Fire, Bourne Fire, DFS Special Operations and the Providence Canteen.

Firefighters extinguished the glaze and vented the building. The assisting towns were sent back but a Wareham fire crew stood by overnight to ensure the fire did not break out again.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. No damage estimate was provided.

Photo Credit: Wareham Fire Department / Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Columbia Gas Holds Job Fair to Expedite Repairs]]> Sat, 22 Sep 2018 09:16:49 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Columbia_Gas_Sets_2-Month_Deadline_to_Restore_Gas.jpg

Columbia Gas is holding a job fair in Lawrence today to find skilled plumbers, electricians, and other workers to aid in the effort to restore gas service to 8,600 customers effected by last week's explosions and fires in Merrimack Valley.

The extra personnel is needed to restore service before winter and the effort could take as long as two months, officials say. Meanwhile, as fall temperatures decrease and winter approaches, the National Guard has been activated to distribute hot plates and space heaters to those gas customers in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover who are without service.

While Saturday's temperatures will remain mild today, the mercury could drop into the 40s and 50s overnight into Sunday. See the latest forecast.

The company said gas service will be restored to all customers by mid November as they work to replace 48 miles of pipeline. The job fair is happening today at Greater Lawrence Technical High School until 7 p.m. Columbia Gas is trying to hire additional trades people, including plumbers and electricians, to expedite the effort.

The Sept. 13 disaster killed one person, injured 25 others and damaged or destroyed dozens of homes and businesses in the three communities.

While most residents who were forced to flee their homes have been allowed to return, thousands remain without natural gas service needed for cooking, hot water and to heat their homes as fall arrives and temperatures begin to drop as soon as this weekend.

The Padilla family in Lawrence can't believe how long they may have to go without service at their Dunstable Street home. They're already boiling water for baths and showers.

"Every day, for everyone to take a shower, they need to heat it up in the microwave," said Camila Lopez. "[They] let it cool down and everyone takes a shower with that."

"We all share the same goal of getting people back to their normal daily life, whether it's a hot shower, a home-cooked meal or the ability to open up a business," said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who declared a state of emergency last week. "We're bringing every available resource to make this happen."

Twenty crews are currently deployed to work on the pipeline, with that number increasing to 60 on Monday. By Oct. 8, 195 crews will be working to restore the pipeline. Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Joe Albanese will serve as chief recovery officer for the restoration project.

Baker and local officials also announced Friday that hotplates for cooking and space heaters for warmth will be distributed to residents without natural gas service.

The self-contained hotplate units will be delivered door-to-door to Lawrence residents beginning on Saturday and will be distributed to affected Andover and North Andover residents at designated claim centers in those towns over the weekend.

About 24,000 space heaters will be made available to homes and businesses starting on Monday, but officials said local fire chiefs and electricians must first certify that the devices can be operated safely in each of the homes before they can be used. For homes where space heaters are not an option, "alternative home heating options'' will be explored.

"Safety will be paramount," said Albanese.

"I'm not crazy about a space heater, but I mean, if it's going to help," said Joan Mejia of Lawrence.

Mejia also says he's sick of going to the gym to shower, and he has many questions for Columbia Gas that he says he can't get answered.

"Are my pipes going to freeze? Am I going to have to leave my house again? That type of stuff," he explained.

The governor said members of the Massachusetts National Guard have been activated to assist with the distribution of the hotplates and heaters.

As many as 2,000 natural gas meters could be turned back on within a couple of weeks, according to officials, and the utility hopes to have nearly 200 crews working on the ground by early October.

Joe Hamrock, the CEO of Columbia Gas' parent company, NiSource Inc., said the company on Wednesday would begin deploying teams to homes and businesses to determine if any damaged appliances need to be replaced before gas can be safely restored.

"We owe it to this community to make sure everyone's needs are addressed," he said.

Meanwhile, a claims center remains open for Andover, North Andover and Lawrence residents where customers can file loss and damage claims as well as receive gift cards to cover the costs of food for the week.

Columbia Gas will hold a job fair on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Greater Lawrence Technical School at 57 River Road in Andover. The gas company is seeking plumbers, electricians, customer service representatives and IT professionals interested in working on the restoration process.

The investigation into the explosions is ongoing. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is looking into work that was underway at a Columbia Gas site at Winthrop and South Union streets in Lawrence.

The agency said it discovered evidence that pressure sensors had been attached to a gas line that was being taken out of service on the day of the explosions. While the agency has not identified this as the cause, they explained that the sensors are used to indicate when gas is low and more is needed.

Feeney Brothers Utility Services of Dorchester was one of two subcontractors used by Columbia Gas in Lawrence, according to the city's Public Works Department.

The company issued a statement Friday confirming that one of its crews was working at the direction of Columbia Gas on a low-pressure to low-pressure gas main tie-in at the intersection of South Union and Salem streets on the day of the gas explosions.

Feeney Brothers said it is assisting with the NTSB's investigation and four of its crew members have been interviewed by the agency.

"While the investigation will take time, we have no doubt that Feeney’s crew will be found to have done their work professionally, safely and correctly. We stand by our crew and all our workers," the company said in its statement.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren planned to meet with Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera later Friday to discuss recovery efforts before attending a cookout for affected residents being hosted by the Lawrence Housing Authority.

Warren and the state's other U.S. senator, Democrat Edward Markey, wrote to utility officials earlier this week that the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration had determined that the pressure in gas pipelines prior to the explosions and fires was 12 times higher than it should have been.

<![CDATA[10 New Cases of West Nile Virus Reported in Bay State]]> Sat, 22 Sep 2018 07:58:07 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/mosquito-west-nile-zika-virus.jpg

Public health officials have announced 10 new human cases of West Nile virus, bringing to 24 the number of human cases acquired in Massachusetts this year.

The newest reported cases are predominantly among older individuals.

Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said Friday that the state has seen four times as many cases compared to last year. She said even with the start of fall and cooler temperatures, mosquito season isn't over. It's not unusual to see people infected in October.

West Nile Virus is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. While it can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. Most people infected have no symptoms.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most effective method to prevent West Nile infection is to wear insect repellent, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and take steps to control osquitoes indoors and outdoors, including emptying stagnant water in planters, birdbaths, and trash containers.

Symptoms can include fever and flu-like illness but while people older than 60 years old are at greater risk, severe illness can occur in people of any age. Those with the highest medical risk are those with medical conditions that include cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and who have received organ transplants. The CDC reports one in 10 people who develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system die.

The latest Massachusetts statistics are a marked increase over previous years. Last year, there were six reported cases in the Bay State and 17 in 2016. In 2012, Massachusetts reported 33 cases, its greatest number of cases in a single year, since data collection began in 1999.

Associated Press reports contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: Alice Barr]]>
<![CDATA[Legionnaires' Disease Case Diagnosed at VA Boston]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:24:56 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Another_Case_of_Legionnaires__Confirmed_in_Hampton.jpg

The VA Boston Healthcare System says one of its inpatients has been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease.

"VA Boston has diagnosed one of its inpatients with LD and is following strict protocols to learn whether this patient contracted LD while in the hospital," the VA Boston HealthCare System said in a statement.

They said they are tracing the patient's movements within the hospital and testing the water for the bacteria at each of those locations.

"We working to test any potential water source in the patient's past along our VA system to see if there's a presence of Legionella within that source," said Dr. Katherine Linsenmeyer, Associate Chief Epidemiologist with the VA Boston HealthCare System.

The test results could take seven to 14 days to return, and in the meantime, staff are supporting the patient and working to find the source of the bacteria.

The VA Boston Healthcare System includes the Jamaica Plain campus in Boston's Longwood Medical Community; the West Roxbury campus, located on the Dedham line; and the Brockton campus.

The VA did not release any information on the male patient but said he received services at West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and Brockton.

Legionnaires' disease is bacterial pneumonia spread by inhaling droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria. Warm weather supports the growth of the Legionella bacteria that cause the illness.


Health officials said anytime there's a Legionnaires' case, it's concerning.
"You know, I think any time we have a case of LD, the last one was over five years ago, we definitely raise concern with it. I think we are working hard to mitigate it," said Linsenmeyer.


Health officials said anytime there's a Legionnaires' case, it's concerning.

"You know, I think any time we have a case of LD, the last one was over five years ago, we definitely raise concern with it. I think we are working hard to mitigate it," said Linsenmeyer.

Cases of Legionnaires' disease have been reported in other parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire in recent months.

At Hampton Beach, multiple hot tub spas were closed as a precaution in August after one person died and 14 others had to be hospitalized with the illness.

Earlier this month in Lowell, four cases of Legionnaires were reported. Health officials said those cases were not related to the Hampton outbreak.

Nationally, there are more than 6,000 cases of Legionnaires' disease in an average year.

<![CDATA[Pedestrian Hit in Westford]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 23:46:15 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Westford+092118.JPG

A pedestrian was hit by a vehicle Friday night in Westford, Massachusetts.

State and local police responded to the area of Park Drive, where a small SUV hit a person.

There was no immediate word on the victim's injuries.

No further information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Trapped as Burglar Broke Into Home]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 23:36:58 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Teen_Trapped_as_Burglar_Broke_Into_Home.jpg

Police in Walpole, Massachusetts, converged on Woodard Road Friday evening using K9s to search for a suspect moments after a break-in.

The homeowner says his teenage daughter was home alone when she heard a strange noise and then the family dog started barking, spooking a stranger, who yelled out an expletive and took off.

The girl then ran to a neighbor's home for help.

"The young girl from across the street, came over and said somebody had walked into their home when she was home," said the neighbor, Bob Knight. "The door was unlocked, and she heard footsteps and a man's voice mumbling."

The teen stayed quiet until the suspect left.

"She heard the steps go out of the house," said Knight. "She took the dog and left the house and came over to me."

This is just the latest in a series of break-ins in Walpole this month.

"It's a little nerve-wracking," said another neighbor, Fran Cacciagrani. "Because you're home alone here and there, you don't want to have someone home at all times ... I certainly don't want any of my things taken."

A number of the crimes took place around Labor Day.

One suspect was captured on surveillance video before making off with several gold rings.

Police say there were similar break-ins in nearby Sharon around the same time.

In the Woodard Road incident, the suspect got away.

"It's very scary," said neighbor Dick Cacciagrani. "We're not sure what to make of it, hopefully police will be able to catch whatever person caused this commotion."

It's unknown if the same person is responsible for any or all of the other break-ins.

Residents are being told to call police if they see anything suspicious in their neighborhoods.

<![CDATA[Top Moments: Cruz, O'Rourke Face Off in Texas Senate Debate]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 23:01:58 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Cruz-ORourke.jpg

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz had a chance to show off his often praised debating skills tonight in his first match-up against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, the El Paso congressman running a strong campaign against him.

Cruz is trying to win a second term in the U.S. Senate in a race that the Cook Political Report on Friday rated a toss-up. New polls show the competition tightening with a Reuters-Ipsos poll on Wednesday giving O’Rourke a two-point lead in a typically reliable red state. Countering those indications is a Quinnipiac poll had Cruz ahead by nine points.

O’Rourke is a three-term congressman. He has raised more money than Cruz, a presidential hopeful in 2016 against now President Donald J. Trump, drawing national attention to the race.

O’Rourke, who became an El Paso city councilman in 2005, is hoping to become the first Texan elected to the Senate since 1988.

Tonight’s hourlong debate is the first of three the men are scheduled to participate in. Here are some of the evening’s highlights.

“This is why people do not like Washington, D.C.”
A particularly sharp exchange between the two men came as they addressed police shootings of unarmed black men, one of which occurred about two weeks ago when a white off-duty Dallas police officer shot her black neighbor, Botham Jean, to death in his own apartment. Police Officer Amber Guyger, who has been charged with manslaughter, has told investigators that she mistook his apartment for hers.

Cruz accused O’Rourke of calling police officers modern-day Jim Crow, a reference to local laws that enforced racial segregation in the South, and deemed the description offensive.

“That is not Texas,” he concluded.

“What Senator Cruz said is simply untrue,” O’Rourke responded. “I did not call police officers modern-day Jim Crow.”

Video of O’Rourke’s town hall on Wednesday at Prairie View A&M University, a historically black college in Prairie View, Texas, shows him talking about a system that he said suspects a person based solely on the color of their skin, that searches, stops or shoots someone based on the color of their skin.

“It is why some have called this, and I think it is an apt description, the new Jim Crow,” he said.

Cruz, when asked whether he thought the police shootings a problem, said that everyone’s rights should be protected, but blamed irresponsible and hateful rhetoric for shootings of police officers — among them the killing of five Dallas police officers in 2016. He accused O’Rourke of repeating things he knew were not true, including accusing white police officers of shooting unarmed African American children, and said that The Washington Post had fact checked the claim and found it to be untrue.

“This is why people do not like Washington, D.C.,” O’Rourke said. “You just said something that I did not say and attributed it to me.”

“What did you not say?” Cruz asked.

“I’m not going to repeat the slander and mischaracterization,” O’Rourke said.

“You’re not going to say what you did say?” Cruz asked.

“This is your trick in the trade, to confuse and to incite based on fear and not to speak the truth,” O’Rourke said. "This is a very serious issue."

The Washington Post did examine a quote from O’Rourke but did not rate it given varying interpretations that were possible. The quote: “Black men, unarmed, black teenagers, unarmed, and black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement without accountability and without justice.”

Cruz's dignity and President Trump
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump attacked Cruz viciously, suggesting that Cruz’s father had been involved in the assassination of President John Kennedy and tweeting an unflattering photograph of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and threatening to “spill the beans” on her.

How did Cruz, who later endorsed Trump and praised him, respond to critics who said he had lost his dignity.

Cruz called his father his hero and his wife his best friend and the most beautiful woman on the planet.

After the election, he faced a choice and decided to work with the president on cutting taxes and regulations and creating new jobs.

“So yes, I could have chosen to make it about myself, to be selfish and say, ‘You know what, my feelings are hurt so I’m going to take my marbles and go home.’ But I think that would have been not doing the job I was elected to do.”

O’Rourke said that how Cruz responded when the president attacked him personally was his business. But the congressman also raised allegations that Trump had colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election and said he had attacked the country’s institutions.

“We need a U.S. senator who will stand up to this president, “ O’Rourke said.

“True to Form”
When the men were asked what they admired about their opponent, O’Rourke said he knew how hard Cruz worked, the time he had spent away from his children and the sacrifices he had made. He said he had no question that despite their differences, Cruz wanted to do the best for America.

“So I thank you Sen. Cruz for your public service,” O’Rourke said.

Cruz agreed that the time away from their children was a sacrifice for both men and that O’Rourke was passionate, energetic and believed in what he was fighting for. Then Cruz compared O’Rourke to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who he said advocated socialism, higher taxes and expanding government.

“You’re fighting for the principles you believe in and I respect that,” Cruz said.

“True to form,” O’Rourke responded.

“Thoughts and prayers”
The men clashed over how to protect students from shootings in school, both referring to the killings at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, in May.

Cruz called for more armed police officers in school, and rejected any new gun control measures.

“There is something deeply wrong that we have these shootings. There are a lot of things behind it that have nothing to do with government. They have things to do with things like removing God from the public square, like losing the moral foundation of much of our society, like losing the binds of community and family.”

O’Rourke argued that bringing a firearm into a classroom would not make students safer.

“Thoughts and prayers, Sen. Cruz, are just not going to cut it anymore,” he said. “The people of Texas, the children of Texas, deserve action.”

“More armed police officers in our schools is not thoughts and prayers,” Cruz answered. “I”m sorry you don’t like thoughts and prayers. I will pray for anyone in harm’s way but I also will do something about it.”

Differing Views on Drugs
On drugs, Cruz said that O’Rourke, while on the El Paso City Council, had called for a national debate on legalizing all narcotics, including heroin and cocaine.

“There is consistent pattern when it comes to drug use that in almost every single instance Congressman O’Rourke supports more of it,” Cruz said.

Cruz said that the issue was personal; his older sister died of a drug overdoes.

O’Rourke, who was arrested for drunken driving in 1998, said that he wanted to end the war on drugs and to end the prohibition on marijuana.

“To be clear, I don’t want to legalize heroin and cocaine and fentanyl,” he said.

Photo Credit: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Before Explosions, Feds Warned Mass. Had Too Few Inspectors]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 23:33:47 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Inspectors+pic+092118.JPG

The state agency charged with ensuring the safety of Massachusetts' natural gas system had only a fraction of its inspector positions filled just last month, a staffing deficit that could delay required pipeline and utility audits, a newly-released federal report said.

The report raised alarms just days before explosions and fires rocked the Merrimack Valley, killing one, injuring about two dozen and displacing thousands.

"Without enough inspectors, you might miss something. I think the whole point of having inspectors is to actually catch things before they become catastrophic failures," said state Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead), who has written bills for tighter state regulation of gas infrastructure.

Federal investigators from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration visited the state Department of Public Utilities, the agency responsible for overseeing the 20,000 miles of natural gas pipelines buried under Massachusetts, in late August to wrap up an annual evaluation of the state's safety program.

The report, just released this month, stunned some gas safety experts, including Ehrlich and Bob Ackley, an expert and consultant. He pointed to replacement workers at National Grid, filling in for the union employees that have been locked out all summer, as an extra reason state oversight is critical.

"We have safety issues all over the state," Ackley said. "We've got contractors working all over the state. We've got National Grid in a lockout with contractors running around all over the place."

The federal report noted that, "Due to recent inspector attrition, only three qualified inspectors on staff (sic)."

"At the time of this evaluation only two inspectors are available to perform inspections," it continued.

The report determined that all of last year's inspections happened on schedule, but the feds raised concerns that because of understaffing, "The program will likely have to make some risk based decisions" in the future "that could delay safety reviews."

It is unclear whether any direct line can be drawn between understaffing and last week's explosions in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators point to over-pressurization of a distribution pipeline in Lawrence, and they are looking at a subcontractor's role in a pipeline replacement project there.

"A lot of people refer to this as the Black Swan event: low probability, high consequence," Ackley said.

The federal report noted that the target number of inspectors for the safety program is 10, but again they noted DPU at the time had "only the three qualified inspectors, two more had been hired and a job offer had been made to one more."

"If you don't have enough inspectors to cover the territory then you're apt to miss things which can lead to loss of life," Ehrlich said.

"It wasn't a systemic failure of some kind, it was related to a particular event attached to a particular project," Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters after an event in Lawrence on Tuesday.

After the federal visit, the state scrambled to hire inspectors. Baker said the agency now has eight inspectors on staff and is looking to hire more.

When the NBC10 Boston Investigators pushed a DPU spokesman for more detail, he conceded only six are currently certified to conduct inspections, and he did not answer questions about whether they are actually out inspecting pipelines.

"We need to have an adequate number of trained inspectors on the job to make sure that things are being done right. We depend on them to keep us safe," Ehrlich said.

All utilities have their own inspectors. The DPU inspectors' job is to make sure the companies are following proper procedures and to address any violations.

Rather than showing up to inspect work sites and infrastructure the way a health inspector might go to a restaurant, DPU pipeline inspectors audit the voluminous reports utilities are required to file with the state to ensure utilities are conducting their own inspections and following state regulations, and they follow up on complaints.

They typically do not sign off on individual jobs.

DPU scored very well on its evaluation, but got dinged for overall program performance.

Requests to sit down with the director of DPU or any of the agency's three commissioners did not receive any response.

When NBC10 Boston tried to talk with the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs after a press conference Friday, a spokesman for Baker told a reporter to wait, but later came back to say the secretary had ducked out another way.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz Square Off in First Debate]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 21:04:37 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_BETO_CRUZ_DEBATE_092118-153757785852600002.jpg

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke and Sen. Ted Cruz faced each other in the first of three planned debates Friday in what has become a neck and neck race for the Texas senate seat.

<![CDATA[Why MIT Students Are Living in a Box This Weekend]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 19:19:19 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/MIT+Glass+Box.jpg

Five MIT students are working around the clock to innovate solutions to a problem.

While they may be thinking outside the box, they're working, eating and sleeping inside a glass box on MIT's campus.

"We decided to do this crazy event, like, we're going to place glass cubes, open the doors to innovation, put bright minds into a box, you give them a challenge and see what comes out," said MIT masters student Signe Lin Vehusheia, who's helping to oversee the project.

It's part of the second annual global "hack-a-thon" called "InCube."

MIT's is the first cube in the U.S. – partnering with Michigan-based medical technology company Stryker to solve a problem.

"We collectively thought about a problem, an unmet need that we could solve together, and that was to reimagine the ambulance of the future," said Bijoy Sagar of Stryker.

So while the students are tasked with trying to figure out a more efficient and effective way for ambulances to operate to try to improve survivability for people in need of emergency care, they can solicit ideas from MIT students, professors and even medical professionals.

"I think it's a great opportunity, especially they can get the feedback of people passing by," said Pam Difraia of MIT's Koch Institute.

"It seems like a very MIT thing to do," added freshman Holly Jackson.

"It's pretty crazy. I think it's awesome," Heather Huckins of the Koch Institute said. "It's a different way of trying to get together to figure out something."

And it could lead to real-world solutions outside the cube.

"I'm really excited to find out what they come up with and maybe some of those ideas will go into our products and our services and we can then work with healthcare providers to make this a better outcome for the patient," Sagar said.

The students will be in the cube until about noon on Monday, when they will present their ideas to the judges and a winner will be announced.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[New Englanders Remember 1938 Hurricane]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 16:52:19 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/1938+Hurricane+in+Vermont.JPG

New Englanders are remembering the killer storm known as the Great Hurricane of 1938, 80 years to the date after its devastation.

“We just hadn’t ever seen anything like it,” recalled Richard Hamilton, 96, who remembers uprooted trees, blocked roads, and property losses in Brattleboro, Vermont. “It was severe winds that brought such destruction.”

Near Boston, data from the Blue Hills Observatory showed sustained winds topping 120 miles per hour, with a gust of 186 miles per hour.

New London, Connecticut saw catastrophic fires from downed power lines, according to the National Weather Service, and downtown Providence, Rhode Island was left underwater after a storm tide of 20 feet.

There was even a frantic race to save the Vermont State House in Montpelier, curator David Schutz said.

“It nearly lifted the dome off the top of the building,” Schutz said last week when giving a tour of the dome. “So for the very first time, they took efforts to tie the dome to the building–physically tie it down.”

Numbers from the National Weather Service showed hundreds were killed across the northeast, with nearly 9,000 homes and buildings ruined, and many more damaged.

The company AIR Worldwide, which creates models of catastrophes, estimated that if the same storm were to hit today, it would bring a $50-billion impact.

“It scared me half to death,” remembered Lorna Maloney, who was 5-years-old when the hurricane hit New England.

Maloney and her older sister, Gloria Goulet, who is now 88, said in the era before TV meteorologists, they did not have any warning about the danger coming their way in the small town of Washington, Vermont.

“Our radio didn’t come in half the time—we didn’t have a telephone,” Goulet remembered, adding that in the days after the storm, she saw severe wind damage that was stunning to a small child.

At the Vermont Historical Society in Barre, executive director Steve Perkins called the ’38 hurricane a “defining event” for New England.

Perkins said neighbors helped neighbors clean up, towns rebuilt, and vowed to get stronger–for all the storms to come.

“Communities came together,” Perkins said of the aftermath of the storm. “I think it’s horrible that we have [devastating storms], but reflecting on them, we can think about what it means to be a Vermonter—or a New Englander.”

<![CDATA[Red Sox Fan Dies Atop Train Leaving Yankee Stadium]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:53:55 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Michael+Vigeant.JPG

A Red Sox fan from Hudson, New Hampshire, was killed on Wednesday night while attempting to climb on top of a train on his way home from Yankee Stadium.

Michael Vigeant, 24, was electrocuted while trying to climb from inside a train car on the Metro-North train heading from Yankee Stadium to New Haven, Connecticut. Vigeant's brother Lenny, who also tried to climb on top of the train, was safely removed by train personnel.

"It all happened really quick," Lenny Vigeant told NBC10 Boston. "It was going from having a great time to the worst possible thing that could ever happen."

Vigeant touched a catenary wire, which is an overhead electrified wire, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials. Passengers on the train attempted CPR on Vigeant, who was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

"The train came to a stop, and after a while the conductor came through looking very nervous, asking if there were any doctors or nurses on board," New York Post senior writer Bob Fredericks, a passenger on the train, told the New Hampshire Union Leader.

"A woman who said she was a nurse went running past me. She was gone for about 40 minutes then came back looking pretty shaken, saying a man had climbed on top of the train and was electrocuted," Fredericks said.

Delays on the New Haven Line trains lasted nearly two hours according to some passengers. The incident occurred about half an hour after the train originally departed at 11 p.m. and the train didn't reach its final stop in New Haven until roughly 3:20 a.m.

"I felt like there was more I could do in the situation that I wasn’t able to do," Lenny Vigeant said.

The Vigeant family, now coming in from across the country, is left to grieve.

"I really can't even... I can't even adjust that he's not part of us anymore," said father Leonard Vigeant. "There's times we'll set the table and I'm sure there will be a plate for him."

The family said Vigeant had an adventurous, caring spirit that he showed even on his last night alive.

"There's no one that he ever had a difference with. Everyone just loved Mike," said Leonard Vigeant.

"He was getting heckled by a couple guys and they were pretty aggressive and Mike just looked at them and smiled and said, 'I love you, brother! I love you man,'" added Lenny Vigeant.

<![CDATA[Winchester Library Stabbing Suspect Indicted by Grand Jury]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:51:33 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/216*120/yao2.jpg

A man accused of fatally stabbing a 22-year-old woman at a public library in Winchester, Massachusetts back in February has now been indicted for her murder.

Jeffrey Yao, 24, of Winchester, was indicted Thursday by a Middlesex Superior Court grand jury for the murder of Deane Kenny Stryker and the assault of a 77-year-old man who attempted to intervene at the Winchester Public Library.

On Feb. 24, Yao allegedly walked into the library and randomly attacked Stryker with a 10-inch hunting knife, stabbing her approximately 20 times in the head, neck and other extremities. He also allegedly slashed an elderly man who attempted to help the victim in the arm.

"Miss Stryker fell to the floor in the center of the room with the knife still in her back," a prosecutor said in court Friday. "The defendant, who was then unarmed, stepped away from Miss Stryker and put his hands in the air."

Stryker was taken to a local hospital, where she later died.

Yao is charged with murder, armed assault with intent to murder a person over the age of 60 and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a person over the age of 60. He has no prior criminal convictions. He pleaded not guilty in Middlesex Superior Court on Friday and was ordered held without bail.

His attorney, J.W. Carney, did not object. He said his client is schizophrenic and his parents tried unsuccessfully to get help for their son.

"That young girl did absolutely nothing to deserve what happened to her. A good Samaritan tried to come to her aid, he suffered a serious injury also," he said. "And the parents are absolutely devastated by that."

Yao's next court date is set for Oct. 22.

<![CDATA[No Cease-Fire Until Hamas Tunnels Destroyed: Israel]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 09:10:09 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/452960422.jpg Israel will not consider any truce until it has finished downing the network of tunnels in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised statement Thursday, NBC News reported. One of the goals of Israel’s three-week offensive has been to dismantle the tunnels that are vital to Hamas and which Jerusalem says threatens Israeli civilians. Earlier, Israel’s military announced it was calling up another 16,000 reserves, allowing them to substantially widen their offensive that has led to the deaths of 1,360 Palestinians.
Get More at NBC News

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[11-Year-Old in Lowell, Mass. Brings Gun to School]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 12:46:52 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/Bedford+High+School+Generic+School+Hallway.JPG

An 11-year-old boy brought a gun to a Lowell, Massachusetts middle school, according to reports.

The Lowell Sun reports that the Sullivan Middle School student showed off a .22 caliber gun to one of his classmates on Sept. 13. Later that evening, the gun was fired by a 14-year-old at Rotary Park in front of other minors.

An investigation is underway and no charges have been filed. Richardson said the 11-year-old’s mother was unaware the gun was inside their home and she will not be charged. The 14-year-old will be charged with juvenile delinquency to wit, discharging a firearm.

According to Massachusetts state law, the 11-year-old cannot face charges, even in juvenile court. This is a result of the recently passed criminal justice reform bill that raised the minimum age of criminal responsibility from age seven to 12.

The search for the missing firearm continues as the cases against the juveniles accused of stealing it.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[2 Whales Wash Ashore on Boston-Area Beaches]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 18:36:39 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/whales6.jpg

New England Aquarium officials are investigating after two whales washed up on Boston-area beaches on Friday morning.

New England Aquarium officials responded to Revere Beach on Friday morning after a whale washed ashore there. The approximately 35-foot juvenile humpback whale was found before 8 a.m.

"As soon as I got out of my car and looked at it, I was like, 'Wow, like I just can't believe it,'" said Melinda Ball of Chelsea.

Officials said it is the same marine animal that was first spotted floating in the waters near Gloucester shores two weeks ago.

The whale first washed up on a beach in Cohasset, where it was examined by a team from New England Aquarium. Afterwards, officials decided to tow it out to sea. Now they are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to decide on how to dispose of it.

A second whale was also found on Friday near Boston Light on Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor.

The 50-foot adult, female humpback had its tail flukes wedged among the boulders ofa  rocky point that was only accessible at low tide. Aquarium biologists had trouble accessing it, but were able to take measurements and tissue samples and document the whale.

The whale carcass was quite bloated and appeared to be several days old, the aquarium said. There was no evidence of entanglement or open trauma from a vessel strike.

These are just the latest of several deceased whales that have washed ashore recently in Massachusetts. Officials say whale deaths have increased this year, but are unsure why.

Since January of 2016, the aquarium said more than 80 humpbacks have died along the East Coast, from the Carolinas to Maine. That's a rate of more than 30 deaths per year, compared to a previous five-year average of 12.

Photo Credit: Massachusetts State Police/NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Milano, Judd Open Up After Trump Asks Why Ford Didn't Report]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:21:13 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/milanojuddsplit1.jpg

Some of the most vocal proponents of the #MeToo movement and droves of other women have come to the defense of Christine Blasey Ford after President Donald Trump questioned her credibility and wondered why she didn’t report her sexual assault at the time she said it happened.

In a slew of unrestrained tweets Friday, Trump contended that if the attack Ford said happened at the hands of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was “as bad” as she claims, she would have “immediately” reported it to local authorities. He asked her to produce the report to prove the details of her alleged assault and wondered, “Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?” 

The president's brazen comments sparked the birth of a new trending hashtag, #WhyIDidntReport, and inspired victims to reveal their own stories of assault and share their reasons for not telling anyone about the violence.

One of those victims was Alyssa Milano, who has helped propel the #MeToo movement into the national spotlight in the last year. She threw her support behind Ford and told Trump to pay attention to the stories being told.

“I was sexually assaulted twice. Once when I was a teenager. I never filed a police report and it took me 30 years to tell [my] parents,” the actress wrote on Twitter.

#WhyIDidntReport jumped to the top of Twitter’s trends in the wake of Trump's claims, with social media users challenging the president’s assertions.

Several women shared incidents they said happened when they were young children, saying they didn’t know what had happened to them at the time. Others said they felt ashamed or embarrassed about their role in the situation, thinking they “asked for” the assault or didn’t do enough to stop it themselves.

Others described feeling powerless against their attacker, saying they felt they had no one to report the assault to, that those they did tell didn’t do anything or that they would suffer further harm if they spoke out. 

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teens in the 1980s. She said he pinned her on a bed, groped her, tried to undress her and held his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford said in her interview with The Washington Post that she didn't tell anyone about the incident until 2012, when she was in therapy sessions with her husband.

Kavanaugh has denied the claims, but the allegation has halted his confirmation proceedings. 

Trump himself has been accused of sexual assault and harassment as well, by at least 19 women. One of those known accusers, Jessica Leeds, claimed Trump groped her breasts and put his hand up her skirt on an airplane in the early 1980s. She told The New York Times she did not report the incident at the time because she had experienced that behavior from men before in the 70s and 80s. 

"We accepted it for years,” she told the Times of the behavior. “We were taught it was our fault.”

The White House has said the allegations against Trump are "false."

But the #WhyIDidntReport testimonies being shared on social media fall in line with national statistics on sexual violence. 

About two out of every three sexual assaults go unreported to police, according to the anti-sexual violence non-profit RAINN, which stands for Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Reasons for not reporting the assault to police include fearing retaliation, believing police would not do anything to help, believing it was a personal matter, having already reported it to a different official and believing it was not important enough to report. 

The organization also operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673)

The Bureau of Justice Statistics also reports that a majority of rapes and other sexual assaults aren't reported to police. Between 2006 and 2010, an average of about 211,200 rapes and sexual assaults went unreported each year. 

But even if a victim does report their assault, the likelihood that the perpetrator will be held accountable is slim, according to RAINN. Out of every 1,000 rapes, only 57 cases lead to an arrest and 11 cases will be referred to prosecutors. Only seven cases will lead to a felony conviction.

Ashley Judd, who accused disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and claimed he hurt her career after her rejections, also tweeted her own #WhyIDidntReport.

“The first time it happened, I was 7. I told the first adults I came upon. They said “Oh, he’s a nice old man, that’s not what he meant.” So when I was raped at 15, I only told my diary. When an adult read it, she accused me of having sex with an adult man,” Judd wrote.

Men shared the hashtag too, supporting women victims and also offering their own stories. Many said they feared they wouldn’t be believed if they came forward with their accusation.

One out of every 10 rape victims is male, according to RAINN.

And nearly half of transgender people are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, according to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey.

Sexual assault can leave long-term effects on victims, including post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, according to the Joyful Heart Foundation, an anti-sexual assault group founded by "Law and Order" actress Mariska Hargitay.

Most women who are raped — 94 percent — experience symptoms of PTSD in the two weeks following the rape, according to RAINN. And 30 percent experience symptoms in the nine months after.

About 70 percent of sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than for any other violent crime, according to RAINN.

Ford, in her Post interview, said she has suffered "long-term effects" from the assault and has sought treatment for it.

One Twitter user named Kirsten King, a writer, reminded readers that those participating in the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag are "reliving their trauma to try and teach folks to extend long overdue empathy and protection. The folks posting are only a drop in the bucket – so many people aren't (and may never be) ready to relive that trauma." Her tweet garnered more than 3,800 likes by Friday evening.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 provides people in distress, or those around them, with 24-hour support. The Crisis Text Line allows people to text 741-741 to connect with crisis counselors.

Photo Credit: AP Images, Files]]>
<![CDATA[Rosenstein Joked About Secretly Recording Trump: Officials]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 16:46:15 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/rosenAP_18143696932747.jpg

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was joking when he discussed wearing a wire to secretly record President Donald Trump and does not believe Trump should be removed from office through the use of procedures outlined in the Constitution's 25th Amendment, according to sources familiar with his conversations.

The sources were responding to a New York Times report that Rosenstein, in the tumultuous spring of 2017, had discussed with other Justice and FBI officials the possibility of recruiting members of Trump's Cabinet to declare him unfit for the job and that he offered to wear a recording device during conversations with the president, NBC News reported.

In a May, 16, 2017 meeting at a secure facility at the Justice Department — one week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey — Rosenstein argued with Andrew McCabe, then the acting director of the FBI, about the president, according to a senior Justice Department official.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Florence Extreme 3-Day Rainfall is a 0.1% Probability Event]]> Sat, 22 Sep 2018 05:01:45 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/florenceGettyImages-1036975356.jpg

Hurricane Florence’s 3-day rainfall was a less than .1% probability, "1000-year" event, analysis from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service found.

"The fact that this event was greater than 1-in-1000 in such a large area is unusual," said Mark Glaudemans, Geo-Intelligence Division Director at NOAA’s National Weather Service Office of Water Prediction. "It’s one thing to have a heavy storm over your backyard or a parking lot in town. Heavy storms happen all the time in very small areas. But to have a heavy storm that’s this heavy over such a large area is an extreme event."

This event is not unprecedented, Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told NBC. "A thousand year event is based upon the idea that the climate isn’t changing," Trenberth said. "A lot of what used to be 1000 year events are now 100-year events or seventy-year events or maybe even fifty-year events, in the case of places like Houston," he added.

Texas’ Hurricane Harvey from last year had some areas with "1-in-500- year" or "1-in-1000-year event" rainfall, NOAA reported. Hurricane Matthew, which made landfall in South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, also had areas with greater than 0.1% probability events, though they cover less of the map. The NOAA data in the Atlas 14 map is compared to data from up to 2004.

Glaudemans clarified the misleading "1000 year event" terminology. The probability is based on the three-day worst case period, and compares the observed precipitation with the expected probability of future precipitation. Simply put, this event has "a one in one thousand chance of occurring in a given year at a given location," he said, noting it does not mean this event will only occur once in a thousand years. "Next year, it can happen all over again," he explained.

"An event like Florence is extremely rare because you do not normally see tropical cycles with such an intensity, with so much precipitation, make landfall somewhere along the coast," said Dr. Jill Trepanier, associate professor in the Geography and Anthropology Department at Louisiana State University, expertise is hurricane climatology. "However, that rare event can still happen every year and then that rare event no longer becomes rare anymore. With a changing climate, what is rare now will shift."

North Carolina saw 8.04 trillion gallons of rainfall, NWS Raleigh tweeted on Tuesday. NWS Greensville-Spartanburg responded by noting that for three counties, the estimates for rain are too low. Emergency managers issued a new evacuation order in South Carolina Friday morning, AP reported. Hurricane Florence has caused 42 deaths since it made landfall last Friday.

"[These 1-in-1000 year events] are becoming increasingly common, unfortunately," Trenberth explained. "They occur in different places, in different times, and the phenomenon is always a bit different. But the fact is, the environment is warmer, it holds more moisture, and so the risk of these heavy rainfall events is going up."

"When it rains, it rains harder than it used to," he said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Belichick, Brady Speak on Acquisition of Josh Gordon]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 16:36:50 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/184*120/Brady+Presser.PNG

Speaking with the media for the first time since Wednesday morning -- prior to the trade for Josh Gordon being 100 percent official -- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick finally acknowledged the presence of the 27-year-old former Cleveland Brown in Foxboro on Friday morning.

Gordon wasn't the only player added to the roster since Wednesday. New England also welcomed back Cyrus Jones, its second-round pick in 2016, after a brief stint on the practice squad of the Baltimore Ravens.

"It's good to get them here," Belichick said. "I'd say really in both cases, those two guys have done about as much as they can do in the few days that they've been here, or been back in Cyrus' case. We'll see how it goes. I think Josh is a smart kid. He's worked hard. He's picked up a lot and Cyrus has gotten back into things quickly, so we'll see how it goes."

Even though the team had already officially added Gordon to its roster and the trade was on the NFL's official transaction wire, Belichick refused to discuss Gordon on Wednesday prior to New England's practice that day. Sure enough, he was present for the afternoon session, donning a new No. 10 jersey.

Belichick declined to comment on how he would monitor Gordon's overall health given his lengthy history of substance abuse. Gordon's troubles with addiction played a role in him missing 11 out of a possible 66 games for the Browns between the start of the 2014 season and the first two weeks of 2018.

Gordon has been limited with a hamstring injury during his first week with the Patriots. He didn't play in Cleveland's Week 2 game vs. the New Orleans Saints thanks in part to the injury, although reports swirled that weekend that he'd finally run out of chances with the Browns and the team was actively shopping him.

He's in New England now, sharing a locker adjacent to Tom Brady's.

"I try to get along with everybody," Brady said of the locker placement at his Friday afternoon press conference. "Even if you're next to me or across or down or defense, I think it's just important to try and get to know everybody in any way you possibly can. We're all here to try and do the same thing."

The Patriots are on the road this weekend, playing the Detroit Lions on Sunday Night Football at 8:20 p.m. The game will be televised on NBC10 Boston.

Detroit is where Brady made his NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. He finished 1 for 3 passing, his lone completion going to Rod Rutledge, in relief of Drew Bledsoe in a 34-9 Patriots loss. As a starter, however, Brady is 4-0 vs. the Lions.

<![CDATA[Website Pulls Sexy 'Handmaid's Tale' Costume After Backlash]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 15:13:23 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/handmaidsexycostume.jpg

If Halloween is approaching, then it must be time for another retailer to pull its Halloween costume for bad taste.

This year the early offender is an online lingerie store that has removed a sexy “Handmaid’s Tale” costume from its website after receiving massive backlash on social media.

The show, which was based on the book by Margaret Atwood, was set in a dystopian America where women were forcefully used as surrogates and sex slaves.

The product description for Yandy’s “Brave Red Maiden” costume makes a direct reference to the critically acclaimed Hulu drama, USA Today reported.

"An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say," the description reads. "However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume."

Many social media users commented on the misogynistic aspect of selling a costume about female oppression. Some also noted the irony that this product was removed when many stores continue to sell offensive race- and culture-inspired costumes. 

This is not the first time that Yandy has marketed a Halloween costume that might provoke backlash.

Last year, the company began selling its “Reality Star in the Making” costume for $59.95 with a product photo featuring a pregnant Kylie Jenner look-alike in a short, tight white dress.

The description promises to “boost your show’s ratings” with the help of a "faux pregnant belly."

Yandy’s questionable product choices are a part of a long retail Halloween tradition of selling controversial costumes.

In 2017, Walmart and several other retailers took down a “World War II Evacuee” costume, which included a green beret, a blue dress and a satchel. The item caused an outrage because of its resemblance to Jewish Holocaust victim Anne Frank. Amazon, however, continues to carry the product on its website.

Walmart also had to pull its $4 “Razor Blade Suicide Scar Wound Latex Custom Makeup” kit in 2016 after receiving complaints that the kit supported self-injury.

In the same year, online retailer Costumeish faced a social media outcry in 2016 after posting a “Parisian Heist” costume parodying Kim Kardashian’s robbery in Paris. The listing sported a bound and gagged model who looked like Kardashian dressed in a white bathrobe and wearing a huge ring.

Time reported that social media users also accused the Disney online store of racism in 2016 after it attempted to sell a costume of a character from the “Moana” movie. The Maui costume included a brown bodysuit and tattoos, which would make the wearer dress up as a person of color. Disney later apologized and quickly took the costume off its website.

Like those companies, Yandy seems to be reflecting on its decision to sell the handmaid costume after the retailer said it received many “sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories.”

A statement on Yandy’s site, which has since replaced the red cape, mini dress and bonnet ensemble, apologized for the offensive costume. The company called the incident “unfortunate” and said it was not their “intention on any level.”

“Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that our 'Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume' is being seen as a symbol of women's oppression, rather than an expression of women's empowerment,” the statement reads. “Our initial inspiration to create the piece was through witnessing its use in recent months as a powerful protest image.” 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hulu
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<![CDATA[Ex-Wife of Cubs' Russell Details Alleged Abuse in Blog Post]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 14:36:39 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-694219534.png

NOTE: NBC Chicago will offer a live feed as Cubs manager Joe Maddon speaks to the media Friday afternoon. Watch live above and read more on the Cubs' reaction here

For the first time since their divorce, the ex-wife of Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell is speaking out about what she described as emotional and physical abuse she says she suffered at the hands of her then-husband. 

In a lengthy blog post published this week, Melisa Reidy-Russell detailed allegations of physical mistreatment and "emotional and verbal abuse."

"The first time I was physically mistreated by my spouse, I was in shock," Reidy-Russell wrote. "I couldn’t wrap my head around what just happened…Why did he get so angry? What did I do for him to want to put his hands on me? Of course I forgave him & assumed it would never happen again."

In wake of the post, Major League Baseball placed Russell on administrative leave Friday, saying it "takes all allegations of Domestic Violence seriously." 

The Cubs said the team supports that decision.

“We take allegations of domestic violence seriously and support the League’s decision to place Addison Russell on administrative leave given new details revealed today," the team wrote in a statement. "We will continue to cooperate with the League’s investigation so the appropriate action can be taken.”

The post, titled "You no longer have a secret, you have a story," marks the second time such allegations have surfaced against the Cubs star. 

Just before the couple filed for divorce, Reidy-Russell published a highly-publicized Instagram post accusing her husband of infidelity. Though the post was eventually deleted, a comment from one of her friends alluded to domestic violence allegations.

At the time, Russell denied the accusations.

“Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful,” Russell said after the first Instagram post was published.

MLB launched an investigation into the claims in June 2017, but said Reidy-Russell declined to cooperate "at that time." The investigation has remained open since, according to the league.  

"We are hopeful that this new information will allow us to complete the investigation as promptly as possible," the league wrote in a statement Friday.

Russell has not publicly commented on the latest allegations, but Cubs President Theo Epstein said he saw the post late Thursday and "immediately reached out to the league's investigative body."

He called the post "disturbing" and said he and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts met with Russell Friday morning to tell him he would be placed on administrative leave. 

"Timing or inconvenience doesn't play into it," Epstein said. "What matters is getting to a just and fair resolution."

According to Reidy-Russell, the Cubs star cheated on her "with so many different women" and emotional and verbal abuse was "an everyday thing."

"Being blamed for just about anything that went wrong, name calling, intimidating me with personal force, manipulating me to think I was the problem, destroying my personal things, threatening me to 'send' me & our son home to my parents as if I was privileged to be living in our home," she wrote. "Basically, I felt like I was nothing, a nobody & I was nothing without him, & I couldn’t do anything without him."

Reidy-Russell wrote the abuse grew worse over time and "grew to new levels."

"Friends would express their concerns with me but I would assure them that I was okay, he lost his temper & wasn’t himself," she wrote. "Everyday began to be a struggle to fake the convincing smile of a happy wife I grew accustomed to."

Reidy-Russell wrote she decided to leave after Russell "betrayed" her again in April 2017. 

"About a month after leaving, I returned for a visit so my son could see his father, also in hopes that maybe, just maybe I’d see a change in my husband," the post read. "But, as I expected our visit was a nightmare, I swore to myself it would be the last time he’d lay his hands on me & it would be that last time I’d let my son be a witness to it. A week after flying home, I finally made the call and took legal action to start our separation."

Reidy-Russell's attorney announced in June 2017 that she had filed for divorce, noting that it was "her desire to pursue a resolution that is, first and foremost, in the best interest of the parties' son, and which occurs in a swift, amicable, and private fashion." 

The Tribune reports the couple's marriage was officially dissolved in a Florida court Aug. 30. 

"If you are reading this and you can relate, please know & never forget how loved you are," Reidy-Russell wrote. 

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and more resources can be found at thehotline.org.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Credit Freezes Are Now Free Nationwide Under New Law]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 14:53:39 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/Equifax_Offers_Free_Credit_Freeze_to_Consumers.jpg

Credit freezes and unfreezes with the three major credit reporting agencies will now be free for consumers as a federal law passed in response to the Equifax data breach goes into effect Friday.

Beginning Sept. 21, consumers can freeze their credit file with TransUnion, Experian and Equifax without paying any fees. Credit freezes helps prevent identity thieves from opening lines of credit or taking out loans in your name because lenders can't access your credit score or report. 

Only a handful of states had laws in place prohibiting credit bureaus from charging consumers a fee for freezing and unfreezing their credit report. 

The nationwide free-freeze provision was included in a larger bill rolling back banking rules that were enacted to prevent a recurrence of the 2008 financial crisis that brought millions of lost jobs and foreclosed homes. Congress voted in May to dismantle parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation, a move that critics argue will increase the likelihood of future taxpayer bailouts. 

The bill also allows parents to freeze credit on behalf of their children under the age of 16 and extends free fraud alerts from 90 days to one year. Fraud alerts are placed on credit files to inform lenders that a consumer may be a victim of identity theft, requiring businesses to take extra steps to verify the consumer's identification before extending credit. 

Credit bureaus will be required to freeze an account within one business day of a request made over the phone or online, and within three business days of an application received through the mail. 

More than 140 million people in the U.S. were affected by a data breach at Equifax in 2017. Hackers stole data that included customers' names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and some driver's licenses numbers, CNBC reported. The breach remains the largest exposure of personal information in history, according to The Associated Press

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[1986 Killing of Mother in Hamden, Conn. Remains Unsolved]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 06:50:18 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Virginia-Duclos-Bruce.jpg

Hamden police continue to search for answers in the killing of a young mother in 1986.

Thursday night Hamden police posted online, asking the public for any information on the death of 28-year-old Virginia Duclos Bruce.

“We have not forgotten about Virginia,” the post read in part.

And neither has her family, which is devastated by the violent murder of Virginia more than three decades ago.

“She has a son and a daughter that don’t have a mother,” her sister, Carolyn Bird told NBC Connecticut.

During a video chat from Rhode Island, Carolyn Bird remembered her sister who was brutally killed 32 years ago Thursday.

“She was a disco queen. She loved to dance. She played pool. She was a great mom, a wonderful sister,” Bird said.

On Sept. 20, 1986, Ginny – as she was known – disappeared while on a night out with friends at the Highwood Bar & Grill in Hamden. Authorities would later discover her body in a nearby dumpster off of Morse Street. She died after being stabbed multiple times.

Over the years, Hamden police interviewed scores of people and chased down leads. But as of now no one has been charged with the crime.

Tonight Ginny’s family wants justice and hopes someone who might know something comes forward.

“Maybe they won’t be afraid any more. Maybe they’ll say something,” Bird said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police. The state is offering a $20,000 reward for anyone who can help solve this case.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police Department
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<![CDATA[Students Rally for New Haven, Conn. Father Facing Deportation]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 06:52:35 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NELSON-PINOS-RALLY-SEPT-20-2018.jpg

Hundreds of students in New Haven walked out of class and rallied in support of a father facing deportation Thursday.

They gathered outside the New Haven church where Nelson Pinos has sought refuge to avoid deportation for nearly a year.

“At first I got very emotional,” Pinos said. “I went back inside and I cried.”

Pinos sought sanctuary to avoid deportation to his native Ecuador. He told NBC Connecticut he came to the US in 1992 for a better life and has lived in Connecticut for nearly 20 years.

“I don’t wanna leave my family,” he said. “My kids are everything for me. Especially when you have two teenage girls, I think this is when they need me the most.”

One of the students who walked out of class in protest was Kelly Pinos, Nelson’s daughter.

“I feel very supported,” she said. “It makes me happy because I didn’t think that this many students would come out. It’s an amazing thing.”

The students marched from the church to City Hall and chanted.

“Deportation is a cruel violation of humanity,” said Yale student, Isaac Spanjer.

Immigration officials previously told NBC Connecticut that there is a removal order against Nelson Pinos, who they consider an immigration fugitive. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[5 Stabbed, Including 3 Infants, at NYC Maternity Center: Police]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 18:53:49 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/day+care+scene+3.png

A 52-year-old woman allegedly stabbed five people, including three baby girls no more than a month old, at a maternity center in Queens early Friday, and cops say they found a butcher knife and meat cleaver at the scene. 

A 13-day-old girl and a 1-month-old girl were stabbed in the stomach; a 22-day-old girl had a laceration to her ear, chin and lip. All are in critical but stable condition, authorities said. Two other people, a father of a child at the center and another woman who worked there, were also stabbed at the Flushing center just before 4 a.m. Friday. The woman was stabbed eight times in the torso. 

Police say the 52-year-old suspect was found unconscious on the basement floor of the center on 161st Street with her left wrist slashed in what police say was a self-inflicted wound. She is in police custody at a hospital; officials said she has regained consciousness. She is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation as she is treated for her injuries. Charges are pending.

Authorities say it appears the stabbing spree at what was initially described as an overnight daycare started with an attack on the adult female. The 31-year-old father who was injured intervened and was stabbed in the leg; then the attack on the children began. Two people called 911 -- and those calls revealed abject terror.  

It wasn't clear whether the stabbed father's child was one of the infants stabbed. He, along with the 63-year-old worker stabbed in the torso, are hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

Nine babies -- five girls, four boys -- were in the house at the time. Police say some other parents were there as well. It wasn't clear whether the facility was licensed or why it had so many newborns there at the time of the stabbing; state records indicate there was a registered business at the location.

An official briefed on the investigation tells News 4 it was a maternity center. Mothers would go there with their newborns and workers would help take care of the babies. Foreign mothers could also have their babies here, the official said, and then receive help at the center processing paperwork to get those babies citizenship.

Local elected officials said it appeared it was an unlicensed facility for new mothers and their babies to convalesce for a month, in keeping with Chinese tradition.

A mother of one of the baby girls stabbed tells News 4 she is from Brooklyn but decided to bring her daughter to the facility for her 30-day rest; it costs $4,600 for a monthlong stay, she said. Her 13-day-old daughter was stabbed in the left side of her body but will "thankfully" be OK, the mother told News 4 at the hospital. 

A spokeswoman for the state's Office of Children and Family Services says the center's address is not an OCFS-licensed or regulated childcare program. Programs regulated by the agency are by regulation prohibited from caring for infants younger than 6 weeks unless they have prior OCFS approval.

"OCFS is saddened by this horrific situation and investigating it as a possible illegal operation," the statement said.

No possible motive has been revealed. Police said they received one 311 call there years ago -- a call about children screaming in 2011. 

Video from the scene showed a heavy police presence, with dozens of law enforcement vehicles and officers swarming the scene. Later, officers accompanied by cops in white biohazard suits were seen carrying large bags to a specialized crime scene unit truck. 

Photo Credit: News 4]]>
<![CDATA[Hartford DPW Employee Had Marijuana Grow Lab: Police]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 06:51:00 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Elton+Trader+and+marijuana+plants.jpg

A Hartford Department of Public Works employee has been placed on leave after police found a marijuana grow lab in his apartment, according to police. 

Hartford police said they learned about it when firefighters responded to a fire alarm in the 300 block of Main Street in Hartford Wednesday and contacted them. 

The resident, 58-year-old Elton Trader, of Hartford, admitted his involvement, according to the Hartford police report. 

Photos from police show several marijuana plants and equipment used to cultivate them. 


Trader was charged with cultivation of marijuana, operation of a drug factory, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. 

NBC Connecticut reached out to DPW and they did not comment. Fire officials said Trader is on administrative leave without pay. 

Trader appeared in court Thursday and his case has been continued to Sept. 28. 

NBC Connecticut reached out to Trader by phone and he did not comment.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police]]>
<![CDATA[Prize-Winning Poet Danez Smith Wants Trump Fans to Read Work]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 11:55:42 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/SmithDanez+%28David+Hong%29+.jpg

Baptist bishops preaching from the pulpit are poets. The wino on the corner is a poet. Grandparents who repeat oral stories from the comfort of their favorite chair are poets, too. 

That’s what Danez Smith, the newest and youngest poet to receive a prestigious British Forward Prize, believes. The St. Paul, Minnesota, native is also the first gender-neutral poet to win the £10,000 ($13,083) prize for best collection. Smith, who prefers the pronouns “they” and “them,” defeated the 2018 U.S. Poet Laureate Tracey K. Smith at the Sept. 18 event.

“We all have poets in our lives,” Smith said. “Poetry is for all of us, because poetry helps us see ourselves as human. [Poems] are mirrors that help me see my flesh is actually flesh and not imagined.”

The 29-year-old's prize winning 2017 collection, “Don’t Call Us Dead,” details the poet's struggles as an African-American queer individual facing police brutality, white supremacy and their own HIV-positive diagnosis.

Smith, who was also a 2017 National Endowment of the Arts Fellow, explained they used their collection to speak to “black people, queer people, people who know what it's like to live with illness.” But Smith also hopes their work touches people who don’t fit into those categories.

“I hope that the most Trump supporting of readers stumble upon my collection and think about what it means to be queer,” Smith said. “There is a reading of the book that requires that even if they don’t know these lives, they can sit down it and consider it.”

British filmmaker, poet and journalist Bidisha chaired the judge’s panel for the competition. She said that Smith's wide range included "sexuality and desire, yearning, vulnerability, but also creativity and determination in the face of oppression, stereotyping and the threat of violence.”

While inequality and injustice are "ever-present" in Smith's work, "so are hope, liveliness and the desire to speak truth to power.”

The filmmaker added that although other poets' collections included those themes, Smith “brought them all together with a very fresh voice and a certain energy.”

One poem in the prize-winning collection, “summer, somewhere,” describes a black-men-only afterlife.

“I am trying to offer humility and peace to people that were only offered chaos,” Smith explained. “If we can't have hope and we can’t have peace, we can have it somewhere else.”

“Dinosaurs in the Hood,” which reimagines a “Jurassic Park”-like movie in a black culture context, is another favorite.

“We need to see ourselves as alive and worthy of something as silly as a movie, not just worthy of being on the news,” Smith said in describing the poem.

“Dear White America,” another poem in the collection focusing on white supremacy, reached more than 340,000 views after it was posted on YouTube in 2014.

Smith described their excitement at winning the Forward Prize. 

“It was a magical experience to receive such an award in a country I don’t live in, but we share the same language," Smith, a current Minneapolis resident, said. “We really do something that extends beyond all borders. Poetry is the country that I live in and I'm happy to be in it.”

Poet Niall Campbell — a panel judge along with poets Jen Campbell, Mimi Khalvati and Chris McCabe — shared a similar sentiment about poetry’s ability to surpass borders and cultures.

“Danez writes about race and oppression in an American context — and brings the world’s spotlight there — but also, like all good poetry, it is transferable,” he said. “It is a book about love and anger, oppression and the demand for justice that will find a home in countless countries.”

More than being a recognition of Smith’s skill, the black queer poet’s win will also show other LGBTQ poets and poets of color that their work matters, Jen Campbell said she hoped.

“As a queer person with a disfigurement, I longed to see myself in the literature I read as a child and rarely did,” Jen Campbell said. “It brings me joy that not only can everyone read Danez's poetry and be wowed by their skill, but that they are now perhaps more visible to those who need to see them, and by institutions who should be paying more attention.”

Bidisha said that the diversity of the 15 poets on the prize's shortlist has already demonstrated that the “closely guarded upper echelons of poetic prestige” are becoming more inclusive.

“A poet is not an old white heterosexual male philanderer talking about what he saw on his walk,” she said. “It is a woman, a queer person, a trans person, a poet in translation, a poet in transit, a poet in exile. All that matters is voice and craft. Poetry must no longer judge by appearances or replicate snobberies or reinforce the boys' club."

Having broken into these “upper echelons,” Smith plans to focus on grinding out their next collection.

“Prizes don’t make the poet, poems do,” Smith said.

Photo Credit: David Hong]]>