<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - National & International News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Fri, 28 Nov 2014 14:48:39 -0600 Fri, 28 Nov 2014 14:48:39 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA["It's a Tradition": Shoppers Hunt for Black Friday Deals ]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 11:47:08 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP543391047193.jpg

Anders Kullman and his girlfriend flew in to New York City from Stockholm to shop at Macy’s on Black Friday for the tenth year in a row, and by 3 a.m. he was inside the Herald Square store buying clothes.

“It started off with the bargains, but now it’s just for fun,” said the 47-year-old, who works for Hewlett-Packard. “We are not saving any money, coming over here shopping.”

He was among the tourists joining in on the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, which with more stores opening on Thanksgiving Day is now firmly a two-day event.

And that’s exactly how three medical professionals — Naveet Panesar, 25, and 24-year-old Dalisha Bharti, medical residents who live in Queens, and Simar Kaur, a 26-year-old dental student — planned their shopping spree. They started at 10 p.m. Thursday and were still at it Friday morning.

“Shopping, taking rest in between, eating and eating and then going back again and shopping,” Panesar said.

All three women bought coats as well as jeans and jewelry.

“A little bit of everything which completes the entire list,” Kaur said. “One of this, one of this, one of this.”

The Adobe Systems Inc.’s 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping Forecast found that some of the season’s best deals would be online on Thanksgiving Day, but such predictions didn’t deter shoppers determined to be the first in the stores.

Raquila Wilkinson, 34, arrived at a Target in New York at 2 a.m. — more than 15 hours before its 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day opening.

"It's a tradition," Wilkinson said of shopping on the holiday weekend. "I look forward to it."

There were 500 people in line by the time the Target's doors opened; another 200 people rushed into a Toys R Us in Times Square when it opened at 5 p.m.

The scene was similar at the Dolphin Mall in Miami, Florida, were up to 800 people were waiting outside Thanksgiving evening.

“Shoes, shoes, and shoes,” said Andrea Brillante of the items she was looking to buy on sale.

And Edward Alvarez’s holiday shopping strategy was to get it all done.

“You make it simple to do it all in one day,” he said.

A survey by Nerd Wallet, the personal finance website, raised questions about some of the Black Friday bargains. It found that many of the same deals are offered year to year, which might not matter for luggage or Christmas trees but could mean less than good buys for year-old electronics or appliances, the web sites notes.

Doubts aside, 61 percent of Americans or more than 140 million shoppers said they would be in the stores or online over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. Holiday sales are expected to grow 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, according to the federation.

Record online sales of $1.35 billion were expected on Thanksgiving Day, an increase of 27 percent over last year, according to the Adobe System's forecast. Black Friday meanwhile could be the fastest growing online sales day at $2.48 billion, a rise of 15 percent.

Demand forced Best Buy to shut down its website Friday morning for an extended period. Would-be shoppers found this message posted on the site: "We're Sorry, BestBuy.com is currently unavailable. Check back soon."

Best Buy blamed the outage on a spike in mobile traffic.

This is a key time for retailers, which make about 20 percent of their annual sales during the season.

The sales are meant to snap consumers out of any tendency to put off shopping until the last minute, said Priya Raghubir, the chair of the marketing department at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York City.

“They give you a reason to get out in the cold and start spending money,” she said.

“Consumers love getting a deal or at least feeling they’ve got a deal, feeling smart, feeling that they are in control,” she said.

At a Target store in Salem, New Hampshire, Fred Trecartin of Dracut, Massachusetts, waited for more than an hour on Thanksgiving Day.

"I had to get the three TVs, 40 inches for $119," he said. "It’s insane.”

Asked if it was worth it, he said, "Uh, yeah but my wife’s still in there....I might have to send the cavalry out soon.”

With the most ardent shoppers jamming store aisles Thursday night, Friday morning was quieter in many places than in past years. Some 25.6 million of the weekend's consumers were expected to be shopping on Thanksgiving Day; additionally 95.5 million said they would be looking for bargains on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation.

At the Westfarms shopping center in West Hartford, Connecticut on Friday, Marissa Stafford of Simsbury said she had saved up to $400 so far.

"It's all organzied," she said. "We have our coupons, our lists, so you've learned over the years you have to be prepared. Yes, we've been doing this tradition for 10 years now."

Best Buy was among the retail chains that were open by 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Other included Toys R Us and J.C. Penney. Target, Sears, Kohl's and Macy's opened at 6 p.m. and Kmart was keeping its doors open for 42 hours straight. Radio Shack opened at 8 a.m., however, after workers complained about the early hour, the electronics retailer decided to close between noon and 5 p.m.

J.C. Penney spokesman Joey Thomas said that when chain opened on Thanksgiving for the first time last year, the response from customers was overwhelmingly positive. Giveaways and other activities are planned to show staff members that their work is appreciated, Thomas said.

“Additionally, local store leaders recognize the importance of work-life balance when staffing regular and seasonal associates, and give priority to those who volunteer for holiday shifts,” Thomas said. “Hourly associates will receive time and a half for hours worked on Thanksgiving Day.”

Macy’s noted that there were 15,000 people in line for its Herald Square store in Manhattan last year at 8 p.m., a record. The large majority of shifts were filled voluntarily, according to Holly Thomas, a spokeswoman for the stores.

In contrast, Nordstrom will remain closed on Thanksgiving.

“Over the years, our tradition has been to be closed on Thanksgiving so we are able to unveil our holiday trim the following morning,” said spokesman Dan Evans Jr.

Dismay over the early shopping led 32-year-old Brian Rich of Boise, Idaho, a marketing coordinator at a credit union, to start a Facebook page called “Boycott Black Thursday.”

“The best way to stop this is for everyone to stop shopping on Thanksgiving,” he said.

Twenty-five-year-old Danielle Mesisca quit her job at Kohl’s in New York City rather than work on Thanksgiving. The single mother, who has a day job working for New York City, said she would not object if Black Friday started at midnight or later.

“I feel like working a minimum wage job on a holiday is not worth it,” she said. “Thanksgiving is that one day your entire family gets together to spend time together. I shouldn't have to be forced to work and miss time with my family so other people can shop.”

Kohl’s did not immediately respond for comment.

With sales beginning earlier, and uncertainty about when the best deals are to be found, Black Friday does offer one guarantee: long lines of other shoppers, Raghubir said.

“But yes there will certainly be the buzz also,” she said. “You’ll be with all these other shoppers who are also very excited at having got a deal.”

That excitement is one reason 28-year-old Sy Paulson, a general manager at a Best Buy store in New York City said he did not mind working over the holiday. He typically has his meal the weekend before or a few days afterward and works both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

“This is my tenth Black Friday at Best Buy,” he said. “I get a lot of retail adrenaline. It’s a fun time. It kicks off the holiday season.”

In New York City, the Griffin family from West Union, Ohio, was heading into Macy’s around 6:30 a.m. and 9-year-old Emma was looking for just one thing: Santa.

The family had visited three years ago, when Emma just saw him through a window, her mother, 44-year-old Angie Griffin, said.

“She didn’t actually go in and sit on his lap,” Angie Griffin said. “Today she is.”



Photo Credit: AP Images for Sears]]>
<![CDATA[Burger King Owner Finds $100K ]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:46:30 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/burgerking2.jpg

It's not unusual for things to be left behind at Altaf Chaus' Burger King. Customers have forgotten their cell phones and their laptops in the past.

But on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, someone left behind a nondescript blue backpack, which sat on a table at the Bascom Avenue fast food store in San Jose, California, for hours. Chaus' employee noticed it and notified him about the forgotten bag.

"Out of curiosity," Chaus opened the bag to look for an ID or a phone number. Inside? Ten stacks of $10,000 bills, totaling $100,000.

"I was shocked," he said. "There was a stack of hundred dollar bills wrapped in rubber bands. I called police."

Officer came by his restaurant that evening to retrieve it, and told him that if it wasn't returned in six months, that he'd be eligible to get the cash. The bag also had an ATM card, some phone numbers, a bag of marijuana and a "white rock" in it, that possibly could have been drugs, Chaus said. San Jose Police Sgt. Heather Randol confirmed the account on Friday adding that police don't have very many leads on who it belongs to.

Whether it's drug money or cash that was earned legitimately, Chaus said he won't keep the money if it ever comes back to him.

As a Muslim, he said, he lives by the expression that "if you don't sweat, it's not yours."

He said that he's worked two jobs since moving the United States and believes in the value of hard work.

"God has given me a good life, and I'm happy with that," he said. "I might donate the money to needy people...I think you should do the right thing."



Photo Credit: Michael Horn
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<![CDATA[Top News Photos of the Week]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 12:26:12 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/459618934.jpg View weekly updates on the very best photos in domestic and foreign news.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Anti-Fur Groups Target Rodeo Drive]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:24:22 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/161*120/Rodeo+Drive-Flickr-+Frankenmedia.png

Animal rights activists are planning to protest along the tony Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive shopping area during Black Friday, as part of a nationwide Fur Free Friday campaign.

Organizers have dubbed the glitzy retail hub the “Bloodiest Street in America” because of its retailers’ sales of luxury clothing made using animal furs and pelts, and are planning a demonstration for 11 a.m. - the third in a series of four protests planned across the city.

West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico, who authored his city’s first-in-the-nation fur ban, is slated to speak and protesters have planned to march.

Backers of the event include PETA, Last Chance for Animals and In Defense of Animals.

Retailers including Prada, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Michael Kors, Armani, Fendi, Max Mara and Ferragamo are among the targets of the protest, according to organizers.

Other planned protest sites include the Glendale Galleria and neighboring Americana at Brand in the morning; the Beverly Center in the afternoon; and Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica in the evening.

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<![CDATA[Parents Left Kids to Shop: Police]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:17:56 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/NYC+Woodbury+Commons.jpg

A 4-year-old boy and his 11-year-old handicapped sister were left alone in a hotel while their parents were  at an outlet mall on Black Friday, police said. 

The boy was discovered crying and wandering in a hallway at 3:52 a.m. at the Hampton Inn in Central Valley, Woodbury police said. Police discovered his sister alone in a locked hotel room. 

The front desk called the children's parents who returned to the hotel, police said. Their father told police he left the children alone at about 3 a.m. to pick up his wife from Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets, but he had to wait for more than an hour for her to finish shopping. 

The father was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. He has been released and a court appearance is scheduled Dec. 10. 

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<![CDATA[Christmas Tree Arrives at WH]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 12:45:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/182*120/459682616.jpg

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the White House now that the official tree has arrived.

A horse-drawn wagon hauled the 20-foot white fir up the driveway to the North Portico for inspection on Friday morning. Receiving the tree were first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha and family dogs Bo and Sunny.

The family circled the tree, smelled it and conferred before the first lady said, "Thumbs-up. It's a go. We're taking the tree."

Malia, holding Bo's leash, said of the tree: "It's great. It's big."

It's tradition for the first lady to preside over the tree delivery on the morning after Thanksgiving. The odds are slim to none that it would ever be rejected.

The tree is chosen weeks in advance at the farm that wins the National Christmas Tree Association contest. The winner has presented the official White House tree since 1966.

In late September, a group of White House staffers including the chief usher, groundskeeper and chief horticulturist traveled to the Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, to search for a tree they agreed is perfect enough to stand in the Blue Room, albeit tethered to its ceiling, as the main attraction throughout the White House holiday season. The Blue Room tree cannot be taller than 18 ½ feet, so this tree will be trimmed to fit.

The farm, run by Christ Botek, a second-generation Christmas tree farmer, also provided the official White House tree in 2010 and 2006.

The delivery marked the start of an intense few days of round-the-clock tree trimming, wreath laying and other decorating by an army of volunteer decorators who help turn the White House into a winter wonderland. Many of the decorations honor military families, a group that Mrs. Obama is trying to support through a nationwide initiative.

She has invited military families to the White House for a first look at the decorations on Wednesday.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Turkey Crashes Into Windshield ]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 14:04:31 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wrecker-turkey.jpg

A Lubbock, Texas, man was on his way home to celebrate Thanksgiving when he said a turkey flew through his windshield Thursday morning.

Kameron Schrader said he was driving near Abilene, Texas, when the turkey crashed into the windshield of his wrecker.

"What are the odds of hitting a big old turkey on Thanksgiving?" he said.

Schrader was still able to make it home to Lubbock in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. He said he still can't believe it actually happened.

"Everybody has asked if I was okay," he said. "And then after that, just that it was hysterical."

The turkey did not survive the crash and Schrader said he gave it to a family who stopped to help him.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Best Buy's Website Back Up After Black Friday Outage]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:33:57 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-28+at+10.18.32+AM.png

Best Buy's website was back up after suffering an extended outage on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year.

"A concentrated spike in mobile traffic triggered issues that led us to shut down BestBuy.com in order to take proactive measures to restore full performance," Best Buy spokeswoman Amy von Walter said in a statement. "Our consumers can return to BestBuy.com in the next several hours to take advantage of today's door busters."

On Thanksgiving morning the website was experiencing issues at around 9 a.m. as well, CNBC reported.

Best Buy attempted to one-up retail competitors this year by opening stores at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, providing tickets up to two hours before the doors open. Special sales in-stores included a 50-inch Panasonic TV for only $199.99. Other deals, online and in-store, included discounted GoPros, Dell Laptops, and Samsung UHD TVs.

Best Buy’s Black Friday slogan coined the term “door busters” for customers taking advantage of these deals when the stores opened, but it looks like “website busters” may be more appropriate. 

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<![CDATA[Boys in NY Building Snow Fort Buried By Plow: Police]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:22:00 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Snow-Mound-Rescue-Inset.jpg

Two New York boys were trapped under a several feet of snow for hours after being accidentally buried by a plow on Wednesday, police say.

The boys, ages 9 and 11, were building a snow fort in a mound at a parking lot near a Newburgh apartment complex when a plow clearing the lot pushed more powder onto the pile, trapping the boys underneath, police say.

Police say the plow operator was clearing snow from the opposite side of the mound and wouldn't have known know he had buried the children.

The boys, who are cousins, were trapped under 6 or 7 feet of snow for hours in sub-freezing temperatures, police say, and one of their mothers set out looking for them when they didn't return by about 10 p.m. When she and other family members couldn't find the boys, they called police to report them missing.

Officers canvased the apartment complex for the cousins, knocked on doors and interviewed other children in the neighborhood. They eventually learned that the cousins had been building a snow fort in the parking lot of a health center near the apartment complex.

One officer went to the health center and found a shovel half-buried in the snow mound. He grabbed it and started digging, eventually unearthing a small snow boot.

The officer called for help and police, EMS workers and community members started digging for the boys. Some had shovels, while other clawed at the snow with bare hands. They eventually freed both of the children at about 2 a.m. Thursday.

Both boys were conscious but were taken to the hospital for exposure to the cold.

One of the officers who helped dig the boys out, Sgt. Aaron Weaver, described a frantic scene as he and others tried to free the boys.

"It was all just really adrenaline," Weaver said. " I wasn't thinking much. Just trying to get to the kids."

One of the boy's mothers thanked Newburgh Police for saving the children in an Instagram post Thursday. 

"Today I am thankful my son and nephew are here and I would like to thank the Newburgh Police Officers who found my nephew and my son after searching for them," she said. "They found them at 2 am stuck in a huge snowpile that trapped them for several hours so I am very thankful today to have these two safe at home alive."

Newburgh had more than 6 inches of snow on Wednesday.

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<![CDATA[Man Set Self on Fire: Investigators]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 22:16:54 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gas+station+flames+112614.jpg

A man suffered burns to half of his body after lighting himself on fire outside a San Diego gas station, according to fire investigators.

This happened at a Kearny Mesa Shell Gas Station at 7785 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

According to investigators, the man started fueling, took the gas hose into the front seat of his car and lit himself on fire.

Firefighters extinguished the flames, and paramedics rushed the patient to the UCSD Burn Center. He suffered second-degree burns to 50 percent of his body, according to fire officials.

Cell phone video from witnesses showed fire shooting from the vehicle and a bystander trying to throw water onto the flames.

Officials did not release the man's name but said he is from the Los Angeles area.

The incident remains under investigation.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 Viewer]]>
<![CDATA[Brown Protesters to Be Released]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 01:48:12 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/141126-day-3-la-ferguson-protest-6th-and-hope-arrest.jpg

The 70 or so Ferguson demonstrators who remained jailed Thursday after the arrest of about 175 Wednesday night in downtown Los Angeles were released by Thanksgiving dinner.

While anyone unable to post bail was initially told they would remain behind bars until after the holiday weekend, LAPD released them throughout the afternoon.

Many of the protesters said they were given no warning that they would be arrested.

"They corralled us into an intersection," protester Carlos Partida said. "Had they said, 'Hey, we're going to start arresting people, you guys have to leave,' I would have left. I did not want to be arrested."

"They didn't say anything," protester Tristan Bell said. "They cornered us in and people started trying to walk away."

Activist and journalist Jasmyne Cannick, who also joined the crowds in downtown Los Angeles, said the demonstrators were peaceful and should not have been arrested.

"Things did not get out of hand at Sixth and Hope until the LAPD arrived and boxed us in for no reason," Cannick said.

But Los Angeles police said they warned the crowds more than once, including with a sound truck.

Unless anyone who was arrested had an outstanding warrant, each demonstrator was released on their own recognizance by Thursday afternoon.

About 145 people were arrested in Los Angeles during the third night of protests related to the grand jury decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri police officer for the shooting death of an unarmed teenager.

More people were arrested in LA Wednesday than in Ferguson, which saw rioting and gunfire Monday and Tuesday nights after the announcement was made.

Crowds gathered downtown Wednesday night and crisscrossed streets for several hours before being stopped by a line of police in riot gear near the Central Library.

After an unlawful assembly was declared, police gave protesters a few minutes to disperse. Anyone who didn't, was arrested.

During the arrests, Beck told NBC4 the demonstrators had no one to blame but themselves.

"Well Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so it is possible. That's not our goal... they had multiple opportunities to disperse, multiple opportunities to comply with the lawful orders of police. This was not our choice," Chief Beck said.

An LAPD spokesman said the demonstration was endangering motorists as the protest meandered through traffic, and it became a matter of public safety.

Jane Yamamoto and Ted Chen contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Crowds Cheer at Thanksgiving Parade]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 19:03:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chelsea-7-crop.jpg

The skies cleared for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, drawing throngs of spectators to the streets of New York City.

It was around 37 degrees with a hint of drizzle and light winds as clowns shot a burst of confetti from canisters to get the show rolling.

"Everybody's great, everybody's having a good time. We're cold but everyone's still smiling so it's always worth it," said spectator Yolanda Rodriquez. 

The honor of leading the parade went to the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band from Western Carolina University.

The musicians were hoping to set two records: one for the most cymbal players (55) and one for the largest band (505 members).

This year, the parade featured six new giant balloons, including Thomas the Tank Engine, Paddington bear and the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. StormTeam4 meteorologist Raphael Miranda was one of the handlers for a new balloon, the Erupter.

According to Macy's, Snoopy is as tall as a three-story building, as long as 11 bicycles and as wide as five taxi cabs. The big balloons are made up of multiple chambers that are inflated individually.

A wintry storm swept through the northeast Wednesday, mucking up travel for millions. But the blustery weather didn't affect the inflation of the balloons for the parade and it didn't keep the crowds from flocking to the Upper West Side to watch the balloons get inflated. 

It was an only-in-New-York experience for those looking to see beloved characters, such as Snoopy and Hello Kitty, before they were marched before millions on the streets, and millions more on television. 

"It's really cool, they're huge," said San Francisco resident Ella Missan. Daisy Elliot of Boston, who said she's been coming to see the balloons since she was little, agreed. "It's really exciting for me to see the balloons year after year," she said.

The parade's executive producer, Amy Kule, said organizers were glad wintry weather that made sidewalks slick and travel treacherous on Wednesday was gone by Thursday.
"There's no thought that this parade would never march down the streets of New York,"  Kule said. 

Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie of "Today" hosted as more than 8,000 participants made their through the streets of New York City.

Celebrities participating included Lucy Hale, Nick Jonas, Idina Menzel and Meghan Trainor. The parade featured high-stepping numbers from this season’s Tony Award-winning best musical "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder," Sting’s "The Last Ship," "On the Town" and "Side Show," as well as a sneak peek at NBC’s "Peter Pan Live!" 

The spectacle was broadcast live on NBC. 

-- Tracie Strahan and Gus Rosendale and AP contributed to this report. 



Photo Credit: Chelsea Narvaez
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<![CDATA[Embracing "Charlie Brown'" Tree]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 12:22:37 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Reading+Christmas+Tree.jpg

The 50-foot spruce standing in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, drew comparisons to the sad-looking tree in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and ire from some city officials -- nearly leading to a switch. But instead of a replacing the spindly sapling, the Berks County city is embracing the likeness to the famous holiday cartoon.

"In honor of the famous Charlie Brown Christmas tree, we will be decorating the tree with one single red ornamental bulb," according to a City of Reading news release. "We hope that this reminds all who are following the story of our tree of the deeper meaning of the holiday season."

Only a week earlier, Reading City Council's president, Francis Acosta, led a group of citizens interested in having the Norway spruce, located at 5th and Penn streets, replaced by a fuller tree.

But Acosta changed his mind about the "horrible" tree and stopped workers Monday as they were in the midst of removing decorations from the "pathetic" spruce.

"Between the snow forecasted to come to Reading and the deadline for a 2015 budget this week," Acosta said, "I think we should be focusing efforts on preparing our streets for the storm and finalizing the city's 2015 budget."

The replacement, which was donated, will go up in Reading's City Park -- and a separate decorating ceremony will take Friday and Saturday for the new tree.

Reading's official holiday tree -- which remains at the corner of 5th and Penn streets -- and it's lone ornament will be rededicated Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m.

"We would like to thank everyone who has offered to help the city beautify the tree and ask for help to spread the true meaning of the season that the tree symbolizes throughout our city and our great nation," the city said in a news release.

Anyone interested in helping Reading with its holiday mission can donate to the city's Holiday Spirit Fund at any Fulton Bank location. The money will be used to purchase copies of the book, A Charlie Brown Christmas, for children participating in the city's upcoming seasonal festivities.



Photo Credit: Ben Hasty/ Reading Eagle]]>
<![CDATA[Hairdresser Gives Haircuts to Needy]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 18:59:40 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/brunch+and+haircuts+3.jpg

With a pair of scissors in his hand, and a client in his chair, it looks to all the world like Daniel Rita is cutting hair at Jewelz and Company Salon on J Street in Modesto.

In Rita's mind, though, it looks a bit different.

"For me, doing hair is yoga, it's therapy," Rita said.

Rita says going to beauty school a year-and-a-half ago, and eventually landing a job as a hair stylist, are what helped him get control of an increasingly out-of-control life.

Rita decided to start giving something back to society. This is why, every Sunday for the past few months he, along with a group of friends, can be found in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza.

While the friends set up a table, start making sandwiches, and hand them out to the hungry and homeless, Rita takes his folding chair and opens it up 50 feet away, then pulls out his scissors and some battery-powered clippers. "I've got to keep the hair away from the food," Rita explained.

WATCH MORE BAY AREA PROUD STORIES

Rita then begins giving haircuts to anyone who needs or wants one, for free.

"It's a karma campaign," he said. "It's not about the money. It's about the happiness."

Happiness is something, Rita confesses, that has only come to him later in life.

He grew up in the East Bay and, in what he now admits was a rash decision, dropped out of college and enlisted in the Navy.

As a gay man, it was an arrangement that didn't end well. He left the military early, eventually finding himself living in Florida, battling addiction, HIV positive, and flat broke.

"I had $60 in cash and $200 in food stamps when I came back to California," Rita said.

He said he went to beauty school to fulfill a promise he made to a friend years early. He added that it was a key to turning his life around.

Free haircuts are Rita's way of trying to encourage others to do the same.

"A good haircut makes you feel better about yourself," Rita said.

Share Brunch and Haircuts is what Rita and his friends call their Sunday gatherings. "A meal and a haircut, that goes further than any dollar we could give," Rita said.

In a short time, word has quickly spread among San Francisco's needy.

"When I show up, there's already a line of people waiting for a trim or a shave," Rita said. Drawing from his own personal experiences, he talks to his clients about addiction and financial struggles. He hopes that they leave with a better feeling about themselves, and a better outlook about their future.

"If I can help just one person change their life," Rita said, "it's worth it."

Rita said he would love to expand his operation, one day converting a trailer into a mobile haircutting station, enabling him to bring his services to more people in more places around the Bay Area as well as Modesto. 


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<![CDATA[Toddler Inspires Disney Petition]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:08:28 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/211*120/11-26-14-Disney-Princess-revised.JPG

A San Francisco family traveled to Disney's Southern California Headquarters Wednesday to deliver a petition with more than 75,000 signatures calling on Disney to create characters with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

Keston Ott-Dahl created the petition in honor of her 15-month-old daughter Delaney, who has Down syndrome.

"I want the world to change," Ott-Dahl said. "I want Delaney to grow up in a society where she knows there’s a place for her and she’s part of society and she’s loved and appreciated."

Ott-Dahl's Care2 petition asks Disney to fight back against stigmas by representing children with disabilities in their animated films.

Ott-Dahl's partner and two daughters — both dressed as Disney Princesses — joined her in Burbank to deliver the petition that has drawn media coverage across the country.

Disney has responded to the petition, saying the studio is "committed to continuing to create characters that are easily accessible and relatable to all children."

While the Ott-Dahl family believes Disney does a good job of teaching children moral lessons, they hope the company will realize "every little girl wants to feel like a princess" and will give the family a "firm commitment" to represent children with disabilities.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Stepfather Killed Missing Mom: DA]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 23:13:41 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Stepfather-and-Padgett.jpg

The search for Jessica Padgett, a missing mother and newlywed from Northampton County, came to a stunning end the day before Thanksgiving when investigators announced she'd been murdered by her stepfather.

District Attorney John Morganelli said Gregory Graf admitted he shot Padgett in his home and disposed of her body, burying her in the yard behind a shed. The motive appears to be sexual assault, Morganelli said.

Padgett, a mother of three, was last seen Friday when she left her job at the Duck Duck Goose day care center in Northampton. She told co-workers she had to run an errand but never returned.

The 33-year-old woman's car was found less than a mile away in the parking lot of a Dollar General store. Her cellphone and keys were inside.

"I just want my sister found," said Jeremy Graf, sobbing just hours before being told her body had been found on their parents' property at Covered Bridge Road in Allen Township.

Padgett had a second job working for Graf's company, Distinctive Fence, located on the same property where he and Padgett’s mother live. Investigators believe Padgett went there Friday to use the fax machine.

"During an interview with the investigators he [Graf] did admit that he intentionally and knowingly caused the death of the victim at his home," Morganelli said, adding the crime may have been premeditated. Surveillance video shows a man prosecutors believe is Graf, dropping his truck off in the Dollar General parking lot Friday morning. Later in the day, Morganelli said Graf returned to the parking lot in Padgett's SUV, parked it and drove off again in his truck.

Family and friends launched an intense search effort for Padgett, and started a Help Find Jessica Padgett on Facebook. The victim's sister, Kristi Davis, posted this message:

"We are devastated by the loss of Jessica. she was a beautiful, vibrant young woman who was beloved by her family and friends. The world shines less bright today." 

Greg Graf was one of the 7-thousand people following that Facebook page. Family friends said Graf helped search for Padgett several times after she disappeared.

"The fact that this person was right under our noses and was that close to Jess," said Jim Wilkins, a family friend. "That he could just betray the family...This was a man who was around Jess since she was a child. We're obviously heartbroken." 

Graf, 53, was taken into police custody Wednesday night. He faces murder charges.

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<![CDATA[Loaded Gun Seized From 94-Year-Old]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:59:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/LGA+gun+11-26-14.jpg

Authorities confiscated a loaded .38-caliber handgun from a 94-year-old Brooklyn man who entered a checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport in New York Wednesday with the weapon clipped to his belt, authorities said.

The firearm, with six rounds in it, was hooked on the man's belt near the small of his back as he entered a body scanner, the Transportation Security Administration said.  

Port Authority police were called and they confiscated the firearm. The incident did not affect travel on one of the busiest travel days of the year. Authorities did not say what happened to the senior citizen who was carrying the gun. 

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<![CDATA[Mother Arrested for Abusing Twins]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 09:52:05 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/11-26-14_Courtney-Lynn-Stewart.jpg

A Southern California mother who allegedly starved and abused her twin 3-year-old sons leaving them severely malnourished, bruised and one with a fractured jaw has been arrested, police said Wednesday.

Courtney Lynn Stewart, 24, of Murietta, California, was arrested and charged on suspicion of willful harm or injury to a child and corporal punishment or injury to a child, according to Murrieta Police Department officials.

The investigation began when officials at the the Rancho Springs Hospital contacted the Murietta Police Department when one of the twins was admitted earlier in November weighing less than 15 pounds and with suspicious bruises on his body.

The child was immediately transported to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he remains in critical condition.

Investigators visitied Stewarts home and found the little boy’s twin brother, who was also severely malnourished and had a fractured jaw. He was also hospitilized, and now under the care of Riverside County Child Protective Services. It is unclear if he remains hospitalized.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Jeremy Durant with the Murrieta Police Department at 951-461-6354.



Photo Credit: Murrieta Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Hells Angels Member Arrested]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:11:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/handcuff+generic.JPG

A documented member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has been arrested in connection with a hit-and-run accident in Oceanside, California.

The accident happened after a male patron was harassing a family of three while they walked past the PCH Sports Bar and Grill at 1835 S. Coast Highway, according to Oceanside Police.

A husband, wife and her father, Michael Dean, 60, walked on as the male patron and two others began saying inappropriate things to the woman and threatening to hit the men.

Police said the family was crossing in the intersection of Cassidy and Coast Highway, when Dean, who was within the crosswalk and using a cane, was hit by a white Lexus traveling at a high rate of speed. The driver fled the scene, but witnesses followed.

The driver was identified by police as Anthony Medvec, a documented member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Gang who is on federal probation and required to wear a GPS tracking device.

The tracking device was used to locate Medvec at his home on the 4900 block of Yuma. After a phone call from officers, Medvec came out of his home and was taken into custody without incident on charges of attempted murder.

Medvec was indicted in 2012 for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in a meth trafficking ring busted by FBI. More than 20 other people were sentenced to time in the bust. Medvec was sentenced to 30 months, the shortest sentence of the 20 co-defendants with the same charges.

Dean was transported to Palomar Hospital with several broken bones and a collapsed lung. Officials have not released his condition.



Photo Credit: San Diego County Sheriff's Dept.]]>
<![CDATA[Thieves Drive Into West Side Clothing Store]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 20:23:42 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/smash+and+grab+garfield.jpg

Thieves made off with shoes and jeans after smashing a vehicle into a business in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood early Wednesday, police said.

Officers responded to a report of a burglar alarm at a business in the 4000 block of West Madison and found a vehicle crashed into it. From NBC Chicago's helicopter, a red Dodge Caravan could be seen completely inside the building.

Police later said the vehicle had been used in a smash-and-grab style burglary, with thieves getting away with merchandise from the "Cisco NYC" store. Surveillance video recorded during the heist showed about 20 people taking part in the raid.

No one was at the scene when officers arrived, and no injuries were reported, police department spokeswoman Ana Pacheco said.

No arrests were reported as of 10 a.m.

Police on Tuesday released surveillance video recorded during last week's smash-and-grab burglary at the Louis Vuitton store at an upscale mall in Northbrook.

Three high-end retailers were targeted in September, at Luxury Garage Sale in Old Town, Moncler on Oak Street and Louis Vuitton at a mall in Oak Brook. Investigators said earlier they believe the break-in at the Moncler store is connected to the heist at Louis Vuitton in Oak Brook.

Earlier this month a stolen minivan was crashed into the Salvatore Ferragamo in the Chicago Premium Outlets Mall in Aurora, causing more than $20,000 in damage.


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<![CDATA[Extreme Weather Photos: Holiday Winter Storms]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 22:25:38 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/AP620299064223.jpg Take a look at some of the most extreme weather systems throughout the world.

Photo Credit: Ryan Blackwell]]>
<![CDATA[Officer Kills Suspect After Chase]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 07:22:13 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/211*120/Lewisvilel+crash.JPG

Lewisville police said they are investigating a fatal officer-involved shooting Wednesday morning.

Investigators said a man stole a car from Highland Village, was involved in apparent road rage altercation and the followed the other driver to a Cracker Barrel in the 800 block of South Interstate 35E at about 11:47 a.m. After a brief confrontation, the man pointed a shotgun at the other driver and then walked away.

At about 12:45 p.m., police said a patrol officer saw the stolen vehicle and started following the man. A 5-minute chase ended when the man crashed into two other vehicles on East Round Grove Road near Rockbrook Drive. One woman whose car was hit was taken to the hospital.

Police said the man grabbed his shotgun and ran to the parking lot at a RaceTrac gas station. He unsuccessfully tried to take one car before getting into another one, owned by Erica Montes. She had just finished pumping her gas, saw him coming with the gun and hid behind her car.

“I was very scared," Montes said. "I didn’t know if he was going to shoot at me or grab me because the police had already surrounded him."

Other drivers were ducking for cover.

“At one point I was down in my car because I did see him running around with a shot gun, and I didn’t know which way he was going to go,” said Katy Gallagher.

Police said the suspect fired, and the patrol officer returned fire.

The officer rendered aid to the man until paramedics arrived, police said. The man was taken to Medical Center of Lewisville where he later died. The officer was not injured.

The name of the deceased has not been released.

Lewisville police said that the officer will be placed on leave, per department policy.

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<![CDATA[Wounded K-9 Officer Heads Home]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:23:37 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/11-26-2014-reiko-k9-covina.jpg

A California police dog who was shot as he protected his handler during the search for a gunman wanted in connection with a homicide was released Tuesday night from an animal hospital after recovering from surgery.

Reiko, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois and member of the West Covina Police Department, walked out of the Animal Specialty Group hospital, sniffed a statue of a dog outside the exit and headed home. His handler credited Reiko, who joined the department in December, with saving his life.

"For him to jump in there and take that bullet, it's just amazing," said Officer Bryan Rodriguez. "He saved myself and my partners. He did something a lot of guys wouldn't do."

Reiko was part of a search for a suspect wanted in a shooting death Sunday outside a West Covina church. Witnesses directed officers to a nearby neighborhood, where a man who matched the gunman's description was found on the roof of a house.

"The suspect jumped down off the roof onto the driveway, at which time one of our officers -- who was a canine handler -- deployed the dog," said Cpl. Rudy Lopez. "Once the dog got up to the suspect, the suspect fired a round in the direction of both the dog and the officers."

The round struck Reiko and officers returned fire, killing the gunman at the scene in the 1500 block of Elgenia Street. Rodriguez said he knew Reiko had been struck by a round because he could hear the dog make a "yip" sound.

"He stayed strong, he stayed in the fight," said Rodriguez. "I recalled him back toward me, and when he was coming toward me he was obviously limping and bleeding."

Reiko was transported to TLC Pet Medical Center in South Pasadena and immediately taken into emergency surgery. Doctors removed a bullet "lodged dangerously close" to his spine, according to a statement from the West Covina Police Department.

Once the dog's condition stabilized, he was transported to a trauma specialist at Animal Specialty Group to begin recovery.

"He's definitely my best friend," said Rodriguez. "I just can't wait to get him back home and start taking care of him. Hopefully, it will be a good, fast rehabilitation process and we'll be back on the streets together."

Reiko could be back on patrol in three or four month if his recovery goes well, Rodriguez said.

Reiko is the department's first community-purchased dog. He was acquired by the department after contributions from business and residents.
 



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV
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<![CDATA[Students Make Troop Christmas Cards]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 20:07:18 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/11-25-14-holiday+cards+troops+Iowa.PNG

While many Americans will be spending time with family and enjoying a meal together, the holidays for U.S. troops overseas will be spent away from home.

That fact inspired college student Cesar Olvera, 19, to do something to bring the holiday season to servicemembers across the world. Last year, Colvera was able to get 700 Christmas cards signed by the community and sent to troops overseas.

This year, Olvera is on board the USS Iowa, docked in the LA harbor in San Pedro, and he’s got about 1600 cards signed and ready to be sent to to military men and women.

"They're away from home, I haven't been to my home in Mexico for a lot of years, so I know what it's kinda like to be away for a long time," said Olvera, who came to America when he was 13.

Andrew Loutzenhiser, 11, signed a card on Tuesday, thanking military members for their service.

"I just said...I hope they have a great time because I know they’re missing their families and all their friends," Loutzenhiser said.

George Camisa, a Navy veteran who served during the Korean War, said he wished had something like this when he was in the service.

"But we did have a mail ship that came alongside, and whether you were an enlisted man or an officer, once that mail bag came across on the high line, it was like a bunch of hungry dogs after a meat cart," Camisa said.

The last day to come and sign a card is Dec. 6, where the USS Iowa will remain open every day except Thanksgiving.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article stated the last day to sign a card was Dec. 16, but that day is Dec. 6.



Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Ferguson Protests Continue Across U.S. for 2nd Day]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:04:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/459584294.jpg

Heated protests continued for a second night in response to a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown, with violence and arrests reported across the nation.

Police ordered protesters and media off Ferguson, Missouri, streets after largely peaceful demonstrations turned violent Tuesday evening when a police car was set on fire. Earlier in the evening, demonstrators swarmed the steps of the federal courthouse in St. Louis chanting, "You didn't indict! We shall fight!" The Associated Press reported.

At a news conference early Wednesday, St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar said 44 people were arrested in Ferguson, but added that "it was a much better night."

In New York City, police said 10 people were arrested as protesters gridlocked major streets, highways and bridges. Protesters blocked access to the Manhattan side of the Lincoln Tunnel, one of the city's major transit arteries, during rush hour Tuesday evening.

More than 500 protesters marched up Broadway and gathered peacefully in Times Square. They chanted "Hands up, don't shoot" and carried signs reading "We will not be silent." Around 200 protesters also gathered peacefully in nearby Newark, New Jersey.

In Philadelphia, demonstrators were already taking place at noon on Tuesday, with a group holding signs that read "Outraged! Where is Our Justice?" and "Don't Shop Black Friday." A group of about 500 later held a rally at Temple University and protested outside of a police headquarters, demanding that officers wear body cameras. 

Hundreds of activists in Chicago marched through Downtown after police ordered protesters to leave Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, where they had been participating in a planned 28-hour sit-in. The group called on Emanuel to change what they said was a culture of racism within the Chicago Police Department.

Two people were arrested at a small protest outside the Miami-Dade Metro Justice building Tuesday, police said. A Miami jury deliberating the fate of a woman accused of killing her husband's business partner was dismissed early in anticipation of a protest at the Miami courthouse.

In Los Angeles, almost 100 people were arrested as a few hundred protesters took to the streets, engaging police in a standoff at a freeway off-ramp and surrounding a Highway Patrol car in a tense scene in the south side of the city. Police Chief Charlie Beck said earlier Tuesday that only three arrests were made in protests across LA on Monday.

"I know that this isn't over," Beck said. "This is a wound of the nation that will not heal immediately."

One of the largest protests nationwide was in Boston, where an estimated 1,400 protesters gathered near the Massachusetts Avenue Connector, NBC News reported. Police blocked a ramp leading to I-93 to prevent protesters from going on the highway. The demonstrations in Boston were peaceful overall, however, 45 arrests were made throughout the city, New England Cable News reported.

In Oakland, California, a small group of protesters briefly shut down Interstate 580, but police officers were able to redirect them back onto city streets. Police arrested 40 people on Monday night following the grand jury's decision.

A car plowed through protesters in Minneapolis Tuesday afternoon, injuring one demonstrator, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. Moments after the demonstrator was struck, a group of demonstrators jumped on the hood of the vehicle while others tried to free the demonstrator. Minneapolis Police Department said they were continuing to investigate. 

The announcement that the Missouri grand jury had brought no charge against Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 killing of 18-year-old Brown sparked rioting in Ferguson and some unruly protests elsewhere Monday night.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vowed that the violence would not be repeated, adding that the National Guard presence would be "ramped up significantly."

"Last night criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction terrorized this community, burning buildings, firing gunshots, vandalizing storefronts and looting family businesses, many for the second time," he said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference in Ferguson. "I am deeply saddened for the people of Ferguson who woke up this morning to see parts of their community in ruins."

Protesters had hurled bottles at officers near police headquarters, and flames engulfed at least a dozen businesses. St. Louis County police deployed tactical units and fired tear gas and smoke to break up the crowds. At least 150 gunshots were fired and a semi-automatic handgun was seized, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference early Tuesday. 

Sixty-one people were arrested in Ferguson on charges that included burglary and trespassing, according to The Associated Press. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said early Tuesday that 21 were arrested in the city.

"I'm disappointed I didn't see more peaceful protests out there," Belmar said. "What I've seen tonight is probably worse than the worst night we had in August."

Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that he had briefed the president in the Oval Office about the violence. He said they talked about the need to bring people together.

"This is a difficult time for people in Ferguson," Holder said. "It's a difficult time for people in our country. I think this is an opportunity for us to find those things that bind us as a nation, to be honest with one another about those things that continue to divide us and to come up with ways in which we make this union even more perfect."

Across the country, reactions ranged from marches that threatened to shut down busy streets to gatherings near national landmarks. Most remained peaceful, officials said.

In California, large crowds marched through the streets of Oakland and Los Angeles. Demonstrators shut down Interstate 580 and the USC campus was placed on lockdown as demonstrators marched by.

Angry protesters took to the streets of Philadelphia after the announcement, chanting "No Justice. No Peace. No Racist Police," and holding both arms in the air. Albeit loud in voice, they remained peaceful in actions as police trailed their march.

A man was arrested after hurling fake blood on NYPD Chief Bill Bratton in New York's Times Square during a demonstration. Hundreds marched from Union Square to Upper Manhattan through traffic-clogged streets, with signs such as "Jail killer cops."

At the Chicago police department's headquarters, several hundred people chanted "This is what democracy looks like," and carried photographs of those they said were killed by officers.

Outside the White House, roughly 300 gathered for a peaceful demonstration, chanting "black lives matter." Some carried signs urging the demilitarization of police.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Stripping Robbers Hit Again]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:08:20 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/subwaystriprobbery.jpg

A group of armed robbers who make their victims take off their clothes hit again over the weekend, the latest in a string of robberies all with a similar modus operandi.

In the latest robbery, which targeted a Broward County, Florida, Subway restaurant Monday night, the robbers’ victim was a woman who is eight months pregnant. The robbery was the fifth such crime that had similar circumstances in the last two months. All of the robberies have been caught on camera.

“It seems to be that is their strategy, to take their clothes off,” said Keyla Concepcion of the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

On November 9th at the Rite Way Food Market in Pompano Beach, a customer and clerk were ordered to the back of the store, at gunpoint, where they were both forced to take off their pants. On October 31, a victim at a Pompano Beach convenience store was hit with a gun and shot in the leg.

October 28th, a Tamarac Subway was hit around 10:30 p.m. where employees were robbed at gunpoint before being dragged to the back of the store and ordered to strip. On October 7th, an employee of a GameStop in Plantation was ordered to drive the robbers around before dropping them off in Lauderhill.

Investigators haven’t said if all of the crimes are related, but said all of them are similar in their actions during the robberies.

If you have any information about the string of robberies, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).



Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Lawsuit Filed in Air Bag Death]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:08:09 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/192*120/11-25-14_TakataAirbag.JPG

The lawyer for a family of a SoCal man suing air bag maker Takata said he is certain he'd be alive today had his air bag deployed properly.

According to the lawsuit and the medical examiner's report obtained by NBC4, Devin Xu, 47, died from head injuries sustained "as a result of the deployment of an air bag," citing a "metallic portion" that hit him in the face as it deployed.

"It's the type of thing that air bags are designed to protect against," said attorney Gary Dordick, who hopes Xu's lawsuit adds to mounting pressure for a nationwide recall on vehicles with air bags made by Japan's Takata Corporation.

Xu's family is suing Honda and Takata for punitive damages.

On Monday, Honda admitted it failed to report more than 1,7000 injury and death claims about its vehicles to U.S. safety regulators, a violation of federal law.

On Sept. 3, 2013 Xu was leaving the parking lot of an Alhambra restaurant where he worked as a chef. A medical issue caused him to lose control of his car and strike several cars before hitting a wall, Dordick said.

The impact caused Xu's air bag to deploy and explode, causing metal particles to strike him, ultimately resulting in his death, Dordick said.

Due to the nature of Xu's injuries, police who responded to his death initially thought they were dealing with a homicide, which is similar to what happened in at least one of five other deaths reportedly linked to faulty Takata air bags.

"They come out with an explosion with such force that the injuries are being misidentified as gunshot wounds," Dordick said of the sharp objects spewing out of the air bags, hitting passengers in the face.

"My client lost her husband. The children lost their father. They'll never be able to pick those pieces up again," he said.

Xu's 2002 Acura is one of hundreds of car models representing as many as 8 million cars named in the current international Takata recall.

The company has limited its recall in the U.S. to the Gulf region because it believes humidity is part of the problem.

A statement translated from Japanese to English on Takata's website refers to the investigation into a fatal accident that occurred in Malaysia in July 2014:

"The moisture absorption control of the gas generating agent in some driver seat air bags had not been correctly implemented at the time of manufacture, as a result of which an inflater canister may rupture when the air bag deploys."

"There's no moisture problem in California," said Dordick. "How many people have to get hurt? How many people have to die before they do the right thing?"

The lawsuit was filed the same day Takata executives testified before a Senate committee apologizing to the families of those who may have been impacted.

Auto industry experts have been watching Takata's actions closely. At least one expert warned of the unintended consequences.

"I'm seeing people posting on forums instructions on how to disable an air bag because they're worried," said Todd Turner, president of Car Concepts. "It's the worst thing you can possibly do."

Turner does not condone Takata's actions, but urged consumers to take a look at the bigger picture.

"You're looking at almost 50 million cars a year that are being sold in the world. Most of those have air bags in them," he said. "(In) most cases they work."

"We have information as early as 2005 (that) they knew about this problem," Dordick said. "They knew people were getting hurt and killed — so why eight years later is my client's husband and father killed for the same problem?"

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<![CDATA[Surveillance Video Released in Northbrook Smash-and-Grab]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 03:40:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/northbrook+smash+and+grab.jpg

Police released surveillance video Tuesday after burglars crashed a car into the Louis Vuitton store at an upscale mall in Northbrook, Illinois last week.

Northbrook Police said the crash happened at 4:53 a.m. Police said a number of purses were taken from the store, estimating the total value stolen at $120,000.

The video appeared to show at least eight burglars entering the store and fleeing with arms full of merchandise.

Sources close to the investigation told NBC5 the heist is similar to several other recent thefts in the Chicago area.

Police said in total, the theft took less than two minutes to complete.

Three high-end retailers were targeted in September, at Luxury Garage Sale in Old Town, Moncler on Oak Street and Louis Vuitton at a mall in Oak Brook.

Investigators said earlier they believe the break-in at the Moncler store is connected to the heist at Louis Vuitton in Oak Brook.

Earlier this month a stolen minivan was crashed into the Salvatore Ferragamo in the Chicago Premium Outlets Mall in Aurora, causing more than $20,000 in damage.

The burglars made off with more than $40,000 worth of purses and luggage, police said.

It's not clear whether the Northbrook heist is connected to the recent string of burglaries, but an investigation is ongoing.



Photo Credit: Highland Park Police]]>
<![CDATA["Hoarder" Dies in Home Fire]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:01:03 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/carlsbad+fatal+house+fire.JPG

A Carlsbad woman whose cluttered home caught fire Tuesday evening has died.

The flames sparked at a condominium complex in the 2300 block of Caringa Way, just before 8 p.m., forcing residents next door to run from their home.

Firefighters say clutter blocked their entrance into the home and, once inside, made it difficult for them to maneuver.

The woman in her late 70s was found unresponsive on the first floor. 

Despite efforts to save her, she was pronounced dead at the home.

Neighbor Arlene Cooperson told NBC 7 she warned the victim to clean her home or bear the consequences.

"She's a hoarder," she said. "Things have to be done; they can't avoid them."

The 2-alarm fire damaged four of the adjoining units. Firefighters say the residents won't be allowed to return until Wednesday.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

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<![CDATA[Obama Addresses Hecklers in Chicago]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 23:37:26 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/216*120/heckler+obama+chi+speech.jpg

President Barack Obama took on a group of hecklers during his speech on immigration in Chicago Tuesday.

Obama was in Chicago to discuss his executive action on immigration during a planned visit to the Copernicus Community Center, but in the middle of his speech, he was disrupted by several hecklers.

Three protesters seated in various parts of the auditorium began shouting and criticizing Obama’s deportation policy, saying more than just criminals were being deported.

“You have been deporting families,” one heckler said.

Obama listened for some time then asked them to stop yelling, saying "nobody's removing you, I've heard you, but you've got to listen to me too."

Obama said the group was "absolutely right" and acknowledged that there have been a significant number of deportations.

"But what you're not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law, so that's point No. 1," Obama said. "Point No. 2, the way the change in the law works is that we're reprioritizing how we enforce our immigration law generally. The point is that though I understand why you might have yelled at me a month ago, although I disagree with some of your characterizations, it doesn't make much sense to yell at me right now when we're making changes.”

The audience of roughly 1,800 people applauded the President’s remarks.

"But the point is, let's make sure that you get the facts and that you know exactly what we're doing," Obama said.

He noted if they still disagree with parts of his immigration policy, they can turn to the immigration advocacy groups the administration has worked with on the issue.

It did not appear that any of the hecklers were removed during the speech.
 

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