<![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 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:33:03 -0600 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:33:03 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[5 Key Points From Obama's Year-End Presser]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:49:45 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP684603546762.jpg

President Obama said Sony Pictures Entertainment had made a mistake pulling the movie “The Interview," and defended normalizing relations with Cuba in his last press conference of the year before heading to Hawaii for vacation.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” he said of the cyber attack during which embarrassing emails were made public.

Here are the main topics that he addressed during the exchange with the press, during which he only called on female reporters.

North Korea

On the day that the FBI identified North Korea as the source of the cyber-attacks on Sony, Obama refused to reveal what the U.S. response would be other than to say it would be proportional and in a place and time of U.S. choosing.

He said that although he sympathized with Sony, he wished its executives had talked to him before making the decision on “The Interview.”

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” he said.

If Sony could be intimidated over the release of a satirical movie, imagine what might happen if the issue were a documentary or a news report, he said. Even worse, imagine if producers and other start engaging in self-censorship, he said.

"That's not what America's about," he said.

Cuba

Obama said he shared worries that Cuba would fail to address human right or move toward democracy.

“This is still a regime that oppresses its people,” he said.

But he said he believed normalizing relations, announced this week by his administration, would give the United States more leverage over Cuba. Visiting Americans and better access to telecommunications and the Internet will chip away at what he called a hermetically sealed society and offer the best prospect for self determination, he said.

“Change is going to come to Cuba,” he said. “It has to.”

The country’s economy does not work and it can no longer rely on subsidies from allies such as Venezuela.

He recounted that in his conversation with Cuba President Raul Castro, after Obama had apologized for his 15-minute opening, Castro told him that he was a young man and still had time to break Fidel Castro’s record for speaking for seven hours straight.

State of Race Relations

Black Americans like the rest of Americans are better off than when he took office, Obama said, though the income and wealth gap between black and white America remained.

He said that educational changes his administration has initiated have meant higher high school graduation rates and record numbers of people attending college.

Race relations are now "colored" by police shootings in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, and the perception that law enforcement was not fair, he said.

He said a task force he created would return with practical changes that could be implemented.

“People are basically good and have good intentions,” he said.

Systems and institutions don’t always work as well as they should and can be fixed, he said.

Dealing With Congress

Obama said he would continue to take unilateral actions on issues important to the American people if Congress failed to act.

Immigration was the classic example, he said. He acted only after the House failed to move on a comprehensive bill passed by the Senate.

If Republicans were angered by his executive actions, he said, “There is a very simple solution: Pass bills.”

He urged Republicans to work with him because both sides would have to compromise.

Obama again said that the Keystone XL pipeline would not have much effect on gas prices in the United States, but instead would benefit the Canadian oil industry. The pipeline would bring oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, where it would enter the world oil market.

He said he hoped to work with Republicans on fairness in the tax system, particularly involving corporations. Some are paying taxes at a rate of 35 percent, others of which are paying nothing.

Economy

Obama touted America's economic gains and said the country could enter the new year confident that the United States was making strides.

This year was the strongest for job growth since the 1990s; over a 57-month period, businesses had created nearly 11 million new jobs, he said. About 10 million Americans have gained health insurance in the past year. Deficits has been cut by about two-thirds since he took office.

"America's resurgence is real," he said.
 



Photo Credit: AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Top News Photos of the Week]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:14:44 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP331065736973.jpg View weekly updates on the very best photos in domestic and foreign news.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[3 Die in Crash En Route to Funeral]]> Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:27:26 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ROLLOVER_121914_1239_1_1200x675_375195715768.jpg

An SUV full of people on their way to a funeral rolled over on Interstate 15 Friday, leaving three dead and another three, including a 2-year-old girl, injured.

A 2001 Ford Expedition was headed south on I-15 when it flipped into the northbound lanes near Gopher Canyon Road, blocking the left lanes on both sides of the freeway and killing three people inside. CHP suspects tire tread is to blame.

Suitcases were seen strewn about among the debris. A survivor of the crash told CHP the group was traveling to Mexico to board a plane for a funeral.

Two of the deceased were women: a 22-year-old from Monrovia, Calif. and a 21-year-old from Santa Monica. CHP said it does not appear either women were wearing seat belts.

The driver, a 25-year-old man from Monrovia, had his seat belt on, but was also killed.

A 2-year-old girl restrained in a car seat survived without injuries, but was taken to Children's Hospital for "precautionary reasons." Two adults, the girl's uncle and 43-year-old grandmother, also survived and were transported to Palomar Hospital for non-life threatening injuries, according to CHP.

The child lost both parents in the crash.

Heading to her father's funeral, the grandmother saw her 22-year-old daughter died.

"I am a human being, and my heart goes out to that family, especially during the holiday season," said CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt. "That is tough."

Deputies happened to be driving behind the vehicle when they said the tread on the left rear tire appeared to separate, causing the driver to lose control. CHP said the tread on all four tires looked different.

Authorities will conduct a full mechanical inspection of the SUV, paying close attention to the tires.

Bettencourt said it's important to check the safety of your vehicle often, especially before a long trip.

"Number one: have a plan. Be prepared when you go out there," Bettencourt said. "Make sure that you take a look at your vehicle, you inspect it, you check your wipers, you check the tire pressure, you make sure your vehicle's in good working order before you travel on that long trip."

Editors note: A previous version of this story said the ages of the deceased women were 11 and 12 years old. We regret the error.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Mountain Lion Spotted in Backyard]]> Sat, 20 Dec 2014 04:15:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/202*120/12-19-14-mountain+lion+sherry+kempster+newbury+park.JPG

A mountain lion creeping alongside a Southern California woman's backyard wall forced road closures as wildlife officials tried to capture it.

Sherry Kempster of Newbury Park in Ventura County was in her kitchen Friday morning when she heard crows cawing in the backyard, which usually means "a hawk or something" is in the area, she told NBC4.

Kempster looked out the window about 10:20 a.m. and saw the back leg and tail of a creature moving past the barbecue grill. She soon realized it was a mountain lion.

She captured a picturesque image of the lion as it walked along her backyard wall, a mountain view in the background.

Friday's sighting was the first time she and her husband have seen a mountain lion in the 17 years they lived in their home, she said.

After Kempster called 911, Ventura County sheriff's deputies and Fish and Game wardens started looking for the mountain lion. Officials found it in underneath a trailer in a mobile home park about 5 p.m.

Authorities blocked roads for nearly 90 minutes as they worked to contain the big cat.

Officials said the 14-month-old mountain lion, dubbed P-34, came from the Santa Monica Mountains. She was captured about 8:34 p.m. and released "at an undisclosed location," officials said.
 



Photo Credit: Sherry Kempster]]>
<![CDATA[Kirk Plans to Host Screening of "The Interview"]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 22:56:23 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/seth+rogen+mark+kirk.jpg

Sen. Mark Kirk said in a recent interview he hopes to have his first big re-election fundraiser at a screening of "The Interview," calling Sony Pictures' decision to cancel the film's Christmas Day premier "a terrible lesson to terrorists."

The Republican senator up for re-election in 2016 told WBEZ he was “pretty disappointed” with Sony’s decision to pull the film from theaters after threats from hackers.

“I would say that I’m going to be trying to hold the first big Kirk for Senate fundraiser at a screening of The Interview, so that everybody shows the North Koreans that you cannot edit what we want to see and do in the United States, under the First Amendment.”

He then tweeted, “With Sony’s surrender to North Korea, I plan to host a movie screening of @TheInterview.”

The FBI said Friday that North Korea was responsible for the hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment that exposed private employee information and corporate secrets, NBC News reported.

In the aftermath of the hacking, Sony pulled its planned Christmas Day release of "The Interview" when major movie theater chains dropped the film, citing security fears.

Kirk added in his interview Friday that he hopes the movie will be “a smash hit.”

“It was a terrible lesson to terrorists, to give them what they wanted — that we should, as Americans under the First Amendment, we should never have to ask North Korea for permission as to what movie we can — just think of a previous really good movie, that was 'Team America: World Police,' that was really funny about North Korea. And your birthright as an American citizen — you never have to ask the North Koreans for permission for what movie you can see. I hope that now all the media about this movie makes it a smash hit, and that we see many more movies like it, and teach the North Koreans a lesson about what Americans can and cannot do.”

]]>
<![CDATA[Anti-Cop Graffiti Hits Philly]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:02:57 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Cop+Lives+Dont+Matter+Graffiti.jpg

Anti-police sentiment has materialized in the form of graffiti along a busy avenue in West Philadelphia.

Three messages were scribbled in spray paint on a fence, bar and abandoned church on Baltimore Avenue between 48th and 50th streets.

They read "PPD Killed Brandon Tate Brown," "F--- the Cops" and "Cop Lives Don't Matter."

Brandon Tate Brown is the man shot in the head and killed by a Philadelphia Police officer on Monday following an altercation during a traffic stop. The last message is a play on the chant "Black Lives Matter" that demonstrators have been using recently while protesting against police treatment of African-Americans.

The protests in Philadelphia and other cities around the nation began after grand juries declined to indict white officers in two high profile cases surrounding the deaths of unarmed black teen Michael Brown and the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

It's not clear when the structures were tagged.

"Back in the day you could really run to a cop and trust the cop, but now people are scared to go to cops," nearby resident Sharon Weaver said after seeing the message on the fence.

Kale Good, another resident, said he doesn't agree with defacing a person's property, but that he understands how a person might feel it's the only way to have their voice heard.

"I think what the person is trying to express is that they feel police in general are disregarding their lives or aren't valuing their lives, and so they probably feel an amount of frustration and this is how they expressed it," he said.

A painter was removing the "Cop Lives Don't Matter" message from the fence around noon Friday.

"It’s a shame that someone defaced someone else’s property. We’re going to handle it as a vandalism case, just like we would any other,” Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Tanya Little said.

Little said it is one person's point of view and that the department has and continues to have positive interactions with the community.

"Regardless what the message said, even if it said ‘I love the police,’ this was really a crime against someone else, the property owner," she said.

There were no leads or an estimate on the vandalism's cost, police said.

The city would handle removing the other messages, Mayor Michael Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, said. He didn't immediately have further comment on the graffiti.

NBC10 also reached out to the police union, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, for reaction.

The physical anti-police commentary comes a day after city leaders condemned online commentary by a Philadelphia Fire Department paramedic.

The medic, who works in Southwest Philadelphia, posted a photo to his personal Instagram account of two black men pointing guns at the head of a white police officer. The accompanying message said: "Our real enemy ... Need 2 stop pointing guns at each other and at the ones that's legally killing us and innocents."

The post has since been deleted, an apology made and investigation launched.

A rally in support of the city's men and women in blue is being held on Friday night in the Mayfair section of the city. According to the event's Facebook group, more than 2,000 people said they planned to attend.



Photo Credit: NBC10
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Waukegan Woman Files to Trademark "I Can't Breathe"]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:20:21 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/460014244.jpg

A Waukegan woman has filed an application to trademark Eric Garner’s dying words, “I can’t breathe.”

Catherine Crump, 57, submitted her request to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Dec. 13 in hopes of registering the phrase for use on apparel such as “hoodies and t-shirts for men, women, boys, girls, and infants.”

In the application acquired by the Smoking Gun, Crump claims to have been using the term for merchandising since “at least” Aug. 18, one month after Garner’s fatal arrest.

The July video of a NYPD officer placing a chokehold on unarmed Garner for selling loose cigarettes went viral after the father of six was seen shoved to the ground pleading, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” in his final moments of life.

When a grand jury decided not to indict the officer who killed him protesters erupted nationwide using, “I can’t breathe,” as their battle cry against police brutality.

Crump told the Smoking Gun she has “nothing to do with the Garner family,” and did not speak with them regarding her intentions to trademark the term.

]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Only Calls on Female Reporters]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:46:59 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP536550772061.jpg

There was a lot said at President Barack Obama’s annual year-end press conference, but it was who he spoke to during the conference that had people talking.

The President took questions from reporters at the end of his speech, but he only called on female reporters, a move that set the Twittersphere ablaze.

Eight women posed questions during the conference, asking Obama about the Sony hacks, Cuba, race relations, the economy and more.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed after the event that the move was in fact intentional.

"The fact is, there are many women from a variety of news organizations who day-in and day-out do the hard work of covering the President of the United States. As the questioner list started to come together, we realized that we had a unique opportunity to highlight that fact at the President’s closely watched, end of the year news conference," Earnest said, according to Politico.

While seemingly subtle, the move didn’t go unnoticed by viewers.



Photo Credit: AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Bald Eagle Found Shot Dead in Ct.]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:35:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Great+Meadow+Road+in+Rocky+Hill+1200.jpg

A $5,000 reward is being offered to help find the person who shot a bald eagle, after the bird — a national symbol — was found dead along a road in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection received a report of a dead eagle along Great Meadows Road in Rocky Hill at 10:13 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13 and began investigating.

At the time, it was believed that the bird was struck and killed by a car, but that was not the case.

State Environmental Conservation police turned the eagle over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which conducted a preliminary examination that indicated the eagle’s injuries were from a gunshot.

Bald and Golden Eagles are protected under federal law and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and State Environmental Conservation Police are jointly investigating. 

The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspected poachers, according to DEEP.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Environmental Conservation Police’s Emergency Dispatch Center at 860-424-3333 or toll free at 1-800-842-4357 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent at 860-871-8348.  

]]>
<![CDATA[Son Who Killed Politician Gets Life]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:47:33 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/121914+jason+beckman.jpg

Jason Beckman was sentenced to life behind bars Friday for the 2009 shooting death of his father, South Miami Commissioner Jay Beckman.

Judge Rodney Smith said Beckman will serve a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison before he can ask for parole.

"This is who you are, you're very vengeful, your personality is a ticking time bomb," Smith told Beckman as he handed down the sentence.

Beckman, clad in orange prison clothing, expressed some remorse to Smith over the shooting.

"My father shouldn't be dead, I wish he was here and not because I'm here but because I loved him and I really feel like I could have improved my relationship with him just by doing a few things differently," Beckman said.

Sentencing in the case had been delayed several times in the past year. Beckman was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting in November 2013.

Beckman was originally charged with manslaughter with a firearm after he told police that he had just wanted to show the gun to his father, but he slipped and fell causing the gun to fire. The charges were upgraded to first-degree murder after friends and family came forward saying the then-17-year-old had talked of killing his father.

A search of the son's belongings showed the former South Miami High junior had compiled a hit list of enemies, with his dad's name on the top, authorities said. Defense attorneys had argued that Jason Beckman didn't shoot the gun intentionally.



Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[4th Victim Dies After DUI Crash]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 23:27:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/202*120/12-19-2014-gaza-redondo-beach-crash.jpg

A fourth victim, identified as a 6-year-old boy, has died after a DUI suspect struck a group of people in a crowded crosswalk as they left a children's Christmas show Wednesday night at a Southern California church.

Samuel Gaza was among a dozen people who were in a crosswalk outside St. James Catholic Church in Redondo Beach when they were struck by a driver who, according to witnesses, ran a red light and swerved around vehicles stopped at a red light. Gaza was hospitalized Thursday in critical condition and died late Thursday night, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's office.

Gaza's mother, 36-year-old Martha Gaza, also was killed in the crash. Mary Wilson, 81, and Saeko Matsumura, 87, all from Torrance, also died Wednesday night.

Police confirmed at a Thursday morning news conference that prescription drug use by the driver is part of their investigation. Police also confirmed a witness account that the driver went around other vehicles stopped at about 8 p.m. at the intersection of Vincent Street and Pacific Coast Highway.

Two adults and a child were in stable condition Friday morning. Six other victims were treated for minor cuts and bruises before they were released from the hospital.

Witness accounts provided to police indicated the driver, headed northbound on Pacific Coast Highway, went around vehicles stopped at the intersection and entered the left turn lane. The driver then continued north on PCH, striking another vehicle and pedestrians, according to police.

Parishioners returned to the church Thursday morning and at noon for services to remember the victims. Michael Tovar, a St. James parishioner, said he will never recover from what he saw.

"I was standing by the front of his car and looked down, me and another gentleman, and there was the little boy underneath his left front tire," he said. "I thought it was a jacket his car was on. It was underneath the left front tire. I could not believe that."

Police identified the suspect as 56-year-old Margo Bronstein. She was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony DUI. Bronstein was treated at a hospital for injuries before she was taken to the Redondo Beach Police Department jail, where she is being held on $300,000 bond.

She is scheduled to make her first court appearance Friday.

DMV records indicated the Bronstein does not have prior criminal offenses. Her vehicle was equipped with modifications for drivers with disabilities, including an additional passenger-side mirror and hand controls, according to California Department of Motor Vehicle records.

Police are awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

St. James Catholic Church set up a donation account for victims' families. To donate, visit donations.la-archdiocese.org/sjvf/.



Photo Credit: Gaza Family]]>
<![CDATA[Outrage Over Paramedic's Photo]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 07:21:56 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/226*120/IG+Paramedic+Post.JPG

Mayor Michael Nutter and Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer condemned a Philadelphia Fire Department paramedic for a photograph shared on Instagram that depicted two black men pointing guns at a white police officer.

"I thought it was disgusting," said Sawyer, who added the image violates the fire department's social media policy. "We are a professional organization and I expect my members to act in a professional manner."

"In the strongest possible terms, I condemn the behavior of a paramedic ... who used social media to post a reprehensible message and image that targeted police officers particularly at a time of emotional volatility," Mayor Nutter said.

The message posted with the photo read: "Our real enemy ... Need 2 stop pointing guns at each other and at the ones that's legally killing us and innocents."

The next image posted to the same account said, "There are numerous crooked and corrupted cops (mostly white) & mostly they harass, beat or kill innocents (mostly blacks)."

The posts caused alarm among Philly firefighters, who do not want a fissure to form between themselves and police.

"In this difficult time, I want to assure the members of the Philadelphia Police Department that we are here to support and assist you whenever you may need," said Joe Schulle, president of Local 22, the firefighters and paramedics union. "[We] proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers in blue. ... We are brothers and sisters in public safety."

Hours after the initial post caught the ire of Philly leaders, the paramedic, who is based out of Medic 23 in southwest Philly, shared an apology on social media.

"That post was out of anger of what is going on around the world (Mike Brown, Eric Garner & Etc.) &  past experiences that I've had with police," the post said. "My intention was not to slander or hurt anyone or my brothers in blue. Again I am sorry."

An investigation is underway, and Sawyer said the charged images are unlikely to damage the bond between the Philly's Fire Department and police force.

"We have a pretty strong relationship with the police department," he said. "So one member's mistake is not going to severe those ties."

]]>
<![CDATA[Reward Offered After Dog Injured]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:41:29 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/dog+hook+121814.PNG

A dog is recovering after he was discovered with a horrific injury: a hiking carabiner hooked straight through his hind leg.

Ziggs, a one-year-old pitbull, was discovered roaming through Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, dragging a severed leash behind him. That leash was attached to the carabiner, which Dr. Al Meilan at South Federal Animal Hospital said was forcibly and intentionally inserted into the dog's leg.

"The carabiner is a dull thing, so in order to get it, they had to use a drill or something sharp to make the hole first, and then stick the carabiner through his leg," Meilan said.

Members of the Forgotten Dog Rescue believe the dog's owners used the carabiner to restrain the dog.

"Someone actually went out of their way to do this to this dog," said Amy Blitz with the rescue group. "It ranks on the mutilation type of torture."

Meilan said it appears the ring had been lodged in Ziggs' leg for several months, with evidence of similar injuries in the past.

Forgotten Dog Rescue said they are offering a cash reward for any information that leads to the arrest of Ziggs' owner. The rescuers said they won't stop until there is justice for the injured dog.

"The person that did this, it's probably somebody that if they could do this to an animal, they could do it to a person or a child," Blitz said.

The animal hospital expects Ziggs to make a full recovery within two to three weeks. He will be made available for adoption once he heals.

Anyone with information about the dog's owners can leave an anonymous tip with the Forgotten Dog Rescue via email at forgottendogrescue@yahoo.com.

]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Parking Lot Police Brawl]]> Sat, 20 Dec 2014 01:32:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/209*120/12-18-14-hawthorne+police+fight+video.JPG

A call to police about an aggressive panhandler at a Southern California fried chicken restaurant turned into a parking lot brawl that sent two officers to the hospital and one man to jail.

A bystander in a shopping center near Crenshaw Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue in Hawthorne on Monday reported a man asking people for money and threatening them if they refused.

When police showed up to the Louisiana Fried Chicken, the man was "defiant and uncooperative," Hawthorne police said Thursday.

The man then pushed an officer's hand away when two tried to detain him, and then punched the officer in the face, police said.

The officers used a Taser on the man, but his clothing was too thick for it to bring him to the ground, police said.

Video captured by a witness showed a shirtless man between two officers in a parking lot, the man and officers going back and forth throwing punches.

One officer can be seen kicking the man as the other cop grabs him.

Video showed the officers using a Taser on the now-shirtless man and punching him as he lay down on the ground.

The officers injured in the fight were treated at the hospital and released. The man identified as Thomas Christopher Brown, 29, is facing felony charges including resisting and assaulting a police officer.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Arson Sparked Downtown LA Inferno]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:54:47 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/downtown-la-structure-fire.jpg

Last week's massive downtown LA fire at an apartment complex that was under construction was an act of arson, authorities said Thursday.

Investigators said they recovered an accelerant, pointing to arson. The fire on Dec. 8 at 900 West Temple Street destroyed a seven-story complex under construction, damaged a nearby high-rise structures and the Harbor (110) Freeway.

Flames billowed into the air, making smoke visible for miles and radiating enough heat to shatter the windows of nearby office towers.

The blaze caused up to $30 million in damage to the DaVinci Apartments. Total damage estimates to nearby businesses and Caltrans property remain undetermined.

Local and federal Investigators sifted through 75,000 square feet of debris, took photographs, recovered potential evidence from the scene for analysis by the ATF's National Laboratory and conducted many interviews throughout the community.

The team finished combing through the debris on Wednesday, and will continue to follow up on the case to identify the culprit or culprits.

"The work at the crime scene is finished, however our investigation is not over," said ATF Special Agent in Charge Carlos A. Canino. "ATF will continue to work together with our state and local partners to investigate this crime and bring those responsible to justice."

Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Robert Nelson, who heads the agency's arson/counter-terrorism section, said the department will continue to work with the ATF, the LAPD and other law enforcement agencies to "vigorously pursue this investigation.

"Arson is a serious crime," he said in a news release. "We will use all of our available resources to arrest and prosecute any individuals involved in any arson fire in Los Angeles."

Investigators continue to seek information on two potential witnesses seen in video footage taken the morning of Dec. 8.

They are not considered suspects nor persons of interest. Investigators have identified them as being in the area of the fire, and want to interview them.

]]>
<![CDATA[Blaze Over NoCal Refinery "Normal"]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:13:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/chevronmain.JPG

Fire officials and Chevron said the large dramatic flames seen over the Richmond Chevron refinery in Northern California Thursday were a result of "normal flaring." But that didn't do much to comfort people living near the troubled refinery, who called the flares anything but "normal" on social media.

Both Contra Costa fire department officials and Chevron said there was no need for alarm, calling the flaring normal procedure to vent gas. They added that fire crews had not been called to the scene. The official Twitter account for @ChevronRichmond tweeted Thursday evening that "there was some visible flaring" to allow for equipment de-pressuring.

Chevron said that the refinery resumed normal operations Friday morning after the unit that needed to be depressurized Thursday night was successfully shut down. Chevron said community air monitoring stations reported levels below state and federal health limits.

"We understand that the community has been concerned about the flaring activity," a Chevron spokesperson said after the flares alarmed a number of Bay Area residents Thursday. "We had a process unit that needed to be depressurized, creating a visible flare. The flare is part of our safety system which enables us to safely shut down a unit. We are in the process of shutting down this unit now."

Some Bay Area residents tweeted about the flares, with one of them asking: "Gigantic fire balls are now normal flares?"

Another said: "If it's 'normal,' then why don't we see this regularly?"

Jamal Vaughn, who lives near the Richmond refinery, expressed concern about the flames coming out of the stacks.

"No alarm went off ... It's Kind of strange, there should have been a warning," he said. It's an alarming sight for the Vaughns, who remember the 2012 Chevron refinery fire.

"I worry about our health — last time we were at the hospital for four hours because I have asthma and needed breathing treatment," Vaughn's wife Michelle said, adding that the family will be shutting all their windows tonight.

Chevron's statement said that in flaring conditions, it is normal practice to release quantities of water vapor to assist with the flare quality, which can sometimes take on the appearance of smoke, but it is not smoke.

Both Chevron and Contra Costa Health Services said that there may be intermittent flaring Thursday evening. According to health officials, hazardous materials staff were monitoring the situation and there was no shelter-in-place.

NBC Bay Area viewers said they could see the fire from as far away as the El Cerrito Hills, San Rafael, San Francisco and the Bay Bridge. A photo taken by Twitter user @bluerabbit77 from the Oakland Hills showed the flares creating an orange haze over the night sky.

NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle contributed to this report.

 

Huge fire at the Chevron Refinery?? #fire #chevronrefinery #richmond

A photo posted by Blue Rabbit (@bluerabbit77) on

 

#apocalypse #endoftheworld

A photo posted by Pardeezy Dhillon (@kingsnake172) on



Photo Credit: Blue Rabbit ‏@bluerabbit77 Via Twitter ]]>
<![CDATA[Friend Defends DUI Crash Driver]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 07:20:38 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/12-18-2014-redondo-beach-dui-margo-bronstein.jpg

A friend of the woman accused of killing three people in a crash outside a church in Redondo Beach, California, has said she is not someone who would drink and drive.

Margo Bronstein, 56, has been booked on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter, but Timothy Eakin believes medication she takes due to being disabled or a mechanical failure may have caused the accident, which also left 10 others injured, including children.

Police say toxicology reports on Bronstein are pending, and she is being held at a Redondo Beach Police Department jail on a $300,000 bond. Investigators confirmed prescription drug use by the driver is part of their investigation.

"She had had a whole bunch of surgeries on her legs and on her hips, and that’s why she’s barely 4 feet tall. She was always in a wheelchair, but she was able to drive with hand controls," Eakin said. "Maybe the hand controls might have failed, and that might have caused it. But she also did take a lot of prescription medications, and the medications she took were like, muscle relaxers, and for pain."

He also does not believe his friend, who he met at Disneyland, is the sort of person who would get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol.

"She's not somebody who just went into a bar and got wasted and plowed through an intersection at a concert. This is something that was probably a complete accident, never something she would have done on purpose," Eakin said.

Prayers have been said all day at St James Catholic Church, where victims had just attended a Christmas concert. Eiken believes his friend may have been a visitor to the event herself.

Witness Michael Tovar said he screamed at Bronstein after the crash, demanding to know if she had been drinking. He said he had to be pulled away by his wife.

"(I said) what is wrong with you? What did you do? Are you drunk? I yelled that about five times, 'Are you drunk?' And she looked up at me, made eye contact."

Children had just finished singing Christmas songs for their parents and other members of the church.

Mary Wilson, 81, Saeko Matsumura, 87, and Martha Gaza, 36, all from Torrance, died, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. One of Gaza's three children, a 5-year-old boy, was hospitalized in critical condition.

One other adult also was in critical condition Thursday.



Photo Credit: Redondo Beach PD]]>
<![CDATA[Freed Burglary Suspect Re-Arrested]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 22:47:25 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/package-theft-suspect.jpg

A Southern California woman was arrested for a burglary committed just two days after she was released from jail for the same offense.

Detectives from the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Martha Lampley of Spring Valley on multiple felony warrants Thursday in connection with the theft of packages and at least one other burglary.

Lampley was arrested on Nov. 29 for a parole violation, burglary and possession of a controlled substance. According to the sheriff's department, she stole deliveries right off people's porches in the Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and El Cajon areas.

Home surveillance video shows her driving a Uhaul truck to one house, going to the front and taking a package away, deputies say.

She posted bail on Dec. 4, and just two days later was at it again, sheriff's officials say. A victim whose iPad Air was stolen while she was at home identified Lampley as the suspect. She was also identified by other victims through a series of photos.

The investigation is ongoing, but if Lampley is convicted of her current charges, she faces 44 years in prison.



Photo Credit: San Diego Sheriff's Department]]>
<![CDATA[Experts: WWIII Looks Like Sony Hack]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:03:12 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/N6P-SONY-KOREA-HACK-PKG---03282609.jpg

The term “cyber warfare” has been thrown around for years, with security experts wondering what the effects of a damaging cyber attack might look like. Now we know: a Hollywood studio left paralyzed, and the center of the tech world is wondering what's next.

As the billboards advertising Sony Pictures' "The Interview" were pulled down in Hollywood on Thursday, concerns about cyber terrorism shot up in Silicon Valley.

"World War III looks like this,” said Michelle Dennedy, Intel Security's chief privacy officer. She said technology is the new battlefield, and our gadgets are all potential targets.

"This is the wave of the future,” Dennedy said. “Bank robbers robbed banks because that's where the money was. Data is currency. Hackers are going for it because it's valuable."

What happened at Sony should, according to cyber security experts, be a warning to us all.

"This is the first time we've seen it at this scale,” said Truman National Security Project’s Mike McNerney.

The goal of hackers is not just disruption, it's fear, McNerney said. "This is different. The way they were able to combine this online attack that got them the attention they wanted, and then mix this with threat of physical violence, it's something we really haven't seen before."

But it’s likely something we'll see again, as hackers try to invade banks, retailers, anything with an easy to open virtual door.

"I think everyone needs to be worried about this," McNerney said, “whether it's an organization, government entity, or an individual.”



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Suspected Thief Identified on Tinder]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:14:00 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/TINDER1.JPG

The office of startup Buildzoom, has seen some ugly days. In July, co-founder David Petersen received an unusual call after several of his computers and equipment had vanished from the San Francisco building.

"An employee, he called me on my way to work and he says, ‘Hey Dave, are you playing a practical joke on me? My computer's missing,” Petersen said.

After three weeks and more missing computers, Petersen filed a police report on July 3 to try to figure out who had taken his stuff. But no one was caught.

So, he Petersen set up a security camera in the office. And he caught someone on it.

"You can see her creeping in,” Petersen said Thursday night, pointing to the footage.

The camera caught a woman sneaking around the Buildzoom office in San Francisco, grabbing a company bag, and then taking items off of employee desks.

Petersen claims the woman stole $30,000 worth of computers and tablets over several weeks. He posted her picture on social media and the company blog. No luck. So last week, he went a little more risqué, and turned to Tinder. It’s an app that connects two people who find each other attractive.

“And I'm like, wait a minute. If we put it on Tinder, thousands of people are going to see her [face], someone is going to know who she is,” he said.

Petersen posted a picture of the woman, with the words "I rob offices in SF, $5,000 reward for identifying me.”

"Within two days someone e-mailed me a name and a picture,” Petersen said.

NBC Bay Area asked Tinder what they thought of the story. They responded with a statement, "This is a very creative use of our platform. We're happy to hear that Tinder is helping people connect for a variety of reasons."

Peterson hopes police will make a quick arrest. He also thinks the Tinder app may have even helped his love life.

"My girlfriend did not have a Tinder account ... but I needed a girl's account and they link it to Facebook so I got her, I used the account, I created it and the good news is that account is now suspended. So she's banned from Tinder, which I think is good for me,” Petersen said smiling.

Petersen also plans to pay the reward if the woman is arrested. San Francisco police did not immediately comment on whether the woman in the video is a suspect or not.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Bombing Suspect in Court]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:08:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/Dzhokhar+Tsarnaev.jpg

The man in the orange jumpsuit who appeared in court Thursday is 21-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Seen on video for the first time since his April 2013 arrest, as he’s transported back to Fort Devens prison following his appearance in Federal Court Thursday.

Among those inside the courtroom for Tsarnaev’s last pretrial hearing were Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveaux, injured MBTA Officer Dic Donohue and bombing survivor Marc Fucarile.

"I'm grateful and happy that I’m able to be here, all my supporters have been amazing," said Fucarile.

Tsarnaev received vocal support in court from the mother-in-law of now deceased Waltham triple murder suspect Ibraghim Todashev.
She was escorted out as she was yelling to him in Russian.

"I said in court, 'Dzhokhar you have a lot of supporters, we pray for you, we here for you Dzhokhar, we know you’re innocent, be strong, son,'" said Elena Teyer, Todashev's mother-in-law. "That's what I said.”

Outside court, a small group held signs alleging the bombing was a government conspiracy.

"I've been to every hearing and there's been no evidence," said Karin Friedemann of Boston.

"I don't support terror or terrorism and never would, but I am here supporting his rights as an American citizen," added Valerie Vanetta, who traveled here from Philadelphia.

Fucarile actually walked up to one of the protestors and showed her his prosthetic leg in an effort to silence her.

"I just asked her if she wanted to maybe look at the evidence and then she could make a choice or decision how she felt," he said.

Jury selection begins January 5, 2015.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to all 30 federal charges against him.

He faces the death penalty if convicted.



Photo Credit: NECN
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Rubio, GOPers Discuss Cuba]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:57:23 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/121814+lawmakers+cuba.jpg

Prominent South Florida Republicans held a news conference Thursday to discuss the new change in policy on U.S.-Cuba relations.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart all spoke at the news conference. They also discussed Wednesday's release of American Alan Gross from a Cuban prison.

Rubio, a Cuban-American, called the opening in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba a misstep by President Obama.

"It colludes with America's enemies, near and far, to threaten us and everything we hold dear," he said. "But most importantly, the regime's brutal treatment of the Cuban people has continued unabated. Dissidents are harassed, imprisoned and even killed."

Ros-Lehtinen also denounced the policy change.

"The liberalization policies aimed at easing trade and remittances to Cuba is another propaganda coup for the Castro brothers, who will now fill their coffers with more money at the expense of the Cuban people," she said in a statement. "It is quite possible that this unilateral action by the President without Congressional consultation is in violation of the following U.S. laws: Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996, Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, and the Trading with the Enemy Act."

]]>
<![CDATA[Brooklyn Rapper Arrested in Sting]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:51:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/shmurda+walk+copy.jpg

The up-and-coming Brooklyn rapper who performs under the name Bobby Shmurda was part of a gang that allegedly sold drugs, dealt guns and committed violent crimes, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a news conference Thursday detailing the investigation that led to his arrest.

Ackquille Pollard, 20, was taken into custody with seven others shortly after he left a recording studio near Radio City Music Hall in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday. Police recovered crack cocaine and three guns from a stairwell inside Quad Studio, Bratton said.

The Brooklyn-born Pollard is best known for the hit song "Hot Boy." He also put out a music video that popularized a dance craze called the "Shmoney dance," and reportedly signed a lucrative record deal with Epic Records. 

Pollard was stopped in a vehicle with another defendant, Nicolas McCoy, soon after leaving the studio Wednesday, prosecutors said, and there were two guns and a small amount of crack cocaine inside the car. There were other passengers in the car who are not named in the indictment but face separate criminal charges. 

Five other defendants named in the indictment were arrested at the same time elsewhere in the city, and two others are in custody outside the state, authorities said.

Pollard was arraigned on conspiracy, reckless endangerment, and weapons and drug charges Thursday. Twelve other defendants are named in the 69-count indictment, including Chad Marshall, another aspiring hip-hop artist known as Rowdy Rebel. 

Pollard pleaded not guilty in court Thursday. His attorney, Howard Greenberg, failed to convince a judge that his client should be released without bail because he was framed and had no reason to run.

"He is a legitimate entertainer,'' Greenberg said. "He is rich. He is busy. He is always on tour.''

Greenberg claimed Epic had agreed to help Pollard make his $2 million bail. A spokesman for the label declined to comment.

Bratton said Pollard was tweeting about a secret concert days before his arrest.

"I don't think he was aware that location is going to be state Supreme Court," Bratton said. 

Pollard did not comment to reporters as he was led from a Manhattan police station in handcuffs Wednesday night. 

G Stone Crips, or GS9, the gang Pollard was allegedly part of, is tied to the murder of a 19-year-old rival gang member on Feb. 8, 2013, and to gunshots fired outside New York and Miami nightclubs in recent months, according to Bratton. The investigation began after 24 shootings were traced to the gang since 2013.

Most of violence stemmed from an ongoing dispute between GS9 and members of rival street gangs, including the gang known as Folk Nation and the gang known as Brooklyn's Most Wanted, or BMW, according to prosecutors. 

The deadly February 2013 shooting inside a Brooklyn bodega capped a series of violent confrontations between GS9 and BMW, according to prosecutors. Pollard was at the scene of the shooting, they said. 

Pollard is also accused of firing a gun towards a crowd of people outside a Clarkson Avenue barber shop on June 2, shattering a glass storefront. Prosecutors said a recorded phone conversation between other GS9 members revealed that Pollard had fired the gun during an argument with his brother Javese Pollard, also an alleged GS9 member. 

Prosecutors said in another July 2014 incident, just before he performed at Barclays Center, Marshall and another defendant allegedly fired shots at rival gang members while driving on a street in Boerum Hill.

According to prosecutors, a distinctive system of code words and phrases allowed GS9 members to communicate with one another while hiding the nature of their communication from others. Among the code words for firearms were “tone” and “socks." “Crills” referred to narcotics, and “suntan” or “scoom” referred to shootings.

The gang is mainly based at 95th Street and Clarkson Avenue in East Flatbush, Bratton said. The bust was made by the Brooklyn South Violence Reduction Task Force, which was formed this year. 

The case carries some "deeply disturbing themes: The gang members' enthrallment with guns, and a cavalier disregard for human life,'' Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said at a news conference.

The hip-hop artist's songs and videos were "almost like a real-life document of what they were doing on the street,'' added James Essig, head of the NYPD task force that made the arrests.

Greenberg told reporters he believes Pollard and the other defendants were targeted because "the government hates rap and hates rappers and hates lyrics." 

Pollack's video for "Hot Boy" was posted on YouTube in August has been viewed tens of millions of times, and Pollard performed the song for a national television audience in October on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." 

"My music is straight facts," Pollard recently told New York Magazine. "There are a lot of gangsters in my 'hood.'"

Pollard's criminal history included two arrests for gun and drug possession, authorities said.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Crashes in Dallas; Pilot Dead]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:11:04 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/plane+crash10.jpg

The pilot of a small plane was killed Thursday night when his single-engine aircraft crashed in Seagoville while descending to land at Mesquite Metro Airport.

The plane went down just after 6 p.m. Thursday in the 1600 block of Bent Tree Road near West Malloy Bridge Road, officials said.

The pilot, who was the only person aboard the plane, has not been identified. There are no other known injuries.

The plane, a 1967 Beechcraft Bonanza, was trying to land in Mesquite when air traffic control operators lost contact with its pilot, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said.

"It's broken to pieces. There's a lot of debris around," Capt. Ray Calverley, of the Seagoville Police Department, said Thursday night.

Despite initial reports that the plane had hit at least one house before it hit the ground, investigators on the scene have not been able to confirm that, Calverley told NBC DFW. Officers went door to door asking neighbors if their homes were damaged in the crash, and no one has reported that they did, Calverley said.

"We heard a real loud engine," neighborhood resident Fred Baugh said. "It wasn't like a normal approach, it was just all of a sudden a real loud engine."

The FAA confirms the plane departed from South Arkansas Regional Airport Wednesday at 3:35 p.m.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Threatens Kids With Gun: Cops]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:49:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/barnegat+rifle+pointed.jpg

A 35-year-old woman has been accused of pointing a rifle at several children after getting into an argument with them outside of her New Jersey home Wednesday afternoon, police say.

The woman was charged with making terroristic threats, endangering the welfare of a child and several weapons crimes after police say she threatened the children with a Remington 597 rifle outside her home on Schooner Avenue in Barnegat.

"She was waving the rifle around. She was leveling the rifle at people," said Barnegat Police Lt. Keith Germain. 

Police say the woman went inside her home to grab the gun after getting in an argument with the children after a basketball game. 

Neighbor Beverly Meila said the woman had been driving her SUV down the street when she saw her son playing at a basketball hoop on the street. She yelled at him to get in the car, according to Meila.

"The kids were all screaming and yelling, and the kid got in the car and she tore off down the street," said Meila. 

Moments later, she came out of her house with the rifle, according to police. 

Several people called 911, and the woman was allegedly still in the street holding the gun when police arrived at the scene.

"They were able to talk to her, get her to place the rifle on the ground and take her into custody with no force," said Germain. 

She was arrested at the scene and was being held at the Ocean County Jail in lieu of $175,000 bail, police say. The woman did have a permit to own a rifle. 

"The children did abolsutely nothing wrong," Meila said. "They were just playing basketball like kids do. They're good kids." 

-- Brian Thompson contributed to this report. 

]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Mugged Do-Gooder, 99: PD]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:34:51 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Windsor+Senior+Center+1200.jpg

Police have arrested a 17-year-old boy accused of knocking a 99-year-old woman to the ground and stealing her purse while she was delivering homemade Christmas cookies to a senior center in Windsor, Connecticut.

The woman was bringing treats to the LP Wilson Community Center when authorities say the teen came up behind her, pushed her down, took her purse and ran off while she was still on the ground.

Windsor police took the teen into custody in Hartford at 10:30 a.m., about half an hour after obtaining the juvenile arrest warrant. 

The teen's name has not been released because of his age. He has been charged with third-degree robbery, sixth-degree larceny and assault of an elderly person and will appear in juvenile court.

"This guy took advantage and made her a victim," Capt. Kelvan Kearse, of the Windsor Police Department, said Wednesday.

The senior center where the woman was attacked, located at 599 Matianuck Avenue, includes a senior center, a youth service bureau, the recreation office and social service.  



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Stuffed Santa Clawed by Black Bear]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:38:58 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/179*120/12-18-2014-SantaClawed.JPG

A California photographer captured an unusual animal attack in the Angeles National Forest: a black bear beating up Santa Claus.

Glendora native Robert Martinez has 10 cameras set up to watch wildlife, and put a Father Christmas doll in front of one of them in the hope of attracting the attention of a mountain lion.

And while one did stop to stare at the doll before padding away, it was a carnivore of a different kind that made his efforts worthwhile.

The black bear decided to have some fun with the Santa doll on Monday, knocking it over and smacking it around with it until he got bored.

Amazingly, Martinez said he had not seen a bear in the area for the past 2 months.

]]>
<![CDATA[Woman's Luggage Found 20 Years Later]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:54:00 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_longlostluggage1218_700x394.jpg

Many travelers fear having their luggage lost at the airport. One Arizona woman had the fear become a reality, though her story has a happy ending — two decades later.

Maria Dellos, a Tuscon teacher, received a phone call from the Transportation Security Administration at Tucson International Airport on Tuesday informing her that luggage she lost 20 years ago had been found.

“I actually almost ignored the call because of telemarketing. All day long I get calls,” Dellos told NBC affiliate KVOA.

Dellos explained to the station that a note she had in the bag containing an old address allowed the TSA to locate her. It contained "very valuable" art supplies from a trade show in Las Vegas, she said.

"I was just absolutely blown away," Dellos said.

“We just did some shuffling of equipment at the airport, so it's quite possible that we came across something that somebody left unattended for a long period of time," TSA spokesperson Nico Melendez told KVOA.

]]>
<![CDATA[Meet Your 2015 Goals With These Top Time Use Tips]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:00:29 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP73201008.jpg

As we prepare to ring in a New Year, many are clinging to the idea of making life-changing resolutions for 2015. 

Having a good grasp on your time doesn't only help you fit in a new goal like exercising more or keeping a clean house once January arrives. It also improves your chances of making these new habits last all year long. See what experts have to say about managing your time and life to help you achieve your goals and then see how the time you spend on work, shopping, sleep and other activites compares to the national average using our "Time Use Calculator" interactive.

Log Your Time

Trying to declutter your mind and schedule starts with logging your time. People tend to be “ridiculously optimistic” about what they can do in a certain amount of time, according to Laura Vanderkam, author of “168 Hours: You have More Time Than You Think.” Vanderkam suggests taking a look at an average week and timing each task—you will see your patterns and easily be able to pinpoint what can and can’t be changed. You may find that seemingly small tasks like cleaning out inboxes or checking up on Facebook add up, sucking up time that could be spent with a new client, project or goal. See how your time log compares to the average American using the time use calculator interactive below. 

Write Things Down

“Your head is for having ideas, not for holding them,” says David Allen, author of time-management manual “Getting Things Done.”  Your mind should not be used to hold all your tasks because your brain can’t multitask, according to Allen. Allen advises clearing your mind by having calendars and to-do lists for both long- and short-term goals and breaking down those goals step by step. By writing things down you are creating an "external brain," clearing space for more creative ideas. Instead of worrying about what time to pick up the kids from school, for example, your mind can be free to think of innovative ways to spend quality time with them.

The Magic Word Is “No”

“’No’ is the most empowering word in time management,” Tim Harper, The City University of New York journalism professor and project management consultant, said. “’No, but’ is the next best thing you can say.” It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when friends, bosses, or family members want to pull you in all directions. While saying “no” can be difficult, offering a counter plan may help soften the blow. A friend may ask you to go to their child’s birthday party after you already committed to spending time with your spouse. Tell your friend you can’t make the birthday party but suggest bringing a gift over next week. Saying “no” to obligations that aren’t important or urgent also gives you room to say “yes” to the things you actually want to do.

Schedule Leisure, Too

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about time management is the idea that every minute has to be filled with something, experts say.Scheduling your leisure time makes it easier to move things around and planning your time enough in advance gives you room for “things to fall into your lap," Harper contends. Resist the temptation to fill extra time with chores, Vanderkam says. She urges people to make a long list of the things they want to spend more time on, rather than asking what they want to spend less time on, then pursue those interests without feeling guilty. While it's difficult to place your own interests as a high priority, she writes, knowing your self-interests are worthy is key to living a fulfilling life.

See How You Compare

Do you shop, sleep or exercise more than your peers? See how your time log stacks up against the average American like you with this interactive calculator crafted using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. 

"Time Use Calculator" built by Kuang Keng Kuek Ser and Ellie Zhu.



Photo Credit: Vjom
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Accused Scotty Killer Twiddles Thumbs in Court]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:32:35 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Gary+Fellnbaum+Amber+Fellenbaum+Jillian+Tait.jpg

EDITOR'S NOTE: The details of this case are graphic and may be upsetting for some readers.

A Chester County man accused of beating his girlfriend's son to death twiddled his thumbs as he appeared in court Thursday via video.

Gary Fellenbaum, the boy's mother Jillian Tait and Fellenbaum's estranged wife Amber Fellenbaum said little as each appeared separately in court on charges stemming from the beating death of a 3-year-old Scotty McMillan. Prosecutors called the abuse "an American horror."

The 23-year-old man accused of brutally abusing and killing his girlfriend’s son, twiddled his thumbs, looking down as he waived his right to a preliminary hearing in the death, according to witnesses in the courtroom.

Gary Fellenbaum and Tait face first-degree murder, child endangerment, assault and related charges stemming from the death of the 3-year-old West Caln, Pennsylvania boy last month. Amber Fellenbaum faces child endangerment charges.

Each suspect appeared via video uplink as they waived their rights to preliminary hearings. Fellenbaum wore blue prison pants while the women each wore a green jumpsuit. Tait and Gary Fellenbaum each thanked the judge at the end of their hearings while Amber Fellenbaum remained silent.

All three suspects remain in isolation in state jail, said prosecutors.

McMillan died from what investigators said was abuse at the hand of his mother and her boyfriend inside a West Caln Township trailer home that Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan called an “American horror.”

"(Scotty) was systematically tortured and beaten to death,” said Hogan when he annouced the arrests in early November. "He was punched in the face and in the stomach, he was scourged with a homemade whip, he was lashed with a metal rod, he was tied to a chair and beaten, he was tied upside down by his feet and beaten, his head was smashed through a wall and at the end of that he had bruises on top of bruises all over his body.”

The abuse occurred over a two-week period dating back to October in the Hope Lane home located about 35 miles west of Philadelphia, according to investigators.

Hogan said Scotty's mother sometimes watched the abuse and laughed.

Police said Gary Fellenbaum met Tait at a local Wal-Mart where they worked together. Tait and her two sons — Scotty and his 6-year-old brother — moved in with Fellenbaum in mid-October and the abuse began shortly thereafter, said investigators.

NBC10 is not naming this surviving boy since authorities said he is a victim of child abuse.

Fellenbaum expressed remorse that "his physical assaults caused another's death," according to a criminal complaint obtained by NBC10.

Amber Fellenbaum earlier told investigators she first became aware of the alleged abuse when she saw Fellenbaum spank Scotty after the boy didn’t respond to Fellenbaum. She also said she saw Fellenbaum and Tait beat Scotty with a green frying pan and saw Fellenbaum tape Scotty to a chair and severely pummel the boy’s face and stomach.

The county took the older brother and the Fellenbaums' 11-month-old daughter into protective custody.



Photo Credit: Chester County District Attorney's Office
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Search for Missing Student Goes On]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:33:13 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/Shane+Montgomery+Police+Search+Manayunk+Canal.JPG

Three weeks after vanishing into the night, there’s no sign of college student Shane Montgomery. It’s a mystery chipping away at hope the 21-year-old’s family has been holding onto with each passing minute.

"I’m not going to lie anymore. It’s pretty bad with the holidays here," Kevin Verbrugghe, Montgomery’s uncle, told NBC10 Thursday morning.

"We’re not holding up well," he said.

Montgomery was last seen early Thanksgiving morning as he left Kildare’s Irish Pub along Main Street in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Manayunk. Pings from his cellphone put him within a mile of the bar within an hour of his disappearance and surveillance video shows the West Chester University student walking toward the Manayunk Canal and Schuylkill River. Despite many searches on land, in the water and from the air, there have been no strong leads as to where Montgomery went.

"It’s obviously horrible for the family because they have nothing," FBI Supervisory Special Agent J.J. Klaver said.

Wednesday, an FBI Evidence Response team based out of New York went back into the water with more sophisticated equipment, to look for Montgomery. They attempted to use sonar, but the river is too shallow for it work properly. Underwater cameras did work, but did not turn up anything promising, Klaver said.

"The prevailing theory is that he went into the river and where is he now? Tides change and there’s all kinds of debris under there," he said. If Shane’s body is in the river, he could be trapped under the debris, the agent added.

Philadelphia police also launched a helicopter for another air search Wednesday and the Pennsylvania State Police sent a cruiser to conduct another ground search in the area around the Green Lane bridge, Verbrugghe said. Neither were fruitful.

Klaver said while the FBI will continue to assist Philadelphia police on the case, without new leads, they will soon have to begin pulling back their efforts.

Montgomery’s family is not giving up.

They have reached out to the Garden State Underwater Recovery Unit, a volunteer diving recovery team based out of New Jersey, asking for their help in conducting another underwater search, according to Verbrugghe.

A reward for information that leads investigators and the family to Montgomery still stands at $65,000. Friends and family continue to support the search efforts on their own as well. A run to raise money for the effort will take place Saturday and on Sunday there will be a rosary prayer service at St. John the Baptist Church.

The support from the public and law enforcement is what keeps the family going, the uncle said.

"In this bad tragedy, the love and support that we’ve gotten is just incredible,” he said. “We appreciate how everything that they’ve done. All the prayers, all the thoughts, all the help and love.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Philadelphia police at 215.686.TIPS.


Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[3 Killed After Driver Plows Crowd]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 22:49:57 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/12-18-2014-redondo-beach-dui-margo-bronstein.jpg

Three people were killed and several others critically injured Wednesday night when they were struck in a crowded intersection by a DUI suspect as they left a children's Christmas concert at a Southern California church.

Up to 12 people, including five children, were struck about 8 p.m. at Vincent Street and Pacific Coast Highway outside of St. James Catholic Church in Redondo Beach. Children had just finished singing Christmas songs for their parents and other members of the church.

Mary Wilson, 81, Saeko Matsumura, 87, and Martha Gaza, 36, all from Torrance, died, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. One of Gaza's three children, a 5-year-old boy, was hospitalized in critical condition.

One other adult also was in critical condition Thursday.

Police identified the suspect as 56-year-old Margo Bronstein (pictured, right). She was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony DUI. Bronstein was treated at a hospital for injuries before she was taken to the Redondo Beach Police Department jail, where she is being held on $300,000 bond.

Police confirmed at a Thursday morning news conference that prescription drug use by the driver is part of their investigation.

"At the very minimum, prescription medication is involved," said Redondo Beach Police Lt. Joe Hoffman.

Msgr. Michael Meyers was in the church after children had just finished their final song of the holiday concert.

"They were doing all their Christmas songs for their parents and everybody was just leaving the church, so it was a huge crosswalk full of people," Meyers said.

Minutes later, Meyers said he witnessed a "very difficult scene." The crash left victims' shoes scattered in the street. Injured victims were lined up, waiting of paramedics to arrive. Other victims were still in the street.

"Nobody was worrying about the driver at the time, we had so many people on the ground," Meyers said, adding that last rites were administered to some victims at the scene.

The white sedan that initially struck the pedestrians ended up crashing into a second vehicle. The car sustained heavy front-end damaged and both the windshield and rear window were shattered.

Police confirmed a witness account that the driver went around other vehicles stopped at the intersection.

"The crosswalk was full and the light was red. Someone ran a red light and... bodies started flying. It was pretty horrible," Marc Zonno said. "They flew at least two or three cars down the street. It was pretty bad. But I'm hoping everybody's going to be OK."

Witness Michael Tovar was stopped at the intersection when he saw the crash.

"I saw people flying in the air, and it just didn't compute," said Tovar.

Mark Milutin also was in one of the cars stopped at the light. Milutin told The Associated Press the woman who hit the pedestrians, "just looked completely out of it."

"It was just a reaction I wouldn't have ever thought someone would have after a situation like that," he said.

St. James Catholic Church remained open Wednesday night so people could say prayers for the wounded, and church leaders appealed to the whole community to pray for the dead and injured. Members of the church planned to gathered for services at 8 a.m. and noon.

Many of the hundreds of service attendees also were at the Wednesday night concert. 

"The community of St. James Catholic School and Parish in Redondo Beach, and the entire Archdiocese of Los Angeles, ask everyone to join them in prayer during this time of tragedy and grief," spokeswoman Monica Valencia said.

Bronstein, of Redondo Beach, is scheduled to appear Friday in court. DMV records indicated the Bronstein does not have prior criminal offenses. Her vehicle was equipped with modifications for drivers with disabilities, including an additional passenger-side mirror and hand controls, according to California Department of Motor Vehicle records.

"I know nothing about the woman in this situation," Msgr. Meyers said. "But we are called to forgiveness and to understand. We cannot live our life in anger and vindication."

A message seeking comment left at a phone number listed for Bronstein was not immediately returned Thursday to the AP.

On Sunday, another driver now charged with drunken driving injured more than a dozen people who were parked and looking at a holiday light display in Alhambra.

Michael Larkin and Beverly White also contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Redondo Beach PD
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Storms Provide "Foothold for Drought Recovery" in California ]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:07:43 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/221*120/12-18-2014-drought-monitor-ca.jpg

A string of storms that marched across California this month provided enough rain to boost reservoir levels and slightly improve drought conditions after three consecutive dry years.

The state still likely needs several consecutive wet winters, but the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report offers reason for "cautious" optimism with several months left in California's wet season. This month's storms brought precipitation to most of California, pushing the Sacramento River to its highest level since Dec. 31, 2005.

Consecutive days of rain and snow led to a decrease in the percentage of the state under the Monitor's most severe drought category, called exceptional drought (D4). Last week, 55 percent of California was in the exceptional drought category. The latest report shows 32 percent of state in the D4 category.

Nearly 95 percent of the state remains under severe drought, according to the Monitor.

California's critically low water reservoirs remain well below historical average for mid-December, but Drought Monitor researchers noted "good capacity increases" of 6 to 10 percentage points in northern and central California's major reservoirs.

"It takes years to get into a drought of this severity, and it will likely take many more big storms, and years, to crawl out of it," said Jay Famiglietti, a researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A study of satellite data released by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory earlier this week found that at the peak of the drought earlier this year, water storage in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins was 11 trillion gallons below normal seasonal levels.

"With several more months still left in the wet season, it is possible that additional storms similar to the ones that just occurred will continue to chip away at the long-term hydrological drought, and the addition of lower temperatures would help build the snow pack," according to the report.

Rainfall has been trending above normal in many places so far during the 2014-2015 rain season that began July 1. As of Wednesday, downtown Los Angeles had collected 4.47 inches, more than 1.4 inches more than normal to date. A year earlier, it had collected just 0.86 inch to date. Downtown San Francisco had tallied 13.40 inches, or nearly 6.5 inches more than normal to date.

But drought improvement will depend largely on this season's precipitation in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. Springtime runoff from the melting Sierra Nevada mountain range snowpack supplies water for an estimated 25 million Californians. In November, the southern Sierra had received just 47 percent of its normal rain and snow so far, and the northern Sierra 79 percent.

The report noted that temperatures remained above normal, so more rain than snow was reported at higher elevations.

The tropical Pacfic Ocean phenomenon known as El Nino also could have a say in California's drought situation. The chance of El Nino weather conditions, which can potentially usher moisture into California, developing this winter for the Northern Hemisphere increased to 65 percent in December.

That figure represents an increase from last month's estimate of 58 percent.

Gov. Jerry Brown in January declared a drought emergency, and asked Californians to cut residential water use by 20 percent -- a mark that has not been met, according to recent estimates. Farmers in the Central Valley have fallowed fields and mandatory water restrictions are in effect as California faces a fourth-consecutive dry year.



Photo Credit: US Drought Monitor
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Teen, Grandma Die Crossing Street ]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:41:59 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/205*120/12-18-2014-HemetFatal.JPG

A teenager recently reunited with the family she never knew she had was killed after being hit by a car in Southern California Tuesday.

Chloe Harris, 17, and her grandmother Kathy Whitehair both died after being struck near Hemet while crossing the road at 8th Street and Florida Avenue, which is also Highway 74 and has a 55 mph speed limit, in pitch blackness.

Harris had only recently moved to the area after reuniting with her father, and he is devastated by what happened. 

"I just recently found out about my daughter (and) she found out about me, and I just had her in my life for 3 months. I just wish it were longer," her father Chris Whitehair said.

According to a witness, Harris tried to push her grandmother out of the way of the oncoming vehicle. While Harris died at the scene, Whitehair died just hours later in hospital.

The driver stopped after hitting the two and was not arrested. Hemet police say they are investigating.

Harris’ family knows the victims were jaywalking by not using a crosswalk but believe the road is unlit and dangerous, especially as a bus stop and shop are at the location where the pair were struck.

"They seriously need to put a street light or a stop sign or a crosswalk or something," Harris' cousin Brittney Pulatie said.

A candlelight vigil for the victims is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Gets Lost Luggage Back After 20 Years]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:28:31 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_longlostluggage1218_700x394.jpg An Arizona woman was reunited with luggage lost 20 years ago. Rebecca Taylor reports for KVOA.]]>