<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - National & International News]]> Copyright 2016 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, 12 Feb 2016 08:05:40 -0600 Fri, 12 Feb 2016 08:05:40 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Clinton Attacks Sanders as 'Single Issue Candidate' in Debate]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 03:04:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/MILWAUK_GettyImages-509655360.jpg

During Thursday's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton appeared to try and douse the "Berning" passion of Bernie Sander' supporters with a cool dose of reality, according to NBC News. 

All the while, Clinton adopted a new more measured tone to reflect her message, and honed her rhetoric.

Instead of taking swings at her opponent as she has in previous debates, Clinton made it clear she agrees with Sanders' progressive principles. She let him throw the punches while she subtly undermined his competence and readiness to enact those principles.

Clinton began -- and ended -- the night by saying she wants to "knock down all the barriers that are holding Americans back," not just the economic ones Sanders emphasizes. And she ended the evening with a devastating new line: "I am not a single issue candidate and I do not believe we live in a single issue country."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Northeast Braces for Coldest Air in More Than Decade]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 06:19:44 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/160212-weather-forecast-jpo-409a_9ea4db3e03a31b840d54be61456c8022.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpg

Forecasters warned Friday that the Northeast would experience what could be the coldest temperatures in over a decade this Valentine's Day weekend, NBC News reported. 

Several Cities are facing the prospect of subzero temperatures, the product of a weather system called the polar vortex, a large cyclone that sits above the North Pole all year round. The National Weather Service said the "life threatening" icy blast was set to arrive in the region Saturday, but the coldest air would not arrive until Sunday morning.

Boston's forecast low of -2 looked relatively balmy compared to the outlook for -9 in Hartford, Connecticut. Albany was forecast to experience -10 with -11 possible in Worcester, Massachusetts, according to The Weather Channel.

Meanwhile, New York City is forecast to have 2 degrees on Saturday.

"For people stepping outside on Sunday morning, it's going to be like walking into a freezer," said Weather Channel Lead Forecaster Michael Palmer. 

Photo Credit: The Weather Channel
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<![CDATA[Pope Francis to Meet Patriarch Kirill: What to Know]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 05:25:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_25845449496-pope.jpg

The pope and the patriarch are meeting for the first time today in Cuba and the event will mark a slight closing of Christianity's most enduring divisions 

The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches have been at odds for over 1,000 years. Friday's meeting in Havana — where Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill will sign a joint accord — could be a critical step towards helping heal the rift.

And the meeting itself took two years to plan. The Western and Eastern Christian churches split over persistent theological disputes in 1054 — and formally separated in 1438.

The Eastern faction later became known as Orthodox Church — which now has 15 separate and equal congregations, Russian Orthodox being the largest.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Machete-Wielding Man Hurts 4 at Ohio Restaurant]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 07:48:08 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/MACHETE_AP_162209299981.jpg

A machete-wielding attacker slashed four people seemingly at random inside a Columbus, Ohio, restaurant Thursday and the suspect was later shot dead by police, authorities said.

"There was no rhyme or reason as to who he was going after," Columbus Police Sgt. Rich Weiner said of the 6 p.m. rampage at Nazareth Restaurant and Deli.

The suspect "immediately began swinging a machete at customers and employees" upon entering the restaurant, Weiner told NBC affiliate WCMH.

Patrons threw chairs at the attacker and two people ran outside and called 911, Weiner said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Highlights From the 2016 Campaign Trail]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 06:43:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/AP_406451209396-trump.jpg See photos of candidates running for president for the 2016 election.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[12 Victims in Child Porn Case]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 06:06:25 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Judge+Sylvania+Woods+Elementary+School.jpg

The number of children victimized by a school volunteer and youth choir director who police say forced children to perform sex acts on camera has climbed to 12.

Prince George's County Public School officials told parents on Thursday officials will work to ensure children's safety.

“I, like many, was shocked, appalled, disgusted, and disheartened by the allegations that a former PGCPS employee harmed students and vulnerable children," school district CEO Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell said.

The family of an 11-year-old boy in the choir at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School, named only as John Doe 2, filed for a class-action lawsuit on Thursday against the Prince George's County school board and the school's principal.

The family's lawyer, David Simpson, said the case against Deonte Carraway, 22, seems to be growing.

"Unfortunately, the more we keep looking, the more we keep finding and the broader the whole matter seems to be getting," he said.

The suspect, a Glenarden resident, is accused of having filmed "vile sexual acts" between children age 9 to 13 at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary, the Glenarden Municipal Center, the Theresa Banks Memorial Aquatic Center and in private homes.

The family of a 9-year-old boy filed a lawsuit Wednesday, claiming the child was told by Carraway that he would be part of a "club" if he participated in sex acts the school volunteer filmed.

Parents flocked to the school Thursday night for a meeting with administrators.

"We go to work hoping that everything is safe, and we don't feel any safety now," one father said.

Carraway was arrested Friday after after the uncle of that 9-year-old victim saw a disturbing image on the child's phone, in the app Kik, police said. He admitted being involved in producing child pornography, police said. 

The school's principal, Michelle Williams, was placed on leave out of an "abundance of caution, Maxwell said. The family of the first child's family to file a lawsuit in the case said misconduct by Carraway had been reported but that Williams took no action, saying teachers had no proof.

Carraway's pastor, Dr. Henry Davis of First Baptist Church of Highland Park, said that looking back, he sees some red flags in the young man's behavior.

"The strange part was that I never knew his family. He used to come by himself," Davis said.

Carraway was always alone at the church, the pastor said.

Parents at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary said at the school he was often surrounded by kids.

“He was just always around children -- at the playground, walking to and from school with them,” mother Monique Ganntte previously said.

Nothing criminal was found in Carraway’s background check before he started working for the school in November 2014, officials said.

Here's what PGCPS officials said in an update Thursday that they will do to keep students safe:

At the administrative level, PGCPS leaders met with the Judge Sylvania Woods community to share information on the incident and review policies and procedures for reporting abuse and suspicious activity. Counseling and psychological support will be provided to students and families upon request, and those services will remain in place as long as they are needed. A second meeting will take place at the school this evening.

Dr. Maxwell will also convene a taskforce of internal and external partners to review current policies and procedures and identify areas of immediate improvement. The district will also consult with national experts in this field to ensure the taskforce recommendations are aligned with best practices from across the country.

Next week, staff from the PGCPS Office of General Counsel will address principals during a systemic principals’ meeting and review all laws, policies, and procedures related to an employee’s obligation to report abuse and suspicious behavior.

At the school level, principals will hold mandatory meetings with staff to review the August 2015 training materials and October 2015 memorandum on procedures for reporting abuse and suspicious activities. Professional school counselors will reach out to students and conduct lessons in the classroom that address the differences between appropriate and inappropriate physical contact; personal body safety rules and when to use them; and how to identify trusted adults to whom they can report when they feel unsafe.

“We will work closely with our community partners and use all possible resources to foster a safe and supportive environment for all students and families,” added Dr. Maxwell. “It goes without saying that these type of acts are intolerable and unacceptable.”

If parents or community members have any additional information regarding this case, they should call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Cruz Pulls Rubio Attack Ad Featuring Ex-Porn Actress]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 08:00:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-509690938.jpg

Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign has pulled an attack ad against Marco Rubio after it was revealed that it featured a former softcore porn actress, NBC News reported.

Cruz's campaign said in a statement Thursday that it was swapping the commercial with a new one after learning about actress Amy Lindsay's background. 

"The actress responded to an open casting call," the campaign said. "She passed her audition and got the job. Unfortunately, she was not vetted by the casting company."

Lindsay has said she's a supporter of Cruz's conservative Christian values.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Inverted Batteries to Blame for Lack of Laquan McDonald Audio: Docs]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 07:27:10 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Laquan+McDonald1.png

The Chicago police squad car that captured the October 2014 shooting of 17-year old Laquan McDonald had no audio on its dashboard camera because the vehicle had "no MICs (microphones) because they were in the glove compartment with the batteries inserted upside down — disabling them," according to documents obtained by NBC Chicago.

The initial release of the silent video in November sparked weeks of outrage and protests in Chicago.

Officer Jason Van Dyke, who fired the fatal shots, arrived in a unit in which police reports state there were "no MICs in (the) vehicle and the charging cradles (were) disconnected from power," according to the documents.

In addition, the documents released by police reveal what happened to the audio recorders in the other three vehicles at the scene. For one, a mobile start-up recorder was corrupted.

In another, the microphone was not synced.

A third camera was processing other video footage at the time of the shooting, unable to record the scene. 

Photo Credit: Chicago Police Department via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What to Know: Zika Virus Spreads in Americas]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 15:11:00 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_670850476149-zika.jpg The spreading of the Zika virus has caused worldwide concern. Health officials think Zika might be connected to the rise in birth defects in the Americas, though it has not yet been proven. WHO has declared the crisis a global emergency.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pope Francis' Papacy]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 06:45:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/AP_664631915679-pope.jpg See photos of Pope Francis' papal visits, speeches, masses, and travels around the world.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Marine Guilty in Mosque Shooting]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 06:07:43 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/meridenmosque.jpg

Ted Hakey Jr. entered a plea deal Thursday in Hartford federal court for the hate crime of firing shots into an empty Meriden mosque in the early morning hours of Nov. 14, 2015 after the Paris terror attacks.

More than a dozen members of the Baitul Aman Mosque were in court as the ex-Marine waived his right to a trial.

Federal guidelines suggest Hakey Jr. serve 8 to 14 months in prison for pleading guilty to intentional destruction of a religious property with a dangerous weapon.

"Mr. Hakey, do you have anything you would like to say to the mosque?" NBC Connecticut asked as he left court.

"Not allowed to speak at all yet, but after sentencing I’ll be open to talk to everybody," Hakey Jr. said.

U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea scheduled sentencing for May 10.

"A core mission of the Justice Department is to protect every person against racially, religiously and ethnically motivated violence and intimidation," said U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly.

"Individuals who commit hateful, divisive and violent acts against others in violation of federal law will be prosecuted. All of us have a right to worship freely and without fear of violence."

Hakey Jr. fired four shots with a high-powered rifle at the mosque from his house next door, federal prosecutors said.

In addition to ballistic evidence, prosecutors said they built their case based on social media posts by Hakey Jr. showing anti-Muslim sentiment.

Court documents show after learning about the Paris attacks, Hakey posted on Facebook, “What is gonna be the breaking point to go “weapons free” against Islam?”

"Today’s guilty plea affirms that law enforcement and our criminal justice system are clear, that intolerance will not prevail," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferrick.

As part of the plea deal, Hakey Jr. forfeits the rifle, which was already confiscated, and he must pay $5,130 in damages to the mosque.

"If somebody has been ignorant about something, then you know, hopefully once they are educated they will be repentant and forgiveness actually helps," said Dr. Muhammad Quereshi, the president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Connecticut.

Hakey Jr. is out on $400,000 bond.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Top News Photos of the Week]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 07:15:22 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-509748032-riot.jpg View weekly updates on the very best photos in domestic and foreign news.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What's Next for Twitter?]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 05:16:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/107273938.jpg

Layoffs, management shakeups, Kanye West, and an all-time low for the stock price.

Nothing is coming easy for Twitter lately; even the company Periscoping its quarterly earning call, a brilliant idea, came off as kind of awkward.

After an earning report that showed minimal growth, Wall Street sold off shares of the company’s (TWTR) stock, tumbling well below its IPO price (and down nearly 50 percent since co-founder Jack Dorsey took over as CEO).

On top of that, users are nervous about the company’s plan to alter its timeline.

Once the darling of social media, Twitter is facing some tough questions: Why is its live-streaming feature Periscope growing, but its new “Moments” button being met with a collective shrug?

Why, if absolutely must be instantly tweeted, is user growth flat?

And, if some on its management team say Twitter is too complicated to use, why is the team playing around with how we use it, in ways many say seem even more complex?

It’s the kind of frustration faced by companies like Yahoo and MySpace that are no longer nearly as relevant as they once were:

Why are Facebook, and Netflix, and Snapchat, and Instagram able to grow so fast, but not Twitter?

Feel free to weigh in on (where else?) Twitter. I’m @scottbudman

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Diplomats Aim for Temporary Syria Truce in a Week]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 21:50:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/KerrySyria-AP_839717129155.jpg

Major world powers reached an agreement on a cease-fire to end the conflict in Syria, NBC News reported.

The deal, announced in Munich, calls for a nationwide cease-fire, expansion of humanitarian aid and resumption of peace talks in Geneva. The cease-fire does not apply to military against terror groups like ISIS or al-Nusra Front. 

The U.S. and Russia would lead a task force for a "cessation of violence of hostilities," according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. He said the truce would be a crucial pause allowing parties to negotiate, but by itself, would not end the conflict. 

Russia must also halt air strikes against the opposition if a cease-fire is to be successful.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Apparent Skull Found in NYC Park ]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 06:28:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bones+found+queens+park.jpg

Authorities are investigating after workers found what appeared to be a human skull inside a black garbage bag in a New York City park Thursday.

Workers were cleaning Peters Field Park near 183rd Place and Henderson Avenue in Hillside, Queens when they found the bag near a fence bordering the Long Island Rail Road tracks. 

A neighbor who lives next to the park said he was alerted to the grisly find when he hard the surprised workers shouting.

"There was a commotion," said Cumar Richardson, who brings his son to the playground. 

The medical examiner's office will determine if the skull is actually human. Police are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Uber Agrees to Pay $28.5M to Settle Lawsuits]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:42:40 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Uber-GettyImages-499837184.jpg

Uber said Thursday it agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle litigation brought by customers who alleged the service misrepresented its safety practices and its fees, Reuters reported.

The two cases, filed in a Northern California federal court said Uber charged passengers a “Safe Ride Fee” of $2.30 per trip to support its background check process. But the company doesn’t use the fingerprint identification required by taxi regulators, according to court filings.

As part of the settlement, Uber also agreed to rename the “Safe Ride Fee” to a “Booking Fee.” Around 25 million riders could qualify to take part in the settlement, Uber said.  

Photo Credit: LightRocket via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Coast Guard on Cruise Ship Damage]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 20:51:09 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/aotsreturns.jpg

The cruise ship that cut its voyage short after getting battered by rough seas and powerful winds during a storm in the Atlantic Ocean sustained damage to a key part of its propulsion system and officials are ordering it be fixed before the ship returns to sea for its next cruise this weekend, authorities say.

Royal Caribbean insisted for days that the damage to the Bahamas-bound Anthem of the Seas was "cosmetic" and "superficial" after it got caught in a storm off the Carolinas Sunday. The ship returned to its New Jersey port Wednesday, bringing back 1,600 crew members and 4,500 passengers, one of whom declared it a "cruise from hell."

Royal Caribbean said Wednesday that superficial damage to the 1,141-foot ship had been repaired and that the ship will resume its planned itinerary for next week's cruise.

But Coast Guard inspectors examined the ship after it docked back at Bayonne's Cape Liberty, four days after it departed, and they showed NBC 4 New York the wakes behind the ship: only the left propulsion system had powered the return voyage, they said. 

"It's not functioning properly at the moment, and our team is on board working through that to make sure it's functioning property before it is allowed to leave," said Coast Guard investigator Lt. Josh Buck. 

The news is worrisome to the thousands of people planning to depart on the Anthem of the Seas' next trip this Saturday, like Richie Traks, a photographer with NBC.

"My wife's been on the phone trying to get another cruise ship out of Florida, but it's last minute," he said. 

It's a 39th-anniversary cruise for the couple, who have already scheduled their vacation for the week. 

The Coast Guard said every important function of the ship is being examined, from lifesavers to structural integrity to fire suppression, as well as the propulsion system that kept the ship from returning at full speed. 

It's not clear how serious the propulsion malfunction is. The Coast Guard said it hopes it can be corrected by Saturday's sail date but the ship will remain docked in Bayonne until they know it's working properly. 

Royal Caribbean has not responded to several messages requesting comment on the Coast Guard's statements.  

Meanwhile, past and would-be passengers remain frustrated. 

"All the technology we have these days, why would they sail into a storm?" Traks said. 

Royal Caribbean has apologized, saying the storm far exceeded forecasts but the company would be strengthening its storm avoidance policy and adding resources at its Miami headquarters to provide additional guidance to ships' captains.

The National Weather Service's Ocean Prediction Center had issued an alert for a strong storm four days in advance. The first warning was issued Saturday for possible hurricane-force winds in the area the ship was scheduled to sail through.

One passenger told NBC 4 New York that the captain "did tell us in the beginning that we were going into bad weather but he thought he could get around it." 

The captain asked passengers to stay in their cabins as powerful 120-mph sustained winds and waves as high as 30 feet tossed the vessel around beginning Sunday afternoon. 

"Everything was blowing open, the closets were flying open, glass was breaking," said passenger Elaine. "It was a cruise from hell." 

Royal Caribbean says four passengers reported minor injuries.

Passengers will get a full refund and a certificate toward 50 percent off a future cruise.

One man said he actually enjoyed the ride.

"It was so much fun, the rocking back and forth, we enjoyed it," said Randy Kuykendell of Atlanta. "Where else can you get a Disney cruise basically for free and then 50 percent off for the next cruise?" 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Congress Hoping for Legislation to Fight Zika]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 20:35:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ZikaVaccine-AP_277080321305.jpg

Congressional leaders hope to move on legislation to increase funding to fight the Zika virus, NBC News reported.

President Obama requested $1.8 billion from Congress on Monday to speed up research on a vaccine.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told NBC News that bipartisan action is expected “because it’s a problem we want to get ahead of.” He said the emergency spending would need to be offset, which means savings would have to be found elsewhere.

The need for funding has become urgent as the first miscarriages were reported in the U.S. because of the virus.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[4 Remaining Oregon Occupiers Surrender]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 20:55:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/AP_706528614943.jpg


The four remaining occupiers at an Oregon wildlife refuge surrendered Thursday morning after hours of tense negotiations, bringing an end to the weekslong protest over land rights and personal liberties.


Federal officials said Jeff Banta, Sean Anderson, Sandy Anderson and David Fry were taken in without incident after FBI agents surrounded the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge overnight. A total of 25 people, including the holdouts, have been indicted on a charge of conspiracy to interfere with federal workers.

The occupation came to an emotionally heated conclusion as Fry, the last to leave, threatened suicide in a phone conversation that streamed live on YouTube.

"Unless my grievances are heard I will not surrender," Fry screamed. "Liberty or death."

All four arrested are expected to face an arraignment before a magistrate judge in Portland on Friday. The ring leaders, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and other protesters were arrested last month.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Former Boston Mayor Hits Building]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 22:35:31 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/carcrash31.jpg

Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn was hospitalized after crashing his car into his neighbor's home in South Boston.

Flynn, 76, says he passed out while driving and sustained a concussion in the crash.

"Thank God nobody got hurt. After working out at the Boston Athletic Club for a couple of hours this morning, I drove home and while parking my car on my street, I got weak and completely passed out," Flynn said in a statement. "Minutes later I woke up, but my car unfortunately had crashed into another house on my street."

The former mayor thanked responders and current Mayor Marty Walsh for their help.

There was substantial damage to the home across the street from the former mayor's, and roommates Maggie Cole and Kelley Lynch need another place to stay because there could be structural damage to the building on Flint Place.

"I don't even know how he could be going that fast," said Cole. "It's a little alley."

"That's definitely not what I wanted to walk home to," said Lynch. "I'm hoping that everyone's OK."

Lynch added that the home's basement is a mess and that their "stuff is kind of ruined."

Flynn served as Boston's mayor from 1983 to 1993, when he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. He also ran unsuccessfully for Massachusetts' 8th congressional district seat in 1998.

Neighbors are grateful Flynn is expected to be alright.

"I ran into him a couple of other times, and he said he was the former mayor of Boston. I was like 'Oh, you know, that’s cool. You're my neighbor,'" said Lynch. "He's just really nice, his wife is really nice. They always said, 'If you ever need anything, feel free to just knock on the door, let yourself in.'"

Lynch described him as a fatherly figure and recalls him telling her and her roommate not to go out alone late at night.

It's unclear what caused the crash.

Note: Mayor Walsh's office initially said Flynn was not injured.

Photo Credit: Boston Police Capt. John Greland.
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<![CDATA[1 Shot in 'SWAT' Robbery: Police]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 16:31:35 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Arlington-Shooting.jpg

An armed man dressed as a SWAT officer robbed a North Texas payday loan store and shot one person with a pellet gun Thursday afternoon, Arlington police said. [[368518501,C]]

The man, identified as Matthew Paul Bender, walked into Texas Car Title & Payday Loan in the 1100 block of East Pioneer Parkway at about 2:15 p.m., officers said.

He allegedly wore a face mask and a vest that said "SWAT" on the back.

Although the weapon Bender was carrying resembled an assault rifle, it was actually a BB gun. Police said the man fired a shot inside the business, striking one person in the ankle.

That individual was transported to Medical Center Arlington.

Bender fled the scene with an unknown amount of stolen cash.

His vehicle was spotted near Collins Street and Park Row Drive a short time later. Bender was arrested the man without incident. He has been charged with aggravated robbery. Additional charges are pending.

Bender was being held in Arlington City Jail on a $15,000 bond. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

NBC 5's Tim Ciesco contributed to this report. 

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Congressman Vapes at E-Cig Hearing]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 20:39:14 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/504801574-Duncan-Hunter-vape-ecigarettes.jpg

A California lawmaker turned heads at a House of Representatives hearing Thursday when he pulled out his vape pen and took a big puff, blowing out a large plume of vapor.

The unconventional move came while the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was debating an amendment that would ban e-cigarettes on passenger airplanes. California Rep. Duncan Hunter, a former smoker, was arguing against the ban.

“There’s no combustion. There’s no carcinogens,” Duncan said to his colleagues in the chamber, who chuckled. “This has helped thousands of people quit smoking. It’s helped me quit smoking.”

The Republican representative from San Diego has been outspoken about his fondness for vaping. In December, he penned an editorial for The Hill in which he said that he believed the cigarette alternative had the potential to “save” his life.

“It’s true that vaping isn’t as sexy as smoking old-fashioned cigarettes,” he wrote. “I vape knowing that I’m not inhaling tobacco.”

Hunter’s claims, however, did not stop the committee from adopting the amendment.

The Food and Drug Administration hasn't yet determined what risks or benefits come with smoking e-cigarettes.

According to a study in Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, e-cigarettes “are by far a less harmful alternative to smoking and significant health benefits are expected in smokers who switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes.”

But the vapor has been found to contain toxic chemicals, and studies have also demonstrated that teens who vape are more likely to try real cigarettes.

House members brought up these concerns at the hearing Thursday, while also noting that the vapor might be unpleasant to others when in a confined space, such as an airplane.

“I don’t think we want to have clouds of vapor inside the aircraft,” said Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, the committee’s ranking Democrat, according to StatNews. “It’s not something I want to be inhaling.”

Photo Credit: File – CQ-Roll Call,Inc.
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<![CDATA[School Bus Driver Drove Drunk: PD]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 05:19:14 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/poirier+photo.jpg

A school bus driver is in court this morning after police said he crashed with 11 students on board Thursday afternoon in Dudley, Massachusetts.

Police responded around 3 p.m. to find the bus on Hayden Pond Road with wires from a utility pole on the roof.

None of the children were injured. All of them were taken from the area by another bus shortly after the crash, Dudley Police Chief Steve Wojnar confirmed.

Police spoke with the driver, 42-year-old Scott Poirier of Dudley, and determined he was drunk. He was arrested after failing field sobriety tests and charged with operating under the influence.

It was not immediately clear if Poirier had an attorney.

Wojnar described the crash as "minor," saying preliminary investigation shows that the bus backed into a utility pole, causing damage to the pole.

"You put your kids on the bus, and you expect them to be safe," said Tracy Donais, whose daughter had been on the bus.

"It's kind of surprising," said that girl's father, Andrew Donais. "Right after our daughter gets off the bus, right down the road, the bus driver has an accident. It's just surprising."

Power was knocked out to 280 customers in the area, National Grid said. It was expected to be returned Thursday night.

School officials said they have only limited information on the crash at this time.

"No students were injured and all families of affected students were of course notified of the accident," Dudley-Charlton School Superintendent Gregg Desto said. "Any inquiries related to the driver have to be referred to the Dudley Police as of now."

Photo Credit: Dudley Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Teacher Punished for Taking Grieving Student for Hot Cocoa]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 19:31:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/206*120/21116teach.jpg

A high school art teacher comforting a grieving student is being disciplined for taking her off campus for a hot cocoa.

Janice Graf, who has taught art for 30 years on Long Island, is now barred from her classroom at Center Moriches High School for her act of kindness.

"I was helping a student, helping a child," she told NBC 4 New York.

Graf accompanied Maddy Ziminski, a senior who was trying to deal with the deaths of two friends, to a nearby convenience store. The problem: students aren't allowed to leave the campus during school hours.

"I couldn't stop crying," Ziminski said. "I was just there trying to cope with everything."

School officials placed Graf on administrative duty while they review the circumstances of the rules violation. They didn't return several requests for comment.

Ziminski and her mother have asked school officials to allow Graf to return to the classroom.

"She got my daughter back to school and she took care of my daughter," Joanne Ziminski said. "Now they're trying to ruin her reputation, which is really bad."

Graf would like to return to the classroom before the end of the school year, when she plans to retire. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Monthslong Calif. Gas Leak Capped]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 23:25:44 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Porter_Ranch_Gas_Leak_Fix_1200x675_617127491990.jpg

The gas well above Porter Ranch that has been leaking since October has been temporarily capped, Southern California Gas Company said Thursday.

Thousands of households have been relocated after residents complained of ailments they believe are linked to the natural gas leak at the utility’s Aliso Canyon facility.

Residents complained of headaches, nausea, nosebleeds and other symptoms. Public health officials blame the ailments on an odorant added to the gas and have said there shouldn't be long-term health problems.

The blowout at the largest natural gas storage facility west of the Mississippi River has released more than 2 million tons of methane into the air above the San Fernando Valley.

The leak has been stopped by the building of a relief well, but SoCalGas said in a statement it will continue work on a permanent seal to the faulty well.

“We have temporarily controlled the natural gas flow from the leaking well and begun the process of sealing the well and permanently stopping the leak.” said Jimmie Cho, SoCalGas senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity, in a written statement.

Cement will be injected from the relief well into the faulty well as part of the permanent cap. SoCalGas said that could happen in the next couple of days.

Residents in temporary housing including hotels will have up to eight days to return home. Those in rental housing will return home when their leases are up.

Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency because of the leak, and SoCalGas is facing nearly a dozen lawsuits from regulators, residents and the city.

State and local regulators have launched investigations into the leak, which began Oct. 23.

Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[John Lewis Questions Sanders' Civil Rights History]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 18:52:24 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/JohnLewis-AP_845681499037.jpg

Rep. John Lewis said Thursday he never saw Sen. Bernie Sanders during the most tumultuous years of the civil rights movement, NBC News reported.

"I never saw him. I never met him," the Georgia congressman said. "I was chair of the student non-violent coordinating committee for 3 years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved in the sit-ins, the freedom ride, the march on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery and directed the board of education project for six years."

Sanders was a prominent figure during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and was arrested for trying to desegregate school housing.

The charge comes as both Sanders and Hillary Clinton are vying for African-American support moving into the South Carolina primary — and as the Congressional Black Congress PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Millennials Drink Half Wine Bought in America]]> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 05:45:22 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Wine-GettyImages-495793758.jpg

American millennials are buying more wine, which is helping to spur the wine industry, NBC News reported.

The group, between the ages of 21 to 38, consumed almost 160 million cases, or 42 percent, of all wine drunk in the U.S. last year, according to a survey by the Wine Market Council. The survey also showed 17 percent of millennials were spending more on wine than baby boomers.

"It's not an exaggeration to say the millennial American consumer has the most varied set of tastes of any wine drinker in history," wrote Wine Spectator.

As for their tastes, millennials are generally favoring new-world producers such as Chile, Argentina and New Zealand.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Two Bodies Decapitated in Okla. Daycare With Children Present]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:55:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_decapitator_1500x845-0.jpg An Oklahoma City man has been arrested after two bodies were discovered inside an in-home daycare where children were still present.]]> <![CDATA[Stocks Cut Losses on OPEC Deal Chatter]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 15:07:13 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/206*120/AP_20200337636.jpg

U.S. equities fell sharply Thursday as investors digested a massive global sell-off and oil prices fell further, CNBC reported. 

The blue chip index briefly fell 400 points in afternoon trading before bouncing back sharply after Down Jones cited comments from OPEC members reporting cuts to oil production.

The S&P 500 dropped about 1 percent, as financial fell. The financial sector was on track for its first five-day losing streak since August. 

The Nasdaq composite turned positive shortly ahead of the close, as Amazon and Cisco Systems rose 3.5 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude closed down 4.5 percent, or $1.24, at $26.21 a barrel, before paring losses in after-hours trading.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Paid 4 Teens for Sex: PD]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 23:08:10 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/timothy-james-burns.jpg

A North Texas man has been arrested, accused of four counts of sexual assault of a child after Keller police say he paid four underage teenage girls for sex and provided them with alcohol and illegal drugs.

Following a two-week investigation, Keller police revealed allegations Thursday that 44-year-old Timothy James Burns sexually assaulted four girls age 16 or younger at his home in Arlington.

Keller police said they began investigating Burns on Jan. 21 after one of the girls told her parents she had sex for money; the girl's parents then notified the police who opened an investigation.

An interview between one of the victims and the Alliance for Children was recorded in an arrest warrant obtained by NBC 5. During the interview, the victim said a friend told her she could get paid for hanging out a man's house, but that she later realized "hanging out was not all that would have to be done for money."

The teenager said they went to the man's house, where he provided marijuana and alcohol. She said "she did not plan to lose her virginity to him," but that she later had sexual intercourse with the man when her friend didn't, according to the affidavit. For this, she told interviewers she was paid $200 and her friend was paid $200 for introducing them.

When asked if she knew the man's age, or if he knew hers, she's quoted in the arrest warrant as saying she thought he was 29 and that he never asked her age but that she assumed her friend had shared that information with him.

A second victim said Burns offered her more money, $350, after she initially turned down his offer for sex. On a subsequent visit, she said she was paid less, $200, because she used his Uber account to get home. The victims said on other visits they were offered between $50 and $500 to perform various sexual acts with the man, according to statements made in the arrest warrant.

Capt. Tommy Simmons, with the Keller Police Department, said all of the reported sexual assaults occurred between September 2015 and January 2016 at Burns' tony Lake Arlington home located on the 2600 block of Perkins Road. In the warrant, the teens described Burns' home, and his bedroom, in great detail.

Little is know about Burns, including how long he may have lived at the Arlington residence, since recent property tax records are not in his name and recent real estate records indicate the $1.2 million home had been listed for sale in October 2015.

Simmons said even though the incidents took place in Arlington, Keller police are leading the investigation since all of the suspected victims, who attend school in the Keller Independent School District, live in their jurisdiction.

Simmons said Burns has no affiliation to the school district and that he met his four victims through an unnamed adult teenager from Keller he met previously on the website SeekingArrangement.com. Officials said it's only a coincidence the victims are all students in the KISD.

"Keller ISD is alarmed to learn of the arrest of an Arlington man on felony charges of sexual assault involving high school students. While Keller PD continues its investigation we have confirmed the suspect has never been an employee of the district. Student safety is a top priority in Keller ISD, and we urge parents to talk to their students and notify authorities with any additional information regarding this matter," the district said in a statement Thursday morning.

Keller police issued four arrest warrants and a search warrant and took Burns into custody at the office of his attorney, Charles Smith, at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The attorney has not spoken to the media.

Officers executed the search warrant on Feb. 10 and removed a number of items from Burns' home including multiple phones, computers, tablets, thumb drives, a camera and a clock with a hidden camera inside.

Burns was charged with four second-degree felony counts of sexual assault of a child and is being held in the Keller Regional Jail on $400,000 bond.

Simmons said investigators are not sure if there are more victims, but that parents in the area are encouraged to talk to their children to see if they had been contacted by Burns. If so, parents are asked to call the Keller Police Department at 817-743-4535.

Timothy Burns' Arrest Warrant

Timothy Burns' Search Warrant

NBC 5's Todd L. Davis and Jocelyn Lockwood contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Keller Police Department
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