<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - National & International News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/national-internationalhttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.pngNBC Chicagohttp://www.nbcchicago.comen-usTue, 21 Feb 2017 10:35:58 -0600Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:35:58 -0600NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Homeland Security Outlines Crackdown on Illegal Immigration]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:22:21 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Department+of+Homeland+Security+Headquarters+GettyImages-95655181.jpg

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday outlined how it will implement President Donald Trump's planned crackdown on people coming into and living in the United States without documentation, NBC News reported.

Secretary John Kelly released a pair of memos that end to the policy of releasing people caught at the border pending deportation hearings, the hiring of thousands more federal agents, having more judges and officers deal with asylum claims and speeding up removal proceedings for a greater number of people.

The memos also recommend that authorities prosecute parents who pay smugglers to bring their children into the United States, though that decisions will ultimately be made by federal prosecutors.

Kelly's memos are nearly identical to executive orders signed by Trump last month as part of his campaign promise to take a harder line on illegal immigration. The memos add detail on how the new priorities will be carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Top News Photos: Escaping Islamic State Territory and More]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:27:04 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_17052464978919-sm.jpgView daily updates on the best photos in domestic and foreign news.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Policing the Schools]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:54:48 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/policing-schools-th.jpg

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<![CDATA[Couple Fined for Not Removing Racial Slur Spray-Painted on Home]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:33:02 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/STAMFORD+COUPLE+FINED+FOR+VANDALIZED+HOME+CT+VO+11P+-+00003214_+copy.jpg

A Connecticut couple whose garage door was spray-painted with a racial slur now faces hundreds of dollars in fines for refusing to remove it

Lexene Charles, 56, and his common-law wife, Heather Lindsay, 59, discovered the graffiti on their Stamford home last month.

The couple says they’ve left the slur scrawled across their garage so the community doesn’t forget what happened.

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The move hasn’t been sitting well with police, who have issued a blight citation. The City of Stamford has fined the couple $100 for each day the slur stays on their garage door.

Stamford Chief of Police Jonathan Fontneau also visited their home and said they face arrest in addition to the fines. 

Charles and Lindsay say they aren’t changing their minds and will fight the fines in court.

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Photo Credit: Lexie Charles/Heather Lindsay
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<![CDATA[Video Captures Dramatic Central Park Ice Plunge]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:40:41 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/central+park+ice+rescue+watermark.jpg

Dramatic video captured by a woman and her daughter shows the moments before and after a group of seven young people plunged through the ice on a pond in Central Park Monday. 

Lourdes Cuevas and her daughter Maia Ramirez, tourists from Paraguay, were taking a selfie as the group of kids, ranging in age from about 10 into the teens, climbed onto the ice-covered water on an unseasonably warm February holiday. Their photo shows the kids huddled on the ice behind them. 

Suddenly, the group was in the water. Footage exclusively obtained by NBC 4 New York shows them floundering about, some struggling madly to grip the crumbling edges of ice, others screaming, as they tried desperately to escape. 

Cuevas said one of the kids completely disappeared under water. 

Two skateboarders who happened to be nearby raced to their rescue, and by the time firefighters arrived at the park by 59th Street and Central Park South, the kids had been pulled out of the water, witnesses and officials said. Some of the children and teens were recovering from hypothermia-related injuries at Bellevue and two other area hospitals on Tuesday morning, officials said. 

The good Samaritans, Bennett Jonas and Ethan Turmbull, told reporters they saw the kids dancing on top of the ice, then suddenly plunging into the water. 

"I look over, I saw six heads just trying to get to the shore," said Jonas. "The back one was probably a good 20 yards from dry land." 

Jonas dived in as Turmbull stood by to grab them. 

"The last two at the end, the kid at the end was unconscious," said Turmbull. "[Jonas] got him out, he was kind of out of breath, and [Jonas] threw him to me. I just kind of minded him until he came to." 

Jonas, of San Clemente, California, who now lives in midtown, and Turmbull, of Sydney, Australia, say they happened to be in the right place at the right time. 

"I was in the park for a reason tonight," he said. "I could have been anywhere right now, but I was 100 yards away, from kids who were drowning." 

Photo Credit: Lourdes Cuevas and Maia Ramirez]]>
<![CDATA[Bodies of 74 Migrants Wash Ashore in Libya]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 06:52:35 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/migrants-wash-ashore-libya.jpg

Dozens of migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea, the latest victims of the perilous route, NBC News reported.

Seventy-four bodies washed ashore in Libya, seen in photographs posted to Twitter by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Tuesday.

Migrants generally attempt crossing from Libya to Italy in flimsy inflatable boats loaded with small amounts of fuel, intended to get within reach of European rescue vessels in international waters. Last year, a record 181,000 migrants made the crossing.

Libyan coast guard spokesman Ayoub Gassim said more than 500 migrants were rescued at sea on Friday and Saturday. He said smugglers are starting to use larger rubber boats to pack in more migrants.

"This is going to be even more disastrous to the migrants," Gassim added.

Photo Credit: IFRC MENA]]>
<![CDATA[Who's Who in Trump's Brain Trust]]>Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:48:52 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/223*120/trump-cab-adv-th.jpgHere's a look at the people who will be closest to Donald Trump in the White House, his advisers and his picks for the top jobs in his administration. The nominees for Cabinet positions will need Senate approval.
View Full Story]]>
<![CDATA[Out-of-Service Commuter Trains Collide Outside Philadelphia]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:33:23 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/236*120/Upper+Darby+69th+Street+SEPTA+Crash+MFL+4.JPG

An out-of-service SEPTA Market Frankford Line subway train crashed into two other trains at the 69th Street Terminal just outside Philadelphia Tuesday morning, critically injuring a train operator, injuring three others and knocking seven cars off the track during the busy rush hour.

Upper Darby Police asked commuters in a tweet to avoid the busy terminal after the three-train wreck on looping turnaround tracks, where trains turn around at the end of the line, around 8:30 a.m.

The wreck left the operator of the No. 57 train critically injured, SEPTA said. Another operator and two passengers suffered less serious injuries.

Two suffered head injuries and two suffered leg injuries, police said.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said the trains were out of service at the time of the crash. The No. 57 train slammed into the back of the No. 67 train on the same track and the wreck then sideswiped a No. 51 train moving in the other direction on the other track, SEPTA said.

SkyForce10 footage showed one car tipped over at a 45-degree angle -- its wheels dislodged from the body of the train -- and six other cars partially off the track as crews responded.

A man who lives near the scene told NBC10 Philadelphia's Pamela Osborne he heard a loud noise and came outside to see the wrecked trains.

"I heard a big bang... I knew something big happened but I didn't know what until I got here and saw this mess," William Stamm (no relation to the author) said.

The wreck left the 69th Street stop out of service and could impact the afternoon rush as state officials and NTSB investigators look into the wreck, SEPTA said.

SEPTA used shuttle buses to get passengers from 69th Street to 63rd Street. Passengers could be seen boarding the buses around 9 a.m. the agency said to expect delays of up to 10 minutes on the line that runs from Upper Darby to the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia.

The crash impacted West Chester Pike, Market Street and Victory Avenue for EMS personnel, police said.

Investigators could be seen going in and out of the cars midday Tuesday. SEPTA said seven total cars wound up derailed.

The Market-Frankford Line is equipped with advanced signaling technology called Automatic Train Control, or ATC, which should prevent two moving trains from the same section of tracks, former SEPTA spokesman, and current NBC10 employee, Manny Smith said. A SEPTA headquarters dispatcher would also be controlling the line and giving permission to engineers to move into and out of the loop.

The systems in place ensure optimal turnaround times at the terminal since trains at peak hours arrive at least every four minutes, Smith said.

The max speed on the curve is 10 mph, SEPTA said.

The MFL Line has been operating with a bare minimum of cars due to under-body crack concerns.

This crash comes nearly two years after a deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia's Frankford neighborhood.

Photo Credit: SkyForce10
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<![CDATA[4 Americans Killed as Plane Crashes Into Australian Mall]]>Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:12:13 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_17052006872002.jpg

Four Americans were among five people killed when a light plane crashed into the roof of a shopping mall in Melbourne, Australia, the U.S. State Department has confirmed. 

NBC News reported that the twin-turboprop Beechcraft King Air plane suffered engine failure and crashed into the mall near the end of the runway at Essendon Airport around 5 p.m. ET Monday (9 a.m. Tuesday local time). 

The assistant police commissioner for Victoria state said there were no fatalities other than those five people on board the aircraft. NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reports that two of the victims were from Texas.

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"We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who died in today's tragic crash," a State Department official told NBC News. "The U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Melbourne are working closely with local authorities. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance to the families of the victims," the official added, without identifying the victims.

Photo Credit: Joe Castro/AAP Image via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's Cabinet Picks In Their Own Words]]>Mon, 09 Jan 2017 17:41:48 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_16345069714951-Trump-Wisc-win.jpg

President-elect Donald Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, defeat ISIS, withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, create 25 million jobs over the next decade and "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C. How well do his Cabinet nominees reflect his governing philosophy? Here they are in their own words. 

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The retired neurosurgeon and unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination grew up in Detroit and has no experience in elected office or in running a large bureaucracy.

"These government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse. There are reasonable ways to use housing policy to enhance the opportunities available to lower-income citizens, but based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous."The Washington Times, 2015

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Former secretary of labor under President George W. Bush, deputy transportation secretary under President George H.W. Bush, Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"If vehicles already meet an acceptable level of safety on a particular aspect of vehicle performance without being required to do so by regulation, I believe the Department should devote its resources to other issues rather than engage in rulemaking simply to affirm the existing level of safety."Statement before DOT deputy secretary confirmation hearing, 1989

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A keen advocate for school vouchers and charter schools, influential in Detroit, where charter schools have a poor record and state legislators rejected calls for more oversight, she engages in political battles to help advance God's kingdom, she told a religious gathering in 2001.

"We are stuck in a partisan rut. The political parties are dead-enders when it comes to education revolution. As long as we think political parties might solve the problem it will never be solved. Oddly enough education choice is very unique in that some conservative Republicans and some liberal Democrats are actually on the same wavelength….But those are exceptions. The vast majority of the political class is committed to defending and protecting the status quo." — SXSW in Austin, 2015

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The governor of South Carolina and the daughter of immigrants from India, Haley led the drive to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse and during the Republican primary accused Donald Trump of "irresponsible talk."

"During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation." -- Speaking of Donald Trump and others in the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, 2016

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A retired four-star Marine general, he oversaw the Guantanamo Bay military prison and efforts to stop drug trafficking and other smuggling into the United States.

"In my opinion, the relative ease with which human smugglers move tens of thousands of people to our nation’s doorstep also serves as another warning sign: These smuggling routes are a potential vulnerability to our homeland. As I stated last year, terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States."Testimony to the Senate Armed Forces Committee, 2015


Nicknamed "Mad Dog," the retired Marine Corps general and former commander of U.S. Central Command blames President Barack Obama's policy in the Middle East for adding to the rise of extremism.

"Is political Islam in the best interest of the United States? I suggest the answer is no but then we need to have the discussion. If we won't even ask the question, then how to we ever get to the point of recognizing which is our side in the fight. And if we don't take our own side in this fight we're leaving others adrift."— The Heritage Foundation, 2015

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Donald Trump's campaign finance chairman, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, and Hollywood financier, he and partners took over failed mortgage lender IndyMac Bank and operated it under the name, OneWest Bank. He pledged to tackle mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

"It makes no sense that these are owned by the government and have been controlled by the government for as long as they have. In many cases this displaces private lending in the mortgage markets, and we need these entities that will be safe. So let me just be clear— we'll make sure that when they're restructured, they're absolutely safe and they don't get taken over again. But we've got to get them out of government control." — Fox Business, November

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Perry, the former governor of Texas, has promoted the state's oil industry and has questioned climate change. He has advocated eliminating the department he would head though famously could not name it during a presidential debate in 2012.

"I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number or scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. I think we're seeing, almost weekly or daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climate has changed. They've been changing ever since the earth was formed." -- Town Hall in Bedford, N.H., 2011

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Republican congressman from Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon and persistent critic of Obamacare, he has repeatedly introduced his own legislation for replacing it.

"It's a fundamental philosophical difference that we have with the other side …. They believe that government ought to be in control of health care. We believe that patients and families ought to be in control of health care. And sadly what we're seeing right now is that government control that we've seen ramped up over the past six or seven years has resulted in a decrease in quality that's being seen by patients. People have coverage, but they don't have care. They're priced out of the market." American Enterprise Institute, June

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Attorney general of Oklahoma, one of the Republicans leading the legal fight against President Barack Obama's attempts to curb carbon emissions, Pruitt questions how much human actions are contributing to climate change, a point disputed by the vast majority of the world's climate scientists.

"Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime." — with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, Tulsa World, May

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The CEO of CKE Restaurants, the fast-food company that owns burger chains Carl's Jr and Hardee's, Puzder is an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, which he said created a "government-mandated restaurant recession" and of raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, which he argues would lead to fewer jobs.

"I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it's very American. I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality." Entrepreneur, 2015

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Turnaround specialist who became rich buying struggling steel, textile, coal and other companies and restructuring them, Ross came under criticism for a deadly explosion at a mine his company had bought.

"Clinton will raise taxes. Trump will cut taxes. Clinton will increase regulation. Trump will decrease regulation. Clinton has vowed to kill the coal industry. Trump will leverage America's energy resources to create new jobs and growth." — with Trump adviser Peter Navarro, CNBC, August

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U.S. senator and former U.S. attorney from Alabama who failed to win confirmation to a federal judgeship because of concerns about racially charged comments he was accused of making, he has opposed immigration reform and the legalization of marijuana.

"You have to have leadership from Washington. You can't have the president of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink, saying I used marijuana when I was in high school and it is no different than smoking. It is different. And you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. It is false that marijuana use doesn't lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal. I think we need to be careful about this."Senate floor speech, April 2016

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Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, has what he has called "a very close relationship" with Russia's Vladimir Putin, which could be problematic during his confirmation hearing. Although he does not have a political or diplomatic background, he has broad experience negotiating deals for ExxonMobil in troubled spots around the world.

"We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don't find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively and that's a very hard thing to do," he said, adding, "We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming with sanctions."ExxonMobil shareholders' meeting, 2014.

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Montana's sole representative in the House, Zinke would end a moratorium on federal coal leases on public lands. He is also a hunter and fisherman who opposes transferring public lands to the states.

"It's not a hoax, but it's not proven science either. But you don't dismantle America's power and energy on a maybe. We need to be energy independent first. We need to do it better, which we can, but it is not a settled science."Campaign debate, 2014

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Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[An Egg Has Landed! Eagle Cam Shows Egg in Nest at National Arboretum]]>Sun, 19 Feb 2017 21:48:53 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DC+Eagle+Egg.jpg

An eagle egg has landed at the National Arboretum. 

Eagle parents Mr. President and The First Lady welcomed one egg to their newly built nest Sunday night.

The D.C. region was captivated last spring as a live stream showed two eaglets chip out of their shells, gulp down tiny bites of fish from their parents and learn to fly.

The 2016 eaglets, named Freedom and Liberty, are now grown and off on their own -- but their parents returned to the nest in the fall and have been busily preparing for the possibility of a new batch of babies, the American Eagle Foundation said.

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The DC Eagle Cam went live in December to stream the new breeding season, with a major upgrade: The cams now include live sound.

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In addition, the cams went live much earlier in the season. Last time, they didn't begin streaming until mid-February, at which point the parents were already incubating their eggs, the foundation said.

The eagles are the first pair to nest in the National Arboretum since 1947. They had one baby in 2015 and two this past year. Eagles typically lay one to three eggs each year, the foundation said.

The foundation said the DC Eagle Cam has had more than 60 million views during the five months the camera was live in 2016.

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Photo Credit: @dceaglecam/American Eagle Foundation
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<![CDATA[Lights Go Out Again at Washington Monument]]>Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:43:26 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Washington+Monument2.jpg

The lights surrounding the Washington Monument were out for a brief time Sunday night, marking the third time the monument has gone dark this year.

A spokesperson for the National Mall and Memorial Parks said about 7 p.m. the red aviation warning lights were functioning normally, but the lights that illuminate the monument did not come on Sunday night.

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National Park Service electricians restored the lights a short time later, about 7:40 p.m., the spokesperson said.

Lights at the monument went out two separate times in January. An outage the night of Jan. 9 was traced to a ground fault, the National Park Service reported.

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That problem was unrelated to another issue a week earlier, officials said.

On Jan. 3, the lights went off due to the clock in the Washington Monument's automated lighting system, officials said. Officials said the lighting system's clock was likely out of sync.

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The lights aren't the only aspect of the monument that's been having trouble lately.

The 555-foot monument has been closed since August because the elevator has been plagued by mechanical, electrical and computer problems. Problems with the elevator trapped visitors several times and led to numerous temporary closures of the monument.

In December, officials announced they will spend $2 million to $3 million to fix the elevator. They plan to reopen the monument to visitors in 2019.

The trouble with the elevator began roughly after the reopening of the monument in 2014, following a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in 2011 that cracked and chipped the monument.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Another Storm Slams SF Bay Area]]>Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:08:03 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/0220-2017-Traffic.jpg

Evacuations were ordered in Northern California on Monday and flash-flood warnings were issued elsewhere as downpours swelled creeks and rivers to troubling levels in the already soggy region.

About 500 people were ordered to evacuate in California's Central Valley Monday night because of a levee break as the area endures yet another storm.

A dispatcher in San Joaquin County said the levee on the San Joaquin River was breached Monday afternoon. The breach is near the town of Manteca and the evacuation area is mainly farming and ranch land.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in San Joaquin County late Monday.

In Monterey County, people living along a section of the Carmel River were told to leave, as were those in a neighborhood of Salinas near Santa Rita Creek and a few people in rural Royal Oaks, where a mudslide encroached on a home.

In Lake County, northwest of Sacramento, about 100 homes in two mobile home parks and nearby streets were ordered to be evacuated because nearby Clear Lake was a foot above flood stage, county Sheriff Brian Martin said. No injuries were reported.

San Jose opened two evacuation centers and one overnight shelter for residents who choose to voluntarily evacuate their homes in low-lying areas along Coyote Creek:

  • Roosevelt Community Center, 901 E. Santa Clara Street (now open)
  • Shirakawa Community Center, 2072 Lucretia Avenue (now open)
  • James Lick High School, N. White Road (overnight shelter opens at 7 p.m.)

In the Bay Area, the powerful storm toppled trees and caused flooding, mudslides, power outages and road closures.

Heavy downpours and gusty winds pounded much of the region and prompted flood and high wind warnings.

Flood warnings were in effect for Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties as of Monday afternoon. Residents living in Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties were also alerted to flash flood warnings.

High wind warnings were also implemented Sunday evening for all nine Bay Area counties. Those warnings, which stated that gusts could reach 15 to 50 mph at times, were extended into Monday.

View the latest weather alerts here.

The latest round of powerful winter weather proved to cause a host of problems, especially for drivers traversing an already saturated region. Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains was temporarily blocked near Summit Road because of a fallen tree. Southbound lanes of Highway 17 near Los Gatos were also blocked late Monday due to a rock slide, prompting the California Highway Patrol to issue a traffic SigAlert.

Also in the South Bay, southbound lanes of Interstate 280 near Winchester Boulevard in San Jose were partially impassable because of flooding.

Paradise Drive in Tiburon, Palomares Road in Castro Valley and Niles Canyon State Route 84 were completely blocked off because of mudslides and flooding.

Earlier in the day, northbound Highway 101 at Redwood City was closed due to flooding, CHP announced around 5:50 a.m. Monday. Those lanes reopened just before 9:30 a.m.

Air travelers also encountered headaches at San Francisco International Airport. The airport reported 100 canceled flights (56 arrivals and 54 departures) as of Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. Nearly 300 flights, both coming and going, were also delayed.

Pacific Gas and Electric officials said late Monday more than 20,000 people were still without electricity in the South Bay. In the East Bay, 2,300 customers were without power, with 1,600 customers without electricity in the Peninsula, according to PG&E. About 1,000 customers were without power in San Francisco and 400 customers were without electricity in the North Bay.

The heavy rainfall has caused already swollen creeks and rivers to rise yet again.

The Belmont Creek in Belmont hit flood stage on Monday.

The Russian River at Guernville is expected to reach 33.5 feet by Tuesday afternoon. The Coyote Creek near the San Jose neighborhood of Edenvale was expected to hit 12.4 feet by Tuesday afternoon. The San Lorenzo River at Felton was also expected to hit flood stage Monday.

    High flooding potential will also likely exist along the Uvas/Llagas Creek and San Francisquito Creek. Officials are also keeping a close eye on the Guadalupe River and creeks in the North Bay.

    By the time Wednesday rolls around, East Bay rainfall totals from the most recent storms could top out around three to four inches. Three inches of rain is expected to accumulate along the Peninsula. South Bay locations could see two to three inches. Roughly one to two inches is expected to fall across the North Bay. San Francisco could pick up approximately two inches of precipitation.

    Forecasters said rainfall in San Francisco has already surpassed the normal annual amount for the wet season that begins in October.

    The city has logged 24.50 inches of rain since Oct. 1, said National Weather Service forecaster Bob Benjamin. The average rainfall for the year ending Sept. 30 is 23.65 inches.

    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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    <![CDATA[New Wave of Threats to JCCs]]>Mon, 20 Feb 2017 21:24:17 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Police_Investigating_Bomb_Threats_at_JCCs_in_Connecticut_1200x675_857380419667.jpg

    A Jewish community center in Buffalo was one of 10 evacuated around the country on Presidents Day amid a rash of bomb threats targeting JCCs.

    Federal authorities are investigating the threats, the FBI said Monday.

    In a statement, the bureau said it was helping investigate the threats as possible civil rights violations. The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division was also investigating, as NBC News reports.

    In addition to the Buffalo JCC in New York, centers in Birmingham, Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul,  Tampa,  Albuquerque,  Nashville and Houston reported phoned-in threats, the Jewish Community Center Association of North America told NBC News. 

    No one was injured, and the threats appeared to be hoaxes, the association said.

    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said earlier that "hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place of any kind in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom."

    Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, wrote this on Twitter: "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC"

    The events come just weeks after another round of bomb threats targeted 53 Jewish community centers across 26 U.S. states and one Canadian province during three days in January.

    Ryan Lenz, a senior writer with the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, told NBC News that the threats coincided with what appeared to be a spike in hate speech and hate group activity since Donald Trump's election.

    "We don't know who's behind these threats," Lenz said. "We don't know if groups are organizing them. We do know they're in line with an increase in hate incidents and bias incidents over the last three months." 

    The center counted 1,094 incidents in the 34 days after Nov. 8, from anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant to anti-LGBT and anti-black expressions.

    An SPLC report released last week found that anti-Muslim hate groups operating in the United States had grown the most in recent years — up from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year. Lenz said the bomb threats were "the logical next step as this continues to escalate." 

    On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League issued a security advisory, warning Jewish institutions across the United States to review the organization's security manual and bomb threat guidance assembled by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. 

    "We look to our political leaders at all levels to speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable, and to pledge that they will work with law enforcement officials to ensure that those responsible will be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law," the group's chief executive, Jonathan Greenblatt, added in a statement.

    <![CDATA[2016 an 'Unprecedented Year for Hate': SPLC]]>Wed, 15 Feb 2017 14:44:10 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hategroupsfeuerherd.jpg

    The Southern Poverty Law Center reported an increase in U.S. hate groups in 2016—the second year in a row the number has risen.

    The total number of organizations considered hate groups by the SPLC rose from 892 in 2015 to 917 in 2016. 

    The number of anti-Muslim hate groups saw the greatest rise, ticking up to 101 from 34 in 2015, according to the annual census of hate groups by the SPLC.

    President Donald Trump's election and rhetoric during the campaign is, in part, responsible for this rise of anti-Muslim hate groups, according to the report. 

    "The increase in anti-Muslim hate was fueled by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, including his campaign pledge to bar Muslims from entering the United States, as well as anger over terrorist attacks such as the June massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando," the SPLC wrote. 

    Asked about a rise of anti-Semitism and racism in the U.S. at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump did not offer specifics about how he'll work to curtail it. 

    Instead, he referenced his electoral victory then later pointed out that he has Jewish relatives, including his daughter, and said, "we're going to have peace in this country."

    His response drew criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, who tweeted it's "troubling that @POTUS failed to condemn real issue of anti-Semitism in US today." 

    Mark Potok, an editor of the report called 2016, "an unprecedented year for hate."

    “The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists," Potok said in a statement. 

    The report also notes that an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes coincided with the increase of these hate groups. 

    The SPLC pointed to the latest FBI statistics, gathered in 2015, that showed hate crimes against Muslims increased by 67 percent.

    Click here for a map that tracks hate groups by state. 

    Photo Credit: AP
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    <![CDATA[Student Grades Ex's Apology Letter]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 06:34:09 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-553200253.jpg

    A University of Central Florida student's reaction to his ex-girlfriend's plea for forgiveness is making the rounds on social media.

    Nick Lutz received a hand-written, four-page letter from his ex, who apologized for the mistakes she made in their relationship.

    But the lovelorn woman's effort did not make the grade for Lutz. He marked up her apology letter, gave it a D- and said he sent it back to her.

    The college student posted the letter to Twitter on Friday with all of his corrections and suggestions in red ink. The tweet has since garnered more than 311,000 likes and 106,000 retweets.

    He first noted an indention error and criticized the long introduction. Then, he scrutinized the body and statements made throughout the letter.

    His ex blamed herself while admiring her former lover. However, she made one detail clear: "I never cheated on you."

    Lutz wrote in response: "Strong statement. No supporting details to support your hypothesis."

    The UCF student corrected a misspelling too: "loose" to the more appropriate "lose."

    At the end of the four-page letter, Lutz pointed out that his ex had a "strong hypothesis but nothing to back it up." He added that "details are important" and that she needs "to stop contradicting your own story and pick a side."

    Lutz signed the letter, "good luck."

    We're not sure if his ex has moved on, but it sure does look like Lutz is not interested in rekindling the love.

    Photo Credit: Westend61, Getty
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    <![CDATA[Presidency Continuing to Evolve Under Trump: Experts]]>Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:10:53 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-633735688-Washington.jpg

    The Founding Fathers were not always in agreement. When considering the executive branch, for instance, they debated whether to address their leader as his highness, his excellency or just Mr. President.

    “They literally don’t even know what to call the president at the beginning, and I think that’s a good sign that they were just making it up as they went along,” said Adam Rothman, a history professor at Georgetown University. “And they’re the people who wrote the damn thing, so what are we supposed to do?”

    Centuries later, the job title is settled. But President Donald Trump isn’t the first to put his own unique stamp on the role, which has continued to evolve and expand as each commander in chief faces new, modern obstacles. 

    “The executive branch the founders created, there’s little relationship to the executive branch today, which is what you would expect given the types of historical changes that have happened,” said Herbert Sloan, professor emeritus in history at Barnard College.

    One reason the job is evolving is there's a lot of wiggle room in its description. Under the provisions of Article II of the Constitution -- which details the framers’ vision for the executive -- the president’s “powers are pretty sketchy, and pretty vague,” Rothman said.

    Since Abraham Lincoln, politicians and their constituents have looked to our original revolutionaries for inspiration and guidance. Some go so far as to interpret the Constitution literally, with no room for modernization.

    For example, John O. McGinnis, a professor of constitutional law at Northwestern University, believes that “the Constitution was intended to be law” and has “a fixed meaning.” Critics have claimed that Trump’s administration does not respect staples like the First Amendment, but McGinnis does not think that the president’s actions in office have been unconstitutional.

    But questioning Trump’s policies through a debate of constitutionality could prove unwise, experts said, as allusions to the founders might be misleading, and judging the administration’s ethics based on an anachronistic document may not be the most effective approach.

    The authors of the Constitution could never have anticipated modern demands on the presidency. The job has changed since the founders convened at Independence Hall, and the West Wing has garnered a lot more sway as a consequence.

    Andrew Jackson was the first to meaningfully employ the veto, which he used 12 times. Under Lincoln, the executive branch took on more responsibility in order to salvage the Union.

    Theodore Roosevelt was the first American president to snag the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end the Russo-Japanese War, and his interference in conflicts abroad was perceived as an expansion of the president’s jurisdiction.

    Today, the executive branch gets a great deal of its influence through foreign policy, and especially through military intervention.

    Since World War II, because of modern warfare, there hasn’t been time for the president to report to Congress before taking action, so the legislative branch has delegated more authority to the executive. 

    The United States’ “arsenal for democracy," as Franklin D. Roosevelt put it, has complicated the presidency even further. Wherever Trump goes, he is followed by an aide in charge of the "football" -- a case that gives him the ability to deploy nuclear weapons. At a moment’s notice, he may have to choose whether to use them.

    “We’ve essentially been living with that reality for at least 50 years,” said Ronald J. Granieri, executive director at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Center For the Study of America and the West, and director of research at the Lauder Institute.

    Because nuclear weapons have blurred the line between war- and peacetime, a lot of U.S. military policy has been kicked to the commander in chief. Congress hasn’t officially declared war since 1942, though since then, the country has sent troops to all corners of the world. 

    "The president can do an awful lot of things … without having to ask Congress’ permission,” Granieri said. “That is a reality.”

    Trump has faced criticism for blurring the line between use and abuse of this power through executive orders and memoranda he’s issued in his first month as president, which some of his opponents perceive as an overreach of his office. Similarly, Barack Obama came under fire for some of his 276 executive orders, including the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans policy, which granted temporary amnesty to undocumented parents of American citizens. 

    Theodore Roosevelt was the first to extensively use executive orders, issuing 1,081 during his two terms. Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent through 3,721.

    Sloan said, “It doesn’t matter how many executive orders there are. It matters what the executive orders are about.”

    Rothman believes the Founders “would have been shocked” by presidents employing executive actions to shape policy. 

    When Congress grinds to a halt over ideological differences, a recent phenomenon in American political history, “the temptation for the president is to look to try to do things” without congressional approval, Granieri said. Executive actions, though temporary and unstable, offer the executive branch a way to circumvent the Capitol. 

    But, Granieri countered, what makes Trump’s executive orders so out of the ordinary is that unlike Obama, he’s signing them despite having a party majority in both houses of Congress.

    Granieri explained that during times of extreme political polarization, voters are more attracted to a seemingly strong president who enacts policy despite the other branches’ perceived inadequacy, and they’re more comfortable with an executive branch that has very few checks and balances.

    Citizens are also more willing to circumvent news sources and listen to the president directly. With the advent of social media, politicians have had a direct line to their public through Facebook and Twitter, a resource Trump has used more than past presidents to inform his base. 

    Though Obama has 84.7 million Twitter followers to Trump's 25.1 million, the former president tended to tweet out press releases. Trump has embraced Twitter to share 140-character opinions on policy and badger or bypass the press, which is supposed to hold him accountable.

    Granieri said that this kind of political climate can give rise to demagogues -- one of the Founding Fathers' biggest fears.

    But George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson existed in a very different reality. Rothman thinks “we should take the debates of the founders seriously but not literally,” as any interpretation of the framers’ intentions requires “an imaginative leap."

    In the end, it doesn’t really matter what they thought, or feared. Just like the legislative and judicial branches, the presidency has changed since 1789. What’s important is shaping ethical policy, according to observers. 

    “I think there are an awful lot of reasons to be alarmed about what’s going on and to oppose it,” Sloan said. “But the least important reason for opposing Trump’s abuse of executive power is that the founders, the framers of the Constitution, didn’t want this.”

    Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
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    <![CDATA[Bill Gates Thinks It May Be Time to Tax Robots]]>Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:05:44 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Bill_Gates.jpg

    Bill Gates sees an upside to the robots taking jobs from humans: taxes.

    Harnessing technology helped make Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, the richest man in the world. Recently, he told the publication Quartz that technology can be harnessed to help maintain the social safety net for the communities that lose jobs to automation.

    "Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things," Gates said in the interview. "If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level."

    Automation is a hot topic these days, with American jobs a major focus of Donald Trump's presidency. He is pursuing policy that will incentivize companies creating manufacturing jobs in places like the Rust Belt and punish companies that move such jobs overseas.

    But some analysts believe that many of the manufacturing jobs that stay in the U.S. will simply be automated. Roughly half the world's jobs could be automated with technology that already exists, accounting for $15 trillion in wages, according to a recent analysis by the McKinsey Global Institute.

    In his farewell address, President Barack Obama warned of economic dislocation that comes "from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete."

    Gates argues that taxing robots that take the place of American workers would help communities accept that kind of change, since they would benefit from the work the robots do.

    "It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm. That means they won’t shape it for the positive things it can do," Gates told Quartz.

    Gates isn't the only major player in the tech world thinking about how to help society adapt to the technology that's so quickly changing the way people interact.

    Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg released a manifesto last week aiming to explain how his company will try to create a "social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us."

    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
    <![CDATA[JFK Airport Security Breach]]>Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:39:17 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/229*120/jfk+security+breach+1.jpg

    Authorities are investigating a breach at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport in which 11 people went through security checkpoints without being screened Monday morning, with three of them setting off metal detectors, Transportation Security Administration and Port Authority officials say.

    An airport official and a senior law enforcement official said at 6:05 a.m. Monday that TSA officials left a Terminal 5 security lane open and unattended by screeners.

    The TSA confirmed in a statement that "early reports indicate 3 passengers did not receive required secondary screening after alarming the walk through metal detector." The agency said that all the travelers' carry-on bags received the required screening. 

    The TSA didn't notify police of the possible breach until about two hours later, according to law enforcement sources.

    Police then canvassed the JetBlue terminal using photos and video screen grabs but could not locate any of the 11 passengers, and the travelers were presumed to have boarded their various flights, according to Port Authority police spokesman Joe Pentangelo. Three of them have been identified as passengers on a California-bound flight, and they're expected to be screened there once they land. 

    Port Authority police say they'll continue to work with federal authorities to identify and locate the other eight passengers. 

    The TSA's statement said it is "confident" that the reported breach does not threaten the security of the screening system.

    "TSA works with a network of security layers both seen and unseen," the agency said. "We are confident this incident presents no threat to the aviation transportation system. Once our review is complete, TSA will discipline and retrain employees as appropriate."

    Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY./Getty Images
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    <![CDATA[Officer Killed in SoCal Shootout]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 05:52:10 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/slainwhittierofficer-boyer.jpg

    A 25-year veteran Whittier police officer was killed, and another officer and a gunman were wounded, in a shootout Monday morning, officials said.

    "Officers respond to a call, and it seems like a simple traffic accident, and the next thing they know they’re in a gunfight," said Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

    The officer was identified as Keith Boyer, a 25-year veteran officer, Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri confirmed to NBC4.

    His daughter-in-law described him on Facebook as a hero who just wanted to make the world a better, safer place.

    "I didn't think I had any tears left," said Whitter Police Chief Jeff A. Piper as he broke down weeping for his personal friend, Boyer.

    About 8 a.m., Boyer and another male officer, later identified as Patrick Hazel, responded to a crash in the area of Colima Road and Mar Vista in Whittier, Southern California, where allegedly a driver of a stolen car had struck two other cars at a stop light, Corina said. 

    When the officers arrived, they were told by the victims that the driver who had struck them was around the corner.

    The officers approached the suspected gunman's car completely unaware that it was stolen. 

    "When they get him out of the car, they go to pat him down for weapons, they can see he’s got tattoos all over his face and all over his neck," Corina said at a news conference. 

    In the midst of a pat down, Corina said the man pulled out a gun and started shooting. The officers returned fire and wounded him.

    Both officers were wearing bullet-proof vests, Corina said. Aerial images showed the shattered driver side window of a Whittier police vehicle and a rifle on the trunk of another car.

    All three were rushed to the hospital, where Boyer was pronounced dead. Officer Hazel was in stable condition.

    The identity of the shooter had not been released, but deputies said he was a known gang member. He was described by Corina only as a 26-year-old man who had been paroled approximately 10 days before the shootout.

    He was in the intensive care unit of the hospital, Corina said. 

    "I'm not going to speak about the suspect because frankly, I don't think he's worth speaking about," Piper said.

    The suspected shooter was accused in a murder in East Los Angeles the morning of the fatal gunfight, Lt. Corina said at a news conference. The suspected shooter was accused of the murder of a relative before stealing a vehicle and crashing in Whittier, where he was approached by the officers. 

    A procession held for Boyer showed a line of officers saluting as his vehicle rolled by, with many wiping away tears and embracing each other. 

    "The senseless, cold-blooded killing of a Whittier Police officer today is a sad reminder of the dangerous risks that the men and women of law enforcement take every day in their mission to serve and protect communities in Southern California and across America. My thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of the slain and injured officers. I called Mayor Vinatieri this morning to express my condolences to the City of Whittier family, and to offer any assistance that Los Angeles can provide at this moment of grief. My hope is that everyone affected by this tragedy will find strength and peace in the midst of unthinkable heartbreak," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement.

    At a vigil held for Boyer, hundreds gathered with lit candles for a prayer service. 

    Mayor Vinatieri and Whittier Police Chief Piper spoke to the crowd outside the station just after dusk.

    Piper shed tears, telling the community, "you don't know how hard this is."

    Boyer played the drums for Mrs. Jones' Revenge, a classic rock tribute and cover band that often performs for charity.

    "One of the toughest things to grapple with today is that one of the best among us was stolen from our lives by one of the worst among us," said Jeff McNeal, lead vocalist.

    Irene Moore and Michelle Valles contributed to this report.

    Photo Credit: Whittier Police Department
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    <![CDATA[Russia Compiling Dossier on Trump's Mind: Former Official]]>Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:11:42 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/vladimir-putin-donald-trump.jpg

    A dossier profiling the mind of President Donald Trump is being prepared for Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former senior Kremlin adviser tells NBC News.

    Among the report's preliminary conclusions is that Trump takes risks but can be naive, the adviser said.

    "Very serious preparatory work is going on in the Kremlin, including a paper — seven pages — describing a psychological portrait of Trump, especially based on this last two to three months, and the last weeks," said former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov, who says he has known Trump since 2000.

    It's part of Putin's planning for his first meeting with Trump, the date for which has yet to be decided.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
    <![CDATA[Raw: Airport Video Shows Attack on Brother of N. Korea's Kim]]>Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:09:48 -0600//media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/MALAYSIA-Kim-Attacked-CR-148760442922600001.jpg

    Surveillance video obtained by Fuji TV seems to show the moment Kim Jong Nam (wearing pale grey suit and carrying black backpack), the estranged half brother of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, was attacked at Kuala Lumpur international airport.