<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:32:28 -0600 Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:32:28 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Shot Outside River North Nightclub]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 05:25:04 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/shooting-200-w-ontario-1.jpg

One person was shot in the back outside a nightclub in Chicago's River North neighborhood early Friday morning.

The 36-year-old man was outside Sound-Bar, on the 200 block of West Ontario Street, shortly before 4 a.m. when someone walked up and fired shots, striking him in the back, police said.

The man was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in good condition, police said.

He could be seen talking on a cell phone as an ambulance took him away.

No one was in custody as of 5:20 a.m.

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<![CDATA[Chicago Patient Being Monitored for Ebola Symptoms]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:31:35 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/117452510.jpg

Medical personnel at the University of Chicago Medical Center on Friday morning said they were monitoring a child to rule out an Ebola diagnosis.

The child had a fever during screening at the international terminal at O'Hare International Airport, officials said, but was not displaying any other symptoms of the virus. The extra monitoring on Friday was being done to rule out the disease.

A statement from the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences said the child was "stable" as of 6:15 a.m.

"There is no threat to the public, our staff and our patients. Clinics and operating rooms at the medical center remain on their normal schedules," the statement said, adding that an updated statement would be issued at 5 p.m. Friday.

There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Chicago.

The World Health Organization last month said the recent outbreak has killed nearly 7,000 people in Western Africa. More than 16,000 people have been diagnosed with Ebola since the outbreak was confirmed in Guinea in March.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra
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<![CDATA[Black Ice Causes Problems on Kennedy Expressway]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:36:03 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ohio-ramp-1.jpg

A number of crashes and spin-outs prompted officials to close the Ohio and Ontario feeder ramps to Interstate 90/94 for a couple of hours early Friday.

An Illinois State Police spokesperson said there were 10 crashes or spin-outs on the Kennedy Expressway between O'Hare International Airport and areas in the River North neighborhood. Five of them were on the Ohio Street ramp, the official said.

The sound and aftermath of one such crash was caught on video while a taxi driver, who'd just crashed into a wall, was speaking with NBC Chicago.

Sam Robinson said he wasn't traveling very fast when he changed lanes and lost control. He crashed into the median wall while trying to avoid other cars, he said.

"I saw nothing. I just saw like the powder of the snow on the ground. I didn't even know it was cold enough to freeze like that," he said.

In addition to the feeder ramps, the express lanes of the interstate were also briefly closed while salt trucks tended to the ice.

All roadways were back open by 5 a.m.

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<![CDATA[Cutler’s Fallout Continues Off the Field]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:34:25 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/173*120/460514190.jpg

Jay Cutlers fallout on the field and with fans doesn't stop with him being benched from Sunday's game.

It appears Cutler's latest mishaps on the field, and the latest headlines speculating about his future with the team has prompted a decline in sales merchandise surrounding the star quarterback.

Dick’s Sporting Goods’ jersey report website ranks the quarterback’s namesake gear at 62nd in sales, a steep fall from the start of the season where he stood as the NFL’s 12th bestselling jersey.

“Jay got benched and he should have been benched at halftime at any number of games,” Bears fan Peter Rubnitz said.

But no matter how poorly some say Cutler led his team’s performance this season, the downtown Sports Authority at LaSalle and Ontario Streets said Bears merchandise is still a big seller.

“It doesn’t matter what’s going on out there, a Bears fan is always loyal,” the store’s manager told NBC Chicago.

Unfortunately "what’s going on out there" does indeed matter to ticket distributors, who are feeling the pain when it comes to this Sunday’s game against Detroit.

“Tickets are going for $40 apiece,” said Max Waisvisz, owner of Gold Coast Tickets. “Even those expensive club-level seats are going for a third of their price.”

StubHub reports more than 2,000 tickets are still available for purchase online from fed-up fans like Peter Rubnitz, who is left trying to unload his seats after his friends are no longer willing to sit it out at Soldier Field.

“They’ve got a million other things they’d rather be doing,” Rubnitz said. “But Detroit is in the playoffs, so some Lions fans might be interested.”

Detroiter Sue Torgerson was able to snag her last-minute game ticket for $150, nearly 40 percent off from its $350 face-value.

“It’s wonderful! Merry Christmas!” proclaimed the Lions fan.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[4th Victim Dies After DUI Crash]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:29:48 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/202*120/12-19-2014-gaza-redondo-beach-crash.jpg

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

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

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

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

One other adult was listed Thursday in critical condition.

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

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

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

She is scheduled to make her first court appearance Friday.

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


Photo Credit: Gaza Family]]>
<![CDATA[Brookfield Zoo Welcomes 2nd Dolphin Calf in 5 Days]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:11:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/brookfield-allie-calf.jpg

A Brookfield Zoo official on Thursday evening announced the birth of a second bottlenose dolphin within five days.

Sondra Katzen, with the Chicago Zoological Society, said a 27-year-old dolphin named Allie gave birth to a female calf early Tuesday.

Allie is a protective mother and was successfully nursing the calf and slipstreaming — when the calf rests in his mother's wake as she swims, Katzen said.

The zoo also welcomed a male calf born to 9-year-old Allison on Dec. 12.

The society's marine mammal curator, Rita Stacey, said the births have been very rewarding for the marine mammal team. She has said a calf's first 30 days are critical, and a dolphin birth is not considered successful until the calf reaches 1 year old.

"We are thrilled with this birth, as well as with Allison’s calf," Stacey said. 

The Chicago Zoological Society has cared for bottlenose dolphins for 54 years and opened the first inland oceanarium in the United States in 1961.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One other adult also was in critical condition Thursday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jury selection begins January 5, 2015.

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

He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Photo Credit: NECN
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<![CDATA[New Skyscraper Planned to Rise Along Chicago River]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:42:31 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wanda-vista-2.jpg

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office on Wednesday night unveiled artist renderings of a planned 88-story mixed-use skyscraper that would sit along the Chicago River.

The building, dubbed as "Wanda Vista" will house a hotel, retail shops and condos and would be among the city's tallest. The Trump International Hotel and Tower stands 1,362 feet, including the spire, and the Willis Tower is 1,729 feet tall to the tip.

The Chicago Tribune, citing sources, said the building is designed by Chicago-based Jeanne Gang, who also designed the award-winning Aqua Tower. Her firm was tapped over the summer to design areas around the planned Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

"I think the size of the skyscraper is only matched and equaled by the size of the statement it's making i nthe cith of Chicago," Emanuel said at a Thursday press conference. "Our true measure of our success is not just the investment but the job opportunities that come with this."

Chinese company Wanda Group plans to break ground on the East Wacker Drive skyscraper in 2016. The building project is expected to create about 2,000 jobs. About 500 jobs would be permanent, city officials said.

At a cost of $900 million, the project is China's largest real estate investment in The Windy City.

The timing of the announcement coincided with Wednesday's start of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Chicago.

Photo Credit: Wanda Group
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<![CDATA[Blaze Over NoCal Refinery "Normal"]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 02:01:12 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/chevronmain.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The flaring has now stopped. There may be intermittent flaring this evening as we continue to safely bring down the unit," Chevron said in the statement. "There has been no impact to the community and the refinery fence line monitors are showing that any detections are well below state and federal health standards."

Contra Costa Health Services said on its website that there may be intermittent flaring Thursday evening. According to health officials, hazardous materials staff are monitoring the situation and there is currently no shelter-in-place.

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

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


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

A photo posted by Blue Rabbit (@bluerabbit77) on






#apocalypse #endoftheworld

A photo posted by Pardeezy Dhillon (@kingsnake172) on

Photo Credit: Blue Rabbit ‏@bluerabbit77 Via Twitter ]]>
<![CDATA[21-Year-Old Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:58:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/222*120/Screen+Shot+2014-12-19+at+1.19.33+AM.png

Police are searching for a hit-and-run driver who killed a 21-year-old man in North Waukegan.

Adrien Gonzalez, 21, was walking with his uncle and a group of friends Sunday evening near Butrick Street and Tamera Court when a vehicle struck him and then quickly sped off.

“It was so hard,” Gonzalez’s uncle told NBC Chicago of the horrific memory he has from witnessing his nephew’s death. “He was choking on his blood. I just tried to help him breathe.”

Gonzalez, who worked as a mechanic with dreams of owning his own auto shop one day, succumbed to his wounds and died three days later.

His loved ones gathered for a vigil in his honor Thursday, remembering him as a hard worker with a big heart, who’s smile brought joy to his family and friends.

His mother Lauren Morales tried to comfort her devastated 16-year-old daughter, a pain she calls “a mother's worst nightmare.”

“It breaks my heart that the whoever did this to him hasn't come forward,” Morales said. “That their conscience is not eating them alive.”

Police are looking for a grey or silver SUV and have been pouring over traffic and surveillance cameras in the area.

“We don't think they intentionally wanted to run over Mr. Gonzalez,” Waukegan Police Department commander Joe Florip said. “We would like to talk to them and figure out what happened. We understand they are scared and nervous, but we'd like them to come into the police department and talk to us.”

The North Waukegan Police ask that if anyone has further information, to please contact them.  

<![CDATA[Smash-and-Grab Burglars Hit String of Cell-Phone Stores]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:13:54 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/141770733.jpg

There’s a new twist to the growing problem of smash-and-grab burglaries where thieves use bricks to break into storefronts, police say.

In recent weeks, cell phone shops have been one of the prime targets for burglars. These crimes have proven to be a difficult blow for the distributors who are forced to quickly rebuild their inventory during the height of the holiday shopping season.

"Being a salesperson, how can I make money for my family if I can't sell [items] and get commission out of it?" Boost Mobile's Andrew Saucedo said, who’s Elston Avenue storefront was robbed of nearly 60 cellular devices. 

In the store’s surveillance video, the thieves are shown prying their way in through the back door. When the building’s alarm goes off they are still not deterred, going straight for the goods and grabbing as much as they can.

The suspects made three more trips going in and out of the store in just 45 minutes, each time filling a pillowcase and laundry bag full of merchandise.

Days later the burglars were back, but this time they weren’t interested in leftover phones and instead went for the register.

Another business struck by the crime was the T-Mobile store on Kimball Avenue, which was hit with two smash-and-grab thefts in one week. Both times the thieves stole iPads and smartphones.

Despite their high demand, cell phones that are stolen have very little value. Once the phones are reported stolen they are put on a "black list" which keeps them from being activated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Plane Crashes in Dallas; Pilot Dead]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 07:31:55 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/plane+crash10.jpg

A small plane crashed in Seagoville, killing the pilot, as it tried to land Thursday evening.

The plane went down just after 6 p.m. Thursday in the 1600 block of Bent Tree Lane near Malloy Bridge Road, officials said. Dallas sheriff's deputies are investigating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Arson Sparked Downtown LA Inferno]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:50:11 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/downtown-la-structure-fire.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<![CDATA[Woman Threatens Kids With Gun: Cops]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:49:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/barnegat+rifle+pointed.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Brian Thompson contributed to this report. 

<![CDATA[Taj Gibson Adopts Family For Christmas]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:39:45 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000010194002_1200x675_374815811976.jpg Taj Gibson makes a big difference for one family for the holidays. Lee Ann Trotter reports.]]> <![CDATA[Teen Mugged Do-Gooder, 99: PD]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:34:51 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Windsor+Senior+Center+1200.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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<![CDATA[Emanuel Touts Changes Made, Looks Ahead to Next Year]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:36:14 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mayor+rahm+emanuel.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is further distancing himself from Mayor Richard Daley’s tenure.

In a conversation Thursday afternoon with the BGA’s Andy Shaw, Emanuel touted changes he’s made including hiring he says used to be based  "on who you knew, now what you know is what is important.”

Emanuel spoke of the parking meter deal, the City Council watchdog and how to make his administration more transparent. The BGA says it has had to sue numerous times for various city departments to release information.

“I do believe the data we’re making available is not just what I want to make available,” Emanuel says.

He promised changes are coming in his next term, should he win a second term. That same will be true for the 311 phone system to give residents more information about their neighborhoods.

The mayor was also asked about his schedule, which does not reveal who he meets with every day and only includes public events, but the mayor says his staff puts out his schedule.

"They put out everything I do on a daily basis,” he said.

Emanuel notes he takes the train twice a week, but doesn’t publicize it.

“I interact with a lot of people on the train,” he said. “I continue to shake hands at el stops."

The mayor noted “we do things all the time in the neighborhood.”

He also reaches out to families impacted by gun violence and does not notify the media.

“I’m visiting her as a fellow parent,” he said. “I try to go there and comfort them.”

Another question asked “if enough regular folks weigh in” on important issues like the city’s budget and the mayor said “through technology” residents were allowed to offer comments this year, rather than meetings in the neighborhood.

<![CDATA[Nurse: I Was Suspended for Refusing Flu Shot]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 01:29:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/flu+shot+generic.jpg

A Chicago nurse says he was suspended from his job for refusing to get a flu shot.

Officials estimate that roughly half of all Americans get the flu shot, and Marek Piszczatowski, a nurse at John H. Stroger Jr., Hospital of Cook County, says it’s a good idea.

“I don't have any problem with vaccinations,” he said. “I had them as a child.”

What Piszczatowski says is a bad idea, however, is a mandate requiring employees of the Cook County health system where he works to get a flu shot

“You’re practically being blackmailed,” he said. “You either comply with that or get fired.”

After getting a notice that he needed to get a flu shot, Piszczatowski said he refused. Then came another letter, and this week he and a union representative went to a hearing that could result in the loss of his job, he said.

“I should be able to choose,” he said.

Piszczatowski is not alone. Across the country healthcare workers, with nurses in the lead, are mobilizing against mandatory flu vaccinations. Some who have already lost their jobs have filed suit.

Last year, a pregnant nurse who refused to get a flu shot due to her fear of miscarrying was fired from her job with a health care company.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory to doctors that this season’s flu shot may not be as effective as it should be.

Federal officials say the flu causes about 200,000 hospitalizations annually. Last year, the CDC reported 46 percent of people were vaccinated.

In some healthcare settings, there are usually religious and medical exemptions, and several hospitals require those who choose to not get vaccinated to wear a mask.

In a statement the Cook County Health and Hospitals System said to knowingly put “patients and coworkers at risk when we know that risk can be reduced by a safe, effective vaccine is irresponsible.”

It also said the mandatory flu vaccine policy “follows the recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Piszczatowski said frequent hand washing and a mask already protects patients, and patients themselves could get the flu vaccine if they haven’t already.

He claims he has since been suspended and is using his vacation time while he waits for a decision on his future with the health system.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Cupich Denies Mud-Slinging Allegations in Court]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:28:28 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Cupich_deposition.jpg

In documents filed in a Spokane court, new Chicago Archbishop Blaise Cupich denies the assertions of a former deputy that he wanted to “sling mud at his former diocesan law firm” to “see what sticks”, in an effort to recover millions of dollars in fees.

The filing further illustrates the continued acrimony in a case which shocked many in the Spokane community, as Cupich led the Diocese in a split with its longtime lawyers.

Cupich is suing his former law firm, Paine Hamblen, accusing them of malpractice in a bankruptcy case stemming from millions of dollars in sexual abuse claims. In a deposition given earlier this year, Father Steven Dublinski, the former Vicar General of the Diocese, said Cupich told him he was “throwing mud at Paine-Hamblen to see if any mud sticks.”

After that, Dublinski said he made the decision that he could no longer serve as Cupich’s Vicar General.

“Vicar General should be able to support and represent this Bishop,” he said. “So I offered my resignation.”

In a sworn declaration given here in Chicago earlier this month, Cupich stated “at no time did I say we were filing the case as a way to throw mud at this law firm, or besmirch their reputation. It was always a matter of trying to let them know we were serious, and hoping that some aspect of our case would get their attention, and stick with someone in the firm who could provide some common sense.”

At issue was a provision of the bankruptcy settlement, isolating a $1 million fund for payment of future claims. Cupich argued that outstanding claims would exceed that million dollars, and put over 20 Church properties in jeopardy of foreclosure. Paine Hamblen counters that the future claims have totaled almost exactly what had been anticipated.

“Father Steve did inform me after the malpractice case was filed that he was having trouble sleeping, and thought it best if he resigned,” Cupich said. “This was in 2013. I asked him to stay on for at least the time being as I needed time to find a replacement.”

But in late summer 2014, Cupich said Dublinski left a letter of resignation on his desk, along with his office keys and phone.

“The only reason he gave was policy differences,” Cupich said. “I wish he had come to talk to me about his concerns, but for some reason he chose not to communicate with me.”

A trial in the case is set for February.

<![CDATA[Health Officials "Surprised" by Petcoke Company's New Facility Plans]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:45:32 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/221*120/investigates+petcoke.jpg

A coal and petroleum coke handler’s plan to enclose its operations within a massive facility on Chicago’s southeast side is being met with “surprise” and “concern” from the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Petroleum coke, or petcoke, is a by-product of the oil refining process. It is similar in appearance to coal and used to generate electricity. KCBX Terminals recently announced plans for a $120 million indoor petcoke facility that would stretch 1,000 feet long, 200 feet wide and 100 feet tall. Construction is expected begin in Fall 2015.

NBC 5 Investigates obtained a letter sent December 17th from the CDPH commissioner to the president of KCBX Terminals, in which the commissioner expressed “surprise and concern that KCBX is providing details and a construction timeline for its required enclosure via press release” without having applied for permits and without sharing formal plans for the facility with the city.

In return, KCBX sent a letter to the commissioner in which it wrote KCBX has met regularly with members of Chicago’s Law Department and CDPH regarding its planned permitting of the enclosure project.

The city gave the company a two-year timeline for building an enclosure earlier this year. A city spokesperson confirmed KCBX submitted a variance request on the enclosure deadline Wednesday night. The city said the request was submitted after the commissioner’s letter was sent.

City regulations now require at least 30 days of public comment before making a decision on the variance request.

Neighbors who live near the southeast side storage facility have complained about alleged petcoke dust caking on to their homes. And they said they’re also concerned about their health.

“We want a health analysis done on our community because we don’t know what kind of harm it’s already caused us,” said Olga Bautista, a community activist who is also running for city alderman.

KCBX has said their analyses of soil and surface samples confirm that KCBX does not adversely impact the surrounding area. But in a direct contradiction to the company’s analysis, the CDPH commissioner wrote “a CDPH analysis of electron microscopy found petcoke dust on neighborhood sidewalks”.

The company spent millions of dollars on high tech water cannons to suppress dust in 2013 and this week announced plans to build its massive enclosure facility. The company said more than 150 construction-related jobs would be created over two years.

KCBX said it is in compliance with city rules and said the air quality is clean.

<![CDATA[Pac-Man Inspired Restaurant Coming to Woodfield Mall]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:27:18 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/163*120/162918242.jpg

Gamers don’t often get to step inside their favorite virtual worlds and experience them in real life, but come Spring 2015, Schaumburg’s Woodfield Mall will give fans of Pac-Man that chance.

More than three decades after Namco Entertainment released the classic ‘80s insta-hit Pac-Man, the game developer is creating a new kind of “entertainment destination,” in the form of a restaurant inspired by their most famed character.

“Level 257 seeks to explore Pac-Man’s impact upon our society and pop culture,” the restaurant’s Tumblr page states. “Reminding us all of the importance of play in our lives, while facilitating our desire to relive those times when beating the next level was the most important thing in our world.”

And play is exactly what you’ll want to do there. Picking up where the game left off from Pac-Man’s final 256th level, the previously impossible to reach Level 257 will offer 16 boutique bowling lanes with smart technology, table tennis, pinball, ungettable original arcades and custom built-in game tables.

But don’t let the games fool you, this place isn’t meant for kids.

“The facility is built for adults," David Bishop, Namco’s executive vice president of strategic project development, told the Daily Herald. “With no disrespect to other entertainment concepts like Dave & Buster's or Gameworks, Level 257 is expected to be seen as a restaurant first.”

The venue promises to be “at its heart a high-end, 180-seat restaurant presenting fresh, chef-prepared dishes,” adorned with giant red leather booths, fire pits and a separate sports bar to complement their sommelier-curated cocktails, craft beers and a specialty wine list.

Level 257 will open early 2015 in Woodfield Mall’s 40,000 square-foot space adjacent to Sears.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Questions Surround Trestman's Handling of Cutler Demotion]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:27:33 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/459960262a.jpg

To say that the Chicago Bears are a dumpster fire isn’t fair to either trash receptacles or flames, but the metaphor is still about as close as we can get to describing what is going on at Halas Hall over the past few weeks.

Thursday added a new chapter to that saga, as the big players involved in the team’s quarterback switch spoke to the media. Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen were both supportive of one another during the press conference, and Marc Trestman described his emotions on the decision as he opened the media availability.

“We need a lift at quarterback,” he said. “I think we need a spark. The weight of the world should not be on Jimmy Clausen, but I’m hoping that our team against a very good defense will get some response from our team.”

Those statements contradicted earlier statements by Trestman that he would stick with Cutler at quarterback so long as he was healthy, and Trestman owned up to the change in direction when asked about it.

“I did say that at the time, and I’ve changed my mind,” he said. “I think this is in the best interest of the team today.”

Trestman also went into detail about the process by which the team arrived at the decision to bench Cutler, who threw three interceptions against the New Orleans Saints on Monday.

“The normal course of events is that I wanted to make sure the quarterbacks knew my intent,” he said. “We all know in this day and age it’s difficult to keep those things (private). We knew it could get out in the course of the day, but I wanted the team to know first. Ultimately I wanted them to know about it before it got out.”

Despite Trestman’s assertion that he told the team before the reports started circulating on Wednesday night, both Kyle Long and Jermon Bushrod said that they found out about the benching via social media. Long conceded that finding out in that fashion “was not ideal,” but expressed confidence in Clausen’s ability.

“Jimmy has had a lot of success against our number one defense (in practice),” he said.

Trestman was also asked about the difference in his handling of the Cutler demotion and in Aaron Kromer’s role in an NFL Network report that contained criticism of the quarterback. Kromer wasn’t disciplined in any public way for his transgressions, and when asked about it Trestman got very defensive.

“That’s a completely…..that’s not a question I’m going to answer,” he said.

For a team that values accountability and communication, the Bears certainly seem to be lacking on both counts.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cutler, Clausen Support Each Other]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:04:35 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/453989948+%281%29.jpg

The Chicago Bears allowed media reports to announce that they had benched starting quarterback Jay Cutler in favor of Jimmy Clausen for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, and on Thursday afternoon the team faced the music as they spoke to the media for the first time.

Even though he put on a brave face and answered questions forthrightly throughout his availability, Cutler admitted that he wasn’t happy with the way things had turned out.

“When the decision was made, I didn’t stick around and ask a lot of questions,” Cutler said. “I didn’t take it well at the time. I’ll try to help Jimmy and make sure that he’s ready on a short week.”

That preparation time for Clausen is limited because of the Bears’ game on Monday against the New Orleans Saints, and is made even shorter by Marc Trestman’s decision not to have the team practice until Thursday for the first time.

Despite the limitations of only having two practice sessions to prepare as the starter against one of the best defenses in the NFL, Clausen isn’t making any excuses.

“It really doesn’t matter if it’s fair or not,” he said. “We’re just trying to get ready each and every day.”

Fortunately for Clausen, he has made it a point to prepare thoroughly for every game this season, and so getting thrust into the starter’s role hasn’t really changed his approach.

“I’m taking the same approach that I have the entire year: just to be myself and go to work,” he said. “That’s the only thing you can do right now. I’ve been in way worse situations than this, and the only thing we can do is go out each and every day and work. All the guys on the team are doing that.”

The Bears’ other offensive players are not only having to deal with a new quarterback under center, but they’re also having to deal with a teammate who’s been relieved of his duties as the starter in the same locker room. Despite any potential awkwardness, Cutler insists that his teammates have been supportive.

“They were good. Everyone’s been supportive,” he said. “We have a lot of good guys in the locker room. Now they have to support Jimmy 100% just like I have to.”

Helping Clausen prepare for his start is something that Cutler got used to last season. With Josh McCown as the back-up, Cutler watched him start a number of games while dealing with injury, and he says that experience is going to help him this week.

“Last year helping Josh when I was hurt helped me now,” he said. “Just trying to help relax him and help him through the reads. We’ve played them once before, so I have some insight from that. He’s played a lot of high level football games from high school to college to starting in Carolina. I expect him to play well.”

Even though he has a game to prepare for, Clausen is still sympathetic to the struggles that Cutler is going through as he adjusts to being the number two player on the depth chart.

“It’s tough on him being the starting quarterback and the coach going a different way,” he said. “He’s been great with me yesterday and today. That’s the way Jay’s been with me since day one. Nothing has changed from his perspective and my perspective.”

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

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

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

Log Your Time

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

Write Things Down

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

The Magic Word Is “No”

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

Schedule Leisure, Too

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

See How You Compare

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

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

Photo Credit: Vjom
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<![CDATA[Dave and Buster's to Come to State Street Mall]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:55:23 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dave+and+busters.jpg

The once defunct Block 37 is gaining another tenant soon. The restaurant and arcade bar Dave and Buster's is reportedly next in line to fill a spot in the State Street mall.

The Dallas-based restaurant chain will occupy a 30,000-foot space on the fourth floor of Block 37 next to a movie theater that is also coming to the mall, according to an article in Crain's Chicago Business.

Block 37 has been undergoing a bit of a revival in the past few years after a rough start when it opened in 2009. Two years later, the mall on State and Randolph Streets was sold to Bank of America for $100 million after it went up for sale at a sheriff's auction to satisfy liens against it.

The mall now houses several retail and food shops, including Anthropologie, Magnolia Bakery, Zara and the Disney Store.

Dave and Buster's will add another entertainment element to the mall along with the movie theater that is also set to open. The restaurant and arcade bar already has one location in Chicago at 1030 N. Clark St., but this location may close when the new one at Block 37 opens, according to Crain's.

Dave and Buster's also has locations in Addison, Orland Park and Vernons Hills. The restaurant has 70 locations in 27 state and Canada, according to their website.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Accused Scotty Killer Twiddles Thumbs in Court]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:32:35 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Gary+Fellnbaum+Amber+Fellenbaum+Jillian+Tait.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Chester County District Attorney's Office
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<![CDATA[Suburban Smash-and-Grab Thieves Target Lotto Tickets]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:37:43 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/1570837011.jpg

Smash-and-grab lottery ticket thefts are becoming a common occurrence in the Western suburbs, according to police.

Wood Dale police told NBC Chicago they’ve responded to three smash-and-grab lottery ticket thefts since Nov. 22, with up to 15 similar crimes reported in surrounding suburbs.

For many store owners, these lottery ticket thefts don’t make sense.

“I don’t know what the trend is because lottery tickets are no good once you report them,” said Nick Farhat, owner of Woodale’s WD Tobacco.

Farhat’s security cameras on Monday captured smash-and-grab thieves ransacking his tobacco store of $12,000 worth of lottery tickets.

At about 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, Krage’s Service Center in Addison was hit by a similar lottery raid.

In surveillance footage captured by the gas station’s owner Kevin Krage, you see a car pull up to the doorway of the service center so a passenger can look through the window.

Moments later, someone from the car throws a large rock breaking the gas station’s glass door. Seconds after the passenger runs in and grabs all of the lottery tickets on the store’s counter.

Krage said they got away with roughly $2,000 worth of tickets.

But lottery sales representative Michael Case said the thieves try to cash the tickets in before the owners get a chance to report them stolen.

“They are out there scratching and cashing,” Case said.

The thieves are on a time crunch, because once the tickets are reported stolen they are worthless.

“This was just too unusual to have four stores within in two weeks [with smash-and-grab lottery thefts],” Case said. “[The suspects] are just waiting, smashing windows and grabbing dispensers.”

<![CDATA[Rubio, GOPers Discuss Cuba]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:57:23 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/121814+lawmakers+cuba.jpg

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

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

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

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

Ros-Lehtinen also denounced the policy change.

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

<![CDATA[Is Your Office Making a Bad Flu Season Worse?]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:18:28 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Sick-Flu_generic.jpg

'Tis the season for holiday cheer, gifts and celebration, but for office workers across the country,  it is also the season of something else: the flu.

As much as 20 percent of the U.S. population battles the flu each year, with workplaces serving as a common breeding ground for the virus. Each season, more than 11 million workdays are lost due to the flu, which translates to $7 billion in sick time and lost productivity, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.

While employees may claim they’re “not that sick,” a recent Staples Advantage study found that 60 percent of workers who are infected with the virus still feel obligated to show up for work, contaminating everything from doorknobs and faucets to coffee pot handles. It’s a problem for any office but especially challenging for companies with open floor plans, which have been linked to higher levels of workplace illness.

In fact, a recent study published in Ergonomics found that employees who share an office with multiple coworkers are more likely to take short-term sick leave than individuals with their own private space. This shows how problematic the flu can be in open-office environments, which accounted for nearly 70 percent of workplaces in a 2010 survey conducted by the International Management Facility Association.

Fortunately, there are several steps businesses can take to prevent the virus from spreading in their office. These include:

1. Encouraging employees to take the day off or work from home: The Staples survey found that 40 percent of employees feel there is too much going on at work to stay home, while 31 percent said they show up sick because they think their boss appreciates it. Yet more than a third of workers surveyed acknowledged their personal productivity is less than half their usual level when they come to work with the flu – in other words, it’s not worth it. Employers therefore should have the technology in place (e.g., cloud-based file storage, VoIP phone systems, and so on) to enable employees to work from home if they feel it’s necessary. This will help discourage employees from coming into the office and exposing others to the virus.

2. Remembering the basics: It may seem obvious, but basic sanitation – even if it’s something as simple as hand sanitizer – can go a long way in preventing the spread of workplace illnesses. While larger companies often hire cleaning crews to assist with this, smaller businesses may think they’re unable to afford daily cleaning services. What some employers don’t realize is that the cost of these services – especially if they’re only used during flu season – can be offset by increased productivity that would otherwise be lost to employee sick leave. Another affordable alternative to traditional office space is a shared office, where the landlord is responsible for all cleaning duties.

3. Reevaluating your floor plan: Approximately 88 percent of employers in the Staples survey said they encourage sick employees to stay home, but even if they’re able to work remotely, some will inevitably show up at the office no matter how bad they feel. While open floor plans have been lauded for facilitating teamwork and collaboration, they’ve also given rise to new challenges that go beyond illness. People who work in open offices have reported higher levels of stress than those who work in standard offices and frequently say they’re less productive than they would be if they had a space of their own. If a company’s office layout is creating more problems than it solves, it may be time for a move or remodel.

By implementing one or more of these practices, businesses of all sizes can take a proactive approach to flu prevention, maximizing productivity and boosting employee morale.

Frank Chalupa is president and co-founder of Amata Office Centers, Chicago’s largest privately owned office suites provider. Founded in 2002, Amata offers an array of full- and part-time office solutions to businesses of all sizes. With six locations to choose from in downtown Chicago, including the company’s newest center at 150 S. Wacker Drive, Amata offers flexible terms that allow businesses to change and grow as needed. Learn more at amataoffices.com.

<![CDATA[New Map Aims to Simplify Residential Zone Parking]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:19:38 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Residential-Parking.jpg

Months after Chicago officials made parking at the city's metered spots a mobile experience, a new online destination and mobile application aims to make it easier to park in the hundreds of residential parking zones throughout the city.

"This map is a long, long needed solution to this very much decades-old problem," City Clerk Susana Mendoza said Thursday at the Merchandise Mart, home of 1871, the entrepreneurial hub for digital startups.

The City of Chicago currently has 1,429 active residential parking zones. Each of the 8,004 active zone records, or individually-designated blocks, can have their own individual rules. Furthermore, aldermen can change and add zones on a whim, Mendoza said, making it difficult to keep public information up-to-date.

The new online maps and mobile app, announced by Mendoza, aldermen and civic tech leaders, will for the first time collect the zone information into a single, digital collection and hopefully make it easier for the city's 200,000 motorists to know whether they'll need a guest pass at their destination.

"It didn't cost us a dollar to put this information in the hands of people who know how to use it," Mendoza said. "We did it at zero additional taxpayer cost, and it will actually provide a benefit to taxpayers and hopefully lead to less tickets."

Tickets for illegally parking in a residential zone cost $75.

The new map is available on the Chicago City Clerk website.

Mendoza was joined by Ald. James Cappleman (46th) and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) as well as by 1871 CEO Howard Tullman and Smart Chicago Collaborative CEO Dan O’Neil.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com
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<![CDATA[Quinn Calls Special Session for Comptroller]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:07:33 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_gov_pat_quinn.jpg

Gov. Pat Quinn has called for a special session of the Illinois Legislature to approve a special election to choose a new Illinois comptroller following the death of Judy Baar Topinka.

Quinn is said to be looking for someone who will "carry out Topinka’s role as a watchdog." He is expected to appoint someone to step in temporarily, but also wants voters to have the option to choose a successor to the comptroller in the 2016 statewide elections. 

Topinka died in early December after having a stroke. She won a second term as comptroller during last month's general election.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Monday issued a ruling about Topinka’s successor. The governor’s staff notes that while Madigan sees two appointments – one for Quinn and one for Gov.-Elect Bruce Rauner – other legal experts believe that Quinn’s appointment will keep the comptroller job until there’s an election held.

Last week, Rauner said he wanted Quinn to appoint Topinka’s Chief of Staff Nancy Kimme.

The late comptroller was remembered at a memorial service Wednesday as a tough, honest leader with a signature sense of humor.

Crowds filled the Operating Engineers' Local 150 headquarters in Countryside to pay respects. Individuals included the state's top leaders, lawmakers, local leaders and Illinoisans who knew her for more than 70 years.

<![CDATA[Pets Face Homelessness After Shelter to be Evicted]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:28:32 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Suzy+Q.jpg

An animal adoption center in south suburban Chicago is asking for donations this holiday season to find a new temporary home for their animals after receiving an eviction notice Dec. 12. 

Cache Creek Animal Rescue is a non-profit no-kill shelter in that rescues dogs and cats from kill shelters in 11 counties in southern Illinois. The adoption center is facing eviction because the Joliet building was not up to code during a recent inspection, according to the shelter's Go Fund Me page. The owner of the building wants them out by Jan. 10.

"People don't understand our plight," said Donna Hawk, the director of the shelter.

Hawk said she drives 700 miles almost every weekend rescuing animals in southern Illinois and bringing them from their shelter in Anna, Illinois, to the adoption center in Joliet. The shelter in Anna, Hawk said, has flooded four times, so the animals there are also in danger of losing their temporary home.

Hawk hopes to raise $50,000 to find a new home for the animals in Anna as well as Joliet. Hawk's car also needs repairs due to all of the driving she does to rescue the dogs and cats.

Hawk said she doesn't know where the animals in Joliet will go if they are evicted, and she's hoping to raise enough money to find them new homes by Christmas. Friends and family of the shelter staff have offered to foster some of the animals, but Hawk said her goal is to find a new place for the adoption center as soon as possible.

Between the shelter in Anna and the adoption center in Joliet, Cache Creek has about 180 dogs and cats. There are currently about 25 animals in Joliet, Hawk said, but she was planning on bringing 20 more this week.

Although the majority of animals are rescued in southern Illinois, Hawk brings them to the adoption center in Joliet because there are much more likely to be adopted there, she said.

"It's just amazing what people dispose of down here," Hawk said of the animals she rescues in southern Illinois.

Through their Go Fund Me page, Cache Creek has raised more than $12,000, but they have a long way to go before they reach their goal of $50,000. Cache Creek staff are asking for donations of any size, even $1 or $5.

If you'd like to donate, visit their fundraising page. For more information about Cache Creek, visit www.cachecreekanimalrescue.com.

Photo Credit: Cache Creek Animal Rescue
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<![CDATA[Storms Provide "Foothold for Drought Recovery" in California ]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:07:43 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/221*120/12-18-2014-drought-monitor-ca.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: US Drought Monitor
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<![CDATA[Top 15 New Illinois Laws for 2015]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:40:50 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gavel14.jpg "January 1, we wake up to a new year," the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus wrote on their website. "We also wake up to new and revised laws enacted by state lawmakers and the governor to improve our lives. Safety, convenience, transparency, health and fairness are the inspiration, and many new laws are directly inspired by constituents."]]> <![CDATA[Father of 3 Fatally Shot While Waiting for Bus]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:43:24 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/herrera+bus+shooting.jpg

Donatello Hererra was standing on the sidewalk, waiting for the Western Avenue bus, when someone in a dark-colored SUV opened fire striking the 35-year-old, according to police.

“I was hoping it was just a nightmare,” Hererra’s wife Amanda Garza told NBC Chicago. “That I was sleeping, and I would wake up from it. But it's not. It's reality.”

Herarra had just finished his shift at the Burger King restaurant at Western and Ogden.

He was rushed to nearby John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, where he later died, police said.

Herrera was a father of three.

“He was hard-working. He took care of his kids,” his wife said. “He wasn't a deadbeat dad. He wasn't a gang-banger. He wasn't into drugs. He didn't drink. He was a good man.”

Hererra’s family gathered Wednesday to remember their late father.

“I always remember how much he loved us,” Garza’s son Dartagnon Herrera said. “Even if it would involve personal sacrifice, he would do whatever needed to make sure we were happy.”

His second son, Donatello Herrera II, shared similar memories.

“He was always looking out for the family, always trying to keep us together,” he said. “[But after] all that hard work, now look. He's not here. He was shot for no reason.”

The family is praying for someone to come forward with any information on his killer.

“We are going to stay strong and hope somebody comes with some more information, so we can get this murderer and put him behind bars,” Garza said.

It is a grim reality for Hererra’s family to cope with his murder only eight days before Christmas.

“He just got paid on Tuesday so our plans were to go out and get the kids some Christmas presents and to come back home and put the tree up,” Garza said. “That's not happening now, that's all I know. Because they killed him.”

<![CDATA[Report Names Most Dangerous Cities in Illinois]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:44:32 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/fbi-jackets-generic.jpg

Illinois ranks as the 20th most-dangerous state in the nation, according to a new report based on crime statistics from the FBI.

Law Street Media published a ranking of America’s “Safest & Most Dangerous States 2015” using the latest violent crime data from the FBI.

The report ranks 50 states from the most dangerous to the safest and details violent crime statistics for every city in the country with a reported population of 25,000 or more.

Alaska was named the most-dangerous state in the U.S. and Vermont was named the safest. Irvine, California was named the safest city and Detroit, Michigan took the most-dangerous city slot.

Chicago’s violence may hover in the national spotlight, but the Windy City wasn’t listed in any ranking as the FBI said Chicago’s data was underreported and could not be compared to any other city. Officials also said Chicago’s data collection methodology for rape, which is included in violent crime, does not comply with national Uniform Crime Report guidelines.

One list included in the report, which ranked violence in cities with populations between 100,000 and 200,000 people, named Rockford the second most-dangerous city in the nation.

With a violent crime rate of 1,375 per 100,000 people and a murder rate of 13 per 100,000 people, Rockford jumped up from last year’s third-place ranking, sitting only behind Little Rock, Arkansas.

The study noted that Rockford’s murder rate had more than doubled since last year, reporting 19 murders this year compared to last year’s nine.

The report named these as the 10 most-dangerous cities in Illinois.

1. Harvey
2. Rockford
3. Springfield
4. Carbondale
5. Champaign
6. Kankakee
7. Peoria
8. Granite City
9. Rock Island
10. Bloomington

The FBI cautioned against rankings based on the Uniform Crime Report because "there are many factors that cause the nature and type of crime to vary from place to place." The FBI says rankings "ignore the uniqueness of each locale."

See more of the Illinois crime statistics here.

<![CDATA[Former Tutor Charged With Child Porn Possession]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:59:08 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Albert-Galus.jpg

A northwest suburban man who used to tutor middle school students has been charged with having hundreds of pornographic images and videos of children on his computer.

Authorities began investigating 47-year-old Albert Galus in December 2011 after he took his computer in for repair and a technician found a video of child pornography on the machine, according to a statement from the Cook County Sheriff’s office.

The technician contacted the FBI and investigators later found more than 1,000 illegal images and videos on Galus’ computer, police said.

Galus, a former tutor for middle school and high school students, was arrested at his Park Ridge home on Tuesday. He was charged with 25 counts child pornography possession, including 16 charges elevated to aggravated possession because the images depicted children under 13 years old, police said.

On Wednesday Galus appeared in court in Skokie, where a judge set bail at $100,000, according to jail records. If he posts bond, he would be released on electronic monitoring.

Galus' next court appearance was scheduled for Dec. 31.

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<![CDATA[Vote: Who Should Bears Fire?]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:09:35 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/190*120/bears+dolphins+getty9.jpg

With the Chicago Bears sitting at 5-9 and facing an offseason full of firings and coaching moves, Marc Trestman apparently has added more fuel to the fires of controversy surrounding the team as multiple reports have emerged that he has benched starting quarterback Jay Cutler. 



Adam Schefter of ESPN was the first to report that Cutler had been benched in favor of veteran back-up quarterback Jimmy Clausen: 

According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, Cutler was informed of the decision this morning by Trestman: 

During his press availability on Wednesday afternoon, Trestman conceded that he hasn't had the same success with Cutler that he has with other quarterbacks during his various coaching stints, but he didn't explicitly say that he was benching the quarterback. 

"That's evident I haven't up to this point," he told reporters. "Am I working at it? Yes. We've seen moments but we haven't seen it on a consistent basis. I can't hid from that. I haven't been able, and we haven't been able to do the things that we want to get done, (and) we're working towards that."

Grizzly Detail has been unable to independently verify the report, but local scribes are chiming in with confirmation:

The benching comes after Cutler put up one of his worst games of the season against the New Orleans Saints Monday, throwing three interceptions. Overall on the season however, his numbers aren't as bad as they've been cracked up to be. His 66.1% completion percentage is the highest of his career, as are his 28 touchdown passes and his 89.5 quarterback rating. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Patterson Bumped From Mayoral Ballot]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:32:26 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/200275078-001.jpg

It appears Willie Wilson has won his challenge to bump Fenton Patterson off the ballot as a candidate for mayor.

That was the word from key political sources on Wednesday evening.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's campaign argues Wilson is trying to cut the number of African American candidates from the February ballot. Other challenges are underway for potential candidates Frederick Collins and Robert Shaw.

Wilson himself is not officially on the ballot. He has a hearing next week to see if he has the needed 12,500 signatures. The mayor has challenged the validity of thousands of Wilson's nominating papers after the businessman came up with 43,000 signatures in just five days. Candidates need 12,500 valid signatures to qualify for a spot on the election ballot and Emanuel’s campaign says 35,000 of Wilson’s 43,000 signatures should be tossed out.

Wilson said he was seeking a subpoena to force Emanuel to appear at a Dec. 23 Board of Elections hearing to answer questions about his challenge to Wilson's papers.

The election is Feb. 24.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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