<![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 Thu, 21 Aug 2014 05:30:31 -0500 Thu, 21 Aug 2014 05:30:31 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[THURSDAY FORECAST: Scattered Storms & Heating Up!]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:50:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Andy+Avalos+Updated.jpg

TONIGHT: Partly cloudy skies with scattered showers and storms developing after midnight and through daybreak. Some storms could produce heavy rain by morning. LOW: 70

THURSDAY: Showers and storms in the morning with some heavy rain. Partly sunny afternoon with scattered storms developing after 2pm. More heat and humidity. HIGH: 87

FRIDAY: Scattered showers and storms through the day. Very warm and humid. HIGH: 89 HEAT INDEX: mid-upper 90s

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, hazy, hot and humid with a chance for storms. HIGH: 90  HEAT INDEX: Mid-upper 90s

SUNDAY: Partly sunny - chance showers/storms. HIGH: 89   HEAT INDEX: Mid-upper 90s

MONDAY: Partly sunny, still hot and humid with showers and storms late in the day. HIGH: 90  HEAT INDEX: Mid-Upper 90s

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, scattered storms. HIGH: 87

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, chance storms. HIGH: 85

<![CDATA[Ebola Doctor to Leave Hospital Today]]> Mon, 04 Aug 2014 08:51:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Brantly+doctor.jpg

The Fort Worth doctor who became infected with the Ebola virus while serving as a missionary in Africa will be released from an Atlanta hospital later today, the hospital announced early Thursday.

Dr. Kent Brantly is scheduled to make a brief statement to reporters Thursday morning before leaving to spend time with his family at an undisclosed location, the hospital said.

His release is an extraordinary development in a human drama that has all the makings for a Hollywood movie.

Brantly was helping treat Ebola victims in Liberia when he somehow contracted the often-fatal virus last month. Doctors later described his condition as "grave."

Near death, Brantly was given an experimental medicine that had never before been tested on humans. He then showed a remarkable and almost sudden improvement, doctors said.

On Aug. 2, Brantly was airlifted inside an airtight plastic pod to Georgia military base and then by ground ambulance to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Dressed in a full protective suit, he surprised everyone by walking upright without a stretcher or wheelchair from the ambulance into the hospital where he has since remained in isolation, able to see his wife through a glass wall.

Earlier this month, Brantly released a statement, saying he was recovering "in every way" and hoped to leave the hospital soon.

"There are still a few hurdles to clear before I can be discharged, but I hold on to the hope of a sweet reunion with my wife, children and family in the near future," he said.

Brantly graduated from Abilene Christian University and worked as a resident at John Peter Smith Hospital and attended Southside Church of Christ in Fort Worth before he, his wife, young son and daughter left for Liberia in October.

Fellow missionary Nancy Writebol, who also became ill with Ebola while working in Liberia, is still being treated at Emory Hospital. No timetable has been given for her release.

Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, the charity Brantly was volunteering with, released this statement Thursday:

"Today I join all of our Samaritan's Purse team around the world in giving thanks to God as we celebrate Dr. Kent Brantly's recovery from Ebola and release from the hospital. Over the past few weeks I have marveled at Dr. Brantly's courageous spirit as he has fought this horrible virus with the help of the highly competent and caring staff at Emory University Hospital. His faithfulness to God and compassion for the people of Africa have been an example to us all.
"I know that Dr. Brantly and his wonderful family would ask that you please remember and pray for those in Africa battling, treating and suffering from Ebola. Those who have given up the comforts of home to serve the suffering and the less fortunate are in many ways just beginning this battle.
"We have more than 350 staff in Liberia, and others will soon be joining them, so please pray for those who have served with Dr. Brantly-along with the other doctors, aid workers and organizations that are at this very moment desperately trying to stop Ebola from taking any more lives."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Rash of Fires Plague Uptown]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 23:53:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Uptown_fires_8-20.jpg 8/20/2014: Three fires reported in an alley on Margate Terrace. NBC 5's Marion Brooks reports.]]> <![CDATA[Jackie Robinson West to Face Mo'ne Davis, Philly]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 02:22:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Piere_Mone.jpg

The two biggest stories of the Little League World Series will collide head-on Thursday.

Chicago's Jackie Robinson West will face Philadelphia's Taney Little League squad in a game that will send the winner to the U.S. title game.

The matchup was set after Taney lost 8-1 to Las Vegas.

The Chicago team will go head-to-head with Philadelphia's star female pitcher Mo'ne Davis, who has become the darling of the sports world and Davis became the first Little Leaguer to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Jackie Robinson West won't see Davis on the mound, because she pitched on Wednesday, but she also plays first base and right field.

Jackie Robinson West has its own star in the making, right fielder Pierce Jones.

Jones tweaked his hamstring in Tuesday's game, but is expected to be ready to go on Thursday.

"I told him to stay hydrated, make sure you take of that, put ice on it, Jones' older brother, Craig Mathis, said. "He's very level headed. After all the media, he's the first one back to the dorms."

Mathis, who is with the team in Williamsport, describes his little brother as a player who's obsessed with the game.

"All he ever wants to do is go to his big brother's house or play baseball ... baseball ... baseball," Mathis said.

The winner of Thursday's game will play undefeated Vegas on Saturday in the U.S. championship game, a team Jackie Robinson West lost to 13-2 on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

<![CDATA[NU Professor Remembers Journalist Killed by Militants]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 22:58:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/james+foley+pic.JPG

Northwestern University is mourning the death of alumnus James Foley, a 40-year-old journalist killed by Islamist extremist militants.

Video released Tuesday shows a member of ISIS beheading Foley and threatening another journalist's life if the United States does not stop the airstrikes it has carried out against the group since Aug. 8.

Foley graduated from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism in 2008.

His former professor, Stephan Garnett, says Foley was aware of the dangers of his chosen lifestyle.

"He knew the risks he was taking. He was willing to take them," Garnett said.

"Jim actually went to the places and to the people that most of us avoid."

Foley was taken captive almost two years ago in Syria. Before that, he spent 44 days in a Libyan jail, and in 2011 he spoke to Northwestern journalism students about reporting from conflict zones and how to protect yourself.

"It's not worth your life, no matter what romantic ideal you have, no matter what ethic you think you have, it's never worth it," Foley told the students.

U.S. officials told NBC News Wednesday that the Pentagon attempted a rescue operation to free Foley and other U.S. hostages held in Syria by Islamist militants earlier this summer, but the mission failed because the hostages weren't where U.S. planners thought they were.

"I can't imagine what was going through his mind all those months, almost two years that he was held in captivity," Garnett said.


Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/FindJamesFoley]]>
<![CDATA[Animal Control Helps Reunite Woman With "Miracle Dog"]]> Sun, 17 Aug 2014 13:19:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/shadow+nacc.jpg

Officials at a suburban animal control facility didn't know what they were in for when a recently homeless woman dropped off her family's beloved dog because she could no longer care for it.

"She called him her rescue dog,” North Chicago Animal Control Officer Dana Deustch said. “Usually when we hear rescue dog you think, ‘What rescue did you get him from?’ but she said he rescued them.”

Linda Barnes, who lost her home in Waukegan, said her dog, Shadow, had saved her family on more than one occasion. Barnes claims the dog, who is a little more than a year old, alerted the family when her daughter had a heart attack and again when there was a small fire in their home.

“This dog really saved our lives,” she said. "It hurt me that day to give this dog up, but sometimes you don't have no choice in life. [Shadow] came into our lives and just touched us. He’s just remarkable; he’s a miracle dog.”

Deustch was taking a personal day Friday when she was called in by Animal Control Supervisor Sergeant Darcie Brown, for a woman who was surrendering her dog.

“She was extremely sad,” Brown said. “She walked up and she said ‘Can you take my dog?’ I said ‘Why are you giving him up?’ and she said ‘Well, because we are homeless now and we can’t take care of the dog.’”

Brown said the facility typically doesn’t take animals from outside the area, but Barnes’ story quickly became too compelling to turn away.

"It was devastating watching and listening to her,” said Deutsch. “People give up their dogs like, you know, they’re just throwing out the trash sometimes and this dog was like the last thing she had. I felt like it was the last thing she had in her world that meant anything to her.”

After Barnes left, Deutsch took the dog with her and began searching for a way to help.

“It was tough, but I knew I was going to be able to take care of him,” she said. “He’s young, he’s energetic-- he’s like a very happy dog. He loves everybody. Rescues were lining up to take him.”

But on Wednesday she got a call from Barnes who said she found a home through a generous friend and hoped to take Shadow back.

“We’re praying that he goes back home,” she said. “And we’ll do whatever we can to support [Barnes] and help her. We’ll provide her with food as long as we can, rabies shots. We’re always willing to help out.”

The news was just what Barnes needed.

"I screamed, I prayed. I jumped up and down," she said. 

Barnes said she expects to move into her new home Friday and plans to bring Shadow with her.

"I got something to live for now. I’ve got something to look positive for," she said.

Photo Credit: Dana Deutsch/NACC]]>
<![CDATA[Hostess Closing Schiller Park Twinkie Plant, Again]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:43:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hostess-twinkies-156458828.jpg

Hostess Brands announced Wednesday it has decided to close its Schiller Park bakery, less than two years after the location originally was set to close as Hostess entered bankruptcy.

The Illinois bakery, which produced Twinkies since the 1930s, is expected to close in October. About 400 employees will be affected.

The company said the decision was made to "enhance its production and distribution capabilities and efficiencies."

"Hostess has brought these great brands back to the marketplace," CEO Bill Toler said in a statement. "We have invested heavily in all facilities to improve worker conditions and efficiencies in a very highly competitive environment and marketplace."

The company reopened the Schiller Park last July after Hostess was purchased by Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management LLC.

Since then, Hostess says the competition that emerged during its bankruptcy has continued to be more fierce than expected.

"While the old Hostess company was in bankruptcy," Toler said, "many competitors took over the shelves and are tenaciously defending their business and thus we must be highly efficient and technologically advanced to compete. As a result, we have invested in more efficient production capabilities and need to streamline our manufacturing infrastructure and protect our ability to compete."

The location is one of four remaining bakeries and the last in Illinois.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Palmer to Back-Up Cutler Friday Night ]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:21:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/162*120/453565746.jpg

The Chicago Bears will be taking on the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks on Friday night, and when they do, they will be doing so with a new back-up quarterback following Jay Cutler onto the field.

That’s because Jordan Palmer, who came into training camp as the team’s back-up, will be the second man up when Cutler and the other starters leave the game. Palmer was Cutler’s back-up in the first week, but has since been surpassed in the eyes of many by Jimmy Clausen, who backed up Cutler in Week 2 of the preseason. The decision by Marc Trestman to put Palmer in before Clausen isn’t necessarily surprising, but it does show that the coach still feels that this competition is still wide open, contrary to the viewpoints of many observers.

The Palmer vs. Clausen battle won’t be the only one taking on a new wrinkle on Friday. Chris Conte, who missed the first two weeks of training camp in Bourbonnais due to shoulder surgery, will be in the lineup for the Bears against the Seahawks. He could potentially be joined by wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who is quickly trying to get up to speed on the offense after signing with the team last week.

Conte joins an already crowded battle for a starting safety job, but he could have the inside track due to his familiarity with the system. Ryan Mundy has been impressive in his first two preseason games, and veteran Adrian Wilson is still battling with Danny McCray for a spot in the lineup, but Conte could overtake the latter two players if he performs well in the final weeks of the preseason.

As for Holmes, the wide receiver isn’t for sure going to be in the lineup for the Bears Friday, but he’s still in the mix for a job as Marquess Wilson continues to recover from surgery on his broken clavicle. Josh Morgan will get the reps at third wide receiver on Friday, but if Holmes plays, look for him to get some targets to get him back up to game speed.

Holmes and Conte have both been working hard on the practice field this week at Halas Hall, but another player was a bit of a surprise addition to the proceedings, as right tackle Jordan Mills suited up and participated in drills:

Mills hasn’t practiced for quite a while after sustaining an injury to his surgically repaired foot, and in his absence Michael Ola has stepped up in a big way on the right side of the line. That battle would seem to be open for the starting job even if Mills is 100% healthy to start the regular season, but getting the second-year player back on the field is still a big boost to the Bears’ depth on the offensive line.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Cheers Mo'ne Davis at LLWS]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:56:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP35427040879.jpg

Some hard-hitting Las Vegas batters may have gotten the better of Philadelphia's Taney Dragons at the Little League World Series on Wednesday, but Taney fans' confidence in their team, led by pitching phenom Mo'ne Davis, didn't flag on Twitter.

Taney lost to their Nevadan rivals 8-1, despite plenty of impressive plays — including a hit from Mo'ne in the fourth inning that helped give the Dragons their first run of the game, and an impressive sliding catch by Zion Spearman. Fortunately Taney isn't out yet. They play Chicago Thursday night for a shot at the U.S. Final.

Wednesday night, supporters from their hometown and far beyond took to Twitter to cheer on Taney with the hashtag #BelieveInDragons.

Before the game, Philly's big-league, grown-up teams had offered their support, too:

 So did state-wide leaders:

 One fan had a helpful reminder to over-eager fans, though, that they're just kids, after all:

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Officer Who Beat Woman Disciplined]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 08:16:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chp-officer-hitting-woman-10-freeway-video-youtube.jpg

The California Highway Patrol officer seen in a widely distributed video punching a woman on the side of a Southern California freeway last month was relieved of duty and sent home with pay while prosecutors weigh possible criminal charges, officials said Wednesday.

Officials have stripped CHP Officer Daniel Andrew of his badge and gun, effective immediately, CHP officials said.

He has been moved from desk duty to paid time off while prosecutors review his case, said CHP Sgt. Melissa Hammond, a department spokeswoman.

CHP officials forwarded the results of a criminal investigation to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office outlining what they said were "potentially serious charges for the officer."

Civil rights activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson believes the decision to relieve Andrew from duty was a partial victory.

"The officer should be fired. And the officer should be prosecuted. One without the other is not justice," Hutchinson said.

Andrew repeatedly punched Marlene Pinnock on July 1 on the Santa Monica (10) Freeway on-ramp in Los Angeles. She was hospitalized for several weeks. She was treated for head injuries and continues to have slurred speech, according to her attorney, Caree Harper.

Pinnock's attorney, Caree Harper, said Wednesday it was about time.

"Finally," she said. "This is something that could have occurred the first week of July. There was a felonious battery that occurred with videotaped evidence. There's not much investigation that needs to be done to show that someone was rendered defenseless and this officer went beyond attempting to detain her."

In an interview after the attack, Pinnock, 51, said she feared for her life.

"He was trying to kill me," she said. "He was trying to beat me to death. He wouldn’t stop."

Pinnock filed a federal civil rights lawsuit last month. She believes Andrew should face charges.

"It does bother me cause if it had been me, I would have been charged. I would have gone to jail had it been the other way around," Pinnock said.

An investigation was launched by the CHP and the District Attorney’s Office to prepare a "thorough assessment" of what occurred that evening.

An NBC4 I-Team investigation revealed details on how the confrontation went down. According to CHP service logs, the first call to 911 came in around 7:11 p.m. According to the logs, Pinnock was on the freeway for at least 29 minutes.

"Everyone asks 'why was she on the freeway?' Why the hell did he kick her ass? Someone ask him 'why did you kick Marlene Pinnock's ass,'" Harper said.

The District Attorney’s Office will review the investigation and decide on the filing of criminal charges against Andrew, the CHP said.

District Attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison confirmed the office received the case, but declined further comment.

Separately, the CHP will also complete an ongoing internal administrative investigation into incident.

"The CHP understands the public’s interest in this case, and it is our desire to be as transparent as possible while adhering to the laws and due process that govern any investigation," Hammond said in a statement. "We value the public’s trust and appreciate the community’s patience as we complete this important process."

Patrick Healy and Beverly White contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Special Ed Kids Had to Sort Trash]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:49:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Trash-Bins-Hansen.jpg

Parents of special education students in a Southern California city say they were outraged to learn their children had been sorting trash as a school activity.

The Press-Enterprise reported Wednesday that Jurupa Unified Superintendent Elliot Duchon apologized to humiliated students and suspended the activity.

The apology came at a heated school board meeting Monday night. Parents sounded off over the program at Patriot High School that had special education students sort through campus trash bins for recyclables.

Duchon says the program aims to teach special education students general life skills like budgeting and purchasing groceries.

Parent Carmen Wells complained after learning her autistic son was digging through trash on his first day as a high school freshman.

Photo Credit: Bob Hansen]]>
<![CDATA[Rahm to Ed Kelly: Don't Feel Sorry for Me]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:23:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm-emanuel-juvenile.jpg

Memo to Ed Kelly: Rahm Emanuel doesn't want your pity.

The embattled Chicago boss -- struggling to regain Chicagoans' approval before February's mayoral election -- defends his hometown cred after the 90-year-old former Park District Superintendent said he feels sorry for Emanuel and called him a "suburbanite" in a Sun-Times interview.

"I appreciate his sentiments of feeling sorry (for me). I don't," responded Emanuel, according to the Sun-Times. "I think public service is an incredible responsibility, and it’s a great job. The city of Chicago, the children here, the teachers here — we have an incredibly bright future if we face up to our challenges and do the right thing."

When asked about Emanuel, Kelly -- a once-notorious political power broker and Daley loyalist -- told the paper: "I feel sorry for Rahm, I really do. Rahm had no idea what he was getting into. Rahm's not a Chicago guy. He'll never be a Chicago guy. He's not a street guy. He's trying to be, but he's not. He's a suburbanite. He's not a Chicagoan, he really isn't. He's smart, very smart. I think what he inherited is going to continue on, he's going to find out more problems, money problems and things."

Dismissing the remark, Emanuel reiterated his Windy City credentials:  "My grandfather came to Chicago in 1917 fleeing the pogroms. My uncle was a police officer here in the city of Chicago representing the 17th District. My father had a practice here. I was a congressman from Chicago."

<![CDATA[Watch: James Foley's 2011 Interview at Northwestern]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:06:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000008480788_1200x675_320260675703.jpg In this video, courtesy Northwestern University, James Foley speaks at Northwestern University in June 2011 after being freed from 44 days of captivity during the civil war in Libya. "The honest fact is when you see something really violent, it does a strange thing to you," Foley told Medill lecturer Timothy McNulty. "It doesn't always repel you, sometimes, as you know, it draws you closer. Feeling like you've survived something - it's a strange sort of force that you are drawn back to. I think that's the absolute reality."]]> <![CDATA[Aide's Elder Abuse Caught on Camera]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:36:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/health+care+aide+abuse.jpg

Disturbing video captured by surveillance cameras shows a home health care aide abusing a 78-year-old Queens stroke victim, slapping his trembling arm and jerking his head by his nose while trying to force-feed him.

The family of Bentsion Murakhovsky, a 115-pound man paralyzed on his left side who has trouble speaking and swallowing food, installed the surveillance cameras after Murakhovsky told them a home health aide provided by Personal-Touch Home Care treated him improperly.

That home health aide was replaced by a second one sent by Personal-Touch Home Care after Murakhovsky's wife and granddaughter complained about the alleged abuse; the surveillance system was installed prior to the start of the new home health aide's employment in the home to ensure no future lapses in care would occur.

Video captured on surveillance cameras April 8 show the new home health aide abusing Murakhovsky. In one clip, the aide grabs his wrist, slams it into his side and grabs Murakhovsky's nose while pushing a napkin into his face in an effort to force-feed him.

A second clip provided by Murakhovsky's attorney shows the aide twice grab his nose while feeding him and using it to jerk his head back and forth as the patient nervously taps his fingers on his leg.

In another clip captured the same day, Murakhovsky lifts a blanket from his lap to wipe his face and the attendant grabs it, flings it away from the man and slaps his right arm. The 78-year-old is seen trembling as the aide gestures as if yelling at him. The videos have no audio.


The family only checked the surveillance archive after Murakhovsky's wife returned home one day in April to find her husband's face bruised, the family's attorney, Philip Monier III, said. Monier said Murakhovsky's wife said he was unusually withdrawn that day and appeared depressed and frightened. She called her granddaughter; the two of them checked the surveillance cameras and discovered the abuse.

The Murakhovskys called the NYPD. Charges against the home health aide are pending, and the family is suing the New York City branch of Personal-Touch Home Care, which has more than 50 locations in 11 states.

"Mr. Murakhovsky was a prisoner of his own body, defenseless to stop the healthcare worker looming in front of him," Monier said. "You see a fearful, elderly man being terrorized by a home healthcare aide."

"No one should be treated like that," Monier added. "This company is supposed to be sending trained and qualified workers to help elderly disabled people like Mr. Murakhovsky, and they are getting paid a lot of money for sending unqualified workers."

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Kings County Supreme Court, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Murakhovsky's granddaughter Gabriel Murakhovsky said he's a proud Russian immigrant who helped raise her and is now virtually helpless.

"My grandfather was a very strong man and it's bad enough he got sick and he's humiliated now that he can't change or he can't do certain things," she said. "For a person to destroy him like that physically and emotionally, I think that is very reckless." 

Personal-Touch Home Care, which draws staff from a pool of about 12,000 paraprofessionals and 3,000 nurses, according to his website, did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment. No one in the media relations department picked up the phone.  

-- Rob Schmitt contributed to this report. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Valor Games Midwest Kick Off in Chicago]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 23:49:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/valor+games+chicago.jpg

John Powell has dealt with many health challenges since he served in the Vietnam War, but he never lets that stop him from competing in the Valor Games, which kicked off Wednesday in Chicago.

To date, he's won more than 100 medals.

"I do have a will, and there's nothing, not anything I can't do," Powell said.

That's what the Valor Games are all about -- three days of competition in shot put, cycling, archery, rowing and power-lifting to encourage wounded, ill and injured active-duty service members and veterans to push themselves to the limit, despite any post-war challenges.

"It's camaraderie," Army veteran Virgial Hill said. "You get to be around your fellow vets, and people understand your stories." 

"This helps to bring us back," Army veteran Babette Peyton said. "It helps us change the scenario, change the focus. Not about what you can't do, but what you can do."

Peyton won eight medals at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games last weekend in Philadelphia.

"Sports does so much for leadership," she said. "It does so much for your self-esteem." 

The games aren't just about competition, but also about providing veterans with needed resources. The Resource Expo is designed to familiarize veterans with available government and charitable services, as well as critical information for the men and women who sacrificed everything.

"I served my country," Army vet Dotty Fowler said. "A young man died in my arms. I can't forget it. I wanted to forget some of it, but I'm proud of my country."

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[2 Charged in School Shooting Plot]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 15:59:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/editsouthpashighschools.jpg

Two South Pasadena boys have been charged with making criminal threats for threatening to kill another teen who knew of their alleged plot to shoot students and staff at their high school, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The boys, aged 16 and 17, are each charged with one count of making criminal threats. They both made appearances this afternoon in Pasadena Juvenile Court and denied the charge, which is the equivalent of a not-guilty plea in adult court, according to City News Service.

The father of the 17-year-old boy spoke with NBC4 outside of the courtroom, but asked that his name not be used. He said he has not been able to speak with his son and he does want to hear the boy's side of the story.

"We were greatly saddened and disappointed by the allegations. We would like to apologize to the community of South Pasadena. We would like to thank the person who stepped forward, who had the courage, to advise the authorities," he said.

"And thank South Pasadena Police Department for their professionalism and their kindness to us during this difficult issue."

The step-father of the 16-year-old boy also spoke to reporters before he was whisked away by a defense attorney.

"My wife and I would like to apologize to the whole community, every student, every parent, every faculty. We do not condone this kind of behavior," he said.

Prosecutors say the teens began making detailed arrangements to kill three staff members at South Pasadena High School and gun down as many students as possible.

The pair told another student about the mass shooting plan and they threatened to kill him, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The plan was thwarted after the boys were arrested following a police investigation into the alleged plot.

The boys were arrested Monday after a search of their homes. South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller said the threat the two posed was credible.

"It was very viable, what they were plotting," Miller said. "They were making a huge plan of a school massacre."

Searches of the boys' computers turned up evidence they were looking at weapons, bomb-making supplies and bulletproof vests, Miller said.

The investigation into the thrwarted plot is ongoing and the boys may face additional charges.

The boys' attorneys were not available for immediate comment.

Photo Credit: Sean Browning/NBCLA]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Ranks Second for Fast-Growing Businesses]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:36:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago+skyline+generic.jpg

Chicagoans mean business.

They mean so much business that city companies snagged 95 spots on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, second only to New York’s 205.

Chicago beat out top start-up hubs like San Francisco, which was ranked No. 7 with 63 companies. The second-place ranking is a step up for the city after coming in fourth last year.

Rounding out the top five cities on the list were Atlanta, Austin, Texas and San Diego.

California-based Fuhu, maker of an Android tablet for kids, took the number one spot for the second year in a row thanks to a growth rate of 158,957 percent over the last three years, a rare feat for the Inc. 5000.

This year's rankings are considered to be one of the most competitive in the list's history with companies needing to achieve a minimum of 918.59 percent in sales growth in the last three years.

The highest ranking Windy City company was MAX Digital, developer of a cloud-based marketing and retailing software for automotive dealers, which was ranked at No. 51 for a three-year growth rate of 5,483 percent. The company recorded a revenue of $6.6 million in 2013.

"Thanks to a great team we have been able to provide cutting edge technologies that are transforming traditional industry in consumer centric ways," said MAX Digital Founder and CEO Pat Ryan. "We look forward to even greater growth and innovation in the years ahead."

MAX Digital was also the third-fastest growing software company on the list.

"It's a tribute to the great work ethic and opportunities in the city of Chicago that has made them thrive on this very competitive list,"  Inc. Media President and Editor In Chief Eric Schurenberg said in a statement. " What surprises me, even though I know it’s coming, is the sheer variety of the paths our entrepreneurs take to success, thematically reflecting how our economy has evolved."

Eight other city companies ranked among the top 500 on the list, including:

  1. Insureon (No. 107)
  2. Paramount Lodging Advisors (No. 188)
  3. Protein Bar (No. 200)
  4. Restaurantware (No. 366)
  5. AKTA (No. 414)
  6. Response Team 1 (No. 422)
  7. RIPT Apparel (No. 441)
  8. Framework Communications (No. 442)

In addition to the nine Chicago companies, 10 suburban companies were listed among the top 500, with Elgin-based Compass Automation leading the group at no. 55.

Following Compass Automation was:

  1. LaunchPoint (No. 100)
  2. Market6 (No. 143)
  3. Total Technology Solutions Group (No. 148)
  4. Forte International Tax (No. 167)
  5. Blue Star Tec (HNo. 221)
  6. Ameez Technologies (No. 370)
  7. Four Seasons Home Services (No. 393)
  8. Startex Industries (No. 397)
  9. Strategic Mobility Group (No. 496)

Howard Tullman, CEO of Chicago's 1871 tech incubator, said the results confirm Chicago is a "prime place for entrepreneurs."

The Inc results confirm that we're building solid businesses, creating "innovative products and services that are generating steady revenue, adding new jobs, and fostering growth across the economy," he said in a statement.

Illinois ranked sixth for states with the most companies on the list, leading the Midwest with 238. California topped the list with 694 companies, Texas followed with 404, New York with 335, Florida with 202 and Virginia with 284.

“There is great momentum building among Chicago’s small and medium sized businesses," World Business Chicago President & CEO Jeff Malehorn said in a statement. "Companies thrive here due to the city’s diverse economy, easy access to the world, and unmatched talent base."

For the full list of Inc. 5000 companies, click here.

<![CDATA[Rauner Agrees to Only 3 Debates]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:13:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Quinn_Rauner_4_11.jpg

Illinois' gubernatorial candidates will appear together at three traditional debates before November.

They are Oct. 9 in Peoria, hosted by PBS and the League of Women Voters; Oct. 14, hosted by the Chicago Urban League; and another in Chicago later in October, hosted by the League of Women Voters and WLS-TV.
Republican Bruce Rauner's campaign released a list Wednesday of eight debates and forums ahead of Nov. 4.
That list includes a joint live-streamed Sept. 9 Chicago Tribune endorsement session and an Aug. 28 Metropolitan Planning Council event where organizers say the two candidates won't appear jointly.
Gov. Pat Quinn's campaign criticized Rauner for "hiding," saying Wednesday that Quinn confirmed for 11 events.
Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf says Rauner's list is diverse and more than the U.S. president does.
<![CDATA[Harvey Standoff Ends With Arrests, Hostages OK]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 07:04:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Harvey_cell_video1.jpg

A nearly 20-hour hostage/barricade situation in a Chicago suburb that began with a home burglary and two officers being shot ended Wednesday morning when about two dozen heavily-armed cops stormed the home to free four remaining hostages and arrest their captors.

Two individuals were taken into police custody when authorities took down a door and entered the home near West 147th Street and Robey Avenue in the south suburb of Harvey. The suspects -- two men -- were found on the first floor. The hostages -- 6-year-old and 11-year-old girls, as well as two adult females aged 37 and 43 -- were recovered on the second floor, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.

"There had been a lot of tension," Dart said. "Things were changing at different times it just it was the proper time to act. ... We tried everyting conceivable to get them to understand that we weren't going away and that this was going to be resolved."

"We went through the door. Our team went on the first floor, then rapidly went on the second floor where the hostages were being held. We were able to take everyone down without injury. Without shots being fired."

Dart said it was unclear if there was any relationship between the hostages and the suspects.

The release of the final hostages came hours after four other children -- all boys -- were released throughout Tuesday evening. One sick child was released at around 6:30 p.m. and another was released about 30 minutes. A 1-year-old child was released at around 7:45 p.m. A fourth child, the 1-year-old's twin, was released at around 10:30 p.m.

"They haven’t been harmed," Dart said of the hostages, "but they’re very, very traumatized."

Police initially believed that five children were being held hostage, but after speaking with an 11-year-old child that was released, they learned a sixth child was also taken. One of the adult females was a nurse, according to police.

"I was scared. I thought she was going to get killed. Once I saw she was OK, I was relived," said Zion Spears, a friend of the 11-year-old hostage.

Thomas West's aunt was the adult hostage in the home. He spoke to NBC 5 after visiting her at Ingalls Hospital.

"She said it was an ugly sight inside. She said all she did was fall in line and did what was told. That's the way she was able to come out alive," West said. "She said at one point, she didn't even care about living no more. Just wanted to get thekids out. It was all about the kids and making sure they safe."

West said his aunt helped get the children out one-by-one, but each time she made the trip out of the home to release a child to safety, she feared the gunman would shoot her.

"She's stunned. She still look like she's going through it right now. She still seems like she's a hostage right now," West said.

All eight of the hostages were checked out and released from the hospital.

A neighbor who lives across the street from the house is also happy the ordeal is over.

"It was like being held hostage also. The dog wants to go outside, can't go out. Police everywhere, laying on the ground, in the back yard," said the woman, who refused to give her name.

Harvey town spokesman Sean Howard said the entire incident began at about 12:48 p.m. Tuesday when a 911 call was placed about a burglary in progress. The first-responding officer saw the burglary under way and responded, Howard said. Gunfire was exchanged and the officer was shot in the arm.

Officer Darnell Keel, an 18-year veteran of the force, was scheduled for a Wednesday morning surgery. The second officer suffered a graze wound and was treated on the scene.

"He's a man of faith and that's where his thoughts are right now," Howard said. "He's just thanking God that it's the arm, and not something more serious."

The suspects took the hostages into the home as police began to arrive. Police officers from 22 law enforcement agencies responded to the barricade situation.

"We thank God that our officer was not injured more seriously than he was, and our major concern right now are the individuals inside the home, that's what we're focusing on right now, their safety," Harvey Police Chief Denard Eaves said.

"We're just asking for a safe recovery of all the family and that no one will be hurt in this incident," an unidentified family member of the hostages told reporters.

Hostage negotiators were put in place and talked to the captors through an open window.

Parks Middle School was locked down at the start of the situation but later cleared. Classes were cancelled Wednesday as the standoff continued. Students at nearby Thornton Township High School were excused from class if they were affected by the situation, administrators said.

Around 100 residents in the area were told not to leave their homes.

<![CDATA[Apple Could be Considering Mag Mile Move]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:38:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Apple_ipad-chicago-11-1.jpg

Apple Inc. could be plugging in at a new location on Michigan Avenue in the future.

The California company’s flagship store in Chicago currently sits at 679 N. Michigan Ave., but Crain’s Chicago Business, citing sources familiar with the North Michigan Avenue retail market, reports that the company has hired brokers to find a potential alternative.

Among the scouted locations the firm has reportedly looked at were the Topshop store at 830 N. Michigan Ave. and the former Saks store at 717 N. Michigan Ave.

While the move is merely speculation, it could be prompted by a number of things.

The storefront is 11 years old and could be seen as outdated when compared to other flagship stores like one of the company’s New York locations, which has customers walk in through a glass box.

Crain’s also reports that the location scouting could be a tactic to give Apple leverage during negotiations for a new lease with its landlord, real estate firm Water Tower Realty Co.

Apple would be a valuable tenant for many landlords in the area.

The company’s North Avenue location on the city’s North Side has been hailed for its retail value after moving into the site of a former gas station in the wildly congested North & Clybourn corridor.

Greg Merdinger, a veteran Chicago developer, tells Crain’s the store “made the location,” turning it from good to great.

Apple Inc. could not immediately be reached for comment.

<![CDATA[Bears Could Benefit from New Practice Squad Rules ]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:25:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/491983351.jpg

The NFL has been tinkering with several rule changes this preseason, including an increased emphasis on throwing flags for illegal contact and moving back the extra point kick, but one rule change that will actually take place this season could have even bigger ramifications.

On Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that each team’s practice squad could expand from eight players to 10 after the preseason ends. Players will still have to clear waivers in order to be placed on that squad, and many of the rules for eligibility still apply.

In the case of the Chicago Bears, that news is especially good, since the team will have quite a few tough roster decisions to make in the coming weeks. Whether it’s the safety position, wide receiver, or offensive line, the Bears have good depth in several areas, and having extra practice squad spots could be a big benefit to them.

With that in mind, there are five players that the team is likely going to try to keep on their practice squad if they don’t make the active roster.

QB David Fales

Fales is an interesting case, because the Bears clearly like him for his intelligence and ability to make the throws in Marc Trestman’s offense. It remains unclear whether or not the team will want to keep a third quarterback on the active roster (especially with the injury problems on the offensive line), so Fales might have to get placed on the practice squad.

Another team could conceivably grab Fales and put him on their 53-man roster. He is an attractive option, so it’s no sure thing that he would actually clear waivers.

LB Jerry Franklin

Franklin started out last season on the Bears’ practice squad, but ended up being on the active roster for 10 games as injuries ravaged the team’s linebacking corps. Fortunately for the Bears, new rules stipulate that a third-year player with less than 32 career appearances on the active roster of a team can be placed on the practice squad. So, if the Bears decide to keep only six linebackers, Franklin can still be a practice squad player.

OT Charles Leno, Jr.

Injuries could end up changing this, but the Bears’ seventh-round pick probably isn’t going to beat out other fringe players like Taylor Boggs for a roster spot on the team. He could be one of several linemen who gets assigned to the practice squad, with Joe Long also a possibility.

RB Senorise Perry

The Bears’ running back battle has become increasingly muddled as camp has gone on, but with Ka’Deem Carey and Shaun Draughn likely joining Matt Forte on the active roster, it would appear that Perry and Michael Ford could be roster cut casualties. Perry is a rookie, so the Bears will likely want to keep him around, and he should be able to clear waivers in order to make it to the practice squad.

DE Tracy Robertson

The Bears kept five defensive ends on their opening day roster last year, and with Willie Young and Trevor Scott both likely making the roster behind Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston, there isn’t much room for other players at the position. Cornelius Washington has looked really good in camp, and David Bass still has some upside. Robertson could be a practice squad insurance policy should the team decide to go in that direction.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Karen Lewis' Mayoral Committee Files With Board of Elections]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:46:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Karen_Lewis_8-13.jpg

Karen Lewis is one step closer to entering the race for Chicago mayor.

The Chicago Teachers Union president's mayoral committee filed "statement of organization" papers Tuesday with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The form states the committee will be created for supporting a candidate running for mayor.

The move comes after Lewis spoke to potential voters at a "Conversations With Karen" event Tuesday at the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall in the 19th Ward. During the third event in her "listening tour" series, she said she's still deciding whether to run in next year's election.

"I will decide when I have certain things in place," Lewis said, "and those things are, primarily, the three things you need to run a campaign. You've got to have money, you've got to have people and you've got to have time, so I want to run things on my timeline."

Still she continues to sound more like a potential mayoral candidate.

Lewis acknowledged she can't compete with incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel's $8 million war chest and figures it will climb even higher.

"The good news is the majority of people who have the money who will be voting for him won't be able to vote because they won't live here," Lewis said.

She confirmed she filed the necessary paperwork Tuesday in order to comply with campaign finance laws in Illinois.

<![CDATA[Blackhawks Player Evaluations: Jeremy Morin ]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:31:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jeremy+Morin1.jpg

As the offseason continues to drag on, we are continuing our look at the player evaluations for the 2013-14 Chicago Blackhawks. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What can they improve upon for next season?

We will continue our evaluations today with a player that could see a much bigger role on the team’s offense next season, as Jeremy Morin takes his turn under the spotlight.

The Good:

Morin was a solid player in his first stint with the team early in the season, but it wasn’t until the last few weeks of the campaign that he really began to make his mark. In six games in the month of April, Morin netted four goals and dished out four assists, and he was part of a highly successful line that pushed the tempo, created scoring opportunities, and perhaps most surprisingly of all, played solid defense.

That part of Morin’s game was underrated by just about everyone, including head coach Joel Quenneville. He barely used Morin in defensive situations, and even though he had nine takeaways and zero giveaways during the regular season, he still wasn’t part of the team’s plans once the playoffs started.

The Bad:

It’s hard to be overly critical of Morin because of how he was used, but the occasional bad turnover or silly penalty can be a deal-breaker when you’re a fringe player trying to make more regular appearances in the lineup. Morin definitely was guilty of a few of those during his time in Chicago last season, and he will have to cut back on both in order to get into Quenneville’s good graces.

Best Game of 2013-14:

There aren’t many to choose from, but one Morin game that definitely stood out was his performance against the St. Louis Blues on April 6. In that game, Morin had a goal and an assist, but it was the variety of skills he displayed in the contest that made it such a memorable one.

On his goal in the second period, Morin showed great tenacity when he pounced on a rebound chance off a Bryan Bickell shot. Crashing the net, Morin slid the puck past Brian Elliott to tie things up at 1-1. Near the end of that frame, Morin showed off his athleticism and great passing, deking around a defender to set up a 2-on-1 chance that resulted in a Patrick Sharp goal to give Chicago the lead.

That combination of net-crashing prowess (which Quenneville loves) and athleticism makes Morin an attractive candidate for the second or third line for the Blackhawks, and this game was a great representation of what he can bring to the party.

Outlook for 2014-15:

After signing a two-year contract with the Blackhawks this summer, it would appear that Morin is going to be getting a serious chance to not only make the Hawks’ roster, but also to be a regular contributor to the lineup. With Brandon Bollig gone, Morin could jump into a third line role with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell, or he could even move up to the first or second line if Quenneville continues to experiment with Sharp on the third line.

Whichever line he ends up on, Morin has to make sure that his performances in the latter part of the 2013-14 season are replicated. His defense still needs work, but he showed progress in that area, and if he can combine that with his offensive upside, then he could end up being a key player for the team moving forward.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Notes From Ferguson: Reporter's View of the Scene]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:32:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ferguson+courthouse+rogers.jpg

The outside temperatures here in Ferguson, Missouri, are hotter than the tempers of protestors today.

As a grand jury convenes inside the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, about 30 protestors are outside, chanting, "Arrest Darren Wilson" and "We Want Justice." They are holding their arms high in the air, while wearing T-shirts that read "don't shoot." Some even drew chalk outlines of bodies on the street, just a short distance from the same officers they are protesting.

The scene is much less chaotic than Ferguson has experienced in the last week. 

On Tuesday night, 11 days after Michael Brown was shot dead, it was relatively quiet on Florrisant Avenue, the site of previous rioting. The media, bloggers and  so-called citizen journalists almost outnumbered the number of actual protestors.

Some were from as far away as Japan. Some donned riot helmets and gas masks as they streamed their coverage live, but none of it was needed. Some pepper spray was used, but no tear gas at any point. No shots were fired and by 1:00 a.m., the street was clear.

There were 47 arrests. St. Louis County Capt. Ron Johnson attributes recent peaceful protests to community members, volunteers, clergy and activists who assisted in helping move out the crowds.

There were some disturbances around midnight. Capt. Johnson says "agitators" embedded themselves and hid behind the media and tossed bottles and other things at officers.   

Officers promptly moved in and arrested them, cuffing their hands behind their backs with twist ties.
Three guns were confiscated during the night, and two were found on men who were pulled over during a traffic stop. Earlier in the night those men had threatened to kill the officers. Another gun was found on an arrestee.     

One man, from Austin, Texas, has now been arrested three times

Photo Credit: Phil Rogers/NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[The Messy Politics of Illinois and Uber]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:21:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Uber-Car-Rentals.jpg

As Uber plows into the taxi industry in Illinois with its eye on dominating Chicago, the fast-growing ride-share start-up has recruited a powerful ally to handle the messy political side of things.

The news that President Barack Obama's former adviser and campaign strategist David Plouffe has joined the company as senior VP of policy and strategy delivers a strong message to its enemies: Uber means business. How dare you disrupt our disruption? You're going down.

Here in the Land of Lincoln, Plouffe's hiring adds another layer of awkward personal politics to the Great Uber Debate. It's an increasingly tangled web: Plouffe worked in the White House alongside Rahm Emanuel when the Chicago mayor was Chief of Staff. Emanuel, trying to strike a balance between Uber-friendly and cabbie-considerate, recently passed a bill that restricts Uber drivers from picking up passengers at O'Hare, Midway and McCormick Place. (Ay, but there's a loophole: City transportation brass reserve power to open the commuter centers to ride-share disrupters, thereby cutting into the traditional cab territory.)

Further complicating matters, Emanuel's brother, Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel, has invested in Uber. The Democratic mayor, up for re-election in February, is a long-time friend of Bruce Rauner, an ex-venture capitalist running a successful grassroots campaign for Illinois governor on the Republican ticket. Despite their history -- the two are vacation buddies -- Emanuel is toeing the party line to support incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn in what's shaping up to be a close race on Nov. 4.

So is Obama. And Quinn, threatened by Rauner's momentum, has tapped the president's election team to help him hold onto his Democratic base in Chicago -- a crucial, make-or-break voting bloc for the Machine.

"Mr. Quinn is hiring lots of Obama campaign vets and stretching to motivate Chicago voters, especially African-Americans. That's almost certainly why you'll see Mr. Obama here sometime in the fall campaigning for Mr. Quinn," wrote Crain's Chicago Business' Greg Hinz in his Monday column.

As for Rauner, he's pulling a Rand Paul and making a play for the youthful, pro-innovation, libertarian-leaning, testosterone-heavy techie vote. The Winnetka businessman declared his love for Uber in late July, calling for Quinn to veto the General Assembly's ride-share regulation bill which would mandate commercial insurance and background checks for drivers -- restrictions that Uber desperately wants to prevent.

"Ride-share drivers should have insurance and background checks. But Pat Quinn shouldn’t sign this bill – it sends another signal that Illinois is closed to innovation," said Rauner, talking out of both sides of his mouth in a wishy-washy statement. 

Following the Plouffe bombshell, Rauner issued another messsage of Uber-solidarity urging Quinn to squash the legislation without offering solutions for how to improve it.

"David Plouffe’s first order of business should be to encourage Governor Pat Quinn to veto the anti-ride sharing bill pending right here in President Obama’s home state," he said. "Ride-sharing companies like Uber are exactly the type of innovative companies Illinois should be welcoming and recruiting - I know it and the President’s top people know it. Pat Quinn should know it too."

Unlike Quinn and Emanuel, Rauner's in a position where he can publicly cozy up to Uber -- and its tech bro fans -- without worrying about backlash from taxi interests and supporters.

If he prevails in November, Gov. Rauner will have to tone down his rhetoric -- at least in public. But he'll have plenty of allies to help Uber on its path to world domination.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[United Airlines to Offer Uber Service on Mobile App]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 11:49:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/451565438.jpg

Looks like United Airlines is hopping aboard the Uber bandwagon.

The Chicago-based airline company announced Wednesday that it has teamed up with the ridesharing service by adding Uber to the United mobile app.

Uber information will appear on the United App, which will show options including available vehicles, estimated wait times and prices. After a customer selects a ride, they will be transferred to the Uber app or website to sign up for an account and complete the transaction.

Customers who sign up for Uber via the United app will receive 1,000 MileagePlus award miles, the company said.

“Our partnership with Uber offers customers new opportunities to simplify their travel experience,” said Praveen Sharma, United’s vice president of loyalty. “Customers can use the app to ensure a more convenient journey, from checking in for an international flight from their home or office to finding instant ground transportation options at their final destination.”

The news comes just one day before TripAdvisor announced a partnership with Uber to add the ridesharing service to its app as well.

It also comes on the same day the taxi-alternative service announced it was hiring former White House adviser David Plouffe to lead its campaign for acceptance in the cities where it operates.

Uber has faced challenges in the Chicago-area this year as the company continues to fight a recently-passed bill that regulates ride-share businesses.

Some officials claim the bill is intended to ensure "basic consumer protections" for Illinoisans, while Uber supporters say the bill protects and encourages a "taxi monopoly."

Earlier this year, uberX was denied access to pick up passengers from O'Hare and Midway airports in Chicago.

The decision came after the Illinois Transportation Association asked the city to look into what it called Uber's "unregulated airport pickups."

Uber's regular taxis and black cars are still allowed to pick up customers at the airport.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Affluenza" Teen's Father Arrested for Impersonating an Officer]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:57:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/frederick-couch-inset.jpg

The father of a North Texas teen whose defense blamed “affluenza” for his deadly DUI wreck has been arrested and accused of identifying himself as a police officer.

Frederick Anthony Couch was arrested Tuesday for falsely identifying himself as a police officer and for misrepresentation of property, North Richland Hills police said.

Officers were called to a disturbance on the 4400 block of Mackey Drive just after 1 a.m. July 28, police said Tuesday. 

There, resident Keith Capo said Couch had a gun and had shown up with Capo's neighbor, who he said threatened him following a disagreement days before.

Capo's wife then called police.

"The officer I was speaking to was all gung-ho. He said, 'What do you want to happen?' I said, 'I want to press charges,'" Capo said.

Investigating officers spoke with Couch, who they said presented a badge and an identification card and identified himself as a reserve officer for the small Lake Worth community of Lakeside.

According to police, as officers were wrapping up their investigation at the scene, Couch reiterated that he was a reserve police officer and said he had his "police stuff" in his car.

"Couch reached into his vehicle and took out his wallet, displaying what appeared to be a police badge and identification card, suggesting he was a police officer," police said in a news release Tuesday.

The officers at the scene looked into Couch's status as a reserve officer and learned that he was not an officer with the City of Lakeside and has never been licensed as a police officer in the state of Texas.

Capo said if Couch broke the law this time, he should pay the consequences, like anyone else.

"I just hope he understands that you can't sit there and say and do whatever you want, just because you got more money than anybody else. I mean, that's not right," Capo said.

Following his arrest Tuesday, Couch was taken to the city's detention facility for processing with bond set at $2,500.

Couch's son, Ethan, was intoxicated and behind the wheel of a pickup truck when he crashed and killed four people while injuring several others in June 2013.

The "affluenza" defense, which garnered national attention, maintained that the teen suffered from a condition where he had no sense of responsibility due to a lack of parenting.

Couch was subsequently sentenced to 10 years probation on four counts of intoxication manslaughter and ordered to be admitted to a rehabilitation facility at his parents' expense.

Since the verdict, the Couch family has settled several lawsuits worth millions of dollars with the families of the victims.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Cutler Thinks Holmes Will be a Good Fit]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 09:52:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/182*120/453621966.jpg

The Chicago Bears have sorted through numerous candidates to find a suitable replacement for injured third wide receiver Marquess Wilson the past three weeks.

So quarterback Jay Cutler sees nothing wrong with giving a chance to a player with a so-so past.
When the Bears signed former Jets and Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes Saturday to vie for an opening caused by Wilson's broken collarbone, it took only a short time before Cutler and Holmes were working together on the offense.
"You know, Santonio was here, probably had signed his contract and 60 minutes later he was on the field with Jay, and throwing routes," Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said.
Cutler has gotten a good look the past two days in practice at Holmes and anticipates Holmes making an impact in a competition with former veteran Josh Morgan.
"It looks good," Cutler said. "He's explosive. He'd probably to be honest — he's a little bit rusty. He's been out of football.
"But getting in and out of cuts, catches the ball well, extremely explosive, fast. He's exciting. We've just got to get him caught up with everything right now. It's hard coming in where we are offensively and just kind of throwing him into the mix."
It's possible Holmes will play Friday at Seattle in the third preseason game. But the first chance at the spot Friday will go to Morgan, a former Washington Redskin and San Francisco 49er.
"He's had two good weeks of practice, two good games, productive games," coach Marc Trestman said of Morgan. "He's made plays out there.
"I think he deserves a chance to step up now and get the first opportunity to do that."
The 30-year-old Holmes had 23 catches last year, the second-lowest total of his career, while battling a hamstring injury. The Jets cut him to save $8.25 million against the salary cap. He had suffered a career-threatening foot injury in 2012, but says he is over the injuries.
Questions still linger about a dispute he had with former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, and an argument he got into with tackle Wayne Hunter that led to his benching in a 2011 Jets game.
"That's in the past," Holmes said. "It's neither here nor there right now. I think being in this new organization is a new move for me and a great opportunity for me to take advantage of and be part of a great organization."
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is the Bears receiver leader, and in the past a controversial figure himself.
"We came in together," Holmes said about Marshall. "He's a great guy, first and foremost. He's a Pro Bowler and he leads by example."
Trestman thinks Holmes is a good fit regardless of his past.
"I mean, people change, they get into new venues, new environments," Trestman said. "You're out for a while, you get a hard look at where you are. Not only in your work life as well as in other aspects of your life.
"We feel he's coming here in a good place, he's coming into a great locker room. Guys have reached out to him and are willing to help him and give him an opportunity to help our football team, but it will be a process and it will be day to day. But it's off to a good start and we'll see where it takes us."
A first-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006, Holmes was the Super Bowl MVP in the 2008 season. He had 79 catches for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns but was traded to the Jets for a fifth-round draft pick.
In Wilson, the Bears have a second-year receiver who was expected to take over the third spot after Earl Bennett was allowed to leave in free agency. However, the injury could keep him out well into the regular season.
So Cutler thinks general manager Phil Emery made the right call bringing in Holmes.
"I think it is a good sign that we'll take some chances on some guys and we'll bring some guys in because we know we've got a strong veteran group here and some guys that will help young guys or veteran guys along," Cutler said.
"I know that, just knowing Phil, I am sure he did his background on Santonio and talked to him numerous times and talked to his agent and was very sure when he brought him in here of what kind of player and person he was getting."
NOTES: Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said safety Chris Conte is likely to get his first preseason playing time Friday after missing all offseason work and the first few weeks of training camp due to shoulder surgery. ... Wide receiver Chris Williams, who suffered a pulled hamstring on a 73-yard touchdown catch in the preseason opener, has returned to practice after a week away. ... Starting right tackle Jordan Mills remains day to day with a foot injury. ... Return specialist Darius Reynaud was signed Monday to replace Eric Weems, who was cut when Holmes was signed. He has averaged 9.7 yards per punt return and 22.6 yards a kick return in five seasons.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>