<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usThu, 28 Jul 2016 16:02:14 -0500Thu, 28 Jul 2016 16:02:14 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Lollapalooza Opens After Weather Delay]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:43:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lolla+Lines.png

Lollapalooza opened 35 minutes late on its first day because of a potential threat for severe weather.

"Doors for Day 1 of #Lolla are delayed due to weather," Lollapalooza tweeted Thursday morning. "Stay tuned for more info."

The four-day Grant Park festival was supposed to start at 11 a.m. Gates opened at about 11:35 a.m.

Crowds of people were seen outside the gates waiting to get in.

A cold front is expected to pass through the city in the afternoon raising the possibility for scattered showers or storms developing.

The Storm Prediction Center has the Chicago area in the general risk category for storms, meaning no severe weather is initially expected but heavy downpours are possible.

Temperatures Thursday and throughout the weekend will be in the upper 70s to mid-80s.

Photo Credit: Sky5
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<![CDATA[Leonard Floyd Carted Off Field at Bears Practice]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 12:14:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_16167641466915.jpg

The Chicago Bears are going through their first workout in Bourbonnais on Thursday morning, but their first round pick is already off the field, as linebacker Leonard Floyd left practice early.

Floyd, the Bears’ first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is looking to secure a starting job in the team’s linebacker corps this summer. He was carted off the field after stretches, and according to head coach John Fox the linebacker was suffering from an illness and should be healthy soon. 

Offensive lineman Kyle Long also left the workout early due to a left calf issue, according to Fox. His status for Friday's practice, the Bears' second of the camp, remains uncertain.

Veteran tight end Khari Lee left practice early and is suffering from a shoulder sprain, according to the Bears.

Stay tuned to NBC Chicago for updates on the status of players after practice.  

Photo Credit: Nam Y. Huh/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Suspicious Package Forces Evacuation of North Side Building]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:15:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/evacuation.png

A North Side Chicago building and the surrounding area was evacuated Thursday due to a suspicious object. 

Just after 8 a.m., officers were dispatched to the 6000 block of N. Kedzie in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood on reports of a suspicious package discovered, police said. 

Upon arrival, an office building was evacuated as a precaution, police said, as the Chicago Police Department Bomb and Arson Unit was dispatched to the scene to investigate. 

By 11 a.m., the streets surrounding where the object were also evacuated and blocked off by police.

Photo Credit: Sky5]]>
<![CDATA[Millennials Cause Home Ownership to Drop ]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:59:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/house_home_+for_sale_owner_generic.jpg

The nation’s home ownership rate fell to its all-time low, and could drop further in the months to come, NBC News reported. 

The rate fell to 62.9 percent, the same as it was in 1965, when the U.S. Census started tracking the metric.

The drop is largely due to a delay in home ownership by millennials, who are burdened by student loan debt and are delaying life choices like marriage and parenthood. They have the lowest ownership rate of their age group in history. 

"While the millennial home ownership rate continues to decline, it's important to note that the decrease could be just as likely due to new renter household formation as it is their ability to buy homes," wrote Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia. "Certainly low inventory and affordability isn't helping their efforts to own, but moving out of their parents' basement and into a rental unit is also a good sign for the housing market." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Image Source]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands Without Power Amid Storms in Chicago Area Thursday]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:56:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Chicago+storm+generic.jpg

The Chicago area could see some storms Thursday, some of which may become severe.

Scattered thunderstorms were expected in parts of northern Illinois during the afternoon and evening hours. 

Just before 4 p.m., thousands were left without power in several counties across the area. 

According to ComEd, more than 3,150 customers reported no power in Cook County, 1,235 others were without power in DuPage and 1,105 had no power in McHenry.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued for DuPage and Kane counties until 4:15 p.m., but the warning was canceled just before 4 p.m.

The National Weather Service warned that a strong thunderstorm was reported near Geneva around 3:30 p.m. The system was moving southeast at 10 mph, bringing with it wind gusts of up to 55 mph and torrential rainfall. 

Another storm was also reported over Batavia, heading toward Aurora, Montgomery and Warrenville with wind gusts of up to 60 mph. 

The storms could bring heavy downpours to parts of the area with possibly a weak or brief tornado in the strongest systems.

Forecasters warned that conditions Thursday would be favorable for oslated funnel clouds. The clouds could protrude a few hundred feet downward and rotate or spin like a top. On “extremely rare occasion” they may briefly touch the ground, according to the National Weather Service.

The chance for storms decreases heading into the weekend. Friday and Saturday may see some rainy weather, but storms look to stay mainly south of the Chicago area.

Sunday looks to stay dry as highs remain in the upper-70s to mid-80s.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Poll Shows Who Democrats Would Pick for Illinois Governor]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:27:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP232834530121.jpg

According to a new We Ask America poll released this week, nearly half of likely Democratic voters in Illinois chose Sen. Dick Durbin as their gubernatorial pick for 2018.

The poll, which surveyed 1,128 likely Democratic voters, offered a list of possible candidates and asked respondents which candidates they would “most likely vote for if they do run for Illinois governor.”

Durbin received 48.87 percent of the votes. Durbin has repeatedly said he will wait until after the November election to decide whether he will take on Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018.

Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn received 9.91 percent of the vote, while businessman Chris Kennedy, who is the son of former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, grabbed 4.5 percent.

Kennedy slammed Rauner during a speech to the Illinois delegation at the DNC Tuesday, stoking further speculation about a possible gubernatorial bid.

Reps. Cheri Bustos and Robin Kelly garnered 4.88 percent and 3.63 percent, respectively. State Sens. Heather Steans and Kwame Raoul received .63 percent and 1.46 percent, respectively.

Raoul threw his hat in the gubernatorial ring this week at the DNC, claiming he would be open to running for governor.

Additionally, 18.90 percent of the poll’s respondents remained undecided and 7.21 percent said they would prefer “someone else.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trans Activist Sarah McBride to Make History at DNC]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:01:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*123/GettyImages-466368220.jpg

Sarah McBride will make history Thursday night when she takes center stage in Philadelphia as the first openly transgender person to address a major party convention, NBC News reported. 

In a phone interview with NBC News, the 25-year-old said she plans to address legislation needed to secure the rights of the LGBTQ community and the transgender rights debate during her speech at the Democratic National Convention. 

"I really want to use this moment to reinforce and underscore that behind this debate on trans equality, there are real people who are seeking dignity and fairness throughout their lives, people who hurt when we are ridiculed and mocked and discriminated against, people who are facing violence," McBride said. "I want to make sure that people realize the humanity behind the conversation."

McBride currently works as the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign and also interned at the White House Office of Public Engagement in 2012 as the first out trans woman. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Jr. Says Obama Lifted Line From His RNC Speech]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:37:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-577716054.jpg

Donald Trump Jr. suggested Thursday that President Obama lifted a phrase from his Republican National Convention speech. Donald Trump's son pointed out that his RNC speech and Obama's remarks at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday, included the line "That's not the America I know."

It's a line Obama, along with other past presidents, has used frequently in the past, NBC News reported. Other than the brief sentiment about the version of America known to both men, the context of their statements are very different.

Turmp Jr.'s charge comes after Melania Trump was criticized for lifting portions of her address to the RNC from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Explosions Reported at Propane Tank Company in Gurnee]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 14:23:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Fire17.png

Explosions were reported Thursday afternoon at a propane tank company in north suburban Gurnee.

Authorities have evacuated the area within a quarter mile of the business, which is still burning, according to the Gurnee Police Department.

Multiple suburban fire departments responded to the 3800 block of Clearview Court around 1 p.m and police are assisting. 

Smoke could be seen miles away, and Sky 5 footage showed water shooting out over two tanks and large piles of smaller tanks strewn around the property.

No injuries were reported, and the cause of the explosions was not immediately known.

Delany Road is closed between Sunset Road and Route 41.

Northwestern Avenue is closed south of Sunset Road.

Check back for more details on this breaking story.

Photo Credit: Sky5
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<![CDATA[North Korea Warns US Over Kim Jong Un Sanctions]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:02:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/KimJongUn-AP_16189285702419.jpg

North Korea said Washington has declared war by putting leader Kim Jong Un on its list of sanctioned individuals, according to a diplomat who spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday, NBC News reported. 

Although the country has been sanctioned internationally for its nuclear weapons and long-range missile development programs, Washington announced for the first time that Kim was personally sanctioned on July 6. 

Pyongyang cut off its official means of communication with Washington, saying it was the final straw. Director-general of the U.S. affairs department at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, Han Song Ryol, said everything between the two must now be death with under “war law.” 

Han also warned about a possible showdown if the U.S. and South Korea conduct joint military exercises next month. The two countries regularly conduct exercises, and Pyongyang usually responds with tough talk and threats of retaliation.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fiesta del Sol Begins Thursday in Pilsen]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 12:46:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Fiesta+del+Sol.png

The largest Latino festival in the Midwest, Fiesta del Sol, is back in Chicago for its 44th year.

Fiesta del Sol begins in the city's Pilsen neighborhood Thursday evening, with more than a million visitors expected to attend before the event's end on Sunday.

The theme for the 2016 festival is “our voice, our future, our power.” In addition to food, art, entertainment and a carnival, Fiesta del Sol aims to bring positive change to the community by offering a variety of resources, workshops, activities and family-friendly events.

New this year is "College Day," to be held Friday. The day will provide free workshops, financial aid resources, and a college fair to give attendees ways to further their education and a create a path to move on to study at a university.

“Pilsen is smackdown in the middle of a Hispanic community and we’re trying to gear toward the children of the next generation,” Fiesta Del Sol's communications coordinator Melissa Salinas said. “We see a small percentage of Hispanics enrolled in these schools and we want to increase that.”

Another resource the festival will host this year is its first expungement workshop on Saturday. An expungement helps to seal records that have prevented someone from getting a job, living in a certain location or getting a loan, among other things.

“We just don’t want people to shy away from the fact that they can get help,” Salinas said. “We want to give back to the community in a way that you don’t have to go to city hall and you don’t have to go to an English speaking [facility]. It’s kind of scary if you don’t speak that language, so we are catering that to our Spanish speakers.”

Fiesta del Sol, located at 1400 W. Cermak Road, is a free to attend. The festival will be open Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Photo Credit: Fiesta del Sol]]>
<![CDATA[Peru Swears in Kuczynski as New President]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 12:38:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/KuzynskiPeru-AP_16210598165121.jpg

After winning just over 50 percent of the vote, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski will be sworn in on Thursday as Peru’s new president, NBC News reported. 

Peru's economy has been on the rise and candidates like Kuczynski were pushing the country in a different direction, according to a recent Forbes article. PPK, as he's also known, promised that he would restore fiscal health and the country’s security. 

He has a long career in politics, having served as the Minister of Energy and Mines, Minister of Economy and Finance and most recently as Prime Minister. An Ivy-league graduate, PPK has a bachelors degree from the University of Oxford and a masters from Princeton, where he studied economics. 

Kuczynski was born in Peru — his Polish-German father was an accomplished doctor noted for his research on health issues in South America.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner Unveils Changes to Illinois Lottery]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:50:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Illinois+Lottery.png

The state of Illinois will dump the current company running the Illinois Lottery and look for a new private management partner, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Thursday.

Rauner officially requested bids for a new contract he said will provide more revenue to services that need it most.

"It's a very important step in increasing revenue to fund our schools and to fund our key government services," Rauner said at a Thursday press conference. "As you all I think are well aware, our Illinois Lottery has been very poorly run and has failed to meet expectations."

The governor said the lottery is being operated on a bad contract.

He encouraged bids from companies outside the gaming industry and said he hopes the new contract will provide new technology to attract more lottery players.

According to the Illinois Lottery, 6.5 percent of the state’s K-12 education is funded by lottery revenue. That accounts for roughly $670 million annually.

Last month Rauner signed a stopgap budget compromise that gave the Illinois Lottery the legal authority to continue paying winners in absence of a budget.

“Governor Rauner and the General Assembly are ensuring that the Illinois Lottery can continue its mission of supporting K-12 education, capital projects and select charitable causes throughout Illinois,” Illinois Lottery Acting Director Tim McDevitt said in a statement at the time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Everything You Can and Can't Bring Into Lollapalooza]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:27:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lollapalooza.png

Lollapalooza begins Thursday, and there are a list of items you will and will not be able to bring with you through the gates at Grant Park.

More than 100,000 festivalgoers are expected to flock to the 25th annual music festival daily through Sunday.

To avoid getting stuck in expected massive lines and crowds, organizers suggest to leave your bags at home to take advantage of the bag-free express lanes.

A list of things are banned from entering the park for the festival. If you find yourself bringing one of the wrong things, mobile lockers will be available near the main entrance. They fill quickly though, so you can reserve in advance here.

The following items are ALLOWED

  • Baby Strollers
  • Backpacks (Standard school sized. No frames or camping gear)
  • Binoculars
  • Blankets, Sheets, Towels
  • Cameras (only nonprofessional photos and video cameras, must be without attachments such as selfie sticks and tripods)
  • Empty CamelBak water bottles and hydration packs, and plastic or aluminum water bottles
  • Umbrella (Hand-held only, no bigger than 42 in. when open)
  • Water - you may bring two unopened bottles of water (up to 1 liter each) and refill them inside at festival stations throughout the day

PROHIBITED items include:


  • Coolers (Exceptions may be made for medical use)
  • Glass or metal containers
  • Outside food and beverage (including alcohol)
  • Aerosol containers (including sunscreen and beauty products)
  • Any professional audio recording equipment
  • Professional cameras and professional recording equipment
  • Selfie sticks
  • Camera zoom lenses, stands, monopods, tripods, camera attachments
  • ALL professional video equipment. No video recording will be allowed
  • Drones or any remote flying device
  • Framed backpacks
  • Hammocks
  • Illegal and Illicit substances of any kind
  • Pets (except service animals)
  • Professional radios or walkie-talkies
  • Skateboards, scooters, bicycles, wagons, carts or any personal motorized vehicles
  • Tents, canopies, or shade structures of any kind
  • Solicitation materials including handbills, flyers, stickers, beach balls, give-aways, samples, etc.
  • Weapons or explosives of any kind
  • Fireworks
  • Large chains or spiked jewelry
  • Bicycles (free parking is available near festival entrance)
  • Carts of any kind
  • Chairs of any kind
  • Inflatable furniture
For more information, visit Lollapalooza.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Volleyball Player Stabbed While Leaving North Avenue Beach]]> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 23:41:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/volleyball+north+ave+stabbing.jpg

A Chicago man is facing charges after allegedly stabbing a man multiple times as he left North Avenue Beach, according to police and the victim's Facebook page. 

On July 17 at approximately 9:28 p.m., a 46-year-old man was in the 2000 block of N Lincoln Park when another man approached him and threw "a liquid substance" on him, according to the Chicago Police Department. 

When the victim asked why the man did that, the offender stabbed him multiple times before fleeing, authorities said. 

Responding officers found and arrested the man, who was then positively identified by the victim. Police said 27-year-old Michael Curry, of the 0-100 of S. Kedzie Ave in Chicago, is charged with one felony count of aggravated battery and use of a deadly weapon. 

The victim was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released, police said. In a Facebook status posted to Reddit over the weekend, the victim allegedly said he was stabbed five times and two days later, couldn't lift his left arm. 

"I would like to let everyone know to be careful even in the seemingly very safe area around the beach," he wrote. "I hope to be back playing in a few weeks I know it is generally a very safe area but even so, anyone who walks away from there alone may want to rethink that, especially the women."

Photo Credit: Chicago Police Department/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Metra Trains Unable to Enter, Exit Union Station in Chicago]]> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 18:40:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/metra+halted+1story.jpg

Trains on multiple lines were unable to enter or exit Union Station in Chicago during the Wednesday rush hour, according to Metra. 

Trains on the BNSF Railway, Southwest Service and Heritage Corridor lines were halted due to signal problems around 5 p.m., the agency said. 

Delay times are unknown.

Check back for updates on this developing story. 

Photo Credit: Jessica Porter]]>
<![CDATA[DNC Day 3 Top Moments: Obama Backs Clinton, Knocks Trump]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 06:39:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-583840420.jpg

President Barack Obama excoriated Donald Trump's vision of America Wednesday night as he endorsed Hillary Clinton, telling Democrats Trump was betting he could get win in November by scaring enough people into voting for him. 

"That is another bet that Donald Trump will lose," Obama said. "Because he's selling the American people short."

Here are the top moments of Obama's speech and of the rest of the third day of the Democratic National Convention, inside the convention hall and out.

"We Don't Look to Be Ruled"

Obama told the DNC he was ready to pass the baton to Clinton and asked his audience to reject cynicism and fear and summon what was best in the country.

"Tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me," he said. "I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me. Because you're who I was talking about 12 years ago, when I talked about hope. It's been you who've fueled my dogged faith in our future, even when the odds are great, even when the road is long."

This election was not a typical one between Democrats and Republicans, he said. Republicans at their convention last week had presented a deeply pessimistic vision of a country turning against each other and away from the rest of the world.

"And that is not the America I know," he said. "The America I know is full of courage, and optimism and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous."

The United States does not depend on any one person, Obama said. It has never been about what one person says he will do but about what the country can achieve together, he said.

"We don't look to be ruled," he said. "Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that together, We, the People, can form a more perfect union."

There had never been a man or woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president, he said, not him, not Bill Clinton.

He acknowledged that Clinton had critics and had made mistakes, but compared her to the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt had once described — not timid souls on the sidelines but in the arena.

"Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena," he said. "She's been there for us - even if we haven't always noticed. And if you're serious about our democracy, you can't afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue. You've got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn't a spectator sport. America isn't about 'Yes he will.' It's about 'Yes we can.'"

"Lying Is Second Nature to Him"

Vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine of Virginia, a U.S. senator and the state's former governor, mocked Trump's credibility and his repeated use of the phrase "believe me."

"Believe me?" Kaine asked. "Believe me?"

Trump's ghostwriter on "The Art of the Deal" has said that lying was second nature to him, Kaine said. U.S. Sen. John McCain's former economic adviser said that Trump's policies would result in the loss of 3.5 million jobs. His tax plan would leave the country $30 trillion debt, according to an independent assessment, he said. Charity after charity believed Trump when he said he would contribute to them, he said.

"Folks, you cannot believe one word that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth," he said as the audience chanted "Not one word."

"Our nation is too great to put it in the hands of a slick-talking, empty-promising, self-promoting one-man wrecking crew," he said.

Bloomberg: "I’m a New Yorker and I Know a Con When I See One"

Vice President Joseph Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another billionaire businessman from New York, went on the attack, calling Trump in succession a man of unbounded cynicism and a hypocrite.

His lack of compassion and empathy can be summed up in one of Trump's favorite phrases, Biden said: "You’re fired."

"He's trying to tell us he cares about the middle-class," Biden said. "Give me a break. That's a bunch of malarkey."

America is strong and has held together because of its middle class, Biden said. When the middle class does well, the rich do very well and the poor has hope, he said.

"This guy doesn’t have a clue about the middle class, not a clue," Biden said.

"He has no clue period," he added and the phrase quickly became a refrain on the convention floor.

Trump is appealing to fear, but Americans never bow, never bend and never break, Biden said.

"We are America, second to none, and we own the finish line," he said.

Bloomberg spoke to the convention as an independent. He was there, he said, to urge other independents to unite around the candidate who could defeat a dangerous demagogue.

"I built a business, and I didn't start it with a million-dollar check from my father," he said.

Bloomberg belittled Trump's business experience, calling attention to his bankruptcies, the lawsuits brought against him and the contractors who said he had cheated them. 

He said he watched Clinton work with Republicans in Congress to get the money New York City needed to recover from the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. He did not always agree with her, but she always listened, he said.

"Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy," he said. "He wants you to believe that we can solve our biggest problems by deporting Mexicans and shutting out Muslims. He wants you to believe that erecting trade barriers will bring back good jobs. He's wrong on both counts."

"Russia, If You're Listening"

Far from the Democratic National Convention, Donald Trump caused a stir on Wednesday when - at a time Russia is suspected of trying to interfere in the U.S. presidential election - he appeared to ask Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton's emails.

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said during a news conference in Florida. "I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

His comments immediately drew condemnation, with the Clinton campaign accusing Trump of encouraging a foreign power to conduct espionage against his opponent.

"This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue," Jake Sullivan, a Clinton spokesman, said.

Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House, called Putin a "devious thug" who should stay out of the U.S. election.

Trump has said he doubted Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computer servers, but U.S. intelligence believe it was.

Clinton has said she deleted 30,000 emails from her personal email server, received while she was secretary of state, before turning others over to the U.S. State Department. FBI Director James Comey criticized Clinton's use of a private email server but recommended against her prosecution.

"Strong Women Get Things Done"

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the head when a man opened fire at a constituent meeting five years ago, walked onto the stage on the convention's third night to endorse Clinton as the candidate who would be able to stand up to the gun lobby.

"Speaking is difficult for me, but come January I want to say these two words: 'Madame President,'" she said.

She described Clinton as a tough and courageous woman who would fight to make families safer.

"In Congress I learned a powerful lesson: Strong women get things done," she said.

Giffords was among those touched by gun violence to speak — survivors or the relatives of whose who had been killed. They demanded what they called common-sense gun legislation, expanded background checks and other similar measures.

Giffords' husband, former astronaut U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, said Clinton would work to close loopholes governing who could buy weapons. Clinton is ready to take on one of the country's greatest moral failings at home -- the gun violence that is tearing up so many communities, Kelly said. 

Erica Smeglieski, the daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal who was shot to death with five other staff members and 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, said she did not want to be addressing the convention. She wanted to be at home watching the convention with her mother, Dawn Hochsprung, with whom she had planned her wedding, she said.

"My mom was murdered so I'm here," she said. "I'm here for the mothers and daughters who are planning weddings so you get to watch your daughter walk down the aisle."

Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard, survived the shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, during Bible studies. Sanders said her son’s last words were, "We mean you no harm." Two days later she forgave the shooter, she said.

Sheppard said the shooter, like those in Orlando and Dallas, had hate in his heart.

"Love never fails and so I choose love," she said.

Christine Leinonen's son was killed in the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. It takes five minutes for a church bell to ring 49 times for the victims but only a minute to fire 30 rounds with the weapon used to shoot her son, she said.

When she went into labor with her son, said Leinonen, who was then a Michigan state trooper, her weapon was placed in a safe. She did not object because she knew common sense gun policy saves lives, she said.

"Where was that common sense the day that he died," she asked.

Emilie Plesset contributed information to this article.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Obama: Clinton More Qualified Than Me, Bill to Be President]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 05:48:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-583839280.jpg

Their political fates now entwined, President Barack Obama implored with voters Wednesday to elect Hillary Clinton, appealing to the women, minorities and young people who powered his rise and are now crucial to hers.

Obama told delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia there has never been a man or a woman — "not me, not Bill" — who's more qualified than his former secretary of state to be president of the United States and endorsed her as the woman to finish the job he started eight years ago. 

"Nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office. Until you've sat at that desk, you don't know what it's like to manage a global crisis, or send young people to war," Obama said. "But Hillary's been in the room and knows what's at stake."

Exactly 12 years to the day after the obscure Senator from Illinois delivered a rousing speech to the Democratic convention, Obama defended his White House legacy and argued that the former secretary of state would be the best choice to bequeath those policies.

Obama cast Clinton as a candidate who believes in the optimism that fuels the nation's democracy and warned against the "deeply pessimistic" vision of Republican Donald Trump.

"America is already great. America is already strong," he declared to cheering delegates Wednesday night at the Democratic convention. "And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump."

In addition to party loyalty, a big motivation for Obama's robust support is deep concern that the Republican nominee can win in November and unravel the president's eight years in office.

Obama acknowledged the economic and security anxieties that have helped fuel Trump's rise, but he argued they don't define the country.

"Through every victory and every setback, I've insisted that change is never easy, and never quick; that we wouldn't meet all of our challenges in one term, or one presidency, or even in one lifetime," Obama said, adding that he's "more optimistic of the future of America then ever before."

Wednesday night's Democratic lineup was aimed at emphasizing Clinton's own national security credentials, a shift from two nights focused more on re-introducing her to voters as a champion for women's issues, children and families. Among those were former Pentagon and CIA chief Leon Panetta, who served alongside Clinton in Obama's Cabinet.

Panetta, citing his experience working alongside nine U.S. presidents, said he believes, in this election, Hillary Clinton "is the only candidate that has the experience, judgment and temperament to be Commander in Chief."

Obama, too, was vouching for Clinton's national security experience, recalling their work together during trying times and saying she won't relent until ISIL is destroyed.  

"And she'll do it without resorting to torture, or banning entire religions from entering our country," Obama said. 

Touting Clinton's experience and judgment, Obama's speech was a direct rebuttal to Trump's attacks on Clinton at last week's Republican convention in Cleveland, when he claimed her tenure as secretary of state was marked by "death, destruction and weakness."

In a statement, Trump's campaign called the Democratic Party "disconnected from what's happening in our world," and said Democrats described a vision of America that "doesn't exist for most Americans."

"They resorted to the politics of fear, trying to convince Americans not to vote for change — they spoke on behalf of the big banks and the big elites, not on behalf of suffering Americans," Trump's campaign said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Consumers Warned About Home Repair Pitfalls]]> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 22:27:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/home+repairs+0727.jpg

Contractors, beware.

The City of Chicago is urging consumers to report potential home repair scams as part of its “Know Before You Begin a Home Repair Project” campaign.

Meantime, investigators with the city’s department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) are making an example out of business with a trail of unhappy customers.

Linnett Ramos of Chicago paid Thomas Roofing & Masonry $4600 last year to build a patio in her home’s backyard. She said the result is an uneven surface that often puddles with water.

“You have to be very careful when you’re walking through, because you can stumble,” Ramos said.

The work came with a ten year guarantee. Ramos said she notified Thomas Roofing & Masonry of her concerns the day after the work was completed. However, she said the company stalled until her last payment cleared the bank and never responded to her after that.

“To repair this, I have to gut this whole thing out,” Ramos said. “That will cost me another four to five thousand dollars, possibly.”

Ramos filed complaints with the Illinois Attorney General and the BACP. A spokesperson for the BACP said the city has received four complaints about Thomas Roofing & Masonry. While Ramos said she has yet to receive any money back, the BACP took the business to administrative hearings court. A BACP spokesperson said owner Thomas Montes is unlicensed and did not appear in court. He subsequently lost the case involving Ramos’ patio project.

Combined with the result of losing another administrative hearings case based on a consumer complaint, Montes owes the city $117,944.01 in holds.

“He promises the world and delivers nothing,” said BACP assistant commissioner Sherri Cianciarulo. “Basically, he takes people’s money and they can’t reach him.”

Montes did not return our requests for comment.

Montes has also been incredibly difficult to locate, according to city officials.

BACP investigators recently used a decoy in an attempt to lure Montes to an alleged roof repair estimate. Instead, a man named Tony Kean showed up.

“I have nothing to do with Thomas Roofing, whatsoever,” Kean told NBC 5 Investigates.

Kean said he used to work for Thomas Roofing & Masonry, but left over a payment dispute.

City officials said Kean uses the same cell phone number that was listed on the Thomas Roofing & Masonry website. The website has since been taken down.

“This is my personal number,” Kean said. “So when I worked there, it came back with me as my personal phone.”

Kean said he is currently is an estimator working for another roofing company. However, BACP officials issued Kean a cease and desist for operating as an unlicensed roofer and home repair contractor.

When Ramos was shown a photo of Kean, she immediately recognized him and said he was the person who did not return her calls after her check cleared.

Kean, however, told NBC 5 Investigates that at the time he would have forwarded Ramos’ concerns to his boss. He insisted he currently has nothing to do with Thomas Roofing & Masonry.

Ramos said she is speaking out to help consumers.

“The next time, I would definitely check the company out,” Ramos said. “I would definitely find out that they are licensed, that they are insured.”

Businesses operating in city limits must have a current City of Chicago-issued Home Repair or General Contractor license. The license number is a requirement on business fliers, advertisers and vehicles used by the business. Also, the business must have insurance up to $300,000 and consumers have the right to see the insurance certificate.

“We want our citizens, who are our eyes and ears, to call us if they have been a victim of a scam,” Cianciarulo said.

The city urges anyone with concerns about a home repair business to contact 311. City officials also recommend consumers contact the BACP to research a business before hiring a home repair contractor.

<![CDATA[Obama Says He Doesn't Eat Exactly 7 Almonds Every Night]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:00:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/Screen-Shot-2016-07-28-at-11.55.39-AM.jpg

President Barack Obama steers clear of soda and potato chips and prefers almonds as a snack, but contrary to a recent media report, he say she does not count out exactly seven almonds every night. 

"This has been really weighing on me,'' Obama joked as part of an interview with "Today's" Savannah Guthrie.

A story in The New York Times on July 2 quoted the Obamas' personal chef saying that he and first lady Michelle Obama joke that the president is so disciplined he eats exactly seven almonds at night, "not six, not eight."

Obama told "Today," that the first lady and Sam Kass teased that him that he won't even have a piece of cake. 

"And this is when Michelle said, 'And he just has seven almonds, that's it.'''

Kass relayed that joke to The New York Times, making it seem like Obama is obsessively counting out almonds.

"All my friends were calling me up and saying this seems a little anal, this is a little weird, and I had to explain to them, no, this was a joke,'' Obama said. 

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<![CDATA[Watch: Flames Shoot Out of Engine on American Flight]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:36:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AA_Emergency_landing.jpg

An American Airlines flight landed safely back at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport late Wednesday after sparks were seen shooting from one of its engines.

American Airlines Flight 438 had taken off for Seattle at about 11 p.m. Wednesday when it experienced a mechanical issue with an engine compressor, according to an AA spokesperson.

Cellphone video from one of the 139 passengers on board the flight shows heavy sparks coming from what appears to the wing on the left side of the Airbus 321.

“The engine was not on fire,” an AA spokesperson emphasized in a statement to NBC DFW.

However, Lynn Lunsford, of the Federal Aviation Administration, appeared to indicate otherwise in a separate statement.

“The pilot reported an engine problem that was causing compressor stalls, which would shoot flames out the back of the engine and definitely be visible,” Lunsford said.

Matty Hops was a passenger on Flight 438, who tweeted multiple times during and after the ordeal.

“Flight to Seattle just had catastrophic engine failure…. So, love you guys,” Hops tweeted.

“It’s just a big concerning when there is an explosion on takeoff and then you see the one of the plane engines on fire. Not the best look,” Hops tweeted minutes later, once on the ground.

A statement from American Airlines, and subsequent tweets from the airline’s official account, indicated that the airline was rebooking passengers on other flights.

“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience, and we are working to get them to Seattle as soon as possible,” the statement noted.

<![CDATA[Drivers Shot at on Texas Highway]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:17:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/window+shot+anna.jpg

At least four people have reported being shot at while driving on a North Texas highway, according to police in Anna.

Investigators believe the shooter is using a high-powered pellet gun, but they are not ruling out the possibility a low-caliber rifle was used.

The shootings occurred along Texas Highway 5 between Anna and Melissa.

The first report came in Monday morning, and three more victims have since come forward, Anna police said.

None of the victims were injured.

"Someone is playing with people's lives," Anna Police Lt. Jeff Caponera said. "I've seen pellets kill people, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility it could've done some serious damage. We're not ruling out that it could've been a small-caliber .22."

Doug Page was driving to lunch on Monday when his SUV was shot.

"It sounded like somebody hit it with a hammer," Page said. "Any number of things could've happened. It could've been way worse than a ding on the side of the vehicle."

Although the shootings occurred in a rural area, police don't believe the shootings were accidental.

"This isn't shooting at birds and accidentally hitting a car. This was four vehicles and they were hit intentionally," Caponera said.

Anna is about an hour's drive northeast of Dallas.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Thursday's Forecast: Partly Cloudy - Scattered Storms]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:09:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Andy+Avalos+Updated.jpg

TODAY: Partly cloudy, scattered storms this afternoon - otherwise warm & still humid. HIGH: 80º

TONIGHT: Chance for storms - partly cloudy. LOW: 67º

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, chance for storms. HIGH: 80º

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, chance for storms. HIGH: 81º

SUNDAY: Mostly sunny. HIGH: 83º

MONDAY: Mostly sunny. HIGH: 86º

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, chance storms. HIGH: 88º

WEDNESDAY:  Partly sunny. HIGH: 90º

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<![CDATA[Man Takes Connecticut Woman Hostage Before Robbing Bank: Police]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:27:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Robert+DuPerry+TB+Bank+.jpg

A 65-year-old Bristol, Connecticut, woman working at a local business was abducted, blindfolded, held hostage and terrorized for two hours while her captor robbed a bank on Wednesday, police said.

Robert Du Perry, 51, is accused of walking into a Bristol cemetery chapel with a BB gun before tying up and blindfolding the only employee there, Bristol police said.

According to court documents, Du Perry told police in a sworn statement that he left his home around 11:45 a.m., drove to the package store on Broad Street and had three beers. He said he went to the chapel to “check out the architecture,” according to the documents. Du Perry said that was when he came across a female employee who said something that made him angry, but he could not recall what she said.

Du Perry demanded the woman’s keys, duct taped her wrists, covered her eyes, and placed the woman in her own car, documents said. He used her cell phone to make false bombing threats to Hartford police, saying several municipal buildings were in danger, police said. The victim told officers that Du Perry told her several times that he had bombs with him.

After driving around, Du Perry pulled into the drive-thru of the TD Bank at 414 Broad Street with his gun aimed at the victim's head and told the teller that if she did not hand over money, he would kill his hostage, police said.

According to court documents, Du Perry told police he chose the TD Bank because the bank had charged him fees in the past.

The teller handed over $3,000, according to officials.

Police located a car that matched the description of the victim's car and Du Perry led officers on a pursuit into Wolcott, police said. At one point, he slowed down and ordered the victim out of the car. Eventually, Du Perry abandoned the vehicle and ran off, police said.

The hostage sustained minor scrapes and bruises.

Bristol, Wolcott and Southington officers were able to locate Du Perry in a heavily wooded area and took him into custody. No bombs or materials used to make bombs were found.

Du Perry was evaluated at the hospital for injuries and possible heat exhaustion. After he was released, police took him to the police department.

TD Bank released a statement about what happened.

 "The safety and well-being of our employees and customers is our number one priority and we are grateful no one was hurt. We are cooperating with law enforcement on their investigation and therefore, we are unable to comment further," TD Bank spokesperson, Judy Schmidt, said in a statement.

Du Perry was charged with two counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of second-degree larceny, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree assault, assault of victim over 60, criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, carrying a pistol without a permit, first-degree burglary, first-degree threatening, engaging an officer in a pursuit and reckless driving.

He appeared in court on Thursday, where a public defender was appointed and bond was set at $1.3 million.

He is due back in court on Aug. 11.

Police said the charges do not include the bomb threat allegations.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut and Bristol Police]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-NFL Star Bitten by Shark]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:08:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/032410+sapp.jpg

For over a decade and a half, Warren Sapp was a force to be reckoned with in both the college game with the University of Miami Hurricanes and later during his Hall of Fame career in the NFL.

This week, the former defensive lineman met something with just as much bite as he had on the field – all while trying to catch his dinner.

Sapp posted a photo on his Facebook page showing a bite he received from a shark while fishing for lobsters in the Florida Keys during mini-season (warning: some may find the image disturbing):

Jack Carlson, the captain of the charter company Two Conchs that Sapp used for his mission, said the boat was about seven miles away from Marathon in nine feet of water. Sapp reportedly reached into the water for a lobster when the shark, believed to be a nurse shark about four feet long, attacked.

Carlson told the Tampa Bay Times that Sapp may need some stitches, but the group kept fishing after the incident.

"We bandaged it up, put some gauze on there, some black electrical tape and hit a couple more spots, then headed in," Carlson said.

Sapp posted a photo to his Twitter page confirming that one bite wasn’t going to stop him from continuing on his journey to stock up on the delicacy:

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Dies After Seeing 2 Killed During Block Party Shooting]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:36:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Back+of+the+YArds.png

A 16-year-old girl died of an asthma attack after witnessing a shooting at a block party in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood that also left two others dead and two wounded, police said.

Police say a group of people were gathered near West 50th Place and South Halsted Street just after midnight Thursday when an argument broke out and someone started shooting. 

A 33-year-old woman and 25-year-old man were both killed by gunfire, according to authorities. Police say both are documented gang members.

Jacarra Reeves, 21, of Harvey, was among the other two wounded. She was hit by two bullets in the hand and transported to Saint Bernard Hospital, police said. A 25-year-old woman was also injured after being shot twice in the back. 

The 16-year-old girl who witnessed the shooting managed to escape the gunfire but suffered an asthama attack shortly after, police said. She was pronounced dead after being rushed to Saint Bernard Hospital.

Photo Credit: Captured News
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<![CDATA[Mysterious Light in California Sky Was Chinese Rocket]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:30:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/234*120/mustery-light-streak.JPG

A mysterious light that streaked across the sky Wednesday night, igniting a social media firestorm from California to Nevada and Utah, was a Chinese rocket re-entering Earth's atmosphere, according to U.S. Strategic Command.

Videos and photos from across Southern California poured into NBCLA's Twitter feed after the light went streaking across the sky. The light was seen in skies around 9:30 p.m. PST over the Inland Empire, Ventura County, Orange County and beyond. Social media users also reported seeing it in Nevada and Utah.

Matt Holt, a Bay Area resident, shot video in San Jose of a large cluster of lights shooting across the sky to the bemusement of a large crowd.

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U.S. Strategic Command spokeswoman Julie Ziegenhorn wouldn't say if the Chinese CZ-7 rocket ever posed danger to people on the ground. She said the command often sees re-entries.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, told the Los Angeles Times the Chinese rocket launched on June 25.

"Anytime you have a report of a luminous object, it's a fair bet it's a natural event," said Ed Krupp, Griffith Observatory's director of 45 years. "It's likely space debris or a meteor produced by interplanetary debris."

Krupp said it wasn't so much what the object was composed of that caused the light, but what the atmosphere around it was doing.

"Typically a small pebble that enters the Earth's atmosphere at that high altitude and is heated up by the friction that it encounters will become so hot that it will in fact cause the air around it to glow -- kind of a tube of glowing air -- maybe as much as 10 miles in diameter."

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Photo Credit: Matt Holt
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<![CDATA[Tall Ships Arrive to Navy Pier]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 06:50:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Field-Museum-Viking-Ship-1.jpg

The Middle Ages are transporting right to Chicago and landing on Navy Pier this week.

Starting Friday, the world’s largest modern Viking ship, Draken Harald Hårfagre, along with 13 historic others will open to the public as part of the Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago festival. Two ships, Red Witch and Windy, have homeports in Chicago.

Guests can get up close to enjoy an all access pass to board and explore the global vessels until Sunday evening. Each day consists of tours and a festival of live entertainment, food stands and vendors.

General admission prices range from $10-$25; “Sail Away” costs $79; and “Fireworks Sail Away” tickets are $99 or $109. Tickets can be purchased on the Navy Pier website.

The festival opens at 10 a.m. each day and will conclude with fireworks at night night except on Sunday.

Limited parking is available at Navy Pier and surrounding areas.

The authentic Viking ship originally sailed from Norway to Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition in 1893. The vessel resides in Geneva’s Good Templar Park, where residents are working to have the ship maintained and possibly housed in a Chicago museum.

The replica Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre arrived at Navy Pier today. The ship is part of the Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago 2016 festival where it will remain until Sunday. 
General admission prices range from $10-$25; “Sail Away” costs $79; and “Fireworks Sail Away” are $99 or $109. Tickets can be purchased on the Navy Pier website.  
The festival opens at 10 a.m. each day and will conclude with fireworks each night except Sunday. 
Guests can enjoy tours of over 13 ships, live tours, entertainment, food stands and vendors. Limited parking is available at Navy Pier and surrounding areas. 
The authentic Viking ship originally sailed from Norway to Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition in 1893. The vessel resides in Geneva’s Good Templar Park, where residents are working to have the ship maintained and possibly housed in a Chicago muse

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago’s 25th Annual Lollapalooza Returns to Grant Park ]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 06:44:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lollapalooza+stage.jpg

What is better than listening to your favorite artists on the radio? Seeing them up close and personal at Chicago’s biggest music festival!

The 25th annual Lollapalooza returns with a four-day lineup to Chicago from July 28-31 at Grant Park. The fete spans across the entire park located at East Randolph Drive with shows running from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

General admission tickets have sold out. VIP and platinum tickets are available for purchase. Prices range from $650 for a day pass to $2,200-$4,200 for four day tickets. The lineup consists of artists such as J. Cole, Future, Major Lazer, LCD Soundystem and more, according to the Lollapalooza website.

There is something for everyone outside of the performances including Chow Town, Around The Park, Art Market, Lolla Cares and Kidzapalooza.

Music fans can keep up with all things Lolla, by downloading the official app for schedules, giveaways, maps, emergency information and updates.

Further information can be found on the Lollapalooza website and Twitter

<![CDATA[Big Changes Proposed for Chicago's Navy Pier]]> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 11:58:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/navy+pier+23.jpg

Navy Pier’s big new Ferris Wheel isn’t the only massive change planned for the iconic attraction celebrating its 100th birthday.

Pier officials revealed Tuesday a proposal for a number of major upgrades for the site including an elevated walkway that extends over Lake Michigan, a rooftop bar, a pool of sorts and even a “concert lawn.” 

The proposed changes are part of a grander plan to redevelop the park and attract more visitors. 

Among the newly proposed ideas, was what officials called a “Lake Overlook,” or a raised walkway that would sit over the edge of the pier and continue into Lake Michigan. Near the overlook would also be a so-called “Lake Mirror,” or a shallow pool.

In addition, plans for a new hotel at the pier were also announced. The hotel would be housed near the Festival Hall, by the pier’s southern dock.

A proposed rooftop bar would top the building connected the pier’s Grand Ballroom and a new 4,000-square-foot café and pavilion will round out the west end by the new Polk Bros. Park, which when finished will feature a lawn for concert-watching not unlike one at the city's Millennium Park.

The plans remain in the early stages, however, and still require city approval along with private donors to fund some of the ideas. 

This year marks the pier’s 100th birthday, a milestone that has been met with big changes, including the addition of the new Centennial Wheel. The pier has also debuted an outdoor rock climbing wall and outdoor ice skating rink.

Photo Credit: Navy Pier]]>
<![CDATA[Fact Check: Democratic National Convention Day 3]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:10:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Obama-583835804.jpg

The president headlined the night’s speeches, and a few of his boasts of his record headline our fact-checking report:

  • President Barack Obama claimed that under his administration, “we finally began to wean ourselves off foreign oil,” but dependency on imported oil had begun to drop years before he took office.
  • The president repeated a frequent boast that the U.S. “doubled our production of clean energy” during his tenure. Monthly renewable energy production has gone up 40 percent.
  • Obama said deficits have “come down” under his administration. That’s true, but they are expected to rise again soon under his proposed budget.
  • Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine falsely referred to economist Mark Zandi as “John McCain’s chief economic adviser during the ’08 race,” in touting an estimate of job loss under Donald Trump’s proposals. In fact, Zandi is a Democrat.
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson wrongly said “we have not lost a single job, a single month” since Obama became president, and he was also off in saying the U.S. trades “more with Mexico than we do with China.”
  • Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta falsely claimed that Trump “says he gets his foreign policy experience from … running the Miss Universe pageant.” Trump didn’t say that was his foreign policy experience.
  • Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid claimed that the GOP ticket wanted to “gamble” Social Security “in the stock market.” But Trump’s campaign has called for making no changes to Social Security.
  • Kaine claimed that Trump said he “wants to abandon” our NATO allies. Trump has said that he doesn’t want the U.S. to leave NATO, but has suggested he would not automatically defend NATO allies that do not pay their share of defense costs.

Note to Readers

This story was written with the help of the entire staff, including some of those based in Philadelphia who are at the convention site. As we did for the Republican National Convention, we intend to vet the major speeches at the Democratic National Convention for factual accuracy, applying the same standards to both.

Foreign Oil Dependency

President Obama made a misstep when he said, “After decades of talk, we finally began to wean ourselves off foreign oil” under his administration.

Actually, U.S. dependency on imported oil had already begun to decline years before Obama first took office.

According to official figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, dependency peaked in 2005, when the nation imported 60.3 percent of the crude oil it consumed. But that percentage dropped to 57 percent in 2008, the year before Obama was sworn in.

It’s true that U.S. dependency had continued to drop during Obama’s time — down to 24 percent last year.

But the fact is the decline “began” well before Obama entered the White House. Also, dependency has now begun to rise again due to low oil prices and reduced U.S. drilling. The U.S. imported 26.6 percent of its crude oil in the first half of 2016.

And Clean Energy Growth

Obama also repeated his frequent, and inflated, boast that during his time in office the U.S. “doubled our production of clean energy.”

Monthly renewable energy production has increased by about 40 percent from January 2009 to April 2016, far from the 100 percent increase Obama claimed. While it is true that wind and solar power have more than doubled since 2008 (they’ve nearly quadrupled, in fact), they represent only part of the renewable energy picture. Less than a third of renewable energy consumption in April came from wind and solar.

As we wrote back in 2012 when Obama made a similar claim, the largest category of renewable energy is biomass, such as ethanol that is blended in gasoline. And the second-biggest category is hydropower — electricity generated from dams. Together, hydroelectric power and biomass accounted for nearly 70 percent of renewable energy consumption in April.

Deficits to Rise Again

Boasting of his post-recession record, President Obama said that “we’ve seen deficits come down.” They have, but deficits will soon begin to rise again under the president’s proposed budget unless his successor cuts revenues or increases taxes, or both.

It’s true that annual federal deficits have declined since peaking at $1.4 trillion in fiscal year 2009 — a deficit Obama largely inherited from a budget signed into law by his predecessor, George W. Bush. The decline was slow at first with deficits stubbornly remaining above the $1 trillion mark for four straight years.

Since then, the yearly deficits have declined markedly. In fiscal year 2015, which ended last Sept. 30, the deficit was $438 billion, a drop of 69 percent from FY 2009.

In an analysis of Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects deficits will continue to fall for two more years. But it also warned about the return of growing deficits in the 10-year period covered by the analysis.

CBO, March: Under the President’s proposals, CBO estimates, the deficit would total $529 billion in 2016. It would fall to $433 billion in 2017, fall further to $383 billion in 2018, and then increase in most subsequent years, eventually growing to $972 billion in 2026.

In its analysis of the presidential budget proposal, the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said the plan would “stabilize the debt as a share of the economy,” but it “does not go far enough” to reduce the debt “from its current record-high levels.”

The CBO analysis showed that federal debt owed to the public was 73.6 percent of GDP in 2015, and will creep up under the budget plan to 77.4 percent by 2026.

Kaine Wrong on McCain Adviser

Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine repeated a shopworn Democratic falsehood when he referred to economist Mark Zandi as “John McCain’s chief economic adviser.”

Kaine: John McCain’s chief economic adviser during the ’08 race … estimates that Trump’s promises would cause America to lose 3.5 million jobs.

It’s true that Moody’s Analytics, where Zandi is chief economist, issued a report last month concluding that the combined effects of Trump’s policy proposals on taxes, government spending, immigration and international trade — if fully implemented — would cause “a decline of 3.4 million jobs” during the four years of a Trump presidency.

Zandi was lead author of that study, and he’s a well-respected business economist. But he wasn’t the 2008 GOP nominee’s “chief” economic adviser. He’s not even a Republican. Kaine and other Democrats have adopted the bad habit of referring to him that way in the hope that it will give added weight to whatever Zandi says that’s critical of Republican policy.

Kaine is a serial offender in this bit of petty deceit. Nearly six years ago, in September 2010, Kaine described Zandi that way in a Sunday talk show, when Kaine was chairman of the Democratic National Committee. What we wrote then still goes:

FactCheck.org, Sept. 7, 2010: Kaine got it wrong when he called economist Mark Zandi “John McCain’s chief economics adviser.” … It’s true that Zandi was one of those who offered advice to McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. But as we’ve reported before, he says he’s a registered Democrat, and he was just one of several economists who advised McCain. His chief economic adviser was Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

What we reported prior to that was that Zandi said in a 2009 interview: “I’m a registered Democrat.” Zandi said in that same 2009 Washington Post interview that he had agreed to advise McCain at the request of an old friend, McCain’s chief economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Zandi also advises Democrats.

And last year, Zandi gave $2,700 — the legal maximum — to Hillary Clinton’s primary campaign.

Jesse Jackson, Off-Script

Rev. Jesse Jackson — departing from his prepared remarks — made two false claims, about trade and about Obama’s record on jobs.

Jobs: Jackson said: “He came in office, we lost 800,000 jobs. We have not lost a single job, a single month since Barack has been president.”

That’s off by a mile.

It’s true that the U.S. was losing jobs at the rate of hundreds of thousands per month at the time Obama first took office, but that hemorrhaging continued for months afterward as well.

The loss in total nonfarm employment, officially measured by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was 769,000 in November 2008, 695,000 in December and 791,000 in January 2009.

Every month of Obama’s first year in office showed losses, and there were five months in 2010 that also showed losses. In all, the U.S. lost close to 4.4 million jobs in the months before Obama took office, but it lost a little more than 4.3 million more in the opening months of Obama’s term — not hitting bottom until February 2010.

Trade: Jackson said, “We trade more with Mexico than we do with China and Japan every day.”

Not so. It’s true that the U.S. trades more with Mexico than with Japan — but not more than it trades with China.

Total trade in goods (the value of all exports plus the value of all imports) between Mexico and the U.S. was $214 billion in the first five months of this year, according to the U.S Census Bureau. That’s a bit less than the $216 billion total trade with China.

And that’s been true for years. Trade in goods with China has exceeded that with Mexico for all of 2015, and for all of 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 as well. We had to go back more than a decade, to 2005, to find a year in which trade with Mexico exceeded that with China.

Foreign Policy and Pageants

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta falsely claimed that “Donald Trump says he gets his foreign policy experience from … running the Miss Universe pageant.”

Panetta was referring to a Trump interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier in May. As we’ve written before, Baier asked Trump whether he had talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump refused to answer, and went on to say that “I know Russia well” because “I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago,” referring to the 2013 pageant.

But Trump didn’t go so far as to say that the pageant was an example of his foreign-policy experience, and Baier never asked him that question.

Hillary Clinton has made similar claims, saying that Trump “says he’s qualified to be commander in chief because he took Miss Universe to Moscow.”

Reid’s Outdated Social Security Claim

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid dredged up an old Democratic talking point in claiming that, “Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to gamble with your retirement benefits in the stock market.” But Trump has said he wants to “leave [Social Security] the way it is.”

Pence supported a plan more than a decade ago that would have allowed younger workers to voluntarily invest part of their Social Security taxes in private mutual funds. Trump advocated something like that 16 years ago, but not now.

We’ve seen Reid’s claim over and over again, and it usually refers to a lawmaker’s support for President George W. Bush’s 2005 proposal for private accounts. And, in fact, Pence, then a congressman, did back Bush’s plan. But that called for voluntary private accounts and limiting how much workers could put into them — plus the accounts would have been government-approved mutual funds. The plan wouldn’t have forced anyone to have their Social Security taxes “gamble[d]” on the stock market.

Trump, however, hasn’t called for any such thing in this campaign. In fact, he said in a March GOP debate, “I will do everything within my power not to touch Social Security, to leave it the way it is.” And in response to an AARP request for information on his stance, Trump said, “The key to preserving Social Security and other programs that benefit AARP members is to have an economy that is robust and growing.” He went on to talk about “tax reform” and “immigration reform.” He didn’t outline any changes to Social Security.

Back in 2000, Trump did advocate private Social Security accounts, writing in his book “The America We Deserve”: “The solution to the Great Social Security Crisis couldn’t be more obvious: Allow every American to dedicate some portion of their payroll taxes to a personal Social Security account that they could own and invest in stocks and bonds.”

But 16 years later, that’s not a plan he has pushed on the campaign trail.

Abandonment Issues

Kaine said that Trump said he “wants to abandon” our NATO allies. Trump has said that he doesn’t want the U.S. to leave the international security alliance. However, he has recently suggested that he would not automatically defend NATO allies that do not pay their share of defense costs.

Kaine: I want to start off thanking my wife, Anne, and my three beautiful children, Nat, Woody and Annella. … You know, my son, Nat, deployed with his Marine battalion just two days ago. He deployed overseas to protect and defend the very NATO allies that Donald Trump says he now wants to abandon.

Trump’s most recent comments on NATO came during a July interview with David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times. Trump said that he would be willing to defend fellow NATO members, “if they fulfill their obligations to us.”

Sanger, July 21: My point here is, Can the members of NATO, including the new members in the Baltics, count on the United States to come to their military aid if they were attacked by Russia? And count on us fulfilling our obligations.

Trump: Have they fulfilled their obligations to us? If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.

Haberman: And if not?

Trump: Well, I’m not saying if not. I’m saying, right now there are many countries that have not fulfilled their obligations to us.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has been critical of NATO, which was established in 1949 by the U.S., Canada and 10 Western European nations to defend against the former Soviet Union. One of Trump’s main criticisms of NATO, which now has 28 member nations, is that it is too costly to the U.S., which pays about 22 percent of direct spending by NATO, and an even larger share of indirect costs, according to budget information. In addition, only five member nations, including the U.S., spend the 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense called for by NATO guidelines, according to a CNN Money analysis.

But Trump didn’t actually tell the Times reporters that “he wants to abandon” allies that don’t make the required payments. He declined to say what he would do if countries had not fulfilled their financial obligations.

And as we wrote in May, Trump, despite his criticisms of NATO, has said that he doesn’t want the U.S. to leave the NATO alliance. Although, he also said that he would “certainly look at” doing so. But in his more recent interview with the Times, Trump at least suggested that he’s open to not defending those nations that don’t pay more.

— Eugene Kiely, with Brooks Jackson, Lori Robertson, Robert Farley, D’Angelo Gore and Zachary Gross


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<![CDATA[Forrest E. Mars, Jr., CEO of Confectionery Empire, Dies at 84]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:06:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/MARS_GettyImages-452614796.jpg

Forrest E. Mars Jr., the billionaire scion of the Mars Inc., died Tuesday at the age of 84, the company confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

Mars is survived by his wife, four children, eleven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

He inherited the business together with his brother and sister and grew it into a confectionery empire.

"Forrest was a great inspiration to all of us at Mars, Incorporated," said Grant F. Reid, CEO and Office of the President for Mars, Incorporated. "He was instrumental in building our business, while remaining committed to the founding principles of the Company. Forrest will be sorely missed, but his contributions and the legacy he leaves behind at Mars will be long-lasting."

Mars began his career in 1955 as a certified public accountant, working as an auditor for Price Waterhouse after serving in the United States Army for two years. He joined Mars, Incorporated - then, a business of less than $100 million in revenue - as a Financial Staff Officer for M&M's Candies in 1959.

Two years later, Mars was appointed General Manager of a new confectionery factory — now one of the largest chocolate factories in the world — in Veghel, Netherlands. Over the next two decades Mars exploded expanding Mars presence globally.

According to Forbes magazine, the Mars family, with an estimated worth of $78 billion, is the third-richest in the United States, behind only the Waltons of Walmart and the Kochs of Koch Industries.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>