<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Weird News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/weird http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usWed, 23 Aug 2017 01:42:50 -0500Wed, 23 Aug 2017 01:42:50 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Bei Bei the Panda Celebrates 2nd Birthday at National Zoo]]> Tue, 22 Aug 2017 15:00:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/pandabday.jpg

Bei Bei the panda cub celebrated his second birthday at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 22, with an ice cake and some new toys.

]]>
<![CDATA[Fla. Judge Denies Postponing Trial So Witness Can See Eclipse]]> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 14:37:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/220*120/Philly+Solar+Eclipse+258p.JPG

A federal judge in Florida ruled a trial couldn't be postponed just because one of the key witnesses — a federal agent — had travel plans to see the solar eclipse.

In a droll, three-page ruling issued Friday, Judge Steven Merryday denied the motion filed by an assistant U.S. attorney.

Recalling popular dialogue from the TV classic "Star Trek," the judge wrote that an "Assistant United States Attorney boldy moves (where no AUSA has moved before)."

"The solar eclipse is no longer mysterious, supernatural, foreboding or ominous," wrote Merryday. "An eclipse is just another astral event, precisely predictable since the day the Babylonians discovered the governing formula."

Prosecutors wanted Monday's trial postponed because an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent had booked a trip to see the eclipse on a day when defendant Joseph Bishop was to stand trial for unlawfully transporting firearms.

Merryday chalked it up to a "cruel fate" that allowed the trial and the eclipse to happen on the same day. The prosecutor's motion "proposes to subordinate the time and resources of the court, of the opposing counsel, of the witnesses and of the jurors to one person's aspiration to view a 'total' solar eclipse for no more than two minutes and forty-two seconds."

A large chunk of the ruling cited lyrics from singer Carly Simon's "You're So Vain," which contains a line about flying to witness an eclipse.



Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Blocked: NASA Moon, Sun Accounts Squabble on Eclipse Day]]> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 15:50:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_17233631248479.jpg

The moon didn't just block the sun in the sky on Monday.

NASA's official Twitter account for the moon temporarily blocked its official account for the sun, in an example of social media imitating life.

"HA HA HA I've blocked the Sun!" @NASAMoon tweeted with a screenshot of the blocked account. "Make way for the Moon."

The sun didn't take too kindly to the social media shade, which came as the moon covered the the midday sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century.

"uh, EXCUSE ME?!?" @NASASun tweeted back.

But the two accounts were back on good terms after the eclipse completed its path of totality across the U.S.

"Let the Sun shine @NASASun, I unblocked you in the sky and on Twitter," @NASAMoon tweeted. 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Don Ryan
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[As Eclipse Approaches in Oregon, 1 Rest Stop Fills]]> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 13:17:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_Oregon_Traffic_092117-150333610869000001.jpg

Motorists in Salem, Oregon traveling to see the solar eclipse have apparently decided to hunker down at a rest stop, heeding warnings from law enforcement that stopping on the shoulder of highways is illegal.

]]>
<![CDATA[Man Accused of Spraying Manure on Border Patrol Car]]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:30:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/VT+border+patrol+manure-1502830697.jpg

A Vermont man who contracts with farmers to provide agricultural services firmly maintains he is innocent of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer with cow manure. 

On Thursday, the defense attorney for Mark Johnson, 53, of Alburgh, entered not guilty pleas on two misdemeanor counts: one of simple assault on a law enforcement officer with bodily fluids and one of disorderly conduct. 

The Grand Isle County State’s Attorney says Johnson, who provides various services to area farmers, including manure spreading, directed liquid cow manure from his spreader toward a cruiser with a U.S. Border Patrol agent inside. 

“He was definitely targeting that vehicle,” State’s Attorney Doug DiSabito said at Johnson’s arraignment in North Hero Thursday. 

In court paperwork, Sheriff Ray Allen of Grand Isle County said Johnson has long been frustrated with federal authorities, and that was a reason for the alleged manure assault. 

Johnson has often complained, Allen noted, that border patrol and immigration officers aren’t doing enough, in his eyes, about undocumented laborers on Vermont dairy farms. 

Those migrant workers, often from Mexico, are generally considered critical to the state's agriculture sector and to getting food on the tables of people across the Northeast and beyond. 

However, in Johnson’s view, he and his family have lost work and jobs to the migrants, court records show. 

“I'm not guilty,” Johnson told necn shortly after the court hearing, describing the accusation that he targeted the cruiser with liquid manure. “What was said in court today was not the truth. People need to know the truth.” 

Johnson insisted that dirtying the car was unintentional; that some of his load merely sloshed out as he drove past the cruiser. 

The Border Patrol agent acknowledged in a report filed with the court that his parked cruiser had been at least partially blocking an access road to a field where Johnson was working to spread manure. 

Johnson’s rig can hold 5,250 gallons of liquid manure, according to markings on the side of it. 

Because of that capacity, Johnson told necn that if he had truly planned a crime, the cruiser would've been basically black.

Photographs obtained by the Islander newspaper showed that one could still clearly see the markings on the cruiser, despite the splotches of manure. 

In another photo included in paperwork from the sheriff’s department, the front of the Border Patrol vehicle appeared mostly clean. 

In his report filed with the court, Border Patrol Agent Robert Rocheleau described Johnson using swear words while accusing him of not doing enough to address violations of immigration policy. 

Rocheleau said Johnson told the agent that he was being “squeezed” due to work lost to migrants. 

The agent noted in his report that he told Johnson if he is unhappy with the authorities’ handling of immigration issues, he should “write to his congressman.” 

Rocheleau said in the report he filed with the court that he heard Johnson revving the tractor’s engine aggressively and described Johnson operating the tractor “violently” to get a wave of manure to slosh out in his direction. 

Johnson suggested in brief remarks to necn following his arraignment that the agent’s version of events was exaggerated. He firmly maintained he is innocent. 

As the court case proceeds, Judge Michael Harris ordered Johnson to stay away from the Border Patrol agent. 

Stephanie Malin, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the northeast, told the Associated Press that prosecutors are handling the case. 

If found guilty of both of the charges, Johnson could face a maximum punishment of six months and 60 days in prison, and a $1,000 fine. 



Photo Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Olympians Share Their Most Embarrassing School Memories]]> Fri, 18 Aug 2017 07:23:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT+EMBARRASSING+SCHOOL+THUMB2.jpg

From bad school pictures to awkward first day wardrobes, Team USA members can now look back on some of their most embarrassing school moments and laugh.

]]>
<![CDATA[7 Total Eclipse Driving Tips]]> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 20:18:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/218*120/Screen+Shot+2017-08-16+at+9.31.34+AM.png

Driving while the total solar eclipse is happening on August 21? Here are seven tips that will ensure your safety while driving.

]]>
<![CDATA[Mysterious 'Spaceship' Parked on NYC Street Turns Heads]]> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:47:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/brooklynspaceship.jpg

Charles Walters' car is out of this world. 

The Brooklyn dad's "spaceship" has been turning heads and filling Brooklynites' Instagram feeds since he parked it on his leafy Prospect Heights block a few days ago. 

On a recent afternoon, a steady stream of pedestrians and drivers stopped when they spotted the futuristic vehicle on the brownstone block. They snapped selfies and photos of the car, a Chevrolet Blazer encased in steel, to give it its extraterrestrial appearance. 

"Is that a spaceship?" one driver yelled before belting out a laugh. 

Walters, a father of two and entrepreneur interested in drones and space travel, revels in the head scratching. 

"People they stop, and they look, and then they think, 'What is this'?" Walters told NBC 4 New York during a short spin around the neighborhood Tuesday. "The number one question we get is, 'What is this?'"

Walters said he and a team of employees constructed the spaceship in Bushwick more than a year ago. It usually stays parked in a garage in the neighborhood, Walters said. But he took it to Prospect Heights over the weekend so he could play with his kids and pique Brooklynites' interest. 

"What's life about if you can't have fun and freak people out?" Walters said.

Passersby are most definitely intrigued.

"What kind of car is that?" a driver who pulled over next to the vehicle asked Walters as he was climbing out of the driver's seat Tuesday. 

"It's a spaceship," he joked. "Want to go to space?"



Photo Credit: Ben Feuerherd
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Seriously, These Horizontal Lines Are Perfectly Straight]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 08:33:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_ILLUSION_MURAL_1-150239277226800001.jpg

A mind-bending mural in Georgia will have you distrusting your eyes. Are the horizontal lines in this piece of art straight? Join the debate!

]]>
<![CDATA[Back From Trip, Va. Man Finds Apartment Suspiciously Clean]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 08:31:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/Generic+Arlington+County+Police+Generic.jpg

An Arlington, Virginia, man returned from a trip this week surprised to find his apartment had been cleaned.

Police received a report of suspicious circumstances at 12:03 a.m. Monday.

In addition to having been cleaned, some items in the apartment were moved, but nothing appears to be missing, police said.

The man told police he does not employ a maid.



Photo Credit: NBCWashington, File]]>
<![CDATA['Hammered' Driver Pulls Into Police Station, Seeking Safety: PD]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 15:25:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Sean+McCullough+DUI+Upper+Darby+police+composite.jpg

A drunk driver pulled into a Delaware County, Pennsylvania police station early Wednesday morning and told officers he wanted to be in a "safe" place, according to police.

Around 4 a.m., Upper Darby police officers watched on security video as an SUV veered into an exit lane, hopped a curb and clip a security gate while driving into the police station's private parking lot, police superintendent Michael Chitwood said.

The SUV then motored along a sidewalk before parking in a spot around back designated for squad cars, he told NBC10.

Chitwood said an officer ran out of the station and found 44-year-old Sean McCullough, of Havertown, "totally ossified."

McCullough admitted to being "hammered" having consumed 12 to 14 beers in Philadelphia and Trenton, New Jersey, police said.

Officers tried to perform a field sobriety test on McCullough but he told them "I'm too drunk for that," police said.

He came to the station because "it was the safest place," police said.

Officers took McCullough to the hospital to be checked out.

A district court judge arraigned McCullough on careless driving and driving under the influence charges and set bail at $10,000.

McCullough told NBC10's Steven Fisher Thursday that he is embarrassed and has a problem to address.



Photo Credit: Upper Darby Police Department/NBC10
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[NYC-Scented Luxury Candle Sparks Speculation Online]]> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 09:30:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-55921972.jpg

How do you capture the aroma of a city that produces 12,000 tons of trash every day?

Luxury fragrance company Diptyque said on Twitter it is creating an exclusive New York City candle, and that has elicited strong mixed reactions on social media. The 6.5 oz candle is already listed on the company's website for $70.

[[439355283, C]]

The Paris-based company, which also produces perfumes, cosmetics and skin care products, retails its candles from $34 to $295.

[[439314203, c]]

Though Diptyque didn't say exactly what the candle will smell like, users on social media weighed in on the possibilities.

Some customers expressed their enthusiasm over the new candle, hoping it has the essence of iconic New York foods like pizza, bagels, Halal meat or roasted nuts.

[[439314913, c]]

However, the majority of people seemed unimpressed or skeptical about the aroma of New York.

Common guesses about the scent included rats, urine, smoke, sweat, hot garbage and subways in the heat.

Other tweets referred to the quirky sights and smells of the city — the only-in-New-York incidents like the pizza rat or a stray shoe on the street.

[[439314413, c]]

Others had more abstract ideas about the scent, like despair and gentrification.

Diptyque also recently announced a London candle which they specified will smell like flowers.

[[439311963, c]]

“To celebrate Westbourne Grove boutique reopening, diptyque proposes a London exclusive candle; a flower market encapsulated,” the company tweeted.

The company hasn’t confirmed if the London and New York candles are part of a city-themed series in the making, but some people are hoping not.

[[439314243, c]]



Photo Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images, File
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Bakery Sends Internet Trolls’ Hate Back on Cakes]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 09:36:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_BAKERY_FOR_TROLLS_080817_1-150221118860100001.jpg

A New York bakery is trying a sweet new way to combat internet trolls. Troll Cakes is baking cakes that have the same message trolls use online on their victims. The bakery posts photos of the cakes to its Instagram page.

]]>
<![CDATA[Swanky San Francisco Street Sells for $90K, Spurring Suit]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 09:13:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sf+street+sale-0807.jpg

One of the swankiest streets in San Francisco has been sold to a private real estate agent. That's right: An entire street in the City by the Bay was purchased.

And now residents of Presidio Terrace are being told they may have to pay rent to park in front of their mansions.

The private street is one of 181 in San Francisco, but Presidio Terrace is among the fanciest. Sen. Dianne Feinstein lived in one of the multimillion-dollar homes on the street when she was running for governor.

The land in front of those 35 mega-mansions sold for a paltry $90,000 to Michael Cheng and his partner.

Cheng, speaking via Facetime from Florida on Monday, said he and his partner are thinking about either renting parking spots or possibly putting up meters.

"Our initial goal was just to buy it and hang onto it for a while," Cheng said.

Somehow payment of the $14-a-year property tax on the street was overlooked for decades, and that led the city to sell the street for taxes and a little bit more.

The last time a house went up for sale on Presidio Terrace, the asking price was $16 million.

Most of the homeowners only found out about the sale of their street in the newspaper Monday morning. The city had been sending tax bills to an accounting office at 47 Kearny St., which is now a Pilates studio. An attorney for the homeowners said no one working for the homeowners has been at the address for 30 years.

Peter Michael is a tech mogul turned winemaker who lives on Presidio Terrrace.

"It’s negligence on the city’s part not to post it," he said.

The homeowners have filed a lawsuit against the city Office of Treasurer and Tax Collector for failing to notify the property owners. But a spokeswoman for the office said everything was done according to the law.

"It’s uniform in every county in California, how this happens, and it’s really the property owners' responsibility to be up to date on their taxes," spokeswoman Amanda Kahn Fried said.

The homeowners are appealing to the Board of Supervisors, and a hearing is set for Oct. 31.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Mystery Solved: Why a Va. Driver Dressed as a Car Seat]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 10:38:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/080717+car+with+hidden+driver.jpg

A van that appeared to have no driver made headlines when it was spotted in Arlington, Virginia, last week. But when News4's Adam Tuss saw the van on Monday and looked inside, he saw that it did have a driver: a man dressed in a costume made to look like just a car seat.

From the road, the unmarked gray van eerily looks like it's moving without a driver. The entire front seat looks empty. But when Tuss looked inside, he saw a man wearing a beige and black costume that covered his entire torso.

His arms poked out of the bottom of the costume to steer. His face was completely covered, like that of a sports mascot who can see out, but no one can see in.

"I looked out and I said, 'Oh my God, there's a guy in a seat costume," Tuss said. "How's that possible? Your brain can't get around it for a second."

Tuss went to the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington on Monday to talk with ARLnow.com founder Scott Brodbeck about the vehicle he saw in Clarendon and Courthouse on Thursday night

As Tuss left the ARLnow.com offices, he saw the 2017 Ford Transit Connect himself. He and a News4 photographer followed the vehicle in Clarendon and Ballston for about 20 minutes. 

Tuss went to knock on the window. At first, he thought he saw an empty seat. Then, when he looked below the wheel, he saw a man's hands and legs.

"Brother, who are you? What are you doing? I'm with the news, dude," Tuss said. "Dude, can you pull over and we can talk for a second?"  

But the driver didn't say a word.

After multiple inquiries by News4, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute said Monday afternoon that the van and van driver are part of a study they are conducting on driverless cars. The worker was wearing the uniform he was supposed to wear. 

"The driver's seating area is configured to make the driver less visible within the vehicle, while still allowing him or her the ability to safely monitor and respond to surroundings," a statement from the institute says. 

Virginia Tech declined to make the half car seat, half man -- as Tuss put it -- available for an interview. 

Arlington County officials were involved in the planning for the study, a Virginia Tech spokeswoman said. Arlington was selected because "it is representative of the urban areas for which automated vehicles are currently being considered," she said. 

Go here to learn more about the study

The Virginia Department of Transportation was not aware of the vehicle, a representative said. The Arlington Police Department was "shocked" by news of the van, one representative said.

Several "invisible driver" prank videos can be found on YouTube. The drivers are entirely hidden by costumes that look just like car seats.

CORRECTION (Aug. 8, 2017, 9:30 a.m.): An earlier version of this story said the driver ran a red light, in apparent attempt to evade News4. But a spokeswoman for the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute says a thorough review of the in-vehicle camera showed the driver passed through a yellow light. 



Photo Credit: NBC Washington
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner Takes Unique Flight Path]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 16:52:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/flightpath2.jpg

A Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner took a unique path as part of an endurance test flight Wednesday. The airline says its passenger jet flew for more than 18 hours and crossed 22 states to form a flight path in the shape of an airplane.

]]>
<![CDATA[Scientists Discover Funniest Word in English Language]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 09:17:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/Funniest+Word+Thumbnail.png

There are some words that you can’t hear without cracking up. Researchers from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom conducted a study to find the funniest word in the English language. Do you agree with their conclusion? 

]]>
<![CDATA[5 Things You Need to Know About the Total Solar Eclipse]]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 08:33:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Eclipse.jpg

A total solar eclipse is going to be visible across parts of the U.S. this August. But what is a total solar eclipse, exactly? When was the last time one happened? What should you look for? Find out all that and more.

]]>
<![CDATA[Man Takes Off Clothes, Does Dishes in Bizarre Home Invasion]]> Fri, 04 Aug 2017 08:18:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/home+invasino+hackensack.JPG

A man allegedly sneaked into a New Jersey home Wednesday, took off his clothes and tried to get into the shower with a woman, then went to the kitchen and started doing dishes, according to the terrified family and police. 

A woman who lives in the home on First Street in Hackensack tells News 4 she was in a bedroom babysitting her baby nephew when her sister burst into the room, wearing only a towel, shortly before 8:30 a.m. The sister fell to the ground, panicking, and said a stranger pulled back the shower curtain as she was inside and started taking off his clothes, according to the woman. 

According to police, the man, identified as James King, of Queens, left the bathroom when the sister threatened to call police. 

But he didn't leave the home. When police arrived, they found King in the kitchen washing dishes. The sisters say King told police he was the family's caretaker, but they say they've never seen him before. 

Neighbors said they had never seen King before either. He was led from the home in handcuffs and charged with burglary and lewdness. It wasn't clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the allegations. 

No injuries were reported. The women say they locked all the doors and think the stranger got in through an open window.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Power Tool Needed to Remove Spinner Stuck On Finger]]> Wed, 02 Aug 2017 15:21:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NA31W_1200x675_1015363651831.jpg

When an Arizona boy went to the emergency room with a fidget spinner stuck on his finger, E-R doctors needed a little help... from a maintenance man.

]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Artist Hoists 'They Live' Trump Billboard in Mexico]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 22:24:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trump+billboard+4.jpg

A billboard depicting President Donald Trump as an otherworldly invader, with teeth exposed and eyes bulging through blue and red muscle and tendon, has been hoisted above the streets of Mexico City by a Chicago artist.

The ‘80s cult classic film “They Live,” in which skull-faced aliens are only visible to the protagonist when he wears special sunglasses, is the inspiration behind Mitch O’Connell’s project. In a phone interview, he called it "an appropriate commentary on Trump."

The billboard appeared above a road known as the Periferico sometime last week.

O’Connell started a GoFundMe page in April to raise cash for the display.

“With a Trump presidency, things just keep getting stranger (and the bar was set pretty high for strange to begin with), and the world of ’They Live’ becomes even more prophetic,” the page reads. “Of course, this isn’t all Trumps fault. No matter what your point of view, most folks feel Washington is a big mess of nonfunctioning nonsense, but since Trump has the best hair, he also wins getting the caricature on the billboard.”

After consulting with advertising companies, O’Connell set a goal of $1,930 for a two-month rental to begin with. As of July 28, the GoFundMe had raised $3,260.

On his website, he explains courting multiple advertisers to host the sign, but says all of them backed out or “got cold feet” when they saw the artwork.

“I contacted over 30 billboard companies,” O'Connell tells NBC 5. “Most of them wouldn’t get back to me and the ones that did just said ‘no.’”

After taking his search for a host international, he said "it was a beautiful ending" that Mexico was where the billboard was raised because of Trump's contentious history with the country.

On the campaign trail, Trump characterized Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals” and said Mexico sends its undesirable citizens or “bad hombres” across the border.

“They are not our friend, believe me,” Trump said of Mexico in his announcement speech.

He also said that Mexico would pay for the building of a border wall.

“I am not going to pay for that f---ing wall,” former Mexican President Vicente Fox said in February.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

O’Connell said the “They Live” Trump design originally started as a poster for a 24-hour horror movie marathon in Chicago called “The Massacre” in 2015. He’s also done versions of the poster depicting Hillary Clinton.

Asked what the president might think about the billboard, O'Connell jokes his taxes might be audited for the next 50 years.

“His plate is so crazy full I might not even make an impression on him," he said. "But ... I would probably have whatever he tweets about me on my tombstone.”



Photo Credit: Mitch O'Connell
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Pregnant Doctor Helps Deliver Baby Minutes Before Her Labor]]> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 09:18:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_pregnantdoc0728_1500x845.jpg

Dr. Amanda Hess knew she would be working until the last moments of her pregnancy, but she didn't think she would help deliver a patient's baby just minutes before her own contractions started at Frankfort Regional Medical Center.



Photo Credit: WLEX]]>
<![CDATA[Man Accused of Smuggling King Cobras in Potato Chip Cans]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 08:47:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/209*120/cobra-side-by-side.jpg

A Monterey Park man was arrested on federal smuggling charges Tuesday stemming from the seizure of a package that contained three king cobras hidden in potato chip canisters.

Rodrigo Franco, 34, was taken into custody without incident by special agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after he was named in a federal criminal complaint filed in Los Angeles last week, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Franco is charged with one felony count of illegally importing merchandise into the United States, which carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, U.S. Customs and Border Protection on March 2 inspected a package sent from Hong Kong and discovered three live king cobra snakes -- a protected and highly venomous reptile -- each of which was nearly 2 feet long.

In addition to the three snakes, the parcel being sent through the mail contained three albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles, prosecutors said.

On the same date, Franco also allegedly mailed six protected turtles -- desert box turtles, three-toed box turtles and ornate box turtles -- from the United States to Hong Kong, but that shipment also was intercepted by the USFWS.

Because of the danger associated with the cobras, the snakes were seized from the package that had come from Hong Kong. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service made a controlled delivery of the soft-shelled turtles to Franco's home. Immediately after the package was delivered, federal agents executed a search warrant at the residence.

While searching the home, agents found the package that originated in Hong Kong in a children's bedroom, in which they also discovered a tank containing a live baby crocodile and tanks containing alligator snapping turtles, a common snapping turtle, and five diamond back terrapins -- all of which are protected species, according to the affidavit.

During a subsequent interview with authorities, Franco allegedly admitted that he had previously received 20 king cobras in two prior shipments -- but he said all of those snakes had died in transit, prosecutors said.

During the ensuing investigation, authorities obtained evidence from Franco's phone, which contained messages in which he and someone in Asia allegedly discussed shipping turtles and snakes between the United States and Asia. According to the complaint, the messages indicate that Franco had previously received live cobras from his contact in Asia and was going to give five of the snakes to a relative of his contact.



Photo Credit: Uniter States Fish and Wildlife Service]]>
<![CDATA[Twins Born Conjoined at the Heart]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 09:55:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Joined_at_the_heart-150093339088500001.jpg

Twin baby girls Paisleigh and Paislyn Martinez were born conjoined at the chest, with their hearts fused together. Doctors from University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital used groundbreaking technology to separate them.

]]>
<![CDATA[The Costumes of Comic-Con]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:15:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT+COMIC+CON+Costumes+THUMB.jpg

One of the key attractions at any Comic-Con is the fan-made costumes. NBC talked to a few attendees about what inspired their look and how much it cost to put it all together.

]]>
<![CDATA[Comic-Con: The Hall H Line Survival Guide]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:38:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT+COMIC+CON+HALL+H+THUMB.jpg

The famed Hall H at Comic-Con is where all the biggest and most exciting panels happen, and fans line up overnight just to get a chance to get a glimpse of some of their favorite stars or creators. Here is everything you need to know to survive the wait.

]]>
<![CDATA[The 5 Weirdest Panels Listed in the Comic-Con Guidebook]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 08:37:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT+COMIC+CON+5+WEIRDEST+PANELS+THUMB.jpg

Comic-Con is full of panels that feature beloved actors and exclusive sneak peaks at footage of upcoming movies and shows, but there are also quite a few Klingon-eyebrow-raising ones in the mix. Here are five of the weirdest panels at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.

]]>
<![CDATA[Weapons Check at Comic-Con]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 19:28:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT+COMIC+CON+WEAPONS+CHECK+THUMB.jpg

Many Comic-Con costumes wouldn’t be complete without the right swords, crossbows or blasters — but there are some strict rules for what you can and cannot bring onto the convention floor. Here’s what you need to know.

]]>
<![CDATA[Feet Jabbed Into Empty Row Make for In-Flight 'Nightmare']]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:04:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/feet3.jpg

A California woman thought she had hit the jackpot when she boarded a JetBlue plane for a short flight this week: she had an entire row to herself. 

"I left the armrests up so I could bask in the comfort of my private airplane bench," Jessie Char, who was flying from Long Beach, California, home to San Francisco, told NBC 4 New York. "It was a short flight, but I wasn't about to let this go to waste." 

Char says she heard a small thud a few minutes after takeoff and noticed one of the armrests had fallen. Then the unthinkable happened. 

"At first I assumed it was just a loose hinge, but as I stared at the armrest I noticed a set of toes creeping outwards," Char said. "By the time I pulled out my phone, a second foot had appeared." 

Char says the toes started wiggling and then the situation deteriorated even further. 

"I watched as one of the feet slowly lifted the window shade up and down again," she says. 

The now highly disturbed traveler made eye contact with a flight attendant, but the feet retracted — Wicked Witch of the West-style — as the crew member approached, Char says. 

Char says she caught a glimpse of the feet's owners after the flight; the woman was about 5 feet 3 inches tall — or shorter — and was seated in a row with extra leg room, she says. 

Char's tweet, captioned, "Today, I flew on the set of a nightmare," has gotten more than 4,100 retweets and 20,800 likes since she posted it early Wednesday. And as one might imagine, the memes are extra special.



Photo Credit: @jessiechar/Twitter
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Gator Crosses Busy Florida Street]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 09:45:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_GATOR_ON_STREET_IN_FLA_071917-150048393084600001.jpg

A large alligator was captured on camera crossing a busy street in Lakeland, Florida.

]]>
<![CDATA[Goat Rams Through Glass Door of Colo. Business]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 09:33:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_GOAT_OFFICE_0711819_1-150048201809600001.jpg

An aggressive goat was caught on camera repeatedly ramming and eventually breaking the front door glass door of a polyurethane manufacturer in Colorado.

]]>
<![CDATA[Grizzly Bear Gets Root Canal]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 14:13:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_BEAR_ROOT_CANAL_071717_1-150033897146600001.jpg

A team of veterinarians and specialists performed a root canal on a 538-pound grizzly bear named Albert at an animal rescue in Alpine, Calif.

]]>
<![CDATA[Whining Over Winnie? Chinese Censors Scrub Pooh Memes]]> Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:54:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/141751511-Winnie-the-Pooh-China.jpg

Winnie the Pooh is a fictional persona non grata on some Chinese social media sites, where censors are scrubbing images and mentions of the bear, NBC News reported.

On the popular chat app WeChat, stickers of Pooh and friends were no longer accessible, while Weibo no longer showed memes comparing President Xi Jinping to the bear.

That longtime meme is being blamed for the censoring in the absence of an official explanation. WeChat's developer declined to comment to NBC News.

"To ban Winnie because someone has compared him to Xi?" one student said. "What the heck, give Pooh and President Xi a break!"




Photo Credit: VCG via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Taking Selfie Damages $200,000 in Art]]> Mon, 17 Jul 2017 08:55:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/selfieart.jpg

A woman damaged an estimated $200,000 worth of art at a Los Angeles gallery while taking a selfie.

]]>