<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - National & International News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/national-internationalhttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.pngNBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usThu, 19 Oct 2017 08:18:41 -0700Thu, 19 Oct 2017 08:18:41 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[US Rep. Calls Trump a 'Liar,' Niger Attack His 'Benghazi']]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:33:36 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_171284199158.jpg

Calling Donald Trump a "liar," U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson on Wednesday fiercely defended her statements over his call with a fallen U.S. soldier's widow. She is also demanding answers on the Niger attack in which her constituent and three other soldiers died, saying it will be "Mr. Trump's Benghazi."

Wilson gave several interviews in which she discussed Trump's call and also detailed the exemplary service of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, a Miami Gardens native.

Trump has been under heavy criticism after Wilson recounted her version of the conversation on Tuesday.

"I heard him say 'Well, you know ... I'm sure he knows that this is what he signed up for, but it still hurts,'" Wilson told "The View." "And the saddest part of this, he kept referring to La David as 'your guy.' He never called his name. It was almost as if he forgot his name, and that's what hurt the mother so badly, the wife, she said 'he doesn't even know his name.'"

Wilson said Trump had to be aware that there were multiple people who could have heard the conversation between him and Myeshia Johnson, the pregnant widow.

Wilson, Wilson's driver, the limousine driver, Johnson's aunt and uncle, Myeshia, and a U.S. Army official were all present in the car at the time of the call, Wilson recounted.

When Trump called, Myeshia had recently found out that her husband would not receive an open-casket funeral because of the condition of his body.

Wilson said Myeshia was "grief-stricken."

After hearing Trump's comment, Wilson said she demanded to speak to him.

"And they said 'No ... You can't speak with him. Why did you want to speak with him?' I said 'because I wanted to curse him out,'" Wilson added.

Wilson unapologetically responded when the ladies of "The View" mentioned Trump has denied making the comments.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to state: "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!"

Trump did not elaborate on what proof he could provide.

"President Trump is a liar. If he was taping the conversation, bring it on!" Wilson said.

A White House spokeswoman said later there was no recording of the call.

Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post that she did hear the conversation and that Trump "did disrespect my son," also corroborating Wilson's account of the conversation.

In demanding answers about the attack that killed Johnson and three other U.S. special forces soldiers, Wilson said she wants to know why it took two days to discover his body, why he was not protected in an armored truck while traveling and why he had weapons weaker than those of the militants that carried out the deadly Oct. 4 ambush.

"This is going to be Mr. Trump's Benghazi because I cannot get the answers. Nobody can get the answers, and until we get those answers ... It is his Benghazi and this whole thing about what he said to the widow is a cover-up," Wilson said.

A GoFundMe page was created Monday in Myeshia's name to benefit her and the sergeant's kids' college funds. As of Wednesday night, it had raised more than $515,000.

On an earlier appearance on MSNBC, Wilson said Myeshia was "crying the whole time, and when she hung up the phone, she looked at me and said, 'He didn't even remember his name.'"

"He was almost like joking. He said ... something to the fact that 'he knew what he was getting into when he signed up but I guess it hurts anyway," Wilson said. "You know – just matter of factly, that this is what happens, anyone who is signing up for military duty is signing up to die and that's the way we interpreted it. It was horrible. It was insensitive. It was absolutely crazy and unnecessary. I was livid."

When asked if she was complicit in politicizing the conversation about the deaths of soldiers, Wilson said she was just answering a question asked by the local press.

"Someone asked me a question. 'Did you hear the call? Tell us what you heard.' I told them what I heard. That's not politicizing anything. That was my constituent," Wilson said.

Wilson also further cemented her position on Wednesday by releasing an official statement.

“Despite President Trump’s suggestion that I have recanted my statement or misstated what he said, I stand firmly by my original account of his conversation with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson," Wilson wrote. "Moreover, this account has been confirmed by family members who also witnessed Mr. Trump’s incredible lack of compassion and sensitivity."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders strongly criticized Wilson's statements.

"The hardest job he has is making calls like that. I think it is appalling what the congresswoman has done in the way she's politicized this issue and the way she is trying to make this about something that it isn't," Sanders said Wednesday.



Photo Credit: AP Images for TV One 2016]]>
<![CDATA[Majority Say N. Korea Greatest Immediate Threat to US: Poll]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 01:29:32 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dotard.jpg

A majority of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, say North Korea is the greatest immediate threat to the country, according to a new NBC News/SurveryMonkey poll.

That 54 percent is up from July, when only 41 percent saw North Korea as the greatest immediate threat. ISIS is seen as the greatest threat by 19 percent of Americans, putting it in second place, followed by Russia, China and Iran.

Americans, however, are even more decided about their desired path to resolution, with a 64 percent majority saying the U.S. should mostly use diplomacy when dealing with North Korea — up 5 points since July.

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey National Security poll was conducted from October 13 through October 17, 2017, among a national sample of 5,047 adults. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from the nearly 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Results have an error estimate of plus or minus 2.0 percentage points.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File]]>
<![CDATA[California Inferno: Images From NorCal's Deadly Fires]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 00:59:37 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_17288122901418.jpgMore than a dozen wildfires have swept through Northern California since late Sunday, leaving charred homes and businesses in their wake.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Evacuees Link Up With Homeowners With Space to Spare]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:25:08 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/North-Bay-fires-Noreen-EM.jpg

By the time the two evacuees from California's North Bay wildfires reached Ronit Rubinoff's house in Sebastopol Sunday morning, the women had slept in their car in a grocery store parking lot, put up at an animal shelter and bunked with strangers.

It would have been a harrowing experience for most anyone. But the six days were exceptionally tough for 72-year-old Deborah Sawyer and 86-year-old Mildred Liles.

"I didn't have any place to go," Sawyer said Monday afternoon.

For now, they can stay with Rubinoff through a quickly arranged emergency house-sharing program in Sonoma County, which is pairing those left homeless by the fires with those who have rooms to spare.

The program had already made 75 matches over the weekend and was amassing piles of applications as fast as volunteers could fill them out.

Five hundred homes were available from people throughout the area, up and down the California coast and elsewhere across the county, outnumbering the families who had so far sought shelter.

Someone called to offer a campground, and that's where 22 members of the Huntington Fire Department who arrived to help will stay.

"It's very rewarding," said Amy Appleton, the executive director of SHARE Sonoma County, the permanent house-share program for older residents on which she based the emergency one. "We are genuinely helping people who are severely traumatized. You're trying to give them some sense of stability while they try to figure things out."


The deadliest wildfires in California history, which have been burning for more than a week, killed at least 41 people and destroyed nearly 6,000 homes. About 34,000 people remained under evacuation Tuesday, down from 40,000 on Monday.

Housing was already in short supply in hard hit Sonoma County, where rental vacancy rates fell from 5.8 percent in 2011 to 1.8 percent in 2015, and homeowner vacancy rates dropped from 2.2 percent to 1 percent. The county grew by 30,000 people between 2006 and 2015, but added only about 11,000 housing units.

Across California the statistics aren't more forgiving. One research company, Beacon Economics, found that in 2014, California ranked 49th in the country in homeownership and was last in affordability.

The Sonoma County SHARE program is meant to keep older homeowners in their homes by finding younger tenants who can help cover the costs of utility bills or mortgages. The emergency program will draw on that model by helping the evacuees to find the services they need, and it is already setting up a corps of volunteers to make weekly calls to ensure the shares are working smoothly.

"It's hard to live with anybody in any kind of situation, even harder when they're stressed," said Elece Hempel, the executive director of Petaluma People Services Center, where the program is based.

Outside The Press Democrat building in Santa Rosa over the weekend, where a relief center had been set up, lines stretched of people waiting to register for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other state and local agencies.

Jane Matthew and her husband were among them, their house in Santa Rosa destroyed in the flames. They and her 91-year-old mother are staying with their son but need somewhere more permanent nearby and were considering trying the home-sharing program for help.

"We literally only had five minutes to get out," she said. "Smoke was everywhere. We got an emergency call to leave because we had a landline. If we haven't got the landline — anybody who had a cellphone in the neighborhood did not get that phone call."

Matthew, 58, who runs a daycare center for the Santa Rosa schools, has already visited some of the children in the shelters and knows how traumatized they are. She said one told her, "My house blew up."

"I want to get back to work," Matthew said.


Rubinoff, 52, who is the executive director for Legal Aid of Sonoma County, had spent a day at the relief center answering legal questions and was already foreseeing problems with renters facing price gouging and efforts to push them out of their homes.

"We're expecting a big spike in renter-related issues," she said.

Kayaks lined her driveway, emptied out of the house to make room for Sawyer and Liles. She is turning over her bedroom to them and will sleep in another room or camp out in her backyard.

"It seems like everybody I know has someone in their house, and it's the right thing to do," she said. "How can one sit in one's house with all this room when there are people sleeping in campsites and shelters? It's unconscionable."


Tautuiki Uluilakepa and his family had been staying at a shelter in a high school in Sebastopol, but it was closing and they needed a new place quickly. Meanwhile, 68-year-old Steve Kay had watched the disaster unfold and had wondered what he could do. On Sunday, he was offering three bedrooms in his home in Petaluma to Uluilakepa, his wife, who is a caregiver for the elderly, their 19-year-old son and an older man who lives with them.

"This is just so heart-rending for everybody who lost their homes in this tragedy, and because I have three bedrooms I really wanted to see if I could keep a family intact," Kay said. "The worst thing is to have people separated for any length of time."

Kay, the author of a marketing and business newsletter for the U.S. meat industry, is originally from New Zealand. Uluilakepa, a self-employed mason who built a patio and retaining wall at the house he had rented in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa, is from Tonga. When they met, the men drew on their shared connection to the South Pacific.

"I already know we don't have anything left," Uluilakepa said. "I didn't know I already had a brother here."


Uluilakepa had woken his family when he smelled the smoke and hurried them out of the house, even as the older man resisted leaving.

"I tell him, 'You better listen to me,'" Uluilakepa said. "I said, 'Right now, we have to go.'"

They drove south to Rohnert Park and waited until daylight, when Uluilakepa returned by himself to see that they had lost everything.

"You're thinking about the next day, what is your next move, where are you going?" Uluilakepa said.


Sawyer and Liles had their own frightening escape from their mobile home retirement community, The Orchard. They fled when a neighbor rang the doorbell to warn them to leave.

"I looked behind him and there was a fire," Sawyer said. Sawyer helped Liles dress and they fled without their medications, driving for an hour before Sawyer became too tired to go further and pulled into the parking lot of a Raley's supermarket. They slept in their car for three nights before finding room at an animal shelter with other people, plus goats, horses, burros and dogs.

At one point, looking for a temporary shelter at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Sawyer almost drove through a barricade and hit a police officer. He found another officer to drive them to safety.

"People were just completely wonderful, giving us shelter and help, taking care of us," Sawyer said.

Sawyer and Liles have been together for 40 years and married four years ago. Sawyer worked as a postal worker for 20 years, Liles is a retired high school teacher and a U.S. Army veteran, and they moved to The Orchard from Monte Rio along the Russian River. Their mobile park was badly damaged but their home is standing, and Sawyer wants to return.

"Tragedies and disasters bring people together," Kay said. "That's why we're in this world, to help each other."



Photo Credit: Noreen O'Donnell/NBCUniversal
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<![CDATA[Suspect in Maryland, Delaware Shooting Spree Held on $2.1M Bail]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 08:15:40 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/md_shooting_trip.jpg

A Delaware judge has ordered the man accused of killing three people and wounding three others during a two-state shooting spree to remained jailed on $2.1 million cash bail.

Radee Labeeb Prince was arraigned Thursday morning on attempted murder and three weapons charges.

Prince was prohibited from possessing a gun after being found guilty of third-degree burglary in New Castle County in 2003, police said in court documents obtained by NBC10.

A preliminary hearing was set for Oct. 31.

It's unclear if, or when, Prince will be sent back to Maryland to face possible murder charges.

The 37-year-old shot five co-workers at a kitchen countertop company in Maryland Wednesday morning before driving to Wilmington, Delaware, and opening fire on a man with whom he had "beefs" in the past, wounding him, police said.

The shooting rampage set off a multi-state manhunt. Police cruisers were stationed in medians along the Interstate 95 Northeast corridor, and overhead highway signs displayed a description of Prince's sport utility vehicle and its Delaware license plate. The FBI assisted state and local authorities in the manhunt.

Prince was arrested by ATF agents Wednesday night after his unoccupied getaway vehicle was found next to Glasgow High School in Newark. Police say Prince was spotted by a witness leaving the vehicle and walking toward the high school. The witness then contacted law enforcement. 

Officers from multiple departments arrived at the scene, secured the vehicle and set up a perimeter around the area.

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Around 6:45 p.m., police received another tip that Prince was spotted walking on foot behind the Four Seasons Shopping Center, according to investigators. Prince was then taken into custody by the three ATF agents at 7:05 p.m. after a brief foot chase, police said.

During the chase, Prince allegedly threw away a .380 firearm which was later recovered by police, according to Wilmington Police Chief Robert J. Tracy. No one was hurt during the arrest.

"This couldn't have been done without our federal, state and local officers working together," Chief Tracy said.

"A coordinated effort brought this to a very successful conclusion on a very, very bad day."

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Prince is accused of walking into his job at Advanced Granite Solutions, a Edgewood, Maryland granite company, just before 9 a.m. Wednesday and opening fire on his co-workers.

Five staffers were hit. Three were killed, police said. The two victims who survived were left in critical condition.

The gunman then sped 51 miles north in his black 2008 GMC Acadia to Wilmington where he confronted an acquaintance, Jason Baul, investigators said. 

Baul was working at his used car dealership, 28th Street Auto Sales and Service, along the 2800 block of Governor Printz Boulevard when Prince shot him twice around 10:30 a.m., police said.

Baul suffered gunshot wounds to his head and body, but was alert when officers arrived and told investigators Prince shot him, police said. Baul was hospitalized in stable condition.

Prince's SUV was still near the second shooting scene when Wilmington police arrived. Baul pointed out the SUV to police and it sped away before they could give chase, Tracy said.

The motive for both shootings remains unclear, though he knew all of the victims.

"How do you get into a mind of a person that's capable of shooting five people that are coworkers? What gets in his mind? What precipitated that? It's tough to rationalize," Tracy said during a Wednesday night news conference following Prince's arrest.

Barak Caba, owner of Advanced Granite Solutions which designs and installs stone countertops, told the Associated Press that Prince worked there as a machine operator for the past four months. He was scheduled to work Wednesday.

Prince's co-workers said the man kept to himself and barely talked. They remain baffled by the killings and say there were no signs of any issues. Four workers at the company told NBC10 they were only feet away as Prince opened fire and killed their three co-workers, including one victim identified as Jose Hidalgo Romero.

"They were all family," said Ibrahim Kucuk, a manager at Advanced Granite Solutions. "We've been working together for a long time. It's just tragic."

Friends and relatives of Baul didn’t know why Prince allegedly targeted him. They said they actually don’t recognize Prince at all. Investigators, however, said they believe Prince targeted Baul because of a past history related to criminal case. 

Real estate records link Prince to a home along the 500 block of Kiamensi Road in Wilmington.

Margaret Melton, a woman who resides at the home, told NBC10 that Prince does not officially live at the Wilmington address. "He lives in Maryland," Melton said. Court records show he most recently lived in Elkton, Maryland — along the Maryland-Delaware border.

She has known Prince since he was in the fourth grade, she said.

"He lived here on and off, when he had issues," Melton said. She did not go into details about what issues he had.

Another neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said she knows Prince's family.

"That boy had a good upbringing," she said. "It wasn't like he was a madman or he was a crazed maniac, because he wasn't."

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Prince, according to court records in Washington state, lived in the Seattle area for a few years earlier this decade. The online records indicated he had court cases for unspecified proceedings between 2010 and 2014.

He apparently was back on the East Coast by 2015, as court records in Cecil County, Maryland, show he was in court on illegal firearm possession charges. Those charges apparently were dropped.

But court documents cited by The Baltimore Sun claim Prince has had run-ins with people he worked with in the past.

Prince was fired from a job in February after he allegedly punched a co-worker in the face and threatened other staffers, the Sun reported citing court documents

The assaulted co-worker later asked a Maryland judge for a restraining order against Prince. The request was denied because a burden of proof was not met, Maryland court records show.

In all, Prince was arrested 42 times in Delaware alone, including 15 felony convictions, leading some people to wonder why he was free when he allegedly went on a shooting rampage.

"If there's violent people that are causing carnage in the community and have some violent crimes, we've gotta find a way to keep them behind bars, so they can't go out and re-offend," Tracy said.

The FBI says they are treating the case as workplace violence and don't see ties to terrorism.


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<![CDATA[Iranian General Helped Iraq Seize City From US Ally: Sources]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:25:09 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/iran-iraq-kirkuk.jpg

A few days after President Donald Trump announced his get-tough approach to Iran, one of its top military commanders helped engineer the seizure of an important Iraqi city from a U.S. regional ally, Iraqi, Kurdish and American officials told NBC News.

Iran brokered seizure of oil-rich Kirkuk from the Kurds by the Iraqi government and the Shiite militias it partners with, according to former U.S. national security officials. The move heightens the risk of civil war in Iraq, and amounts to an embarrassing strategic blow for the United States.

"It is a catastrophic defeat for the United States and a fantastic victory for Iran's Revolutionary Guard, proving that Qassem Soleimani gets his way once again," said Ali Khedery, a senior adviser on Iraq policy in the Bush and Obama administrations.

Soleimani, who heads up the Iranian military's special forces and extraterritorial operations, helped negotiate a deal in which one Kurdish faction would abandon its positions to allow Iraqi government forces and Iranian-supported militias to take the city uncontested, Kurdish and former U.S. intelligence officials said.



Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[White Nationalist Heading to U. of Fla. for Speech; Officials on Edge]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 08:07:55 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-862917118.jpg

At the University of Florida, police and students shared a moment of prayer Wednesday night - bracing for what may come on Thursday.

White nationalist Richard Spencer is set to speak inside the school’s performing arts center at 2:30 p.m. It’s an event that has some students fired up, with some saying they feel unsafe and unwelcome.

The school initially said it would not approve an application for the speech from the National Policy Institute before reversing course, saying while they disapprove of Spencer’s message, he has a First Amendment right to speak at the public university.

Spencer preaches a fiery brand of politics and looks to preserve a white majority in America. The leader of the conservative alt-right movement recently spoke of his First Amendment right and his upcoming speech in Gainesville.

"This is where the rubber hits the road, this is where free speech is really meaningful," he said in an alt-right podcast online. "It's not just some abstract concept. I mean every single American citizen, if you ask them, 'Do you support free speech?' 99.9 percent of them say ‘Yes, of course we love free speech.'"

Spencer was one of the organizers of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August - an event that became deadly when a vehicle plowed into a crowd of people and left one woman dead and several others injured.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other top state officials are urging people to ignore Spencer and his event. On Tuesday, he even declared a state of emergency to direct resources to ensure the community's safety during the event.

"The values of our universities are not shared by Mr. Spencer, the National Policy Institute or his followers," UF President W. Kent Fuchs said in a taped message earlier this week. "Our campuses are places where people from all races, origins and religions are welcome and or treated with love."

Fuchs estimates the school will spend $600,000 on security for Spencer's planned speech. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government, in this case a public university, cannot charge speakers for security costs.

Spencer's National Policy Institute is paying $10,564 to rent space for the speaking event.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Museum Says Real Renoir Hangs in Chicago, Not Trump's NYC Home]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 21:28:10 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Renoir_Two-Sisters.jpg

A famed impressionist painting has been hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago for nearly 100 years, the museum confirmed Wednesday, despite a recent report that President Donald Trump claims to be in possession of the original.

French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s "Two Sisters (On the Terrace)," an oil on canvas painting depicting a young woman and a child surrounded by vegetation on a patio, has been part of the Art Institute’s collection since 1933, spokeswoman Amanda Hicks confirmed to NBC Chicago.

In an interview on Vanity Fair’s podcast "The Hive," Trump biographer and Chicago native Tim O’Brien discussed the painting controversy. O’Brien wrote the 2005 book, “TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald,” which chronicles the now president’s empire as an entrepreneur and reality star.

While working on the book several years ago, O’Brien accompanied Trump on his private jet on a trip to Los Angeles — where he first saw the painting hanging. When questioned about its authenticity, Trump insisted it was the real deal, O’Brien said.

"Donald, it's not. I grew up in Chicago, that Renoir is called 'Two Sisters on the Terrace,' and it’s hanging on a wall at the Art Institute of Chicago,” O’Brien recalled telling Trump. “That’s not an original.”

Trump refused to yield his position, O’Brien said, so the biographer dropped the conversation and moved on to other topics.

Years later, however, O’Brien noted to Vanity Fair the painting could be seen in the background of a “60 Minutes” interview in Trump’s New York City apartment after he was elected president in 2016.

“I’m sure he’s still telling people who come into the apartment, ‘It’s an original, it’s an original,’” O’Brien said on the podcast.

The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment and a tweet sent to the president’s account was not responded to.

Hicks declined to comment on O’Brien’s reporting.

The Renoir was given to the museum in 1933 by Annue Swan Corburn, who had bought it from Paul Durand-Ruel for $100,000. Ruel had acquired the piece from Renoir himself in 1881.

Trump sued O’Brien in 2006 for defamation over the book but a superior court judge in New Jersey dismissed the suit in 2009. An appeals court affirmed that decision two years later.



Photo Credit: Art Institute of Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Who Survived Vegas Massacre Loses Home in Wildfire]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 23:06:35 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Michella+and+Bailey+Flores.jpg

When Michella Flores hopped off the plane in Oakland, she thought the worst was over. The Santa Rosa woman had just escaped the Las Vegas massacre at a country music festival that left 58 dead and another 500 wounded — the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history. 

She had survived by running as fast as she could, taking shelter in a nearby hotel's conference room. The next morning, with the sounds of gunfire etched in her memory, she was desperate to leave Sin City.

"After that, I couldn’t wait to be home," Flores, a flight attendant, said. "I was obsessed with it. That was all I cared about; all I wanted was to be home with my family and my dog."

But her reprieve would be short-lived. Exactly one week later, the Sullivan Street house she shared with her parents erupted in flames, burning to the ground as a spate of wildfires wreaked havoc on the North Bay. Almost everything her family owned — photo albums, clothing, furniture, irreplaceable Christmas ornaments — was destroyed in the blaze.


"I haven’t had a chance to sit down and process everything, really," she said. "I don’t think it’s hit me yet because I’ve been so focused on looking forward and doing what needs to be done." 

And there is a lot that needs to be done in the coming weeks, even though her family has moved out of the evacuation center where they were temporarily holed up.

Flores and her parents, who are in their seventies, have been sleeping in a temporary rental. She will need to look for an affordable long-term place to stay, find daycare for her beloved dog, Bailee and muster up the energy to complete the seemingly endless array of documents that fire victims are required to fill out to receive assistance.


"I’ve always been the person that keeps the priorities in mind, and knowing what needs to be done," she said. "That’s who I am. Breaking down isn’t even an option right now. I don’t think of it because I know it just can’t happen. There’s just too much to do."

Her parents, who had moved to Sullivan Street after their first home was foreclosed upon during the Great Recession, were renters. They did not have insurance. 

"We’re not going to be able to afford to stay in the Bay Area," Flores said, matter-of-factly. "That’s just the way it is. It’s killing my mother; she’s in love with Sonoma County. Santa Rosa has been our home for more than 32 years. That’s something I worry about, how this is all going to affect her." 

Flores, who previously worked as a firefighter and a police dispatcher, credits her professional history with helping her get through the tragedies. Immediately throwing herself into "work mode," she even helped battle the flames as they tore apart her house. Her experience as a first responder trained her to compartmentalize rather than fall apart, she said.


She hasn't lost her dry sense of humor, either. On the phone, she even manages to crack a few jokes about a load of her work uniforms that were left in the washing machine when the fire erupted. 

"Yeah, they got washed, alright," she quipped, letting out a small chuckle. 


Throwing pity parties is simply not her style. It has never been, according to her sister, who lives in Virginia. 

"She’s resilient and amazing, and she’s done amazing things with her life," Krista Flores said. "But I worry about my sister. She’s just always been so busy. She doesn’t take time to take care of herself, and I’m afraid for when it all hits her." 

Michella Flores, who still hasn’t taken a day off work since her horrendous October began in Vegas, thinks the realization of what happened to her will come sooner rather than later. She is dreading staying overnight in a hotel at the end of this month for work. Once there, she’ll be alone, with no one else to look after. 

"I’m imagining that’s when it’s going to hit me, and I’ll deal with it then," she said. "But I’ll only be able to deal with it for a moment. The next morning I’ll have to be perky for the passengers. I can’t very well sit in the middle of the aisle, telling them my woes. ‘Oh my god, I was shot at, my house burned down’....they don’t want to hear that."


Instead, she turns to her dog for comfort, and her spirits have been lifted by a community that has rallied around her parents and provided support. A GoFundMe page, created by her sister, has been flooded with donations and well wishes from across the country. 

"The outpouring has been so great," she said. "I’ve been amazed by people who have been donating. I almost feel unworthy, because of everything happening elsewhere. You know, you look at Puerto Rico and some people don't even have clean water. But I’m lucky, my family is alive, I’m alive. Things could be worse." 

When asked what would be the best outcome for her family, she said they would like to stay in Santa Rosa. But she’s not holding out hope, and she doesn’t expect anyone to hand them anything.

"The world isn’t perfect, but in a perfect world, of course, we would like to stay," she said. "Even though it’s smoky and it looks like a bomb hit the town, I still don’t want to leave. Santa Rosa is still my town. It’ll always be our home." 

Find the GoFundMe page for Michella Flores and her family here. 

Comments, corrections or tips? Contact author Gillian Edevane at Gillian.Edevane@nbcuni.com. Story originally heard through Lisa Fernandez.



Photo Credit: Flores Family
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<![CDATA[Air Berlin Pilots Suspended After Risky Fly-By Farewell]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 08:03:28 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/859804628-Air-Berlin-Dusseldorf.jpg

An Air Berlin's low-flying, ceremonial fly-by over the airline's hub in Dusseldorf got its pilots suspended, Reuters reported.

They reportedly wanted to mark the insolvent airline's last long-haul flight, which originated in Miami, when they took the A330 jet in a "go-around" maneuver with a sharp bank over the terminal on Monday. The airline said they were suspended on Wednesday.

"In aviation, safety always comes first. We are taking the incident very seriously," an Air Berlin spokesman said.

A pilot for a different carrier said that the maneuver "an unnecessary risk," though one of the pilots told German broadcaster ZDF that he wanted to give "a dignified and emotional goodbye."



Photo Credit: Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Full Recovery Expected for Hayward After Injury in Celtics Debut]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:24:07 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/185*120/GettyImages-860330888.jpg

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said he expects Gordon Hayward to make a full recovery from the gruesome injury he suffered in Tuesday's season opener.

Hayward's father tweeted Thursday morning the surgery was 'a big success,' and his wife Robyn posted her own message on social media saying "He did great with surgery! So now we are starting the recovery process."

It still remains unlikely that the 27-year-old forward will return this season, his agent told ESPN

Hayward underwent surgery Wednesday night, his father tweeted, and the procedure was expected to take two to three hours, 

The Celtics player had arrived at New England Baptist Hospital earlier that day after flying in from Cleveland, where he and former Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving played their first game in Celtics green.

Hayward came down awkwardly after an alley-oop, dislocating his left ankle and fracturing his leg.

In a video message on the Celtics' Twitter page Wednesday, Hayward spoke to his fans from his hospital bed.

"Wanted to say thank you to everyone whose had me in their thoughts and prayers," he said. "I'm gonna be alright.

"Hurting me that I can't be there for the home opener," Hayward went on to say in his video tweet. "I want nothing more than to be with my teammates and to walk out on that floor tonight. But I'll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck."

While the team initially tweeted that Hayward had been diagnosed with a broken ankle, Stevens said in a press conference Wednesday that hospital tests had confirmed his actual injuries.

"He put a lot of effort into trying to start his career out well in Boston, but this is a setback," Stevens added.

Despite the setback, the coach said he believes Hayward will be back to full health.

"We are expecting a full recovery," he said. "We know there are going to be a lot of tough days ahead on that recovery, but at the same time, I think, hopefully, he'll improve day to day."

Stevens coached Hayward at Butler University. After spending the first seven seasons of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz, Hayward signed a four-year, $128 million contract to play for his college coach in Boston.

As Hayward lay on the court Tuesday night, the Quicken Loans Arena fell silent, with Celtics and Cavs players alike showing their concern. The crowds erupted in applause when he was carried off the floor on a stretcher. The following day, athletes and fans have taken to social media to support Hayward.

"Thanks for all the prayers for Gordon and our family," Hayward's wife, Robyn, tweeted Wednesday. "It sucks, but this is what happens."

Robyn Hayward's tweet included a quote, reading, "When everything seems like it's falling apart that's when God is putting things together just the way he wants it."

In their opener, the Celtics came back from a 16-point halftime deficit and jockeyed with Cleveland for the lead in the fourth quarter. The Cavs won their first game 102-99.

Wednesday night, the Celtics played their home opener without Hayward against the Milwaukee Bucks, but it was clear Hayward was on the mind of everyone.

Love for the forward was evident in every corner of TD Garden, as fans who miss him signed a giant "get well soon" banner for him, gave him a standing ovation, and even chanted his name.

The Bucks beat the Celtics 108–100.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Who's Who in the Trump-Russia Investigation]]>Wed, 09 Aug 2017 15:29:15 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/russiathumb2.jpg


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Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Calif. Fire Leaves Immigrant Family With Nothing But Hope]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:30:54 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/234*120/Wildfire-family.png

Days after a deadly wildfire ravaged Sonoma County, a family sitting at an In-and-Out Burger in Rohnert Park, California, recognized their home from the footage of burned-out buildings playing on a laptop.

They had just returned from a visit to their house in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood, a square-mile of middle-class homes and friendly neighbors, which was among the hardest hit in the wildfires that broke out last Sunday. Their two-story house is completely destroyed. They watched NBC Bay Area's footage while eating dinner.

The family was emotional as they looked at the charred remains of their home.

Monica, a caregiver in Santa Rosa, is a renter who has lived with her family in the house since 2007. She immigrated to the United States from Guanajuato, Mexico, when she was 16 years old has been here for the last 24 years. NBC Bay Area is not using her last name because she is undocumented.

Speaking in Spanish, Monica described the harrowing way her family of eight — her mother, brother, husband and son, as well as her sister, brother-in-law and their kids — escaped the flames.

They lost pretty much everything.

Monica's friend, who was in a wheelchair, died in the fire. The family is currently staying at a shelter in Petaluma. They have no renter’s insurance, and Monica is currently without a job. They have no idea what will happen next.

[[451349103, C]]

Here are some excerpts from our interview with Monica (translated from Spanish), her son and her nephew. [[451478933, C]]

NBC: How did you find out about the fire?
Monica: We fell asleep at 10 p.m. on Sunday and it started to smell like smoke, but we thought the neighbors were cooking barbeque. The windows were a little open and at 1:30 a.m. they came knocking at our door and started yelling at us to leave because the fire was near. My mom got up and opened the door and the smoke just came pouring into the house and we couldn’t see anything.

All the kids ran outside and we didn’t get a chance to grab anything except for simple things on the way out like a sweater. My kids left without shoes, clothes, nothing. My mother began to desperately yell because I wouldn’t come out of the house and I was on the second floor. I was the last one to get out.

We just got into our cars and left, but we returned to save the dogs. My mom kept asking me to save the birds, but I couldn’t. It was too late. My brother couldn’t save his motorcycle. Everything burned in the fire.

NBC: What happened next?
Monica: We left and I didn’t imagine that my house would burn. I left with hope that my house wouldn’t burn down. We waited in a Safeway parking lot, until an officer told us we couldn’t stay there. We then left for a shelter in Petaluma, and that’s where my mom started feeling bad because of her asthma. With all the smoke my mom was really affected, and she didn’t get a chance to grab her medicine.

We stayed at the shelter until Monday night and decided to take my mother to a family member's home in Hayward. We’ve been staying there since Monday night and we’re looking for help since 22 people are staying there right now.[[450795243, C]]

NBC: Were you able to save anything in the fire?
Monica: We lost everything. We didn’t get a chance to grab anything. I feel so grateful to God that at least he kept us alive. I had just bought my kids a new Apple computer, because they’re teenagers who need it for school projects and it’s gone in the fire. The material things don’t bother me as much, but the memories of so many years that I had of my kids, photos, everything, it’s gone. The material stuff can always be replaced, but not our lives.

NBC: Do you have renter’s insurance?
Monica: We didn’t have renter’s insurance. No one ever offered renter’s insurance to us and I didn’t know I needed it. Now that this happened they told me that I didn’t have insurance so they’re not going to pay for anything that I had in my home. It affected us a lot, but I thank God for keeping us alive and that we’re all united and we need to keep pushing forward.

NBC: Do you know where you’re going next?
Monica: Right now I don’t have work, I’m a caregiver, and the people I take care of were evacuated because of the fires. My husband’s the only one working right now. The Santa Rosa Red Cross helped us a lot, they gave us food and clothing. They also helped us fill out paperwork for a home. I’m really thankful for all the help.

We’re on the waitlist for a home. They have given us three rooms for now. We’re not sure for how long we’ll be able to stay in Petaluma – could be one week or even two. But it has affected us greatly. We want to think this was just a nightmare, but this was a horrible disaster.

NBC: Have you gone back to Coffey Park?
Monica: I haven’t been able to return to my home. I don’t have the courage. Just by looking at the photos and videos that my brother sent me it feels horrible. It feels like your heart is falling to pieces. It’s a huge sadness. I had the hope that my house wouldn’t burn down and it’s ended. Our sacrifice of many years ended in an instant.[[450844063, C]]

NBC: What’s next?
Monica: We’re from Guanajuato, Mexico. I’m neither a citizen nor a resident. My kids are the only ones who are citizens. But my mom, my husband and I are not. I couldn’t apply for DACA for a year, but it's cost me a lot. I came when I was 16, so I’ve been here 24 years. I graduated from Monte High School in Los Angeles, and then Rio Ondo College and later Santa Rosa College for a nursing degree. I’ve made my whole life here. It’s very difficult. But with faith in God he’ll help us push forward for our kids - they’re the future.

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Excerpts of our interview with Monica’s son, Bradley, 15, and nephew, Kenny, 16.

NBC:What happened that night?
Kenny: So that night it was around 2 a.m., the neighbors came knocking at our door to tell us the fire was close to Coffey Park. I woke up and ran upstairs to wake Bradley up. He thought it was time to go to school, and I was like, ‘No, there’s was a fire outside,’ and he said, ‘Oh really.’

Bradley: I grabbed a shirt, some pants and a sweater, and ran out.

Kenny: I went downstairs to grab my dog and we ran to the car. When we opened the door a strong breeze of wind with smoke came into the house and slammed the door against the wall. My aunt couldn’t even see anything on the floor because the smoke was covering the whole house, so we closed the door. We ran to the car and waited for my aunt as she gathered important papers that we needed. It was a scary moment, we just didn’t know what was going to happen. We didn’t even think it would be that terrible, most of our neighborhood burned down and we didn’t think that would happen.

NBC: Where did you go next?
Kenny: After we took off we didn't know where to go, we went to Petaluma because over here in Rohnert Park you could smell the smoke and see ashes. So we thought it would be better to go further south. When we got to Petaluma, a woman told us there was a shelter and they provided a lot for us: water, blankets and food. And that’s what we did that day, we stayed at the shelter.

NBC:Have you gone back to Coffey Park?
Kenny: We actually went back the next day to go see the house and my stomach just dropped when I saw the house. It was just burned to the ground … Everything was just gone. We went back to see if anything survived and everything was burned down. We couldn’t find anything. [[451350883, C]]

Stuff was still on fire and everything was still hot. We had to go back the next day. We lost everything. I didn’t even grab my phone. I didn’t even think about my phone at that moment, I grabbed my dog and got out. But everyone got out safely.

NBC: What did you have in your room?
Bradley: I had my XBox, my TV and my bed.

NBC: Do you know if your neighbors and friends are safe?
Kenny: One of my aunt’s friends died in the fire. She was in a wheelchair, she couldn’t get out the house.

Bradley: One of my friends, his house actually survived, we take him to school every morning and he was one of the lucky ones. It was like 12 houses out of 500 that got burned survived. It was kind of cool - there was this one man who actually put the fire out on his house, and he stopped the fire from reaching other houses.



Photo Credit: Riya Bhattacharjee
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<![CDATA[In DNC Shakeup, Perez Ousts Longtime Party Officials ]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 19:04:47 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/perAP_17057091388173.jpg

A shakeup is underway at the Democratic National Committee as several longtime officials have lost their posts, exposing a still-raw rift in the party and igniting anger among those in its progressive wing who see retaliation for their opposition to DNC Chairman Tom Perez.

Perez took over as chairman with a pledge earlier this year that he would unite the party that had become badly divided during the brutal Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton 2016 primary, NBC News reported.

Complaints began immediately after party officials saw a list of Perez' appointments to DNC committees and his roster of 75 "at-large" members, who are chosen by the chair.

The removal and demotion of a handful of veteran operatives stood out. Among those is Ray Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic chairman and longtime DNC official who ran against Perez for chair before backing Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who lost his spots on the Executive Committee and DNC Rules Committee. 



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Donald Trump Through the Years]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 04:29:28 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Trumpthumb.jpgWhat Donald Trump's presidency will look like is unclear to many observers. He has not previously worked in politics, and has made contradictory statements on policy issues in several areas during his campaign. Despite the unknowns, Trump has an extensive public profile that, along with his real estate empire and the Trump brand, grew domestically and internationally over the last few decades. Here is a look at his personal and career milestones and controversies.

Photo Credit: AP, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pentagon Sends Team to Niger to Find 'Basic Raw Facts']]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:43:33 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/pentagon-ext.jpg

The U.S. military says it continues to search for answers about what happened in Niger two weeks ago, After four U.S. soldiers were killed during an ambush in Niger tour weeks ago, The Pentagon has sent a team to the country to conduct a "review of the facts," two U.S. defense officials told NBC News.

The inquiry is not being called an "investigation" but that the team needs "to collect some very basic raw facts," one defense official said.

In addition to the Pentagon, a top Senate Republican wants answers. Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain of Arizona told reporters this week that the Trump administration was not being forthcoming about what happened in Niger.

The ambush appears to have been orchestrated by a branch of ISIS. The team wants to know where U.S. forces were when the attack occurred, if they had adequate personal protective equipment, and if they prepared for the attack. Also, was there adequate intelligence in advance of the mission and adequate response to the attack?



Photo Credit: Andy Dunaway/USAF via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Denies He Disrespected Fallen Soldier]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:57:05 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_trump161018_1920x1080.jpg

President Trump is denying a Florida Congresswoman's account of his phone call to the wife of a U.S. soldier recently killed in Niger.

Rep. Frederica Wilson says she was with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and listened on a car speaker phone as the president spoke with her.

Wilson claims Trump told the widow that her husband "must've known what he was getting into when he signed up, but I guess it hurts anyway."

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<![CDATA[In Photos: Total Devastation in Puerto Rico After Maria]]>Fri, 29 Sep 2017 08:19:36 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_17271040483244.jpgThe island territory of more than 3 million U.S. citizens is reeling in the devastating wake of what Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello called "the most devastating storm in a century."

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa]]>
<![CDATA[World’s Largest Earthquake Drill to Help Millions Practice]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 03:57:34 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-859854120.jpg

The world's largest earthquake drill will take place on Thursday, with millions set to practice what to do if a massive quake hits — a scenario experts say could likely happen in Southern California in the next several decades.

The "Great Shakeout," an annual earthquake drill that started in Southern California in 2008, will happen on Oct. 19 at 10:19 a.m. local time around the world. Nearly 20 million people will practice what to do if a quake strikes, with more than 10.2 million of them in California, NBC News reported.

"I think we've seen with recent disasters in the past couple of months — these big hurricanes and the Mexico earthquakes in September, and the wildfires that are still happening in California — the need to be prepared is so important," said Jason Ballmann, a spokesman for the Southern California Earthquake Center.

The center collaborated with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and other partners to create the earthquake drill based on a magnitude 7.8 scenario earthquake on the San Andreas fault in Southern California.



Photo Credit: MARVIN RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Goodell: 'Everyone Should Stand for the National Anthem']]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 14:10:25 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/RGoodell_FULL-150836042626100002.jpg

The NFL Commissioner stated "we believe everyone should stand for the national anthem" at a press conference Wednesday.

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<![CDATA[Philando Castile Memorial Fund Is Feeding Kids for 1 Year]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 14:04:36 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-545325868-castile.jpg

A crowdfunding campaign honoring the late Philando Castile has raised enough money to pay off lunch debts at public schools across St. Paul, Minnesota, for one year. 

Philando Feeds the Children had raised more than $80,000 by Wednesday afternoon. The original goal of $5,000 is now set to $100,000, and will continue to rise. Campaign organizer and Metropolitan State University psychology professor Pam Fergus hopes to make the fund a permanent fixture, NBCNews.com

"Mr. Phil will feed his kids for as long as we can raise the money," Fergus wrote on the campaign's homepage.

Castile was known as "Mr. Phil" to the students of J.J. Hill Montessori School, where he worked as a nutrition services supervisor before being fatally shot by a police officer in 2016. 

The fund was established in remembrance of Castile, who would regularly use his own money to pay for the lunches of students in need.



Photo Credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Donald Trump's Presidency in Photos]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 06:38:46 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/trumpunfeuerherdIBIBI.jpgTake a look at significant events from President Donald Trump's time in office, including the signing of the travel ban, Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the Supreme Court, the launch of 59 missiles at Syria's government-held Shayrat Airfiled and more.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Olympic Gold Medalist Details Sexual Abuse by Team Doctor]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:18:40 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/McKaylaMaroneyfeuerherd.jpg

Two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney says she was molested for years by a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, abuse she said started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

Maroney posted a lengthy statement on Twitter early Wednesday that described the allegations of abuse against Dr. Larry Nassar, who spent three decades working with athletes at USA Gymnastics but now is in jail in Michigan awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. Nassar also is awaiting trial on separate criminal sexual conduct charges and has been sued by more than 125 women alleging abuse.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges, and the dozens of civil suits filed in Michigan are currently in mediation.

Maroney, now 21, says the abuse began while attending a U.S. National team training camp at the Karolyi Ranch in the Sam Houston Forest north of Houston, Texas. Maroney was 13 at the time and wrote that Nassar told her she was receiving "medically necessary treatment he had been performing on patients for over 30 years." Maroney did not detail Nassar's specific actions.

Maroney, who won a team gold and an individual silver on vault as part of the "Fierce Five" U.S. women's team at the 2012 Olympics in London, said Nassar continued to give her "treatment" throughout her career. She described Nassar giving her a sleeping pill while the team traveled to Japan for the 2011 world championships. Maroney says Nassar later visited her in her hotel room after the team arrived in Tokyo, where he molested her yet again.

"I thought I was going to die that night," Maroney wrote.

Maroney did not immediately return an interview request from The Associated Press. Attorneys for Nassar had no comment.

Maroney says she decided to come forward as part of the "#MeToo" movement on social media that arose in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

"This is happening everywhere," Maroney wrote. "Wherever there is a position of power, there is the potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary and disgusting."

Maroney called for change, urging other victims to speak out and demanding organizations "be held accountable for their inappropriate actions and behavior."

Maroney is the highest profile gymnast yet to come forward claiming she was abused by Nassar. Jamie Dantzscher, a bronze medalist on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, was part of the initial wave of lawsuits filed against Nassar in 2016. Aly Raisman, who won six medals while serving as the captain of the U.S. women's team in both 2012 and 2016, called for sweeping change at USA Gymnastics in August.

USA Gymnastics launched an independent review of its policies in the wake of the allegations against Nassar in the summer of 2016 following reporting by the Indianapolis Star that highlighted chronic mishandling of abuse allegations against coaches and staff at some of its more than 3,500 clubs across the country.

In June, the federation immediately adopted 70 recommendations proffered by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw the review. The new guidelines require member gyms to go to authorities immediately, with Daniels suggesting USA Gymnastics consider withholding membership from clubs that decline to do so. The organization also named Toby Stark, a child welfare advocate, as its director of SafeSport. Part of Stark's mandate is educating members on rules, educational programs, reporting and adjudication services.

USA Gymnastics praised Maroney's strength in a statement on Wednesday, adding it is "outraged and disgusted" by Nassar's alleged conduct.

"We are strengthening and enhancing our policies and procedures regarding abuse, as well as expanding our educational efforts to increase awareness of signs to watch for and reporting suspicions of abuse, including the obligation to immediately report," USA Gymnastics wrote. "USA Gymnastics, its members and community are committed to working together to keep our athletes as safe as possible."

The organization had initially agreed to purchase the training facility at the Karolyi Ranch following longtime national team coordinator Martha Karolyi's retirement shortly after the 2016 Olympics ended. The organization has since opted out of that agreement. Steve Penny, longtime president and CEO, resigned in March. A replacement has not been named.

The allegations and fallout have reached Capitol Hill. Two different pieces of legislation are in the works that call for greater responsibility for organizations that oversee Olympic sports to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to law enforcement or child-welfare authorities.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued a release Wednesday saying she is putting the finishing touches on a bill she is co-sponsoring that would make failure to report sexual abuse a crime.

"It has become clear that for too long, amateur athletics organizations have shirked their responsibility of protecting young, vulnerable children," Feinstein wrote. "That must stop, and it must stop now."

Maroney, who lives in California and officially retired in 2015, encouraged others to speak out.

"Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long," she wrote, "and it's time to take our power back."



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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<![CDATA[You Can Now Order a Tiny Home on Amazon]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 09:46:03 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/TINY-HOUSE+10.17.jpg

Many people might not think to look for their next house on Amazon.

But thanks in part to the growing popularity of small space-living, Amazon now sells a prefabricated tiny house by MODS International, Today.com reported. 

The 320-square-foot residence is made out of a shipping container and boasts one bedroom, one bathroom, a living room and a kitchenette. It also includes appliances, heat, air-conditioning, insulation and even french doors. 

You'll need a solid concrete slab or Sonotube footings for the foundation and access to utilities. The unit will set you back $36,000 plus shipping. 




Photo Credit: MODS International/Amazon]]>
<![CDATA[Diwali 'Festival of Lights' Celebrated Across US]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:24:09 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Diwali-times-square.jpg

Diwali, the "Festival of Lights" celebrated in India and across South Asia to mark the Hindu new year and which this year falls on Oct. 19, is increasingly celebrated in the United States.

Cities such as New York, Chicago, San Diego, San Antonio and others host celebrations of the festival, often featuring performances from dancers and artists and even Bollywood stars, lighting of traditional oil lamps called diyas, and fireworks.

The growing popularity comes as estimates say there are more than 2.2 million Hindus of Indian origin living in the U.S., according to the Hindu American Association.

"On this actual Diwali Day, many people wear new clothes and go to temples to offer prayers for global prosperity, exchange gifts and entertain neighbors," Murugappa Madhavan, founder and executive director of the San Diego Indian American Society, told NBC. 

Diwali has great significance in the Hindu culture, symbolizing victory over evil and the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, Madhavan said.

The festival, which falls between October and November each year, runs for five days and is usually celebrated on the third day. This year it lands on Oct. 19, but celebrations take place throughout the fall. Several U.S. cities are planning or have already hosted Diwali celebrations. 

The city-sponsored Diwali festival in San Antonio, Texas, says it draws more than 15,000 people each year. The free event, DiwaliSA, will be held on Nov. 4 this year and features fireworks, Indian cuisine, diya floats and other entertainment.

In New York City, a Diwali celebration in Times Square on Oct. 8 saw Bollywood stars giving free concerts, shopping, dancing and other cultural performances, as well as food and drinks from all over South Asia.

The Rubin Museum in New York City will host “24 Hours of Sacred Sound,” a 24-hour celebration of Indian classical music starting on Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. Visitors can peruse the galleries, participate in meditation and sunrise prayer, and even sleep beneath the artwork. 

For a more active celebration, New Yorkers can head to Queens on Oct. 29 for a dance party with DJ Rekha, a London-born DJ who has been credited with bringing bhangra music to the U.S. A classical dancer will also teach “traditional Kathak dance moves and bhangra folk dances mixed with hip-hop,” according to the website. Cooking workshops, henna painting, Indian handicrafts, and Indian food will also be part of the celebration.

In Chicago, The Federation of Indian Association Chicago rang in the holiday on Oct. 1 with a live Bollywood concert, fashion shows and shopping, bringing more than 3,500 people from the area, said Sunil Shah, founder and president of the Federation of Indian Associations Chicago. Bollywood celebrity Richa Sharma was one of the featured singers.

"In such stressful and turbulent times with so much violence and conflict going on around the world, this festival of Diwali conveys the message of brotherhood and unity," Shah told NBC.

On the West Coast, Seattle will put on “Diwali: Lights of India” on Oct. 21, an indoor festival showcasing artists, Indian dance lessons, face painting, puppetry shows, and of course, Indian cuisine.

Los Angeles will host its own Festival of Lights at City National Plaza on Oct. 19, kicking off at 10 a.m. with a vendor fair and a special performance at noon.

San Diego celebrated its 10th annual Festival of Lights celebration on Oct. 14 in historic Balboa Park, attended by nearly 10,000 people, according to Madhavan of the San Diego Indian American Society.

The festivities began with the opening of 54 large brass lamps representing many faiths, regions and eras. Throughout the day there was dancing, music and drama, and the evening ended with the lighting and procession of 1,008 lights.

"This is one way we share our culture with our brothers and sisters... and use the knowledge to contribute to the society that we are a part of," Madhavan said.

In 2016, the United Nations headquarters in New York City commemorated Diwali for the first time. Some other places holding events to observe the holiday include Chantilly, Va., Irving, Calif. and Jersey City, N.J.

At the White House, President Trump lit a diyalamp Tuesday to mark the occasion in the company of Indian American members of his administration. Former president George W. Bush started the custom of observing Diwali at the White House, but the first president to attend the ceremony and light a lamp was Barack Obama. The lighting of the lamps on Diwali, light cutting through darkness, represents good prevailing over evil.

In the Hindu religion there are several explanations for the origin of Diwali. For some, it celebrates the return of Lord Rama, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, to his kingdom after 13 years of unjust exile, Madhavan wrote on the San Diego Indian American Society's website. Others say that Diwali represents the god Krishna killing the demon Narakaasura or that it marks the fall of the demon king Bali, killed by Vishnu.



Photo Credit: Kevin Hagen/AP Photo]]>