<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Sat, 05 Sep 2015 03:34:26 -0700 Sat, 05 Sep 2015 03:34:26 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Hillary Clinton: 'Sorry' for Email Confusion]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 17:02:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hillary+clinton3.JPG

Hillary Clinton told NBC's Andrea Mitchell she was "sorry" there had been so much confusion over her private email server. But Clinton declined to apologize for having used it.

"At the end of the day, I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions, but there are answers to all these questions," the Democratic presidential hopeful said. "And I take responsibility and it wasn't the best choice."

Asked about rising poll numbers of those who consider her untrustworthy, Clinton said, "certainly, it doesn't make me feel good."



Photo Credit: FILE-AP
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<![CDATA[Net Snares Blue Whale Off SoCal Coast]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 23:39:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/9-4-15-Whale.JPG

A rescue operation to save a blue whale trapped in a fishing net off the coast of Southern California was halted Fridaydue to darkness and rough seas but officials hoped to resume in the morning.

The crews spent hours at sea off the coast of Palos Verdes looking for a blue whale — the largest animal on Earth — tangled in a line, miles out to sea.

Rescuers docked after dark at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro on Friday, "exhausted and ready to deal with it tomorrow if it shows up again," said Peter Wallerstein, the director of the Marine Animal Rescue project in Los Angeles County.

A whale-watching boat was the first to spot the troubled whale around 1 p.m., waiting for hours until help arrived.

"The whale had two to three hundred feet of line, at least, wrapped around it somewhere with buoys floating at the very end of the line, trailing behind the whale," said Joshua Meza-Fidalgo, of Harbor Breeze Cruises.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called on Wallerstein to save his first blue whale, he said; he normally rescues sea lions.

"Well, we would love to have cut it all off and then freed the whale, but sometimes things are impossible," Wallerstein said.

It was dangerous for Wallerstein and another rescue specialist, who were working out of a small Zodiac boat and at the mercy of a giant whale and rough seas.

"It could die," he said. "That's why we were pressured to try and help it, but it's got a long way to go yet and with the buoy on it, it will be easy to spot."



Photo Credit: Josh Meza-Fidalgo]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Dies from Tainted Cucumber]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 20:24:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/052911+cucumbers+ecoli.jpg

A San Diego-based produce company has recalled garden cucumbers believed to be the source of a Salmonella outbreak that killed one woman and sickened people in 27 states.

The cucumbers were imported from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

In a news release Friday, CDPH said it has received reports from 285 people with Salmonella serotype Poona. Of those reports, the agency said more than 50 people from California were reporting symptoms of Salmonella exposure.

San Diego County Health Officials say a 99-year-old San Diego woman died August 17 in the outbreak.

Grown and packed by Rancho Don Juanito in Mexico, the cucumbers were distributed between August 1 and September 3.

State officials could not identify the stores where the cucumbers were sold in San Diego. Anderson & Williamson Fresh Produce would not release the names of the retail stores that sold the cucumbers.

The cucumbers arrived in boxes marked as "Limited Edition" brand pole-grown cucumbers but state officials say it’s unlikely the cucumbers would have any identifying brand information on the shelf.

State officials advise consumers to talk with their local grocer to ask if the cucumbers in their refrigerator may be those involved in the recall.

Seventeen California counties have had reports of illnesses.

The cucumbers were distributed in Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Florida; Idaho; Illinois; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Minnesota; Mississippi; Montana; Nevada; New Jersey; New Mexico; Oklahoma; Oregon; South Carolina; Texas, and Utah.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



Photo Credit: File - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kite Surfer Blown Onto Road, Hurt]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 23:55:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KITE+SURFER+HIT+RAW+-+03243004.jpg

A kite surfer in San Francisco was blown from the ocean onto a busy coastal thoroughfare and struck by a car Friday, police said.

The incident was reported at 3:12 p.m. at the intersection of the Great Highway and Sloat Boulevard near the zoo, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

Police said the surfer was setting up his board when a gust of wind, which reached 42 miles per hour, lifted and deposited him in the highway's southbound lane where he was hit by a car. 

But a witness told NBC Bay Area that the man was in the ocean and carried nearly 50 feet over sand dunes and parking spaces into the path of oncoming traffic. The surfer was caught in an uncontrolled spiral and unable to safely eject, he said.

The victim was transported to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said, stressing that this is not a hit-and-run collision. 

Police, who deemed the accident bizarre, temporarily closed the Great Highway's southbound lanes near Lincoln Way during the investigation. They were reopened around 5:30 p.m., officials said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the SFPD anonymous tip line at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the beginning of the message.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Protecting a Pope Who Takes Selfies With the Crowds]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 09:22:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_62440492205.jpg

Protecting Pope Francis when he travels to the United States this month will be a particularly arduous task for the Secret Service and other security officers given this pontiff’s spontaneity and propensity to plunge into crowds.

"He's a guy that has challenged the bad guys, ISIS, people like that,” said Steven Bucci, a national security expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. “There are people who just don’t like Catholics. There’s a whole bunch of potential threats that the pope faces.”

But vigilance has to be balanced against allowing access because Francis’ purpose in visiting is to interact with the people who throng to see him, Bucci and others say.

He is the spiritual leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics and has been known to pose for selfies with fans on occasion. 

"For the pope not to go into crowds, not to see people, is a no-go," said Andreas Widmer, who as a member of the Swiss Guard served Pope John Paul II and is now at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. "You could make the pope 100 percent secure by putting him in a bunker somewhere but then he's not the pope any more."

Francis is expected to draw millions of people over five days beginning Sept. 23 when he visits Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. More than one million alone are expected to attend one of the main events, an outdoor Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia to conclude the World Meeting of Families around which his visit was planned. At his Philadelphia events, selfie sticks will be banned for security reasons. 

He will also address Congress and the U.N. General Assembly, deliver a speech on immigration at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, take part in two processions along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, attend a multireligious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York, and travel through Central Park, a late addition to his itinerary to allow even more people to see him.

AN "UNPRECEDENTED" CHALLENGE

His visit to New York City will come as the 70th session of the U.N. General Assembly gets underway, a meeting attended by more than 160 world leaders. New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton told NBC New York that the challenge of guarding the pope would be unprecedented. New Yorkers could see gridlock, closed subway stations, additional vehicle checkpoints and other security measures, police warned.

"We won't shut down New York during this — business continues, people come and go," John Miller, the New York Police Department's head of counterterrorism, told The Associated Press. "It's going to be unprecedented, but we're going to make it work."

The pope’s visit has been designated a national security special event, meaning the U.S. Secret Service is in charge of planning for his security while working with the FBI and local agencies. The Secret Service has met multiple times with Vatican security officials in Washington and in Rome to learn more about Francis' interactions with crowds, the AP reported. Philadelphia police also traveled to the Vatican.

Francis travels with his own detail of security agents and with the bulletproof Popemobile, which will be a Jeep Wrangler already in Secret Service hands.

He has been famously reluctant to embrace some security measures, comparing the Popemobile to a sardine can and telling the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia that if something did happen to him at his age he did not have much to lose.

A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO SECURITY

Widmer said the Swiss Guards take a fundamentally different approach to security than other security agencies. They are trained in close hand-to-hand combat, to use their bodies as shields as they protect a religious figure with whom the crowds want to touch or speak. Even if someone threatens the pope, a gun is not always the best response, he said.

"We’re protecting the pope so the first reaction is not violence," he said. 

He added that Swiss Guards "have 500 years of experience, and we do things very discretely."

New York and Washington, D.C. frequently are called on to protect presidents, prime ministers and other dignitaries so more attention has focused on how well Philadelphia is doing as it gets ready for the pontiff. Adding to the city’s difficulty: Francis’ appearances in Philadelphia will be larger and more exposed.

Fences and metal detectors will go up around security zones at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Independence Hall, schools and courts will be shut and traffic will be restricted downtown. Twenty-five miles of highway and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge will be closed to vehicles. The National Guard and 1,000 state troopers will be brought in to help, the AP reported.

Access to the pope will be restricted by tickets, which have been allocated to Catholic parishes throughout the Philadelphia region. Even at the large outdoor events, spots closest to the pontiff will require tickets. But the Archdiocese of Philadelphia emphasized that the vast majority of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway would be open to everyone.

NO SPECIFIC THREATS

Philadelphia’s preparations were plagued by weeks of rumors and then criticism that the city was going overboard compared to New York and Washington, D.C. Scott White, a former Canadian security officer and now a professor of homeland security at Drexel University in Philadelphia, was among the security experts who told The Philadelphia Inquirer last month that traffic restrictions and other measures seemed disproportionate.

But as more information was released, White said that only those in charge of the security arrangements and familiar with threats received would know whether preparations were appropriate.

“There’s a vast array of potential threat to anybody who is a high profile individual so I wouldn’t really want to speculate," White said when asked who might pose the greatest threat to Francis.

The AP reported authorities have reported no specific threats related to Francis' visit, but also noted that when Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States in 2008, security officials warned that terrorists could focus on targets such as hotels, restaurants or trains.

Last month, when Francis was asked whether he approved of unilateral U.S. airstrikes on militants from the Islamic State or ISIS, he said it would be permissible to stop an unjust aggressor. Earlier in the year, ISIS made threats against Italy and the Vatican, with a photo showing its flag flying above the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square and the headline, “The failed crusade.”



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Labor Day Travel Is on the Rise]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 07:54:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/travel+generic+photo.JPG

More Americans will take to the streets and skies this Labor Day weekend than last year, in a continuation of recent travel trends.

According to the AAA Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast, 35.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Labor Day weekend, a 1 percent increase from 2014 and the fourth consecutive year of growth in Labor Day travel.

The report cites the current labor market as a factor in the increased number of travelers this year. Its strength "has helped increase personal income, which, combined with flat prices, has resulted in a boost to disposable income, which is expected to increase 3.5 percent compared to last year."

Drivers can also expect to pay less at the pump this holiday weekend than they have in more than a decade. The average gas price earlier this week was $2.47 nationally, the lowest since 2004. Approximately 30.4 million Americans, or 85.8 percent of all travelers, are expected to jump behind the wheel this weekend. An additional 2.64 million people will travel by air, and 2.4 million will travel by train, bus, watercraft or another mode of transportation.

Americans are expected to pour $13.5 billion into the economy this weekend, up 2 percent over 2014, according to a survey by TNS for U.S. Travel.

The travel industry group also made the case, however, that failing surface and air travel infrastructure will keep 4.1 million potential travelers at home, costing the economy $1.4 billion in spending. U.S. Travel's analysis concluded that the inability of Congress to pass long-term bills on the nation's highways and air travel system will contribute to and worsen Americans' travel woes.

Though consumers appear to be willing to shell out some extra travel money this year, the slight increase in travel is likely because cautious consumers are foregoing travel in order to save or pay off debt, according to AAA. 

—Damian Geminder contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/The Washington Post]]>
<![CDATA[Victim Speaks Out to Help Others]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 20:43:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Willowbrook+Victim.png

The victim of a brutal attack in a Chicago suburb last weekend left the hospital Friday and said in an emotional statement about the arrest of her alleged attacker that she "won."

"I defeated him," said Melissa Schuster. "He tried to take everything away from me but I won in the end. I did not give up."

Her nose fractured, her face covered in stitches and bruises, Schuster said she looked in the mirror for first time Thursday.

"It kind of broke my heart, I was almost in tears but then I realized it's just the beginning," she said.

Though NBC Chicago does not normally name victims of sexual assault, Schuster said she wanted her story heard because she "wanted to make a difference in someone else's life."

[[324512521, C]]

The 26-year-old was unloading groceries in the driveway of the home in the 700 block of 73rd Court at about 1 p.m. Saturday when a dark blue older model Nissan Altima pulled up, and that is when police say 31-year-old Londale Madison got out and approached her.

"All he asked me was, 'Can I have money?" she said. "And I politely said, 'I'm sorry, I don't have any money to give you.'"

She went inside and locked the door, but Madison later knocked and asked again. When she refused, he knocked the door down and attacked her, according to police.

After punching her repeatedly, Schuster says the man forced her to remove her clothes, and get into the shower – where he raped her.

“I remember standing there thinking to myself, ‘This is it. I’m not going to make it. I'm gonna to die,” she recounted.

He stabbed her over 17 times, before stealing her purse and cell phone and leaving her for dead.

“But then I told myself, ‘No, I’m not going to let this person overcome me.’” Schuster said. “I was terrified, but I was not going to give up.”

She managed to build enough strength to run to a neighbor's house.

"She was covered head to toe with blood," the neighbor said. "My husband put a blanket around her and ran outside to see if he could find who had done this to her."

Tips lead authorities to determine that Madison returned to Indiana after the attack. He was charged Wednesday with one count of attempted first degree murder, one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault, one count of home invasion and one count of armed robbery, according to the DuPage County state's attorney's office. All charges are felonies.

Just two weeks ago, Madison was cited in Indiana for violating probation, which he was granted after getting an early release from prison late last year. He received a 6-year sentence in 2012 for a felony burglary conviction in St. Joseph County.

If Madison is convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of up to 120 years in prison, according to the state's attorney's office.

"I want to see him put away for a very long time," Schuster said.

Madison appeared in court Friday where prosecutors say he confessed to the horrific crime.

Madison has already served time for charges that include felony, theft and battery. After attacking Schuster, police say he went to LaGrange approaching more people for money. He is also being questioned on child molestation charges.

Bond was set at $5 million dollars and he faces up 120 years in prison if convicted.

As for Schuster, her healing process moves forward with the hope of helping others.

"Talking about what happened is a relief, part of my recovery," she said. "I have been talking about it since day one."

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<![CDATA[SoCal Chipotle Linked to Norovirus Outbreak]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 17:31:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/150824-chipotle-restaurant-simi-valley.jpg

Health officials believe a food-borne illness that sickened dozens of customers at a Southern California Chipotle is Norovirus.

About 80 restaurant customers and 18 restaurant employees reported symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness after eating at the restaurant located at 1263 Simi Town Center Way in Simi Valley during the week of August 18, officials said in a press release Friday.

A joint investigation between the Ventura County Environmental Health Division (EHD) and the Ventura County Public Health Division found that seven of out of 18 specimen samples tested positive for Norovirus, a "very contagious virus."

After the reported food poisoning, the restaurant voluntarily closed, threw out all remaining food products and sent home a number of affected employees, officials said. Health officials also inspected the facility.

The EHD said employees who tested positive for the virus will remain off duty until they are cleared to return to work.

"Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States," said Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County Public Health Officer. A person can contract Norovirus from contaminated food or water, by touching contaminated surfaces or through affected people.

There have been no further reports of illness since the initial reports, according to health officials.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[$50,000 Reward For Suspects]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 16:38:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/mourning+photo+fox+lake.jpg

A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of three suspects believed to have killed a Fox Lake lieutenant on-duty earlier this week in Illinois. 

Detective Christopher Covelli with the Lake County Sheriff's office said the reward is being offered by Motorola Solutions but several other offers and donations for a reward were received as well.

Anyone looking to provide reward money can contact Lake County Undersheriff Raymond Rose at (847) 377-4367. 

A tip line and website has also been set up for residents looking to report any information surrounding the case. Tipsters can call 1-(800)-CALLFBI or go to fbi.gov/FoxLake

Authorities on Friday revealed that they now have several videos they believe will aid in their search for the three "extremely dangerous" suspects.

Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko said new video has been retrieved in the case that authorities believe is "more significant" than any other video they've received.

Filenko noted the videos are being put into chronological order and "there's a commonality" between them. The videos are expected to be reviewed Friday afternoon or evening. 

"I think we’re optimistic about all of these videos right now because they all come together chronologically," Filenko said.

Officials were expected to review home surveillance video a resident claimed could aid in a search for the suspects, but Filenko said that video wasn't reviewed as of Friday afternoon.

Filenko said the three suspects accused of killing Lieutenant Charles "Joe" Gliniewicz are believed to still be in the area, about 60 miles north of Chicago, and authorities say they've made "significant progress" in their search.

"Obviously we have a lot of transportation means in this area — trains, cars, buses — we’re still working off the fact that we’re presuming there’s a good probability that they are still somewhere in the area," Filenko said. "Now whether they're in Fox Lake or any of the surrounding border communities that remains to be seen."

Filenko confirmed Friday that the officer’s gun was recovered at the scene but could not confirm how many times, if any, it had been fired. 

The gunmen are described as two white men and one black man, but further details on their descriptions have not been made available.

More than 100 officers were canvassing the Fox Lake area Friday, revisiting areas and searching new territories. Canines returned to the scene of the shooting Friday in hopes of finding more information. 

Residents, family members and officers from Fox Lake and surrounding communities gathered Wednesday night for an emotional vigil to honor Gliniewicz, a 30-year veteran of the police force affectionately called "G.I. Joe." A funeral has been scheduled for Monday in Antioch, Illinois. 

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<![CDATA[11 Sets of Twins Start Kindergarten]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 16:09:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/school+bus+generic+ct.jpg

Kindergarten teachers in one Long Island, New York, school district will have their work cut out for them this year trying to keep straight the names of the 11 sets of twins who are about to start school.

One set of identical twins, seven sets of twin brothers and sisters, two sets of fraternal brothers and one pair of fraternal sisters all began classes at the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center in Lynbrook on Wednesday, the school said.

It breaks a record seven sets of twins in the district set in 2011.

The twins all started school in different classes, said Principal Ellen Postman. They try to do that with every set of twins that come to the school so they can develop their own identities and make new friends.

"You see them hug each other goodbye when they get off the bus, then talk about their day when they get back together," she said.

At least one of the twins didn't seem to mind, telling NBC 4 New York crews he didn't miss his brother. Others, meanwhile miss their siblings. 

Postman said she's not sure why the school has so many sets of twins this year but added that it will be "exciting" to watch them grow up over the next 13 years.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Man Tries to Enter Zoo's Lions' Den]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 17:20:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lions+Den+Suspect.jpg

A man tried to get into the lions' den at the National Zoo Wednesday afternoon.

The man climbed over the first line of protection between the public and the lions' den about 4:30 p.m., when the zoo was crowded, but authorities got to him before he could access the area where the lions could have attacked him.

He was placed in custody then taken involuntarily to a psychiatric facility for evaluation.

Later he said he hears voices in his head telling him to hurt himself, according to the police report.

He has not been charged with a crime.

The den meets or exceeds safety standards set out by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a zoo spokesperson said, and there are no plans to update security or the enclosure.

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<![CDATA[Jobless Rate Hits 7-Year Low]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 07:48:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/help+wanted+sign.JPG

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in August for a seven-year low, though hiring was the lowest it's been in five months with 173,000 jobs created for the month, The Associated Press reported.

Still, the economy has generated a strong 221,000 jobs a month from June through August, according to government revisions.

Steady hiring could encourage the Fed to raise interest rates for the first time in a decade at a meeting later this month.

But that's not a sure thing with a low inflation rate and sluggish growth in China complicating the decision, according to the AP.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Drowned Aylan, 3, Laid to Rest in Home City]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 05:12:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/aylan+dad+funeral.JPG

The 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, whose drowning has shined a spotlight on the plight of thousands of migrants and refugees from war-torn countries trying to get to Europe, was buried Friday alongside his brother and mother in the family's hometown of Kobani, NBC News reported.

Dozens of mourners attended the burial of Aylan, his 5-year-old brother Galip and mother Rehan, 35, two days after a photograph of Aylan face-down in a Turkish beach went viral.

"I want from Arab governments — not European countries — to see (what happened to) my children, and because of them to help people," said Aylan's father Abdullah Kurdi, the family's sole-survivor.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Slams Conservative Radio Host After Fumble]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 10:04:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/trump20.JPG

A day after exposing gaps in his knowledge of foreign affairs during a radio show interview with Hugh Hewitt, Donald Trump labeled the conservative host a "third rate radio announcer,” NBC News reported.

During the Thursday interview, Hewitt asked Trump about Quds Force commander Ghasem Soleimani. Trump responded by saying how Kurds have been “mistreated.”

After he was told the Quds force was Iranian, and not Kurdish, Trump said: ”Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you said Kurds.”

When Hewitt suggested that a future commander-in-chief should be knowledgeable about world affairs and leaders, Trump accused Hewitt of asking “gotcha questions.”

"Every question was do I know this one and that one? It was like he worked hard on that," Trump further explained Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Biden Says Family Will Decide on Presidential Run]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 20:03:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_129386530074.jpg

Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday night he "will not hesitate" to run for president next year — but only if his family is up to it.

"I'll be straightforward with you: The most relevant factor in my decision is whether my family and I have the emotional energy to run," Biden said during an appearance at a synagogue in Atlanta.

Biden's son Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware, died of brain cancer in May at age 46.

Biden said that while other issues were a concern — particularly whether he could build a strong campaign and raise money — the only question that matters is, "Can my family undertake an arduous commitment they would be proud to undertake under ordinary circumstances?" 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2 Indicted After Bust Yields 265 Pounds of Drugs]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 10:45:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Bizarro+Seizure+090215.JPG

Two men have been indicted in the District's largest-ever synthetic drug bust, in which police seized more than 250 pounds of a substance marketed as Bizarro from a storage space in Northwest D.C.

Siraj Issa, 33, and Yenework Tefera Abera, 41, were indicted late Thursday with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, a federal offense.

The more than 19,247 packets of berry-flavored synthetic marijuana were worth an estimated $2.3 million, prosecutors say.

On Aug. 27, Maryland State Police and the Metropolitan Area Drug Task Force intercepted the drugs after they were shipped from the West Coast. A police dog detected the drugs at a shipping company in Howard County, Maryland, prosecutors say.

Their final destination was intended to be Northwest D.C., according to charging documents.

Inside the shipment was the thousands of packets of Bizarro, which contained the Schedule I controlled substance known as XLR-11, according to the documents. The packets were in sizes of 3.5 and 10 grams, authorities said.

Police made a controlled delivery of the shipment of more than 250 pounds to a storage facility in Northwest D.C. Tuesday. Issa signed the delivery receipt, and he and Abera loaded the shipment's 14 boxes onto handcarts and placed them in a storage unit, the charging documents say.

Abera told police he went to the storage facility several times in recent months to get black trash bags from Issa to distribute at various street corners in the city, according to the documents. He received up to $200 for a single delivery, he said.

He told police he thought the bags carried hair products or other dollar-store items.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said at a community meeting Wednesday night that detectives raced to keep the berry-flavored drugs off the street. 

"I guarantee you that that shipment that we got today, that was destined for the gas stations and the little variety stores all through this community and all across the city," she said. 

D.C. police will continue to pursue sellers of synthetic drugs, Lanier said. 

"We are committed to going after these synthetics, where ever they're coming from, and getting at that source," she said. 

The District has seen a sharp increase in use of synthetic drugs in recent months. That spike is partially responsible for violence in the city this summer, officials have said. 

Previously, D.C.'s largest seizure of synthetic drugs was about 2,000 packets in 2014.

Issa, of northwest D.C., and Abera, of Alexandria, Virginia, face a maximum 20 years in prison and fines.

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<![CDATA[Rutgers University Suspends 5 Football Players, 2 Others]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 10:01:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/scarlet+knights.jpg

Rutgers officials say five football players and two other students have been suspended from the university following a violent two-week spree of home invasion robberies and an unprovoked assault that left another student with a broken jaw.

In a statement issued Friday, the school said that the alleged behavior of the players and other students warranted a suspension, but added that they may appeal the ruling.

The players had already been suspended by the school's athletic department following the spate of robberies in April and May and the violent attack five blocks from the school's New Brunswick campus. 

Authorities announced they had charged Scarlet Knights players Andre Boggs, 20, Ruhann Peele, 2, Nadir Barnwell, 20, Rahzonn Gross, 20, and Delon Stephenson, 22, following an investigation into the robberies and attack. Former players Tejay Johnson and Daryl Stephenson -- Delon Stephenson's brother -- were also charged.

Authorities had said that Johnson and Boggs were involved in three armed robbery attempts between April 26 and May 5. The other players, along with Johnson,  were accused of attacking a group of students and breaking a 19-year-old's jaw.

Boggs is one of the team's starting cornerbacks, while Delon Stephenson lines up at free safety. Peele, Barnwell and Gross were expected to start the season as reserves. Johnson ended his career with the team in 2014 due to injuries, while Daryl Stephenson left the team after the 2015 season.  

The Scarlet Knights' first game is at noon Saturday at High Point Stadium in Piscataway against the Norfolk State Spartans. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[POTUS Responds to 'Humans of New York' Photo on Facebook]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 13:05:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/obama-GettyImages-486082632.jpg

President Barack Obama's most recent social media comment has drawn a lot of attention on the Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page. 

Obama commented on a photo of a father and son sitting together in Tabriz, Iran. The father recognizes his son's 10th birthday and is grateful for the qualities his child has exhibited in his youth.

The father in the photo describes a time when he and the child left the store with two pounds of fresh apricots and the child trailed behind him on their way home. The father turned to ask the boy to pass him an apricot. But the child says he could not because he gave them all away.

"I knew then that I was raising a humanitarian,” the father said. 

Obama, writing under The White House's official Facebook account, called the post "inspirational" in a comment that garnered more than 125,000 likes in 24 hours. 

"I hope this young man never loses his desire to help others. And I'm going to continue doing whatever I can to make this world a place where he and every young person like him can live up to their full potential," Obama wrote.

Lastly, the president asked the boy to save him an apricot if they ever get to meet. 

HONY founder and photographer Brandon Stanton traveled to Iran to revisit the country to expoud upon his storytelling. Ironically, it was his first international trip three years ago. 

This week, Obama posted his first photo to the White House's Instagram account and has taken a number of selfies in Alaska where he is traveling to bring attention to climate change. Obama always signs his White House social media posts with "bo."



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Investigators Hope Video Holds Clues in Fox Lake Manhunt]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 12:50:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/177*120/GettyImages-486245570.jpg

Officials on Friday are expected to review home surveillance video a resident claims may aid in a search for three suspects believed to have killed a veteran Fox Lake police officer this week. 

News of the video first surfaced during a Thursday press conference when officials said that the "significant" footage had been turned over to the Department of Homeland Security for verification.

Details surrounding what was on the footage weren't immediately clear, but Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko said the resident who turned it in claimed it is consistent with the story about three suspects. 

A press conference was held at 12:30 p.m. Friday, where a "change in strategy may be discussed," according to Detective Christopher Covelli with the Lake County Sheriff's office.

Authorities announced an FBI-led tip line (1-800-CALLFBI) and website (www.fbi.gov/foxlake) have been set up for tips in the search. Police said Motorola Solutions is offering a $50,000 reward for any tip that leads to the apprehension of the suspects.

Filenko said the three suspects accused of killing Lieutenant Charles "Joe" Gliniewicz are believed to still be in the area, about 60 miles north of Chicago, and authorities say they've made "significant progress" in their search.

"Obviously we have a lot of transportation means in this area — trains, cars, buses — we’re still working off the fact that we’re presuming there’s a good probability that they are still somewhere in the area," Filenko said. "Now whether they're in Fox Lake or any of the surrounding border communities that remains to be seen."

Filenko confirmed the officer’s gun was recovered, but he didn't say if it was retrieved at the scene, or used in the shooting.

The gunmen are described as two white men and one black man, but further details on their descriptions have not been made available.

Officials expect lab results on evidence gathered at the crime scene to be released as early as Friday morning.

More than 100 officers were canvassing the Fox Lake area Thursday, revisiting areas and searching new territories.

The updates came after a "disappointing" night for authorities, when more than 100 officers spent about five hours searching an area following a tip that was determined to be fake.

"[Wednesday] night was an unfortunate incident," Filenko said. "It tied up a number of resources, including my detectives."

Covelli said the response shows the Fox Lake community that officers are working to keep them safe. 

"It really shows that we are here and we are active in this community," he said. "We are active to keep the residents in this community safe... Things will never be quite normal here in Fox Lake with the death of Lt. Gliniewicz."

Residents, family members and officers from Fox Lake and surrounding communities gathered Wednesday night for an emotional vigil to honor Gliniewicz, a 30-year veteran of the police force affectionately called "G.I. Joe." A funeral has been scheduled for Monday in Antioch, Illinois. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Presidential Candidates Flock to N.H. for Labor Day Weekend]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 08:03:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_543643793268.jpg

Ten 2016 presidential contenders will be campaigning in New Hampshire over Labor Day weekend, the traditional cut-off point when Granite Staters really start paying close attention to the upcoming election.

The visits include barbecues, county fairs, Labor Day breakfasts and other traditional holiday weekend-related events.

It all starts Friday with appearances by GOP hopefuls Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham and Democrat Martin O'Malley. Graham also has stops planned on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

On Saturday, Hillary Clinton is scheduled to hold two events, including one in Portsmouth where she will officially be endorsed by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Carly Fiorina also arrives in state Saturday for the first leg of a 3-day swing.

On Sunday, Republican Scott Walker begins a 2-day motorcycle tour of the state, which will take him to all 10 counties.

Monday will be busy as well. In addition to Walker, Fiorina and Graham, Democrats Bernie Sanders and Lincoln Chafee will be in state, along with Republicans John Kasich and Marco Rubio.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Fatally Shoots Teenage Intruder During Home Invasion]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 05:40:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/police+lights+generic+crop.jpg

An 11-year-old St. Louis-area boy fatally shot a 16-year-old who entered his home during an alleged home invasion Thursday, police said.

Two people had approached the home twice before Thursday, and on the third attempt entered the house through the front door, police said. The 11-year-old, who lives in the home, shot the 16-year-old intruder in the head, St. Louis County police said in a statement.

Police found the shot teenager dead in the foyer, and a second person who fled was caught nearby.

Police were working to verify the second person's identity Thursday afternoon. The names of those involved, and a possible motive in the suspected home invasion, were not released.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Man Sent Explicit Mail to Young 'Dance Moms' Star]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 06:37:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Phoenix+Sundown+web+img+0903.jpg

A San Diego man accused of sending explicit material to a young star of the Lifetime show “Dance Moms” will be held on $250,000 bail.

Bail for Phoenix Sundown was raised from the initial $25,000 to $250,000. Deputy District Attorney Carlos Campbell said after court on Thursday the case involves four underage victims – one of whom is the reality TV star -- who received explicit material from Sundown.

Sundown faces four counts of distributing harmful material to a minor. The 36-year-old also was charged with cruelty to an animal.

Campbell declined to release specifics on the case, citing the active investigation and the fact that it involves minors.

Sundown was arrested Tuesday after Pennsylvania Postal inspectors found suspicious packages sent to 11-year-old Jojo Siwa, a cast member of the Lifetime show featuring the Pittsburgh-based dance school.

Her nickname is "JoJo with a Bow Bow" for her fondness of hair bows and shiny accessories.

Sundown was apparently so infatuated with the youngster he tattooed her portrait on his neck, investigators allege.

Police and Allegheny County's bomb squad were at the Murrysville, Pennsylvania, post office Tuesday evening investigating the report of five suspicious packages reportedly implicating Sundown in the crimes.

A judge on Thursday imposed a protective order barring Sundown from having any contact with the minors, including Siwa.

If convicted of all charges, Sundown faces 5 years and 8 months in prison.

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<![CDATA[Syrian Toddlers' Family Hadn't Applied for Canada Entry]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 20:41:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/abdullah+kurdi.jpg

The family of two Syrian toddlers who drowned as they tried to reach Greece had not yet applied to enter Canada, the extended family said on Thursday, despite earlier reports that their refugee application had been rejected.

A photograph of Aylan Kurdi's tiny body in a bright red T-shirt and dark shorts, face-down in the surf, appeared in newspapers around the world, prompting sympathy and outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations in helping refugees.

Aylan's 5-year-old brother, Galip, and mother, Rehan, 35, were among 12 people, including other children, who died after two boats capsized while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.

The children's father, Abdullah, survived and collapsed in tears after emerging from a morgue in the city of Mugla near Bodrum, where he identified their bodies on Wednesday.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Here's How to Help Refugees Like Aylan Kurdi]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 00:34:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_67588503749.jpg

Aylan Kurdi was the Syrian toddler in the photo of a small lifeless body on a Mediterranean beach that sent shock waves around the world, according to NBC News

The photo was emblematic of the desperate and deadly struggle refugees face to reach Europe.

A friend of the family, Mustafa Ebdi, told NBC News he had spoken to the boys' grieving father, Abdullah. Ebdi said Abdullah told him the family was trying to cross to Greece on Tuesday when their boat capsized and that his wife and two of their children — Aylan and Ghalib — had perished. Abdullah survived. The family was from the countryside outside of Syria's city of Kobani, Ebdi added.

"The things that happened to us here, in the country where we took refuge to escape war in our homeland, we want the whole world to see this," Abdullah told reporters, according to Reuters. "We want the world's attention on us, so that they can prevent the same from happening to others. Let this be the last."

Here's a list compiled by Today.com of organizations trying to help refugees like Alyan Kurdi as the crisis in Europe escalates:

The UN Refugee Agency: Provides cash for medicine and food, stoves and fuel for heating, insulation for tents, thermal blankets and winter clothing.

Save the Children: Supplies food for Syrian kids and supports education in Syrian refugee camps.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders: MSF is operating three rescue ships in the Mediterranean Sea that can carry hundreds of people to land.

Unicef: Delivers vaccines, winter clothes and food for children in Syria and neighboring countries. The agency is working to immunize more than 22 million children in the region following a polio outbreak.

International Rescue Committee: The group's emergency team is in Greece, where nearly 1,000 people are arriving per day.

World Food Programme: The agency says it is struggling to meet the urgent food needs of millions of displaced Syrians.

Mercy Corps: Refugees are most in need of clean water, sanitation services, temporary shelter and food, the agency says.

Aylan Kurdi & Syria's Child Victims of War: A new fund named after Aylan himself. Money goes to "Hand In Hand For Syria," a U.K. based organization that works with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Correctional Deputies Arrested After 'Brutal' Inmate Death]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 03:15:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jail-booking-photos.jpg

Three Santa Clara County Sheriff's correctional deputies have been arrested on suspicion of murder, conspiracy and assault following the death of an inmate last week, the sheriff announced Thursday.

The deputies were identified by the Sheriff's Office as: Jereh Lubrin, Matthew Farris and Rafael Rodriguez.

“The disappointment and disgust that I feel cannot be overstated,” Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said at a news conference Thursday. “Because our investigation has concluded that three correctional deputies…are the reason for this brutal murder of Michael Tyree.” (Watch the sheriff's press conference in its entirety)

Investigators said all three of the accused deputies have requested lawyers and declined to give a statement.

They are being held without bail and have been moved to holding facilities outside Santa Clara County so that they don't have to be behind bars at the same place where they work, Smith said.

As of Thursday morning, the Santa Clara County District Attorney did not have the case.

"That they would be recommending murder charges shows how egregious the evidence must be. This is highly unusual, not just locally, but nationally," said vocal police critic Raj Jayedev of Silicon Valley DeBug. "But the arrest is just the first step in holding these officers accountable. The DA's office carries the responsibility now, and we hope their office pursues justice, and are not deterred by the fact that these people wear a badge. The community will be watching closely. I suspect the nation will as well. I believe the safety of all the inmates currently incarcerated is also an immediate concern as the court proceedings continue."

The deputies' arrests follow the Aug. 27 death of Michael Tyree, 31, at the Santa Clara County Main Jail. He was serving a five-day sentence for a petty theft misdemeanor and had served an identical sentence last April.

Sheriff Smith said at the news conference her department wanted to express its "profound sorrow" over Tyree's death.

Tyree was waiting to be transferred to a bed at Momentum Crisis Residential Treatment Center, a nonprofit providing mental health services in Santa Clara County. His family's attorney said Tyree had a history of mental health problems.

Before Tyree died, a physical confrontation between the deputies and the inmate ensued and Tyree was badly beaten, with lacerations to some of his internal organs. The coroner said Tyree sustained multiple blunt force injuries that caused internal bleeding. He called the death a homicide.

For the last week, the Sheriff's Office has said that the guards were making a routine welfare check on Tyree when they noticed he was unresponsive and called paramedics. Sheriff Smith said Thursday the three officers were the only people to enter Tyree’s cell on the night he died.

Sheriff Smith said she has invited the FBI to help investigate Tyree’s death.

The sheriff wouldn’t comment on whether the deputies were properly trained or if anyone else might have been involved.

NBC Bay Area's Stephen Stock contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department]]>
<![CDATA[Cop Fired After Indictment in Killing of Virginia Teen William Chapman]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 02:30:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Stephen-D-Rankin.JPG

A Portsmouth, Virginia, police officer was fired and was in custody Thursday after he was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old man in April, police told NBC News.

Officer Stephen D. Rankin, 36, who is white, was also charged with use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the shooting of William Chapman II, who was black. Chapman, who was shot in the face and the chest, had no alcohol or drugs in his system, and his pockets had been turned inside out, an autopsy found.

Rankin surrendered late Thursday afternoon and was being processed, Portsmouth police Detective Misty Holley told NBC News.
 



Photo Credit: Portsmouth, Va., Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Austria, Germany Pave Way For Refugees and Migrants]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 16:57:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_4867298278.jpg

Migrants and refugees stranded in Hungary will be allowed into Austria and Germany, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said in a Facebook post early Saturday.

"Because of today's emergency situation on the Hungarian border, Austria and Germany agree in this case to a continuation of the refugees' journey into their countries," Faymann said in the post, Reuters reported.

Hundreds of migrants and refugees refused to wait for permission to get onto trains and began walking to Austria. Earlier, Hungary said it would send a fleet of buses to the main Keletic train station in Budapest to bring the people to Vienna. 

Over 1,200 people walked all day and into the night along the highway to reach Vienna. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tiger Cub Found Roaming Neighborhood]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 07:34:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/9-3-15-Tiger.JPG

A 3-month old Bengal-Siberian tiger cub was found roaming through the streets of Hemet, California on Thursday and sent to a shelter for aid.

The abandoned animal was transferred about 70 miles to an animal shelter in Phelan, which is licensed to handle and treat exotic animals and currently houses eight adult tigers.

"I have never seen a cub come through our doors in 20 years," said Joel Almquist, a wildlife expert.

"He's in good condition, in good spirits," he said.

The 25-pound cub was found declawed and will need surgery to remove a hernia from his abdomen. But he’ll get a lot of care - with regular bottle feedings, a meat-rich diet and plenty of room to run around.

The cub will stay at the shelter until the California Department of Fish and Wildlife decide where he’ll end up.

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<![CDATA[Judge Orders Clerk Blocking Gay Marriages to Jail]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:22:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kim+davis+mugshot.jpg

A federal judge has ordered a defiant Kentucky clerk to jail on Thursday after she defied the U.S. Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling by refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, NBC News reported.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning told Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis that she would stay in jail until she complied with his order to issue the licenses. Davis replied "thank you" before she was led out of the courtroom.

Lawyers for four couples who sought marriage licenses from her but were turned down urged the judge "to impose financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous to compel Davis' immediate compliance without further delay."

Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses a few hours after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in June, saying she's following "God's word" and that granting licenses to gay couples would violate her religious convictions.


 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Arby's Fires Employees ]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 09:24:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/090315+arbys+generic.jpg

Two South Florida Arby’s employees were disciplined after a police officer said she was refused service at the restaurant.

The chain confirmed to NBC 6 on Thursday it fired restaurant manager, Angel Mirabal, and indefinitely suspended the clerk, Kenneth Davenport.

Sgt. Jennifer Martin of Pembroke Pines Police Department said Davenport seemed rude when she placed her order at the drive-thru, according to an incident report. When she pulled up to the drive-thru window, Mirabal told her Davenport didn’t want to serve her because she was a police officer.

Davenport was forced to process her credit card before Mirabel handed Martin her order. He told NBC News it was a joke. 

In a statement issued on Thursday, Arby’s CEO, Paul Brown, apologized and offered free meals to all police officers in the Miami area following the incident.

"As a show of our appreciation and support, this Friday, September 4 we invite you to visit any of our restaurants in the Dade-Broward metro area to receive a free combo meal of your choice. Simply show up in uniform to receive your free meal compliments of your friends at Arby's."

In another statement issued on Friday, Brown clarified the company's position following the incident:

“As a result of our thorough investigation, we have terminated the manager and placed the crew member on temporary paid leave. This was a complex and difficult decision, but as a company that highly values trust and fairness, we ultimately found that the crew member was not involved other than to attempt to remedy the situation. We have reviewed our process and decision with the Pembroke Pines Police Department who made it clear they consider the case closed. Arby’s has a long tradition of championing the police in our communities across America and we look forward to continue to support and serve our law enforcement officials.”



Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>