<![CDATA[NBC New York - National & International News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sat, 23 Aug 2014 11:20:07 -0400 Sat, 23 Aug 2014 11:20:07 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Demonstrators Gather for Chokehold Protest Rally]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:41:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/eric+garner+death+inset+new.jpg

Demonstrators crossed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in a caravan of cars and buses Saturday to protest the death of a Staten Island man who died in police custody last month after being put in a chokehold.

Former Gov. David Paterson and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito were among those expected to join the Rev. Al Sharpton's "March for Justice" from Brooklyn to Tompkinsville in Staten Island, where 43-year-old Eric Garner died July 17 while under arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

"We're seeking justice," said Renee Charway, Garner's cousin, as she prepared to board a bus to the protest. "He had six kids. He had a family. What happened? These kids are growing up with no father now? For a cigarette?"

The caravan was expected to drive from Tompkinsville to the office of Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, who announced this week his office would convene a grand jury to consider charges in Garner's death.

Donovan said his office made the decision after its review of findings from the medical examiner, who determined Garner died of neck compression from a chokehold and labeled his death a homicide. Garner's acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were contributing factors, the medical examiner determined. Donovan declined to say what charges the grand jury may consider, or against whom they might be fileds.

Sharpton, a vocal critic of police tactics in the case, has called for charges against the officer who was caught on cellphone video apparently placing Garner in a chokehold, a tactic forbidden by NYPD policy.

Shortly after Garner died, one officer was stripped of his gun and badge pending an internal NYPD investigation and another was placed on desk duty. Two paramedics and two EMTs were suspended without pay after allegedly failing to provide CPR in a timely manner.

In Bay Ridge, where some protesters gathered before heading to the march, some local residents came out Saturday to voice their support for the NYPD.

"You can't resist arrest; that's the bottom line," said Karen Fleming, who was sporting an NYPD hat and raising a sign proclaiming her support. "The police are here to do a job."

The NYPD has said it would cooperate with the district attorney's investigation. In the aftermath of Garner's death, Mayor de Blasio called the arrest video "disturbing," and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton ordered a department-wide retraining of police tactics as they relate to use of force. Several roundtables with the city's top political and religious leaders were held in an effort to ease tensions.

Sharpton has said he and the Garner family will continue to push for a federal investigation into Garner's death. The Department of Justice has said it is monitoring the case and hasn't commented specifically on Sharpton's demand for a federal probe.

Violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the fatal police shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown prompted concerns about Saturday's rally in New York City, but Sharpton said earlier this week that it would be peaceful.

Several merchants on the North Shore planned to close their doors during the rally anyway. Bratton said the NYPD would assign additional officers to secure the rally route.


Sharpton had originally said marchers would cross the bridge to Staten Island by foot. That plan would have required that the span, which has no pedestrian walkway, be closed to vehicles. It led to days of tense negotiating between the city and the demonstrators that settled only when Sharpton said the group would cross the bridge by vehicles.

In addition to running the National Action Network, Sharpton is a talk show host on MSNBC, which is owned by WNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cops: Couple Had Fake Babies]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:14:00 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fake-baby-th.jpg

Police in the San Joaquin Valley, California, arrested a woman on trespassing charges after they say she was trying to access a hospital maternity ward.

Merced police said 41-year-old Tonya Whitney and her husband carried dolls that looked like fake babies into Mercy Medical Center on two occasions in the past week. Whitney wore a nurses outfit, carried an old visitor’s pass and a fake baby in a carrier, authorities said. She is facing misdemeanor trespassing charges.

Whitney was turned away before she could get into the maternity ward, according to police, who said they found many life-like dolls inside the woman’s Merced apartment. Whitney said the whole thing is a misunderstanding. She said she sells the dolls and was only at the hospital to make a sales pitch.

Police said Whitney and her husband tried accessing the maternity ward at Mercy Medical twice, the first time on Saturday after visiting the emergency department. "They then returned Monday and they once again attempted,” Merced Police Capt. Tom Trinidad said. “Of course this prompted an immediate response from the hospital because they wanted to secure the safety of the children."

"If you look at it, could be suspicious,” Capt. Trinidad said. “Of course, the assumption could be made that she was there for the purpose of switching out a fake life-like baby with a real baby."

Authorities said hospital security staff noticed the couple's odd behavior, treating the dolls as if they were real, cuddling them and changing diapers.

Police said Whitney has at least one child. Her husband was not arrested.

Attempts to reach Mercy Medical staff for comment were not immediately successful.

NBC's Fresno affiliate KSEE-TV contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Ice Bucket Challenge Founder From NY Dismisses Critics]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:42:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/patrick+quinn+als+bucket+challenge+founder.jpg

The New York man who helped create the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge says he's stunned by how quickly the movement has taken off and is heartened by the new conversation around the little-known disease.

Patrick Quinn, 31, of Yonkers, was inspired by a Pelham, New York family who performed the stunt, and he decided to recruit 50 friends to do the same in the name of ALS awareness. With each person nominating three other people to do the challenge, the act went viral. 

"Within the first day or two, our whole news feed was covered in ice bucket challenges," he said. 

Quinn knows how vital it is to raise awareness about the disease, which still has very little research surrounding it. He was diagnosed with ALS last March at the age of 30. 

"It's a tough disease. The life expectancy for myself was changed from an old man to 2 to 5 years," he said. "It's been whirlwind, it's tough." 

Quinn said he's lost muscle in his arms, upper back and neck. His legs are still functioning, but they're shaky and twitch frequently. He can no longer lift anything over his head without help. 

"It's a lot of muscle loss and atrophy at this point," he said. 

There's still no known cause for ALS, and that's why Quinn is hoping the increase in donations and funding from the ice bucket challenges will expand the research into the devastating disease. The ALS Association says it received $53.3 million in donations from July 29 to August 21 this year, compared to $2.2 million in the same time frame last year. 

As for criticism that the viral stunt has gotten too narcissistic or self-involved, Quinn brushes it off as irrelevant. 

"If people are doing it and mentioning ALS, even if they don't know what they're doing, they're still creating awareness," he said. "That was our initial intent. Awareness increases support, and more support equals more funding. More funding, hopefully more research." 

"The momentum we're building for ALS right now is incredible," he said. "We're just gonna ride it out and hopefully raise as much money as we can." 

To learn more about ALS or to make a donation, visit alsa.org

<![CDATA[Baby Left in Car Overnight at Bar]]> Sat, 23 Aug 2014 10:50:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Bristol+Police1.jpg

A 2-year-old girl was left in a car overnight at a sports bar in Bristol, Connecticut, while the mother spent the evening in the hospital because she was intoxicated, police said.

Police arrested Kelsey James, 22, of Bristol, after learning that her daughter was left in her car for more than five hours.

Police responded to City Sports at 177 Farmington Avenue in Bristol at about 11:56 p.m. on Friday to investigate a report of a woman found sleeping at the bar who was "intoxicated and incapacitated," according to a news release from the police department.

She was taken to Bristol Hospital for treatment and to be evaluated. When she woke up at about 5:20 a.m., she asked hospital staff where her baby was, so the hospital contacted police. 

Police found her 2-year-old daughter sleeping in the mother's car at the sports bar parking lot, where she was left while her mother was in the bar and then the hospital, according to police.

The baby was taken to Bristol Hospital to be evaluated and is okay, police said. She is being kept in the hospital until Department of Children and Families representatives arrive in response to the incident.

Police charged James with risk of injury and leaving a child unsupervised in a vehicle, according to police.

The mother was released after posting a $50,000 bond and she is scheduled to appear in Bristol Superior Court on Sept. 2.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Security Officers Beat Man]]> Sat, 23 Aug 2014 10:09:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/MTS+officers+beat+man.JPG

Two California transit security officers have been suspended as La Mesa Police investigate a “disturbing” video that shows them tackling, grabbing and punching a shirtless man on board a moving trolley.

The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) handed the footage from its public camera over the police to determine if the hired Transit Systems Security (TSS) officers used excessive force in the Aug. 18 incident. TSS is under contract to provide armed security officers for MTS.

The altercation started when the shirtless man – whose identity has not been released— boarded the MTS trolley at the Grossmont Trolley Station. In the ten-minute MTS video, the TSS officers are seen verbally confronting the man, though it is unclear what they were saying.

Suddenly, both officers lunge at him. They wrestle with him, standing on seats for better access and throwing the victim to the other side of the trolley as it moves through La Mesa.

The video then shows the officers pulling out their batons and striking the man over and over.

Six minutes later, when the trolley has pulled up to the 70th Street Trolley Station, the two men leave the victim sitting on a seat to order everyone else off the trolley car.

They talk with the man for another minute or so and wrestle with him again. Finally, a third officer comes on board to help escort the man out.

The victim was later taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

“The video depicting the incident is disturbing and not reflective of TSS culture,” said TSS Chief Executive Officer Steve Jones in a news release. “Our top priority is to ensure that MTS passengers enjoy a safe and secure public transportation experience. We are investigating this incident thoroughly and if any violation of TSS policy and procedures are found to have occurred, swift and appropriate personnel action will be taken.”

MTS officials say after an initial review, they referred the issue to the La Mesa Police Department, which will work with the District Attorney’s Office to determine if criminal charges will be filed.

Both MTS and TSS launched internal investigations to be completed next week. At that point, they will decide if disciplinary action – which could include termination – will be taken.

“It appears at this time that the actions taken by the security officers were unacceptable,” said Paul Jablonski, chief executive officer of MTS, in a statement. “MTS and TSS do not tolerate the inappropriate use of force by its employees or those of its contractors.”

The officers, whose names have not been released, will be suspended until the end of the police investigation.

La Mesa Police are asking anyone who saw the fight, recorded video of it or took pictures to call Lt. Matt Nicholass at 619-667-7512.

Photo Credit: MTS]]>
<![CDATA[Nat'l Zoo's Panda Bao Bao Turning 1]]> Sat, 23 Aug 2014 07:49:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BaoBao3+Thumbnail.jpg

For giant panda cub Bao Bao's first birthday, the Smithsonian National Zoo is holding a traditional Chinese ceremony to predict her future. But one thing's for sure: Her future contains cake.

As Bao Bao approaches this milestone, enjoy a Smithsonian video above, with highlights from her first year.

Bao Bao is more than just the poster panda for all things cute. Her birthday represents another success in the conservation of the highly endangered giant panda species.

The World Wildlife Fund estimate there are only 1,000 giant pandas living in the wild. About 100 live in zoos around the world for the purposes of breeding and conservation.

In just one year of life, the roly-poly cub has become famous in the District for her adorable antics. She even has a few celebrity fans. You may well wonder how we quenched our thirst for cute before Bao Bao came to town.

Some of our favorite highlights include the time she slurped down a frozen fruitsicle, her first foray into the outside world and the YouTube video that started it all: Bao Bao loudly protesting her tail being measured by keepers.

Bao Bao will be sent to China when she is four years old, but there's still plenty of time to celebrate before then, and the zoo is holding a party in her honor Saturday.

At 9 a.m., the giant panda cub will be given a traditional Zhuazhou (pronounced dra-JO) ceremony, similar to the one that many Chinese children are given on their first birthdays.

During the ceremony, a little one is presented with three symbolic objects to choose from, and the baby's choice is supposed to indicate his or her future. Bao Bao will be presented with three painted symbols on posters for either her or her mother, Mei Xiang, to pick from.

The event is closed to the public but Cui Tiankai, ambassador to the People's Republic of China, will answer media questions afterward to explain the significance of the ceremony.

Members of the "Friends of the National Zoo" program can attend the ceremony and will recieve panda party hats, a free game download and a piece of birthday cake.

At 11 a.m., the celebrations open up to zoo visitors, with a special panda-keeper demonstration. Bao Bao and Mei Xiang will be treated to a frozen cake.

There will also be an extra talk held at 1:30 p.m. and guests will be served complimentary Dandan noodles, a dish from the Sichuan province where the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda in Wolong is located. Food is first-come, first-served.

The zoo are asking guests to share photos and memories of Bao Bao's birthday on social media using #BaoBaoBday.

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution]]>
<![CDATA[Dramatic Photos: Michael Brown Police Shooting Unrest]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:49:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP495086005647.jpg After 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by police Aug. 9, multiple days of rioting and protests have erupted in Ferguson, Missouri. The FBI has opened an investigation into the shooting.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Beats "Possessed" Roommate]]> Sat, 23 Aug 2014 10:02:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/082214+joshua+diaz.jpg

A Miami man was arrested after he killed a cat and attacked his elderly roommate, police said.

Joshua Diaz, 24, is facing charges of animal cruelty, battery and battery on a person over 65 following his arrest late Thursday, Miami-Dade Police said.

Diaz was being held on $5,000 bond Friday and it was unknown if he has an attorney.

According to an arrest report, Diaz choked 72-year-old Elanor Wallace, his roommate, on Monday causing her to lose consciousness for a couple of minutes. When the woman woke up, Diaz was on top of her trying to wake her up, the report said.

Diaz told the woman if she called police he would kill her, the report said.

"He told me, 'If you cry... If I see even a tear or fear in your eyes, I will kill you right now,'" Wallace said.

Diaz later admitted to killing the cat, saying he did so because it scratched his head, the report said. The cat's body was found in a bag in a trash can, the report said.

He was also asked by officers if he had attacked his roommate.

"[Diaz] stated he did not, but believed that the victim was possessed," the report said.

A judge told Diaz in bond court he could not continue living with Wallace. When Diaz said he could stay with his uncle, the judge asked, "Your uncle doesn't have any cats, does he?"

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>
<![CDATA[Memorial Service for Ebola Victims]]> Sat, 23 Aug 2014 10:14:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/patrick+sawyer+princess+Nyuennyue+ebola.JPG

A memorial service will be held Saturday in Philadelphia for a brother and sister who both died of Ebola in Africa.

On July 25, 40-year-old Patrick Sawyer became the first American to be killed by the virus. Sawyer became ill just a few weeks after rushing to the bedside of his sick sister, 27-year-old Princess Nyuennyue, who was hospitalized in early July in Liberia, where she lived with her fiancée and son. Sawyer and Nyuennyue's mother, Georgia Nah, lives in Southwest Philly.

"I can't stand it," Nah said. "I can't sleep. Every day I think about them." 

Nyuennyue died July 7-- one day after her brother visited her.

“I didn’t even know she was sick,” said Nah, while holding back tears.

Hospital officials did not test the woman for Ebola until after her death – meaning her brother had no way of knowing he was exposed to the virus.

About two weeks after his sister’s death, Sawyer -- in Liberia since 2008 for his work with the foreign government’s Ministry of Finance -- was sent to Nigeria on assignment.

He collapsed as the plane touched down July 20 and was rushed to a hospital, where he was quarantined until his death five days later. He left behind a wife and three daughters, who he visited regularly at their home in Minnesota.

“My children were good children,” Nah said.

Nyuennyue was buried in Liberia. As for Sawyer, his family is still working to have his ashes returned to the states.

“At least send me something,” Nah said. “To know that here are the death certificates, the results of the Ebola. I don’t have anything.”

The memorial service for both of Nah's children will take place today from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Inez Too Banquet Hall on 624 South 62nd Street.

Contact Alison Burdo at 610.668.5635, alison.burdo@nbcuni.com or follow @NewsBurd on Twitter.

<![CDATA[Woman Sues Mental Health Facility]]> Sat, 23 Aug 2014 09:58:00 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/morris+celnikier.jpg

A South Florida woman is suing a mental health facility in Pembroke Pines after she says her brother died from injuries sustained while he was supposed to be under the watch of a caregiver.

Vivian Mechaber said her 62-year-old brother Morris Celnikier, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was left unsupervised in a locked room at South Florida State Hospital in December of last year. Celnikier died just four months later, and his sister claims his death was caused by injuries sustained in the 40 minutes he was left alone.

In video footage obtained exclusively by NBC 6 investigator Willard Shepard, Celnikier can be seen falling and hitting his head several times, banging on the walls, and apparently looking for some way out the locked room.

"I'm flabbergasted," Mechaber said. "He was in such a weak condition. This weakened him even more."

In the video, Celnikier can be seen pulling the mattress off his stationary bed and attempting to move the bed.

"When I saw him in that little four-by-six, knocking [on] the doors and trying to climb for help from the windows, it was terrible," Mechaber said.

She said four days went by before her brother was taken to Memorial Hospital in Hollywood for treatment.

According to the lawsuit filed by Mechaber against GEO Care, LLC, Celnikier was treated for multiple spine fractures. The lawsuit also alleges that while Celnikier was at South Florida State Hospital, he was physically battered. It says he was "manhandled, pushed into others and pulled around by his clothing."

"It's sad. This is something that cannot happen," said Mechaber's lawyer Paul Layne. "What we are looking here is just a total breakdown in the procedures and the performance and duties by multiple employees."

Celnikier never returned to the privately-owned South Florida State Hospital, where he had been staying since September 2012. Instead, he went to other rehabilitation facilities and died shortly after.

One of South Florida State Hospital's employees, Debra Judge-Thomas was charged with neglect and abuse of an elderly person following the December incident, but has said she is not guilty. It is unclear if she has an attorney.

In a statement, a South Florida State Hospital spokesperson said:

"GEO Care has always been committed to providing high quality mental healthcare to the persons served in our facilities. Our company's facilities strictly abide by contractual and regulatory requirements and adhere to leading industry standards set by independent accreditation entities, including The Joint Commission. As a matter of policy, our company is unable to comment on specific litigation or personnel related matters."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York

<![CDATA[Calif. Bill: Dogs Can Eat Out]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 04:45:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/051213+Cupcake+dog.jpg

Sit. Stay. Dine.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday allowing dogs to dine with owners if seated in an outdoor section of a restaurant.

"It will soon be legal to take your beagle with you to dinner," Mariko Yamada, the assembly member who championed the bill, said in a statement. "I wish everyone ‘bone-appétit’."

But those who aren’t as dog-friendly don’t have to worry – the law doesn’t force restaurant owners to allow dogs in establishments.

Owners have discretion on whether a dog is allowed to dine alfresco, according to the bill.

"Amidst all the horrific and depressing news around us, I hope this bill helps make people a little happier, and businesses who wish to accommodate diners with dogs safe from being unnecessarily cited," Yamada wrote on her Facebook page.

The restaurant also must have an outdoor entrance that doesn’t require the pet to walk through the restaurant to get to the outdoor area.

Dogs will have to be on a leash and well behaved, and they can’t sit on chairs or benches.

The bill also says that wait staff cannot have direct contact with a dog or pet them, and if they do, they must sanitize their hands.

Pets cannot be in the same area where food is being prepared.

Though the bill applies to restaurants statewide, cities can still pass local regulations that ban pooches from restaurant patios.

"We can't wait to legally come to dinner with our human friends," a Facebook group supporting AB 1965 wrote.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1.

Sutter Brown, the first dog of California and Gov. Brown’s pooch, was not available for comment.

<![CDATA[Teen "Fire Challenge" Warning]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:53:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Fire+Challenge+NJ+Warning.jpg

Officials with the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety have issued a statewide emergency bulletin about a dangerous "fire challenge" teens are taking.

They are dousing their bare skin in flammable liquids, like alcohol, and lighting it on fire.

The teens are recording the acts and posting the videos on YouTube and Facebook. But the stunt has already resulted in serious injuries across the nation.

Derrick Robinson, an 11-year-old from the Miami-area, had to be hospitalized in a regional burn center after trying the challenge. He suffered burns to his torso, chest and shoulder and has to undergo weekly hospital visits as he heals.

“Do not do the burn challenge!” Robinson told our sister station NBC6 South Florida.

In Arkansas, a 14-year-old girl suffered second degree burns to 27 percent of her body after pouring nail polish remover on her skin and igniting it.

"I saw a lot of people do it, and I never saw anyone die from it," the girl, Monica Hamilton, told the NBC affiliate in Little Rock, Arkansas, as she discussed her motivation.

A mother in Charlotte, North Carolina, was arrested after police said she helped her 16-year-old son undertake the dangerous act.

While there haven't been any reported injuries to New Jersey teens, officials want everyone to be aware of how dangerous lighting yourself on fire is.

"I have seen some people who have died from burns. It's just devastating," said Frank Primavera, an official with the Hamilton Township, New Jersey, Fire Department.

Officials say that teens taking the challenge risk burns not only to their skin but also to their respiratory system, since they are inhaling the ignited vapors.

Primavera is hoping parents will talk with their kids to help put an end to the risky challenge.

"The adults need to speak with their teenagers and find out why they would even want to do something like this and explain to them how devastating burns can be. They're forever," he said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York

Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Pot Plants Seized]]> Sun, 17 Aug 2014 00:31:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/marijuana+grow+1.PNG

More than 5,500 marijuana plants were seized and 14 people were arrested in connection with an illegal pot farm, officials said.

The seizure came from busts on Wednesday and Thursday from nine residences in unincorporated areas across the San Bernardino County, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

Authorities seized up to 5,557 marijuana plants, about 170 pounds of processed marijuana, four firearms and a "large quantity" of Hydrocodone pills, which comes from codeine, the Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

The residences searched were in Joshua Tree, Landers, Bloomington and Helendale. They all had large-scale outdoor pot farms, officials said.

Some of the people arrested used fake medical marijuana recommendations as a front for their illegal cultivations, but the operations were "strictly for-profit," the Sheriff's Department said.

<![CDATA[Perry in NH: Charges All Politics]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 23:03:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edtAP259994489655.jpg

New Hampshire wasn't kind to Texas Governor Rick Perry back in 2012. He's hoping voters in the granite state will give him a fresh start as he considers another presidential bid in 2016.

On Friday, Governor Perry returned to New Hampshire for a series of GOP sponsored events.

He met with business leaders in Portsmouth and focused many of his remarks on border concerns and the growing threat of ISIS, even connecting the two by speculating members of ISIS could enter the U.S. through unsecured borders.

"ISIS has said we are coming to America and they are going to attack us, I take them at their word," said Gov. Rick Perry.

Governor Perry also addressed his recent indictment on coercion charges by a Texas grand jury. He called the charges politically motivated and said he will fight them with every fiber of his being.

He also acknowledged making mistakes in New Hampshire back in 2012, saying he didn't spend enough time in the state and wasn't as prepared as he would have liked.

Governor Perry will make several more stops in New Hampshire through Saturday.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Parched California Finds Clever Ways to Save Water]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:00:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/0714-2014-DroughtPond.jpg

California communities are finding some ingenious ways to cope with the state's severe drought, one of the worst on record.

Their ingenuity comes as the severe shortage, now in its third year, puts increasing pressure on residents to save water.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency, and last month, tighter restrictions went into effect on washing cars or trucks, cleaning driveways and sidewalks or using water fountains. New swimming pools in could be next in line, as Orange County considers a plan to prevent new pools from being filled.

As the drought drags on, here are a few of the more ingenious responses.


There's a way to turn lawns green without watering them. A Los Gatos-based company called Green Canary uses a green, water-based coloring to transform brown, parched lawns.

The company had been working on foreclosed homes in California’s Central Valley, keeping lawns green to make the upkeep easier and keep criminals away from the abandoned homes, said its president Shawn Sahbari.

Now, his business is expanding to include other clients, though Sahbari said the service has not taken off, even if it is in the spotlight because of the drought.

“Obviously, this is a hot topic, because of the drought and the cost of water and people trying to conserve,” Sahbari said.

The Almaden Valley Athletic Club in San Jose is among its clients, prompted by its members' concerns about conservation.

“It provides immediate water conservation,” he said. “That's immediate savings, and that's immediate transformation.”


Cities and towns across California are offering cash for grass to encourage homeowners to replace their water-guzzling lawns. 

Long Beach calls its program Lawn-to-Garden and pays $3.50 for every square foot of turf removed.

“We don’t want people to just take out the lawn,” said Joyce Barkley, the city’s water conservation specialist. “We want them to replace it with a beautiful garden.”

Some possible replacements, she said: sage, blue fescue, rosemary, lilac, lavender and olive trees.

"We have big hurdles," she said. "A lot of people love their lawn so it's just a challenge."


Ventura is urging car owners to skip washing their cars for the month of August with its “Don’t Wash Your Car” challenge.

The city is asking residents to post photos of their filthy rides on the Ventura Water Facebook page.

Among the photos: a no longer quite white Honda that has not been washed in four months and an electric Fiat with “Save H2O” written in the dust on the rear window.

Last month, the three vehicles that earned the most "likes" won complete professional car details. Professional car washes use far less water than do-it-yourself washes at home, county officials note. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[James Foley's Dad: We Hoped to Negotiate With ISIS]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 04:42:00 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/james+foley+pic.JPG

The parents of slain journalist James Foley said they had hoped to negotiate with ISIS terrorists before their son was executed and his killing broadcast in a YouTube video.

“I didn’t realize how brutal they were and I actually hoped we would engage in negotiations with them if they were willing to send us any sort of communication because we had none prior,” John Foley said on NBC’s “Today” show Friday.

The group sent John and Diane Foley an email on Aug. 12, stating that their son would be “executed.” It was the first communication the Foleys received from the captors since December 2013. On Aug. 19, ISIS posted a video claiming responsibility for Foley's beheading.

A French journalist who was released in April and shared a cell with Foley reportedly said he was singled out for abuse because he was American. Yet Foley was said to be a source of comfort and strength for other captives.

“Jim’s courage and particularly his compassion and love in that box, which they called it, was an answer to prayer,” said Diane Foley. “We had so many people praying for Jimmy. We had begged for prayer but we didn’t need to. Everyone was so good in praying and Jim’s strength and love was the answer to prayer.”

U.S. special operations units were sent into Syria this summer to rescue Foley and other hostages, but the mission was unsuccessful because the hostages were not where they were expected to be, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday.

President Barack Obama denounced Foley's execution and pledged to continue to "do what is necessary" to protect Americans and support the Iraqi forces fighting back ISIS.

The Foleys said Friday they were deeply moved that Pope Francis called them after three of his relatives were killed in a car accident in Argentina.

“Pope Francis was so dear because he is grieving himself having just lost three members of his family, his nephew critically ill, so here in the midst of his tremendous grief he took the time to call and our whole family was there,” Diane Foley said.

The parents vowed to keep their son’s legacy alive and said they are praying for the release of Steven Sotloff, another American journalist held captive by ISIS, as well as other hostages.

“We pray that they are set free and Jim will live on we are going to establish a fund in his memory so that his compassion can live on,” Diane Foley said.

Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/FindJamesFoley]]>
<![CDATA[Police Kick in NJ Family's Door, Save Unconscious Baby]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:48:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/hopatcong+baby+saved.jpg

A 5-day-old New Jersey boy is in critical but stable condition after he stopped breathing suddenly over the weekend, possibly because of a bacterial infection, his parents say.

The boy's grandmother called 911 Saturday afternoon to report the Hopatcong infant appeared jaundiced and "non-reactive," while the child's mother, Andrea Suarez, frantically tried to revive little Maddox.

Suarez said it seemed like a minute later when "Hopatcong police literally kicked my front door open and just took him."

Officer Bob Haffner, who is also an EMT, told NBC 4 New York he couldn't find a pulse. Haffner began to perform CPR and then he and his colleague, Lt. Bob Unhoch, transferred the boy to an ambulance.

Police dispatchers in Hopatcong alerted dispatchers in nearby Roxbury to the emergency, and Roxbury police stationed officers at every intersection on Route 46 on the way to St. Claire's Hospital in Dover.

Maddox's parents say his condition has improved since he was admitted to the hospital, and that doctors are investigating whether he may have a bacterial infection.

Haffner says he was glad to help.

"It's one of those things where you go home that night and you think about it, and you go, 'It worked,'" he said.

Suarez said there are no words to describe her gratitude.

<![CDATA[Whole Foods Pulls Yogurt Over Sugar]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:14:00 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/whole+foods+yogurt+allegations.JPG

Organic supermarket giant Whole Foods has removed a version of its store-brand yogurt from shelves after lawsuits were filed in local courts over the dairy product's sugar content.

A company spokesperson tells NBC10.com Friday that the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt is not being sold as they investigate how much sugar is in each serving.

Two class-action lawsuits were filed earlier this month on behalf of Pennsylvania and New Jersey shoppers.

The suits were brought forth after testing by Consumer Reports found yogurt samples to contain six times the sugar content that was displayed on the nutrition label. The label said 2 grams of sugar was in one container of the product, but the group's analysis found 11.4 grams per serving.

The lawsuit alleges the supermarket knew the label was wrong, but continued to sell the product.

Whole Foods has declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but the spokesperson previously said they were working to determine the discrepancy between their test results and what Consumer Reports found.

Attorneys for the lawsuits are seeking $100 per plaintiff and could represent some 35,000 people. Should they win, the supermarket chain could be forced to pay $3.5 million.

The company spokesperson said several other Greek yogurt options remain stocked for customers in the meantime.

<![CDATA[Sam's Club Caesar Salads Recalled]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 18:18:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sams_club1.jpg

A California firm is recalling chicken Caesar salad kits sold at Sam's Clubs nationwide for possible listeria contamination.

APPA Fine Foods is recalling more than 92,500 pounds of fully-cooked chicken Caesar salad kit products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The salad kits were shipped nationwide and sold at Sam's Clubs' in-store cafes according to the USDA.

The following products are subject to recall were in 11oz. clear plastic containers and 6.5-lb. boxes labeled, "APPA Fine Foods/Sam’s Club Daily Chef CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD KIT" with case codes 141851, 141922, 141951, 141991, 142021, 142201 or 142131 with use by dates of 8/14/14, 8/21/14, 8/27/14, 9/1/14, 9/3/14 or 9/17/14. The kits were produced on July 4, July 11, July 14, July 18, July 21, July 25, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8, 2014.

The USDA's FSIS and the company said there have been no reports of illnesses, but anyone concerned about an illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. The invasive infection can spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems.

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.

More: California Firm Recalls Chicken Caesar Salad Kits For Possible Listeria Contamination

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Plane With Blown Tire Lands]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:14:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/southwest-emergency-landing-082214-7.jpg

A Southwest Airlines jet made a safe emergency landing after blowing a tire during takeoff Friday.

Emergency crews were standing by as the jet made its emergency landing at Dallas Love Field on Friday morning.

Southwest Airlines said Flight 8 was en route to Austin when the tire problem was discovered after takeoff.

The Boeing 737-700 returned to Love Field and made a fly-by so that ground crews could look for potential damage. The plane circled and returned for a final approach.

NBC 5's Chopper 5 showed the plane landing with smoke coming from the outboard left side tire as it touched down.

The plane slowed and came to a stop without incident, and emergency crews met the plane. Ground crews then changed the tires and towed the plane in from the runway.

All 125 passengers and a crew of five were put on another plane to continue their journey to Austin, according to Southwest Airlines.

Passengers said the plane had been in the air for about an hour and was nearly to Austin when it turned back to Dallas.

Some passengers described the mood on board as "jolly," saying people were joking and laughing.

Eric Maas, who got off the flight after missing a morning meeting in Austin, said he was nervous.

He texted his wife to let her know what was happening and immediately started Googling to learn of other incidents with landing gear.

"I was nervous, but I had my game plan. I was like, 'OK, if something happens what am I going to do?'" Maas said. "I was just kind of waiting to see, but I felt weird because I was like the only person I thought was panicking, and I was just quiet in my seat."

David Hannah praised the captain for keeping passengers informed the entire time and for landing the plane safely despite the damaged tire.

"We did the fly-by and then we circled back around then we landed," Hannah said. "When we landed you could definitely tell from the left side of the plane that there was a shudder or rumble on that left side, and then we were informed by the captain that our left two tires - that one was damaged and it was off the rim, and the other was shredded.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Woman Fined for Saving Water]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:31:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/water-drops.P2.jpg

A San Ramon homeowner is up in arms over being punished for her efforts to conserve water during California's severe drought.

Fran Paxson recently spent thousands of dollars transforming her front lawn by replacing what used to be dead grass with drought-tolerant landscaping. She now faces fines from the homeowners association, who said the changes to her property were not approved.

Paxson said she presented her plan twice to the homeowners association and got denied.

"The only real reason they could give me for denying the ground cover against lawn was that it would look better," Paxson said, who went ahead with plan anyway because she wanted to save water.

Paxson was told she will be fined $50 a month by the homeowners association until she replaced part of her front yard with grass.

"For all practical purposes I thought they should have applauded her," said Frank Mellon, a board director for East Bay Municipal Utilities District. "Yes, she should have followed the rules. But if she had done something really ugly, I think I could understand it a little bit. But I don't understand this."

EBMUD is giving Paxson a rebate for taking out her lawn, but she said that's not the reason she made the move.

"I feel it was the right thing to do, given the fact that we're in the drought," Paxson said.

The homeowners association did not return requests to comment on the issue. Paxson said a board member told her the association will take another vote on the matter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Experts Show Police Departments How to Diversify Ranks]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:36:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ferguson+courthouse+rogers.jpg

With the killing of an unarmed, black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, putting police departments under scrutiny, an expert on racial profiling says that the race of police officers tends not to make a difference on whether they use force.

“Blue is the most powerful color in terms of determining behavior," says Phillip Atiba Goff, a co-founder of the Center of Policing Equity at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an assistant professor of social psychology at the school.

Where race matters most is in the hierarchy of the force, among the officers who are in positions to make decisions, and to the community being policed, he said. Residents want to see themselves represented in the officers who make up their department.

The violence that erupted in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer has drawn attention to the racial make-up of police departments versus the communities they serve and ways to change the imbalance. The police force of Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, is more than 90 percent white in a community that is 67 percent black.

Goff’s group was brought in to look at racial profiling and other issues in the St. Louis County police department in the spring — one of about 20 law enforcement agencies it has worked with. Among the others are some that have had well publicized troubles, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies have twice accidentally killed innocent men in the last four months, and the Oakland Police Department, which has been under a federal court order to make reforms.

Richard Rosenfeld, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said Ferguson did not fit the profile of a community where tensions, particularly between young black men and the police, would boil over into violence. It has pockets of economic disadvantage but also middle- and upper-income residents, and in fact has benefited from recent growth in the northern part of St. Louis County, he said.

There are "hundreds and hundreds" of communities like Ferguson across the country, Rosenfeld said.

His recommendation for those communities: get to work diversifying the police force immediately.

“That’s not a cure-all but is certainly a necessary first step to ease some of those tensions,” he said.

Growing Poverty in Suburbs

Recent economic progress aside, Ferguson’s unemployment rate rose from less than 5 percent in 2000 to more than 13 percent by 2012. Its poor population doubled, with about one in four living below the federal poverty line, according to Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution. More poor residents now live in suburbs like Ferguson than in big cities or rural areas, a significant shift compared to 2000 when urban poor still outnumbered suburban poor, Kneebone noted in a research brief published in July.

“Suburbs often haven't developed the same infrastructure or safety net supports that cities have built up over decades for dealing with these issues,” she said. That fragmentation means many suburbs lack the staff and resources necessary to tackle the problem.

Goff's group tells police departments they have to devote resources to creating a more representative force, a step that can be difficult in a time of shrinking budgets.

"This is not something that’s going to happen overnight and it’s not something that’s just going to happen because you want it to," he said. "You’re going to have to devote money."  

Plus, he said, it is hard for police departments to attract candidates from communities with which police have had poor relations. Even after officers have been hired, retention can be difficult and burnout rates are higher.

“If you and your community feel there’s an organization that is set up to oppress you and your community, it’s very difficult for you then to decide, 'I’m going to feel good about going to work for them,'” he said.

Departments also have to consider how they are policing communities, he said. People tend to comply with the law when they see law enforcement officers behaving fairly and when they feel safe. If a community feels that it has been occupied, not policed, its resistance intensifies, he said.

A 1999 report, "Use of Force by Police," by the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics noted that the use of force appears to be unrelated to any officer's personal characteristics, such as age, gender and ethnicity. But the report cautioned that additional research was needed.

“If you’re involved in a use-of-force incident with an officer, it doesn’t make you feel any better if the person who is hitting you with a night stick is the same color as you,” Goff said.

A Problem of Trust

Victor Torres, a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer in San Diego, said he regularly gets calls from people who accuse police officers of misbehavior, from lying to physical assault.

“I think the problem is trust and when the police officers treat everyone like they’re at war with them, there’s not much trust,” said Torres, a director of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association. “You have to actually speak to the people when there’s not some crisis going on. You actually have to ask people questions instead of accusing them.”

To address racial profiling, San Diego's police chief is appearing in a public service announcement to ask possible victims to report problems. Torres applauded the video, but said that many people in the community believe they are discouraged from making complaints.

“It’s great that she’s making an effort but she needs to be accountable and let us know what happens to the reports,” he said.

Goff's group has worked with police departments to determine whether they are engaging in racial profiling, improve training, help commanders identify implicit bias and address issues of race and gender.

It is also creating the first national database of police behavior, including pedestrian stops, vehicle stops and use of force.

“What we’re trying to do is create a broader, big data approach so that there’s evidence-based approaches to social justice,” he said.

Photo Credit: Phil Rogers/NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Claims He's Ex-STP Singer]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:39:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/scottweiland+-+14.jpg

A shoplifting suspect who identified himself as former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland managed to mislead law enforcement for nearly four weeks and will likely face additional charges after police discovered he had lied about his identity.

Beverly Hills Police arrested a man at a Rite Aid drugstore on the 400 block of North Bedford Drive on July 26 after receiving a call about shoplifting. He identified himself as Weiland and was taken into custody on drug possession and burglary charges.

Police discovered Thursday that the man was not the former Stone Temple Pilot through an FBI fingerprint return. The man was then identified as 44-year-old Jason Michael Hurley. 

Weiland posted a video on his Facebook page Thursday in response to an article he read on TMZ that day that said he had been in jail for weeks.

"I just got done reading something interesting. A nice piece of fiction from TMZ saying I was in jail and have been. I’ve actually been touring, writing and recording my new album," Weiland said.

Weiland told his fans not to worry and that the report was a lie.

"TMZ, you’ll be hearing from my attorneys," Weiland said.

Police have requested that Hurley also be charged with furnishing false information to a peace officer.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York

Photo Credit: Alex Matthews]]>
<![CDATA[Burned Boy Biked Onto Hot Tar; No Sign Near: Mom]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:35:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/boy+burned+bike+islip.jpg

An 11-year-old Long Island boy was badly burned when he rode his bicycle into a street filled with hot tar that had no warning signs, his family alleges.

Public work crews were repaving the area at Tillie and Brooke streets in the town of Islip Wednesday afternoon, and there were no signs or barriers around the site, the boy's mother claims. 

The boy, David Jordan, said he thought the tar was dry and as he rode over it, his bicycle got stuck and he fell onto the scorching asphalt mix. 

"My bike got caught up and flipped over, and I hit my knee," he said. 

Jordan was badly burned on his hand and leg, and went to the hospital with second-degree burns. He has gauze bandages on his hand and leg and has trouble sleeping, he said. 

"Last night, the way he slept, he kept moaning in his sleep," said his mother, Nakita Jordan. "As his mother, as a mother, am I going to be able to sleep listening to my son in pain? With blisters on his leg and hand?" 

Nakita Jordan shot cellphone video after the accident purportedly showing no warning signs around the project, She said the public works crew didn't check on her son, and it was neighbors who swooped in to help, including one couple who put water over the boy's burn wounds. 

"Very kind, good people and I thank God for them," she said. 

Family attorney Kenneth Mollins said the Jordans are considering legal action against the town. 

"Putting down asphalt knowing the temperature is so high, and not cordoning off the area, forcing people away goes to a greater degree of negligence than just plain unreasonableness," said Mollins. 

In a statement, Islip Public Works Commissioner Thomas Owens said the paving work was done by a vendor who assured the town that "all of the appropriate and required safety measures were met and monitored."

Owens added that the town sent notices about the project to residents in the area, and that a town paving supervisor was also on site. 

"The town regrets the unfortunate injuries that this child sustained, and wish him a speedy recovery," said Owens, adding that the town is continuing to investigate.  

Nakita Jordan said she hopes the town will be more cautious.

"This is a neighborhood children live in," she said. 

<![CDATA[Woman Saves Dog in SoCal Traffic]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:39:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/215*120/08-21-14_Dog-Freeway-Rescue.JPG

A woman who braved getting out of her car during rush-hour traffic on Thursday rescued a pooch wandering a Southern California freeway.

Just after 6 p.m. a black dog could be seen zigging and zagging into lanes of the Long Beach (710) Freeway near Atlantic Avenue, causing motorists to slow down and try to corral the pooch.

At one point, a motorcyclist rode next to the dog, ushering it to the shoulder of the freeway.

The dog was in the far left lane of the freeway, dodging vehicles as it crossed to the shoulder.

Motorists turned on their emergency lights, working like a mobile fence, to keep the pooch corralled on the side of the freeway.

Andie Valerio pulled her car over and was able to rescue the dog, that had climbed an embankment.

"I turned my hazards on and I made sure she was kind of going towards the shoulder," Valerio said.

The female dog was scooped up by Valerio. The dog was wearing a collar, but did not have any tags.

"She's super sweet," Valerio said. "I was sitting with her the whole time and she just licked me and she was just sitting there on the floor, calm."

After Valerio coaxed the dog into her arms and got her off the freeway, she was turned over to the local animal shelter, which will assist in locating the owner or someone to adopt the dog.

<![CDATA[Death Penalty for Ex-Marine in Brutal Slayings]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:42:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Pietrzaks.jpg

Jurors have ruled a former Marine in Southern California who went by the nickname “Psycho,” should get the death penalty for the execution-style murders of a fellow service member and his wife.

A Riverside County Superior Court jury deliberated for about half a day before handing down the decision Thursday against Fallbrook resident Kesaun Sykes, 27.

It was the same jury to find him guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of newlyweds Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak, 24, and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26, who were found brutally killed in their home near Murrieta in October 2008.

Former Lance Cpl. Sykes was also found guilty of special circumstances of murder during the commission of a robbery, burglary and rape by an instrument.

His sentence is scheduled to be certified by a judge on Nov. 7.

Three other former Marines – Kevin Cox, Emrys John and Tyrone Miller – were convicted last June on the same counts in the Pietrzak slayings.

Juries ruled John and Miller should also be put to death and that Cox should get life in prison without the chance of parole.

Sgt. Pietrzak, a helicopter airframe mechanic at MCAS Miramar, once worked with Cox, John and Miller while they were stationed at Camp Pendleton.

Before the killings, the four convicted Marines went to the victims’ home to rob them, forcing their way inside, the DA says.

Pietrzak was later found bloodied and beaten to death inside his home, while his wife’s body was discovered naked. Investigators say she had been sexually assaulted before her murder.

Both victims were bound and shot in the head.

Jewelry, including the couple’s wedding rings, as well as Pietrzak's dress uniform were found at the suspects' homes, authorities said.

Sgt. Pietrzak, who was born in Poland and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., joined the Marines in 2003 and served in Iraq from July 2005 to February 2006. Relatives of the victims said Quiana was from San Bernardino and was a 2005 graduate of San Diego State University.

The couple met in San Diego through a mutual friend who also attended SDSU. Quiana was studying to become a doctor.

<![CDATA[Sacramento Patient Tests Negative for Ebola]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:04:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ebola.jpg

Health officials said Thursday a patient who was being tested for Ebola in Sacramento has tested negative for the virus.

There are currently no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in California.

"We are pleased with the negative outcome of the Ebola test and wish the patient a speedy recovery," Dr. Ron Chapman, California Department of Public Health Director and state health officer, said in a statement. "The case in Sacramento County demonstrates that the system is working. This patient was quickly identified, appropriate infection control procedures were implemented, and public health authorities were notified."

State and federal officials earlier in the week said they will not divulge which West African country the patient traveled to or from in order to protect the individual's privacy.

Officials also said they will not be releasing the patient's identity, gender or whether the patient is an adult or minor.

On Tuesday, health officials announced that the patient who was admitted to a South Sacramento hospital may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. The Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center worked with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test blood samples from the patient.

For more information about Ebola, please visit the CDPH home page's "Other Hot Topics" and the CDC's page on information and updates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Parents Want Apology After Selfie Connects Son With Burglary]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 23:02:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Santa+Clarita+Valley+Selfie.jpg

Upset parents want the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to clear their son's name after they said a selfie making the rounds on social media and news reports connected the innocent man with a home burglary investigation.

Larry Beltran showed up to the Santa Clarita Valley station Wednesday with his son, Larry Beltran Jr., to speak with deputies about the apparently stolen cellphone, but was told to return Thursday because the detective on the case had already gone home.

"We are here trying to do the right thing," the father said. "I'm just upset that everybody is calling me saying 'Your son is on the news, your son did this.' Here I am at the station and they're telling me they don't know anything about it."

"I would like an apology for my son," Irene Cabrera said.

While Irene Cabrera said she hopes for an apology, Larry Beltran contacted NBC4 on Thursday to stress his concern over getting his son's name cleared.

Detectives identified Beltran Jr. and his girlfriend as "people of interest" in a news release containing the image. Detectives hoped that the photo would help lead them to the burglars who ransacked a Newhall home on July 30. Detectives said the selfie was discovered after the victim logged on to her online cloud account and realized some photos were uploaded of people she did not know.

"It's embarrassing," Larry Beltran Jr. said. "I had no idea it would be all over the news or anything. That was just between me and my girlfriend."

"I come in and they gave me the runaround," Beltran Jr. said.

His aunt, who also showed up to the station to help clear him from any wrongdoing, told deputies that she bought two phones for $80 from a man at a swap meet and gave one to her nephew.

"I thought I got a good deal but I didn't know I put my nephew in a bad situation," said the aunt, Angie Cabrera.

Deputies told NBC4 on Thursday the family was cooperating with deputies at the station.

Sheriff's officials declined to comment to NBC4 on whether he was still considered a person of interest.

Christina Cocca contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the mother of Larry Beltran Jr. as Irene Beltran. Her name is Irene Cabrera.

Photo Credit: LASD Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station]]>
<![CDATA[Border Patrol Seize $780K in Meth, 2 Arrested]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 01:53:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/228*120/methlede.JPG

Border Patrol agents in Southern California seized 78 pounds of vacuum-sealed methamphetamine hidden inside the body of a car stopped at a San Clemente checkpoint Thursday morning, officials said.

The bust occurred at 2 a.m. Thursday when a police dog alerted agents to the meth in a 2008 Chrysler Sebring that authorities had flagged into the checkpoint, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said in a press release.

A 33-year-old Mexican national and his passenger were arrested, officials said.

Agents searched the vehicle and found 19 vacuum-sealed packages of methamphetamines throughout the body of the car and inside the gas tank.

Tthe drugs had a value of $780,400, officials said.

The men booked into custody on suspicion of possession of meth with intent to distribute.

"Drug smugglers are unyielding in their attempts to bring illicit drugs into our country for sale within our communities," said David BeMiller, an agent in charge of the San Clemente checkpoint.

<![CDATA[Protesters Demand "Drone-Free LAPD"]]> Sun, 01 Jun 2014 19:58:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/211*120/drone+free+lapd+4.JPG

Protesters gathered outside LA's city hall Thursday morning, chanting "drone-free LAPD" to demand a halt to what they called an LAPD plan to use drones to spy on citizens.

Demonstrators from the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition pushed up against the City Hall entrance, trying to get a meeting with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti over two silent, camera-equipped drones the police department has recently acquired.

"What's going to happen when they have a drone that you can't ever hear is around, that can come into close radius?" protester Jamie Garcia said. "What are they going to do with this data? They haven't told us."

LAPD got the state-of-the-art Draganflyer X-6 drones for free from the Seattle Police Department in May. Civil rights activists on Thursday said Seattle residents' protests over drone testing in their city got their mayor involved to stop the drone use. They hope they can get Garcetti to do the same.

LAPD spokesman Bruce Borihahn said a federal agency is storing the drones. He said he doesn't know the drones' capabilities.

"We're not even in possession of these things," Borihahn said.

Police will not use the drones in LA before a "lengthy approval process" by the civilian police commission, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and civil rights groups, Borihahn said.

Protesters said the Draganflyer website and videos posted by other police departments using the drones around the country show the devices are small, indetectable and much less expensive than the manned helicopters currently used by the LAPD.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California applauded the department's transparency about receiving the tool, but questioned whether its use outweighs the potential for invasion of privacy, Hector Villagra, the executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, said in a statement in June.

Beck has promised the public the drones would only be used in tactical situations such as manhunts and standoffs.

"The Los Angeles Police Department will never, ever give up public confidence for a piece of police equipment," he said in June.

<![CDATA[92-Year-Old Woman Tricks Thieves Into Getting Arrested]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:18:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/elderly+woman+bellport+violet.jpg

A pair of alleged scam artists pretending to be chimney workers had the tables turned on them when the elderly Long Island woman they tried to burglarize figured out their scheme and had them arrested when they returned to her home, police say. 

The 92-year-old woman, who is being identified only as Violet, said the two men came to her Bellport home last Saturday claiming to be from a company called New York's Finest Home Improvements. 

They told her they'd made an appointment with her regarding chimney work, and while she was distracted outside with one of the men, the second stole prescription drugs and $165 in cash from inside the home, she said. But the alleged thieves didn't stop there: they told her they'd come back and fix her chimney for $3,000. 

Violet decided to do some investigating, and when she looked through her phone book, she could not find a listing for New York's Finest Home Improvements. She called police. 

"It's kind of funny to us. We would use Google, or we would use the Internet," said Suffolk Det. William Madigan. "A 92-year-old woman is going to use the phone book to see if she can find the company name." 

When the two suspects returned, police were waiting for them and made the arrests. The convicted felons were charged with burglary. 

Violet said she's learned her lesson and told reporters Thursday, "You folks tell your folks to be careful. They might not realize, but they could be a victim next."