<![CDATA[NBC New York - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:45:52 -0400 Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:45:52 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Kids, Women Among 71 Bodies Found in Truck: Officials]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:07:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_300401707603.jpg

The number of migrants found dead in a truck abandoned on the side of a highway in Austria has reached 71, Austrian officials said Friday, NBC News reported.

The victims were 59 men, eight women and four children — including a girl who was no older than two years of age, according to Burgenland Police director Hans Peter Doskozil.

Meanwhile, three suspects believed to be involved in people smuggling have been arrested in connection with the case, and at least one other individual is being hunted, authorities confirmed. 

Police originally thought up to 50 refugees had died inside the vehicle, which had been parked up on the shoulder of the busy road, 10 miles from Austria's border with Slovakia and Hungary.

The war in Syria has contributed to record numbers of migrants attempting to cross into Europe from Africa and the Middle East this year, often taking perilous sea crossings and stowing away in trucks.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hero Prof. Thanks Airman for Saving His Life on Train]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:18:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Moogalian.jpg

A French-American professor shot by a gunman on a train in France has telephoned a U.S. airman who stopped his bleeding to thank him for saving his life, his wife told NBC's "Today" on Friday.

Mark Moogalian, 51, was shot in the back after trying to stop the attacker carrying an assault rifle and other weapons. Moments later, 25-year-old Ayoub El-Khazzani was subdued by three vacationing Americans, including Airman Spencer Stone, who also attended to Moogalian's injuries.

"My husband was able to talk to Spencer on the phone a couple of days ago and he was very emotional," Isabelle Risacher-Moogalian said. "That's the first thing he told him, he said, 'Hey man, thanks for saving my life.'"

She added: "I went to see Spencer and I gave him a big kiss and I said, 'Look, you know, thank you. I will never be able to thank you enough for what you did. You saved his life.' Spencer was like, 'Yeah, you know, no problem!'"

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<![CDATA[Man Kidnaps, Feeds Person He Thought Was Homeless: Cops]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:14:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/david+pope.jpg

A Connecticut man is accused of kidnapping a man he thought was homeless, then feeding him in his home.

Police responding to a home on West Wooster Street in Danbury just before 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday after receiving an animal complaint were met with a 77-year old man who told them the strange series of events leading up to the complaint.

He said he'd been pushing a carriage of cans and bottles down Lincoln Avenue when another man approached him, and insisted that the man follow him, police said.

The victim said the man, identified as David Pope, grabbed him by the arm, escorted him back to Pope's residence and then brought him inside, police said.

While they were inside the home, Pope's dog -- a pit bull or Staffordshire Terrier -- bit the victim’s leg, police said.

Even after the dog bite, Pope proceeded to feed the victim, a news release from police says.

At one point, the victim was able to leave Pope’s house without being detected, went to his own house and called police.

When police officers went to speak with Pope, he refused to put his dog away so officers could not safely interview him.

When officers did eventually speak with Pope, he appeared to be drunk and said he thought the victim was homeless and was offering him food.

Pope was charged with interfering with the duties of an officer, second-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree kidnapping and disorderly conduct.

David was held on a $500 bond. It's not clear if he is being represented by an attorney. 

Photo Credit: Danbury Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[NATO Troops Killed in Afghanistan ID'd as U.S. Airmen]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 01:48:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Roland+and+Sibley.jpg

The two NATO troops killed in an ambush in Afghanistan Wednesday were identified as U.S. special tactics airmen, NBC News reported.

Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, of Lexington, Kentucky, and Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, of Pensacola, Florida, died after gunmen wearing Afghan security forces uniforms opened fire on their vehicle while it was stopped at a checkpoint near Camp Antonik, the Air Force said.

"These two combat controllers were incredible warriors who not only volunteered to join our nation's Special Operations Forces, but earned their way to the tip of the spear in defense of our nation," Col. Wolfe Davidson, 24th Special Operations Wing commander, said in a statement.

Photo Credit: U.S. AIR FORCE]]>
<![CDATA[Student Fatally Shot at Savannah State University]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 05:16:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Savannah+State+University+Shooting.png

A college junior died after being shot Thursday night in Savannah State University’s student union building.

Christopher Starks, a junior from the Atlanta area, died at a local hospital, the college said in a statement.

According to two women who were in the union, there was a fight that ended in one person being shot in the collarbone area, NBC affiliate WSAV reported. The station said that other students applied pressure to the wound before first responders arrived.

The shooting prompted a lockdown at the Georgia campus. It wasn't immediately clear whether a suspect was in custody. No further details were immediately available.

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<![CDATA[Exclusive Peek Inside Virginia Shooter's Apartment, Car]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:50:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/AP_868769199708.jpg

The failed TV reporter who shot two journalists during a live broadcast lived in a sparsely furnished $600-a-month apartment decorated with pictures of himself, a video provided to NBC News shows.

According to an inventory of items found in a search warrant return, Vester Flanagan also had a wig, six magazines of ammunition, a brief case that contained three license plates, and a to-do list in the car he was fleeing in before he killed himself.

Police said Flanagan texted a friend "making reference to having done something stupid" following the shooting of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, cameraman Adam Ward, and local chamber of commerce director Vicki Gardner — who was also shot and survived.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Where is Former FEMA Chief Michael Brown Now?]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:01:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_060210019224.jpg

 The former FEMA chief who became the face of the botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina is out of the public sector now — but he's not always out of trouble.

In the 10 years since his resignation following the storm and its chaotic aftermath, Michael Brown has become an author, a consultant, and a radio talk-show host. Throughout it all, whenever an opportunity to voice an honest opinion has presented itself — even if that opinion ruffles feathers — he's taken it.

Now living in Denver, the 60-year-old Brown hosts a daily show on 630 KHOW, his city's radio station that is also home to shows by Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and other fiery conservative figures.

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<![CDATA[Woman Dances After Pursuit]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 02:51:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/08-27-2015-chase-pursuit-dance-1.gif

A 25-year-old woman was arrested after breaking into a dance and taunting officers at the end of a pursuit Wednesday night near downtown Los Angeles.

Spike strips were used to destroy the car's tires, but the woman, identified as Kelsey Wood, continued driving on the vehicle's wheels. The pursuit began around 10 p.m. in the downtown area.

Wood was suspected of driving under the influence, according to the LAPD. She was being held on $75,000 bail on suspicion of "felony evading," police said.

Wood drove over the spike strips, which appeared to deflate the tires.

The pursuit ended when Wood got out of the vehicle and began dancing in front of officers.

She got back into the vehicle before officers arrested her.

No injuries were reported.

It was not immediately clear whether Wood had an attorney.

Photo Credit: ANG]]>
<![CDATA[2 Dead in Hazmat Situation]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:31:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/hazmat6.png

Two people are dead, one person is critically injured and four first responders have been hospitalized in a mysterious hazardous materials situation in unincorporated Des Plaines.

Around 3:30 p.m., police were called to a northwest suburban townhome in the 9400 block of Harrison Street after receiving a report of three people in distress.

Upon entering the home, four Cook County sheriff's officers were unexpectedly overcome by some sort of hazardous agent, authorities said. 

“They started feeling sick,” said Rick Dobrowski, chief of North Maine Fire Protection District. “They were having some kind of breathing difficulties, we don’t know for sure.”

The officers were taken to area hospitals to be treated. They have since been released and are in stable condition.

Inside the home three adults – two males and a female – were found not breathing, according to police.

The Cook County medical examiner pronounced both men dead and the woman was transported to a hospital in critical condition. 

The two men were identified Friday morning as 53-year-old Hong Kyqkim and 83-year-old John Tae Kim, according to the medical examiner's office.

A preliminary investigation revealed the victims likely died due to inhalation of a deadly substance.

No information has been released as to what room of the house they were in or their relationship with one another.

Several residences around the home were temporarily evacuated while hazmat teams worked late into the night Thursday to try to figure out what that substance is.

“They didn’t find anything in particular but they were able to rule out anything that was bad – as far as any kind of alkali or acid that was still in there, fumes” Dobrowski said. “They were also able to test the water that they found to make sure there was nothing mixed, chemical wise.

Police said surrounding residents are not in danger, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t on edge as they surveyed the scene of dozens of emergency crews.

“I’m terrified,” one neighbor told NBC Chicago.

Investigators remained at the home near Potter Road well after dark to continue to sweep for evidence.

“They’re just trying to determine what possibly caused this,” said Cook County Sheriff's spokeswoman Sophia Ansari.

<![CDATA[Texas Man Facing Charges Kills Self]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:09:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Gene+Dickey+DFW+Hyatt.jpg

The 65-year-old man who died at a North Texas hotel Tuesday night faced charges of stealing more than $1.6 million from a teacher's group.

Initially, reports said Eugene Dickey’s death was an accidental fall from a ninth floor balcony at the D/FW Airport Hyatt Regency.

Now, Tarrant County Medical Examiner autopsy results say he jumped.

Dickey was due in an Austin courtroom this week on charges he took the money between 2006 and 2014 serving as Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer for the Texas Educational Theatre Association (TETA).

“We’re sorry it came to this,” new TETA President Travis Poe said. “We have his family in our hearts and prayers.”

Dickey’s home address is an average house in Coppell, where no one answered the door Thursday.

A neighbor who declined to be identified said she is shocked by the news of his death and the criminal charges.

“He was just a nice man,” she said.

The neighbor said Dickey faced medical issues in the past year.

He was arrested in July 2014 for the Travis County theft indictment.

Court records say he provided Austin-based TETA with false audits and financial statements, claimed the teachers had investments that did not exist and took out unnecessary loans for the group that would not have been required if not for his theft.

The group’s blog shows Dickey served as the coordinator for annual conventions in Dallas and Houston with big name entertainers.

Records show some of the alleged theft was convention money Dickey failed to deposit in TETA accounts and diverted to himself.

Their president said Dickey led the theater teachers to believe he was a savvy businessman and financial expert.

"None of the officers had any idea this was going on. He was just such a controlling, manipulator," Poe said.

The president said group membership is still strong and TETA finances are in much better order now.

Several other members declined to speak on the record, but said they are very angry about what happened to their money.

Travis County Assistant District Attorney Holly Taylor said a September 9 court date has been set in the case after Dickey failed to appear this week.

“We are considering our options. It's a terrible tragedy and also a setback," she said.

Taylor said a judge could still attempt to recover some of the money, but Poe said members fear it is gone.


Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Woman, 79, Walking Dog Hit by Car Police Were Pursuing]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:07:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/woman+with+dog+struck.jpg

A 79-year-old woman walking her dog was seriously injured when she was struck by a car police were chasing Thursday in New Jersey, authorities said.

According to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, a gold 2002 Nissan Sentra jumped a curb and hit the woman just before noon near Branch Brook Park in Newark. The car also struck a Mercury Sable, injuring a driver and passenger.

All three were taken to a nearby hospital, where the woman remains in serious condition, prosecutors said. The others had less serious injuries. The woman's dog is also said to have survived.

Mike Wiston, who saw the aftermath of the crash from his apartment, said he recognized the woman from the neighborhood.

"Every time I ran into her I either saw her with a shopping cart or with her dog in a stroller and she used to walk with that support," Wiston told NBC 4 New York. "The driver should have stopped for her because she had a walking problem, she wouldn't have been able to run even if she saw the car coming."

Authorities have not released the names of anyone involved or any information regarding what sparked the police chase.

The 20-year-old driver of the Nissan is in police custody but has yet to be charged, officials said.

<![CDATA[Stock Market Extends Rebound]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:12:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_849471523031.jpg

U.S. stocks jumped higher again Thursday, adding to the gains of a monster rally a day earlier in a see-saw week on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up nearly 370 points. The broader Standards & Poor's 500 index and tech-heavy NASDAQ also ended the day rising more than 2 percent.  

The rally come on a day the Commerce Department announced that the U.S. economy had grown faster than initially thought, Reuters reported. Gross domestic product hit a 3.7 percent annual pace instead of the 2.3 percent rate reported last month. 

On Wednesday, the Dow climbed 619 points, its third-biggest point gain on record, and the S&P 500 posted its biggest percentage gain since 2011.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[StarKist Settlement: How to Get Cash or $50 in Tuna]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:24:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/224*120/StarKist+Chunk+Light+Tuna+in+Water.jpg

Tuna lovers have your pick: $25 in cash or $50 in tuna.

StarKist is offering affected customers cash or tuna fish as part of a settlement in a class action lawsuit that alleged the company under-filled some of its 5-ounce cans of tuna by several tenths of an ounce, NBC News reported. StarKist has denied wrongdoing. 

A shopper must have bought one of the company's 5-ounce cans of chunk light tuna or solid white tuna in water or oil between Feb. 19, 2009, and Oct. 31, 2014, to be eligible for the cash or tuna.

Affected consumers can file a claim through the settlement website TunaLawsuit.com

The website says that a receipt or other proof of purchase is not needed to submit a claim. 

<![CDATA[Deliberations Underway in N.H. Prep School Rape Case]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:35:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Owen+Labrie+trial.jpg

The fate of a New Hampshire prep school graduate is now in the hands of the jury.

Closing arguments wrapped up Thursday in the case of 19-year-old Owen Labrie who is accused of raping a 15-year-old freshman girls two days before he graduated St. Paul's School in May of 2014.

The state and defense made their final cases on Thursday and the case went to the jury before lunchtime.

Defense Attorney J.W. Carney told jurors in closing that his client isn't a "saint" but a teenage boy who was bragging to his friends about something that didn't happen.

Prosecutor Joseph Cherniske says Labrie targeted the young girl and wouldn't take no for answer. Now the jury will decide who to believe.

For the 19 year old who claims the rape allegations against him are false, closing arguments appeared to be his breaking point.

"The entire weight of this event on him is really becoming almost too difficult," Carney said outside Merrimack Superior Court.

"Difficult" is an understatement - says Cherniske - for the now 16-year-old girl who claims Labrie raped her on St Paul's campus in 2014.

"She was telling truth with painful honesty," he told the jury.

Labrie and the alleged victim both testified that they agreed to meet for a tradition called the senior salute, to spend time together and to kiss.

The young girl says it went too far and they had sex against her will.

Labrie says they didn't and that through the kissing he never got the sense she was uncomfortable.

Carney says the girl told a nurse it was consensual, told her friends she didn't know whether to be "happy" or "proud," and that she only changed her story to rape after rumors started swirling and her family found out about her senior salute.

"She had to make a decision that it would be her reputation into the toilet or it would be Owens and she took the easier route," Carney said.

The prosecution says just because the girl agreed to kissing, doesn't mean she was a willing participant.

"So what," Cherniske asked jurors. "Does that mean she can't change her mind?"

He then attacked Labrie's credibility.

"He wants you to believe nothing happened in the mechanical room, that it was a joke, yet he deleted 119 message from his Facebook account after talking with police where he confirms he had oral sex with her," Cherniske said.

Cherniske says the defendant is a predator who targeted a young, vulnerable girl and took her to a place where there'd be no eye witnesses.

"Where no one would hear a 15 year old girl say, 'no,'" Cherniske said. "And then she froze in fear as he carried out her plan.

For each of the three most serious charges of rape, Labrie faces up to 20 years.

Jury will start deliberations again Friday at 9 a.m.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Has Attendee Pull at His Hair, Attacks Media]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:02:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_343928941003.jpg

Donald Trump forcefully defended his hair and attacked the New York Times for a front-page report on his adversarial relationship with Spanish-language media during a rally in South Carolina on Thursday.

The GOP presidential frontrunner took umbrage to the opening paragraph of the Times story that details how Hispanic radio host Ricardo Sánchez has nicknamed Trump "El hombre del peluquín," or "the man of the toupee."

"I don't wear a toupee. It's my hair. I swear," he said before inviting a woman in attendance to inspect his head. 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Texas Day Care Delivers 5-Year-Old to Wrong School on 1st Day]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 08:41:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/Kaydin+Johnson.jpg

A North Texas day care has vowed to take "appropriate action" after a 5-year-old in its care was dropped off at the wrong school on the first day of kindergarten this week.

"I was infuriated," said Scott Johnson, the child's father. "One time is one time too many."

Johnson told NBCDFW he dropped off his son, Kaydin Johnson, at Denton's Childcare Network day care before school started Monday – his son's first day at a "big-boy school."

The day care then provides bus transportation to school, according to Johnson, for Kaydin and other school-aged children.

Kaydin lined up in the appropriate line for his bus and school Monday, but then moved into a different line for a different bus and school, according to a representative for Childcare Network.

The Childcare Network's bus driver delivered Kaydin to Sam Houston Elementary School, where a staffer found the 5-year-old alone and crying outside after all of the other kids had been escorted into the building, according to the child's father.

When the school staffer brought Kaydin to the office, the school was able to contact Childcare Network, which sent a different bus to the school in order to deliver the child to his proper place – McNair Elementary School, approximately four miles away.

Kaydin arrived at McNair at approximately 8:20 a.m. Monday – about 30 minutes late for his first day of class, according to Robert Moffett, chief development officer for the Childcare Network.

"We regret the situation that occurred," Moffett told NBCDFW. "Childcare Network prides itself on providing the safest transportation for school age children. We are reviewing the matter and will take appropriate action to ensure our transportation procedures are properly implemented."

A representative for the Denton Independent School District confirmed Wednesday that Kaydin was dropped off at the wrong school, an incident a spokesperson called a "rare occurrence."

Scott Johnson said he and his family are focused on the bright side.

"He was safe. It was taken care of [by the time I learned about the mistake] so me becoming angry would not change anything," Johnson said. "[But] that's where we decided that people needed to know, because if this happened with our child it could happen with anybody's child."

Childcare Network "self reported" the incident to the Child Care Licensing wing of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which regulates day cares.

There are child-care standards related to transportation and supervision, according to Marissa Gonzales of DFPS, but until an investigation is completed it would be premature to say if Childcare Network committed a violation in its error Monday.

Since the incident, the Johnson family has pulled Kaydin from Childcare Network and the day care has agreed to refund the money the family had paid for its services.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Truck 'Full of Bodies' Found in Austria: Official]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 10:32:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_662790331807.jpg

A truck "full of bodies" was found parked on the side of a highway in eastern Austria on Thursday, NBC News reported. 

Police said the dead were thought to be refugees.

Gerald Pangl, a police spokesman in the Austrian state of Burgenland, told NBC News that the death toll was unclear but colleagues described the vehicle as being "full of bodies."

Hans Peter Doskozil, the head of the Burgenland Police, added: "We cannot say exactly how many there are. We could imagine that maybe 20 people have died, but it could also be 40 or 50 ... We think that these are refugees."

The war in Syria has contributed to record numbers of migrants attempting to cross into Europe from Africa and the Middle East this year. Many set out on perilous sea crossings and stowing away in trucks.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA['That's Vester': Image Alerted Station to Killer]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:13:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/wdbj_shootingt_grab_150826_0d50f66a29e8b4b9a231e1e1469b1c81.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpg

The man who shot and killed a Virginia TV reporter and photographer live on the air Wednesday was immediately recognized by station employees as their former colleague, the station's general manager said Thursday.  

Coworkers gathered and looked at a chilling image, captured by cameraman Adam Ward as he lay dying. It was the killer, looking into the lens and pointing his gun.

"Everybody who was gathered around it said, 'That's Vester,'" the general manager, Jeffrey Marks, told NBC's "Today" show Thursday. "And I wasn't sure. They were."

He said the information was immediately passed to the county sheriff, helping authorities identify Vester Flanagan, who was fired from the station two years earlier after other WDBJ employees found him difficult to work with.

The reporter, Alison Parker, and Ward were killed, and a local businesswoman who was being interviewed was shot and wounded.

Photo Credit: WDBJ]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton Compares GOP Views on Women to 'Terrorist Groups']]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:57:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_32190678465.jpg

Hillary Clinton seemed to compare Republican presidential candidates' "extreme views" on women to those held by "terrorist groups" while she was campaigning in Ohio on Thursday.

"Extreme views about women— we expect that from some of the terrorist groups. We expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world. But it's a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the presdient of the United States," Clinton said to cheers.

Republicans were quick to demand an apology from Clinton.

"For Hillary Clinton to equate her political opponents to terrorists is a new low for her flailing campaign," Republican National Committee Press Secretary Allison Moore said. "She should apologize immediately for her inflammatory rhetoric."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Too Hip to Be Square: Instagram to Allow Landscape Photos]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:09:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-146168661.jpg

Instagram photographers around the world are pleased that the photo-sharing service has decided to think outside the box.

"You can now share photos and videos in both portrait and landscape orientation on Instagram," the online application announced on its website.

Square format images have been a part of Instagram since day one, however, the company realized that square imaging has caused some problems for users.

"We know that is hasn't been easy to share this type of content on Instagram: friends get cut out of group shots, the subject of your video feels cramped and you can't capture the Golden Gate Bridge from end-to-end," Instagram's announcement said. 

With the new feature, users now have the option to choose a square, portrait or landscape orientation when posting a video or photo. 

It's been long debated by videographers that cellphone videos should be shot in landscape or "long ways" rather than vertical.

Instagram hopes its new option to post a video in widescreen will make a mobile video be more "cinematic than ever." 

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[6-Month-Old Twins Hear for 1st Time]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:58:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/161*120/08.26.15_Twins-Hear-Hearaid.JPG

In an incredible moment, twin baby girls were able to hear the sounds of the world for the very first time Wednesday when hearing aids they received as a gift from an Orange County foundation were turned on.

Looking, even really closely, it's almost impossible to tell Kiara and Kayla apart.

The 6-month-old girls are identical in every way, including their disability. Both were born deaf.

“It was so stressful when we heard about it,” the girls’ mother, Gemila Hernandez, recalled.

The diagnosis devastated both Gemila and her husband, Raul.

“I remember one day I was walking, I heard the birds chirping,” Gemila said, recalling thinking her little girls could not hear it.

“Before we knew their diagnosis we would tell them so much everyday how much we love them,” Gemila said. “And then when we learned about the diagnosis it was so hard for us because I question, have they ever heard me say I love them?"

To add to their heartbreak, the Hernandezes called their insurance company and learned even more devastating news. Most insurance companies — including theirs — consider hearing aids "elective" or "cosmetic" and don't cover any of the costs.

“I remember when we got the email, I couldn't even compose myself,” Gemila said.

But Wednesday, it was a different surge of emotions as the twins were fitted for their hearing aids, thanks to the nonprofit Hearaid Foundation.

“Most people don't realize that a mild to moderate hearing loss could severely affect their speech and language development,” said Cheryl Tanita, chief audiologist for Hearaid, the Newport Beach headquartered organization.

The foundation that helped the twins provides thousands of devices to children, many of whom are born deaf.

Now, thanks to that gift of hearing, these girls will grow up in a world with sounds, including hearing their mother's voice.

Both parents watched as first Kiara, then Kayla, were able to hear for the first time.

All the attention from the doctors, their parents and the others gathered to watch their reactions was perhaps too tiring for Kiara, who fell asleep soon after the first moment.

But the sparkle in Kayla’s eyes as her ears took in their first sounds was unmistakable.

“It's beautiful!” Gemila exclaimed. “Before, I told them, a million times how much I love them. Now I'm going to say it so much more.”

For more information or to donate to Hearaid Foundation, visit their site here.

<![CDATA[Surviving Panda Cub 'Looks Great,' National Zoo Says]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:58:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/panda-2015-08-27_1330.jpg

The National Zoo's surviving panda cub is doing well, a day after the death of its twin, the zoo announced Thursday afternoon.

The zoo said Thursday that the surviving cub is active and was nursing overnight.

"Mother Mei Xiang is showing proper maternal care which includes short sleep cycles and adjusting the tiny cub in her arms for better positioning and grooming," the zoo said in a release. The cub was also making strong vocalizations.

"The cub is growing more hair, its tail looks plump and the cub overall looks great," the zoo said.

The twin cubs were born Saturday evening to the zoo's female giant panda, Mei Xiang. Keepers had been swapping the cubs to ensure that they were both receiving adequate care because panda mothers are usually unable to care for twins on their own.

However, the smaller of the two cubs died Wednesday afternoon.

A zoo official said Mei Xiang hadn't been showing preference to one cub over another and was reluctant to give up whichever cub was with her any time keepers attempted a swap.

The zoo will announce the sexes of both cubs Friday morning, as well as the initial necropsy results on the cub that died.

The father or fathers of the cubs will also be revealed Friday morning. Mei Xiang was inseminated with semen from both Tian Tian, the National Zoo's male giant panda, and from Hui Hui, a panda living in China.

Photo Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's, Tyson Cut Ties With Farm After Undercover Video]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:44:13 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/167*120/51122973.jpg

McDonald's and the fast food chain's supplier Tyson Foods have cut ties with a Tennessee chicken farm after an animal rights group released what it claims is undercover footage of mistreated chickens. 

Mercy for Animals released the graphic footage Thursday morning, purporting to show workers at T&S Farm in Dukedom, Tennessee, a Tyson Foods contract farm, “clubbing and stabbing chickens.” It also claims to show sick and injured birds left without proper veterinary care and thousands of baby birds "bred to grow so fast they become crippled under their weight."

McDonald’s said in a statement that Tyson Foods has terminated their contract with the farmer.

“We believe treating animals with care and respect is an integral part of a responsible supply chain and find the behavior depicted in this video to be completely unacceptable,” the Oak Brook-based fast food chain said in a statement. “We support Tyson Foods’ decision to terminate their contract with this farmer.”

In a statement released Thursday, Tyson said members of its animal well-being team are investigating the farm.

“Animal well-being is a priority at our company and we will not tolerate the unacceptable animal treatment shown in this video,” the company said in a statement. "Members of our animal well-being team are investigating, however, based on what we currently know, we are terminating the farmer’s contract to grow chickens for us. There are currently no chickens on the farm. We’re committed to animal well-being but don’t believe this video accurately depicts the treatment of chickens by the thousands of farmers who supply us."

McDonald’s said it plans to work with Tyson and investigate the situation further.

“We’re committed to working with animal welfare and industry experts to inform our policies that promote better management, strong employee education and verification of practices,” the company said.

McDonald's is the latest company being asked to reform its practices following undercover video released by Mercy for Animals, which advocates against eating meat. 

In June, poultry producer Foster Farms was targeted by the group after undercover video showed chickens being slammed upside-down into metal shackles, plucked and having their feathers pulled out while they were still alive. 

Government statistics show that hundreds of thousands of chickens are accidentally dropped alive into scalding tanks every year, but that represents a small fraction of those slaughtered. Last year, the rate at which chickens were improperly slaughtered plummeted to a low of 0.008 percent, an Agriculture Department spokeswoman said.

<![CDATA[WDBJ-TV Holds Press Conference About Morning News Shooting]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:36:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_638191978176.jpg

 WDBJ-TV’s general manager and news director hold a news conference on Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who were shot and killed during a live shot for their morning news show.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Files Suit Against Bulls Star Derrick Rose]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 21:17:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/GettyImages-458331240.jpg

A woman has filed a lawsuit against Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, claiming he and two friends drugged and gang-raped her.

The unidentified woman, who says she dated Rose from 2011 to 2013, says she was drugged at a Beverly Hills home and later attacked at her apartment.

Rose denied the woman's claims in a statement he released late Thursday.

"I am just focusing on staying healthy and getting ready for the season," he said. "I am not going to comment other than to say - I know the truth, and am confident I will be proven innocent.”

The lawsuit, which was first reported by TMZ Wednesday and made public Thursday, says the incident took place in August of 2013.

Rose’s spokesperson, Lisa Cohen, said on behalf of his legal team that the lawsuit is “nothing more than a desperate attempt to shake down a highly respected and successful athlete" and called the claims "outrageous."

"Two years have passed since Mr. Rose ended the consensual relationship with the plaintiff, and her claims are as meritless now as they were two years ago," she said. "We have complete confidence that the case will be dismissed and that Mr. Rose will be vindicated."

Cohen also claimed this is the third attorney the woman has hired in an attempt to sue Rose.

The Chicago Bulls released a statement on the issue Wednesday.

"We just learned about this matter and do not know all the facts,” the team said. “It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Rose’s agent could not immediately be reached for comment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Charles Manson Follower Up for Parole for 30th Time ]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:00:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/brucedavisbluebg.jpg

After 43 years in prison and 29 parole hearings, parole officials are again considering whether it is safe to free Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis.

The Board of Parole Hearings has recommended three times that the 72-year-old Davis be released from prison. Each time the parole has been blocked, once by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and twice by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown most recently rejected Davis' parole a year ago, saying he remains dangerous despite his age.

Davis remains at California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo.

On Thursday, for the 30th time, parole commissioners will consider if Davis should be paroled in the 1969 slayings of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea.

Davis was not involved in the notorious killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others.

<![CDATA[South Florida Food Truck Explodes, Sending Debris Flying ]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 23:44:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/082715+food+truck+explodes+in+SW+Miami-Dade.jpg

A South Florida food truck explosion sent mangled wreckage and debris flying as far as 100 feet and shattered windows of nearby homes in southwest Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue teams responded the site of the truck, just between West Miami and Coral Gables at 1970 Southwest 57th Place in southwest Miami-Dade, Thursday morning. 

According to an initial investigation, the truck's 100 gallon propane tank leaked overnight and caught fire, causing the truck to explode. The entire trailer was blown apart, and windows of neighboring homes were shattered. The inside ceiling of two nearby homes came down after the blast.

"I heard a big explosion, big boom, and it was really big. I have never experienced anything like it in my life," said neighbor Luis Hajular.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue also put down a small fire upon arriving at the scene.

No injuries have been reported.

Fire rescue crews remained at the scene for much of the day. An investigation is ongoing.

"It's undetermined, but it seems like there was enough gas to start the pilot and create the explosion. We were very fortunate it wasn't a larger explosion," said Ray Barretto with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

The explosion has been ruled an accident.

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