<![CDATA[NBC New York - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usWed, 24 Aug 2016 15:49:27 -0400Wed, 24 Aug 2016 15:49:27 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Cops Responding to Burglary Call Find Gator Taking a Bath]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:29:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gator+in+tub.jpg

Police responding to a call about a burglary at a Staten Island home encountered an unusual suspect -- a three-foot-long alligator, and it was in the bathtub. 

The reptile was hanging out in the empty tub when police responding to the anonymous call arrived at the abandoned Mariners Harbor home.

Animal care workers took the gator for evaluation. They're also looking into how the gator got into the tub.

The NYPD tweeted responding officers were "surprised" by the reptile, but no one was injured. The department tweeted photos of cops smiling next to the crate.

No arrests have been made.

Photo Credit: @NYPDPaws
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<![CDATA['Like Dante's Inferno': Italy Quake Death Toll Rises to 120]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 15:35:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_16237570393567.jpg

The death toll from the magnitude 6.2 earthquake that struck central Italy early Wednesday, has reached at least 120, as rescuers raced to pull residents buried beneath debris.

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The strong tremor hit at 3:36 a.m. local time near Norcia and was felt more than 100 miles away in Rome. Some 368 people were injured. The army has been called to help search of survivors, using bare hands, heavy equipment and sniffer dogs. Several large aftershocks followed the quake amid dramatic scenes of rescue and cries for help.

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An 8-year-old girl was pulled alive from the rubble, according to The Associated Press. Chief firefighter Danilo Dionesei confirmed to the AP that she was alive and taken to hospital, but did not provide details on her condition. 

Stunned locals wandered through rubble in the worst-affected towns of Amatrice and Accumoli, near Perugia. Aerial images from the fire department showed whole streets in Amatrice flattened.

"We came out to the piazza, and it looked like 'Dante's Inferno,'" Agostino Severo, a Rome resident visiting the damaged town of Illica, told The Associated Press. "People crying for help, help."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[2 Bird Strikes Reported in 1 Day at JFK Airport]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 15:45:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/jfk8.jpg

Two flights landing at Kennedy Airport Wednesday hit a number of birds while touching down, officials say.

JetBlue Flight 1248 from Los Angeles reported a bird strike after landing at about 8:30 a.m., and Singapore Airlines Flight 26 from Frankfurt hit a flock of starlings mid-air while landing at about 10:30 a.m., according to the FAA. 

No injuries were reported. 

Bird strikes have become common at New York City's area airports in recent years but especially at JFK, which sits near wetland that serves as a habitat for migratory birds. 

Lawmakers and officials have proposed a variety of ways to deal with bird strikes, which sometimes force emergency landings, including radars that track where birds fly and flock and a bird killing

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[UK's Nigel Farage to Appear at Trump Rally in Mississippi]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 15:33:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/farage-trump-split.jpg

Nigel Farage, the former head of the UK Independence Party, will accompany Donald Trump when the Republican presidential candidate continues to court African-American voters Wednesday night in Mississippi, NBC News reported. 

Farage confirmed a Sky News report that he’ll appear at the Trump event in Jackson, Mississippi, where he plans on telling the “story of Brexit.” 

Even though he’ll appear with Trump, he won’t be endorsing the candidate. Farage said in an interview that would be hypocritical, since he condemned President Barack Obama for wading into the Brexit campaign during his visit to London. 

Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment about Farage’s appearance.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Christie Promises Shorter Waits For Driver's Licenses in NJ]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 15:33:47 -0400

Gov. Christie announced initiatives Wednesday to reduce the time New Jersey drivers spend in line at motor vehicle offices to get their driver's licenses or for other services.

The Republican governor announced at a Motor Vehicle Commission Office in Randolph that transaction fees for online services will end by Oct. 1, and he called on the Democrat-majority Legislature to change the expiration date for driver's licenses from the end of the month to the driver's birth date.

Christie said many MVC employees have completed customer service training, as he mandated in April for all employees within a year. And he also announced that beginning in 2017, two mobile units will be deployed in the event of any "unforeseen agency outages."

The governor said the Motor Vehicle Commission in addition is working with AAA to expand customer access through the auto club's offices.

"All of these things are designed to make the experience better," Christie said. "My experience has been you never want to go to MVC. ... Nobody looks at it as something that they build their week or month around. We want to try to make this as easy as possible for folks."

Christie said the changes are a response to customer service complaints and a computer problem that caused backups. It also came after an I-Team investigation chronicled the massive headaches at MVC offices. 

He said eliminating the fees, in particular, would encourage motorists to use computers instead of making the trip to a motor vehicle office.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said in a statement that he would review the governor's proposal to change the expiration date, but said the date is not the cause of delays. He blamed the administration for closing MVC offices in Elizabeth, Wyckoff and Bridgeton, and said the governor failed to update technology.

In June, Christie established the office of chief technology officer, naming David Weinstein in charge of bringing the state's computer systems in line with the private sector.

<![CDATA[NY Firefighter Helps Mother, Baby For 2nd Time in 3 Months]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 15:17:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fire-smithtown-0824.jpg

A Long Island mother can thank the same volunteer firefighter for helping her and her baby twice in less than three months.

Volunteer firefighter Jenn O'Brien was among the emergency responders called to the home in Smithtown and is credited with pulling the mother and the infant from a bathroom in the burning home.

The woman, child and bathroom were all familiar sights for O'Brien. Officials said that on a call three months ago, she delivered the baby she saved Wednesday on that same bathroom floor. 

"Jenn obviously is very emotional about this," said Jeff Bressler, a spokesman for the Smithtown Fire Department. "She has an emotional attachment that she'll have for the rest of her life to this family."

The child's father, also a volunteer firefighter, was at a Coast Guard site at Fort Dix when the blaze broke out. 

Neighbors gathered around the home as firefighters worked to extinguish the flames and rescue inhabitants. A second child was also pulled from the burning home.

"They started bringing the people out and working on them on the front lawn," said Kathleen Torres. "All the firemen, paramedics, police everyone was working on them and got them conscious again."

It's not clear if any of the people inside the home sustained injuries. Two dogs died in the blaze.  

The cause of the fire wasn't immediately available. 

<![CDATA[Trump: Perry Will 'Do Well' If He Challenges Cruz for Senate]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:46:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/trump43.jpg

Donald Trump is applauding the prospect of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry mounting a possible primary challenge against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, saying, "Boy, will he do well." 

At a fundraiser in downtown Austin, Trump was standing next to Perry when he was asked about the Texan's chance to unseat his state's junior senator. Cruz, who unsuccessfully fought Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, notably declined to endorse him at last month's GOP national convention and faces re-election in 2018. 

In a recording of the event first posted online by a Democratic group, the Lone Star Project, Trump answers that he's been "hearing a lot about that." 

"I don't know if he wants to do it, but boy, will he do well," Trump says of Perry. "People love him in Texas. And he was one great governor." 

Two fundraiser attendees verified the recording on Wednesday on the condition that their names not be published. The fundraiser occurred Tuesday. 

Trump hasn't been shy about criticizing fellow Republicans — even those up for re-election. He initially declined to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan's re-election bid earlier this summer, then formally threw his support behind it before Ryan crushed a primary challenger in his Wisconsin district. 

Cruz sparked an outcry at the GOP convention in Cleveland last month by refusing to endorse Trump during his prime-time speech — rebuffing calls for Republican Party unity behind its nominee. 

Perry left office last year and was a harsh Trump critic as he briefly ran for the Republican presidential nomination, even calling the billionaire businessman a cancer on conservatism. Perry has since endorsed Trump and become a surrogate who has praised him on national television. 

The former governor has kept a low profile since dropping out of the 2016 presidential race last fall. Recent polls suggest Cruz's popularity in Texas has suffered since his convention speech, and one even indicated that Perry would top Cruz in a hypothetical matchup. 

Those close to Perry say he's laughed off the idea of a Senate run, but Perry hasn't publicly ruled it out. 

While running for president, Cruz originally said he'd endorse whoever the eventual Republican nominee was. He said later he'd changed his mind because Trump insulted his family during the bitter White House campaign. 

Mica Mosbacher, an Austin resident and former finance co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, was a vocal supporter of Cruz's presidential run but is now is backing Trump. 

"I am deeply disappointed in our senator that he did not honor his pledge," Mosbacher said by phone Wednesday, referring to Cruz's reneging support for Trump. "And I, along with a lot of other donors, are very upset." 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sailors Touching Tribute to WWII Veteran Goes Viral]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:21:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/191*120/08-24-2016-ernest-thompson-uss-iowa-missour-1.jpg

A World War II veteran's salute-worthy surprise has touched hearts and received millions of social media views after the stirring tribute was captured on video earlier this month.

The video posted on Facebook shows Chief Selects from the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center visiting the Gardena home of veteran Ernest Thompson, who served on the USS Missouri during World War II, on Aug. 13. The sailors performed "Anchors Aweigh" in front of Thompsons' house as he stood on the porch in salute, and neighbors came out of their homes to watch. 

Each sailor then thanked Thompson and shook his hand.

Thompsons' grandson Jonathan Williams wrote in the post that his grandfather called it one of the best days of his life. Williams, CEO of the Battleship IOWA Museum in San Pedro, visited the USS Missouri with his grandfather in 2000, part of a bond between generations.

"I witnessed an 82-year-old man become 18 again and a flood of emotions that affected all that were present tremendously," Williams wrote on Facebook.

Battleship Missouri launched in January 1944 and entered the Pacific battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. On Sept. 2, 1945, Allied and Axis power representatives met aboard the ship to sign copies of the Instrument of Surrender, marking the end to World War II.

USS Missouri also was part of the Korean War. The ship now serves as a museum at Pearl Harbor.

The emotional tour of the battleship convinced Williams to help preserve the USS Iowa, which opened to the public in July 2012 as a naval museum at a berth in the Port of Los Angeles. Members of the Chief Selects worked with an IOWA volunteer coordinator to pull off the surprise for his grandfather.

"When they found out that my grandfather was unable to visit the (USS IOWA) lately due to health reasons, they decided to take it to him," Williams wrote.

His original Facebook video had more than 4.5 million views Wednesday morning.

Photo Credit: USS IOWA Museum
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<![CDATA[Alex Brands Infant Building Toys Recalled Due to Choking Hazard]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:33:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/recall-alex-toy-sets.jpg

Alex Brands is recalling 91,000 infant building toy sets due to a choking hazard posed by small parts that can detach from the units, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The New Jersey-based company recalled its Baby Builder model 1982, First Pops model 1981P and the First Snaps model 1981S produced before November 2010 after 22 reports of small parts detaching.

No injuries have been reported.

The recalled sets contain 14 or 26 pieces designed to be pulled, pushed, snapped and twisted and come in plastic jars. The toys were sold at Barnes & Noble, Land of Nod and Zulily.com for about $18 to $28. 

The recalled First Snaps sets' containers have the following batch codes: P0002073, P0001713, P0001330, P0000954, P0002107, P0001628, P0001009, P00000814, P0001948, P0001536, P0001098, P0001677, P0001427 and P0000983. 

ALEX advised consumers to immediately contact them for a prepaid shipping envelope to return the products for a full refund.

For more information, call ALEX at 844-310-6691 anytime or online at www.alexbrands.com/recall-information.

Photo Credit: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Police Dismiss Trump's Claim That Violence Could Be Stopped in a Week]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:14:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chicago+police+GettyImages-500346628.jpg

The Chicago Police Department denied Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's claim this week that he met with a "top" Chicago officer and argued the city's violence would not be solved with "tough police tactics."

"We've discredited this claim months ago," CPD spokesperson Frank Giancamilli said Tuesday in a statement. "No one in the senior command at CPD has ever met with Donald Trump or a member of his campaign."

Trump said in an interview Monday that he believed Chicago's violence could be stopped using "tough police tactics," telling Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that he met a "top" Chicago officer who reportedly said he could "stop much of this horror show that’s going on" within a single week. 

Trump added that he knows officers in Chicago who would put an end to violent crime "if they were given the authority to do it," a claim that Giancamilli refuted. 

"Beyond that, the best way to address crime is through a commitment to community policing and a commitment to stronger laws to keep illegal guns and repeat violent offenders off the street," Giancamilli added.

Trump told O'Reilly he didn’t ask the officer for specifics on the plan because he isn’t the mayor of Chicago, but added that police would be "much tougher than they are right now."

"I’m sure he’s got a strategy," Trump added. "I didn’t ask him his strategy."

Trump also claimed that he submitted the officer’s name for some sort of job.

"I sent his name in and I said, 'you probably should hire this guy because you have nothing to lose,'" Trump said. "Look at what’s going on in Chicago, it’s horrible. This guy felt totally confident that he could stop it in a very short period of time."

Trump's campaign told the Chicago Tribune Tuesday that he did not specifically say the officer he spoke with was in senior command, but rather he "spoke with some talented and dedicated police officers on a prior visit."

It's not the first time Chicago police have disagreed with Trump's claims.

During Trump's failed Chicago rally, which was canceled due to violence concerns, the candidate said he met with law enforcement before canceling his appearance. CPD said in a statement, however, the department had not advised Trump's campaign to cancel the rally and did not issue any public safety threats or safety risks.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brooklyn DA Used City Funds to Buy Meals for a Year: COIB]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:16:00 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ken+thompson.jpg

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has agreed to pay a $15,000 fine for using several thousand dollars in office funds to pay for his personal meals for about a year, and in some cases, he had the members of his security detail use their own money to purchase his food, authorities say. 

Thompson reimbursed his office for the $2,043 he used on weekday meals from January 2014 to May 2014 and for the $1,489 he used to buy dinner and weekday meals from January 2014 to February 2015, according to the New York Conflicts of Interest Board, which negotiated the settlement.

The security detail members who had to shell out money for Thompson's food also were paid back, the COIB said. But using the office funds for his food violates the city's conflicts of interest law. 

According to the COIB, Thompson admitted his conduct violated legal provisions that prohibit elected officials and other public servants from using city resources for any personal, non-city purpose and from using their positions to obtain any private or personal advantage. 

Thompson also acknowledged that having subordinates regularly advance their own money to cover his meals constituted a prohibited financial relationship, according to the COIB. 

In determining the fine amount, the agency said it took into consideration that all the funds had been reimbursed, but also "the high level of accountability required for the chief prosecutor of Brooklyn."

Thompson's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Holds Campaign Rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:39:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Trump+Florida+State+Fairgrounds.png

Donald Trump is campaigning in the battleground state of Florida, where he will hold a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The campaign event comes a day after Trump suggested during a Fox News town hall in Texas that he is open to "softening" laws dealing with immigrants in the country illegally. It is the latest sign that the Republican presidential nominee is considering easing the hardline stance he has taken since the beginning of his campaign.

Trump will continue to urge African-American voters to support him and is also expected to reiterate his calls for the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the connection between Hillary Clinton's State Department and the Clinton Foundation, his campaign told NBC News.   

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<![CDATA[6-Ton Potato Spotted on Hudson River]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:10:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/potato+hudson.jpg

If you happened to see a giant potato being hauled on a barge on the Hudson River Wednesday, your eyes were not deceiving you. 

The 6-ton spud, resting atop a tractor-trailer on a barge pulled by a tugboat, has been making cross-country trips since 2012, when the Idaho Potato Commission strutted it out nationwide to celebrate its 75th anniversary. 

The tater's national tour was such a hit the commission opted to make it an annual event. The potato is the equivalent of 32,346 medium-sized Idaho potatoes and is 1,102 times heavier than the largest potato ever grown. 

It travels the country promoting the certified heart-healthy Idaho Potato, and its mission is to help small charities in town and cities with its Big Helping Program, according to the Idaho Potato Commission's website. 

Other fun facts: the massive tater would make 30,325 servings of mashed potatoes and more than 1.5 million average-sized french fries. 

Idaho couple Chris Schofield and Sharolyn Spruce, who have toiled on hundreds of big custom projects and designs, built the enormous tater with help from several contractors, according to the Idaho Press-Tribune. The duo said the monstrous spud, made of steel, plywood, foams and concrete, was the first "vegetable" they'd ever built. 

The next stop on its grand tour is Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, New Jersey, Aug. 26 before a trip to West Point and then to Plymouth, Indiana, for the 50th annual Blueberry Fest.

Photo Credit: @innycsite/Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[At Least 5 Injured After Gunmen Storm American University of Afganistan]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 15:30:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_16237561995683.jpg

Gunmen engaged with Afghan special forces after storming the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul Wednesday night, according to NBC News. 

There were no immediate reports of casualties or hostages, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, who told NBC News that the attackers “got inside the compound.” 

At least five people were injured and taken to a local hospital.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said a car bomb was detonated at the main gate of the university as the gunmen forced their way inside. Officials said they were still unsure of the gunmen’s motivation behind the attack. 

The White House said it was aware of the incident and was monitoring the situation. The university in Kabul is not affiliated with American University in Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Green Cab Involved In Drive-By Shooting in Brooklyn: NYPD]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 10:58:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/drive-by-shooting-08241.jpg

Police are looking for a green New York City taxi in a drive-by shooting that injured a 21-year-old man in Brooklyn early on Wednesday.

The man was taken to the hospital with two gunshot wounds to his leg after the shooting on Chester Street in Brownsville at about 2 a.m., according to the NYPD. He is expected to survive his injuries.

Authorities said that the shooter fired a weapon from the taxi. 

The victim's mother, Beverly Wright, said that her son was hanging out outside a building when he was targeted by the gunman. She said she isn't sure why someone would have shot her son, who was undergoing surgery at the hospital.

"I pray to God this operation, he goes through it," she said. "It hurts because that's my baby."

The cab had left the scene by the time authorities arrived.

Anyone with information on the shooting should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

<![CDATA[Target Refunds for Phony Cotton]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 12:56:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-183984938.jpg

Target Corp. is refunding millions of dollars worth of sheets after finding a textile supply company was pawning off phony fabrics as luxurious Egyptian-cotton.

Approximately 750,000 sheets and pillowcases manufactured by Welspun India Ltd. were labeled to be 500-thread count Egyptian cotton, Bloomberg reports, but found to be a knockoff instead.

“After an extensive investigation, we recently confirmed that Welspun substituted another type of non-Egyptian cotton when producing these sheets between August 2014 and July 2016,” Target announced Friday.

The Minneapolis-based retailer has since pulled all Welspun products – sold under labels Fieldcrest and Crowning Touch – from its stores and website.

“Neither Target nor Fieldcrest had any knowledge of this substitution,” the company said in a statement. “These sheets were produced by a number of vendors and only one of those vendors was substituting product.”

Falsely labeled products were sold for as much as $175 per set, Business Insider reports, amounting in $90 million in potential refunds for Target.

Target has terminated its partnership with the Mumbai-based supplier, which responded by saying it was investigating the claims.

“We have initiated immediate actions to investigate the root cause. We are appointing an external auditor (one of the Big Four) to audit our supply systems and processes,” Welspun wrote in the release. “This is an issue of highest priority for us and we will take all necessary steps to address it.”

By Sunday, Welspun’s shares had fallen 20 percent, the most in a decade, according to Bloomberg.

Welspun managing director Rajesh Mandawewala maintained to Bloomberg Monday that the “error” was about “fiber provenance” and not about quality.

Customers who purchased the products during the timeframe can request a refund in the form of a gift card on Target’s web form here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hooded Intruder Breaks Into Homes to Watch Families Sleep]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 09:54:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/belleville+home+intruder.jpg

A man is breaking into homes in a New Jersey community and leaving behind valuables in at least one case to simply survey sleeping family members while walking from room to room, police and victims say. 

One homeowner recounted his bizarre confrontation with the burglar in Belleville at around 4 a.m. last Wednesday. 

"I was standing right there, he was standing right there," said Michael Maldonado, describing how he came face to face with the intruder in his living room in the middle of the night. 

"I freaked out. My blood dropped to my feet. I didn't know what to do," he said. 

In nothing but his boxers, Maldonado had raced upstairs from his basement bedroom after he and his wife were awakened by a chilling FaceTime message from their daughters on the second floor. 

"She actually did say, 'There's somebody up here with us,'" said Maldonado's wife, Milagros.

Daughter Debora, who is 12 years old, said she'd seen a hooded stranger emerge from her brother's room into their little sister's room. There were eight children in the house. 

"I got really freaked out, I thought I was just imagining things," the young girl said. "'Cause I was moving side to side. I was really scared." 

When Maldonado confronted the man, he knew something wasn't right. 

"I asked him, 'What do you want?' His response was, 'I was just upstairs,'" he said.

The dad's blood ran cold. 

"That's when I told him, come outside," he said. 

That's where Maldonado tried to tackle the man wearing a cap and hooded sweatshirt, but the man fought back. 

"He tells me, 'You gonna be like that?' and runs away," Maldonado said. 

The family would later come to find the intruder's muddy footprints in nearly every room of their Smallwood Avenue home. 

"He went into my room while we were sleeping. He was in my daughters' room while they were sleeping. He had stepped over my daughters," said Maldonado.

Strangely, the intruder only took $40 from Maldonado's wallet, and left behind cellphones and tablets in the open. 

Police believe the same suspect has struck or tried to break into at least two other homes on Fairway Avenue and Elena Place within the last week and a half. 

For now, the Maldonados are grateful their children weren't hurt. 

"I really give thanks to God, he did protect our children," Michael Maldonado said. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Rap Video to Welcome 4th Graders]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:32:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/217*120/reed0823.png

A suburban Chicago student-teacher’s passion for music and his classroom has garnered internet acclaim and offers of school supplies after a rap video he made was posted to social media.

Dwayne Reed, 25, a first-year student teacher at Jane Stenson Elementary School in Skokie, posted a rap video titled “Welcome to The Fourth Grade” on YouTube over the weekend. He said he chose a more creative and engaging way to introduce himself than a boring old newsletter so many students have grown accustomed to.

“I wanted a cool way to introduce myself to the students and the parents I was gonna have,” Reed said.

Reed, originally from the north suburban East Garfield Park neighborhood but now living in Skokie, said the idea came to him when a filmmaker friend, Ty Gotham, said he wanted to make a music video.

“I think I’m somewhat gifted at music,” Reed said. “It’s simply a way for me to try to connect with my students.”

Sue O’Neil, principal at Jane Stenson, says she’s happy to be working with Reed.

“I think he’s gonna bring a lot of creativity and I just think the kids are gonna relate to him really well,” she said.

Reed said the video was shot Saturday, edited just after midnight Sunday morning and posted to YouTube.

Users on the social media site Reddit were quick to share the video, encouraging Reed with praise and offering to donate school supplies to his class.

“That would be so amazing,” he said. “I would love for them to donate supplies to my kids. A lot of the students here are low income."

Reed says basic supplies like notepads, pens and folders, to winter clothes and shoes would all be helpful donations. 

He plans to use his passion for music to help kids come up with their own songs to help them study.

“Regardless of how cheesy it is, if it helps them remember something, if it helps them excel on the test, or in life, I’m fine with it, I’m backing it,” he said. “You can’t disconnect music from true life, so if we want our students to live excellent lives, we gotta have music involved in that.”

Reed said his enthusiasm and positivity are heavily tied to his faith and he doesn’t agree with some of the more negative comments that plague posts like his on social media—specifically those that say he will lose his enthusiasm as time goes on.

“My joy, my enthusiasm, my passion isn’t necessarily tied or weighed down by teaching,” he said. “I have that joy, that enthusiasm for every aspect in my life.”

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<![CDATA[Inferno Consumes NY Apartment Building, Trapping People]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 07:48:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/yonkers+fire3.jpg

Six people were rescued from a smoke-filled Yonkers apartment building after a fast-moving fire tore through multiple floors of the structure and trapped them inside. 

The fire started around 1:45 a.m. Wednesday on the second floor of the McLean Avenue building, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said. Flames quickly spread to the third floor, sending smoke rushing out the building's windows. 

Those who escaped said smoke was filling the hallways and flames were consuming a stairwell. 

Firefighters ran into the thick smoke and rescued six people. Two of them had to be carried out and at least one person was seen climbing down a fire escape.

One person was critically injured in the blaze. He or she was taken to Jacobi Medical Center and appeared to be recovering as of 5:30 a.m., an assistant fire chief said. 

Emergency responders were seen rushing several people by on stretchers and another person was being tended to as she was lying on a sidewalk. Officials said several people suffered burns. 

About a dozen firefighters also suffered minor injuries. 

The fire was brought under control sometime before 4:30 a.m. Temporary shelters were set up for those displaced by the fire.

Fire officials are investigating the cause of the blaze.

<![CDATA[Young Burglar Who Broke Into NYC Consulate Tried Bribery: PD]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:25:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/consulate+burglary+suspect.jpg

Police say they've arrested the two suspects who allegedly broke into the Indonesian Consulate in Manhattan and stole a case of vodka, among other items, before taking off in a stolen van.

One of the suspected burglars, an 18-year-old man, allegedly tried to bribe an officer with the van, the case of Grey Goose vodka and $400 in stolen cash when he was placed under arrest.

The man was charged with a number of crimes, including burglary, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal trespass.

A 16-year-old girl was also arrested and charged as an adult with similar crimes, including burglary and criminal trespass. 

The NYPD says a security guard at the Marriot Hotel on Eastchester Road in the Bronx recognized the pair from a separate burglary over the weekend. A woman's jewelry, Coach wallet and credit cards were stolen from her room at the hotel on Sunday morning.

The teens apparently went back to the Marriot on Tuesday and that's when the guard recognized them and called police. The teens took off, but security followed them and they were eventually arrested by the NYPD, who tied them to the consulate burglary. 

The duo broke into the Indonesian Consulate on the Upper East Side early Monday morning and made off with a case of vodka, a Samsung tablet, a suitcase full of clothing and keys to a 2004 tan-colored Honda Odyssey, police say. They then allegedly loaded their loot into the stolen van and took off.

It wasn't immediately known if either of them had an attorney. 

<![CDATA[Man Snatches Dog from Brooklyn Laundromat, Video Shows]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 23:01:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/laundromat+bushwick+dog+theft.JPG

A man captured on surveillance tape snatching a pet dog from a Brooklyn laundromat is being sought by police. 

The man walked into the laundromat at 334 Knickerbocker Ave. in Bushwick Monday afternoon and took a 36-year-old man's Cockalier dog, police said.

The video shows the suspect at first surveying the scene, then returning to lure the dog and take him. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. 

<![CDATA[Woman Remains Missing After Boyfriend Is Arrested in Killing]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 07:54:54 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/juana+alvarez.jpg

A Bronx man has been arrested in the killing of his girlfriend, more than a month after she went missing and whose body remains unaccounted for, police say.

Miguel Bonilla, 44, was arrested on charges of murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon Monday night, police said. He's accused of killing 52-year-old Juana Alvarez, who's been missing since July 11.

At his arraignment in Bronx Criminal Court Tuesday, prosecutors said Bonilla testified on video that he was sleeping next to Alvarez when he woke up and thought "I f---ing hate her." 

He stabbed her several times in the chest, turned on his phone to play music, then continued to stab her, prosecutors said. 

Bonilla put Alvarez's body in the closet and took her out when the stench got bad, according to prosecutors. He put a towel over her body, then put her in a cart and wheeled her out of their Grand Concourse building and dumped her body in a Dumpster. 

Police are now searching for Alvarez's body. 

The Daily News reports Bonilla confessed to a friend he killed Alvarez. Detectives acting on that tip recovered surveillance video showing Bonilla wheeling a shopping cart out of their apartment building. 

As police sarched for Bonilla Monday, he was caught jumping a subway turnstile at Penn Station, and he was taken back to the Bronx, where he was charged with murder, police said. 

Alvarez was remanded to jail after arraignment and is being held without bail. He's due back in court on Aug. 26. 

He did not enter a plea. 

Neighbors told NBC 4 New York they saw Alvarez last month crying and asking for money.

"Before she was missing, she was like crying. I never saw her crying," said Jassiel Herrera. "She would see me in the street, she'd ask me for a dollar. The last time, she was like crying and stuff." 

A close friend and neighbor told NBC 4 New York in Spanish that Alvarez had a drug problem but was seeking help.

"She was just trying her best to continue her life, and to show her family she was living a sober life," said a cousin of Alvarez who gave her name as Sonia. 

"She died horrible. And it's hard, really hard," said Zoraida Gonzalez, another cousin. 

Bonilla has 24 prior arrests since 1989, including for drugs and robbery.

<![CDATA[Back From Rio, Swimmer Jimmy Feigen Apologizes]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 22:58:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/feigen-lochte-conger-bentz.jpg

U.S. Olympic swimmer Jimmy Feigen on Tuesday made his first public comments about the incident in Rio de Janeiro last week that involved Feigen, Ryan Lochte and two of their teammates.

In a written statement provided to NBC News, Feigen admitted to initially leaving out details of an early morning incident at a Rio gas station, saying he omitted the facts to police in an attempt to help Lochte.

The Aug. 14 encounter was initially described by Lochte as an armed robbery by men posing as police officers, but the tale soon unraveled into an embarrassing controversy.

By the time a judge ordered Lochte and Feigen to remain in Brazil, Lochte had already left. Feigen eventually paid almost $11,000 to a sports foundation and was allowed to leave Brazil.

Feigen also said he was given an option to pay a fine rather than wait the month in Brazil for the investigation to conclude, but the amount first suggested was the equivalent of $31,250 and 15 days of community service.

When Feigen and his attorneys rejected that offer as unreasonable, the prosecutor increased the proposed fine to the equivalent of $46,875, he said. The smaller agreement was eventually reached.

Photo Credit: Getty Images - AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cops Investigate Powder Found Near World Trade Center]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 05:32:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SUSPICIOUS+POWDER.jpg

Police are investigating a suspicious powder in an envelope opened by an employee at a lower Manhattan office building near the World Trade Center, sources said.

The employee was exposed to the powdery substance while opening the letter shortly before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Police were called to a mail room at 225 Liberty Street, formerly Two World Financial Center, across the street from the World Trade Center. 

Investigators have isolated the envelope and tests are being conduct, law enforcement sources said.

The employee is being evaluated by EMS. His or her condition wasn't immediately known. 

<![CDATA[Dramatic Images: Deadly Quake Rocks Central Italy]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:26:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/QUAKE_GRIEF_AP_16237345369264.jpg Searchers scrambled to rescue people in central Italy where a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck early Wednesday, collapsing homes as residents slept and killing dozens.

Photo Credit: AP ]]>
<![CDATA[Armed Burglar Stuffs Elderly Woman in Closet: NYPD]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 22:34:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/woodhaven+home+intruder.jpg

A home intruder slipped into a Queens home through an unlocked door, threatened an elderly woman with a knife and forced her into a bedroom closet as he ransacked the house for valuables, police say. 

The man got into the home near 85th Street and Forest Parkway in Woodhaven through an unlocked backyard door just after 8 a.m. last Friday, Aug. 18, according to police. 

When he got into the kitchen, he encountered the 77-year-old woman living there, police said. That's when the suspect put her in a headlock, held a knife to her chest and escorted her up to the second-floor bedroom.

He put the woman in the closet, then took jewelry and cash before running away, police said. 

The suspect is described as about 6 feet 2 inches, 200 pounds, last seen wearing blue jeans, a black skull cap and a white camouflauge shirt. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. 

Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Man Slashed on Subway Platform in Harlem: NYPD]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 22:23:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SUBWAY+SLASHING+MN+RAW+-+22093328_WNBC_000000012822258.jpg

A man was slashed on the hand after getting into an argument with someone on a subway platform in Harlem, police say.

The man was slashed on both hands during the dispute inside the 125th Street and Lenox Avenue subway station, where he and the suspects were waiting on the northbound no. 3 train platform at about 7 p.m., according to police. 

It's not clear where the suspect or suspects fled, or if the victim knew them. 

The injured man walked into the emergency room at Harlem Hospital, where he is listed in serious but stable condition. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Hit in Head With Hammer in Hate Crime: NYPD]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 20:33:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/queens+hate+crime.JPG

Police are searching for a hate crime suspect who allegedly drove up to a 28-year-old woman on a Queens street, hit her in the head with a hammer and made an anti-gay remark while trying to steal her purse, police say. 

The man got out of a gray Toyota 4Runner at about 6 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17 and approached the victim on 67th Street near 41st Avenue in Woodside, police say. 

He tried to take the woman's purse and assaulted her, police said. He ran back to his car without taking anything and drove southbound on 66th Street.

The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital with cuts, bleeding and pain to the back of her head, according to police.

The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. 

Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA['Final Five' Take New York City]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:20:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_16236682575231.jpg

The Final Five are taking New York City by storm. 

The gold medal-winning U.S. women's gymnastics team visited the Empire State Building Tuesday morning as they begin a whirlwind media tour after their incredible accomplishments in Rio. 

Their Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions will officially start on Sept.15, in Spokane, Washington and end on Nov. 13 in Boston. They will visit 36 U.S. cities and showcase gymnasts from 2012 and 2016, according to Kellogg's.

Hometown hero and breakout star Laurie Hernandez, along with Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and Madison Kocian took in the view of the city from 86 floors above the ground. And it provided another first for Old Bridge, New Jersey resident Hernandez: being able to take in the view from the observatory of the Empire State Building. It's all making for a surreal experience, she said. 

"I used to have someone pinch me beforehand just to make sure it wasn't a dream," Hernandez told NBC 4 New York. 

Biles called Hernandez a "perfect fit to the team" in Rio.

"She's always making all of us laugh," she told NBC 4. "I think she has a very similar personality to me. We roomed the whole time to Rio. We just love her to death." 

Since getting back Monday, Hernandez has been able to see her parents for a bit, and she's now looking forward to reuniting with her siblings.

In the meantime, the team is hoping to "rest and eat and chill," said Douglas, who was also on the 2012 Fierce Five.  

Raisman, also a two-time Olympian, said "it's been a blur" since the team arrived in New York and that the intense public focus and being followed by papparrazzi has been "crazy" and "surreal." 

"There's just so much, you just never expect it," she said. "Laurie lives like 45 minutes from here, I don't know if she's ever experienced the craziness of New York like this. I don't think any of the girls have right after the Olympics, except me and Gabby." 

"Everything has been go, go, go, we haven't had time to sit down and think about it," added Biles. 

One thing on top of the women's New York agenda? Finding some great pizza. 

"Gabby will probably find us the best pizza because she's gotten pizza multiple times here, so she's probably our best best," said Raisman. 

As for the native Hernandez's pick? 

"It's all pretty good!" she said diplomatically. 

The team will later appear Tuesday night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Gets Stuck Between Buildings]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:47:23 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Puittsburgh+stuck+Between+Buildings.jpg

Emergency crews rescued a man who became trapped between two buildings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, reportedly after trying to jump from one rooftop to another to impress a woman he had just met.

The man, whose name wasn't immediately released, was freed about 6 a.m. Tuesday. He'd been trapped about four hours after falling awkwardly into the narrow, debris-filled space between the buildings. Police say the man reported an ankle injury; he was bleeding, but waved to TV news cameras as he was wheeled on a gurney to an ambulance.

At one point, crews broke a hole through a Qdoba restaurant in an unsuccessful effort to reach him. A medic was eventually lowered on a rope to reach the man.

Authorities say the man and woman reached the roof by climbing a fire escape.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Dead Fish Found Floating in NJ Waters]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:41:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fish-kill-3.jpg

Hundreds of thousands of dead fish were spotted floating in the waterways in New Jersey this week.

Officials said that the scores of dead bunker fish that were spotted on the surface of local waterways around the Raritan Bay in West Keansburg Tuesday were victims of a fish kill.

Department of Environmental Protection officials said the fish were likely chased into the bay by bluefish or skates, and once there the fish were killed off by low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Fish were found in Natco Lake, Thornes Creek and Waackaak Creek, officials said. 

Officials said that it was the second fish kill in the waterway this week. It’s a common occurrence caused by a cocktail of warm, still waters and growing plant life.

"The temperatures have been sweltering, and you can imagine what it's like in the smaller bodies of water," said Greg Remaud, the deputy director of NY/NJ Baykeeper.

Baykeeeper officials said that tests revelaed that oxygen levels in the waterways were below the minimum concentration for fish to survive. 

“This is primarily a natural phenomenon, but it is exacerbated by polluted runoff, including fertilizers from lawns, which is why preserving stream corridors and buffers is important,” said Remaud.

Chopper 4 footage from the scene showed thousands of fish carcasses floating in the bay, mostly grouped around docks and twists in the waterway.

Officials said that most of the fish, normally used for fertilizer, will likely be washed out of the bay within two tide cycles.

There is no risk to the public from the water or the dead fish, authorities said. 

Photo Credit: Provided by NY/NJ Baykeeper]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Survives 'Brain-Eating' Amoeba]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 21:21:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Sebastian-DeLeon-AP_16236727958455.jpg

A South Florida teen beat the odds to survive a brain-eating amoeba thanks to some quick-working doctors in Orlando.

Every brain-eating amoeba patient Dr. Humberto Liriano has ever treated died. The cases are so rare that only four people have survived in the past 50 years.

One of the survivors is 16-year-old Sebastian DeLeon, and talking about him brings Liriano to tears.

"We woke him up, we decided to take the breathing tube out and within hours he spoke," Liriano said Tuesday. "Since then he’s done very well. He’s walking, he’s speaking. I saw him already this morning. He’s ready to go home."

DeLeon was infected by swimming in a private lake in Broward County. He and his family were visiting theme parks in Orlando when he suffered brain-crushing headaches and severe light sensitivity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only four out of 138 people have survived being infected with the amoeba in the past 50 years, including DeLeon, according to the hospital's doctors.

Emergency room doctors at Orlando's Florida Hospital for Children first thought he had meningitis, but gut instinct pushed doctors to perform a spinal puncture test.

DeLeon tested positive for the amoeba and the race against the clock to save his life was on. Luck was on their side as amoeba-fighting drugs happened to be local.

"By 4:00, he was already cooled, intubated, in a coma and received all five medications," Liriano said.

For 10 days DeLeon has been recovering and getting stronger. He beat grim odds to a deadly reality that claims 97 percent of its victims.

"We are so thankful that God has given us the miracle through this medical team and this hospital for having our son back and having him full of life," mother Brunilda Gonzalez said. "He's a very energetic, adventurous, wonderful teen, and we are so thankful for the gift of life."

Photo Credit: DeLeon Family/Florida Hospital Orlando via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fact Check: Clinton Campaign’s 'Kremlin' Deception]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 06:53:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mookGettyImages-584258326.jpg

FactCheck.org is a non-partisan non-profit organization that will hold candidates and key figures accountable during the 2016 presidential campaign. FactCheck.org will check facts of speeches, advertisements and more for NBC.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, made the baseless insinuation that Donald Trump compromised national security by inviting a man with Russian ties to his intelligence briefing.

Appearing on ABC News’ “This Week,” Mook said Trump was accompanied to his first intelligence briefing on Aug. 17 by “someone who’s on the payroll of the Russia Times, which is a basically a propaganda arm of the Kremlin.” Mook claimed this “gentleman” — whom he did not name — “was sitting two seats away from Vladimir Putin” at RT’s 10th anniversary gala in December, and he demanded that Trump disclose “whether his advisers are having meetings with the Kremlin.”

Who is this mysterious, unnamed gentleman? The Clinton campaign told us Mook was referring to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who until two years ago was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama.

Flynn is not “on the payroll of the Russia Times.” He was merely one of many speakers at RT’s anniversary conference on Dec. 10, 2015, in Moscow. RT is a Russian government-funded TV station once known as Russia Today.

Mook made his misleading assertion about Flynn shortly after he claimed that “real questions being raised about whether Donald Trump himself is just a puppet for the Kremlin.” Host George Stephanopoulos questioned Mook about that claim — which has been part of the Clinton campaign’s attacks on Trump ever since it was reported that Russia was likely behind the successful attacks on computer servers at the Democratic National Committee and the release of DNC emails.

Stephanopoulos: You’re saying he’s a puppet for the Kremlin?

Mook: Well, real questions are being raised about that. We — again, there’s a web of financial ties to the Russians that he refuses to disclose. We’ve seen over the last few week, him parroted Vladimir Putin in his own remarks. We saw the Republican Party platform changed. She saw Donald Trump talk about leaving NATO and leaving our Eastern European allies vulnerable to a Russian attack. The gentleman he brought with him to his security briefing just last week is someone who’s on the payroll of the Russia Times, which is a basically a propaganda arm of the Kremlin. He was sitting two seats away from Vladimir Putin at their 10th anniversary gala.

There are a lot of questions here. And we need Donald Trump to disclose all of his financial ties and whether his advisers are having meetings with the Kremlin.

Trump has praised Putin and has called for improved relations with Russia, but he has denied that he has had any financial ties with Russia beyond holding the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow in 2013. Also, Trump’s personal financial disclosure report required of all presidential candidates does not show any investments in Russia.

However, Paul Manafort, who until last week was Trump’s campaign chairman, did have business dealings with Russian-aligned leaders in Ukraine, as uncovered by the New York Times. With Manafort gone, Mook redirected the campaign’s guilt-by-association attack on Trump by questioning Flynn’s associations with the Kremlin.

Trump was joined at his first intelligence briefing on Aug. 17 at FBI headquarters in New York City by Flynn and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. As Huffington Post wrote, Flynn “was paid by a Russian state-funded television network to speak at its 10th-anniversary gala,” and Putin attended that conference. Reuters reported that Flynn “was pictured sitting at the head table with Putin” at the conference.

In an Aug. 15 article, Flynn told the Washington Post that his speaking engagement was arranged by his speaker’s bureau and that he was paid for it. He said he was introduced to Putin, but did not speak to him.

Flynn was one of many speakers at the conference. Others included former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and liberal U.S. media commentator Thom Hartmann.

Flynn sat for a one-on-one Q&A with RT correspondent Sophie Shevardnadze on the Islamic State terrorist group and the crisis in the Middle East. His conference topic coincided with the announcement that he is writing a book with Michael Ledeen on the Middle East called “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.”

The Clinton campaign provided no evidence that Flynn is “on the payroll” of RT or that he is “having meetings with the Kremlin,” as Mook alleged. It forwarded us a Politico story from May that said Flynn “makes semi-regular appearances on RT as an analyst.” Politico wrote that Flynn is “presumably” paid for those TV appearances, but the retired lieutenant general told the Post that he is not paid by RT or any other TV stations, because “I want to be able to speak freely about what I believe.”

Steve Sestanovich, a senior fellow for Russian and Eurasian studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told us that Flynn’s appearance at the conference certainly raises a question about Flynn’s “judgment and good sense,” but it probably doesn’t make him a security risk.

Flynn served for more than three decades in the military, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. He became the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama in July 2012. He was asked to resign after two years and quickly became one of the Obama administration’s most vocal critics on foreign policy. “I was asked to step down,” Flynn admitted in an interview with Foreign Policy. “It wasn’t necessarily the timing that I wanted, but I understand.”

Trump reportedly considered Flynn during his search for a vice presidential candidate, but ultimately picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

The Clinton campaign certainly has legitimate questions it can raise about Trump’s foreign policy positions, such as his comments that he would “certainly look at” pulling the United States out of NATO, because it is “obsolete” and “is costing us a fortune.” But Mook goes too far in falsely claiming that Flynn is “on the payroll” of the government-funded Russia TV station and insinuating without evidence that the retired United States Army lieutenant general is a security risk.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nazi-Looted Paintings Stay in SoCal]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 23:20:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/knbc-lucas-cranach-the-elder-adam-and-even-paintings-2.jpg

A judge has ruled in favor of a Southern California museum in its 10-year legal battle over the ownership of two German Renaissance masterpieces that were seized by the Nazis in World War II.

U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter ruled last week that Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum, where the paintings "Adam" and "Eve" have been for more than 30 years, is the rightful owner of the two life-size oil-on-panel paintings.

The museum called the decision mindful of "the facts and law at the heart of the dispute," the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Marei von Saher alleged that the paintings were seized from her father-in-law, Dutch Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker, after his family fled Holland during the Holocaust.

The Norton Simon countered that it legally acquired the works in the 1970s from the descendant of Russian aristocrats who had them wrongly taken by the Soviet Union in the 1920s.

Lucas Cranach the Elder painted the works in around 1530. In 1971, they were acquired by the museum for $800,000, the equivalent of about $4.8 million today. They were appraised at $24 million in 2006.

Depicting mankind in the ominous moment before the biblical Fall, the painting's ownership battle, too, points to a period in human history fraught with uncertainty: a 20th-century Europe ravaged by war.

The dispute is one of many to emerge in recent years involving precious art looted by the Nazis.

The judge said that because Goudstikker's art dealership decided not to seek restitution for the works after the war, his family thereby abandoned their claim to the art.

"Obviously, Ms. von Saher is disappointed with the court's decision," representatives from her legal firm, who plan to appeal the decision, said in a statement to the Times.

They also criticized a legal motion exchanged with them by the museum's legal team, presenting evidence that von Saher's father was a member of the Nazi Party.

"Using this information in an attempt to discredit Ms. von Saher is nothing more than a distasteful device to evade responsibility for refusing to restitute artworks that were indisputably stolen from her husband's family," the attorneys said.

A statement from the Norton Simon Art Foundation said in part, "We take seriously the fiduciary responsibility to the public that our ownership of such important artworks confers. We have placed the panels on near-constant public display since 1971 and will continue to ensure they remain accessible to the public for years to come."

Photo Credit: Norton Simon Art Foundation]]>
<![CDATA[Fact Check: Trump Twists Facts on Clinton's Immigration Plan]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 20:44:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TRUMP_GettyImages-576599694.jpg

FactCheck.org is a non-partisan non-profit organization that will hold candidates and key figures accountable during the 2016 presidential campaign. FactCheck.org will check facts of speeches, advertisements and more for NBC.

Donald Trump’s new TV ad on immigration creates a misleading comparison, saying that under Hillary Clinton, “illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay” but under Trump, “terrorists and dangerous criminals” are “kept out.” In fact, Clinton has said she would deport “violent criminals, terrorists, and anyone who threatens our safety.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to our questions about the ad. However, Clinton has supported measures, including the 2013 bipartisan Senate immigration bill, that would have allowed those living in the U.S. illegally who committed fewer than three misdemeanors, not including minor traffic violations, to stay — provided they met other requirements. This could be what the ad means by criminals “get to stay.”

If so, the ad, titled “Two Americas: Immigration,” misleads the viewer by contrasting Clinton’s plan with Trump’s proposal to keep “terrorists and dangerous criminals” out. That’s no different from what Clinton has proposed on illegal immigration. There are certainly different definitions of the word “dangerous,” but Clinton has used the same language in talking about whom she would deport. And the bill she supported barred convicted felons from becoming legal residents or citizens.

The Republican presidential nominee’s ad began airing Aug. 19 on a $4.8 million ad buy over 10 days in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, the campaign has said.

The ad begins with the narrator describing immigration “in Hillary Clinton’s America: The system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay. Collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open.”

In contrast, the narrator gives this description of “Donald Trump’s America”: “Terrorists and dangerous criminals: kept out. The border: secured. Our families: safe.”

We’ve written about a few of these claims before. Clinton hasn’t supported “open” borders, as the ad falsely implies. The 2013 Senate immigration bill — the most recent comprehensive immigration legislation, which Clinton has said she backed — would have made large investments in border security, including additional border fencing, and Clinton said during a Democratic debate in November, “Border security has always been a part of that [immigration] debate.” As we’ll explain later, the immigration plan on her website talks about deporting some individuals. That’s not an “open” border.

The ad also uses a deceptive image of people crowded on top of train cars when it says “our border open,” as if anyone and everyone could stream in legally. That’s not what Clinton has proposed or supported. The 2013 Senate bill would have set up a path to citizenship for those who had entered the country prior to Dec. 31, 2011.

The ad also leaves the impression that “illegal immigrants” would be “collecting Social Security benefits” under Clinton’s presidency, but that would only happen if those immigrants became citizens or had legal status. And that’s the case under current law. As we’ve explained before back in 2009 and 2006, those in the country illegally are barred from collecting Social Security. Once an immigrant gains legal status, then that person can get credit for the Social Security taxes he or she paid when working illegally.

As for whether Clinton would allow a “flood” of Syrian refugees, that’s a matter of opinion. Obama has authorized the acceptance of 10,000 Syrian refugees for fiscal year 2016, while Clinton has said the number should be as many as 65,000. For context, there are nearly 5 million Syrian refugees displaced by the country’s civil war, which began in 2011. And the U.S. is set to accept a total of 85,000 refugees from around the world in fiscal 2016.

Trump has said that no Syrian refugees should be admitted to the U.S., because terrorists may be among them, and Clinton has said the refugees should be admitted “only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine.”

The claim that piqued our fact-checking interest, though, was the assertion that under Clinton “illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay.”

‘Criminals Stay’?

The ad includes a graphic that says “criminals stay” and a citation of “NBC News 7/9/16.” We tried internet and Lexis Nexis searches to find a relevant NBC News article on that day, but we came up empty. We asked the Trump campaign to point us to the article in question, and spokeswoman Hope Hicks told us over the phone that she would take a look at our emailed request. We have not received a response, but we will update this article if we do.

However, Clinton has talked about deporting criminals as part of her illegal immigration plan.

Clinton’s proposal says that she will send a plan to Congress that will include “a path to full and equal citizenship” within her first 100 days in office. That plan “will treat every person with dignity, fix the family visa backlog, uphold the rule of law, protect our borders and national security, and bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy.”

The plan goes on to say that she would defend Obama’s executive orders to delay deportation for so-called DREAMers and the parents of citizens and lawful residents. But she specifically talks about deporting other immigrants, saying, she would “focus resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety.”

During a March Democratic debate, Clinton was asked about allowing immigrants to stay if they lacked a criminal record. She said: “But if you are asking about everyone who is already here, undocumented immigrants, the 11-12 million who are living here, my priorities are to deport violent criminals, terrorists, and anyone who threatens our safety.”

In a speech to the National Immigrant Integration Conference in December 2015, Clinton also talked about “prioritiz[ing] whom to deport.” She said: “Dangerous criminals? Yes. DREAMers and their families? No.”

As for Trump, he initially talked about deporting all immigrants living in the country illegally, but his stance has recently softened. At a February debate, he said that all immigrants with illegal status “will go out,” adding that some will “come back legally.” Last November, he talked about using a “deportation force” to deport all of the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

But in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly on Aug. 22, Trump said that “we’re going to get rid of all of the bad ones,” mentioning “gang members” and “killers,” and talked about using the existing deportation process for others. “As far as the rest, we’re going to go through the process, like they are now, perhaps with a lot more energy, and we’re going to do it only through the system of laws,” Trump said.

Trump described his deportation approach as similar to past administrations, including the current one. “What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country. Bush the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m going to do the same thing and I just said that,” he told O’Reilly.

The candidates obviously differ on what to do about noncriminals who are illegally living in the United States: Clinton would create a path to citizenship, while Trump says he would keep existing laws and deportation processes. But as far as prioritizing whom to deport, both have said they’d focus on criminals and dangerous individuals.

What about the measures Clinton has supported in the past? The 2013 Senate immigration bill included a years-long path to citizenship, but that path would not have been available to those convicted of a felony, three misdemeanor crimes (not counting “minor traffic offenses”), a foreign crime or unlawful voting. Also, an individual would have been ineligible if there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that the person “is engaged in or is likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity.”

That would mean that an immigrant in the country illegally who was convicted of two misdemeanors could have stayed under the bill — provided that person met other requirements including paying a $500 fine and back taxes. Becoming a citizen then required other measures, such as having a steady work history, knowing English, passing background checks and more.

The bipartisan legislation, also known as the “Gang of Eight” bill, said that it would be possible for the secretary of homeland security to waive the barring of those convicted of three misdemeanors for “humanitarian” or “public interest” reasons. Under federal immigration laws, a misdemeanor is an offense punishable by up to a year in prison.

There are similar exclusions for felons and other criminals in Obama’s executive order on deferring deportation for so-called DREAMers, those who came to the United States at a young age and are attending or have graduated from high school or have served in the U.S. military. Among the requirements to apply for a two-year deferral of deportation proceedings: “Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Such language leaves open the possibility that some convicted criminals — if their offenses were misdemeanors and fewer than three — would be allowed to stay under the types of proposals Clinton has supported. But contrasting that with a Trump plan to keep out “terrorists and dangerous criminals” is a misleading comparison. Clinton, too, has said she would deport “dangerous” and “violent” criminals, “terrorists” and “anyone who threatens our safety.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Smartphone Apps Help Women Walk Without Fear]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 20:34:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/walking+safety+apps.jpg How an app for your smartphone could have you or a loved one walking without fear. Marc Santia reports.]]>