<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - National & International News]]>Copyright 2018https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/national-internationalhttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.pngNBC 7 San Diegohttps://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usFri, 16 Nov 2018 20:33:37 -0800Fri, 16 Nov 2018 20:33:37 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Watch: Bei Bei the Panda Has a Blast in the Snow]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 05:04:26 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/osito-panda-bei-bei.jpg

On the first snowfall of the season, Bei Bei the giant panda at the National Zoo tumbles and plays in the fresh powder. Two inches of snow fell at the zoo, Storm Team4 says. 



Photo Credit: Smithsonian/National Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[How to Help Victims of California Wildfires]]>Thu, 15 Nov 2018 10:33:08 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1059649988.jpg

Dozens of people have died and tens of thousands of Californians have been forced from their homes as massive wildfires continue to rage in the northern and southern ends of the state. 

The Camp Fire in Northern California's Butte County has become the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in recorded state history. The Woolsey Fire north of Los Angeles, meanwhile, has killed at least two killed and wiped out hundreds of structures.

Here are some ways to help those impacted by the wildfires:

DONATIONS
Anyone who wants to help can text "CAWILDFIRES" to 90999 to make a $10 donation to support RedCross disaster efforts.

GoFundMe has also set up a page with fundraising campaigns for victims of the fires in both northern and southern California.

Donations can also be made through the Salvation Army.  

North Valley Community Foundation is accepting monetary donations as well as supplies.

Caring Choice, a nonprofit in Chico, is accepting donations to help offer relief to those affected by recent Northern California Fires. You can make a note in the memo whether you prefer your donation be used for, food, clothing, housing or other things.

Among supplies needed are paper products (toilet paper, forks, spoons, paper plates, tissues, paper towels), and women's undergarments, as well as warm clothes, including shoe and socks, Butte County officials said.

The North Valley Animal Disaster Group is taking care of animals and is accepting donations. Call ‪530-899-3873‬ or visit this site for more information.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles has started a disaster relief fund for victims of the Hill and Woolsey fires. Similarly, United Way of Northern California has set up an option on its donation for page for people to put money toward Camp fire relief.

The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation has also put out a call for donations to raise money to purchase hydration backpacks for firefighters. Donations can be made online at the organization's website

AirBnb was looking for host homes to open their spaces for evacuees of the Woolsey and Hill Fires through Nov. 29. More than 850 homes throughout the SoCal region, including dozens in San Diego County, were available.

Those wishing to volunteer should fill out an application and wait for instructions. Notarized applications are required. Contact Caring Choices by calling 530-899-3873 or visiting them at 1398 Ridgewood in Chico. 

AT&T was waiving charges for those affected by the fires. See more information here. T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon are offering a similar deal, with more information available on their websites.  

T-Mobile support trucks were also to be in the greater Ventura area Monday and Tuesday to help those affected by the Woolsey fire. They would provide connectivity, USB cables, chargers, battery packs, masks and toiletries. See more information here.

Additionally, NBC Los Angeles has a Southern California wildfires Facebook group with local information on ways to help. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Leaves Behind Nothing but Ashes in Paradise]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 19:09:23 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2018-11-16+at+12.29.21+PM.png

A mother searching for her son, a husband who lost his wife to a stroke two months ago, two roommates just trying to survive — all victims of California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire, all living in their cars in the Chico Neighborhood Church parking lot because they want to be near the only thing they have left — their dogs.

None of them know what’s going to happen next.

Jean Eisenbarth escaped with Sweeney, her 8-year-old Great Pyrenees and her turtle, Kelly Winslow and Tim Joyner evacuated with their dogs Hazel, Moose, March, Delbert, and their two rats, Jay Raynor drove off with his yellow lab Gus, leaving behind homes in Paradise and the neighboring city of Magalia as a wildfire tore them apart, turning everything into ash within hours.

These are their stories.

____________

I Feel Like I’ve Been in a War

Jean Eisenbarth. Tuesday, Nov. 13, 12:55 p.m., The Neighborhood Church parking lot

How did you escape the night of the wildfires?

“My name is Jean Eisenbarth and this is my dog Sweeney — so if anybody sees us we’re okay. We’re from Shadowbrook Apartments in Paradise behind the DMV off of Clark. From what I hear, a lot of the apartments burned, some still are standing. There was a lot of explosions going on — it was like a battlefield, but we made it down here and there’s been a lot of donations and a lot of help. People are very kind but it was very scary. I didn’t think I was gonna make it out. I was one of the last ones in my family to make it out and I feel like I’ve been through a war. Everybody else here has gone through the same thing so I feel like I’m in the right place and hoping that we can go up and see our place sometime soon to see what we can salvage, and it’s just awful.”

Who helped you get out of Paradise?

"It was an old man and he was just walking in the neighborhood and I opened the door and I go, 'how do you get out of here,' and he goes, “It looks like everybody’s lost.” And I said, “We are,” and he didn’t even ask me to get in the car. He said, “Go to the stop sign, make a left and you’ll hit Skyway.” But he didn’t panic or nothing. I don’t know if I would have made it out if he wouldn’t have told me how to get out of there. I don’t know who he was and he didn’t seem scared, I think he was an angel, I honestly do."

Did you get any warning from anybody, or the city or anything like that?

"They were coming to warn us, but not beforehand. I didn’t get any warning through phone or anything."

"When I woke up in the morning the sky was orange and I told my friend that was staying with me, 'Pete, I think there’s a fire,' and he goes 'No, I think it was just a weird overcast.' And then we started hearing the explosions and then it got to midnight, totally dark. I had one candle and the reason I stayed so long was I was trying to catch my cats, they were scared. So I saw the police go into the other apartment complex so I ran out there and the cop car came up and I asked do we need to leave and he says, 'Oh my God yes.'"

____________

We’ll starve, the Dogs Won’t

Kelly Winslow, Tim Joyner, Tuesday, Nov. 13. 1:30 p.m., The Neighborhood Church parking lot

Where are you guys from?

TJ: "We’re from Magalia, and upper Magalia — right now we’re kind of in a flux because the fires are getting to that point so we’re kind of waiting for news you know day by day."

Are you staying here are all night?

TJ: "Yeah we have been safe here. I’m finding that people are putting aside their differences and just coming together, I think that’s what is happening. It’s incredible. Everyone’s in the same boat."

But you don’t know if the fires reached your house or what’s going on?

TJ: "We’re getting the same information everyone is online. I just found out by accident on Google. But we don’t really know … We’re just two roommates trying to survive."

Who are your other roommates?

TJ: "This is Hazel, this is Moose, March is on the floor, and Delbert, and two rats. I got them covered very well so they’re warm."

What are they eating?

TJ: "We have dog food, the dogs are eating well. We’ll starve, the dogs won’t. We’re realizing that this is going to be a long ordeal."

So what’s next?

"If you don’t own your home and are renting like we are, you’ll really have no other recourse than to go after the company. That company no longer has a home itself. So now you have to go try to find them. Actually we got a letter from our realtor and she said that it’s gonna be a while so …"

It’s gonna be a while before the electricity goes back up there. So even when we do go up there we’re gonna have to have everything in place cause we’re gonna have to have food, gas, water. It’s like camping in your own home. We’re gonna get a little propane thing, we’re already thinking ahead."

____________

Mother’s Intuition

We came across a Paradise evacuee in the parking lot of The Neighborhood Community Church who didn’t want to go on camera or be identified. She was emotional as she told us she was searching for her son. “Nobody’s seen him since two days before the fire, he was in a homeless camp in the woods. It’s devastating to see — If it hadn’t been for our neighbor who begged my husband and I to leave, we wouldn’t have left. So bless Virginia for saving us. We didn’t take anything — our computer or our meds. But it’s just things. At least we got out alive.”

Before we left she added:

“Just pray that they find my son, I'm hoping that he’s not dead, when you are a mother you have that mother’s intuition, and I can’t feel him,” she said. “The miracle out of this is that we have come together as one.”

____________


Everything’s gone but I got my car ... and my dog

Jim Raynow, Tuesday, Nov. 13. 1:45 p.m., The Neighborhood Church parking lot

JR: "What do you wanna know?"

Just your story, how you got here, how things are going.

JR: "Long story."

Are you from Paradise?

JR: "No I’m from Magalia. I lost my wife two months ago to a stroke and two months later I lose my house so I’m here."

When did you get here?

JR: "Thursday."

And you know for sure that your house is gone?

JR: "Well yeah my neighbor, it was kind of weird, he found me here about an hour ago and how he found me was that he was watching the news and saw me behind a reporter. I haven’t seen him since last Thursday but he tracked me down. He had a friend of his take a picture of his house from the street and it’s burned to the ground. I’m right next to it and at the edge you can see that my house is gone. Everything’s gone but I got my car."

Is that your dog? What’s his name?

JR: "Gus! It’s our dog, my wife’s baby. He’s 14 years old and he lost his mommy so we’re living in our car — it sucks. He’s got the backseat and I got the front. It’s funny I know everybody says that, it is what it is."

Do they have shelters inside?

JR: "They’re full. I got here Thursday and they were full. But I can’t have a dog. They do a good job, I got brand new clothes from these people it was amazing. Showers."

How long have you lived in Magalia?

JR: "Twenty-five years, I like it. I’m like in limbo. It’s like gravity and space, I’m in between."

____________

We Lost Everything

Gary Brand, Nov. 13, 3.32 p.m. The Neighborhood Church parking lot

Where did you live in Paradise?

"34 Wayland Road, Space #12. Lived there for 47 years."

Can you tell us how you escaped?

“We just got out of there the best way we could. We lost everything. I’m coping the best I can but my wife ain’t. She lost her Chihuahua. He got so scared he went under the couch and would not come out and the officers told us we had to leave, now, so we left.”

____________

Burned out of Paradise

Chris Hughes, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 3:59 p.m., Burrito Bandito, Chico

What Happened?

"Burned out of Paradise, born and raised there — Feather River Hospital — went to high school there, and drove around those streets, and it’s all gone. I really don’t know what to think about it. Just taking it a day at a time. Three dogs crammed into a car, trying to make life work."

How are they doing?

"They’re coping, but they’re all a little stressed out. It’s a crazy situation right now. Everybody’s a little dazed. But yeah, trying to stay focused."

____________

Waiting For FEMA

Terry Black, Nov. 13, 6 p.m., Wal-Mart Parking Lot, Chico

How long have you been here?

“We’ve been here about four days, I can’t remember anymore. It was like a movie at first, like you see people panicking on TV all over town, that’s how it was. The sky was red, and then I heard a boom!"

How long do you think you’ll be here for?

"We don’t know yet, we are waiting for FEMA."

____________



Photo Credit: Jennifer Gonzalez / NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Technology Lessening Shoplifting]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 18:14:32 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/turkey+screenshot+%281%29.jpg

Shoplift is a new technology that helps prevent shoplifting by sensing unscanned items from above.

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<![CDATA[1st Pot Shops in Eastern US Get OK to Open in Massachusetts]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 20:22:41 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1492530661.jpg

Starting Tuesday, adults will be able to purchase marijuana legally at two stores in Massachusetts.

At 4:20 p.m. on Friday, the Cannabis Control Commission announced that it had given the OK for retail sales to begin at the state's first two pot shops — Cultivate in Leicester and New England Treatment Access in Northampton — in three calendar days. Both companies were awarded final licenses for recreational sales last month.

"Cultivate is honored that we will be making history Tuesday by selling the first legal recreational cannabis in Massachusetts, New England and east of the Mississippi," Sam Barber, CEO and founder of Cultivate, said in a statement.

"We at New England Treatment Access will be honored to be a part of Massachusetts history when we open our doors for adult sales of legal cannabis in Northampton, Massachusetts, next Tuesday," Kim Napoli, a representative of that store said at a press conference. "We would like to thank the Cannabis Control Commission for their thoughtful and thorough approach to the rollout of adult-use cannabis."

A third retailer, Pharmacannis Massachusetts in Wareham, was approved for recreational sales this month. It was not clear when that store would open.

The recreational use and sale of marijuana, for adults 21 and older, was legalized in the Bay State by a ballot initiative just over two years before the first two openings.

Originally, officials aimed for sales to begin in January of 2018. Legislators pushed that date back six months, to July 1. As that date came and went, many hurdles remained; notably, licenses for recreational testing labs were not awarded until October. Those labs were allowed to begin testing products this month following inspections.

"This signal to open retail marijuana establishments marks a major milestone for voters who approved legal, adult-use cannabis in our state," Chairman Steven Hoffman of the commission said in a statement. "To get here, licensees underwent through background checks, passed multiple inspections, and had their products tested, all to ensure public health and safety as this new industry gets up and running."

As Cultivate geared up for regular sales, the store provided some tips for first-time marijuana dispensary customers.

Industry leaders have projected sales of $1.8-$5 billion annually, according to the Associated Press.

For months, the Cannabis Control Commission has stressed that its priority was getting the industry's rollout right rather than rushing into sales.

"We can rightfully squawk about state delays and problematic local opposition, but the fact remains that we're the first state east of the Mississippi to offer legal, tested cannabis to adult consumers in safe retail settings," James Borghesani, the former spokesperson for the 2016 legalization campaign, said in a statement. "This is a historic distinction for Massachusetts. Now we're going to be at the forefront of the drive toward replacing lingering reefer-madness fears with a rational approach that benefits consumers and communities."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fla. Uber Driver Verbally Abused for Not Speaking English]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 16:17:38 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/agresion+verbal++TLMD+TAMPA.jpg

An Uber driver who was picking up a client at Tampa International Airport on Friday suffered an onslaught of verbal attacks after the rider discovered he didn't speak English. 

Armando Valdés, who is Cuban, is seen in the video looking confused as the client argues with him about wanting to cancel the ride. Valdés is unable to communicate properly in English and the unidentified rider does not want to hear the man speak any Spanish. 

In the video taken by an onlooker that was not identified, the rider apparently loses his patience and tells Valdés, "You're done!" before walking to the rear of the vehicle to take a photo of his license plate. 

The man then walks around to the side of the van where Valdés is standing and continues to scream obscenities at him. He gets in his face and at one point makes a gesture as if to hit him.

Before the video ends, the rider violently slams the car door and Valdés calls after him. Without turning around, the man grabs his luggage and leaves the scene.

Telemundo 49 learned that the victim has not yet filed a complaint but plans to seek legal action soon.  



Photo Credit: Armando Valdés]]>
<![CDATA[House Panel Sanctions Lawmakers Over Harassment Allegations]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 13:44:08 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sexharassmentlawmakersDiptych.jpg

Reps. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., have been formally sanctioned by the House Ethics Committee over sexual harassment allegations, the panel announced Friday in reports released to the public.

Kihuen violated House rules by “making persistent and unwanted advances toward women who were required to interact with him as part of their professional responsibilities,” NBC News reported, while Meadows failed to take decisive action to deal with complaints concerning a key aide.

The report details three women’s accounts of advances by the congressman in graphic detail. After these allegations came to light earlier this year, Kihuen refused to resign, but announced that he wouldn’t see re-election. He’s still a sitting member of Congress and voted in the House on Friday.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Alleged Russian Operative Negotiating With Prosecutors]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 12:43:33 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/maria-butina-sketch.jpg

Attorneys for Maria Butina, the alleged Russian operative facing charges for conspiring to push Moscow's agenda in the U.S., have entered into negotiations with federal prosecutors, according to a document filed in federal court Friday.

The two sides asked that the next hearing in the case be postponed because they are currently "in negotiations regarding a potential resolution of this matter," indicating that they are working towards a plea agreement, NBC News reported.

Butina is accused of acting as an agent of Russia in the D.C. area and faces charges of conspiracy and failing to register as a foreign agent.

She was arrested and charged in July for allegedly conspiring with her ex-boss to infiltrate politically powerful U.S. organizations, including the NRA, and push Moscow's agenda.



Photo Credit: Dana Verkouteren via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sen. Grassley Opts to Cede Judiciary Committee Chairmanship]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 09:38:50 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_18271722684653.jpg

Sen. Chuck Grassley announced Friday that he plans to cede the gavel of the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, serving instead as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, NBC News reported

“Looking ahead, at the Finance Committee, I want to continue to work to make sure that as many Americans as possible get to experience this good economy for themselves," Grassley, who’s set to become Senate Pro Tempore in the next Congress, said in a statement. "That means working to provide Americans with additional tax relief and tax fairness so they can spend more of their hard-earned money on what’s important to them.”

The Iowa Republican has served as chairman of the Judiciary panel since January 2015. Senate Republican Conference rules limit service as chairman and ranking member to six years, which means Grassley is eligible to serve as the Finance Committee’s chairman for one full congressional session.

The announcement means that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. — a vocal member on the panel who has been a fierce defender of President Donald Trump and his policies — is likely to be the panel's next chair.



Photo Credit: Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP, File]]>
<![CDATA['Creep Shot': Firestorm Over Twitter Photo of Ocasio-Cortez]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 05:27:09 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_18316750545937.jpg

A Washington Examiner reporter who posted a photo of newly elected Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that he claimed was proof she was not "struggling" for money deleted the post after backlash from thousands of Twitter users on Thursday, NBC News reported.

Reporter Eddie Scarry's tweet followed Ocasio-Cortez telling The New York Times last week she would have difficulty paying for an apartment in Washington, D.C., until she starts collecting her congressional salary next year. Twitter users proceeded to blast Scarry for the tweet, with many mocking Scarry for focusing on her clothes. One user called the post a "creep shot" and an "insult."

By 6 p.m. ET, the tweet had more than 5,000 replies compared to roughly 50 retweets and 200 likes, creating what is known online as a "ratio" of more replies than retweets and likes.

Ocasio-Cortez responded to the tweet hours after it was posted, saying her opponents would criticize her no matter what she chose to wear. Scarry later said he was merely trying to say the Congresswoman "looked well put together" and his original meaning was misconstrued.



Photo Credit: AP, File
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<![CDATA[White Official Tells Black Woman He Belonged to Master Race]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 05:57:50 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/master-race-thumb.jpg

Some Leavenworth County, Kansas, officials are calling for Commissioner Louis Klemp's resignation after he insulted a black woman who had just presented a land-use study to the commission. "I don't want you to think I am picking on you because we are part of the master race. You have a gap in your teeth. We are part of the master race, don't you forget that," Klemp said. 

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<![CDATA[3 Charged in GoFundMe Scheme; 14,000 Donors to Be Refunded]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 15:31:26 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DAmico+Bobbitt+McClure+mugshots+tri.jpg

The New Jersey couple and a homeless veteran at the center of a long-running $400,000 GoFundMe controversy have been charged with conspiracy and theft by deception for an alleged scheme that "hoodwinked an awful lot of people," authorities said Thursday.

GoFundMe said immediately after charges were filed that all 14,000 donors to the campaign last year would be refunded in full.

NBC10 first reported that Johnny Bobbitt Jr. and the South Jersey couple, Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico, would all face criminal charges of conspiracy and theft by deception on Thursday for the GoFundMe campaign that began in 2017.

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Burlington County, New Jersey, Prosecutor Scott Caffina alleged the three conspired with one another to make up a story and raise more from online donors. The GoFundMe campaign garnered national headlines and news segments, eventually raising more than $400,000.

Authorities believe the three met at least a month before the campaign was launched, possibly on one of many trips McClure and D'Amico made to SugarHouse Casino.

Bobbitt was homeless and often stayed near an Interstate 95 off-ramp near the casino.

[[500616052, C]]

Caffina said that, within hours of the three launching the campaign on the GoFundMe website last November, McClure texted a friend that the majority of the story was fabricated.

"Ok, so wait. The gas part is completely made up. The guy isn't," McClure allegedly texted the friend after the campaign went live Nov. 10 with a photo of a smiling McClure and Bobbitt.

"So shush about the made up stuff," she added, according to Caffina.

D'Amico and McClure turned themselves in Wednesday to Burlington County prosecutors, the source said. On Thursday, James Gerrow, another attorney for McClure, released a statement on her behalf.

“I’m confident that in the end the evidence will reveal that Kate had only the best intentions," Gerrow said. "She was used by Mr. D’Amico and Mr Bobbitt and she thought throughout that this money was going to a homeless veteran. She was unaware that they had concocted this scheme. It wasn’t until September when meeting with prosecutors that she came to realize that she had been used by both of them.”

The backbone of the story was that Bobbitt used $20 to help McClure get gas when her car ran out on I-95 at the Girard Avenue exit. McClure and D'Amico then launched a GoFundMe page to supposedly raise money for Bobbitt, and the page brought in over $400,000 from 14,000 contributors.

At first, the account led to appearances for Bobbitt and McClure on national TV programs. But it turned into a dispute over the money.

Bobbitt accused the couple of dipping into the funds and using them as a "personal piggy bank" to bankroll a lifestyle they couldn't afford.

Bobbitt later sued the couple over mismanagement of the funds and a judge ordered sworn statements to determine what happened to the cash, which Bobbitt's attorney, Chris Fallon, said had disappeared.

The couple denied any wrongdoing and accused Bobbitt of spending $25,000 in less than two weeks last year on drugs as well as paying for overdue legal bills and sending money to family.

The couple's lawyer, Ernest Badway, later said Bobbitt had gotten about $200,000. But Fallon said his client had received only about $75,000.

The couple also bought Bobbitt a camper with some of the cash and parked it on land McClure's family owns in New Jersey. But Bobbitt became homeless again after D'Amico told him in June that he had to leave the property.

In September, police raided the couple's home in Florence, New Jersey, hauling away a new BMW on a flatbed truck. Badway said that all the couple's personal and business financial statements, along with jewelry and cash, were seized in the raid.

At that point, officials said the couple was under investigation, though no charges had been filed.

D'Amico was arrested in September in Burlington County on an unrelated $500 warrant for an October 2017 traffic stop, according to officials. At the time, he was driving on a suspended license and also had a broken tail light. He also failed to appear in court on two separate occassions, according to court records.

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Photo Credit: Burlington County Prosecutor's Office
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<![CDATA[FDA Announces Crackdown on Cigarettes]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 06:47:46 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_tobacco1115_1500x845.jpg

The Food and Drug Administration is making moves against the tobacco industry in an effort to crack down on smoking in teens, saying it is working to ban menthol and mint in all cigarettes, as well as flavored cigars. The agency also announced it will limit the sales of flavored e-cigarettes to youths, both in stores and online.

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<![CDATA[Judge Rules in Favor of CNN's Jim Acosta]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 08:32:06 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE.00_00_21_07.Still004.jpg

A judge ruled Friday that the White House must immediately restore, on a temporary basis, CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials.

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<![CDATA[Total Chaos Over 6 Inches: Blame Game After NYC Snowstorm Causes Nightmare Commute]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 20:17:06 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/snow+montage+lead.jpg

The first snowfall of the season may have been the most nightmarish 6 inches in tri-state history, stranding children in their schools, commuters at transit hubs and debilitating New York City in a way many said they've never before seen.

The city's Department of Education was still running school bus routes after 11 p.m. Thursday, according to a tweet from the agency. At least one commuter described a harrowing 13-hour trip home. And commuters, along with their elected officials, are not holding back their frustration, with some even calling for Mayor de Blasio to step down Friday over the abject chaos from 6 inches.

"Mayor Bill de Blasio, step down," one commenter wrote on NBC 4 New York's Facebook page. "The chaos that happened today is completely unacceptable. Clearly, you were unprepared and for that you should lose your job."

"Yesterday was a failure. A disaster," said city council member Vanessa Gibson, who spent nine hours in her car getting back to the Bronx. "I'm beyond pissed with this administration."

It was equally disastrous in New Jersey

De Blasio, in a news conference Friday afternoon flanked by top police, fire and schools officials, declined to address those calls for his resignation. He did concede he was unhappy with the city's performance but described what happened as "a kind of perfect storm."

“Normally 3 to 5 inches of snow would not have posed this kind of problem," he said. “We are trying to learn some lessons and figure out what we can do better.”

The mayor also said there would be a full audit of the city's response to the storm. 

"I am very frustrated with what happened. I am upset," he said, but "I don't think it's fair to say city agencies could have stopped all this." 

Roads were hardly completely clear by early Friday, with multiple straphangers reporting delays waiting for MTA buses and trains.  

De Blasio's spokesperson, Eric Phillips, said the early storm meant that MTA didn't have snow chains on its buses. He said many of them had to pull over, "further clogging streets."

Photos showed rubbernecking from the West Side Highway to Upper Manhattan, with buses becoming disabled and getting stuck in intersections as frustrated drivers abandoned their cars to get out and walk.

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, (D-NY), called it “unacceptable.”

“Transportation and transit are the lifeblood of our city. 3 inches of snow have crippled #NYC,” he tweeted. "Moms are stranded with their kids, people are running out of gas. We demand answers.”

As driver after driver sat in the worst traffic jams anyone can remember, as tree limbs pliunged down and as school buses sat stuck for hours with kids on them, New Yorkers began to reach their boiling points. 

"It was a nightmare," said Rene Servis, who said she almost got into two crashes. "I cried. I wept. I had a meltdown." 

"The bottom line is what happened is unacceptable," City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said Friday. "For New Yorkers who sat in three, five, eight hours of traffic, I'm sorry. We need to do a better job." 

The scene in some places, but for the amount of snow, was almost remniscent of the Christmas blizzard nightmare that happened while Michael Bloomberg was in office. That storm, unlike Thursday's, dumped 20 inches of snow in Central Park. Streets were unplowed for days. 

Nearly 150 trees fell in Manhattan, crushing cars and hurting a cop and EMTs. More than 300 downed limbs were reported and at least 40 remained hanging; the city warned people to stay out of parks Friday over concern more could fall. 

Though public schools were open again Friday, the city canceled all afterschool programs and some field trips. That only compounded the ire, with a flurry of Twitter users demanding to know why that was not the case a day earlier.

Though it was hardly a blizzard, Thursday’s storm was the snowiest in November in 80 years, Storm Team 4 says. It dropped 8 inches of the white stuff in Central Park, more in parts of New Jersey and Connecticut and even more than a foot in places in Orange County. The PM commute was a disaster of epic proportions.

Traffic all across the region was brought to a crawl, while it was completely paralyzed it in some spots. Downed trees throughout the city caused traffic gridlocks and the Port Authority Bus Terminal had to be partially shut down due to overcrowding. The terminal had become an immovable block of wall-to-wall commuters all gazing up at the schedule board. Lines of people waited to get into the terminal as officials urged them to take trains or ferries.

Check the latest traffic and transit advisories here

Two severe accidents on the George Washington Bridge Thursday afternoon -- one of them involved 25 vehicles -- added to the existing traffic nightmares. 

The Port Authority said eight trucks began salting the GWB at around 1 p.m. First snow started falling at 2 p.m., which changed to freezing rain, rapidly creating slick conditions, before the 25-vehicle pileup on the eastbound side at 2:35 p.m. and the tractor-trailer accident on the westbound side at 3:20 p.m., both on the upper level. The upper level was shut down entirely as a result. 

After sitting for hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the lower level, people bailed out of vehicles and started trekking over the bridge and snow-covered ramp back to Manhattan, filing toward the 178th Street exit.

"All delays pose an inconvenience to the traveling public," the Port Authority said in a statement Friday. "Extreme ones that extend for hours cause tremendous frustration and we do everything in our power to prevent them." 

De Blasio, at his news conference, said the bridge accident was probably the number one factor in the overall transit catastrophe. 

The city's sanitation department deployed only half their full arsenal of 2,200 pieces of equipment, sending out just 700 salt spreaders and 300 plows. And 1,600 workers were on normal shifts Thursday, compared to the typical 2,100 workers that are typically deployed during serious winter storms. 

Sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia said Friday that even with the hundreds of spreaders ready to go, "we really couldn't move" because traffic had come to a halt. 

"I had spreaders that sat for hours and hours without moving," she said at the news conference Friday. "We were ready to go with spreaders but the forecast did not change. It was a challenge to everyone."

At the height of the storm, when the George Washington Bridge closed, the city became paralyzed, Garcia acknowledged, adding that the department would look at contingencies for when traffic gets that bad. 

"I don't think I realized how important the GWB is for the entire region," she said, adding, "It's almost like we needed lights and sirens on spreaders." 

Council speaker Johnson said, "You have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. And yesterday there was not an appropriate amount of preparation." 

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<![CDATA[Toddler Towed With Car, Left in Freezing Lot Overnight]]>Thu, 15 Nov 2018 12:58:17 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2018-11-15+at+9.50.02+AM.png

A 4-year-old girl was left alone inside a minivan overnight in a Milwaukee tow lot, authorities said. An impaired driver was pulled over and arrested for operating while intoxicated. Officers removed a 10-month-old child from the vehicle but left the 4-year-old girl, who spent the night in the tow lot where temperatures dropped to 19 degrees.

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<![CDATA[Dartmouth Sued Following Professor Misconduct Allegations]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 01:19:36 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/515044559.jpg

A class-action lawsuit filed by a group of former and current Dartmouth College students described the climate three professors allegedly created as a "21st-century Animal House."

The Boston Globe reports the lawsuit accuses Paul Whalen, Bill Kelley and Todd Heatherton of sexual misconduct and creating a disruptive party atmosphere.

The federal lawsuit against Dartmouth's trustees was filed in New Hampshire on behalf of seven students Thursday. It claims the three psychology professors sexually harassed and abused scores of female graduate students for years, including two who said they were raped.

Drinking and hot-tub parties were hosted by the trio and the educators would have lab meetings at bars, according to the complaint. The professors allegedly groped female students, made sexual advances to them numerous times and sexually assaulted graduate students.

According to the complaint, the professors delayed exams, expressed their control over the students’ academic careers and threatened to defund research grants to female students who rejected their sexual advances.

The lawsuit states the university did not protect the students. Whalen and Kelley resigned before the school took action and Heatherton retired.

Dartmouth denies the allegations that it ignored complaints about the professors.

College spokesman Justin Anderson said the school took the appropriate steps to investigate the professors after they were first accused of sexual misconduct in April 2017. The school claims it was prepared to take action against the professors before they departed.

Whalen and Kelley couldn't be reached for comment. Heatherton apologized for acting inappropriately at conferences but said he never socialized or had sexual relations with students.

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office conducted a criminal investigation into the three professors last year. The students are seeking $70 million in damages, according to the lawsuit.

Last year, 15 undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students wrote to the university's newspaper that the three professors created a hostile academic environment where "sexual harassment is normalized."



Photo Credit: Getty Images/National Geographic Creative]]>
<![CDATA[Unusual Security Arrangement for Betsy DeVos Costs Millions]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 02:34:47 -0800https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/devosAP_18071811337403.jpg

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began receiving around-the-clock security from the U.S. Marshals Service days after being confirmed, an armed detail provided to no other cabinet member that could cost U.S. taxpayers $19.8 million through September of 2019, according to new figures provided by the Marshals Service to NBC News.

It remains unclear who specifically made the request, but former Attorney General Jeff Sessions granted the protection on Feb. 13, 2017. It came just a few days after DeVos was heckled and blocked by a handful of protesters from entering the Jefferson Academy, a public middle school in Washington. DeVos was confirmed as education secretary on Feb. 7 of that year.

"The order was issued after the Department of Education contacted administration officials regarding threats received by the Secretary of Education," the Justice Department said in a statement. "The U.S.M.S. was identified to assist in this area based on its expertise and long experience providing executive protection."

In fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the cost of DeVos' security was $5.3 million and $6.8 million, respectively. The estimated cost for fiscal year 2019 is $7.74 million. 

An Education Department spokeswoman said DeVos had not personally requested the protection. 



Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP, File ]]>