<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Local News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Fri, 22 May 2015 15:29:00 -0700 Fri, 22 May 2015 15:29:00 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Levi's Stadium Bathroom Assault Suspects in Court]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 14:02:23 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2015-05-22_13-23-31.jpg

A judge is deciding if there is enough evidence to try the suspects accused of a brutal beating caught on video inside a Levi's Stadium bathroom before a San Francisco 49ers game.

NBC Bay Area has learned the main attorney for one of the suspects told the court Friday his client is ready to plead guilty in the case. However, the District Attorney does not agree on a potential deal of one of the charges.

Cellphone video appears to show Dario Rebollero, 34, and Amador Rebollero, 27, of King City, attacking the two victims inside a Levi's Stadium bathroom. One of the victims took the stand Friday, but not the main victim, who apparently has permanent paralysis. The victims who went on the stand said he was dizzy for weeks as a result of the beating.

Amador has agreed to spend five years in prison if the DA agrees to the plea deal his attorney is proposing.

The two victims are cousins.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Car Crash Causes 5-Acre Brush Fire on WB 580]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 10:35:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2015-05-22_10-27-20.jpg

Crews have contained a 5-alarm brush fire on westbound 580 in Livermore after a car crashed into a freeway sign Friday morning.

The crash happened at around 8:20 a.m. just east of North Flynn Road, CHP said. A car caught fire after the accident and spread to a nearby hill.

Alameda County fire said the fire spread at a slow rate of speed.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Oregon to Test Pay-Per-Mile Alternative to Gas Tax]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 06:49:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/gas-tax-shutterstock_122420251.jpg

Starting in July, as many as 5,000 volunteers can sign up to drive with devices in their cars that monitors how many miles they drive and where.

It is a pay-per-mile alternative to paying taxes on gasoline. The volunteers will agree to pay 1.5 cents for each mile they drive on public roads instead of paying the tax that is added when they fill up at the pump.

The state hopes the program will help raise more money to pay for road maintenance because revenue from gas tax is down.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[SF Housing Project for Homeless Vets, Low-Income Families]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 14:05:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/realworldsanfrancisco.jpg

More affordable housing is coming to San Francisco thanks to some folks in tech.

Mayor Ed Lee announced a new housing project in Mission Bay dedicated to homeless veterans and low-income families.

The development will include 100 new units and is being partially funded by donations from Bay Area tech moguls, including Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

The project is expected to break ground next year and open by 2018.



Photo Credit: Madison Bear]]>
<![CDATA[30 Years Later, "The Residents" Are Missing Another Eyeball]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 15:27:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/192*120/Residnets+Mr+Blue.jpg

One of the original four eyeball masks from underground music and art group The Residents has gone missing in San Francisco.

A similar scenario played out 30 years ago in Los Angeles when "Mr. Red" was stolen from backstage after a performance at the Palace. That one was eventually returned, and the SFPD is hoping the same will happen with "Mr. Blue."

Homer Flynn, longtime collaborator and co-manager of The Residents, reached out to the SFPD recently to report that an attempted delivery to his Haight Ashbury home resulted in a missing irreplaceable artifact.

"Mr. Blue Original has been traveling in a museum show for the past three years," Flynn said via email Friday morning.

In addition to the eyeball mask, the original Residents at the Golden Gate Bridge photo was also in the package. "The eyeball is valued at $100,000. The photo is $20,000. Totally irreplaceable," Flynn said.

After traveling in a museum show called "Spectacle: The Music Video" to Cincinnati, NYC, and Australia, the last stop for the eyeball and photograph was the EMP in Seattle. "It was coming back to me via FedEx from Seattle when it disappeared," Flynn explained.

"Unfortunately no one notified me when the shipment was actually sent in early April," Flynn said, who was in New Orleans with his family when the package showed up at his house. "My best guess is that FedEx left it on the landing of my building and someone took it. I seriously doubt that they knew what was in the shipping box."

Flynn explained, "At this point FedEx still claims to have made the delivery which was signed for, but the signature is ‘B Ham.’ There’s no one with that name in my building and subsequent emails have indicated that no one was here when FedEx claims to have made the delivery."

The four original eyeball masks were made in 1978, and The Residents filmed some of the first ever music videos with them, eventually ending up in rotation during MTV’s incarnation in the early 1980s. A new documentary called "Theory of Obscurity: A film about The Residents" which chronicles their more than 40-year career recently showed at the San Francisco International Film Festival. (Full disclosure: NBC Bay Area employee Josh Keppel is a Producer on the film.) The film includes a scene where the Museum of Modern Art in NYC added one of the eyeballs to its permanent collection.

Flynn said he has never had a package stolen from his doorstep before, "but there have been a lot of times when FedEx made deliveries to my building and they put the package on the landing, rang the bell and drove away."

Flynn asked that if you see Mr. Blue, please contact the SFPD.



Photo Credit: Cryptic Corporation]]>
<![CDATA[Man Accused of Fatally Stabbing Boy, 9, Due Back in Court]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 14:04:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/suspectmain.jpg

The young man accused of stabbing a 9-year old boy to death is expected to be back in court Friday.

Eighteen-year-old William Schultz reportedly confessed to stabbing and killing Jordan Almgren. It happened in April as Almgren was asleep in his Discovery Bay home.

Schultz told the Contra Costa Times he did it and said he just wanted to know what it was like to take someone's life.

A defense attorney for Schultz said mental illness played an unquestionable role in the stabbing death.



Photo Credit: Contra Costa County Sheriff]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: QBert, Intel Develop Affordable DJ Gear]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 15:02:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/_MG_5272_by+Joysco+Studio.jpg

QBert, a music producer and world DJ battling champion who hails from the Bay Area, has joined forces with Intel to explore an affordable alternative to using laptop computers to DJ and make music.

Engineers from his company Thud Rumble are using Intel's tiny Edison microprocessor, instead of laptops, to interface with turntables, keyboards and drum machines.

The Edison, which is a fraction of the size of a laptop, is priced around $54.99, making it a fraction of the cost as well. Once perfected, this technology can open up DJing and music production to countless people for whom the costs are a barrier to entry.

Intel and Thud Rumble debuted their idea at last weekend's Maker Faire and will continue to develop the concept to market.



Photo Credit: Joysco Studio
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<![CDATA[Los Altos Schoolchildren Work To Save Beloved Redwoods Suffering In Drought]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 23:15:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/save+the+redwoods+4.jpg

Take all of Julie Kelsey and Elisa Merrifield’s first and second grade students at Los Altos’ Ventana School and stand them, one on top of the other, and they still wouldn’t be as tall as the redwood trees that surround the school’s recess area, the “Lower Lawn.”

But combine all their compassion, dedication, and wisdom and one just might have the recipe for saving those very redwoods.

For the better part of this past school year, Julie and Elisa’s students have been on a mission to help the tall trees, suffering ill effects after years of drought.

“We saw they were slightly more unhealthy than we thought they would be,” says Jasper, a first grader.

It all started when the students read two books which shared a single theme: children finding “special places” in the outdoors.

WATCH MORE BAY AREA PROUD STORIES

“They’re both about kids finding a special place and doing something in that place,” says Julie.

After reading the books, the teachers asked the students where their own special places were. The one that many of them shared, was right outside their classroom: the Lower Lawn.

Bordered by redwood trees, the Lower Lawn is where students spend recess playing on the playground and enjoying the beauty of nature.

“It has shade, it’s beautiful with all the trees. It has a variety of nature and toys,” says second grader Lucie.

But the students soon began to realize that the trees did not look very healthy. They decided that they needed to do something to help the redwood trees in their special place.

“It was their awareness of that that then started to kind of guide the rest of the project,” Elisa says.

It was after a trip to Big Basin where students saw and took photographs of healthy redwood trees that they were more determined than ever to help the redwoods at their school. They learned about the different factors that affect the health of redwoods and came up with ways that they could save theirs.

“They won’t give us oxygen and we won’t study about them and the birds and squirrels won’t live in them and they won’t have a home,” says first grader Hadley on the importance of helping the trees and what could happen if they don’t.


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<![CDATA[Magnitude-4.1 Earthquake Strikes Near Napa]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 08:34:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0521-2015-NapaQuake.jpg

A magnitude-4.1 earthquake struck near Napa late Thursday, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The temblor struck at 7:53 p.m. and was centered just northeast of Yountville. The USGS also reported a magnitude-1.6 aftershock at 10:39 p.m.

Firefighters at the Yountville Fire Station reported feeling a strong quake. There was no damage to the station and there has not been any reports of any damage from businesses and residents, according to Napa County Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Hawks.

Fire crews are now patrolling the area for any potential damage.

Although there was no major damage, some Napa resdients said they were still frightened by the quake.

"I've lived here my entire life. I was born in Napa, raised in Napa," Lynda Deus said. "The earthquake really scares me. I think I would move."

Commenters on NBC Bay Area's Facebook page reported feeling the quake in areas throughout the North Bay, including Vallejo, American Canyon, Suisun and Vacaville.

The quake was also felt down at Redwood City and across to Sacramento, according to reports.

On Aug. 24, 2014, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake shook the city of Napa, resulting in the death of one woman, 200 injuries and a damage estimate of about $400 million. It was the largest quake in the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

USGS scientists are looking into the possibility Thursday's temblor may have been an aftershock from last year's 6.0 quake.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Warriors Edge Out Rockets, Take Game 2]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 23:29:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*132/474314210_594_screen.jpg

OAKLAND -– With the game in the balance, a Warriors team that punished itself with turnovers forced one from the Houston Rockets to secure a hard-fought 99-98 win Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

After Harrison Barnes missed an acrobatic layup with 7.9 seconds the play, the ball found the hands Rockets star James Harden who, under pressure from Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, lost his dribble as the horn sounded.

With the victory the Warriors took a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals as the best-of-seven series moves to Texas for the holiday weekend.

The Warriors avoided their customary slow start but blew a 17-point second quarter lead before holding off the plucky Rockets in the fourth quarter.

Curry led the way, scoring a team-high 33 points. Andrew Bogut tossed in 14, with Thompson putting in 13 and Draymond Green adding 12.

Harden was otherwise spectacular, scoring a game-high 38 points. Dwight Howard, whose availability was in doubt, finished with 19 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.

Game 3 is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday. 

Visit NBC Bay Area's Golden State Warriors page for full team coverage.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["I Need Your Help": Woman Battling Anorexia in Video]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 23:36:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/OC+Anorexic+woman.JPG

Fighting for her life and asking the public for help, an emaciated woman from Southern California posts an emotional video on YouTube, spotlighting her battle with an eating disorder.

Sitting on a couch, looking gaunt and at times struggling to speak, 37-year-old Rachael Farrokh says, “I need your help. I’m suffering from an eating disorder and it’s a very severe kind of anorexia.”

She goes on to explain her years-long struggle with the both physical and mental disorder and how near death she is at 5 feet 7 inches, weighing a mere “40-something pounds.”

Farrokh’s husband Rod Edmondson quit his job to become her 24-hour caretaker as she is bedridden and too weak to move around on her own in their San Clemente home.

At one point, he is seen holding Farrokh, cradling her down a flight of stairs with her frail body clinging to him.

The couple asks for donations to help Farrokh get to a hospital in Denver that specializes in severe cases like hers. They both say hospitals in the area won’t treat her because her current weight makes her a “liability.”

“My lovely wife and I have been together for more than a decade and she will be seeing her final days if we don’t take action!,” Edmondson writes on a GoFundMe page created for Farrokh.

“The funding will help cover medical bills and overall treatment. Time is of the essence and I don't want to lose the most important person in my life,” he writes.

He warns about the oversimplification of the disorder, writing about how it’s not a quick fix for Farrokh.

“People think it's just about being skinny and that they just need to eat something and it will be all better. The reality is people are hurting so much that they're trying to make themselves disappear, and if we ignore it we let them.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Anorexia isn’t really about food. It’s an unhealthy way to try to cope with emotional problems. When you have anorexia, you often equate thinness with self-worth.”

The video posted on April 29, has garnered more than 300,000 views on YouTube as of Thursday. Farrokh's GoFundMe page has raised more than $104,000.



Photo Credit: Courtesy: Rod Edmondson
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<![CDATA[Danville Man Breaches Security at LAX]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 18:38:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/5-19-15-LAX.jpg

Los Angeles airport police used a Taser to subdue a Danville man after he breached security Wednesday at LAX, officials said.

Airport police were notified by Transportation Security Administration officers that a man, later identified as 21-year-old Christian James Heinz, was not cooperating with security officials in the screening area at Terminal 6.

As police tried to help the TSA officers, Heinz refused to cooperate and pushed past an officer. They followed Heinz and detained him at Gate 66.

Actor Verne Troyer, best known for his role as Mini Me in the "Austin Powers" film series, was at the airport and captured the Heinz’s interaction with police.

In Troyer’s video, which the actor posted to his YouTube channel, an officer can be seen trying to handcuff Heinz, who then raises his arms and walks away.

Another cellphone video taken by a passenger in the terminal shows an officer deploying the Taser on Heinz as he lay face down the ground. Heinz, who was unarmed, was taken to a hospital to be evaluated.

Heinz's father said he and his wife are stunned over the incident. He says his son, who is studying business administration at UC Berkeley, was traveling home from Panama where he was taking part in a university-sponsored program aimed at providing financial guidance to low-income people.

"He came back from a mission, that was a good thing," said Heinz's father. "Why he did what he did, I don't know."

Heinz was booked for trespassing and resisting arrest, said airport police spokeswoman Alicia Hernandez.

No passengers in the checkpoint were injured.


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<![CDATA[Tomsula Wants 49ers to Operate at a Faster Pace]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 09:00:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/tomtomsula.jpg

Fans of the 49ers won’t know until this fall if their revamped team will be a winner.

But win or lose, it appears the Niners offense will be moving at a faster clip.

In practices this week during the first session of organized team activities (OTAs), the 49ers offensive unit is being pushed by new head coach Jim Tomsula to be quicker between plays.

Several reporters noted that Tomsula has been yelling “Tempo! Tempo!” during drills, to get his offensive players moving as quickly as possible from the huddle to the line of scrimmage and the snap.

“All I was hearing from him was ‘Tempo! Get on the ball! Let’s go!,” wide receiver Quinton Patton told Tyler Emerick of the team’s website. Added rookie running back Mike Davis: “Man, everything is fast, fast, fast.”

Matt Barrows, who covers the 49ers for the Sacramento Bee, noted that the 49ers this week have been getting to the line of scrimmage after huddling with 22 to 23 seconds remaining on the play clock.

That could be a big improvement for the 49ers offense, which over the past two seasons often has operated at a snail’s pace. They’ve had 20 delay-of-game penalties over 2013 and 2014, Barrows noted.

Offensive tackle Joe Staley says clock management has been “pretty miserable,” and that Tomsula is making speed of play an issue this offseason so it becomes second nature during the season.

Tomsula says it’s important for the team to get used to operating at a faster pace because players “have to think in a fast-paced, stressful environment.”

Thursday’s practice was scheduled for two hours but was completed in 90 minutes, Emerick reported.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders' Latavius Murray Eager to Build on Success]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 08:18:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/191*120/mhurrey.jpg

The Raiders have added running backs Trent Richardson and Roy Helu Jr. to their backfield this offseason, but neither is expected to be Oakland’s No. 1 ballcarrier in 2015.

That role is expected to be filled by Latavius Murray.

And Murray is excited by the prospect.

After two seasons in the NFL, Murray is preparing himself for a big season. He’s eager to build off the final few games of 2014 when he finally got the chance to carry the ball and showed the Raiders he can be an impact running back.

“It’s a great feeling, but every day I have to go in there knowing I need to get better every day,” Murray said this week during his team’s kickoff to the first session of organized team activities (OTAs). “I need to play like it’s a new year. Last season is just last season, and the year before that it was the year before that. Every season is a new year for me and it’s a year I have to go out and prove something.”

Last season, Murray played in 15 games. But many of those were token appearances. It wasn’t until November that he finally got a chance to start a game. Once he got his opportunity, he made the most of it. He picked up 112 yards vs. the Chiefs and had 76- and 86-yard games against the 49ers and Bills. Over his final five games in 2014, Murray carried 72 times for 370 yards, two touchdowns and a 5.1-yard average per carry.

The Raiders see Murray, 24, as a bruising (6-foot-3, 230-pound) back who’s able to gain yards after contact and also pick up big yards with his speed (he has a 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash).

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie drafted Murray in the sixth round of the 2013 draft after Murray had a standout career at Central Florida. In college, he had 2,424 yards rushing, scored 37 touchdowns and also caught 50 passes.

Now Murray has a taste of success, and he wants more.

“Getting a chance to start three games, it’s something that I definitely want to continue to build off of,” he told the team’s website. “I had that mentality in the offseason just to prepare to be the No. 1 guy and play that way and train that way.”

The Raiders brought in Richardson, once a top prospect out of Alabama, to see if he can recapture the form he once had as an All-American for the Crimson Tide. But right now, the starting running back job is Murray’s to lose.

New head coach Jack Del Rio likes what he’s seen of Murray, but isn’t ready to just hand him the job. He wants a competition.

“I think he has shown enough of the traits to make him a candidate to be that guy,” Del Rio told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I don’t know if he’s earned that yet. He’s shown that there is potential there. He’s done enough things to pique your interest. He’s got size and speed. He can go.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Residents Raise Concerns Over SJPD Staffing]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 18:36:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SJPD-Seal.jpg

 

The numbers paint the grim picture best: in 2006, the San Jose Police Department had a total of 26 people staffing its Burglary-Fraud Unit. Today that number stands at just six.

That also means instead of 10 people investigating burglary reports, there is just one detective assigned to the role.

It’s no wonder people like John Olguin are upset. The East Foothills neighborhood 15-year resident said a spike in burglaries has hit his neighborhood in the last year, and he blames the low police staffing levels.

“They know San Jose police doesn’t get there until 20, 30 minutes later and sometimes they don’t show up at all,” said Olguin. “I know it’s not their fault, they’re undermanned.”

Most recently, two people broke into Olguin’s neighbor’s house on the 800 block of Fleming Avenue Tuesday afternoon. One woman who wanted to remain anonymous told NBC Bay Area she came face to face with the two crooks while they broke into the house, carrying out a safe with gold inside.

She even had enough time to snap pictures on her cell phone showing a young woman running into the getaway vehicle: a white pickup truck.

She said locking eyes with the woman was very unsettling.

“She just looked over very [nonchalantly] like it’s no big deal, and I thought, wow, this is crazy,” said the woman. “When I saw the look on their faces, they didn’t stop. They didn’t hesitate. They had it down.”

She added the victims did file a police report but were told it is a low priority. San Jose Police Sergeant Enrique Garcia said the low staffing has made it difficult for the sole burglary detective to get to everything, much less in a timely manner.

Here’s the breakdown of the Burglary-Fraud Unit numbers:

In 2006:
1 Lieutenant
3 Sergeants
10 Burglary Detectives
9 Fraud Detectives
3 Civilian Support Staff

In 2015:
1 Lieutenant
0 Sergeant
1 Burglary Detective
2 Fraud Detectives
2 Civilian Support Staff

The witness said it’s no wonder the burglars seem to be getting more brazen. She described the recent crooks as careless, people who didn’t hide their faces nor their license plate.

“These people don’t care if they get caught,” she said. “They know the statistics, the cops aren’t coming.”

For her, it’s not just a matter of property crime. She believes it’s only a matter of time until it escalates into a violent situation. She said the burglars dropped a big switchblade inside her neighbor’s house during the break-in. As a mother of young children, that’s been the most unsettling part of it all.

“It takes it to another level. He had a knife for a reason, he was prepared.”

The staffing has hit the department for the last few years. At one point, in roughly 2008, the department had about 1,400 active, full-duty, sworn officers, according to Sgt. Garcia. In January that had dropped to 894 and in just five months this year, that’s already declined to 855.

 

It’s news that comes on the same day the U.S. Census revealed San Jose had passed the one-million population mark, making it the tenth most populous city in the country.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[New in the Whole Foods Meat Case: Rabbits]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 18:14:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/main16.jpg

Whole Foods Market is known for its high quality and high prices, but now some critics question whether the grocery chain is living up to its own high standards in its rabbit meat pilot program.

In the summer of 2014, the grocery chain started to offer rabbit meat in select markets across the country, including the Bay area.

The Investigative Unit obtained USDA inspection reports for Iowa Rabbit, the farm that supplies Whole Foods Market with its rabbit meat. An analysis of the reports and a review of what are believed to be internal sales numbers show that consumer demand and animal welfare may both be much lower than what Whole Foods has suggested.

Whole Food’s decision to to sell rabbit meat set off a fierce debate for activists who view rabbits as pets, not a source of protein.

“I live with two rescue rabbits and it hurt my heart,” Tara Baxter, co-founder of the Rabbit Advocacy Action Network, said. “I expected more from Whole Foods.”

Baxter says she worries most of all about Whole Foods’ power to set trends.

“If they create a demand for a new meat, that means every grocery store across the country is going to follow suit,” Baxter said.

Whole Foods Market obtains its rabbits from a farm called Iowa Rabbit. Through the Freedom of Information Act, the Investigative Unit obtained inspection records for the farm. The records revealed several observations that may not be in keeping with Whole Foods’ stated animal welfare standards.

Included in those records, are the numbers of rabbits that were found either “dead in the yard” or “dead on arrival” before they were slaughtered.

Many days, none were dead. But on a single day in March, 30 were “dead in the yard.” In July, 38 where “dead on arrival” in a single day.

The actual rate of rabbit deaths is unclear because Iowa Rabbit declined to share the total number of rabbits processed on those days. Moreover, the government doesn’t have a standard for an acceptable death rateon rabbit farms.

“They’re being factory farmed just like any other factory farmed animal,” Baxter said.

Inspection reports further reveal the USDA sent a “letter of caution” warning Iowa Rabbit for sending out multiple cartons of rabbit meat improperly labeled as USDA inspected when they were not. That prompted the plant to issue a voluntary recall.

Another USDA memo sent to Iowa Rabbit in October 2014 found “pelted rabbits” – those that have been skinned -- routinely coming into contact with “non-pelted rabbits which most of the time have grossly contaminated pelts.”

Inspectors also found “fecal smears on [the] back in tail area” of rabbits in their final rinse.” The USDA noted “contamination” is “best avoided” because it’s not “planned on being removed later in the process.”

Whole Foods says that “no crates, cages or tethers” are permitted from its rabbit suppliers, but in a February 2015 report, USDA inspectors observed “wet rabbits in bottom crates.” The inspectors wrote, “This is a concern both as an animal welfare issue, and as a sanitary dressing issue.”

Whole Foods has also said that “food and water are always available” for the rabbits it purchases. But in a January, 2015 report, inspectors found “rabbits ‘overnighted’ in crates during cold weather” had no access to water because the water sources “tended to freeze.”

Iowa Rabbit farms declined our requests for an interview but in a statement. Iowa Rabbit said

“We proudly produce rabbit for U.S consumers in our USDA inspected plant. We also take pride in our animal care and food safety practices which we are confident are among the best in the nation.”

The statement continued,

“Records obtained by your station under the Freedom of Information Act are incomplete because they only contain observations made by the USDA but do not include the actions taken by our company in response to those observations.”

Iowa Rabbit did not provide The Investigative Unit with records showing the actions the company took.

The Investigative Unit has uploaded the requested inspection reports here and here.

Some say the reports are less shocking in context.

“What I saw in the USDA reports were just minor corrections that were an ongoing process,” Rich Larson, a food science instructor at San Jose State University, said.

“The context of this is slaughtering animals. Fecal matter is part of what's going to be present in that process. To keep it from getting to the consumers is the concern,” Larson said.

But Rabbit advocates say consumers might not be getting the whole story.

“They’re farming these animals in a state where it’s illegal for people to actually go and get footage of how the animals are being raised,” Marcy Schaaf said. She runs Save a Bunny rabbit rescue in Mill Valley and started the other Rabbit Advocacy Action Network with Baxter.

Iowa is one of six states with so-called “Ag Gag” laws on the books, which allows authorities to prosecute people who take undercover video or photos of farm activity without consent.

Whole Foods says it is trying only to respond to customer demand.

“For many years, lots of customers have requested that we carry rabbit,” the company wrote in an online press release. But the numbers tell a different story. An internal Whole Foods source provided the Rabbit Advocacy Network with what are believed to be actual sales numbers. The figures show that across the 41 stores in the Northern California District, each store sold an average of 5 rabbits per week.

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit went undercover to stores all over the Bay Area to see if they carried rabbit meat. Almost all of them did, but employees admitted they weren’t big sellers.

Whole Foods declined to provide NBC Bay Area with actual numbers quantifying the demand for rabbit meat. They also declined interview requests to ask about the USDA inspection reports. The company referred us to its website where it says Whole Foods underwent a “rigorous four-year process to address the welfare issues in rabbit production.”

Meanwhile, a petition to get Whole Foods to stop selling rabbit has collected more than 42,000 signatures.

The Whole Foods pilot program enters its one-year anniversary this summer. The company remains silent on whether it will continue to sell rabbit meat.

Other grocery store chains, including Sprouts, discontinued selling rabbit meat after protests and complaints from customers.


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<![CDATA[Warriors' Barbosa Dishes Out Directions in Waze App]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 17:53:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0521-2015-LeandroBarbosa.jpg

Waze may be the next go-to app for members of the Dub Nation heading to Warriors Ground.

The Bay Area-based app, which provides mobile users traffic and navigation information, now features Golden State Warriors Guard Leandro Barbosa dishing out directions.

Barbosa, also known as the Brazilian Blur, recently hit the studio and recorded directions for Waze in both English and Portuguese.

"We also really want to encourage people to use the voice activation and turn-by-turn navigation," said Quinn Daly of Waze.

Visit waze.com for more information.



Photo Credit: Waze]]>
<![CDATA[Campbell Police Arrest Attempted Kidnapping Suspect ]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 11:00:10 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Velasco+crop.jpg

Campbell police have arrested Roberto Felipe-Velasco, a 25 year old transient, in connection with the attempted child abduction that occurred on Saturday.

Officers made the arrest about 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, after an officer found a 1998 silver Honda Accord 4-door in the parking lot of Extra Space Storage, 241 W. Sunnyoaks Avenue. The Honda matched the description of the suspect vehicle and investigators found Velasco seated in the driver’s seat, police said in a statement.

Police say that Velasco "closely resembled" the suspect description given by the girl, who is between 10 and 12 years old. Investigators wrote a search warrant for Velasco’s storage unit and seized numerous items of evidence including clothing that was consistent with what was worn the day of the attempted kidnapping, police said.

Mr. Velasco has been booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for kidnapping, false imprisonment, and child endangerment. He is currently being held without bail.



Photo Credit: Campbell police
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<![CDATA[Driver Arrested After Quadruple Fatal Car Accident]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 13:31:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/gilroyfatal.jpg

The California Highway Patrol arrested  23-year-old  Anthony Imbronone III of Gilroy at his home, after four people died in his Ford Mustang earlier this month.

CHP Sgt. Herb Kellogg said Imbronone was arrested on four counts of felony vehicular manslaughter and felony DUI. He was booked into the Santa Clara County jail on Thursday and his bail was set at $250,000.

Efforts to reach Imbrone, his family, or his lawyer,  were not immediately successful. He likely will make his first court appearance next week.

The charges stem from May 12, when four of Imbronone's passengers died on Leavesley Road in Gilroy. Officers said they had smelled alcohol on his breath and that he likely took the corner too fast.

The passengers inside his car were identified as 24-year-old  Joseph Danniel Vasquez-Flemate. The others were three 18-year-old women: Sara Williams, a senior at Christopher High School, and Yesenia Mendoza-Pena and Yolanda Ester Jimenez, both seniors at Mt. Madonna Continuation High School.



Photo Credit: Bob Redell
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<![CDATA[Stephy Curry, Riley Boast Matching Sneakers]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 13:04:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NK-Riley-1.jpg

After his daughter’s now-famous appearance Tuesday night where 2-year-old Riley told her daddy, Warriors guard Stephen Curry, to be quiet after his team beat the Houston Rockets, it would seem like nothing coud beat the cuteness factor of that moment.

But wait.

A photographer who works for NiceKicks.com took some awesome photographs of Daddy-n-Me Under Armour sneakers, one pair to fit Curry’s 12.5-feet, and one pair to fit her toddler-sized toes.

In an email from France on Thursday, Nick DePaula said he photographed the shoes in Oakland in January a week before the “Curry One” brand launched in stores.

Under Armor offers several of these Curry-themed sneakers, which are called “Dubnation,” “MVP,” and “Father to Son,” as a few examples. And DePaula's company is devoted to "provide shoe enthusiasts authoritative, accurate and credible" information about sneakers.

Under Armour, which designed the shoes in Warriors blue and gold, made Riley a tiny pair. According to DePaula, it's the only preschool pair of its kind.

The Golden States Warriors take on the Rockets again on Thursday in Game 2 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland.
 



Photo Credit: Nick DePaula | NiceKicks.com
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<![CDATA[San Jose Hits 1M Population ]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 12:19:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/11-19-2013-san-jose-city-hall.jpg

San Jose has a population of one million or more people, reports the U.S. Census Bureau.

It's the 10th city in the country to be determined to be that large, joining Los Angeles and San Diego as the third supersized city in California.

Estimates are based on 2014 numbers. San Jose just missed the mark in 2013, but the city's subsequent growth spurt also landed it in a top 15 list of cities that saw the largest numerical gains in one year.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[GaymerX Releases Documentary on LGBTQ Gamers]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 12:06:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/218*120/gaymerx.jpg

The annual GaymerX convention has released "Gaming in Color," a documentary about video game players who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

SFist noted that GaymerX's 2013 debut was significant enough in the gay community to make it a setting for an episode of the HBO fictional series "Looking."

The third edition of GaymerX, or GX3: Everyone Games, is scheduled to take place at San Jose's Marriott Hotel from December 11-13.

Watch the trailer for "Gaming in Color" below:



Photo Credit: GaymerX]]>
<![CDATA[Board Game Cafe Headed to Berkeley]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 17:23:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2015-05-21-monopoly.jpg

Bored of video games? It might be time to unplug.

Victory Point Cafe will open this summer in Berkeley with an arsenal of 500 board games to play, from old-school classics like Monopoly to recent hits such as Cards Against Humanity, as well as beer, wine, and light bites. Unlimited play for the day will cost $5.

The Daily Californian noted that owners Derek DeSantis and Areg Maghakian united in the belief of this concept, which thrives in Europe and Asia, and that Maghakian was specifically inspired by a Toronto board game cafe called Snakes and Lattes. Maghakian also recently moved his family back to the Bay Area from Armenia in pursuit of this dream.

A new Kickstarter campaign aims to raise at least $7,500 by June 20 in order to make upgrades to the cafe space and decor. More games will be purchased if this goal is exceeded.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SJPD Arrest 4 Following 2 Strong-Arm Robberies]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 08:35:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/burglary16.jpg

San Jose police arrested two men and two teens who were spotted hopping over backyard fences early Thursday in connection with at least two strong-arm robberies that occurred a short time before.

Lt.Chris Monahan said three of the four suspects were arrested near Cropley and Morrill Avenues. The fourth was caught earlier. Two were minors and two were adults. The adults resisted arrest and were bitten by police dogs. The robberies were reported just before 1 a.m.

Officers conducted a perimeter search with the help of K-9 units from Sunnyvale and Santa Clara and discovered the suspects hiding on Baby Ruth Drive, Monahan said.

Police say there were two separate robbery victims and one was an elderly person.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Driver of Stolen Dump Truck Evades Cop, Injures 3]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 09:12:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/DUMP4.JPG

Colma police were trying to pull over a stolen dump truck early Thursday morning, when the driver tried to run over the officer and ended up crashing into a minivan carrying three people, authorities said.

Detective Dawn Marchetti said the officer was patrolling the area of 1300 Isabelle Circle about 12:15 a.m. and spotted the stolen Mack Truck. Marchetti said the driver tried to ram the truck into the officer, who was approaching the vehicle.

The officer reversed and wasn't hit, Marchetti said, and a chase ensued through South San Francisco and Daly City, where the driver struck a minivan carrying a 16-year-old, a 20-year-old and a woman.

Police said there was one serious injury and one minor one stemming from the crash at San Jose Avenue at Flournoy Street in Daly City. The victims were taken to San Francisco General Hospital.

The driver ran away but was later arrested. Marchetti said the truck was stolen out of San Francisco.

On Friday morning, police identified the suspect as 36-year-old Mark Edward Hill. He was taken to the hospital for minor injuries, police said. After he was released from the hospital, Hill was booked into San Mateo County Jail on charges including felony hit and run, evading police, and assault on a police officer.

After the crash, diesel spilled out onto the street, which was closed during the cleanup.
 

NBC Bay Area's Bryan Carmody contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Bob Redell]]>
<![CDATA[Company Implicated in Spill Pledged Safety]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 08:38:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/474032284_OilSpill.jpg

The pipeline company that has accepted responsibility for Tuesday's Santa Barbara oil spill had previously pledged to improve its pipeline safety and leak detection technology as part of a federal consent decree, court records show.

Houston-based Plains All-American Pipeline LP entered into the agreement in 2010, after the federal Environmental Protection Agency brought a civil case alleging violations of the Clean Water Act. The EPA citied 10 separate oil spills totaling 273 thousand gallons in four states -- Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas.

As part of the terms of the settlement, the company "neither admits nor denies any liability."

To minimize the risk of future leaks, Plains did agree to take steps including "enhanced integrity management and corrosion control," and "enhanced pipeline leak detection."

Tuesday's spill released some 21,000 gallons of crude oil into the Santa Barbara channel, Plains estimated. The source has been traced inland to a leak from a 24-inch underground pipeline that terminates at the Las Flores Canyon oil processing facility.

As much as 105,000 gallons could have escaped from the pipeline, said Rick McMichael, director of pipeline operations.

What caused the pipe to fail was not immediately apparent. A team of federal investigators from the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) was responding to the site Tuesday, according to Michele Rogo, EPA Emergency Response Coordinator.

"Once we identified the leak as coming from our pipeline, we shut it down immediately," said Darren Palmer, Plains District Manager.

Palmer acknowledged that monitoring equipment had not alerted the company to the leak before receiving outside notification. A leak detection probe known as a "pig" had been run through the pipeline two weeks earlier, Palmer said, but the results had not yet been "interpreted" before the leak became apparent.

"How come they didn't know? How come our people had to notify them of the leak?" asked Doreen Farr, a Santa Barbara County supervisor who represents the Goleta coast, where the spill
occurred. "If it had been monitored and inspected, it should not have been leaking as it did."

The pipeline flows about 2,000 barrels an hour, Palmer said. That would amount to more than 100,000 gallons an hour. A year ago, an estimated 10,000 gallons of oil spurted from another Plains pipeline in an industrial section of the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, adjacent to Glendale.

"We're talking about a repeat offender here," said Damon Nagami, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where he directs the Souther California Ecosystems Project. "I think a lot of questions need to be asked of the company, and of regulators."

Under the terms of the consent decree, Plains agreed to pay a $3.25 million civil penalty, and to spend mllions more upgrading its system.

"Ideally you'd like a pipeline to shut off automatically when a leak is detected. That did not happen in Santa Barbara," said Nagami. He cited research showing that automatic leak detection systems in general fail 95 percent of the time.

So far this year, a total of 18 pipeline "incidents" have occurred in California, causing total property damage of nearly $44 million dollars, according to PHMSA. Moreover, 11 injuries and one fatality were reported.

It has been decades since a serious spill in Santa Monica Bay, west of Los Angeles County. In 1993, Chevron agreed to pay half a million dollars in fines and restitution after a spill of some 20,000 gallons of petroleum. It was released during a mishap at the offshore tanker berth connected to Chevron's El Segundo refinery via an underwater pipeline.

"The bottom line is there are risks when it comes to the oil transportation infrastructure," said Nagami.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF, SJ Named as America's Fittest Cities]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 23:53:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Runnng_app_generic.jpg

San Francisco and San Jose have been ranked as two of the country's fittest cities in a new report.

The cities are ranked number four and number 10, respectively, in the top 50 cities cited in the 2015 American Fitness Index.

The report, created by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), notes that San Francisco and San Jose both have "areas of excellence" including many farmers markets per capita, a low percentage of citizens who smoke cigarettes, and a high percent of people who bike or walk to work. "Improvement priority areas" include high rates of asthma and diabetes.

These are just a fraction of the health indicators measured by the Index; others factors measured include number of recreation centers, amount of parkland, and daily consumption of vegetables.

Washington, D.C. is the top ranked city in the Index, followed by St. Louis and San Diego. Indianapolis was ranked last on the list.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Batkid Begins" Movie Coming to Theaters]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 23:51:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/batkid-poster-crop.png

Move over, Batman; a new kid in town is taking over the big screen this summer.

"Batkid Begins," a documentary about San Francisco's daylong transformation into Gotham City in honor of a child with leukemia, opens on June 26.

The film's star is six-year-old Miles Scott, now in remission from cancer. In a trailer that includes a cameo from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Scott was asked why Batman?

"Because he's my favorite superhero," he answered.

On November 15, 2013, the Make-A-Wish Foundation worked with the city of San Francisco and countless citizens to create a day of Batman-themed adventures for Scott to enjoy. According to USA Today, Batkid's story was followed by two billion people on social media.

The film has been promoted with a poster designed by Drew Struzan, the artist behind the iconic posters for the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" movie franchises.



Photo Credit: Batkid Begins:The Wish Heard Around the World]]>
<![CDATA[SJ Residents Launch Petition Over Home-Invasion Robbery]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 23:34:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/226*120/evergreen2.JPG

Residents in San Jose's Evergreen neighborhood have launched a petition to get the district attorney to pursue longer prison sentences for two teens arrested in connection to a home-invasion robbery.

The home-invasion robbery on May 8 was captured on surveillance video. The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said it is charging 16-year-old Alvaro Validivia and 17-year-old Moses Perez Herrera as adults in the alleged crime.

Authorities said felony robbery and burglary charges, plus a gang enhancement could put the pair behind bars for years.

The Friends of Evergreen neighborhood group is circulating the petition, asking residents to sign it and urge the district attorney to pursue even longer sentences.

San Jose-resident Sonia Fanerri-Bruno agrees with the petition.

"They think they can get away with it and do it until they're 18 because they think 'They can't touch me,'" Fanerri-Bruno said.

The district attorney said the teen suspects are expected in court for a hearing on Friday. The district attorney's office is still undecided what level sentence it will pursue in the case, but said a gang enhancement can add 10 years to any sentence.


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<![CDATA[Woman Dead, 2 Men Hospitalized in Oakland Kitchen Fire]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 22:50:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0520-2015-OaklandFire.jpg

A woman died and two men were hospitalized Wednesday night after a fire erupted at an Oakland duplex, according to the Oakland Fire Department.

Firefighters arrived at the residence in the 1700 block of 89th Avenue at 6:50 p.m. and found light smoke in the rear unit's kitchen. 

Emergency crews arriving on scene also found two victims, a man and woman, at the front door. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Crews also found another victim, a man, in the unit's bedroom.

It appears the men suffered smoke inhalation and were transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze at 6:56 p.m., officials said.

Firefighters are investigating the blaze and said a pot on the stove may have sparked the fire.



Photo Credit: Alan Weddington]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland Eyes Soul Train Line World Record]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 07:25:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Soul-Train-Dancers_Soul-Tra.jpg

Oakland dancers will try to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for executing the biggest "Soul Train" style dance line next month. 

The "Soul Train" line was a consistent feature of the dance and music-driven television series that ran from 1971 to 2006, a time for stars-in-the-making to show up and show out.

The Post News Group noted that organizers of OakTrain expect at least 500 people to join the effort, which is scheduled to take place at Oakland's DeFremery Park (1651 Adeline Street) on June 20.

All are welcome, with the stipulation that registrants have enough stamina to dance for at least three hours. Admission is $5 to $10, with some of the proceeds going to the Friends of DeFremery Park nonprofit.

]]>
<![CDATA[Tsarnaev Sentenced to Death, But Execution Unlikely]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 20:45:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NECN_042215_tsarnaev_alysha_4pm_1200x675_432409667670.jpg

Convicted Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was sentenced to death by lethal injection by a federal jury in Boston last week.

The sentence adds Tsarnaev to a list of 80 others that have been sentenced to death by a federal jury since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988. Of those, only three have been executed.
What is the likelihood that Tsarnaev will actually be put to death?
Ellen Kreitzberg, a law professor at Santa Clara University and an expert on the death penalty, said that question isn’t easy to answer, but one thing is clear: if an execution does occur, it won’t happen any time soon. That could make things difficult for families seeking justice and closure, she said.
The appeals process in cases like Tsarnaev’s can take anywhere from 12 to more than 20 years, Kreitzberg said. The full trial has to be transcribed, new attorneys are hired who have to get to know the case, and it takes a lot of time for that review to happen, she added. And that’s just the preparation process.
“Even when appeals are moving along, no one’s trying to slow them down, there’s just no way it can be done quickly,” she added.

Only one of the three inmates executed by the federal government, convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, elected to end his appeals process and expedited his execution, which took place just four years after he was sentenced. The remaining executions took place in Texas, which ranks highest in the nation for state executions conducted since 1976, more than four times the number for Oklahoma, which currently ranks second.
Adding to the delay in Tsarnaev’s case is the fact that his sentencing took place in Massachusetts, a state that does not currently have a state death penalty. Each of the three prior executions under the federal statute took place in states that have death penalty laws, so there’s no federal protocol for how to proceed in this case, Kreitzberg said. That could cause even further delay, she added.

On top of that, the availability of lethal injection drugs has become more challenging since a series of botched executions made headlines last year. The constitutionality of using the drugs to end life is up for debate in nearly all 32 states that currently have the death penalty. Arguments against the use of drugs like midazolam—a sedative not approved by the FDA for lethal injection—which was used in the botched execution of inmate Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma last year, are currently being heard by the Supreme Court.
Many drug manufacturers have stopped making the drugs because of their use in death by lethal injection, Kreitzberg said.

The botched executions have also led to a changing wave of public opinion, added Kreitzberg, who does not support capital punishment. Support for the death penalty is the lowest it has ever been, she said. In recent years, Washington and Pennsylvania governors issued a moratorium on the death penalty in those states, and in 2013 Maryland repealed its death penalty entirely. Nebraska could soon follow suit. The conservative state would be the first to abolish capital punishment since 1973.
“So in addition to many of the legal hurdles, and legal obstacles, there really seems to be, if we call on the court of public opinion, a huge groundswell of opposition to the death penalty,” she added.

After Tsarnaev's sentencing, victims’ family members lauded the jury for coming to a “just” conclusion. But how much justice will actually be served in the form of capital punishment is yet to be determined.
 
The interim delays could make finding closure more difficult, Kreitzberg said, particularly the lengthy appeals process, which she said only draws out cases and keeps details of the tragedy fresh in the minds of victims and their families.
 
But Kreitzberg questions whether an execution, if it does occur, is able to bring any closure at all, citing a body of sociological research that has looked at responses to the Timothy McVeigh execution. In her book Victims and Victimhood, Trudy Govier notes that victims’ families who were invited to watch the McVeigh execution felt disappointment at McVeigh’s apparent lack of remorse, and anger that his death seemed to lack any suffering.


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<![CDATA[Dept. of Homeland Security Report Focuses on SFO Data Security]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 18:52:27 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/02-28-2014-sfo.jpg

The Department of Homeland Security is warning San Francisco International Airport to keep a closer eye on its data.

A report from the department looked specifically at SFO's information technology. The report did not find any new hacks, but did point out human error -- things like doors left open -- may put SFO servers stored with data at risk.

The challenge is that technology advances don't always go hand in hand with security protocols, and the result is vulnerability gaps," said Michael McNerney with the Truman Security Project.

SFO officials declined to comment on the report.



Photo Credit: Christie Smith]]>
<![CDATA[Camp Counselor Denies Accusations of Sex Abuse, Child Porn]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 18:35:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0520-2015-Varrubias.jpg

A Santa Clara County science camp counselor accused of sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy and being in possession of child pornography said in a jailhouse interview with NBC Bay Area he is innocent.

Edgar Covarrubias, 27, repeatedly denied the accusations and said he did not know how child pornography got into his laptop.

"God is my judge. God is my witness," Covarrubias said. "I have not done any of that stuff."

Covarrubias, who was recently fired from the South Bay-based Walden West science camp, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of having hundreds of images and videos of child pornography.

Covarrubias said he initially confessed to the crime out of fear.

"I was saying, 'Yeah I do have it,'" he said. "I was scared. I didn't know what was happening."

Prosecutors on Wednesday added three more counts in the case, including the manufacture of child porn.

Covarrubias agreed to the jailhouse interview with NBC Bay Area because he said outside his jail cell the community is labeling him a monster.

"They can think what they want and I forgive them for it," he said. "I am not a monster -- never done anything to any children."

Prior to being fired this month, Covarrubias had worked at Walden West since August 2013.

David Shabaglian, Santa Clara County deputy district attorney, said the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office launched an investigation after Covarrubias e-mailed child porn to an undercover official looking for violators.

Authorities allegedly found Covarrubias with hundreds of child pornography images and videos on his personal computer and phone.

"It's something that we are very concerned about," Shabaglian said. "We understand this is a parent's worst nightmare."

Covarrubias told NBC Bay Area he once downloaded a movie called "Little Boy." He claims the download included spam containing child porn and he immediately deleted.

When asked if Covarrubias ever touched anyone inappropriately, Covarrubias replied "no, no, no."

Covarrubias said he does not want to get out on bail and wants to fight the case from the inside.

Sources tell NBC Bay Area there may be up to 30 potential victims in the case and the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information about the case has been asked to call the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office at 408-808-4300.

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Police Testing Out Uniform Cameras]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 19:34:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0520-2015-BodyCam.jpg

Wearing police uniform cameras is something San Jose first considered years ago, then dismissed because they were cumbersome and expensive.

But now, new technology and the nationwide controversy about police "use of force" have many police departments, including San Jose, getting officers camera ready.

On Wednesday, the San Jose police gave the public its first look at a body-worn camera being evaluated by the department.

Eventually, officials said around 600 officers could end up wearing uniform cameras.

One of the cameras being considered is made by Vievu, which is extremely lightweight, the size of a pager and clips to the chest. The camera is similar to ones worn by officers in San Diego and other Bay Area cities.

Officials said 12 San Jose patrol officers will field test three devices made by Vievu and Taser.

"It's got to be small enough and not interfere with the other things we have to have access to," said Detective James Gonzales, who also serves as the vice president for San Jose Police Officers Association.

Officials acknowledge recent high-profile cases involving accusations of excessive use of force helped lead to the new policy.

"These cameras on officers are going to give you a picture of what the entire incident was like," Gonzales said.

SJPD and the police union acknowledge the two sides had clashed on when to start the program, but worked together to get it going.

"We've done the right thing and made sure the policy we're deploying these cameras with is a complete product that protects citizens and officers," Gonzales said.

The police department and union said they will continue to seek public input on body cameras during the evaluation process. Officials said there is no timetable yet for implementation, but the police chief's office said it will move aggressively and with transparency.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Family Protests Death of Camp Tawonga Counselor]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 19:06:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/protest38.jpg

The family of 21-year old Annais Rittenberg picketed outside the San Francisco headquarters of Camp Tawonga, a popular local summer camp near Yosemite. The family called for new leadership. This month, an NBC Bay Area Investigation that revealed camp leaders may have ignored warnings from arborists several years before a tree fell, killing Annais, and injuring three other people

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit first reported on the records and testimony from arborists who said the camp was reluctant to prune or remove dangerous trees.

On July 3, 2013, an 80 foot tall oak tree fell on a part of the camp known as Downtown Tawonga.

Court documents show that three years before the tree fell, arborists recommended the camp prune and inspect the tree every 18 months. The family says camp leadership didn’t follow those recommendations. “We’re here to raise awareness about the full truth about what happened before, during, and after my sister was killed on the grounds of Camp Tawonga,” said Adam Rittenberg, Annais’ brother.

NBC Bay Area contacted Camp Tawonga numerous times for an interview, but never received a response. However, the camp posted a statement on its Facebook Page writing that it followed all recommendations regarding the oak tree that crushed Annais.

Records the camp provided to the court show the tree had not been inspected since 2010.

Camp Tawonga also wrote that it hired two new teams of arborists to inspect the trees before camp season starts in two weeks.


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<![CDATA[Goodell: Oakland Stadium Proposal "Necessary to Have Soon"]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 19:08:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/462526376.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he hasn’t heard anything new on the status of stadium efforts to keep the Raiders in Oakland.

“Oakland I have not heard anything from,” Goodell said Wednesday at the conclusion of the NFL spring owners meetings. “I do not have any an update on that information on that. Is it a source of frustration that I haven’t heard anything from Oakland? No, I wouldn’t say that. I would certainly say it’s a source of information.”

Translation: no news isn’t good news.

It offers stark contrast to stadium efforts in San Diego, which produced a task force stadium proposal to keep the Chargers at home. It offers stark contract to stadium efforts in St. Louis, which have generated significant momentum in recent months.

The possibility of the Raiders sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers was broached again this week at the Ritz Carlton hotel, and owner Mark Davis shot it down.

“Mark wants a long-term stadium solution,” Goodell said. “That’s what he’s always been focused on. He would like to have it be here in the Bay Area, in Oakland.”

The Raiders and Chargers have an alternate plan going on in Carson, which has been entitled by the city and seems to be on a fast track. Should home market efforts fail, Carson could be an option for both teams.

A separate proposal has been issued by the St. Louis Rams in Inglewood, and the NFL said that facility would be immediately housed for two teams. That is a possible landing spot for the Raiders, though it’s hard to imagine the Rams, Raiders and Chargers all playing in Southern California.

Oakland efforts seem behind other options, and the NFL has put serious heat on the East Bay to pick up the pace.

“We’ don’t have a deadline on time, but this is not a new issue,” Goodell said. “This is something where the Raiders have been working on a stadium for years. This is something that has been very publicly debated, so we need to have a proposal from the people here about how we’re going to keep the Raiders in Oakland and do it on a basis that not only helps the community but also is a good fit for the team in the long term.

"That proposal is necessary to have soon."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Grocery Outlet Pulls Beef Product Over Claims of Glass Shards Found]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 18:18:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/206*120/2015-05-20-beef.jpg

Grocery Outlet is pulling ground beef from store shelves after a customer claimed to find shards of glass in the meat.

The customer returned a five-pound roll of ground beef from Harris Ranch to the Oakley Grocery Outlet location on Thursday.

Representatives from the beef company picked up the meat to have it tested by a third party. In the meantime, the grocery chain isn’t taking any chances. They have removed all Harris Ranch beef rolls from all 221 stores.

Grocery Outlet says it has been a long-time partner of Harris Ranch because of the company’s high quality and safety record.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>