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<![CDATA[Innocent Man Freed After 20 Years]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:10:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Rodell_Sanders.jpg

A suburban Chicago man wrongly convicted of murder got a taste of freedom for the first time in 20 years Wednesday.

Rodell Sanders received a new trial and was acquitted after a witness recanted.

"I am happy to be out. I am thankful to be out. I am happy I survived as long as I did. I'm thankful for my legal team. I am thankful for my family that stood by me all this time," Sanders said.

Sanders was serving an 80-year sentence for a crime he never committed. He was identified in a photo lineup by the surviving victim of the robbery, but his attorneys say police doctored the photo.

"Anyone viewing that photo array would know you wouldn't put a photo with errors in it just to be a filler. That to be the suspect's photograph," attorney Russell Ainsworth said.

After he was convicted, Sanders became a student of the law, and acted as his own attorney at the hearing that won him a new trial.

"I took about $1,000 -- asked my sister Virginia to buy me about $1,000 worth of legal books, and I taught myself the law as much as I can, and I took on the justice system," Sanders said.

Sanders was reunited with his children and grandchildren Wednesday.

"I tell him all the time that I can't even believe the things he's done. He's a talker, without a doubt, so yeah, he is unbelievable," Sanders' eldest daughter, Lynette Booth, said.

Sanders is suing the Chicago Heights police department and the officers involved in his case, but he says he's not bitter or angry -- he'd like to work for change by helping others wrongly convicted and serving time.

"I want to go out. I want to work. I love law, love the courtroom. I would love to go on to be a paralegal or a lawyer or something like that," Sanders said.

<![CDATA["She Best Be Dead": Homeowner Shoots, Kills Intruder ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:19:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/long+beach+homeowner+4.JPG

A Long Beach homeowner has no regrets after shooting and killing a woman who said she was pregnant after he got into a confrontation with her and another man who were ransacking his sprawling home.

Tom Greer, an 80-year-old retiree, arrived to his upscale Bixby Knolls neighborhood Tuesday night to find a couple in the middle of a late-night break-in.

"When I went in there, they tackled me," Greer told NBC4 Wednesday. "Both of them jumped up on top of me."

The intruders, a man and woman, may have underestimated Greer, he said, as they ransacked his safe and yanked the door open right in front of him.

"I keep thousands of dollars in there...$22,000, $15,000," he said, adding that the couple didn't appear to be armed.

The intruders threw Greer to the ground, but they didn't know he'd gotten his .22-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver.

"I come back and they see me with a gun, and they run," he said.

The man escaped, but the woman fell after being struck by Greer's gunfire in an alley behind the house.

"She says, 'Don't shoot me, I'm pregnant! I'm going to have a baby!' And I shot her anyway," Greer said.

When asked what he saw happen to the woman after he fired shots, Greer responded: "She was dead. I shot her twice, she best be dead ... (The man) had run off and left her."

"I've never in my life shot anybody, killed anybody," Greer said.

Greer was being treated at the hospital Wednesday for a severe shoulder and collarbone injury, but he hoped to send a warning to the man who got away.

"I shot her so that's going to leave a message on his mind for the rest of his life," Greer said.

Long Beach police said they were investigating the incident. It was not immediately clear whether any charges would be filed against Greer for the shooting.

<![CDATA[App Helps South Bay Residents Report Water Wasters]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:18:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP223500730484.jpg

Add a free app to the list of how the Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to enforce new regulations from the state and reach an overall conservation goal of 20 percent.

The district, which will also spend up to $500,000 to hire water cops, now offers an app for residents to report water wasters.

"We can't be everywhere, so this allows people to be the eyes and ears of the community," said Marty Grimes, Santa Clara Valley Water District spokesman. "If they see a problem they can let us know. And often the owner doesn't even know it's a problem -- for example a sprinkler head is broken."

The app, Access Valley Water, allows users to take a photo of water waste and give an address. Residents can also report water waste on the app anonymously.

The district's water cops are expected to start next month and will monitor the complaints. Water cops will not have the authority to issue fines, but can report egregious water wasters to their water provider or city, which can issue penalties.

San Jose-resident Nilda Houseman said she is in favor of saving water, but is not a fan of the anonymous app approach.

"It's not appropriate if you report someone," Houseman said. "You should be willing to give your name and stand by it, and be willing to testify to it."

District officials admit the reporting system could be abused by feuding neighbors, which is why they encourage users to leave their name so water cops can reply on how the problem was resolved.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cash Falls Out of Armored Vehicle in South Bay]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:33:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/212*120/0723-2014-ArmoredTruckSJ.jpg

Several people were able to gather money that somehow fell out of an armored vehicle on De La Cruz Boulevard, at the border of San Jose and Santa Clara.

Witnesses said the armored vehicle attracted attention when they saw money fluttering through the air and a guard trying to retrieve the cash.

"The guy's hands were too full and the wind was just blowing," San Jose-resident Ernie Mendez said. "I seen wads, stacks. It looked like millions of dollars, you know what I mean."

GardaWorld, which operates the armored vehicle, said it is conducting an investigation into the incident and could not disclose any additional details.

Police said GardaWorld did not report the incident or the lost cash.

While a man told NBC Bay Area he retrieved $40, police point out it is not free money if you know where it came from.

"whether it fell out of an armored truck or if you saw someone drop a wallet, then you are liable to return that money either to that person or the police department," San Jose Police Sgt. Heather Randol said. If not, then you are committing theft."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Near Six Flags Forces Park to Shut Down Rides]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:46:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-23-2014-vallejo-fire.jpg

A small brush fire shut down part of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom amusement park in Vallejo.

The fire broke out about 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon near Lake Chabot.

Vallejo fire sent a truck to the park as a precaution and shut down several rides and moved some birds out of the area.

An ember from the brush fire landed on the thatched roof of the "Thrilla Gorilla" ride. Firefighters put out the fire and are removing the roof to make sure it can’t flare up again.

The “Monkey Business” ride was also shut down.

No injuries have been reported.


Photo Credit: Christie Smith]]>
<![CDATA[Not Everyone in Silicon Valley Happy to See Pres. Obama]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:23:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-23-2014-obama-protest-michlle-robertsr.jpg

Protesters angered by the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to put an end to net neutrality rallied near the Silicon Valley mansion where President Barack Obama was attending a fundraising event on Wednesday morning.

A handful of people who gathered along the road leading to fundraiser venue, a Los Altos Hills mansion, were upset with the United States’ support of Israeli bombing of Gaza, but the majority of the protesters were motivated by different progressive organizations brought together by MoveOn.org to protest the rule under consideration by the FCC that would allow Internet Service Providers to offer content providers a faster track to deliver content.

The protesters were hoping to pressure the president – and any Silicon Valley execs who may have been driving by on their morning commute – to leave access to the Internet open, unrestricted and equal, something President Obama campaigned on in both runs for the presidency.

“Not only did he make that promise, but he also won elections with the support of the Netroots, the grassroots, using the Internet to engage in politics and connect with people,” MoveOn.org’s Victoria Kaplan said. “And now President Obama has a responsibility to make sure the chairman of the FCC – that he appointed – does not kill the Internet, which is the course that he’s on right now."

Net neutrality advocates have been rallying against FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to create a two-tiered system that would allow service providers to offer faster connection speeds for fee-paying content providers and a second, slower speed for others.

The president arrived to the Bay Area Tuesday night and spent the night in San Francisco, where he attended a fundraising event at the Four Seasons, before heading south to the private residence of Judy and George Marcus in Los Altos Hills to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

George Marcus is the founder of the real estate brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap.

The president departed from San Francisco International Airport at about 1:47 p.m. on Air Force One. He will continue onto Los Angeles on an early Wednesday afternoon flight from SFO to end a three-day West Coast fundraising trip.


Michelle Roberts contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Michelle Roberts / NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Longtime SF Art Store Faces Tough Search for New Home]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:29:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0723-2014-FlaxStorefront.jpg

You hear it all the time these days: artists getting displaced as landlords jack-up the rent or sell out to developers, taking advantage of San Francisco’s soaring economy.

Howard Flax hears the stories all the time, from his customers.

“San Francisco is changing,” he said, from the bustling floor of Flax Art and Design Store, the art supply store his grandfather Herman Flax founded in 1938.

His grandfather had a soft spot for the struggling artists.

“There was always a fair amount of bartering and credit,” Flax said, before dashing off to help a wayward customer.

But now, Flax finds his family-run art store in the same tight spot as some of his customers. When the store’s lease is up at the end of 2015, it’ll have to make way for another gleaming tower of condos.

Flax, who along with his brother and sister are the third generation to run the business, is now getting a taste of the grim reality other home shoppers in the city are discovering. After a recent trip to scout locations in the city, Flax was a bit shellshocked.

“We have a tremendous space here,” Flax said eyeing the cavernous building which boasts a light-filled room devoted to fine paper. “Finding 20,000 of retail space in San Francisco is going to be difficult.”

Inside the paper room, which holds among others, handmade sheets of paper from India, clerk Calvin Clark sympathized with the dilemma facing his employer.

“I teach art and all my students moved to the East Bay or away,” Clark said. “Which means now I don’t have any students.”

Author and poet Neeli Cherkovski hovered over a counter, eyeing the fine quill pens he uses to etch his poetry in a notebook tucked under his arm.

“This is all part of the gentrification of the city,” Cherkovski said. “Everything is getting shuffled and a lot of people are getting shuffled out.”

The store's location at the corner of Market and Valencia is the third for the company, which moved to Sutter Street after opening on Kearney.

Flax held no sour grapes for his landlord, who he says gave plenty of notice of the store’s pending ouster. He noted the store will remain where it is for another 16 months, supplying paper, paints and photo books to the public.

He also displayed a quiet confidence, rare among the newly displaced these days.

“We’re going to be here another 75 years,” Flax said. “If I have anything to do with it.”

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[LA Ex-Councilman Convicted of Fraud]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:50:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/alarcon+richard+councilman+la+court.jpg

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon was convicted Wednesday on some of the voter fraud and perjury counts against him in a trial stemming from accusations that he lied about where he lived so he could qualify for public office.

Alarcon was convicted on four of 16 felony counts against him for living outside a district he was elected to represent. The jury cleared him on the other counts. His wife, Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon, was convicted of three counts, and acquitted on three others.

Alarcon, 60, faced seven counts of fraudulent voting, six counts of perjury by declaration and three counts of perjury in an application for a drivers license. His wife was charged with six felony counts: three counts each of perjury by declaration and fraudulent voting in elections in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10. Richard Alarcon faces up to six years in state prison and would be barred from holding elected public office. Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon faces up to five years and four months in state prison and would be barred from running for public office.

The panel was asked to decide whether the couple lied about where they lived between 2006 and 2009 so that Richard Alarcon could qualify for public office in Los Angeles' 7th Council District.

Outside of court Wednesday, Alarcon said he had no comment, but added, "I know I'm innocent."

Deliberations in the month-long trial began last week after prosecutors argued that the Panorama City house that Alarcon and his wife claimed as their "domicile" appeared to neighbors, utility employees and mail carriers to be vacant. Prosecutors contended the Alarcons really lived outside the 7th Council District in Sun Valley.

Under state election law, a residence for voting purposes is defined as a permanent home where one intends to remain and return after an absence. The law does not detail how much time must be spent at the address for it to qualify as a "domicile."

The defense claimed that the prosecution had not even come close to proving the charges against the two. Defense attorneys argued that the Panorama City house underwent renovations and remained the couple's permanent residence because they planned to return there after construction.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Babies Get Herpes After Ritual: DOH]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:47:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NC_Circumcision0906_722x406_2119014932.jpg

Two more infants were diagnosed with herpes in New York this month after undergoing ritual Jewish circumcisions, the Health Department says.

In both cases, the infant boys were born to mothers with full-term pregnancies and normal deliveries. They were circumcised using the direct oral suction technique practiced by some Orthodox Jews eight days after their birth, and developed lesions on their genitals shortly thereafter, the Health Department said.

Their conditions Wednesday weren't immediately clear.

NYC to Require Consent for Oral Suction Ritual

There have been 16 confirmed cases of herpes since 2000 in newborn boys after circumcisions that likely involved direct oral suction, including three in 2014, according to the Health Department. 

Two of the infants died and at least two others suffered brain damage.

During the ancient ritual, the person performing the circumcision attempts to cleanse the wound by sucking blood from the cut and spitting it aside. Authorities say the saliva contact could give the infant herpes, which is harmless in adults but could kill newborns.

In 2012, the Board of Health voted unanimously to require anyone performing circumcisions that involve oral suction to obtain written consent from a parent or guardian. The consent form delineates the potential health risks outlined by the Health Department. 

A group of Orthodox rabbis sued in an attempt to block the regulation, but a judge sided with the city.

The parents have to sign a form acknowledging that the city Health Department advises against the practice because of risks of herpes and other infections.

<![CDATA[Elizabeth Holmes Is Youngest Female Self-Made Billionaire]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:33:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-23-2014-elizabeth-holmes.jpg

Elizabeth Holmes never did finish college. But 11 years after leaving Stanford, she's the CEO of a startup and a "paper multibillionaire," according to reports -- and she may even be the "female Mark Zuckerberg," others say.

Holmes, 30, is CEO of Theranos, a Palo Alto-based company that, like many others, seeks to change the world, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

It may yet. But in the meantime, the company has made billions of dollars.

Her firm seeks to diagnose health conditions early, before they become life-threatening diseases, and eventually "put a lab within a mile of any city dweller" for access to quick, simple, and easy blood tests, the newspaper reported.

She has major support: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is an investor, and her board includes former Secretary of State and San Francisco society pages icon George Schultz. She's also partnering with Walgreens to put a Theranos station in 21 stores in Palo Alto and Phoenix, the newspaper reported.

This will "empower people" to investigate their own health, by allowing them to dictate when and how tests are conducted.

Theranos, now operating out of Facebook's old offices, has 500 employees and is worth $9 billion, the newspaper reported.

Because Holmes has a 50 percent stake, she is the "youngest woman to become a self-made billionaire," the newspaper reported.

Photo Credit: Theranos]]>
<![CDATA[From "Neigh" to Yay: Los Altos OKs Horses at Weddings]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:54:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*123/horse22.JPG

It’s becoming a common sight in a lot of American cities.

The bridegroom rides in on a handsome white mare or elephant decked out in finery to greet the bride’s family. The wedding procession, or baraat, is a big part of most Indian weddings – some more ostentatious than others.

While most Indian cities don’t really blink twice at large animals walking down public streets, it’s a different story in the United States.

Local jurisdictions often have their own rules when it comes to allowing horses and elephants marching down city property, as one Bay Area couple found out the hard way last month.

Anupam Pathak and Theresa Bruketta wanted to use Dora, a white mare, in their wedding in Los Altos, but city law didn’t allow it, the Los Altos Town Crier reported. The couple had to go through a public hearing to get their request approved.

Until Tuesday, the city’s “horse ordinance” prohibited large animals on city property – including leading, riding or even their mere presence – primarily for health and safety issues, said Los Altos Assistant City Manager Jay Logan.

That changed when the Los Altos City Council voted to give the city manager the power to authorize horses at city venues, specifically for weddings, on a case-by-case basis, as long as the proper safeguards were in place.

"What we had earlier was outdated," Logan said. "We got inspired by these beautiful animals that are part of the culture and tradition of the ceremony. It's a way for us to acknowledge the diversity of our city."

The amended ordinance doesn't change anything for other large animals, however.

So if you want to ride an elephant or a camel in Los Altos, you'd still have to ask the city council to approve it first.

<![CDATA[Airbnb Renter Turns "Squatter" ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:53:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/airbnb-stock-image-airbnb-generic.jpg

Cory Tschogl used to be an Airbnb host. She's now a landlord -- sort of. Her "tenant" is an Airbnb "squatter," who rented her Palm Springs condo via the online hotelier and now refuses to leave.

And the law may be on the squatters' side, according to reports.

Tschogl, a Bay Area professional, rented out the condo she bought as an investment to "Maksym," a verified Airbnb user who forked over $450 a week to live there for 44 days.

But, after 30 days, he stopped paying, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Tschogl tried to remove him, but was confronted with legal threats: Maksym said he is now a "legal occupant" and cannot be removed.

Tschogl says she's asked Airbnb for help "without getting much assistance," the newspaper reported. So she's hired a lawyer, and may need to pay thousands of dollars and spend as much as six months removing her problem "tenant."

Meanwhile, the tenant seems to be taking every luxury: He appears to be running the air-conditioning full blast while leaving the condo's sliding doors wide open. Power usage is at about four times its normal level, the newspaper reported.

Airbnb reportedly told the paper that it will assist with Tschogl's legal fees.


Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Last Testimony in Sterling Trial]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:18:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Donald-Shelley-Sterling.jpg

Wednesday should see the last round of testimony in the trial over whether Shelly Sterling was within her rights when she negotiated a $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers — a sale her husband Donald Sterling, whose recorded racist remarks prompted calls for his ouster as owner, vehemently opposes.

While Shelly Sterling has already testified, she may be called back to the stand by her embattled husband's legal team.

"The plan is to call Shelly," Donald Sterling's lawyer Bobby Samini said. "There's been some discussions whether we need to re-call her, but we have not decided for sure yet."

Shelly Sterling's attorneys have rested their case, finishing with testimony that the Clippers face oblivion if the team's censured owner keeps control of the franchise. The current firestorm and battle over the team's fate began after Donald Sterling's racist remarks were recorded by a companion and later published online.

"We're very confident the judge will find that this is an awesome sale, and that the sale ought to go forward without any further delay," Shelly's attorney Pierce O'Donnell said Wednesday

Clippers Interim CEO Richard Parsons testified on Tuesday that coach Doc Rivers said he will leave if Donald Sterling stays, as well as players and sponsors.

Parsons said he fears there would also be an exodus of key players, including team captain Chris Paul, who also is black and heads the NBA players union.

Parsons was about to give an account of his conversations with Paul but was stopped by an objection by an NBA lawyer who said it would be an invasion of privacy. The judge upheld the objection.

After Shelly Sterling arranged for doctors to examine her husband, they deemed him mentally incapacitated, and she took control of the Sterling Family Trust that owns the Clippers and negotiated a sale to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

But Donald Sterling went to see another doctor of his choosing, Jeffrey Cummings, who found he suffers from mild cognitive impairment.

Donald Sterling's lawyers hope to call Cummings to the stand, while Shelly's lawyers are expected to object by citing the judge's earlier ruling that the court can only determine if trust procedures were followed -- not whether either doctor was right.

Meanwhile, Donald Sterling fired off another legal volley on Tuesday, filing a new lawsuit against his wife, the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver that alleges fraud, breach of contract, unfair business practices and infliction of emotional distress. He claimed, among other things, that he was tricked into being examined by psychiatrists to establish whether he was mentally competent.

He announced from the witness stand earlier in the trial that he would never sell the team and would be suing the NBA for the rest of his life.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brothers Fight Off Armed Intruder]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:20:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Halloween+mask+New+London+1200+home+invasion.jpg

Two brothers fought off and helped detain a 15-year-old armed intruder who tried to rob them early Wednesday morning in New London, police said.

A teen, wearing a hockey mask and carrying a knife and a loaded gun, invaded a home on Crystal Avenue just before 3 a.m. on Wednesday, according to police.

Richard and Kevin Dennis were asleep when the teen broke in, but woke up and acted quickly.

Richard went toward the teen.

"That’s when he hit me in the head with the gun. Then I picked him up and he started wailing on my back with the butt of the gun," Richard said.

Kevin got a gun to help his brother, and told the teen to drop his weapon and stay still.

"I heard my brother say, 'Kevin, I need help. He has a gun.' When I heard that, (I) grabbed my gun and went flying through the door," Kevin Dennis said.

The teen did drop his weapon.

"He dropped it the moment he saw me. I got mine. The fight was over. It was night and day," Kevin Dennis said.

When police arrived, they arrested the intruder.

The teen was charged with home invasion, burglary, second-degree assault with a firearm, first-degree threatening and carrying a pistol without a permit. His name has not been released because of his age.

The resident who was assaulted had minor injuries, but declined medical treatment, police said. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Flying Tire Kills Driver on Highway]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:12:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bishop-ford-072314-1.jpg

A woman traveling northbound on the Bishop Ford Freeway was killed Wednesday morning when she was struck by a tire that came off a vehicle headed in the opposite direction, a spokesperson with the Illinois State Police told NBC Chicago.

First responders had to free Jovanka Mijatov, 64, who was pinned in her white 2011 Nissan Versa by "debris" after the 6:10 a.m. crash, Illinois State Police Trooper David Roman said.

Mijatov, of Schererville, Indiana, was taken by ambulance to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where she was pronounced dead.

Nearby, a green 1997 Chevrolet Blazer driven by 48-year-old Mariana Blanco, of Hammond, Indiana, was pulled over to the side of the southbound lane without a left rear tire.

Blanco faces three citations: driving without valid insurance, driving without valid registration and driving with unsafe tires.

Traffic on the freeway was backed up for nearly 10 miles, to Interstate 80. Commuters got by the accident scene using just one lane until about 9 a.m.

<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Launches Reading Campaign for Oakland's Children]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:35:23 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/hillaryclinton2.jpg

President Barack Obama isn't the only one making news in the Bay Area.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also in town Wednesday to roll out a new community partnership aimed at bridging the reading gap in children.

Clinton helped launched the "Talking is Teaching, Talk Read Sing" campaign at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland which encourages parents and caregivers to tackle the achivement gap by talking, reading and singing to kids from low-income families.

The campaign -- created in partnership with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of San Francisco-based Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation -- focuses on the "word gap" -- a difference of about 30 million words between children from the wealthiest and poorest families.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynn are also supporting the campaign.

Ultimately, the campaign wants to help combat the achievement gap in schools, which is seen through preschool and kindergarten.

A March 2014 survey of low-income parents shows only 40 percent reported telling a story to their child.

Clinton underlined the importance of early learning in very young children, whose brains develop around 80 percent of their capacity by age 3. She said she remembered reading and singing to Chelsea.

"Playing electronic games does not substitute for daily interactions with kids in their first few years," Clinton said.

Local parents talked to Clinton about the importance of talking, reading and singing every day.

"Fifteen minutes a day makes a huge difference," Clinton said.

As part of the campaign, parents will leave the hospital with toolkits from Sesame Street, online resources and new clothes for babies from Oaklandish.

Clinton was in Silicon Valley Monday to promote her new memoir "Hard Choices," holding a virtual  Q&A session on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information on the program visit the "Too Small to Fail" Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Jodi Hernandez]]>
<![CDATA[Sand Tunnel Collapses, Kills Man at Half Moon Bay Beach]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:47:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-half-moon-bay-credited.jpg

A man was killed at a Bay Area beach on Monday after a giant hole he was digging in the sand collapsed and buried him, according to fire officials.

When responding Cal Fire crews showed up at Francis State Beach in Half Moon Bay about 5:30 p.m., they found a man in his 20s “completely covered by sand,” authorities said.

Officials say the man was standing in a 10-foot deep "tunnel" when the sand started caving in around him.

“It is one of those situations that can go from having a good time on the beach with friends and family to extremely dangerous and critical within seconds,” Cal Fire’s Jonathan Cox said.

The man was identified by the San Mateo County Coroner's Office as 26-year-old Adam Pye, of San Lorenzo. A memorial page remembering Pye was setup on Facebook.

More than 30 firefighters from around San Mateo County responded to the scene and – along with bystanders – managed to extricate the man from the hole in about half an hour, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Firefighters are using the man’s death as an opportunity to remind the public about the “hidden dangers associated with the beach.”

“Remember to stay away from cliffs, use caution when swimming in big surf and refrain from digging too deeply in the sand," Cal Fire said in a press release.

Photo Credit: Dean Coppola / Half Moon Bay Review]]>
<![CDATA[Truck Barrels Into East Bay Liquor Store]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:33:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-liquor-truck-crash-1.jpg

Workers at an East Bay liquor store received a late-night surprise when a pickup truck crashed through the wall.

Alameda County firefighters responding to the scene Tuesday night at House of Liquors, 1167 Manor Blvd., in San Leandro had to reinforce the building with boards before they could get the truck out.

The truck’s driver went to the hospital, but only as a precaution. The 40-year-old San Leandro woman was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, police said.

Police said the woman entered the store, purchased an item and returned to her pickup truck. She tried to drive away but ended up crashing into the

House of Liquors was open at the time, but no one inside was hurt.

Police have not identified the driver, pending the results of toxicology tests.


Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Allen Weddington]]>
<![CDATA[Man Charged After Gun Found During Search at House Office Building]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:55:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2014-07-18_1248_0011.jpg

Just days after a congressional staffer was arrested for allegedly bringing a gun into the Cannon House Office Building, a second man has been arrested for the same offense, police said.

U.S. Capitol Police told News4 that officers discovered a 9mm Ruger handgun during an administrative search at the entrance to Cannon's rotunda. It happened around 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Ronald William Prestage has been charged with carrying a pistol without a license, said police spokesperson Shennell Antrobus. 

Prestage is not a congressional staffer. RollCall.com reported that he is a veterinarian and farm operator who is also president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council. He may have been on Capitol Hill to lobby on agriculture issues, the site reportedm.

He has a concealed carry permit in South Carolina, according to records, reported RollCall.com.

Prestage's arrest came five days after Ryan Shucard, the press secretary for Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, was taken into custody and charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a felony.

"It was a total accident," Shucard told News4's Darcy Spencer Friday afternoon.

Earlier this week, he pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Bill Tighe, the congressman's chief of staff, said Shucard has been placed on unpaid leave.

Photo Credit: Inset: Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call; background: News4]]>
<![CDATA[Instacart to Deliver Bi-Rite Groceries in SF]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:12:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/Bi-Rite+Creamery-32.JPG

Too lazy to trek down to Divisadero, or can't stand braving the crowds in the Mission?

Thank goodness for startups!

Your Bi-Rite problem has been solved, now that Instacart, a San Francisco-based grocery delivery service, is offering delivery, according to reports.

The San Francisco Chronicle is the bearer of the groundbreaking news for grocery aficionados, announcing that delivery of Bi-Rite foods is available today.

Even better is the gratification: as the name suggests, it's nearly immediate. Instacart says it's the only grocery delivery service that delivers within an hour.

Delivery for one-hour service is $5.99 on a $35 order, but either way it's music to the ears of customers, who have been "pleading" for such convenience, the newspaper reported.

Rainbow Grocery is also on Instacart, as are offerings like Safeway, the newspaper reported.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[South Bay Water District to Hire Water Cops]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 05:42:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/tap1.jpg

It's official, the so-called "water cops" are coming to the South Bay. The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board unanimously voted to spend up to $500,000 to hire five to 10 new water cops Tuesday night.

The water cops will respond to complaints of water waste and work to increase the district's overall water conservation goal of 20 percent.

"It's a reminder that it's not a business as usual year. This is an exceptional drought, we have to take exceptional action," said Deputy Administrative Officer Teresa Alvarado.

Their official term will be decided in the future. For now, the district is calling them "water educators" because they won't actually write tickets or enforce anything.

Instead, they'll investigate claims, teach conservation, and report chronic water wasters to that person's water company.

"(The companies) are the ones that enforce any ordinances the city or private retailer has in that area," Alvarado said.

Water Use Efficiency Manager Jerry De La Piedra says they did research to determine if the water educators were a good idea.

"I would say there's studies that have shown education does lead to water savings and so we will continue to do that," he said.

Arborist Mark Barton disagrees, and thinks the $500,000 should be spent on broader education. He suggested PSAs and signs on buses.

"I think we've got two million people in the South Bay that need to be educated, and from what I can see most people don't know how to water a tree," Barton said.

He believes showing people proper watering methods can save them hundreds of gallons of water.

"If you take the combination of mulch and drip irrigation, you can cut your water use 30-70 percent."

The new "water educators" are expected to start in late-August. The district will start hiring people soon. Alvarado says the money for the positions comes from reserve funds, and won't immediately affect rates.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Skin Cancer on Rise in Marin: Report]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:52:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Sun+Generic.jpg

The deadliest form of skin cancer is on the rise in Marin County, which already has the highest rates of the disease in all of California.

The Marin Independent Journal notes that "sun worshipers" in the North Bay county may want to reconsider habits after learning that the cancer is the second-most-common cancer after prostate cancer for men, and has "increased significantly over the past decade."

Incidence of the disease has increased 200 percent since 2003, the newspaper reported.

Medical professionals say that "improved screening" may be behind the increase.

But Marin's demographics may also be at play: the county is mostly white, and white people are most at risk, the newspaper reported.

<![CDATA[Huge Geico Insurance Banner Falls on Fremont Home]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:46:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/072314-banner-house.jpg

One Bay Area couple can now say for certain their house is covered by insurance.

A 4,000-square-foot Geico insurance banner being towed by a plane came loose and fell directly on their house Friday in Fremont.

"I heard a thump," says Sarah Clark, who was inside when banner landed on her home. "When I looked out the front gate I thought it was pouring rain because it kind of made it look that way. And it sounded like a windstorm, or maybe rain, but I knew it wasn't raining."

When Clark looked out her back door that's when she saw the massive sign.

"I saw a gigantic piece of fabric over the gazebo and I was thinking it's a parachute or hot air balloon," Clark says. 

Ameer Hassan was driving on Interstate 880 just a few miles away when he saw the sign fall.

"I saw the banner flying sideways and I've never seen anything like that before," Hassan says. "I didn't know if it was heavy enough to destroy anything."

The pilot of the plane says he was trying out a new rope that failed to hold the sign. The FAA is investigating the incident.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Device Helps Women Use Restroom -- Standing Up]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 05:52:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0722-2014-StandUp.jpg

A Stanford graduate has created a device to make it easier for women to use the restroom outdoors.

Sara Grossman has launched a startup company for her invention, the "Stand Up," a package that allows women to use the restroom -- standing up.

Women interviewed Tuesday have mixed opinions on the device, with some saying they would never use it and others in favor of using it, especially during camping trips.

The Stand Up is available online.

Photo Credit: Cheryl Hurd]]>
<![CDATA[SF Soda Tax Placed on November Ballot]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:20:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/0823-sodaban.jpg

Less than two years ago, Richmond voters slapped city lawmakers with a dose of reality, shooting down a proposed ‘soda tax’ measure that would have been the first of its kind in the country.

Now, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is even more ambitious.

The Board approved a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages Tuesday afternoon, sending the measure on to the voters this fall.

Should two-thirds of the electorate approve it, the SF tax would charge consumers an extra two cents per ounce of any sugary drink more than 25 calories (with a few exceptions), doubling the Richmond measure’s one cent per ounce tax.

The man sponsoring the measure, Supervisor Scott Wiener, told NBC Bay Area recently, "Two cents per ounce is a tax that people have, but getting diabetes and having those health problems is a much bigger tax that these communities are having to pay."

This is often the argument made in support of a tax on sugary drinks- By discouraging people from buying and drinking these high-calorie, high- sugar beverages, we will cut down on negative health outcomes like diabetes.

But if that’s the logic at play, you might find the structure of the San Francisco soda tax curious.

The city wants to tax the drink by fluid ounces, rather than by calories.

A recent study financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a long-time supporter of sugary drink taxation to combat childhood obesity, concluded that taxing drinks by calories is a far more effective way at discouraging people from buying high-sugar beverages.

That’s because the consumer will inevitably opt for the cheaper, healthier option, the study concludes.

Consider the following:

A Monster Energy drink, an Arizona Iced Tea, a Coke and a Vitamin Water would all be taxed under this measure at a similar level, between 40 and 48 cents, depending on the amount of fluid ounces in the drink.

But if you started taxing those drinks based on calories, you would get a much more significant spread. Let’s say, for example, that you tax those drinks at .002 cents per calorie instead.

The Monster Energy drink, the option with the highest calories (300), would command around a 60 cent tax. The Vitamin Water, on the other hand, would be around 25 cents.

Is this more equitable, and effective?

The lead author of the study, Dr. Chen Zhen, told the New York Times this structure provides more incentive for the consumer to choose the healthier, lower-cost option.

“One of the concerns about taxing ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages is that consumers are paying the same tax whether they buy 12 ounces of a drink with 150 calories or 12 ounces of a drink with 50 calories,” Zhen said.

Berkeley also has a soda tax measure on the ballot this fall, that will target a 1 cent per ounce tax.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Metal Falls From Sky, Hits Home]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:10:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ponder+house.jpg

A piece of metal fell from the sky and crashed into the roof of a Denton County mobile home over the weekend.

Rachael Thompson and Richard Myszkowski heard a loud bang Saturday morning while they were feeding their 11-month-old inside their home on Seaborn Road near Ponder.

When they went outside to inspect, they found what looked like a metal turbine on the roof of their mobile home.

Thompson said it weighed only a few pounds but hit with enough force to put a large gash in the metal roof.

"It was like somebody threw a hammer at the house," she said. "What else is going to fall out of the sky?"

Luckily, the object didn’t penetrate the home, as the family of five was inside at the time.


"Thank God it fell on the roof," Myszkowski said.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the matter, and a spokesperson said they are working to identify the object.

The family believes it may have fallen from a plane, as they see frequent air traffic in the area.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Arrested in Knifepoint Robbery of 11-Year-Old's Bicycle]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:40:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-teen-robbery.jpg

A South Bay teenager accused of robbing an 11-year-old boy of his bicycle at knifepoint on a school playground in Santa Clara was booked into juvenile hall last week.

Prior to his arrest, Santa Clara police released surveillance video showing the 15-year-old suspect and his friends before the robbery. That led to several tips and the teenager's arrest.

The 11-year-old boy told police that at about 5:30 p.m. on July 7, he was playing at Washington Elementary School at 270 Washington St. when the male suspect approached him, Santa Clara police Lt. Kurt Clarke said.

The suspect then robbed the boy of his bicycle at knifepoint, according to police.

Officers later obtained surveillance video from a nearby 7-Eleven store that contained images of the suspect, released the video to the public Thursday and asked for help in finding him, Clarke said. The community played a key role in the arrest of the juvenile suspect, Clarke said.

Detectives soon received many leads about the suspect's identity and the tips led to the arrest of a 15-year-old boy from San Jose.

The minor was booked into the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of robbery on Friday, according to Clarke.

The information from the public also assisted police in naming associates of the suspect who were also in the video, police said.

The stolen bike was recovered and returned to the victim.

Photo Credit: Santa Clara Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Hires Community Service Officers]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:28:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0722-2014-SJ-community-officers.jpg NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro breaks down the role the newly hired community service officers will have in San Jose.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Tech Companies Aim to Breathe New Life Into NYC Pay Phones]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:42:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-payphone.jpg

Old, obsolete pay phones in New York City may soon have new life.

Google is among dozens of tech companies looking to transform more than 7,000 phone booths into free WiFi hot spots. Samsung, IBM and Cisco are among some of the other Silicon Valley companies interested in participating, PCWorld reports.

The Mountain View company says the project would provide the city's five boroughs with advertising, WiFi and phone services.

If Google wins the contract, it would be the latest venture by the tech giant into broadband Internet service.

More than half of those 7,000 pay phones have advertising on them. The project’s winning bidder would share ad revenue with the city, which would start at $17.5 million, according to the global computer magazine.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[73-Year-Old Woman Shot Inside SF Home]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:05:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-sf-shooting.jpg

A 73-year-old woman was shot inside a home Tuesday in San Francisco's Bayview District Tuesday afternoon, police said.

San Francisco police said the woman was shot through a window. Officials said a bullet grazed her head. The woman was transported to a hospital, where she stay overnight for observation. Police said her injuries appeared to be non-life threatening.

The shooting was reported at 4:13 p.m. in the area of Third Street and McKinnon Avenue.

Officials said medical crews were arriving to the scene as of 4:25 p.m. and that details about injuries were not immediately available.

An employee at the Bayview branch public library, located at that intersection, said it appeared there was a carjacking that led to the shooting.

Several streets in the vicinity were closed as police searched for suspects.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>