<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:31:53 -0700 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:31:53 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[South Bay Businessman Pleads No Contest to Felony Charges]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:41:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ronBattistellaInCuffs1.png

Former member of Santa Clara County Sheriff's Advisory Board and prominent car dealer Ron Battistella could face 5 to 16 years in a California prison after pleading no contest, the legal equivalent of guilty, to nine felony counts of grand theft, securities fraud and for selling unqualified securities. Battistella has been the focus of several NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit reports after investors claimed $1.3 million of their investments disappeared in a Ponzi scheme Battistella operated.

Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Vishal Bathija told The Investigate Unit he doesn’t feel the legal process is complete with Battistella’s admission of guilt. “I won’t be satisfied until each one of those victims gets every dollar that they have lost in this scam,” he said. “So we will be pursuing the restitution of $1.3 million towards these victims.”

Batttistella ran an investment scheme intended to help fund his used car dealership. As part of the business plan, pink slips for vehicles on his lot were given to investors as collateral on their investments. According to the District Attorney’s office, evidence indicates the pink slips were fraudulent. Many were for cars that didn’t exist.

“White collar crime is a simple process and it’s not that different than any other sort of theft,” Bathija told The Investigative Unit. “If you lie to someone to get them to invest or if you fail to disclose material facts to get them to invest, you are stealing.”

Asked to speculate on why Batistella entered what is essentially a guilty plea, Bathija said, "I think he looked at the evidence against him and he said, 'I can't defend this.'"

“Be still my beating heart,” said one of Battistellas investors when The Investigative Unit informed her of Battistella’s plea and potential prison time. She lost money doing business with Battistella and asked for her identity to be hidden for fear of retribution. “There can never be any satisfaction in a situation like this. It's just been heartbreaking. We are really saddened by it" She added, "I think he thought he was invincible."

The Investigative Unit began to unravel Battistella’s business operations in May of 2012 when Flor Madsen from Santa Cruz said the car dealer failed to pay her $70,000 he owed her on a consignment vehicle. On The Investigative Unit’s hidden camera, Battistella claimed the money, “went into a black hole.” Madsen eventually got her money back, but victims of Battistella’s Ponzi scheme started to contact The Investigative Unit in phone calls and emails. They claimed the “black hole” was even larger than expected.

Battistella promised nearly two dozen victims 10 percent returns on their investments. Over time, Battistella accrued more than $1.3 million of debt to his investors in his Ponzi scheme. He also had more than $1 million of tax debt owed to the state of California and the IRS, debt he tried to escape from in bankruptcy filing.

In January, the Santa Clara District Attorney filed charges against Battistella, a year after the Investigative Unit first started reporting on the story. See our interactive timeline of Ron Battistella’s crimes for the full saga.

<![CDATA[San Jose PD Might Eliminate Motorcycle Unit]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:02:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-30-2014-sjpd-motorcycle-unit.jpg

The motorcycle traffic cop is a staple of police departments across the country, a staple San Jose could soon be losing.

The San Jose Police Department is considering a plan to eliminate its motorcycle traffic unit and move the 11 officers into patrol car units, NBC Bay Area has learned.

"The whole premise behind this is obviously to go ahead and help out our patrol unit, who desperately need the help," SJPD spokesman Albert Morales said.

The police union reluctantly agrees.

“Our patrol division is stretched to its limit,” the San Jose Police Officers' Association’s James Gonzales said. “We are completely reliant on overtime. And that's fatiguing our officers."

SJPOA's Paul Kelly said the department is in an "embarrassing" situation because of Measure B, which he said "has put us in a position that we have to start cutting units like the traffic units."

"It's beyond strange," Kelly said. "I think, if you look at a city our size, we should be having a traffic unit that is twice the size."

SJPD officials said it might be necessary to redeploy its motorcycle unit officers because patrols cannot handle all emergency calls.

"I think the chief and the command staff are always looking at ways to add more patrol units so that we can answer those 911 calls,” Morales said.

Some San Jose residents who spoke with NBC Bay Area said they are concerned.

"I think people are gonna possibly cut loose and not be as observant of the speed limit and the driving laws,” Julie Tornincasa said.

The chief's office said it has not set a time limit on a decision but said it will come soon. Regardless, the department said it may keep some officers on motorcycles to work with patrol units for certain situations.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Interns Mentor Peninsula Youth]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:38:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0730-2014-Facebook-kids.jpg Facebook sent out 100 interns to participate in an event Wednesday aimed at mentoring 300 grade-school students from the Peninsula. Cheryl Hurd reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Health Expert Not Concerned Over Ebola Virus]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:31:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/452620484.jpg NBC Bay Area's Terry McSweeney shows why a Bay Area public health expert is not worried about the Ebola virus.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Federal Funding Helps San Jose Police Purchase Drone]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:14:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/451783648.jpg

San Jose police on Wednesday confirmed the department will soon be able to deploy a drone to help out its bomb squad.

The department used federal grant money to buy the $7,000 unmanned aircraft. The federal grant money is aimed at helping the bomb squad assess threats.

Officials said bomb squads in San Francisco, Oakland and other Bay Area agencies will also be able to use the drone since it was purchased with federal dollars.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Tied Up During Home-Invasion Robbery in San Jose]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:34:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/217*120/0730-2014-SJ-homeinvasion.jpg

The Almaden Valley neighborhood in San Jose is on alert following a home-invasion robbery Wednesday afternoon.

Police said an armed burglar got into a home on the 7100 block of Anjou Creek Court by breaking a back door. The burglar then tied up a 17-year-old high school student, who was home alone, and demanded cash.

The robber left the area after the teen told him where he could find valuables, police said. The teen was able to cut himself free and call for help.

The victim's mother said her son is shaken up by the incident, but not hurt. Police credit the teen for doing the right thing under pressure by giving the intruder what he wanted.

Police spent Wednesday canvassing the area and going through video from security cameras residents have placed in the neighborhood.

Resident Tony Frediani said a string of burglaries that hit the neighborhood last year prompted neighbors to put up security cameras. Wednesday's incident raises concerns on how effective security cameras are in deterring crime.

"I'm a little shocked this is the house with more cameras than anyone in the neighborhood," Frediani said. "I'm surprised."

Police have not released a description of the suspect.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Snapchat Could Be Worth $10 Billion]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:16:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/snapchat_screenshot_f8059740976d09a452bb33e240328408.nbcnews-ux-1280-900.jpg

Bloomberg is reporting that Alibaba, the Chinese Internet giant, is considering buying out Snapchat for $10 billion.

The Snapchat app, which allows users to send messages and photos that then disappear after they're received, achieved fame for turning down a buyout bid from Facebook last year. It also has a reported 700 million messages, or "snaps," every day.

If the stories are true, it would put Snapchat in rare company: very few tech companies are worth more than a billion dollars, and even fewer can command $10 billion in valuation.

Uber, Airbnb and Snapchat.

Photo Credit: Snapchat]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Toddler Dies in Hot Car: Cops]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:12:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/toddler-dies-sylmar.jpg

A 3-year-old boy died Wednesday after becoming trapped in a hot car in Sylmar, police said.

Officers were called about 3:30 p.m. to a home in the 14400 block of West Foothill Boulevard, where the child had climbed into a Toyota Camry and was unable to get out, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The child was taken to a hospital in grave condition, police said. He was later pronounced dead.

Investigators believe the child was playing outside while his parents and 14-year-old brother were napping inside.

It was unclear how the child became locked inside the car. Investigators said the father found him and called 911.

No arrests have been made in connection with the boy's death, police said.

Refresh this page for updates

<![CDATA[The Truth About Sunscreen]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:31:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Sunblock-for-Story1.jpg

It’s the height of summer, and with school out and hot temperatures blanketing most of the country, many have been seeking refuge at community pools, lakes and beaches.

The U.S. Surgeon General, though, has been keeping tabs on the nation's health, and on Tuesday issued a call to action urging Americans to stop tanning and save their skin. The Surgeon General didn't mince words in speaking to the public, stating in the report, "Keep your skin healthy - avoid sunbathing and indoor tanning."

With that in mind, NBC Bay Area looked at various claims about sunbathing and sunscreen in an effort to help provide more clarity about the risks associated with being out in the sun.

Claim No. 1: Applying any kind of sunscreen protects you from skin cancer.

This isn't true. According to the FDA, it's important to use sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB -- the two types of UV light that harm your skin.

And in this respect, not all sunscreen is created equal.

The SPF of a particular brand, or ‘Sun Protection Factor,' measures the product’s ability to block out UVB rays. But it doesn’t speak at all to whether the product can absorb the just as important UVA rays.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, it’s the UVA rays that penetrate the skin more deeply and are associated with wrinkling, leathering, and sagging of the skin, as well as “increasingly being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own."

So bottom line?

You need to purchase sunscreen that says, 'Broad Spectrum SPF,' on the bottle to ensure that the product blocks both types of rays.

Even if it does, however, that’s not an assurance you’re protected against skin cancer.

A recently released, groundbreaking report from the London Institute of Cancer Research found that even the highest grade SPF 50 allows enough ultra-violent radiation to penetrate the skin, damaging cells and laying the groundwork for cancer.

Which leads us to Claim No. 2: The higher the SPF, the more effective the sunscreen.

Here, that assertion is partially true.

Sunscreens with an SPF of up to 50 deliver increasing protection. Per the American Melanoma Foundation, a product with SPF 2 screens about 50 percent of ultraviolet rays.

If you move up to SPF 15, it’s 93 percent. And if you hit SPF 34, the level runs up to 97 percent.

After that, however, according to the FDA there is no discernible difference in the quality of the product.

So a sunscreen with SPF 50 is pretty much exactly the same as one with SFP 100, when it comes to blocking UVB rays.

Lastly, what about water-proof sunscreen?

The FDA says that concept doesn’t exist. Sunscreens aren’t waterproof, and now they can only market themselves as "water resistant."

Regardless of what type of lotion you use, the recommended practice is reapplying your sunscreen every 40 to 80 minutes.

<![CDATA[Santa Cruz Man Fined $3,000 Over Leaky Toilet]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:50:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/120427372.jpg

A city in California is taking the drought very seriously.

The Santa Cruz Water Department slapped a $3,000 fine on a man for a leak caused by a running toilet, NBC affiliate KSBW reported Wednesday.

The man had the leaky toilet for eight days, the station reported.

The man, who was not identified, was able to avoid the hefty penalty by deciding to attend “water school,” a free, one-time class which teaches participants how to manage water at their property, read a water meter, find and fix leaks among other things.

Santa Cruz Water Department conservation manager Toby Goddard told KSBW that the penalty for having a running toilet for eight days ranged between $3,000 to $4,000.

“That's a terrible situation, of course it was eliminated by his attending water school,” he said.

Santa Cruz city officials are cracking down on water wasters, with residents paying more than half a million dollars in fines since the city declared a Stage 3 drought emergency two months ago.

Goddard said most of the fines were rescinded after water wasters attended water school, which is held on Monday nights.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Crash in San Diego Kills 1]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:37:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Plane-Crash-Kearny-3.jpg

A small plane crashed in the parking lot of a busy San Diego shopping center Wednesday evening, killing one of the two women aboard and wounding the other.

The fixed wing single-engine Mooney M20L crashed in a parking lot between Target and the Costco Business Center off Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa, about a mile from Montgomery Field, around 5:30 p.m. It landed near parked cars but away from main store entrances.

The 52-year-old pilot and her 80-year-old passenger were taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital with major injuries, according to fire officials. The 80-year-old woman suffered serious burns and died at the hospital. The condition of the pilot has not been released.

Two witnesses who may have been trying to rescue the victims were treated for minor burns, fire officials said. One was taken to the hospital, and the other was treated at the scene. The plane did not hit any people in the parking lot when it crashed.

Witness Gregg Smith was leaving work across the street and was only one block away when he saw and heard the aircraft crash.

“I heard the plane coming – it was a different sound – and I knew they didn’t have enough power to make the lift they needed to do,” Smith told NBC 7.

At that point, Smith said he looked up and saw the plane making a turn. “It missed my building probably by about 10 or 15 feet,” he added.

“I heard the distinctive thud of it hitting one of the light poles in the parking lot, and I heard it crash. The next thing I saw was a bunch of flames and black smoke,” Smith continued.

Helicopter pilot Vince Carter was taking off from Montgomery Field at the time of the crash. Carter told NBC 7 he heard the pilot’s distress call and heard her say her power was going out seconds before the crash.

“This is a miracle and testament to her skill as a pilot. I really hope she comes through everything okay. This could have very easily killed a lot of people,” he said. “You could imagine, just shopping at Target, and a plane comes through the roof full of fuel.”

Carter said the area where the aircraft landed is really the only place where the pilot could have gone without causing a lot of damage.

“When we’re flying, we need air going over the wings at a specific speed to generate lift. Once you lose enough air speed, there’s not enough wind going over the wings to generate lift and you don’t fly any more. As you can see, the plane is in a relatively flat position. It didn’t travel extremely far when it hit the ground, so you can assume that it didn’t have a lot of forward momentum going into this,” he said.

“So what probably happened is that in a loss of power and finding a place to put it down, she stalled it out pretty much perfectly in the only spot she possibly could have,” he continued.

"I don’t know what kind of control they had, but they obviously had enough control to bring it down into an area where they were not going to crash into vehicles or buildings,” San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesperson Lee Swanson said.

A small fire sparked upon impact, but firefighters extinguished it quickly, Swanson said.

Witnesses said several heroic bystanders rushed to the aid of the pilot and her passenger right after the crash, pulling the women from the wreckage.

A Costco employee who witnessed the crash told NBC 7 that the person taken to the hospital with minor burns to his hand is another Costco employee.

The Target store was not evacuated and remained open Wednesday evening. A Target employee said fire crews were assessing the building for damage.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is on scene investigating the cause of the crash. The FAA said the aircraft bounced while attempting to land at nearby Montgomery Field but continued westbound and crashed in the Costco parking lot.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will lead the investigation and likely post a preliminary report of the accident within the next week or two. Still, officials said it typically takes the NTSB months to come up with a probable cause for accidents.

Per protocol, neither agency will release the identities of those involved in the aircraft accident.

San Diego Police Department Sgt. Steve Behrendt said the airplane struck a portion of the Target building before landing.

“It did hit the top of the Target building. There is some debris on the roof of the Target and some in the garden area. Then one of the light poles was taken out by the plane,” Behrendt explains.

NBC 7 spoke with a family member of the pilot at UCSD Medical Center Wednesday night who said the survivor of the crash was in stable condition.

According to FAA records, the aircraft is co-owned but registered to San Diego resident William Logan. The family member confirmed William Logan was not aboard the aircraft.

The Montgomery Field radio tower received a distress call from the aircraft right before the crash. The transciption of the call indicates the pilot knew she was in trouble.

“Problem now. I’m not getting any altitude her,” the pilot says.

“27 mike-pappa, full throttle,” the tower answers.

“I’m full throttle,” the pilot replies.

“27 mike-pappa, turn back to the field if you’re able,” the tower says.

“I’m going down,” responds the pilot.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Businesses Near Levi's Stadium Prep for First Game]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:51:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-30-2014-levis-stadium.jpg

More than 40,000 soccer fans will pour into Santa Clara this Saturday for the first sporting event at Levi’s Stadium, and businesses in the area are expecting big things.

Officials have decided to cap the number of tickets that can be sold to the San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders FC Major League Soccer matchup at 44,000, about two-thirds of the new stadium’s capacity.

Erich Smith is the general manager at the Santa Clara Hilton, which is practically in Levi’s Stadium’s backyard.

“We’re using this Saturday just like the 49ers are, as a little bit of a test,” Smith said.

Smith said the hotel would sellout every time there’s game – and that includes this weekend. The MLS match is giving the hotel a chance to see what some 40,000 sports fans feels like, and that’s important, considering the 49ers are expected to draw nearly 70,000 to each game.

“I have every single manager – whether you’re in sales or accounting – everyone is here Saturday,” Smith said. “Everyone has a position and responsibility.”

Restaurants in the area are expecting to double their normal weekend sales. One such restaurant, David’s, has been a hangout for golfers from the nearby Santa Clara Golf and Tennis Club for decades. With the first game at Levi’s imminent, owner David Ebrahimi has been getting ready for bigger crowds: He’s already bought new big screen TVS, new patio furniture, and he’s stocking up on food and beer.

This weekend is a test run, Ebrahimi said. He is expecting up to 3,000 soccer fans to frequent his establishment on Saturday. He is tripling his staff and expecting more customers to choose beer over Arnold Palmers. "We just need to experience [a game day],” an anxious Ebrahimi said.

Ebrahimi said fans will be able to hear the roar of the crowd from his restaurant’s patio.

Down the street, chicken and waffles are on the menu at Butter & Zeus

“We’re hoping the lines are out the door and that everyone will get their food in a timely manner,” owner Nga Huynh said.

Huynh said she and her husband opened up a year ago. She calls it an investment they couldn’t pass up. “Being in this area, it’s an exciting time,” she said.

Butter & Zeus has hired five part-time employees. All of them will be working Saturday. Huynh isn’t sure how many waffles they’ll sell, but she is ready for game day. “We’re preparing for a super crazy Saturday,” she said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[BART Plans to Open Oakland Airport Connector by Thanksgiving]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:25:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0730-2014-BART-airport-connector2.jpg

BART is one step closer to opening a new way for passengers to get to the Oakland International Airport.

The new $484 million system will feature a driver-less tram running between the Oakland Coliseum BART station and the Oakland airport. Each tram can carry up to 120 passengers. Officials said the system will replace the AirBART shuttle.

BART officials said the plan is to open the new service before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Officials said trams will run every five minutes, and will get passengers from door-to-door in about 12 minutes. Riding the trams will cost passengers about $6, double the $3 it costs riders to board AirBART.

But BART officials said the tram will be more reliable than AirBART, which can take up to 20 minutes for passenger to get to the airport depending on traffic.

Tom Dunscombe, BART's Oakland Airport Connector project manager, expects ridership to remain steady on the new service as commuters try to avoid traffic.

"Between the coliseum and the airport there are nine intersections and traffic can vary from day to day depending on what events are happening," he said. "The reliability should be greater because we're grade separated from the traffic."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Wary Bay Area Winemakers Eye Next Year]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:00:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0730-2014-DanNaumann+.jpg

Winemaker Dan Naumann paced along his vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, ignoring the vast startling views of Silicon Valley below - eyes fixed on his grape leaves. He gingerly extended a branch of one vine, pointing out the crimson leaves.

"This is what drought will do to you," Naumann said brushing the leaves. "Eventually they’ll crinkle up on you."

Like everyone in agriculture, Naumann is nervous. Another winter with little rain has taken its toll on those who depend on nature’s irrigation. As a "dry farmer" in unincorporated Cupertino, Naumann’s irrigation is supplied 100 percent by Mother Nature.

"The most important thing we need is the soothing sound of raindrops during the winter," he said.

Like many Bay Area winemakers, Naumann expects to make it through this year with a decent harvest and quality wines. Next year, he’s not so sure. While this year has been a tough one for agriculture, another year without rain could be devastating.

"We would drop one third of the fruit," Naumann said. "That’s what we’re anticipating next year if we get minimal amount of rain."

Naumann expected the rest of the Bay Area wine industry to make similar cuts to its fruit crops if it doesn’t get the rain it needs. He said that could drive prices up 20 to 30 percent.

Just past downtown Livermore, where browning lawns are now more common than green ones, winemaker Jim McGrail surveyed his sprawling vines with the look of a man before a firing squad.

"If you don’t get water," McGrail said, "these grapes die, the fruit dies, we as a community die."

McGrail only lays only some of the blame with nature, the rest he’s reserved for state leaders who he said need to come up with a better system for storing rain during wet years.

"We put people on the moon,” he said. “We do heart transplants and there’s absolutely no reason we don’t have water.”

Naumann produces about 700 cases of merlot and cabernet sauvignon a year - and considers himself a boutique winemaker. But from his hilltop perch overlooking the valley, Naumann strangely seemed to be looking up.

"We’ll make it through," he said. "Eventually Mother Nature will get us our rain back."

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Blue Sea Creatures Wash Up on Local California Beaches]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:09:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/velella.jpg

Social media is teeming with pictures of small bright blue sea creatures washing up all over California beaches, with sightings reported in Humboldt County, Monterey and Ocean Beach.

Despite being described as "strange," "bizarre," "mysterious," and even "aliens," it turns out these creatures have a name.

Marine researchers are calling it Velella velella, a name the Santa Cruz Sentinel said sounds "like a nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film."

"Some people call them jellyfish, but they are in fact only distantly related and only superficially similar," said Rich Mooi of the California Academy of Sciences.

The small delicate-looking marine invertibrates are commonly called "by-the-wind sailor." They are 40-80 mm long as adults and are characterized by a clear, chitinous semicircular sail sticking above water.

Velella can be found floating at the sea surface. They feed on zooplankton and fish and their predators are snails. They generally float offshore but can be blown onshore in large numbers.

Nobody knows for sure why so many are washing up this late in summer.

Although they are related to the Portugese man-o'-war -- notorious for its stinging ability -- Mooi said the creatures are completely harmless to humans but doesn't recommend eating them.


Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Westboro Baptist Church Plans SF Protest]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:35:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/79282403.jpg

The Westboro Baptist Church is bringing its circus to San Francisco.

The well-known Kansas-based evangelical faith group, which has been called a hate group for its anti-LGBT protesting of funerals and other touchy events, is planning to protest in San Francisco and Silicon Valley on August 12, according to reports.

The reason behind it? Silicon Valley bigwigs like Mark Zuckerberg "cram sodomite propaganda down everyone's throats," according to the church. 

SFist reports that the church's adherents will roam the campuses of "Facebook, Google, and Apple" as well as the San Francisco locations of social media networks like Twitter and Reddit.

The August 12 protest schedule has the God-fearing Kansans going from Menlo Park to Mountain View instantaneously, so maybe, as SFist points out, it's a bit too ambitious.

Either way, prepare for signs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Homeless Camp Grows Near Railroad Tracks in Berkeley]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:11:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP889126769725.jpg

It's boom time for the homeless in West Berkeley, where a new homeless encampment has sprouted up along railroad tracks, according to reports.

The San Francisco Chronicle notes that Second and Jones, an industrial area, is now a favored place for transients and the homeless who have been uprooted from the Albany Bulb and elsewhere in the East Bay.

These campers near the railroad tracks lived underneath the Gilman Street overpass until July 18, when the city cleared the area out.

Police say that they're visiting the camps from time to time to check up on things, and politicians say that the problem is not theirs alone -- it's regional, the newspaper reported.

Homeless people themselves say that they understand residents may not be happy with trash, needles and homeless people -- but that they need somewhere to go.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Flooding: Before and After]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:06:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/UCLA-pavilion-after.jpg

A water main break Tuesday in Los Angeles' Westwood area sent millions of gallons of water gushing onto the campus of UCLA, flooding parking structures, the famed Pauley Pavilion and other buildings.

These photos reveal the extent of the damage with images taken before and after the affected areas. UCLA officials have yet to establish a damage estimate, but several campus buildings and parking structures were flooded after two water mains burst at their meeting point near the campus.

The break sent an estimated 10 million gallons of water onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus.

These photos show Sunset Boulevard before and after the water main break. The break shattered pavement and created a large sinkhole from which a geyser of water sprayed for hours. The before photo is from Google Earth, and the after photo is from KNBC-TV's NewsChopper4:

These photos show UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, which suffered severe flooding as a result of the water main break. The court, home to the UCLA Bruins, showed signs of buckling and expansion after it was under about eight inches of water, campus officials said. The before photo was provided by UCLA; the after photo was shot by the Associated Press:

These photos show the plaza outside the Acosta Center, which was flooded after the water main break. The before photo is from Google Earth; the after photo is from Gadi Schwartz.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LA Flood Twice as Bad as Feared]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:52:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/193*120/ucla+flood+water+main+20140730_082724_resized+%286%29.jpg

More than 20 million gallons of water were lost during Tuesday's massive water main break near UCLA, doubling the initial estimate, officials said.

Crews were still shutting off water to the busted pipe under Sunset Boulevard north of the UCLA campus Wednesday afternoon. Repairs weren't even expected to begin until after the water was shut off, said James B. McDaniel, the senior assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's water system.

"This is a very unfortunate incident," he said during an afternoon press conference. "This is one of our bigger ruptures. It is a major event for us."

Hundreds of vehicles are stranded in flooded parking structures and historic Pauley Pavilion's court shows signs of damage after a water main break Tuesday that sent up to 10 million gallons of water gushing onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus for more than three hours.

At a mid-day news conference, school officials said they are waiting for areas to "dry out" before they can provide detailed damage estimates. Campus officials characterized the campus as in a "drying phase" Wednesday after the water removal process continued overnight.

Large blower machines were being used in the historic Pauley Pavilion, Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, JD Morgan Center and John Wooden Center. School officials said Wednesday morning the Pauley Pavilion court showed signs of "expansion and buckling."

The break occurred at the Y-shaped meeting point of a 30-inch pipe installed in 1921 and a 36-inch pipe installed in 1956. Both pipes ruptured and blew open a 25-foot wide, 5-foot deep sinkhole at about 3:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said.

"I can't speculate on what caused the leak at this point," said Jeff Bray, of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. "This repair is at the Y where the 30-inch main comes in at an extreme angle to the 36-inch main. The top of the pipe just lifted up and created an opening in the pipe."

As for repairs and detailed damage assessments, crews must wait until after the closure of two leaks discovered along the pipes. The pipes deliver water to the area at a high velocity from Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir, a body of water about eight miles north of Westwood near the Sepulveda Pass.

"We cannot begin repairs until we get the water completely down," Bray said. "We're looking at an extended period of time."

Repairs are likely to cause traffic problems in the heavily traveled area through Thursday because Sunset Boulevard between Veteran Avenue and Hilgard Avenue will be closed for road work.

Two parking structures and six facilities on the UCLA campus were damaged. UCLA had crews working throughout the night to remove water from those buildings.

"Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.

About 900 cars were inside Parking Lot 4 and Parking Lot 7, the two parking structures affected by the flooding. Officials say because the water may be mixed with toxic chemicals such as oil and gas, the water has to be safely removed and cannot just be pumped out into the street. UCLA is working with private companies to remove the water from the structure, Moore said.

Officials say the cars in the structure will not be accessible until Friday.

"A little less than half are totally submerged," said Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor for UCLA.

Motorists traveling in the area should use Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard or Olympic Boulevard to avoid the road closure.

All UCLA summer camp programming, including recreational activities, were suspended Wednesday, according to campus officials.

NBC4's Samia Khan contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Domino's Pizza Delivery Drivers Robbed in Sunnyvale]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:50:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-30-2014-dominos-generic.jpg

Pizza delivery drivers in the South Bay are on edge after a couple of them were robbed at gunpoint.

Two employees at two different Domino’s pizzerias in Sunnyvale were robbed Monday night after making deliveries. Officers said both happened right after the other and they believe both crimes are connected.

In the first robbery, police said, a driver had just finished a delivery on the 400 block of East Remington Drive about 9 p.m. when two men jumped into the driver’s car, made threats with a gun, and forced the man to drive a short distance before stealing his belongings and jumping out.

A few hours later, investigators say, the pair appeared on the 400 block of North Bayview, where they approached a driver who had just made a delivery. This time, the victim ran off, so the men stole the driver’s car.

Steven Karis had just gotten his pizza when that driver came running back to his home.

"He came up to the door, said his car got stolen and they had a gun,” Karis said. “So we told him to get inside because of the weapon and then we called 911."

Police said the two drivers were lucky to escape injury.

"Any situation where someone threatens to have a gun, or the victim believes he has a gun, can be very dangerous,” Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Capt. Jeff Hunter said.

Police were able to recover the delivery’s drivers car about 20 minutes later after it was stolen.

Investigators said they don’t think the specific Domino’s location was being targeted. Restaurant management had no comment when contacted for NBC Bay Area.

It is unclear whether the delivery drivers involved will be given any time off.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Cleared for Smoke in NYC ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:34:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/lga+plane+evac+july+30.jpg

A plane leaving LaGuardia Airport returned shortly after takeoff and was evacuated after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit, officials say. 

Envoy Air 3340, headed to Knoxville, Tennessee, turned around and made an emergency landing on Runway 22 at about 3:20 p.m., according to the FAA.

The passengers were escorted from the Embraer 145 and bused to the terminal.

The runway was closed briefly as officials responded. 

None of the 44 passengers or three crew members were injured, officials say. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[5-Alarm Fire in San Jose Burns 2 Homes]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:21:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-30-2014-sj-fire-2.jpg

San Jose firefighters battled a a five-alarm fire on Wednesday morning that started at a house and spread to an adjacent home, according to Fire Capt. Cleo Doss.

The blaze was first reported at 11:22 a.m. at a two-story home in the 4300 block of Hampshire Place. It was knocked down at 12:37 p.m.

The second alarm was called as the flames spread to the adjacent home. Just after noon, the fire reached five alarms.

NBC Bay Area's chopper flew overhead, showing smoke billowing from the roof, and firefighters spraying water to quell the flames.

In addition to the 80 or so San Jose firefighters on the scene, fire crews from a number of other  departments stood ready to respond in the event of another fire breaking out.

"A fire of this size does thin resources," Capt, Doss said, "but with help from other agencies, all other parts of San Jose were safe while the incident was dealt with."

No injuries were reported in the fire. The cause is still under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Mystery of Ship Buried Under World Trade Center Revealed ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:08:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/191*120/ground+zero+buried+ship2.jpg

Remnants of an 18th-century ship found buried in soil 20 feet under the World Trade Center site four years ago have been traced to Colonial-Era Philadelphia, according to a new study.

The 32-foot piece of the vessel was found in July 2010 as bulldozers excavated a parking garage for the future building. At the time, historians said the ship likely dated back to the 1700s, and that it was defunct by the time lower Manhattan's western shoreline covered it up around 1818.

But the mystery of its origins persisted -- until now.

Scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory analyzed the skeletal remains of the ship using dendrochronology, which relies on tree rings to determine dates and chronological order.

In a study published in the journal Tree Ring Research, the scientists say they traced the white oak used in the ship's frame to an old growth forest in the Philadelphia era. The article says the trees were probably cut around 1773, shortly before the Revolutionary War.

Wood sampled from Independence Hall in Philadelphia 20 years ago had growth rings that matched those from the World Trade Center ship, suggesting the wood used in both constructions came from the same area.

Scientists say they believe the ship is a Hudson River Sloop, designed by the Dutch to carry passengers and cargo over shallow, rocky water. The article says it was likely built in Philadelphia, a shipbuilding hub during the Colonial era, and used for 20 to 30 years before sailing to what would become its final stop in lower Manhattan.

Workers and archaeologists had also found a 100-pound anchor in the same area as the ship, but it wasn't clear at the time if it belonged to the ship.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Flooded After Water Main Break]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:52:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/224*120/UCLA+flood+july+29+gadi.JPG

Crews were working through the night to repair a massive water main break that sent up to 10 million gallons of water gushing for nearly four hours onto Sunset Boulevard and the University of California, Los Angeles campus Tuesday afternoon.

A 93-year-old, 30-inch diameter water main ruptured and blew open a 15-foot sinkhole about 3:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said. The cause of the break was being investigated.

"Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

The gusher stranded cars, a bus and drivers in several feet of swiftly rising water and mud. While there were no injuries, a Los Angeles Fire Department swift-water team rescued five people who were stranded in the flooding, including one who was swept under his car.

"They were able to keep his head above water and be able get him out," LA Fire Capt. Jaime Moore said.

Officials said Sunset Boulevard near the campus would remain closed between Veteran and Beverly Glen all of Wednesday.

"There's almost no chance that any portion of Sunset Boulevard around UCLA will be open," said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, during an evening news conference Tuesday. "Do what you can to avoid it. Find some other route."

Officials said 10 million gallons of water was lost in the gusher, equivalent to about 200,000 baths, according to the US Geological Survey. The utility serves more than 500 million gallons a day to its customers throughout LA.

Water flow through the pipe when it was in proper working order was about 75,000 gallons per minute, LADWP officials said.

The riveted-steel water main carries water to the area from the Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir.

Getting the water shut off completely took approximately three and half hours.

"We were just scrambling, we were trying to get our crews here. It's not the easiest place to get to at rush hour," said Jim McDaniel, the senior assistant general manager for the LADWP's Water System.

Most of the damages Tuesday occurred at UCLA.

Two parking structures and two buildings were damaged, including UCLA's recently renovated Pauley Pavilion, the site for UCLA men's and women's basketball, volleyball and women's gymnastics. Water covered the basketball court. The John Wooden recreation center was also damaged.

Hundreds of people were stranded Tuesday night, unable to access their cars trapped in the damaged parking structures. Firefighters searched 200 cars and deployed two swift water rescue teams looking for trapped motorists. Cars on the lower level of Parking Lot 7 were submerged in three-and-a-half feet of water.

Mud and water also covered the university's Drake Stadium -- a track-and-field facility -- along with the nearby intramural athletic field.

UCLA officials were expected to assess the total damages after they finish pumping water out of the buildings, Block said.

"We have a lot of damage assessment to do in the next couple of days but, we’ll do it and we're Bruins and we’ll get back on our feet," UCLA representative Tod Tamberg said.

Even as firefighters urged people to stay away from the area on Tuesday, the spectacle drew students, attending fall orientation, to the water. Some skimboarded and swam in it. Two students sat in water up to their chests on a stairwell as if it was a hot tub.

Water cascaded down steps into an underground parking structure and pooled as high as five feet.

Students trudged through knee-deep water as they walked across campus.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is out of state on vacation, said he was "closely monitoring the situation" and in contact with DWP, police and fire officials, along with UCLA, "to make sure we are leading a closely coordinated response."

Water service was briefly interrupted for some residents near the break, but it was restored quickly, DWP officials said.

The flood comes in the wake of a statewide ban on public water waste as California officials approved fines of up to $500 a day for violators earlier this month.

Jane Yamamoto contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Gadi Schwartz]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA's Pauley Pavilion Court May Have to Be Replaced: Officials]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:40:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/ucla+pauley+pavilion+court+water+flood.jpg

The court of the historic Pauley Pavilion at the University of California, Los Angeles may have to be replaced as a result of flooding to the campus, athletic department officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

When asked about replacing the court, Guerrero said, "that's the course of action that we're looking for. No questions about it."

Guerrero said the upcoming Bruin basketball season will not be affected by the recent damage.

Ten million gallons of water gushed onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus Tuesday afternoon, causing the wood floor to buckle - just two years after the indoor arena underwent a multi-million dollar renovation.

"The court is showing signs of buckling and expansion," Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor for UCLA, said Wednesday morning. "Whether we'll be able to get that saved, I don't know."

The break occurred at the Y-shaped meeting point of a 30-inch pipe installed in 1921 and a 36-inch pipe installed in 1956. Both pipes ruptured and blew open a 20-foot wide, 10-foot deep sinkhole in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said.

Water gushed at a rate of 75,000 gallons a minute, damaging UCLA parking structures, buildings and flooding parts of campus. About eight inches of water covered the famed Pauley Pavilion court at one point, but crews had removed most of the water by Wednesday morning.

Ankle-deep water could be seen covering the court’s wooden floorboards Tuesday night. Crews were drying the court Wednesday morning and officials planned to have a better damage estimate later in the day.

"Unfortunately, Pauley Pavilion took quite a bit of water," Chancellor Gene Block said. "It's painful."

The locker rooms also sustained significant flooding, according to the school's athletic department. Water also entered Wooden Center, which houses recreation facilities, and the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses athletic staff and administration offices and UCLA's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Pauley Pavilion opened 49 years ago and is home to many of UCLA’s athletic teams, including the men’s and women’s basketball teams, men’s and women’s volleyball teams and women’s gymnastics. The arena recently underwent a two-year, $136-million dollar renovation and opened the renovated facility in November 2012.

"I'm just wondering how UCLA is going to pay for it, I mean, Pauley looked in really bad shape and they just remodeled it," UCLA student Peter Nauka said.

It is unclear how the flooding will affect the upcoming schedule. The Teen Choice Awards are scheduled for Aug. 10 and the US Volleyball Cup Aug. 16.

Pauley Pavilion can seat approximately 13,800 people.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd and Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: FirstIn]]>
<![CDATA[CA Has 1st Openly Gay Governor - For Part of Day]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:39:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/toni+atkins+swearing+in.jpg

For eight or nine hours on Wednesday, California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins will be acting as the state's top chief executive— the first openly gay governor in state history.

That's because this week, the three above her on the state org chart are not in town.

Gov. Jerry Brown is on a trade mission in Mexico this week. As the Washington Post noted, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom filled in for a bit, but is on the East Coast for a Special Olympics event. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg then took over for a while, but he had plans to be in Chicago on Wednesday.

"I feel so grateful," Atkins said in an email on Wednesday forwarded by her spokesman. "I wish my parents could see this. Now I know that may sound hokey to many. But honestly, this is what is going through my mind. If Governor Brown wants a few more days away I'm here for him!"

Atkins spokesman Will Shuck confirmed Atkins will "hold the role of acting governor for approximately one business day, ending this evening on the return of governor." 

Atkins, D-San Diego, is the first openly lesbian leader of either California chamber, succeeding the first openly gay Assembly speaker, John Pérez, a Democrat from Los Angeles.

She shared on her Facebook page that filling in is nothing new: during her time on the San Diego city council, the now 51-year-old Atkins served as acting mayor after other city officials stepped down. She was the first lesbian to hold that position, too.

But Atkins was not focusing on making history due to her sexual orientation on Wednesday. She took the opportunity to highlight her roots -- growing up "in poverty in Virginia" -- and her journey to becoming acting governor for a day.

Atkins, who has focused on funding state universities and advocating for victims of violence and abuse during her time at the Capitol, had a full calendar ahead of her.

But the first act, she tweeted out, was to make sure the temporary first dogs of California - Haley and Joey -  got their morning walk. She shares her pooches with wife, Jennifer LeSar, in the South Park/Golden Hill community of San Diego.


Photo Credit: CA State Assembly]]>
<![CDATA[10 Incredible Images of the UCLA Flood]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:40:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/edt-AP731937757829_2.jpg

UCLA's campus became a swimming pool Tuesday after a water main break spilled up to 10 million gallons of water into roads, buildings and parking garages in the area.

Students posted photos and video to social media sites showing chest-high water, flooded cars and water cascading down stairs.

"I was knee-deep in water, I had to take my shoes off even though they still got soaked," student Aaliyah Ricks told NBCLA. "I almost slipped a couple of times."

Check out the most incredible photos of the gyser that punched a 15-foot hole into a street and caused subsequent flooding.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[6 Narcotics Officers Stole Half a Million Dollars From Suspects: Feds]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:32:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Narcotics-Officer-Arrested.jpg

Federal agents arrested six Philadelphia Police narcotics officers as part of an ongoing corruption probe and accused the group of swiping more than half a million dollars' worth of money, drugs and other items over a period of years.

“Unfortunately, a very small percentage of police officers continue to toss their oath aside and act like the very criminals they have sworn to bring to justice,” said U.S Attorney Zane David Memeger.

The U.S. Attorney's Office unsealed the 26-count indictment Wednesday of the two-year joint investigation between the police department, FBI and U.S. Attorney's office. The officers, who have served anywhere from five to 13 years in the narcotics unit, face allegations of multiple acts of robbery, extortion, kidnapping and drug dealing from February 2006 to November 2012.

The officers under arrest are Perry Betts, 46; Thomas Liciardello, 38; Linwood Norman, 46; Brian Reynolds, 43; John Speiser, 42; and Michael Spicer, 46. The officers were taken into custody without incident early Wednesday morning. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that each officer will be suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss.

"Conduct like this is simply unacceptable, cannot be tolerated and is inexcusable," said Ramsey who noted the shame these allegations bring the officers and entire department.

Prosecutors say that the defendants would routinely rob the occupants of suspected dealers' cars or homes.

"The defendants used their positions of authority to target suspected drug dealers for purposes of stealing cash, personal property and drugs," said Memeger.

The indictment details about 22 separate incidents where the officers broke the law.  In total, prosecutors estimate the officers took more than $500,000 worth of cash, drugs and goods including fancy watches.

Some of the incidents outlined in the indictment includes one where Liciardello, Reynolds and Walker allegedly took $30,000 from an illegally detained suspect then took another $80,000 from the suspect’s home; an incident where Norman allegedly held a man over an 18-story balcony; an incident where Spicer allegedly dangled a man off a 35th-floor balcony in an attempt to swipe $79,000 and a designer suit; and an incident where Norman and Walker allegedly stole and distributed multi-kilogram quantity of cocaine.

Other incidents weren't as violent.

"They literally filed false police reports," Memeger said.

The allegations include declaring they collected less money than they would report.

Ramsey said that the officers tarnished their badges and that the badge numbers will be destroyed.

"I have been a police officer for more than 40 years and this is one of the worst cases of corruption that I have ever heard," Ramsey said.

Sources say agents were led to the officers after they nabbed former narcotics unit veteran Jeffrey Walker in a sting last May.

In that sting, authorities said Walker, while in uniform, planted cocaine in an alleged drug dealer's car, pulled over the man and stole his house keys. He then went to the man's home and stole $15,000, officials said.

Following that investigation, Walker was arrested and six other narcotics officers were pulled from the street. They were eventually moved into different roles in the department as the investigation continued.

Walker pleaded guilty to federal robbery charges and weapons offenses in February.

Memeger wouldn't divulge how much Walker helped in the investigation against his fellow former officers.

The probe has resulted in the overturning of more than 80 drug convictions and the dismissal of hundreds of open cases.

Ramsey said in no way are all narcotic officers dirty but he said the investigation continues into other alleged acts of corruption.

"It was a malignancy that's there and if you don't cut it out it won't go away on its own," said Ramsey.

The indicted officers, who have all pleaded not guilty, will each pay for their own defense.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[No Booster Chairs, No Kids in Dining Room: Restaurant]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:45:23 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/restaurant-sign-JPG.jpg

"No Strollers. No High Chairs. No Booster Chairs."

That’s one of the three not-so-inviting signs hanging prominently at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto in Monterey, California announcing that “Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such, are not allowed in the dining room.”

NBC affiliate KSBW reported that the hanging of the latest sign in the popular restaurant is stirring up a firestorm among parents who feel the signs are ageist. The first two signs were hung two years ago, and a third sign was added last month.

"I think it's ridiculous," tourist Teresa Colombani told KSBW this week.  "I think kids need to know how to behave in restaurants, and if you, don't take them to them, they don't know how to behave and they shouldn't be kept hidden away, so I think it's ridiculous. Kids should be allowed in restaurants."

Daniel Sanchez was one of more than 250 commenters who posted their thoughts at the end of the KSBW web article, saying that his 5-year-old son sat on his knees through the meal since he wasn't given a booster seat. "That said," Sanchez wrote, "we all hated the food. Owners shouldn't bunch all kids into one. (The) owner is obviously a prima dona."

Comments began pouring in on the NBC Bay Area Facebook page, too.

While many are appalled their little tykes can't down a Mexican-style prawn cocktail or slurp a bowl of bouillabaise, there are plenty of others who are siding with restaurant owner, Chris Shake, who said if customers don't like the rules, they can go somewhere else for dinner.

"Fisherman's Grotto is not a place for parents to take their small children," wrote a woman identified as "Kelly." "It is where people want to go when they want a quiet and/or romantic meal."

Fiona64 added: "Exactly. This is not a mac-and-cheese/chicken fingers sort of restaurant."

Shake added that he isn’t backing down, and that his business has never been better.
"If a place has the rules, that's what the rules are," Shake told KSBW. "You go in and abide by the rules or you find a place more suitable for you."

Photo Credit: KSBW]]>
<![CDATA[Comatose Md. Man Dies in Liberia]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:11:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0729-nathaniel-dennis.jpg

The family of a comatose Maryland man who passed away in Liberia during the ongoing Ebola quarantine is now trying to get his body back to the U.S. for a proper burial.

Nathaniel Dennis, 24, was visiting family in Monrovia, Liberia this month when he suffered multiple seizures July 24. He was hospitalized and had been comatose until his death Wednesday, despite the efforts of his family to bring him to home for treatment.

In an effort to control the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Liberia's president has closed the majority of the country's borders, meaning Dennis' family was unable to transport him to a hospital in Ghana via medical evacuation -- although he had tested negative for Ebola, his family said. 

"At the same time, I'm relieved because I know my brother is no longer suffering," Dennis' brother Norwood Dennis said.

According to a GoFundMe site his family set up, Dennis grew sicker and began to need dialysis and a ventilator -- but the equipment wasn't available at the facility where he was.

"We're all devastated," Dennis' cousin Vannette Tolbert said. "We don't feel like we've been defeated because we tried as hard as we could."

A fundraiser was held in Dennis' honor Wednesday night at Lima Lounge on K Street NW in D.C. His family hopes to raise enough money to help transport his body back to the U.S. for a proper burial -- as of Wednesday night, the family had raised nearly $11,000.

Dennis' mother had traveled to Liberia to be with her son, but was unable to see him due to the quarantine. A medical examiner in Liberia will conduct an autopsy which should shed light on what exactly led to his death.

Dennis graduated from Howard High School and studied at Howard Community College.

<![CDATA[Water Agencies Work to Enforce Emergency Drought Regulations]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 23:44:23 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP223500730484.jpg

The Santa Clara Valley Water District reports complaints about water waste are pouring in.

The recent spike in complaints comes after the district said it will spend $500,000 on hiring water cops to enforce new regulations approved by the state. In addition, the district recently began offering a mobile app to help South Bay residents report water waste.

Sally Cooperrider is one local resident who is trying to get her neighbors to conserve during California's severe drought.

"It's frustrating when you're doing your part and you can see other people not doing their part," she said. "We all need to come together on this."

The state water board has given agencies the authority to issue $500 fines to water wasters. But it turns out most cities and water providers are racing to catch up with the recently-approved emergency regulation.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District said most agencies, cities and water providers have to change administrative codes to legally issue citations.

Cooperrider hopes agencies act fast.

"I think that's what is needed -- to have some actual teeth in enforcement for people to save water," she said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[California Pharmacies Urged to Translate Drug Labels]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:55:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4PM_PKG_PRESCRIPTION_DR_KNSD2RPS_1200x675_61258819722.jpg

The push is on to make prescription translations mandatory in California.

According to the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, a lack of universal standards for labeling on dispensed prescription containers is a root cause for patients misunderstanding the drugs they are taking.

"If people can't read the prescription bottle, it's a really dangerous situation," said Dr. David Margolius, who works in internal medicine and has been outspoken when it comes to pushing for mandatory translations for prescriptions. "If a label doesn't make sense to the people who are taking the medication, they are already at a disadvantage."

Statistics show more than 700,000 emergency room visits across the county are caused by not taking drugs properly. In addition, hospitals are spending nearly $6 million a year on treating those patients.

State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, is pushing for legislation to conduct a survey on the controversial issue.

Jimmy Yuen, who owns Advance Medical Pharmacy in Walnut Creek, provides labels on his medications in both English and Spanish. He said it is not a problem for him because of the limited service he is providing for his Spanish-speaking customers.

But Yuen said making that service mandatory could become a problem.

"I think technology is not there yet to ensure a high level of accuracy," he said.

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Thursday in Sacramento.

<![CDATA[Shootout Cop to Leave Hospital]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:33:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/detective+released.jpg

The NYPD detective who went into a Greenwich Village smoke shop on a tip that an accused child molester on the run for two years was working there and was shot, along with two U.S. Marshals, when gunfire erupted as the officers tried to apprehend the suspect, was released from the hospital Wednesday.

Flanked by uniformed officers, detective Mario Muniz left Bellevue Hospital in a wheelchair around noon, about a day after the two marshals injured in the gunfight were released.

Muniz had the most severe injuries of the three agents: one bullet hit his stomach, crossing from the left side to the right side of the abdomen, according to doctors. A second and a third bullet fired toward his chest were stopped by a vest. 

"No question that vest was life-saving gear," said Dr. Spiros Frangos. 

Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, speaking outside Bellevue, said that once Muniz goes home to recuperate, "The reality of what could have happened will set in."

Palladino added, "I'm going to renew my message to all the criminals in this city: It's not open season on these detectives ... because our mission is to get the job done."

The fugitive suspect, Charles Mozdir, was killed in the Monday afternoon shootout in Smoking Culture on West Fourth Street. Muniz went in to visually confirm the suspect was there and alone, and when he returned with the marshals to make an arrest, Mozdir opened fire with a .32-caliber revolver, police say.  

Muniz was shot twice in the stomach below his bulletproof vest. One marshal was shot in the leg and the other was hit in the elbow.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Muniz's vest may have saved his life.

Mozdir had been accused of sexually assaulting a boy he babysat in Coronado, California, near San Diego. The 32-year-old was recently profiled on "The Hunt with John Walsh," a CNN show similar to "America's Most Wanted."

Mozdir was wanted on a $1 million warrant. He was charged with multiple counts of committing forcible lewd acts on a child and attempting to dissuade a witness. He skipped an April court appearance in California and his car was found in Georgia two months later.

The trail went cold after that until officers got a phone call from a woman in Florida who is part owner of Mozdir's black Labrador retriever, law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York. 

His weapon was recovered at the scene. Mozdir had 20 more rounds in his pockets, police said.

A neighbor in the Alphabet City area where Mozdir resided said she sometimes ran into him while walking her dogs with her daughter.

He "never made eye contact," said Natasha Callapally, and was "really creepy, really weird."

-- Marc Santia contributed to this report

Photo Credit: NYPD/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Woman to Become U.S. Citizen on Her 100th Birthday]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:05:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Donatila+Leticia+Munoz+Orantes+naturalization.JPG

Four generations of family joined Donatila Leticia Munoz Orantes at the Baltimore office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Wednesday, celebrating not only her citizenship, but also her 100th birthday.

“I can’t have a better blessing than having my mother live a hundred years,” her daughter Maria Ward told News4's Kristin Wright Tuesday.

Munoz became the oldest Maryland resident to naturalize since the former Immigration and Naturalization’s immigration services were placed with USCIS in 2003. Why now, after almost three decades in the United States? Munoz told Wright she wants to vote.

The seamstress was born in Nicaragua in 1914 and spent most of her life in El Salvador before joining her daughter in the U.S. in 1987, Wright reported. She helped care for the grandchildren and made clothes for family, including for occasions like first communion, weddings and graduations.

In 1987, naturalization wasn’t an option for Munoz because she doesn’t speak English, a requirement that drops at age 80.

Now, the Germantown resident looks forward to casting her first ballot in November.

<![CDATA[Kennedy Cousin to Return to Court]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:59:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/michael+skakel+released+bond.jpg

Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel appeared in Stamford Superior Court on Wednesday to face the state's appeal of a ruling nearly a year ago that allowed his release from prison, pending a new trial in the case of the 1975 murder of Greenwich neighbor Martha Moxley.

Skakel said he's been spending as much time with his family as he can. Asked if he was enjoying his time out of prison, he said, "I wouldn't say enjoying."

Last October, after serving more than 11 years in jail for his 2002 conviction in Moxley's murder, a judge ruled that Skakel's former trial attorney failed to adequately represent him in 2002 and granted him a new trial. After posting bail, he walked free from prison last November.

The state is hoping a judge will reverse that decision. If the judge doesn't rule in their favor, Skakel will be granted a new trial. His attorneys are fighting to keep him a free man.

The Greenwich Time reported that Skakel's defense is also filing motions to bar audio tapes Skakel made for a memoir from being used in future court proceedings. The audio tapes were meant as a resource for ghost writer Richard Hoffman to pen Skakel's book, "Dead Man Talking: A Kennedy Cousin Comes Clean," the newspaper reported.

Skakel's attorneys told NBC's Today Show they plan to argue that the tapes, used as evidence in the previous trial, should be inadmissible this time, claiming police illegally seized the tapes from Skakel's ghostwriter and that the audio files have been selectively edited out of context.

Gary Galanis, a family friend of Skakel's, told NBC News that "the implication is that Michael was there confessing to to the crime on this tape. That's not the case at all." The tapes do contain an admission by Skakel to engaging in sexual activity in a tree outside of Moxley's home the night she was murdered. Skakel was 15 years old at the time of the murder.

Skakel's criminal defense attorney, Stephan Seeger told NBC's Ron Mott that he's ready to prove his client is innocent.

"And that's something that the public needs to know. And I think that if the public learns more about the evidence we have especially more approximate evidence that people will start to change their mind about what happened in this case," he said.

During a 10-minute court proceeding Wednesday, the judge ordered the prosecution and defense to compile a list of Skakel's belongings to be returned and ordered all evidence preserved.

Skakel declined to comment on his way out of court.

Moxley's family released the following statement ahead of Skakel's appearance on Wednesday:

"With regard to the hearing, we don't see how a judge could possibly hear the argument when no one knows what the status of the case will be. The state's appeal is just going in at the end of the week. It's our hope that the judge's decision will be overturned and the conviction will be reinstated and that Michael Skakel will go back to jail where he belongs."

<![CDATA[Teen Accused of Stabbing Classmate Hours Before Prom Due in Court]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:51:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/chris+plaskon+in+court+2.jpg

A Connecticut teen accused of stabbing his classmate to death at a Milford high school hours before the prom appeared briefly in court on Wednesday.

Christopher Plaskon, 17, is accused of stabbing and killing Maren Sanchez, also 16, inside Jonathan Law High School in April in an attack some students said might have been motivated by anger that she would not go to the prom with him. He pleaded not guilty in June.

Plaskon, who has been charged as an adult with murder, waived a trial by jury and his case will instead go before a three-judge panel.

Members of his defense team said has they're considering a mental health defense and believe that a three-judge panel might handle that better.

Plaskon is being held at Manson Youth Training Institute, a correctional facility in Cheshire for boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 19.

Police have said Plaskon was spotted just moments after the April 25 stabbing with blood on his hands and clothing.

"I did it. Just arrest me," he told authorities, according to police paperwork released. Police said they recovered a knife in the hallway, not far from where Sanchez was attacked.

The medical examiner concluded that Sanchez died of stab wounds to the torso and neck. Her death was ruled a homicide.

"You can imagine, when a father loses a daughter, especially under such egregious circumstances, it's extremely difficult," said attorney Anthony Bonadies, who is representing Sanchez's father in court.

Defense attorney Richard Meehan said in an e-mail that Plaskon would appear in court with his uncle, who has been appointed his guardian. He said did not offer further comment on the defense efforts.

"They're doing everything they can to try to keep it together," Meehan said, of Plaskon's family, "but it's a very difficult process."

The state's attorney is still in the process of turning over evidence to the defense. Plaskon's attorneys said they have not yet decided what kind of defense to present and may not know for some time.

"Normally these cases take at least a year, if not two," said State's Attorney Kevin Lawlor, of Milford.

Plaskon is expected back in court Oct. 16.