<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - National & International News]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/national-internationalhttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.pngNBC Bay Areahttps://www.nbcbayarea.comen-usSat, 16 Dec 2017 18:37:12 -0800Sat, 16 Dec 2017 18:37:12 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[What’s Next for Net Neutrality; When Will We See Change?]]>Sat, 16 Dec 2017 01:00:08 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-892296992.jpg

After years of playing what internet service providers have likened to "regulatory ping-pong" with net neutrality rules, the game is still far from finished, NBC News reported.

The attorneys general of New York and Washington state have already announced they plan to sue. However, it's likely that Congress may hold the key to ending the expensive and time-consuming back-and-forth over net neutrality.

"That is the only way you are going to have sustainable net neutrality," Roslyn Layton, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told NBC News.

Since 2015, net neutrality rules have required internet service providers to be regulated under Title II, like a utility, helping to control what consumers are charged and ensuring all traffic is treated equally.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Breaking Down the New GOP Tax Plan]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 09:15:14 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/taxplan.jpg

The Senate and House have an agreement upon new tax legislation. AP Reporter Stephen Ohlemacher looks at some of the key takeaways.

<![CDATA[How the Opioids Crisis Affects Communities of Color]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:10:37 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/How_the_Opioids_Crisis_Affects_People_of_Color.jpg

Opioids have exploded into the national consciousness, but minority groups and people of color have been fighting drugs for years. Pablo Gutierrez reports.

<![CDATA[Wedding Ring Found in Lilac Fire Rubble Sparks 2nd Proposal]]>Sat, 16 Dec 2017 14:52:54 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Lilac-Fire-Grants-1216.jpg

A couple turned their misfortune into a renewal of their love after discovering a valuable possession while sifting through the rubble left behind by a rapid-moving wildfire in North County.

Vaughn and Barrie Grant spent Saturday with a group of volunteers sifting through what little remained of their Bonsall home after it was torn to the ground by the Lilac Fire while they were out of town.

It was not what they hoped they'd be doing the month of their 50th wedding anniversary. 

Considering the circumstances, the Grants were in surprisingly good spirits Saturday. 

It may have been because earlier in the day, while combing what used to be the bathroom, volunteers discovered one of Vaughn Grant's most valuable possessions  — her wedding ring. 

It was about the only thing Grant was hoping to find, but she got even more than she was hoping for.

“He asked me to marry him again,” Grant said.

“He had the ring, he gave it to me and asked me: ‘Will you marry me’ and I would again in a New York minute,” Grant said as she gave Barrie a tender kiss on the cheek.

Grant’s ring might not be as shiny as it once was, but with the help of their neighbors and family, the Grants say together they’ll be just fine.

The Lilac Fire was fully contained Saturday but had destroyed 157 structures, most of which were San Diegans' homes. 

Dozens of volunteers were helping victims of the Lilac Fire comb through the rubble of their homes. It was one of those volunteers that came across Vaughn's wedding ring. 

“The fact that we were able to recover this lady’s wedding ring, which was pretty much the sole possession that she was after, it’s definitely rewarding at the end of the day,” volunteer Cole Thompson said.

Volunteers hope that over the next few Saturdays, they will be able to help more of those devastated by the Lilac Fire find their precious treasures.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA['Fetus,' 'Transgender' Reportedly Among Banned Words at CDC]]>Sat, 16 Dec 2017 14:19:51 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CDC+GettyImages-456691996.jpg

The Trump administration reportedly banned staff of the nation's top health protection agency from using seven words or phrases in budget-related documents. But federal health officials on Saturday pushed back on the report as members of the science community publicly denounced the idea of such a directive, NBC News reported citing The Washington Post.

Policy analysts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were told during a meeting Thursday that they couldn't use the words "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based" and "science-based," The Washington Post reported Friday.

The meeting was led by Alison Kelly, a senior leader in the agency's Office of Financial Services, The Post reported. She gave no reason for the ban, according to an anonymous analyst who spoke with the newspaper.

In a statement provided to NBC News, a spokesman with the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, said the assertion that there are "'banned words' had mischaracterized actual discussions."

Lloyd didn't say specifically how The Post's report may have mischaracterized the meeting.

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Battle Against California's Thomas Fire Estimated to Cost $110M]]>Sat, 16 Dec 2017 18:34:00 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Thomas-fire-utilities.jpg

The massive Thomas Fire exploded to 267,500 acres by Saturday evening after it scorched through Ventura and Santa Barbara County for a 12th day. Fire crews have been able to contain the monstrous blaze by 40 percent and expect it to be fully contained by Jan. 7, 2018.

Dry heat and Santa Ana winds have posed a threat for firefighters as conditions have been fueling the blaze since it first began on Monday, Dec. 4. A red flag warning will remain in effect through Sunday evening, with experts expecting gusts of winds to reach up to 40 mph.

The northerly "sundowner" wind was driving the fire south and west.

"When the sundowners surface in that area and the fire starts running down slopes, you are not going to stop it," Mark Brown with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said at a news conference. "And we are not going to stand in front of it and put firefighters in untenable situations."

The flames destroyed nearly 1,000 structures and the cost associated with battling the fire is $110 million, according to Cal Fire. One Cal Fire engineer’s life was claimed by the fire after 32-year-old Cory Iverson of Escondido died battling the inferno.

The wind-driven blaze, which has been dubbed as the state’s third-largest wildfire ever, prompted mandatory evacuations for some 95,000 people in the flames’ path.

Evacuation orders are still in effect for the areas of Sespe Creek to the west, Burson Ranch to the east, the Los Padres Forest boundary to the north and the Fillmore City limits to the south.

By around 10 a.m., new mandatory evacuations were issued for the areas north of the 101 Freeway, south of the 192 Freeway, west of Toro Canyon Road and east of Summit Road. The 101 Freeway was closed at Seacliff Road to allow people to evacuate.

The Santa Barbara Zoo, which is near the mandatory evacuation zone, announced it was putting some animals in crates to prepare for possible evacuation. The zoo has about 150 species of animals, including a pair of Amur leopards, a critically endangered species.

Everything about the fire has been massive, from the sheer scale of destruction that cremated entire neighborhoods to the legions attacking it: about 8,400 firefighters from nearly a dozen states, aided by 78 bulldozers and 29 helicopters.

Numerous schools announced closures in wake of the fire:

  • Fillmore Unified School District
  • Santa Paula Unified School District
  • Ventura Unified School District
  • Briggs Elementary School
  • Mupu Elementary School
  • Oxnard Union HSD
  • Rio Elemantary School
  • Santa Clara Elementary School
  • Ventura Charter School
  • California State University, Channel Islands’ Goleta campus will remain closed through Dec. 23.
  • All VCOE-operated schools in the Ojai Unified and Ventura Unified School Districts will be closed through Dec. 22.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Suspended Rutgers Frat Drugged Sorority Sisters' Party Drinks: Report]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 20:36:07 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_17031735775537.jpg

A Rutgers University chapter of the national Sigma Chi fraternity has been suspended after its members allegedly drugged members of a campus sorority during a party this fall, according to a report citing documents obtained through an Open Public Records Act request.

The years-long suspension is fallout from a mixer on the weekend of Sept. 16 in which members of Sigma Chi allegedly put Xanax in an athletic container filled with alcohol and juice. The fraternity was reportedly hosting members of the sorority Sigma Delta Tau at the time.

The Rutgers chapter of Sigma Chi was unexplainably shut down in November, prompting The Daily Targum, Rutgers’ official student newspaper, to put in a records request.

Documents, including written testimony, provided to The Daily Targum say women in the sorority mentioned the juice “tasting funny” and having a “chalky” texture on the night of the party.

Over the next few hours, the women began having negative reactions to the concoction, even those who drank a small amount, documents said. One member was “so out of it” she misplaced her phone and found it behind a tree the following day, according to the documents. The brew reportedly interfered with another member’s prescribed medication.

“It was stated that SDT members, about 10 of them, were left vomiting, incoherent, and some even blacked out,” written testimony says, according to The Daily Targum.

A member of the sorority told The Daily Targum that fraternity members were the only ones who had access to the container of alcohol that night.

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs was notified about the party and the university gathered evidence from witnesses, video footage and text messages, according to The Daily Targum. 

In a statement to NBC 4, Rutgers spokesman John Cramer said the university had reached a mutual agreement with the national Sigma Chi fraternity for the suspension of the New Brunswick chapter.

“All operations and activities of the chapter are terminated until August 2020, after which the national organization may consider establishing a chapter with new members, without the involvement of suspended member,” Cramer said in the statement.

Cramer said the Sigma Chi national organization agreed to directly inform all members still on campus that they’re forbidden from any and all fraternity activity for the remainder of their undergraduate careers at Rutgers.

The Sigma Chi chapter didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Daily Targum. Before it was removed from campus, the fraternity reportedly posted a message to Facebook reading: “We’re not suspended... You’re suspended.”

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Donald Trump Through the Years]]>Tue, 31 Oct 2017 04:45:00 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Trumpthumb.jpgWhat Donald Trump's presidency will look like is unclear to many observers. He has not previously worked in politics, and has made contradictory statements on policy issues in several areas during his campaign. Despite the unknowns, Trump has an extensive public profile that, along with his real estate empire and the Trump brand, grew domestically and internationally over the last few decades. Here is a look at his personal and career milestones and controversies.

Photo Credit: AP, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Middle School Rubik’s Cube Team Solves 25 in 96 Seconds]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 21:29:28 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Rubiks_Cube_Team_Solves_25_Cubes_in_96_Seconds.jpg

A Virginia middle school Rubik’s Cube team solved 25 puzzles in 96 seconds at the DC Metro Rubik’s Cube Challenge.

The team from Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church, Virginia, ranks No. 1 nationally for grades 6-8.

"We're all competitive against each other, and so it helps when you're trying to get a faster time against other people, it helps get a faster time for the whole group," said Michael Fatemi, who ranks No. 1 nationally among middle school students by You CAN Do the Rubik’s Cube.

During the solo competition of the challenge, Fatemi and teammate Justin Choi solved cubes in 12.6 and 15.1 seconds, respectively. They rank first and second among middle school students in the commonwealth.

"It's more a muscle memory, so you don’t think the algorithms through, you just kind of do them," Fatemi said.

"When you're looking at the cube, you’re just looking for the first couple of pieces to put in the right place, and then we solve it from there,” Choi said.

Choi said his fastest time is 7.7 seconds. Fatemi said he has done it in 4.59 seconds.

"People think it's pretty much impossible, but after some practice, you can do it in like two minutes," Choi said.

A robot set the world record for solving a Rubik’s Cube in 0.887 seconds.

<![CDATA[In Photos: Total Devastation in Puerto Rico After Maria]]>Fri, 29 Sep 2017 07:19:36 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/AP_17271040483244.jpgThe island territory of more than 3 million U.S. citizens is reeling in the devastating wake of what Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello called "the most devastating storm in a century."

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa]]>
<![CDATA[Lauer Faces New Inappropriate Workplace Relationship Claim]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 11:53:07 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NUP_178972_0027.JPG

A former "Today" show production assistant says she had a brief, consensual relationship with Matt Lauer nearly two decades ago, explaining she felt too intimidated by his stature to turn down his advances after reaching out to NBC's star anchor for career advice. 

Her account of a secret workplace affair when she was 24 years old and Lauer in his 40s is the latest accusation of sexual misconduct against Lauer, who was terminated from NBC News in November after a colleague's complaint of inappropriate sexual behavior. Other women have come forward with other alleged incidents of sexual misconduct. 

Addie Zinone said that Lauer flirted with her by instant message, asked her to lunch when she asked for career advice then invited her to his dressing room for a quick encounter, the first of several, including one at the 2000 Democratic National Convention — a relationship that began a few weeks before she was scheduled to leave the show.

She said in an account in Variety, which was corroborated with a friend she told at the time and records she kept of the instant messages, that, "even though my situation with Matt was consensual, I ultimately felt like a victim because of the power dynamic." She said she left her subsequent job as a local news anchor in part because she "didn't want to start my career being known one of Matt Lauer’s girls."

"I was in shock," Zinone told NBC News. "One day I'm just a normal, hardworking PA ... and now I'm walking in a cloud of confusion."

Zinone confirmed to NBC News the account she provided to Variety. NBC News also confirmed that she worked at "Today" during the time in question.

A representative for Lauer had no comment on Zinone's account. Lauer has previously said he is "embarrassed and ashamed" and sorry for what he did to hurt people, though he also said some of what he's been accused of is "untrue or mischaracterized."

The Variety report includes print-outs of messages sent between Lauer and Zinone, who arrived at "Today" as an intern in 1999 and said she was close with the other anchors, Katie Couric, Al Roker and Ann Curry. She said she got the following message from Lauer out of the blue, after she accepted a position as an anchor for her hometown station.

"hey … i hope you won't drag me to personnel for saying this. but you look fantastic. i don't know what you have done, or what is going on in your life … but it's agreeing with you. just thought i would mention it," Lauer purportedly wrote. 

He complimented her appearance in another message, then invited her to his room after their lunch, she said.

Zinone later left her job to become a journalist in the Army Reserve, then joined "Access Hollywood." She said that on a day when she was featured on the "Today" show for Veteran's Day years later, Lauer didn't come to work.

Her account of meeting with Lauer in his dressing room is consistent with what others told Variety, which previously reported that Lauer made use of a button under his desk that locked the door to give him privacy for such liaisons.

NBC News management declined to comment on Zinone's account to Variety. A representative has previously said that "current NBC News management was never made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer's conduct" before hearing from the woman whose account on Nov. 27 resulted in Lauer's termination later that week. 

An attorney for that woman, whose identity NBC News has not reported, told Stephanie Gosk that the network has not done enough to protect the confidentiality of his client. He wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Friday that he's received many questions about her identity, but that she wants to maintain her privacy.

NBC News responded with this statement: "The network has protected the victim's anonymity all along and will continue to do so."

Photo Credit: Nathan Congleton/NBC, File]]>
<![CDATA[Video Shows Coyote Attack Terrier in Illinois Family's Backyard]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 06:21:53 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/COYOTE+ATTACK+-+00000624_30079233.jpg

An Illinois family is issuing a warning to other pet owners after their dog was attacked by a coyote in their backyard.

Surveillance video captured the moment a stray coyote charged at Boozer, the Dinges family's cairn terrier, just steps from their back door in Northfield.

"My wife and I were actually on the phone and literally within seconds a coyote that had been in our backyard, but we hadn't seen, pounced on Boozer," Barnaby Dinges said in a phone interview.

Video shows the coyote clamping down on the dog's head and dragging it around the backyard. 

Dinges said his wife rushed outside and scared the coyote away.

The encounter lasted just seconds, but it was long enough for Boozer to suffer substantial injuries.

"He's got a major gash on his head that had to be stapled closed," Barnaby said, listing numerous other gruesome injuries.

Boozer has been a beloved member of Dinges family for 14 years — and they never thought this would happen.

"You look at that video and he is flat-footed in his backyard and minding his business and a very aggressive coyote came out of nowhere," Barnaby said.

After the attack, village officials warned residents in a Facebook post of the uptick in coyote sightings in the winter months and provided safety tips. 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources estimates there are more than 30,000 coyotes in the state.

"These coyotes are hungry, aggressive and they're looking for older animals that they can prey upon," Barnaby warned.

Dinges noted these coyotes are "hungry, aggressive' and looking for older animals to prey on. He is warning other families to be careful.

"These coyotes are getting more and more comfortable," Dinges added. "[They're] beautiful to look at, but can do tremendous damage in about five seconds."

The University of Illinois Extension recommends not leaving small pets unattended outdoors and installing tall fences in areas particularly prone to coyotes.

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<![CDATA[Former Aide Accuses Virginia Rep. Scott of Sexual Misconduct]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 20:52:44 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_163068116341251.jpg

A former aide to Rep. Bobby Scott on Friday accused the Virginia Democrat of sexual misconduct and said he fired her after she rebuffed his alleged advances, NBC News reported.

At a press conference, Macherie Reese Everson, who goes by Reese, said that Scott touched her inappropriately on two occasions in 2013 and that he flirted with her. Everson said that when she declined the overtures, she was "retaliated against" by being fired.

Everson said the conduct occurred when she was a Congressional Black Caucus Fellow working in Scott's office, when she was "touched inappropriately" by the lawmaker on her back and knee on two separate occasions and that he once invited her to join him at an event in California.

Scott strongly denied Everson's allegations in a statement: "I absolutely deny this allegation of misconduct. I have never sexually harassed anyone in my 25 years of service in the United States Congress, or in my 40 years of public service, or at any other time."

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Steve Helber]]>
<![CDATA[Rubio Says He Won't Support Current Tax Bill Without Changes]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 11:45:46 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NC_taxesam1215_1920x1080.jpg

Senate Republicans can only afford to lose two votes, and five are in question.

Senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio are holding out to make more of the child tax credit refundable to low and middle income families.

"Unless they can figure out a way to add to the $1100 figure, I won't support the bill," Rubio says.

<![CDATA['Here We Go Again': Passenger Captures Viral Tarmac Dancer 'Back at It']]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 11:06:43 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/southwest+airlines+plane.JPG

The airport worker who captured millions of hearts across the nation when he was captured on now-viral video dancing, animatedly, as he directed a plane several months ago is at it again. 

Kyran Ashford made headlines back in October when a Southwest Airlines traveler departing Greater Rochester International Airport en route to his home in Nashville recorded the five-year airport employee's moves from his window seat. 

"This guy rocks! #TarmacDancer #EmployeeOfTheMonth #TGIF #Southwest," Terry McBride posted on Facebook along with the video, which has since been viewed nearly 13 million times. 

At the time, Ashford told ABC News his goal was to give at least one traveler "30 seconds of positive vibes." 

He certainly did that for more than a few -- and he's continuing to do so. McBride captured Ashford on video once again last week, on Dec. 8, rotating his hips and swinging his orange equipment, skipping adeptly on the tarmac as he directed the plane down the runway. 

''Here we go again. Leaving New York this morning on my way back to Nashville and the Tarmac Dancer is back at it," McBride wrote on Facebook.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Donald Trump's Presidency in Photos]]>Fri, 10 Nov 2017 07:51:41 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-872519720.jpgTake a look at significant events from President Donald Trump's time in office, including the signing of the travel ban, Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the Supreme Court, the launch of 59 missiles at Syria's government-held Shayrat Airfiled and more.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Activists Warn Tax Bill Could Hurt Puerto Rico Even More]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 07:42:00 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/puerto-rico3.jpg

A coalition of Puerto Rican and Latino groups have told members of Congress that any tax increases on U.S. corporations operating on the island would devastate an already battered economy, NBC News reported.

The group #Power4PuertoRico went to the offices of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., as well as the offices of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., as congressional negotiators hammered out a tax bill they hope to sign into law next week.

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At issue are several tax proposals; the House proposal included a 20 percent excise tax on companies manufacturing under "foreign" jurisdictions. Puerto Rico was included in that definition, even though its citizens are American citizens. As a territory, Puerto Rico is taxed differently than states.

"If this becomes law," said Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) in a recent statement, "you can expect to see more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs disappear from the Island. And the government of Puerto Rico could lose one-third of its revenue." 

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Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[ Three Openly Gay Men Compete for a Spot on US Olympic Team]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 08:19:36 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/johnfennellgay2018olympics_1200x675.jpg

An openly gay man has never competed for the U.S. in a Winter Games, and it's been 14 years since one did in a Summer Games, NBC News reported. 

John Fennell is one of three publicly out male athletes competing to qualify for the Pyeongchang Games. He is joined by figure skater Adam Rippon and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, who came out publicly after winning the silver medal in Sochi in 2014, NBC News reported.

Fennell will find out in December if he makes the U.S. Olympic luge team, and Rippon and Kenworthy will know their 2018 Olympic status by January.

Since 2004, gay men from Great Britain, the Netherlands, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and Tonga have competed, reported NBC News. 

The U.S. is not liberal as it seems when pushing for gay rights. For example, the U.S. enacted legislation in 2015 that allows same-sex couples to marry, but gay marriage has been widely accepted in several other countries — like Netherlands (2000), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Sweden (2009) and Argentina (2010) — for years now, reported NBC News.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Alex Livesey]]>