<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Sun, 01 Feb 2015 14:49:08 -0500 Sun, 01 Feb 2015 14:49:08 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Why the Patriots — or the Seahawks — Will Win]]> Sun, 01 Feb 2015 13:15:21 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/brady-wilson-2.jpg

Watch live pre-game coverage of Super Bowl XLIX on NBCSports.com.

Both the Seahawks and Patriots have won Super Bowls before. So who will win Super Bowl XLIX Sunday in Glendale, Arizona? A case can be made for both:

Why the Patriots could win

It’s a dynasty. New England has won three Super Bowls in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, which qualifies for as much of a dynasty as the NFL has right now. The coach and QB have come up big when it counts before, so they’ll find a way to win a fourth.

The “evil genius” factor. Belichick may not be well-liked these days (or maybe ever), but he’s found a way to reach five of these championship games and win three. The personnel has turned over and the staff has changed, but Belichick knows his Xs and Os and is known for figuring out ways to limit the effectiveness of his opponents’ best players. Certainly he’ll come up with something special to stop Marshawn Lynch and limit Russell Wilson’s impact as a runner.

LeGarrette Blount. Since the running back joined New England after his release by the Steelers in November, the Pats’ running game has had an explosive, workhorse ballcarrier to keep defenses honest. If the Seahawks defense spreads out and focuses its efforts on stopping tight end Rob Gronkowski or wideout Julian Edelman, Blount should be able to gash them with power runs.

Special teams superiority. Both teams are solid in all areas, but New England’s punt-return, kick coverage and field-goal blocking abilities are a tick better. One big play could be the difference.

Brady-to-Gronkowski. The passing combination may be the hardest to stop in the NFL when Gronk is healthy, and he’s been healthy and very productive.

Why the Seahawks could win 

Karma. The flip side to the “evil genius” factor. The Patriots have been caught bending the rules before, so the whole “Deflategate” scandal from the AFC Championship Game is just the latest chapter. Remember, the Patriots went into Super Bowl XLII in February 2008, trying to complete an undefeated season, when they were upset by the Giants -- after the whole “Spygate” controversy first surfaced. That was Karma I. This could be Karma II.

Pete Carroll. The Seattle head coach has managed to get his team to peak at the right time for two seasons now. The Seahawks play hard for him, and Carroll’s defense was No. 1 overall and No. 1 vs. the pass this season. After surviving a scare against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, all the mojo is on the side of Seattle's upbeat coach.

Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks’ All-Pro safety will be the man tasked with containing Gronkowski, and he seems ideally suited for the job. He’s big, strong and athletic and should be up to the task. If Seattle can take away Brady’s No. 1 target, the Pats will be playing with one hand tied behind their back.

Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ young quarterback just wins. He’s not the best passer in the league -- until crunch time. Then he simply finds a way to make plays with his arm and his feet. He has a 6-1 playoff record, including five straight wins. In a meeting of the teams in 2012, Wilson led two late touchdown drives as the Seahawks pulled out a comeback victory.

Marshawn Lynch. If the Seahawks can get “Beast Mode” in gear early, they can control the game’s tempo. And it will help open up other avenues for the Seattle offense. Plus, after a week of Lynch vs. media shenanigans leading up to the game, wouldn’t it be perfect for Lynch to win the MVP award and get yet another chance to be interviewed on national TV? “I’m just here so I won't get fined… and to get my trophy.”

Photo Credit: Getty images]]>
<![CDATA[Craft Brewers Tackle Super Bowl, Beer's Marquee Event ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:59:13 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/beer+bottles+generic+edit.jpg

New Yorkers packing the Roebling Sporting Club on Super Bowl Sunday will be watching the Brooklyn bar’s eight TVs to see whether the Patriots or Seahawks reign supreme.

Ryan McLaughlin, the bar’s manager, will follow a different contest — one played out at the beer taps.

“Bud Light will outsell any other beer that day, except maybe Budweiser,” said McLaughlin, who has worked the taps there for about a year and a half. But he’s “absolutely” seeing more people ordering craft beers like Great Divide’s Nomad or Coney Island’s Mermaid Pilsner, even during the Super Bowl, he said.

Craft beers — defined as beers from independently-owned, traditionally styled brewers making less than 6 million barrels a year — are more popular than ever across the U.S. But Super Bowl Sunday has traditionally been home turf for big American brewers like Anheuser-Busch and Miller-Coors, which can compound their worldwide cultural status with titanic advertising budgets.

Rather than try to compete on the grand scale, craft brewers say they’ll celebrate in their own small ways — unveiling a specialty beer, hosting a brewpub game-watch or simply posting a timely reminder on Facebook.

“We prefer word-of-mouth, social media and more organic advertising,” said Hilary Coalis, the director of marketing for San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits, which is growing rapidly and now distributes on both coasts. “We know it’s a big beer-drinking holiday, and we rely on our fans to make their choices.”

Stone Brewing Co., one of America’s largest independent craft brewers, has sworn off advertising altogether, said Nickie Peña. The brewery in Escondido, California, instead hosts what Peña calls "anti-Super Bowl" events. On the morning of the game, Stone invites its fans — national sales director Jason Armstrong calls them “true beer geeks” — to sample vintage or archived beers.

In 2013, American craft brewers collectively dethroned America’s biggest brand, Budweiser, shipping 16.1 million barrels to Budweiser’s 16 million, according to industry analyst Beer Insights. Craft beers have steadily grown by 10.9 percent over the past decade, said Julia Herz of the Craft Brewers Association, even as overall domestic beer sales have fallen.

“[Our fans] understand that instead of spending money on ads, we’re spending money on the product that we’re pushing out,” Peña said. “We’d rather create a product that’s locally made with high-quality ingredients, that isn’t watered-down, and put our money in that place, rather than putting our money on ads.”

At Top Hops Beer Co., a beer shop and tasting bar in New York specializing in craft beers, patrons said they prefer craft beers for the Super Bowl but are also picking up familiar brands for their friends.

“I like craft beers, Ommegang especially, but I think the general population is drinking Bud Light, Coors Light, and the other light stuff,” said Jonathan Spinner, a builder and designer. His friend Mike Warshaw, a plumber who was hosting his own Super Bowl party, said, “I’m probably going to buy a case of Corona, and Newcastle, but I’m into different-flavored beers.”

Ted Kenny, the owner of Top Hops, says he expects Budweiser and Stella Artois to sell well on the fourth Super Bowl he’s been in business. But he also expects to sell more craft beers than any other day of the year.

“I expect to sell more New England beers for people who want more themed parties — Sam Adams, Smuttynose,” Kenny said.

This year’s game has also provoked some friendly bets between brewers in Seahawks and Patriots country. Harpoon Brewery, with plants in Boston and Windsor, Vermont, and Elysian Brewing Company of Seattle (although recently acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev) have each staked three kegs on the outcome. The loser will serve the winner’s beer.

That’s another trend lifting small brewers: Drinking local. Small, independent brewers celebrate their hometowns, they say, and local fans respond by celebrating with their beer.

“More people are looking to buy local products and support businesses that are made or grown closer to home,” said Eugene Simor, the president of San Antonio’s Alamo Brewing Company. “That’s what’s driving craft, and the big guys can’t compete with it. It’s not an advertising or marketing thing. It’s people going back to the roots of what the beer industry used to be about.”

Simor has leaned heavily on local support to drum up Super Bowl business. Alamo partnered with Texas Public Radio, local academics and several local businesses to host a panel discussion of Super Bowl advertising and marketing. The panel will be hosted at the beer hall in Alamo’s newly-opened brewery in in downtown San Antonio. Simor expects a capacity crowd: 125 people.

Tim Miller, a craft brewer from Maryland, is hoping a sense of local pride can also restore some luster to old brands. In 2011, Miller resurrected National Premium Beer, an old Baltimore brand, with an eye on Baby Boomers nostalgic for a local favorite.

“Our market is male, 50-plus, from the mid-Atlantic, really loves the beer, loves the story, remembers it fondly,” Miller said. “Our plan is that during, say, the Super Bowl or Father’s Day, a father will tell his son about this beer he used to drink, their special beer.”

Craft brewers still face an uphill battle against the entrenched American heavyweights, however, especially during the Super Bowl.

“Over the course of 2014, 30 percent of the case volume sold nationwide was premium light beers: Coors Light, Miller Lite,” said MillerCoors spokeswoman Cat Corrigan, citing a Nielsen statistic. “We know that those beers will be the prominent choice for sports fans who are sitting down to watch the Super Bowl.”

Bartenders at sports bars know it, too.

“I predict Bud Light, Miller Light, and Coors Light,” said Pete Fecht, a manager at St. Mark’s Ale House, a Manhattan sports bar. “A football crowd always drinks the cheapest beer in the biggest quantity.”

Big brewers are paying handsomely for that attention. Anheuser-Bush is the Super Bowl’s exclusive beer advertiser, ensuring that spectators will get their fix of the brand’s iconic Clydesdales (and, now, golden retriever puppies). MillerCoors, on the other hand, is promoting its brands through live events likely to drum up outside media coverage. Coors Light is sponsoring ESPN’s Super Bowl party, Corrigan said. Miller Lite is sponsoring a Super Bowl party co-hosted by Rolling Stone magazine and featuring Aerosmith.

Back at the bar at Roebling Sporting Club, McLaughlin will have Bud Light on hand. But craft beers will be on tap.

“People ask for what’s local,” he said. “I’m a staunch craft beer supporter. It’s the beer renaissance here in the United States.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[FDNY Battles Blaze for 2nd Day]]> Sun, 01 Feb 2015 12:39:47 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/013115fire.jpg

Firefighters' battle against a Brooklyn warehouse fire stretched into a second day Sunday, and health officials warned residents that they should try to limit their exposure to smoke from the blaze.

Smoke billowed from the fire throughout the day Saturday and into Sunday. Firefighters, whose efforts were initially hampered by freezing temperatures and high winds, said it would likely be weeks before they could declare the scene safe.

"The building is a total loss," Chief of Department James Leonard said Saturday after firefighters had been fighting the blaze for more than eight hours but had yet to get it under control.

The amount of paper in the warehouse, which mostly stored health care records, paired with windy conditions that effectively fanned the flames, made the seven-alarm fire on North 11th Street in Williamsburg exceptionally difficult to fight, he said.

Firefighters believed they had the blaze contained by Saturday afternoon, but an extensive and ongoing operation would be needed to assure the flames did not impact nearby structures, Leonard said.

"This is going to smolder for quite some time," he said. “We’re probably here two to three weeks.”

Health officials warned nearby residents and those downwind of the smoky blaze to stay indoors and keep their windows closed. Elderly people, children and people with respiratory conditions could have a hard time breathing, they said.

One minor injury was reported. A civilian outside the structure suffered from smoke inhalation.

Fire officials were initially called to the warehouse at around 4:30 a.m., and a small fire at the location was declared under control about 40 minutes later, the FDNY said. But at 6:30 a.m., they were called back and found a far more serious fire underway - one extensive enough that firefighters were unable to enter the facility and instead began battling the blaze from outside.

By the afternoon, at least 24,000 gallons of water were being sprayed onto the building every minute and the blaze was declared a seven-alarm fire, meaning some 275 firefighters and emergency medical responders were called to the scene.

The cause of both fires was under investigation, Leonard said.

High winds and freezing temperatures created brutal conditions for firefighters, some of whom were getting doused with water while standing in frigid winds. Some firefighters were covered with icicles.

The warehouse, operated by CitiStorage, primarily stored records for more than 100 health care organizations and law firms, according to Recall Holdings, the parent company of CitiStorage.

"First and foremost, Recall is relieved that no major injuries have been reported as a result of the fire at our Information Center in Brooklyn," company senior vice president Ron McMurtrie said in a news release.

He said the company will investigate the incident and report the status of records to its clients.

New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, one of the warehouse customers, keeps duplicates of vital patient records in electronic form, said spokesman Ian Michaels in a news release. "We do not anticipate that this will affect our operations," he said.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[What Does the Disneyland Measles Outbreak Mean?]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 14:30:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/215*120/MEASLES1.JPG

The outbreak of measles at Disneyland in Orange County, California, has reignited the debate over the anti-vaccination movement, driven by parents who question whether vaccines are safe and and whether there is a connection to autism in particular.

Medical experts say the study showing such a link has been repeatedly discredited and other parents counter their children are being endangered by irresponsible behavior.

Arizona, meanwhile, is monitoring more than 1,000 people who might have been exposed as thousands begin arriving for the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Here’s what you should know.

How many people are affected?

Sixty-eight people in California and and other states have reported contracting measles as a result of the outbreak that began at Disneyland in December, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The majority of the children and adults who became ill either had not been inoculated or did not know if they had been, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“This is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working,” she told reporters this week. “This is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used.”

Since 2000, measles has been eliminated in the United States, meaning it is no longer native to the country. But it can still be spread by someone infected elsewhere and the CDC is assuming that is what happened at Disneyland.

How widespread is measles?

Each year there are 20 million cases around the world, and 145,000 people die, according to the CDC. Other complications: encephalitis and pneumonia.

Last year, there were a record number of measles in the United States, 644 cases, up from a median of 60 a year over the previous decade. And this January a total of 84 cases in 14 states were reported, more than what was typical in an entire year.

Those numbers pale compared to the average number of cases reported each year before the vaccine became available: 549,000.

Is there reason to worry?

The CDC's Schuchat said the numbers for January were concerning.

"I want to do everything possible to prevent measles from getting a foothold in the United States and becoming endemic again," she said.

Dr. Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, said he thought the country was a long way from returning to the high number of measles cases and other diseases.

"If enough people are not taking these vaccines, we will see a resurgence, but right now these are fairly small events," he said. "So I think the reason everyone pays attention to it in medical and public health communities is simply because this is not a trend you would like to see really going up."

How high are vaccination rates?

Immunization rates remain high despite the attention the measles outbreak is receiving. Among kindergartners enrolled in the 2013-2014 school year, the median vaccination coverage was 93 percent and higher for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and chicken pox.

To provide what is called herd immunity -- to protect people who cannot be immunization and those for whom the vaccines are not effective -- experts recommend that between 90 and 95 percent of a community be fully inoculated. Health officials are worried about pockets of parents who are rejecting inoculation.

Morse said the control of a disease such as measles was hard won.

"When we actually had these diseases among us people feared them or at least really wanted a vaccine," he said. "Now of course we’re much more blasé, which is a mistake."

What is the reaction from parents worried about vaccines?

Barbara Loe Fisher, the president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a Virginia-based nonprofit that advocates allowing parents to choose whether to vaccinate their children, said that it was premature to point fingers at those who decided to forgo vaccines.

"There is no question that there is a tremendous amount of pressure being placed on parents who are making informed vaccine decisions for their children," she said. "I think this has gone way too far. The discussion has gotten very ugly, it has gotten extremely polarized and it's caused a lot of parents to be very afraid of doctors and public health officials."

Less than 1.8 percent of children attending kindergarten have vaccination exceptions, she noted. Less than 1 percent of children under the age of 3 are unvaccinated, she said.

What about other diseases?

Mumps, rubella, pertussis or whooping cough and chickenpox are among others that could also spike if parents continue to forgo vaccinations, experts say.

“This isn’t just a measles problem,” said Dr. Gregory A. Poland, the director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota. “This is a problem for any transmissible disease for which we have safe and effective vaccines that aren’t unfortunately used.”

Measles is especially contagious, but there have been other outbreaks. Mumps, for example, is no longer common in the United States, with only 229 cases reported in 2012 compared to 186,000 cases each year before the mumps vaccination program began in 1967. But in 2009-2010, there were two large outbreaks, according to the CDC: one among mostly Hasidic Jewish children in New York who were delaying immunization, and another among mostly school aged children in Guam.

<![CDATA[Mother of Choking Game Victim Talks]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 11:18:23 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/01-30-2015-choking-game.JPG

The videos are disturbing. A young girl in pink pajamas leans on another, cutting off her air supply until the girl collapses.

Link: Erik's Cause

A young boy in a public gym quietly slumps down against a wall. A teenager, alone in her room, chokes herself until she begins to twitch and gasp.

All of these are recent examples of videos posted online of kids playing "the choking game." The game goes by many names, including, the fainting game, pass out challenge, space monkey, California choke and maybe most appropriately, suffocation roulette.

The game has been around for generations, but with the proliferation of online videos, safety advocates worry there is more temptation than ever. Judy Rogg, a social worker, told NBC4 these videos encourage kids to dare others to "go further" with little regard for the risk involved.

"Kids think it's fun," she said. "Kids don't realize that it's dangerous."

The game cuts the oxygen to the brain, in the hopes of getting light headed, or a feeling of euphoria. But the high comes with great risks including broken bones, seizures and even death.

There is a long list of things parents warn their children about, and Rogg said "the choking game" should be part of that conversation. It is a conversation Rogg wishes she had with her own son. In 2010 Erik was just 12 years old, when found him unresponsive, alone in their home, with a rope around his neck.

"This is important, as important to talk about with your kids as drugs and alcohol and sex," said Rogg. "The horror just stops you cold."

"I truly believe he did not intend to end his life. He had plans that evening, he had plans the next day, and he wasn’t going anywhere."

Erik was rushed to the hospital. While there, Judy explains that detectives told her they believed her son died from "the choking game."

It was the first time she had ever heard of it. Several days later, a classmate of Erik's came forward and told her Erik had learned the game at school on a Monday.

He died one day later.

Judy struggles with the loss every day. Her apartment celebrates his memory -- in one corner rests his skateboard. A collection of baseball bats are on a shelf and baby booties are tucked in the pocket of a handmade quilt.

Rogg has now developed an awareness program called "Erik's Cause."

"This is about saving other kids, that's Erik’s legacy, and that's the legacy that I want for my son right now," Rogg said.

Rogg insists if Erik knew the dangers, he never would have played the game.

"I would love to see this program in every health curriculum across the country."

Right now, only one district has taken up her program. Jennifer Wood, Director of Secondary Education for the Iron County School District in Cedar City Utah, said the choking game is a real problem.

"We've had four children die of this," Wood said.

San Bernardino Child Welfare Coordinator Earl Smith said he believes there have been choking deaths in the San Bernardino area. He is one of the first school administrators to advocate for a program like "Erik's Cause."

"As a teacher I actually heard students talking about it all of the time," Smith said. "We have to get the education out, not only to kids, but to parents."

There's a long list of topics teenagers are already warned about, including drugs, alcohol and texting while driving. Still, 17-year-old Roman Valentine said schools need to include warnings against the fleeting high of the choking game because it can be more dangerous than drugs.

"Weed isn't really good, but I mean, when do you really see deaths about that?"

Rogg continues to travel the country, talking to health professionals and school districts, hoping more of them will adopt her program. She said Erik always wanted to be of service and she feels his presence as she now tries to help others.

"He was really smart, and as one of his best friends said, 'Even smart strong kids can make dumb choices, with deadly consequences.'"

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Eats Women's Boots, Undergoes Surgery]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 16:44:49 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Dog-Eats-Boots-Lead.jpg

A dog is recovering after veterinarians removed a pair of women’s boots from his stomach.

The dog, a 4-year-old mixed breed named Vince, ate a pair of calf-high women’s Frye boots Friday afternoon, according to his owners, who live in Philadelphia.

Vince was taken to the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (VSEC) in Philadelphia where he underwent surgery Saturday afternoon.

“These X-rays are absolutely remarkable, especially given that you can see and count the number of eyelets on the boots,” said Dr. Laura Tseng, a board-certified specialist in critical care and emergency medicine with VSEC. “The sheer volume of what he ate is impressive and caused a very serious emergency situation.”

Doctors at VSEC said the volume of the leather material was so large that Vince’s stomach was unable to pass the material into his small intestines. The material was removed manually during his surgery.

“If your pet is experiencing vomiting, lethargy or a lack of appetite, these are all signs a foreign body may be present and they should see a veterinarian as soon as possible,” said Tseng.

Vince’s surgery was successful, according to a VSEC spokesman. He is expected to be released from the center Sunday.

Photo Credit: VSEC]]>
<![CDATA[Amtrak Traveler Has Measles: DOH]]> Sun, 01 Feb 2015 10:26:14 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/measles+vaccination.jpg

A college student who took an international flight into New York City and an Amtrak train out of Penn Station last week has been diagnosed with highly contagious measles.

The student was diagnosed at Bard College in Dutchess County, officials said, but had traveled into and out of New York City last Sunday, potentially exposing people beyond the campus. 

The student contracted the illness in Germany, then flew in to a New York City airport, before taking the train to Rhinebeck on the same day, officials said. They did not identify which airport the student passed through, but noted the student was in the early stages of infection, when there is less danger of contagion.

Anyone who traveled on Amtrak train no. 283 departing Penn Station at 1:20 p.m. on Jan. 25 is urged to contact their doctor if they're not immune to measles and they develop a fever. The train was headed to Albany and Niagara. 

People who may have been exposed and have symptoms consistent with measles should call their doctor or local emergency room before going for care so that others at the facilities aren't exposed. 

New York state has had three cases of measles this year, one in Dutchess County and two in New York City. 

A measles outbreak in New York City in early 2014 affected dozens of residents, initially in upper Manhattan and the Bronx, and then in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. Officials had been looking at whether that outbreak may have spread because workers in medical facilities didn't recognize the symptoms quickly enough to isolate patients and prevent them from spreading it to others. 

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus and is spread by contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people. Measles can lead to serious side effects and, in rare cases, death. Measles symptoms usually appear in 10 to 12 days, but can occur as late as 18 days after exposure. Symptoms generally appear in two stages.

Learn more about measles at health.ny.gov.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Smoky 7-Alarm Blaze in Brooklyn]]> Sun, 01 Feb 2015 10:55:52 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/013115fire.jpg

A Brooklyn warehouse storing healthcare records went up in flames Saturday, despite the efforts of firefighters who fought the stubborn blaze in freezing temperatures.

Smoke billowed from the fire throughout the day and firefighters said it would likely be weeks before they could declare the scene safe.

"The building is a total loss," Chief of Department James Leonard said after firefighters had been fighting the blaze for more than eight hours but had yet to get it under control.

The amount of paper records in the warehouse on North 11th Street in Williamsburg, paired with windy conditions that effectively fanned the flames, made the seven-alarm fire exceptionally difficult to fight, he said.

Firefighters believed they had the blaze contained by Saturday afternoon, but an extensive and ongoing operation would be needed to assure the flames did not impact nearby structures, Leonard said.

"This is going to smolder for quite some time," he said. “We’re probably here two to three weeks.”

One minor injury was reported. A civilian outside the structure suffered from smoke inhalation.

Fire officials were initially called to the warehouse at around 4:30 a.m., and a small fire at the location was declared under control about 40 minutes later, the FDNY said. But at 6:30 a.m., they were called back and found a far more serious fire underway - one extensive enough that firefighters were unable to enter the facility and instead began battling the blaze from outside.

By the afternoon, at least 24,000 gallons of water were being sprayed onto the building every minute and the blaze was declared a seven-alarm fire, meaning some 275 firefighters and emergency medical responders were called to the scene.

The cause of both fires was under investigation, Leonard said.

High winds and freezing temperatures created brutal conditions for firefighters, some of whom were getting doused with water while standing frigid winds. Some firefighters were covered with icicles.

The warehouse, operated by CitiStorage, primarily stored records for more than 100 healthcare organizations and law firms, according to Recall Holdings, the parent company of CitiStorage.

"First and foremost, Recall is relieved that no major injuries have been reported as a result of the fire at our Information Center in Brooklyn," company senior vice president Ron McMurtrie said in a news release.

He said the company will investigate the incident and report the status of records to its clients.

New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, one of the warehouse customers, keeps duplicates of vital patient records in electronic form, said spokesman Ian Michaels in a news release.. "We do not anticipate that this will affect our operations," he said.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[CA Town: 176 Burglaries in 90 Days]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:52:45 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ALMADEN+VALLEY+BURGLARIES+RAW+GIY+1515+PST+-+18495304.jpg

Residents of San Jose's Almaden Valley say they're under attack, with burglars targeting homes during the middle of the day.

In the last seven days, police say, 20 homes in the neighborhood have been hit. This comes weeks after neighbors hired a private security company to help improve safety.

Residents say the neighborhood used to be a place where people could leave the doors unlocked. Now, many are investing in alarms, dogs and private security.

Mary Ellen Distini says her neighborhood is at war with burglars. According to the San Jose Police Department, in the last 90 days, 176 burglaries have been reported in the Almaden Valley. Six homes were hit on Tuesday alone.

“The police are down on the men,” Distine said. “There isn’t enough to cover the area.”

The department has only two detectives investigating burglaries in San Jose, police said, compared to 18 back in 2008.

“We are not safe. We are not happy,” resident Tatiana Gorshkoe said. She said she is worried about her home and her well-being. “The kids come home after school during the daytime. That’s what’s really scary.”

Police said the thieves are generally breaking into empty homes, looking for jewelry and small electronics.

Investigators say they don’t have any leads and don’t know if the crimes are related. Their best advice: Lock your doors and invest in a security camera.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Ernie Banks Remembered]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 18:43:09 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Ernie-Banks-Chicago-Cubs.jpg

Fans got the chance to say goodbye to Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks during a memorial service and procession Saturday morning.

On Friday, those fans paid their respects to Banks during a visitation at the Fourth Presbyterian Church. The memorial service coincided with what would have been Banks' 84th birthday.

Banks, the Chicago Cubs great who was affectionately known as "Mr. Cub," died last Friday at the age of 83 after suffering a heart attack.

Among the attendees at the service were Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Billy Williams, a friend and former teammate of Banks.

"Ernie Banks is not Mr. Cub because we loved him. He is Mr. Cub because he loved us back," Ricketts said.

Gov. Rauner reminisced about the summers he spent watching Ernie Banks on TV and praised him for his sunny disposition.

"Ernie, he always looked at the bright side. He was an eternal optimist, like we all should be," Rauner said.

Banks' close friends and family were also in attendance and shared their memories. His twin sons, Jerry and Joey, both spoke about their father and their childhood memories of playing in Wrigley Field, "the best playground ever," Joey Banks called it.

"For every tear we shed comes 10 stories of laughter, followed by 'That sounds like Dad,'" Jerry Banks said.

After the service, a procession carrying Banks drove by his statue in Daley Plaza, where it has been since Wednesday, and then to Wrigley Field.

In lieu of flowers, the team suggested fans make a donation in Banks’ memory to Cubs Charities, at www.cubs.com/give.

Banks is the most beloved and famous player in Cubs history. He was the first African-American to don a Cubs uniform, and it was the only one he would wear. In his 19-year career with the Cubs he hit 512 home runs and was twice voted the National League's Most Valuable Player.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Parents: Teachers Fired for Teaching Black History]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 10:05:04 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009322877_1200x675_391671875779.jpg

Three social studies teachers at a D.C. public charter school were fired for teaching black history lessons beyond what’s in the curriculum, students’ parents told News4.

"It's about the history of who we are and where we came from,” said Michelle Payne, whose son is in the eighth grade at Howard University Middle School of Math and Science.

Parents say it is unacceptable for a school located on the campus of a historically black university to stifle African-American history lessons.

"If you know your culture, if you know from whence you came, it tends to build your self-esteem," said Lateefah Bilal, a grandmother who heads Parents in Action, Howard Middle’s parent group.

D.C. Council Education Committee member Anita Bonds and Council member Brianne Nadeau are looking into the claims that the three teachers were fired for teaching too much black history.

Bonds' spokesman said the charter school board chairman declined to answer her questions Friday.

News4 reached out to school administrators and the D.C. Public Charter School Board several times this week. They promised to release a statement.

Parents said they are also upset because the teachers were fired and escorted out of the building in front of the kids.

<![CDATA[World Trade Center Opens Doors]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 07:11:48 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/wtc-unforgettable.jpg

More than 13 years after the 9/11 terror attacks, people are again working in the World Trade Center.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said workers began moving into offices at Four World Trade Center Monday.

A spokeswoman for the authority said it’s a milestone step in the redevelopment of the site. The Port Authority employees are the first office workers in the World Trade Center since the original complex was destroyed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The 74-floor office building was one of the first completed in the rebuilt complex and stands on the site of the original Four World Trade Center. It opened in November 2013, but sat unoccupied for about a year.

The Wall Street Journal reports that One World Trade Center is also scheduled to open its doors next week, with magazine giant Condé Nast workers beginning to work in offices there Monday. 

The openings will also mean tighter security in the area. Downtown Express reports that Liberty Street is closed to most traffic beginning Monday, with exceptions for people who live in the area and delivery drivers approved to unload cargo by the NYPD.

<![CDATA[Puppy Missing Ears Recovering]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 02:12:49 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Shadow+Garland+animal+shelter.jpg

Employees at the Garland Animal Shelter say it’s one of the most difficult cases they’ve seen.

Earlier this week a Garland resident spotted a 4-month-old Labrador-mix abandoned on the street missing its ears.

“It’s obvious someone had butchered this dog’s ears. That’s what I call it, and that’s the first thing that came to mind,” said Garland veterinarian Dr. Robert Osborne. “It was horrifying.”

Osborne said he believes whoever owned the puppy was attempting to clip the dog’s ears and possibly turn it into a fight dog.

“Whoever did it didn’t leave any ear. They cut it off flush with the head. It’s just awful,” he said.

Now, the puppy since named Shadow, is recovering remarkably well.

After arriving at the shelter, he’s received medicine, care and has the playful stamina of any regular puppy.

“Our number one priority is to make sure he’s healthy, well-taken care of and that we find a permanent home for him. And as you can see, he loves to play,” said Garland Animal Shelter spokesperson Uriel Villalpando.

A rescue group, Cody’s Friends Rescue, will foster Shadow until he’s fully healed, neutered and has received all of his vaccinations.

After that, the dog will be available for adoption.

Workers at Garland Animal Services said they have no idea as to the person who hurt Shadow, however they are hoping someone comes forward with information.

Those interested in adopting Shadow can visit: codysfriendsrescue.com.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Fat Shaming at Philly College?]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 06:04:21 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/209*120/offensive+emails+bryn+mawr.jpg

Bryn Mawr College is under fire for an email intended to promote personal health that ended up offending dozens of students who felt wrongfully targeted for their body type.

The email — titled “Give a HOOT!' — promoted one of the school's newer programs, Fitness Onward to Weight Loss Success, or Fitness O.W.L.S.

The controversial email was sent to an undisclosed number of students who had an “eligible” body mass index (BMI). The fitness program is a collaboration effort between the Athletic Department, Dining Services and Health Department at the prestigious Main Line all-girls college, according to an email sent to students in mid-January.

The story of one Bryn Mawr junior, Rundrani Sarma, was shared widely on social media after she told the popular site, Buzzfeed that she was "horrified."

The English literature major said she had used resources at the student health department to overcome an eating disorder and the email was “triggering.” When she followed up to the email, she said she was informed it was a clerical mistake.

“In a way of explanation (but not excuse) at one time a nurse entered your height incorrectly and you appeared on the list of students who would qualify for the program,” an email published on Buzzfeed said. “This error pointed out to me that our screening processes are inadequate. They will be improved.”

The school calculated students’ BMIs based on information provided to the Health Center, according to a Bryn Mawr College official.

“[Fitness O.W.L.S] is to sort of get a cohort of people who have similar fitness levels,” said Matt Gray, a college spokesman.

The two-credit Fitness O.W.L.S program listed on the college’s site is the only physical education course listed with eligibility requirements for entry.

“The fitness O.W.L program is really for people that are overweight,” said Monika Hawkins, who works in the Health Center at Bryn Mawr College. “We also tell people they can go to a nutritionist.”

Gray added the requirements are meant to address students with injuries who cannot participate in certain activities. But the site does not list the same health assessment standards for sports like advanced rowing, volleyball, kickboxing or other more rigorous courses.

In an apology email to the student body, officials with the school claim to have designed the program to assist students with indicators of “potential health risks.”

“I sincerely apologize to anyone who has been upset or offended by our communications, and I want to reassure the community that we will rethink our approaches and our assumptions moving forward,” read the apology email sent to students who were “eligible” for the Fitness O.W.L.S

The program has been offered three times in the past, but this is the first time school officials received complaints, Gray said.

The students impacted by the email plan to protest the school for invading their privacy.

The adequacy of body mass index as an indicator of health has long been criticized; NPR.org compiled a list several years ago pointing out potential problems with using BMI to indicate body fat percentage.

The CDC cites BMI as an accurate way to screen weight categories, but the measurement developed by Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet never had interest in measuring obesity. Instead, he attempted to define characteristics of “normal man,” and developed an index that measures the relationship to describe that weight increases as height increases.

Photo Credit: Buzzfeed]]>
<![CDATA[Dramatic Images: Blizzard of 2015]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:48:05 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/462349900_Blizzard.jpg A storm packing blizzard conditions spun up the East Coast early Tuesday, pounding parts of coastal New Jersey northward through Maine with high winds and heavy snow.

Photo Credit: Boston Globe/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ferret Rumors Swirl in Baby Mauling]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:17:12 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Child+Ferret+Attack+Parents+Fraim.jpg

Speculation about whether a trio of ferrets were responsible for the mauling of a 1-month-old girl in a Delaware County, Pennsylvania, home last week have been running rampant since the attack — but police are shooting down the rumors, saying clear evidence points to the ferrets.

Skyy Fraim was released from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this week after undergoing emergency surgery following the Jan. 21 attack, police said on Friday. The girl’s nose and part of her cheek were eaten away, while her upper lip was shredded.

The baby’s mother, Jessica Benales, was upstairs using the restroom when the mauling happened. She came down to find at least one of the ferrets attacking the child and pulled the animal off the girl, who was strapped into a car seat on the floor of the family’s Darby home.

Benales, 24, and her 42-year-old fiancé, Burnie Fraim, told police they believed the ferrets somehow broke out of their mesh pen.

But despite the accounts by police and the child's parents of the mauling, some ferret owners and shelter operators told NBC10 the animals could not have inflicted such severe injuries on the child.

Others claimed a necropsy found no human tissue in the animal’s stomach — but necropsies were not performed on the ferrets, Delaware County Animal Control said, so that cannot be known. After the animals were euthanized, a rabies test was performed and came back negative.

A staffer said necropsies are hardly ever performed by the agency and were not in this case because the mother witnessed part of the attack.

Still, the necropsies are unnecessary, says Darby Police Chief Robert Smythe. There is clear evidence that the ferrets were responsible for the mauling, he told NBC10.

“I would refute what they are saying because of physical evidence that was inside the building and that was on the child’s face,” he said.

Skyy Fraim had puncture wounds on her head consistent with a ferret’s teeth and claws, Smythe said. Detectives looked at the family’s other pets and the possibility that a rodent was responsible, but those possibilities were ruled out. It also appeared the ferrets roamed the home, which authorities said was filthy, and broke into pet food.

Benales and Fraim, who have four other children age 5 or younger, have each been charged with five counts of child endangerment. The children have been removed from their parents' care and are currently with the Delaware County Children and Youth Services.

Authorities said the children and parents all have special needs and have been under the care of three social service agencies. 

In addition to the ferrets, the family had six cats and two turtles. Two dogs had previously been removed from the home.

Seven case workers were assigned to the family, Smythe said. He questioned how nothing had been done to improve the family’s quality of life and remove the animals.

“It’s a family in crisis,” he said. “I believe they’re people that have issues and problems and the system is not working.”

Prior to being charged, Fraim told NBC10 that he and his fiancé care for the children.

“We’re good parents. It’s just we made one mistake by leaving them alone. We regret it, and we blame ourselves for it,” he said. The 1-month-old will need to undergo several surgeries to repair the damage done in the attack, the father added.

Smythe said a district court judge disregarded a bail recommendation that included a psychological evaluation and instead released the couple on their own recognizance. They are barred from having contact with the children.

A court date has yet to be set in the case.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo Credit: NBC10/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Cops Save Beaten Puppy in Snow]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:03:23 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dog+beaten+arrest.jpg

A 43-year-old Bronx man was arrested for allegedly punching a 6-month-old pit bull and beating it with a shovel, then burying it in the snow so deep only its head was visible, authorities say.

Police responded to a 911 call about a dog being abused shortly before 3 a.m. Friday and found the pooch, which appears to be a pit bull, buried in the snow on 167th Street. Only its head was visible.

Officers pulled the pup out of the snow and saw signs of mistreatment and abuse. It apparently The dog, a female named Hennessy, was taken to the ASPCA in Manhattan for treatment.

About an hour later, police arrested Raul Cruz, who witnesses had identified as the alleged dog abuser, not far from where they rescued the pup.

He was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and torturing, injuring or not feeding an animal. It wasn't clear if Cruz had an attorney.

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Firefighters Rescue Dog in LA River]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 18:14:51 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/200*120/1-30-15-lucky+the+dog+la+river+rescue+ground.JPG

The dog that was plucked out of the roiling Los Angeles River in a heroic afternoon aerial rescue put on a quite a show as it made its brief cameo for the waiting cameras Friday night.

The cute yellow dog nicknamed Lucky made a big splash Friday, discovered by someone at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank who called in about a dog paddling down the rain-swollen River.

The pup was swept at least three miles downriver and saved in Glendale, near the Golden State (5) Freeway overpass.

Los Angeles firefighters went to work in the air and NBC4 caught it all as firefighter John Terrusa was lowered into the river to pick up the soggy pooch.

"It was quite a team effort, quite a concert," Terrusa said.

As Terrusa and canine spun their way to safety dangling from a line on a chopper, several people gathered with firefighters along the river's banks to warm up the chilly doggy.

Lucky, a 7-year-old Shiba Inu who was not microchipped, is spending the night under doctor's care at a shelter in Eagle Rock. He will stay at a shelter for seven days, allowing enough time for his owner to come forward.

If no one comes forward, then the dog goes up for adoption and there's already one offer.

Terrusa is hoping this story has a happy ending.

"It is definitely a loved animal," Terrusa said. "It's just one of those things where I'm sure the dog just got out of somebody's yard and got in the wrong place, at the wrong time."

Asher Klein contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: Mark James]]>
<![CDATA[Married CA Cops Sentenced 3 Years ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:52:54 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/bryce+jennifer+charpentier.jpg

Two married San Diego Police officers convicted of drug sales and burglary charges were sentenced to three years in state prison in a downtown courtroom Friday.

Bryce Charpentier, 32, and Jennifer Charpentier, 41, admitted to selling and furnishing a narcotic substance, possession of a firearm by an addict, conspiracy to commit first-degree residential burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and possession and sale of a controlled substance.

As a result, the two resigned from the SDPD in November. Jennifer also lost partial custody of her kids after her arrest.

In court Friday, Bryce was teary as he apologized to the department and his family. The prosecution, however, called him "manipulative."

In an attempt to argue against jail time, the defense said the two never used their authority status and witnesses did not know they were cops. They also said the two have gotten clean and are active in 12-step programs, and that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder contributed to their actions.

Prosecutors asked for maximum sentences for both, saying other officers who suffer addiction and PTSD don't start distribution labs.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a press conference following the sentencing that "no one is above the law."

"As police officers, their job was to protect the citizens of San Diego; not to victimize them," she said.

Both officers initially pleaded not guilty, but changed their pleas after new charges were filed against the couple, accusing them of stealing prescription medication from their parent, burglarizing a home while on the clock as officers and leading a distribution chain.

Bryce, a six-year veteran of the SDPD, and Jennifer, an 18-year veteran, were arrested in June during a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigation.

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman also spoke out about the case saying, "It is reprehensible that these two former officers made the terrible decision to betray and discredit our badge and our profession."

Zimmerman said after the launch of the Sheriff's Department's investigation, she and her department cooperated fully and "the public trust is too important for anything less."

Sheriff Bill Gore joined Dumanis and Zimmerman at the press conference.

"I know I speak for everyone up here today when I say that we'd rather be up here for almost any other reason than to discuss the sentencing and prosecution of law enforcement officers," Gore said.

He said he thinks the collaborative efforts between SDPD and the sheriff's office were successful, adding, "It's been said that trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair."

Search warrants said Jennifer got seven different drugs in 71 prescriptions from seven separate doctors and then traveled to 17 pharmacies to fill them. Bryce went as far as Oakhurst near Yosemite to fill 79 prescriptions from six different doctors.

One victim was Jennifer's own mother. During a visit to their home, Bryce texted his wife he was coming back and pulling into the driveway. At that point, Jennifer texted she was taking her mother into the backyard, presumably to distract her while Bryce took prescription medication from her.

Before the couple's sentencing, Jennifer said she and her mom have worked things out and her mom wrote a letter to the court.

The judge said she gave probation serious consideration, but the case does not involve simple street corner drug sales, and denied the motion. However, the two are out of custody until Feb. 6 and will only serve 50 percent of their sentence on good behavior.

The couple was also ordered to pay $5,000 each in restitution.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.

Photo Credit: San Diego Police Dept. Yearbook]]>
<![CDATA[Cutting Class? New App Could Blow Your Cover]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:08:09 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/smart+phone+generic+.jpg

Want to see if your college student is skipping class? There’s an app for that.

For $200 a year, parents, professors and campus administrators can use Class120 to check to see if a student is in class at the scheduled time.

The minds behind the app, which was debuted by start-up Core Principle this month, say the accountability app could help students stay on track with their studies and prepare them for being punctual once they enter the workforce. But some students say it gives parents too much control over the lives of their adult children.

Jeff Whorley, founder and CEO of Core Principle, developed the app after a conversation he had with a college professor that left him thinking that if colleges treated all students the way they treat Division 1 athletes, whose attendance in class is closely monitored, then graduation levels would rise.

“If we could get students everywhere to attend at least 90 percent of their classes, over 80 percent would graduate,” Whorley told NBC Owned Television Stations.

The app tracks if the student is in class, and sends an alert to the student’s parent or teacher if they do not show up to class for two days in a row. Core Principle can also call the student directly if a parent or teacher does not feel comfortable contacting the student. The app must be downloaded by the student, and it can only be used to track if a student is in class, not at parties or other activities.

Still, some have criticized the app for being too controlling over students who should be treated like adults.

"I would probably be more annoyed than anything," Natalie Pike told NBC affiliate WTHR. "I would feel like my life is being pried into."

But Whorley argues that in the post-college world, a recent grad will face immediate consequences if they do not show up or even show up late to work. More students, he says, need to be treated with similar consequences by having a teacher or parent point out that they are late and help get back on track before the entire semester goes down the drain.

“We don’t think this app is anti-adult," Whorley said. "It’s an introduction to the real economy.”

The app has made recent headlines, with coverage in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In the last four days alone, the start-up has seen a huge increase in traffic from parents in Europe and Asia looking to track their children who are studying abroad in the U.S., he said. So far the app is available for close to 2,000 college campuses across the country that the company has geomapped.

Whorley hopes that in the future this app can work to take class attendance.

“The future of taking attendance is Wi-Fi or GPS where a professor looks down at a piece of smart technology instead of calling roll," he said.

<![CDATA[Adoption Post for Rare Pit Bull-Dachshund Mix Goes Viral ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:43:35 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dog-montage.jpg

Rami, an unusual and formerly abandoned dog that has the head of a pit bull and the body of dachshund, could soon have a forever home.

The Moultrie Colquitt County Humane Society, an animal shelter in Georgia, is currently accepting applications from people looking to adopt Rami. The dog’s adoption request went viral, after the shelter posted photos and videos of Rami on their Facebook page Tuesday. One post generated more than 3,700 likes, 2,300 comments and 30,400 shares as of Friday.

"He is real!!" the shelter wrote. "Pit Bull and Dachshund mix. If you are looking for a popular/unusual pet, then this is it."

Don Flowers, the shelter's owner, told NBC Owned Television Stations Friday that he has received more than 100 applications from people across the country since the post went viral. 

“This is the first time we have a dog that has gotten such attention,” said Flowers. He calls it “very unusual.”

Flowers said Rami was found abandoned, walking around Colquitt County nine days ago. Rami's story is similar to many of the more than 85 dogs that currently live at the shelter.

“Some were abandoned, while the others were dropped off by their owners because they can't afford to take care of them,” Flowers said. “We’re full now.”

Admitting that it might be difficult to find Rami the right family, the shelter said they expect it to take at least a week to finalize an adoption. And while there are a lot of interest in the rare-mixed dog, Flowers emphasized that there are many others that needed to be adopted.

"We have a lot of dogs here at the shelter,” he said. “They might not be a mixed pit bull breed like him, but they also need a home like he does. We’d appreciate any help."

Adopting Rami would will cost about $174, the shelter said.  

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Customers Pay in "Lovin"]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:37:31 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/217*120/56857245.jpg

McDonald's plans you a chance to earn a cheeseburger for calling your mother. Or fist bumping a fry cook. Or just passing along good vibes. 

Select McDonald's customers in participating restaurants nationwide will soon get the chance to pocket their cash and pay for a meal with "lovin'" instead.

Customers who enter participating McDonald's restaurants between Feb. 2 and Feb. 14 will be selected at random and told they could pay for their meal with an act of lovin' instead of money, according to a statement from McDonald's. Acts of lovin' include anything from a friendly fist bump with an employee on duty to calling a loved one on the phone. 

The newly accepted form of currency -- called "Pay with Lovin' " -- comes just in time for Valentine's Day and is part of the Oak Brook-based company's new campaign to emphasize the "love" in its long-running "I'm Lovin' It" slogan.

"McDonald's is in a unique position to bring a little more lovin' to our customers," said Deborah Wahl, chief marketing officer for McDonald's USA. "We're on a journey to change the relationship and conversation and 'Pay with Lovin' ' is a direct way for us to engage with our customers. We believe that a little more Lovin' can change a lot."

The new payment method begins Feb. 2 and applies between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. at select McDonald's stores.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[New Orangutan Baby Expected At Zoo]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:11:14 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/NC_apeexpecting0129001.jpg The El Paso Zoo's Sumatran orangutans, Ibu and Butch, are expecting their first baby this spring. This will be the first offspring for both 23-year-old Ibu and 29-year-old Butch. Ibu is one of only 12 female orangutans included in the current breeding recommendation of the Association of Zoo and Aquariums's Species Survival Plan. Butch came to El Paso Zoo to breed with Ibu in March of 2011, as part of a breeding recommendation AZA. The pair have bonded well over the last three years and it was evident that someday they'd be pregnant.]]> <![CDATA[Silicone Injections Given at Party Blamed in Transgender Woman’s Death]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:17:01 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/Kaiser+Permanente+silicone+transgender.JPG

A transgender woman who attended a body-modification party in Orange County died as a result of an off-the-books procedure she received there, investigators said.

Santa Ana police say the woman checked herself into an Irvine hospital on Jan. 1 because she was having trouble breathing. Three weeks later, the 40-year-old was dead, and authorities believe the cause of death was an embolism from a silicone injection.

She "had been to a silicone injection party somewhere in Santa Ana. She had injections in her buttocks for cosmetic reasons," said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, of the Santa Ana Police Department.

It's unclear what type of injections she received or how many, and police are still trying to notify her family.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department identified the victim Friday. NBC4 has not yet spoken with her family and is not publishing her name at this time. 

Tony Viramontes, who works with transgender men and women at the LGBT Center OC, said cosmetic surgery can help people feel comfortable in their bodies as part of the transition process. 

"They found happiness in seeing their body takes shape. They have hips and a full buttocks and they feel feminine," Viramontes said.

People in transition can sometimes go to great lengths to feel complete, Viramontes said. Parties like this one offer discounts and instant gratificiation.

"People are taking advantage of people looking to change their looks and it can lead to death," said Viramontes, who noted that there is a program to ensure medical procedures are done by licensed doctors.

The parties do come with a tremendous risk.

April Brown shared with NBC4 her story of getting butt injections three years ago, after she had her limbs amputated in emergency surgery to save her life.

The Los Angeles hair dresser suffered septic shock from industrial silicone injections, the kind sold in hardware stores.

Police are urging anyone who attended the December party where the victim received her injections to call them and explain what happened.

Photo Credit: Kevin Dahlgren]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Footballers Stay Fit With Yoga]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:55:51 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/NC_nflyoga001.jpg This weekend, millions of people will sit around eating nachos and wings while watching some of the best athletes in professional football. Those athletes stay fit with something you and I can do, too: yoga.]]> <![CDATA[NYC Law Firm Participated in Rap Video About Killing Cops: Report ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:58:05 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/generic+police+car+2+vg.jpg

A city-funded legal aid organization knowingly participated in a music video where artists rapped that it was “time to start killing these coppers” and pointed guns at a man dressed as an NYPD officer, the city’s Department of Investigation has found.

The Bronx Defenders, a criminal defense firm that receives about $20 million every year in public funding, let rappers Uncle Murda and Maino shoot portions of their “Hands Up” music video in their offices near Yankee Stadium and then tried to cover up its involvement, according to a DOI report.

The video, which was posted on YouTube by World Star Hip Hop in December after grand juries on Staten Island and in Ferguson, Missouri, decided not to charge officers in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, shows several shots inside The Bronx Defenders offices and features two of the legal firm’s attorneys, the report says.

The video also includes shots of the two rappers pointing guns at actors dressed as NYPD officers and includes the lyrics “For Mike Brown and Sean Bell a cop got to get killed.” Credits at the end of the video list The Bronx Defenders as its sponsor.

“Advocating the killing of police officers is unacceptable and offensive,” said DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters.”

According to the agency's report, the production company shooting the video contacted the firm in early September about shooting the video. One of the two staffers later shown in the clip wrote in an email Sept. 13, “I love the song!” and asked to have a curse word cut from the lyrics. The email made no mention of the lines about killing police, despite the staffer's awareness of them, DOI said.

After the video came out, the DOI report says, Bronx Defenders Executive Director Robin Steinberg failed to discipline the two attorneys seen in the video and later tried to mislead city officials looking into the firm’s involvement in the video.

The DOI obtained at least seven email communications about the video between The Bronx Defenders and members of the NYPD, Bronx County District Attorney's office, Bronx judges and the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, and found none mentioned staffers had been aware of the lyrics for months prior to its release.

The DOI report said neither Steinberg nor anyone else at Bronx Defenders asked to review the video when they knew its release was imminent. Steinberg also apparently did not ask her staff to research the singers the group was agreeing to be involved with; such research would have unveiled multiple earlier songs by Uncle Murder about killing police officers, the report found. None of the emails mentioned those circumstances either, according to the DOI.

"Instead, the emails provided a selective and misleading recitation of the circumstances surrounding The Bronx Defenders' involvement in the video," the report said.

One email between Steinberg and a Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice staffer indicated The Bronx Defenders saw a version of the video prior to its release that was different than the one that came out, though Steinberg told DOI investigators she had never seen the video prior to its release. Steinberg also neglected to mention that the two attorneys who participated in the video had her permission to do so, and she did not address the lyrics -- or the attorneys' awareness of them, according to the DOI.

"As such, Steinberg's statements, while perhaps not legally perjurious, were clearly misleading," the DOI report found.

DOI did not recommend any punitive actions for Steinberg or The Bronx Defenders in its report, referring questions to City Hall.

Mayor de Blasio called the DOI's findings "deeply disturbing" and said his administration demanded the group take "immediate action" in response to the report.

"Unless those actions are fully responsive to the serious issues raised here, the City will take all legal and contractual actions available to it,” the mayor said in a statement.

"Any endorsement of violence against police officers is completely unacceptable and will absolutely not be tolerated," the statement continued. "Keeping New York the safest big city in the country requires that we are vigilant about the security of the nation’s finest police force and the communities they are sworn to protect. Today’s report signals a serious failure to take this role seriously."

In a statement, The Bronx Defenders said it never approved the music video and never saw it before it went online. The group said it "deeply regrets" any involvement with the production.

"The Bronx Defenders abhors the use of violence against the police under any circumstance," the statement said. "We have always been an organization that is committed to preserving life, dignity and respect for all people."  

Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Getting Tickets to the Big Game]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:32:58 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/NC_superbowltickets0130001_1500x845.jpg As anticipation builds for Sunday's Super Bowl, so does anxiety for fans trying to get their hands on tickets. Unlike last year's game in New Jersey, this year's contest in Phoenix has demand outstripping supply.]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Twins Celebrate 90th Birthday]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:56:33 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/NC_twinsturn900130001.jpg Since twin sisters Helen and Lucille's first birthday in Detroit 90 years ago, the world may have changed a lot, but the twins still wear the same outfits and are still inseparable. Their first job was side-by-side as operators for the phone company back in the early 1940s.]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Seahawks Coach on What Richard Sherman Should Name His Baby]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:57:12 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005961142_1200x675_391459395811.jpg Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll joked that cornerback Richard Sherman should name his baby "Petey." Carroll was asked about the possibility of Sherman's pregnant girlfriend going into labor before the Super Bowl. The lighthearted moment came during a press conference with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Friday, Jan. 30. ]]> <![CDATA[Belichick, Carroll Coach Super Bowl From Different Angles]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:42:58 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Super-Bowl-Coaches.jpg

Put Bill Belichick behind a microphone and he's C-SPAN — minus the information.

Pete Carroll is more like a Lifetime movie. Or, as defensive lineman Michael Bennett puts it, "He has that Benjamin Button effect on everyone."

The Super Bowl coaches approach their obligations to the public and media from opposite ends. Belichick, coaching for his fourth championship in New England, is dry, offers little to no insight and rarely makes anyone laugh. Carroll, looking for his second straight title, is a high-fiving, fist-bumping extrovert who started one of his news conferences this week with a welcoming, "What's up?!?"

Different styles have produced similar results, though.

Belichick is making his sixth Super Bowl appearance as a head coach and his Patriots are as close as there is to a dynasty in the current NFL. Carroll's team is being mentioned as a possible dynasty, as well, and that notion will only gain steam if the Seahawks win Sunday and become the first back-to-back champions since, who else?, New England in 2003-04.

Dissimilar as they are, they have both built their teams on a foundation of unflinching candor inside their locker and meeting rooms — a quality Carroll brings to some of his public speaking, but one that Belichick eschews.

"What you see on TV is what you get, pretty much, from the two," said Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner, who previously played for Carroll in Seattle. "They have similarities too, though. Their football IQ is way up there. They are so different, but at the same time they're the same. That's why they both have succeeded at this level."

Over his 15 years in New England, Belichick has made it increasingly difficult for anyone outside of Patriots Nation to love him. Nobody likes a boring cheater, and that is how he's sometimes portrayed. It's all summed up in his handling of the controversy of Super Bowl week — Deflategate — a subject he has refused to talk about since Saturday, when he held a news conference to deny wrongdoing and announce he was moving on. "We're just focused on Seattle this week," he's said, repeating some version of that time and again.

A much fuller picture of the coach was painted in the 2013 NFL Network production "A Football Life," which gave an inside and genuinely absorbing look at the coach — miked up and behind the scenes during what turned out to be a disappointing 2009 season.

"Hard not to get choked up about it," Belichick said, barely controlling the tears as he toured his old stomping grounds, the old Giants Stadium, where he won his first two Super Bowl rings as New York's defensive coordinator. "I spent a lot of hours in that room."

One trait his old boss, Bill Parcells, turned into an art was figuring out how to get the most from each of his players by treating them individually.

It's not a trait Belichick shares, at least in the sense that no one seems to get the Superstar Treatment in New England: High-priced cornerback Darrelle Revis got sent home one day for being late for a meeting. Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards in a win against Indianapolis but has barely been heard from again after showing up late for a meeting.

"He's done a good job of treating everybody fairly, treating everybody the same," said Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. "If something goes wrong, he makes sure we know about it. It's all about knowing how to get the best out of everybody."

Carroll does the same thing — just differently.

Quirky as they come, he once said a book that guided many of his core philosophies was, "The Inner Game of Tennis," a 1974 self-help manuscript by W. Timothy Callwey that is about finding "the state of 'relaxed concentration' that helps you play your best."

It's also about tennis, but "the stuff really resonated," Carroll said in an interview while he was coaching Southern California.

In keeping with the touchy-feely theme, he has repeatedly made it clear this week that he respects the individuality of his players — from Richard Sherman, who is willing to speak on just about everything, to Marshawn Lynch, who doesn't want to talk about anything.

The coach's willingness to bend, however, does not mean he deviates from the consistent routine he established when he came to Seattle after nine years at USC. Wednesdays are "Competition Wednesdays." Thursdays are "Turnover Thursdays." And so on.

"He's got a philosophy he stays true to," said offensive line coach Tom Cable. "For a lot of us who've coached a long time, we've been around a lot of great teachers, but their philosophies can go up and down. For him, he's the way he is every day."

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who hired Carroll back in 1997, then Belichick in 2000, called his former coach, "pretty special to be around. A lot of fun."

He feels he set Carroll back by not giving him the full control he wanted, and the owner adjusted his style when he made the next hire.

Everyone benefited: Belichick and the Patriots — and Carroll and Seattle.

There's no big mystery to all this coaching success, Belichick insists.

"It's about players making the plays that your team needs to win," he said. "I think as a coach, you want to make sure you don't screw that up."

Photo Credit: The Associated Press
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Dave Matthew Raises 12th Man Seahawks Flag]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:17:35 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/NC_seahawksflag0130001.jpg The Seattle Seahawks 12th man flag is flying high above the Emerald City. Ahead of the Super Bowl, musician and Seattle transplant Dave Matthews hoisted the giant flag above the Space Needle. Matthews, a Grammy award winning artist, has lived in Seattle for 15 years. ]]>