<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - National & International News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.comen-usFri, 09 Dec 2016 04:17:40 -0600Fri, 09 Dec 2016 04:17:40 -0600NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA['Aren't Many Heroes Left': World Reacts to John Glenn's Death]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 03:07:59 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/143118608-Astronaut-John-Glenn-Space-Shuttle.jpg

John Glenn was once called "the last true national hero America has ever made," and when the astronaut-turned-senator died Thursday at 95, it prompted an outpouring of condolences from all walks of American life.

As the first American to orbit the Earth, Glenn's was one of the most instantly recognizable faces in the United States at the start of the Space Age. It was author Tom Wolfe who dubbed him the nation's "last true national hero," and Glenn rode that fame and love like a rocket into the U.S. Senate, serving Ohio for 24 years before returning to space again in 1998 at 77 years old — another first.

Both the president and president-elect marked the moment Thursday.

"When John Glenn blasted off from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas rocket in 1962, he lifted the hopes of a nation. And when his Friendship 7 spacecraft splashed down a few hours later, the first American to orbit the Earth reminded us that with courage and a spirit of discovery there's no limit to the heights we can reach together," President Barack Obama wrote in a statement. "John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond—not just to visit, but to stay."

Trump tweeted that Glenn is "a great pioneer of air and space" who will be missed.

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, and who was released from a New Zealand hospital Friday after falling ill, paid tribute as well to his "friend and world space icon."

"I’m saddened again to hear that we have lost the pioneer of space flight for the United States," Aldrin wrote on his website. "I am very sorry that he has departed us with his wisdom. I join that crowd of people and the entire nation and the world in paying homage to his service."

Many took to social media to mark Glenn's outsized life.

"Aren’t many Heroes left," astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote on Twitter shortly after his death was announced.

"As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation," Ohio Gov. John Kasich wrote.

NASA, famed Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and many others said goodbye online as well:

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Nevada Teen's Family Says Cop Didn't Need to Shoot]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 23:51:37 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP_16342841355451.jpg

The family of the 14-year-old boy whom police shot and critically wounded at a Nevada high school said Thursday that the officer should have found a better way to resolve things, NBC News reported. 

A school district police officer shot the boy Wednesday during a confrontation witnessed by more than 40 classmates at Hug High School in Reno, authorities said. They said the boy got into an altercation with a classmate and began threatening other students with a knife. 

The boy remained in critical condition Thursday at Renown Medical Center, police told NBC News, which isn't naming him because he's a juvenile. 

"There are many questions to be answered as to what happened and what could have been done to avoid the use of lethal force," the boy's family said in a statement Thursday.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Scott Sonner]]>
<![CDATA[The Life of Astronaut John Glenn]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 15:29:35 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/137628main_image_feature_445_ys_full.jpg

Photo Credit: NASA ]]>
<![CDATA[Who's Who in Trump's Brain Trust]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:48:52 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/223*120/trump-cab-adv-th.jpg Here's a look at the people who will be closest to Donald Trump in the White House, his advisers and his picks for the top jobs in his administration. The nominees for Cabinet positions will need Senate approval.
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<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Warns Against 'Epidemic' of Fake News]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:19:13 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-628630764.jpg

Hillary Clinton appealed Thursday for a bipartisan fight against an "epidemic of malicious, fake news," calling the dissemination of false propaganda a threat with "real-world consequences."

"It's now clear that so-called fake news can have real world consequences. This isn't about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk. Lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days to do their jobs, contribute to their communities. It's a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly," Clinton told lawmakers at the Capitol during a portrait unveiling in honor of retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

"It's imperative that leaders in both the private and public sector step up to protect our democracy and innocent lives," she added.

The former secretary of state sounded the alarm one month after her presidential election loss to Donald Trump in a race that was beset by the public spread of misinformation on social media.

Clinton's reference to the "real-world consequences" of fake news comes days after a man fired an assault rifle at a Washington D.C. pizza parlor. Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, said he went to investigate a fake online news story about a child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton and prominent Democrats operating out of the restaurant.

Clinton received sustained applause as she stood to speak, ruefully remarking, "This is not exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to give" after the election.

She joked that after spending several weeks in the woods taking selfies, she thought it would be a good idea to emerge.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Extreme Weather: Polar Vortex Is Back]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 09:35:54 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP_16342642397205-weather.jpg Take a look at photos of extreme weather from the U.S. and around the world, from floods to snow to rough seas.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland Warehouse Blaze: Faces of the Victims]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:55:09 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/oakland-warehouse-fire-victims-collage.jpg They were artists, musicians, students and teachers, as young as 17 and most with long lives ahead of them. But those lives, at least 36, were cut short when an Oakland warehouse-turned-residence went up in flames as it hosted a concert. Here are their portraits and what we know about them.
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<![CDATA[Seen in Trump's Orbit: Andrew Puzder, Lewis Eisenberg]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 18:26:57 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/AP_16342788642420.jpg Manhattan's Trump Tower in New York City and Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, have both become political hot spots, as mayors, senators and advisers meet with President-elect Donald Trump during his transition period.

Photo Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP]]>
<![CDATA[US Stock Indexes Close at Record Highs ]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 15:56:14 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-628522000.jpg

Major U.S. stock indexes are closing at record highs for the second day in a row, as a post-election rally continued following a key monetary policy announcement from the European Central Bank, CNBC reported.

The Dow Jones industrial average briefly rose more than 100 points before closing 65 points higher, with Goldman Sachs contributing the most gains.

The S&P 500 closed 0.2 percent higher while the Nasdaq composite rose 0.4 percent.

"This really is the Trump trade," said Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management. "This trade is about the potential for a more pro-business economy."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Social Media Helps Fire Victim’s Girlfriend Find Photo]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:37:32 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ArkenAvan.jpg

The girlfriend of an Oakland warehouse fire victim experienced a “Facebook miracle” in a time of crippling grief when hundreds of social media users helped her track down a special year-old photograph of the two of them.

Saya Tomioka's boyfriend Griffin Madden, 23, was among 36 people who perished in a fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse Friday. Amid her mourning for the loss, she turned to social media in an attempt to find the person who captured a a photo of the couple during a trip to New York City last June. 

It had been Tomioka's first time in Times Square, she recalled in a Facebook post published Sunday. Tomioka and Madden were mid-embrace when a photographer captured the moment.

“I've always longed to find this particular photograph and thank the photographer,” she wrote in the post. “Friends, possibly with your help, I can be reunited with this photograph, this treasured memory that I'll always keep in my heart.”

Tomioka acknowledged that finding it would be akin to a “Facebook miracle,” but wrote it would be something to lift her spirits.

After being shared more than 300 times, the post made its way to Arken Avan, a professional photographer who is known for taking pictures of couples in New York's bustling city center. After a quick search through his photo collection, Avan zeroed in on the now famous photo and send it to Tomioka. 

“Two people shared that post with me yesterday, my NYPD friend I know from Times Square, and some of Saya’s friends,” Avan told NBC Bay Area, on how he heard about the photo search. 

He told Tomioka he remembered that exact moment.

“I actually remember this moment — young lady was holding pretzel in her hand and young man had lipstick on his cheek,” he wrote in a message to her. "What a beautiful and adorable couple I thought at that moment. I'm sorry for your loss and hope you will keep these pictures for memory, forever.”

He says also plans to share the photo on his @NewYorkFaces Instagram, in honor of Madden.

Tomioka has since taken to Facebook again, describing the agony of learning about the devastating fire and having to wait for days until crews recovered Madden's body and identified him.

"I thought that I'd feel better when the waiting ended, but instead, I felt dissatisfied. I felt like I hadn't found you---yet," she wrote.

But Avan's photo helped bring a "glimpse of your light back into my life," Tomioka said. "With the infinite help from our families, friends, and strangers, I finally found you."

Avan's photograph came at the end of a June 2015 evening that included Madden and Tomioka laughing hysterically over "The Book of Mormon" and haggling over a pretzel. After finding the photo, Tomioka said she "sobbed" and "immediately laughed uncontrollably."

She continued: "Life is so strange. I've lost you, but I've never felt stronger in my life. Through our many years of love and growth, I learned how to be strong from you."

NBC Bay Area's Rhea Mahbubani contributed to this report.


Gillian Edevane covers Contra Costa County for NBC Bay Area. Contact her at Gillian.Edevane@NBCuni.com or at (669) 263-2895. 

Photo Credit: Arken Avan Photography
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<![CDATA[Actor Judge Reinhold Arrested at Dallas Love Field]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 00:10:59 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/210*120/reinhold-mug.jpg

Actor Judge Reinhold was arrested at Dallas Love Field Thursday afternoon for disorderly conduct.

Dallas police say they were called to the airport by the Transportation Security Administration "regarding an individual causing a disturbance by refusing to submit to a screening at the appropriate checkpoint area."

The 59-year-old actor’s lawyer, Dallas attorney Steve Stodghill, told The Dallas Morning News Reinhold passed through security but was stopped when his bag set off an alarm. Stodghill told DallasNews.com that when TSA agents asked to pat Reinhold down again, he questioned the procedure since he had already cleared the scanner without incident.

Reinhold was transported to Lew Sterrett Justice Center and charged with the class C misdemeanor.

His attorney said he would release a statement later Thursday.

Reinhold is best known for his roles in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Gremlins," the "Beverly Hills Cop" series and "Ruthless People." He is also known for his role as the "close-talker" Aaron on NBC's hit series "Seinfeld."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News & Dallas Police Dept.]]>
<![CDATA[Tsunami Warnings Cancelled After Big Pacific Earthquake]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 16:04:08 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Solomon-Islands-Earthquake-December-8.jpg

Tsunami warnings for several Pacific islands, including those in Hawaii, were canceled Friday after authorities determined that a powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake that struck near the Solomon Islands did not pose a broad tsunami threat.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves of up to 3 meters (10 feet) were still possible along the coast of the Solomon Islands and smaller tsunami waves could hit Papua New Guinea.

There were reports of some power outages in the Solomon Islands, although there were no immediate reports of widespread damage or injuries from the quake.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit about 200 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. The epicenter was relatively deep at 48 kilometers (30 miles) below the surface. Deeper quakes generally cause less damage on the ground.

The Solomon Islands are located in the Pacific's geologically active "Ring of Fire."

Photo Credit: USGS]]>
<![CDATA[US Fighter Pilot Died After Crash]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 18:35:02 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/12-8-16-Captain-Jake+Frederick.JPG

A U.S. Marine Corps pilot who ejected from an F/A-18 fighter jet near Japan Wednesday has been recovered and pronounced dead a day later, officials said. 

The jet suffered a mishap, prompting its pilot — identified Thursday as Capt. Jake Frederick — to eject, according to a news release from the Marines.

Search-and-rescue teams looked for the pilot, who ejected southeast of Japan's Shikoku island, according to an earlier military statement.

The F/A-18 was part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing based in Okinawa, Japan and was flying a regularly scheduled training mission.

Frederick was recovered by a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ship, the Japanese Ministry of Defense confirmed to local media Thursday, the statement said. "Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the pilot. The cause of the crash is still unknown."

It remains unclear what caused the crash.

Photo Credit: Cpl. Kevin Crist and Pfc. Maxwell Pennington/Marine Corps Air Station Miramar / 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
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<![CDATA[From the Archives: NYC Honors John Glenn With Hero's Welcome]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 15:10:27 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/John+Glenn+Ticker+Tape+Parade.png On March 1, 1962, New York City honored astronaut John Glenn by showering him with 3,474 tons of ticker tape to celebrate his return from his first space flight. Aboard Friendship 7, Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth.

Photo Credit: The Universal Archives]]>
<![CDATA['Going to Be a Shock': Polar Vortex to Send Temps Plunging]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:52:12 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/polarvortexIII.jpg

The first arctic blast of the season has hit mainland United States, blanketing parts of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and the Dakotas with temperatures as low as minus 14 overnight, NBC News reported.

But meteorologists are warning about a second, perhaps even colder freeze that could spread into the East Coast and possibly portions of the South late next week. A shift in a weather system known as the Polar Vortex may be partially to blame, according to The Weather Channel.

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By Friday evening these frigid temperatures were expected to have swept most of the U.S. with temperatures in the 20s from Albuquerque to Buffalo, and from Atlanta to Seattle. New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston were also expected to flirt with freezing temperatures Friday night.

"It's going to be a shock," said Kevin Roth, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA['Freak Accident' Killed 2 Toddlers]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 22:23:05 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/COLD+2+KIDS+KILLED+11PM+-+01000419_WNBC_000000014174878.jpg

A memorial was held outside the window of a family's apartment in the Bronx where two toddler sisters were killed by exposure to hot steam from a malfunctioning radiator valve.

As night fell over Hunts Point on Thursday, candles lit up a piece of sidewalk outside the city-owned Bronx apartment building where the family was staying while homeless, as neighbors and well-wishers showed up with balloons to remember the girls.

Earlier on Thursday, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner said the cause of the toddlers' deaths was accidental, and was caused by "hyperthermia and thermal injuries due to exposure to hot steam".

Mayor de Blasio has pledged a thorough, multi-agency investigation into the "freak accident". The Fire Department said the radiator valve inside their first floor apartment malfunctioned, sending high pressure steam shooting out to fill the apartment on Hunts Point Avenue shortly after noon Wednesday. 

The children, identified as Scylee Vayoh, 1, and Ibanez Ambrose, 2, were severely burned.

At a news briefing Thursday, de Blasio said multiple agencies, including the NYPD and Department of Homeless Services, are investigating what he said appeared to be an "extraordinary and unprecedented accident." 

"No one I've talked to so far in any agency has ever seen anything like this," de Blasio said. "We need to understand what happened here. This was a freak accident, a series of painful coincidences that led to the loss of these children."

But neighbors who lived in the same building had growing concerns about their own safety. Inspectors have been to each apartment and checked each radiator, but residents say they had filed complaints about the premise leading up the girls' deaths.

"So it takes a tragedy of 2 little girls to lose their lives for them to come and inspect?," one resident asked. "It doesn't make any sense. Too little, too late."

The mayor said the problem appeared contained to the radiator valve in the children's apartment. 

He said an investigation of the apartment building last month yielded no "high priority" violations. And he said there were no specific complaints to the city's knowledge that would have indicated such a tragedy was looming. NYPD officials said Thursday that another routine inspection on Monday didn't reveal anything "untoward."

"We are trying to put the pieces together but so far cannot understand how something like this could have happened," de Blasio said.

Kids' drawings and photos decorated the small apartment where the children lived with their parents, the mayor said, describing the scene as painful to see.

"It was clearly a warm and loving household," de Blasio said.

Neighbors told NBC 4 New York they heard a loud boom at the time of the steam blast and fled the building.

"The babies came out, they were burned all over the body -- burned blue, and there was no fire, so steam coming from somewhere," said Martiza Morales, recalling they "were not moving at all."

The children's parents ran out in tears, neighbors said.

"They were screaming for help. They say the radiator exploded in there," said Annie Martinez.

Martinez said she was supposed to babysit for the children on Thursday, and hasn't been albe to sleep since the explosion. She said she had been complaining about conditions in her apartment for months and nothing was done until after the blast. 

"All these tenants have been giving complaints," she said. "All these violations and they didn't do anything about it."

Radio transmissions between the dispatcher and emergency responders revealed a grim scene.

"It looks like it might have been something to do with a heater," the dispatcher could be heard saying. "We don't know if it blew up or what. But a heater injured those two kids, and they're in cardiac arrest right now."

"We got a lot of calls for smoke, so it looks like it might have been steam," the dispatcher added.

The city's social services department said after the blast that the children and their family were among five placed at the apartment building being used as a so-called "cluster site" -- a building with a mix of renters and homeless families. The other families at the apartment were moved to other shelters.

"We are devastated by this tragedy," the department said in a statement. "We are investigating and taking steps to immediately transfer the four other families being sheltered at this location to another shelter.”

City records show that the apartment where the blast went off had no open violations with the city, but that the building itself had 60 violations. There had been 46 complaints called into 311 this year for the building, including three for radiators."

One of the landlords of the building was on the city advocate's list of the 100 worst landlords. NBC 4 New York has reached out to the landlord's attorney for comment.

In a statement Thursday, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said he was outraged by the deaths of the children and called on the city to release a roadmap to tackle the homeless crisis.

"Cluster sites can be extremely dangerous for homeless families. Hotels are extraordinarily expensive and provide limited services. These options make no sense," Stringer said. "That’s why we need a clear, transparent, public plan. While I know that progress will take time, we cannot continue to accept the status quo. The city promised to end its reliance on both of these forms of shelter – and we are no doubt trending in the wrong direction."

Stringer said cluster sites not previously identified for closure have more than 13,000 open violations, including 1,000 that are "high priority."

"What a horrifying loss," he said of the little girls who lost their lives. "My heart goes out to this family in this time of unimaginable pain."

De Blasio said Thursday the city wants to move away from cluster sites, but doesn't want homeless people living on the street. He said his administration would work to develop a timeline and additional strategic planning. In the meantime, he said the city will perform checks at 3,000 cluster sites.

A representative for the non-profit Bedco, which placed the Ambrose family, declined to comment to NBC 4 New York. The city said it was in the process of entering a contract with Bedco to place more homeless families.

<![CDATA[Suspect in Georgia Officer Shooting Dead ]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 16:35:30 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_officersshot111208_1500x845.jpg Authorities announced the death of Minquell Kennedy Lembrick, 32, on Dec. 8, 2016 after a manhunt stemming from a domestic abuse call at an Americus, Georgia apartment.

Photo Credit: NBC News ]]>
<![CDATA[6.5M Earthquake Off California]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 11:01:18 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ferndale1.jpg

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 struck Thursday morning about 100 miles of the coast of Ferndale, in Humboldt County, California.

There were no immediate reports of damage. The US Geological Survey originally reported the 6:50 a.m. PT quake as having a magnitude of 6.8. About 90 minutes later, the USGS reported a quake with a magnitude of 5.0 in the nearby area.

An area police dispatcher told NBC Bay Area that she barely felt it on land, and a USGS "did you feel it" map shows light shaking was felt in Eureka and the nearby California coast.

According to USGS responses, the quake was felt in Arcata, Fortuna and Fort Bragg with some responses as far away as San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

A tsunami is not expected for California, Oregon, Washington state and Alaska, the National Weather Service tweeted.

There are roughly 56 earthquakes in that range of the Richter scale each year, according to the USGS.

Photo Credit: USGS
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<![CDATA[Transgender Police Officer Helps Build Trust in DC]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 13:33:57 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2016-12-08-at-2.32.29-PM.jpg

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Sgt. Jessica Hawkins has been a police officer for 22 years. She’s served all over the country -- in rural areas, the mountains, and Washington, D.C., for the past 16 years. She told NBC Out that she was never more scared than when she came out as transgender to her work colleagues after transitioning in 2014. 

“At one point, I wanted to turn around and go home and just call in. I was like, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t.’ I was petrified,” Hawkins said.

But as she walked into her department’s office, her peers lined the hallways to show their support for her. At the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, Hawkins has found a niche as the head of the LGBT unit. 

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“It’s definitely relaxed the tensions between the transgender community and the police department, just because now I know what it’s like to be looked at differently and to be treated differently,” she said. 

Hawkins educates her co-workers on how to engage the LGBTQ community, advising them to ask people for their preferred pronouns and show other signs of respect. Based on civilian feedback, Hawkins feels like she’s making a difference, but she still understands “where the fear comes from” for trans citizens who are wary of persecution based on their identity. 

“If the community doesn’t trust the police officers, any part of the community, we have a problem,” Hawkins added.

Photo Credit: NBC Out
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<![CDATA[No Fire Alarms at Oakland Warehouse]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 07:38:15 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/oakland-warehouse-fire-investigation.jpg

The investigation into last week's devastating Oakland warehouse blaze has yet to reveal what caused the inferno, which claimed 36 lives and has been deemed the United States' deadliest fire in 13 years, federal officials said Wednesday.

City officials revealed that the building, which was used for artist's studios and illegal living spaces, hadn't been looked into by city building inspectors in over 30 years. And the NBC Bay Area I-Team found that there is no record that Oakland fire inspectors had been inside the warehouse in the last decade.

An electronic music party was in full swing at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse when a three-alarm fire sparked around 11:30 p.m. Friday. City officials identified two more victims — Jason McCarty, 35, and Wolfgang Renner, 61, both of Oakland — on Wednesday, bringing the total number of names released to 28. 

The Oakland fire has the highest number of casualties in the United States since a 2003 nightclub fire killed 100 people in Rhode Island, said Jill Snyder, special agent in charge of the San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Snyder, during a media briefing Wednesday, said there was no evidence a fire alarm or fire suppression system was installed at the warehouse, located at 1315 E. 31st Ave.

The fire appears to have started on the first floor of the warehouse and smoke trapped occupants on the second floor, Snyder said. It was "well developed" before second-floor occupants realized the building was engulfed. The building's two stairwells, which connected the first and second floors, did not lead to exits, she said. 

Reports pointing to a refrigerator as a cause for the fire are false, Snyder said, adding that investigators are not ruling it out. There is also no evidence the fire was intentionally set, she added.

Reporters grilled Darin Ranilletti, interim director of Oakland's Planning and Building Department, about a history of code violations at 1315 31st Avenue — the warehouse — and 1305 31st Avenue - the vacant lot next door.

"Our records didn't show that an inspector had been inside the building in the last year 30 years," Ranelletti said at a news conference. Building inspectors can only go inside a property when following up on a permit request or complaint about its interior, he said.

When asked about neighbors' complaints regarding house construction at the warehouse in 2014, Ranelletti clarified that their grievances were for the vacant lot adjacent to the warehouse. Not seeing construction on the vacant lot, inspectors dismissed the complaint, he said.

Most recently, Ranelletti said an inspector visited the vacant lot on Nov. 17 and 18, 2016, in response to a complaint about blight and an illegal interior building stucture. A notice of violation was issued, and the propety owner was given until Jan. 16 to respond.

"If we have an inspector that's looking at a particular property for which the complaint has been registered, he or she is not going to investigate adjacent properties on the street unless there's a physical obvious violation," Rannelletti said. "And at that time, that inspector did not see a physical, obvious violation at the warehouse."

The city employs about 11 building inspectors, Rannelletti said, who are tasked with handling an estimated 4,000 complaints a year. It's a similar situation at Oakland's Fire Prevention Bureau, which employs six fire inspectors, who had not stepped foot inside the warehouse in over a decade

One retired fire inspector told the I-Team that it is clear from pre-fire photos of the conditions there that such an inspection would have led to citations at the warehouse.

City Mayor Libby Schaaf said she will be working with city agencies to reform Oakland's building complaint system to prevent future tragedies.

However, Shelley Mack, a former tenant of the now-devastated warehouse where about 18 artists lived and worked, believes it was just a matter of time before the building that felt more like a maze went up in flames.

"This was senseless," Mack said. "This was exactly what I was trying to prevent."

Mack said she shelled out nearly $600 a month in rent, but lease-holder Derick Almena refused to make the building safer, instead profiting off those living inside.

"Derick isn’t a victim of the housing crisis," Mack said, but "a predator of the housing crisis."

Wednesday's updates to the investigation came hours after crews and cadaver dogs completed a search of the warehouse, with the death toll holding at 36. 

According to Alameda County sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly, the investigation has taken its toll, especially as those looking into the fire heard stories of people sending farewell texts to family members as the warehouse burned.

Families have received "messages of 'I am going to die. I love you,'" Kelly said, "and so those have been hard."

Thirty-two victims' families have been notified of their deaths, while three were being informed as of Wednesday afternoon. One victim needs scientific identification, officials explained.

"We will no longer find other victims — that's huge," Kelly said.  

On Tuesday, Oakland officials declared a local state of emergency because of the fire. The city council is scheduled to ratify the state of emergency on Thursday, which makes the city eligible for state and federal aid.

Mayor Schaaf said Wednesday that her top priority is making the city safer and addressing issues drudged up by the fatal fire.

"Oakland will move forward with compassion and an unwavering commitment to safety in all of its forms," Schaaf said.

Toward that end, she has spearheaded a national fire safety task force with help from the National Fire Protection Association — three representatives of which are currently aboard a flight heading to the East Bay — and U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell, Jr. 

"My immediate priorities for this task force are enhanced building safety, event safety and complaint procedures," Schaaf said. "Some areas where we'll be considering new regulations include smoke alarms, carbon monoxide monitors, enhanced fire inspections, stronger emergency exit requirements, the permitting of events and the monitoring of illegal events."

Schaaf stressed that it is essential to "clarify the responsibility of city employees to properly report any obs of dangerous living condtions and illegal events."

However, she stressed, "We will not scapegoat city employees in the wake of this disaster."

The city's Artist Housing and Workspace Task Force will also be reconvened and expanded, according to Schaaf, to "ensure that the arts community is fully engaged in this conversation."

Photo Credit: Provided to NBC News / Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook's Sandberg Says Fake News Didn't Sway Election]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 15:43:19 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-610719770-Sandberg.jpg

Facebook has faced backlash after fake news sites used the platform to spread misinformation about the nominees during the 2016 presidential election. But the social media giant's chief operating officer said Thursday the impact fake news had on the election has been exaggerated.

“There have been claims that it swayed the election, and we don't think it swayed the election,'' Sheryl Sandberg said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show.

Sandberg added that Facebook takes its responsibilities seriously and is looking into ways to keep fake news from spreading online without compromising freedom of expression.

During the election, fake news sites masked as informative websites published stories making untrue claims, including Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton running a sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. The latter led one man to bring a military-style rifle to the pizza shop in a misguided attempt to rescue child sex slaves he thought were held inside. 

Edgar Maddison Welch is now facing jail time after opening fire inside Comet Ping Pong. He told The New York Times "the intel on this wasn't 100 percent," but wouldn't dismiss the online claims.

A few weeks after the election, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed a new initiative to combat the diffusion of fake news. He wrote that he plans on "improving Facebook technical ability to detect misinformation, making it easier for users to report stories as untrue, working with fact checking organizations to create third-party verification and labeling stories that other users have flagged as false," NBC News reported.

While on "Today," Sandberg also revealed Facebook’s top global stories in 2016. The American election dominated for the second year in a row as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took center stage internationally. 

Sandberg said that she thought the new Facebook Live feature allowed Americans to engage with the political process in a way they hadn’t before. By being able to live stream clips from the debates, for example, the electorate had unprecedented access to political discourse at all hours and regardless of location. Sandberg also said Facebook Live has given the Black Lives Matter movement visibility that catapulted the civil rights protesters into the spotlight. 

“Black Lives Matter has been happening for years,” Sandberg said. “This was the first year it broke into top 10 on Facebook, and we think that's partially because the power of live helps people bear witness."

Photo Credit: Slaven Vlasic/ Getty Images for Advertising Wee
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<![CDATA[IIHS' Safest Vehicles for 2017]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 06:20:31 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Headlights-GettyImages-541385478.jpg

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded 82 new vehicles as the safest picks for 2017.

Of the 82 vehicles awarded Thursday, 38 earned the highest ranking of Top Safety Pick+. Those vehicles not only earned good ratings in five crash test evaluations but have effective features that can prevent crashes, the IIHS said.

Toyota/Lexus led among automakers with nine of its 2017 models making the Top Safety Pick+ list. Honda and its Acura division had five Top Safety Pick+ awards.

Meanwhile, 44 vehicles were in the Top Safety Pick category, one ranking lower. 

IIHS said that it toughened the criteria for Top Safety Pick+ to reflect headlight evaluations that it launched this year. Only seven of the vehicles in the top category earned a good rating for headlights.

The vehicles that got a good headlight rating are: Chevrolet Volt small car, Honda Ridgeline pickup, Hyundai Elantra small car, Hyundai Santa Fe midsize SUV, Subaru Legacy midsize car, Toyota Prius v midsize car and Volvo XC60 midsize luxury SUV.

"The field of contenders is smaller this year because so few vehicles have headlights that do their job well, but it's not as small as we expected when we decided to raise the bar for the awards," IIHS President Adrian Lund said in a report.

The 2017 report also found that autobrake features are becoming more common, with 21 of this year's winners including a standard front crash prevention system with automatic braking capabilities. 

Here’s the complete list of this year’s winners.

Photo Credit: Getty/File]]>