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    Nicole McDonald has reluctantly documented her family's experience as her twin sons who were attached at the head faced their most difficult surgery yet last week. But if supporters of her family read anything she hopes, it's her message to them and the doctors who saved her children. 

    In a lengthy and emotional Facebook update on Saturday, the Illinois mother shared that as she and her husband "emerged from the depths of the hospital" in New York City last week, they were forced to face the fact that their family's private battle has quickly become a national story. 

    "For those of you who don't know us, it might be interesting to note that we do not have TV or Internet access at home," she wrote. "We don't get to watch the news on a regular basis and we have literally spent the last 36 hours at the boys' bedside or waiting for updates from the doctors in the Caregiver Support Center at Montefiore."

    McDonald's 13-month old sons, Jadon and Anias, were separated following 16 hours of surgery at Montefiore Medical Center. 

    McDonald noted that at first, she didn't want to take her family's unique situation public, but agreed because they wanted to help show the medical miracle that would soon separate her sons. 

    "Our biggest desire was to show how brilliant the team at Montefiore has been and to give the hospital the credit it deserves," she wrote. "The real heroes of this story are the people who have put countless hours, days and months into the success of today."

    McDonald had been sharing updates on the surgery as the boys returned to their room one by one. 

    Hours later, McDonald wrote that the brothers had been "finally reunited."

    "How surreal. I now realize that I always saw you as separate because seeing you like this is really nothing different to me," McDonald wrote. "When I stand at your bedside, Jadon, it's almost as if Anias is still there. Anias, when I leaned over you I protected my hair from Jadon. But the view is still the same. This is how I always saw you. I love you so much. Now it's time to step forward into the new chapter of our life. I'm ready to fight and I know you are too."

    McDonald earlier described the atmosphere as "one of celebration mixed with uncertainty." She says Jadon did better than Anias during the procedure, adding that doctors predict he may not be able to move part of his body at first. 

    "When they told me they were wheeling Jadon up first, it took me a second to comprehend," she wrote. "I actually asked why they rearranged the room because I hadn't really internalized the idea that there would be 2 beds in here."

    McDonald and her husband first found out they were having twins during a routine ultrasound when she was 17 weeks pregnant. But hours after learning the big news, the couple was called back for a repeat ultrasound, a call she said is "every pregnant mother's nightmare."

    "It was on that day, in that dark room, that our whole life changed," McDonald wrote in a GoFundMe page for the family. "I was informed that I was pregnant with craniopagus twins, which in normal language means twins who are joined at the head. I was given the option on many occasions to abort my precious babies. I kindly declined. I had heard their heart beats...they spent their life listening to mine. It was my job as their mother to give them life and I decided that I would give everything up, if need be, to do so. Miracles happen...and there is one (really, two :)) unfolding before our very eyes."

    McDonald went into labor on Sept. 9, 2015 and an emergency c-section was performed at Rush University Medical Center. 

    The boys were named Jadon and Anias. 

    While the babies started having some health problems shortly after birth, things quickly "went downhill" for the McDonald family.

    "Anias started having trouble breathing," McDonald wrote. "Because of the way he was positioned in my belly, his chin was against his chest and his jaw couldn't grow. His airway was also constricted. As he required more oxygen for day to day life, his breathing got worse and worse, until eventually he was back on oxygen."

    Months later, the couple met with a specialist in hopes of successfully separating the twins. Fast forward to October, the babies have undergone their final surgery, but their most difficult. 

    The family's GoFundMe page had raised $161,161 as of Friday, exceeding their goal of $100,000 to aid with the babies' medical care. 

    McDonald thanked those who helped her family during the trying time, saying "each and every one of you is a hero in your own way."

    "The people who literally lift us up and carry us when we feel like we just can't take another step. We are so blessed to have so much support in our corner," she wrote. 

    Most recently, McDonald said the boys are stable, but "there are some things happening that I can't really find the words to explain or allow myself to dwell on."

    "Every thing changes from hour to hour and we just have to remember that the brain responds in crazy ways when it's been cut through," she wrote. "We still cannot hold the boys because they are intubated so we sit at their bedside and hold their hands, give them massages and kiss their faces. When I have a better understanding of their actual status, I will do my best to update. Thank you so much for your heartfelt support."


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    Your sweet tooth is in for a treat. Mars Chocolate has announced that M&M’s are getting a new filling — caramel.

    A video on the M&M's Twitter account said caramel M&M's, with a deep blue package, will be available in May. 

    CNN Money reported that it’s the first time the company is using caramel as a permanent filling. M&M has a history of trying out different flavors, and occasionally a new filling, such as peanuts, or pretzels. But a caramel center is very different.

    "Caramel is extremely trendy," Vice-President of Research and Development of Mars Chocolate Hank Izzo told CNN. "It's a $2.2 billion flavor segment and the fastest growing segment in food right now. We want to be part of this category."

    Izzo also told the news agency it's still getting the manufacturing process ready — hence the monthslong wait.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    M&M's are viewed in the M&M store in Times Square on July 24, 2014, in New York City. The popular candy is getting a caramel filling in 2017.M&M's are viewed in the M&M store in Times Square on July 24, 2014, in New York City. The popular candy is getting a caramel filling in 2017.

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    Political endorsements aren't just for newspapers anymore.

    Facebook is letting you explain your picks for political office by publishing your own endorsements of political figures. And if the candidate likes your post, they can feature it on a new endorsements tab on their page.

    To endorse a politician, go their page, select endorse and write your endorsement. See Facebook's full instructions here.

    Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein hadn't added any endorsements as of 2:45 p.m. ET Tuesday — so it's not clear who's winning the unofficial Facebook caucus just yet.



    Photo Credit: File – Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

    A big logo created from pictures of Facebook users worldwide is pictured in the company's Data Center, its first outside the U.S., on November 7, 2013, in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland.A big logo created from pictures of Facebook users worldwide is pictured in the company's Data Center, its first outside the U.S., on November 7, 2013, in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland.

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    A statue of Hillary Clinton in the buff has popped up in Manhattan.

    Photos posted to social media Tuesday morning showed a statue of the Democratic presidential nominee wearing an open blouse in Bowling Green.

    The depiction appears to show Clinton with cloven hooves. A man in a suit -- reportedly a Wall Street banker -- peeks from behind the Clinton as she waves her hands in the air.

    A video later posted to Instagram shows a woman knocking over the statue before sitting on it. The Instagram user who posted the video said that the woman threatened to attack a man who tried to pick the effigy back up. 

    The woman spotted in the video was an employee with the National Museum of the American Indian, according to a spokesman for the Smithsonian Institute, which administers the lower Manhattan museum.  

    "(She) was acting as a private citizen who was personally offended by the statue," the spokesman said. "Museum management is currently evaluating the situation with the employee."

    The NYPD said that no artists have come forward taking responsibility for the piece and that no one was arrested or ticketed over the artwork.

    The fracas comes after several statues of a naked Donald Trump were placed around the country -- including in Union Square.

    One of those statues was later placed on a roof in Jersey City, welcoming drivers as they headed toward the Lincoln Tunnel. 

    It's not clear if the statue of Clinton will be removed by city workers. After the Trump statue was placed in Union Square, the city Parks Department said in a statement "NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small."



    Photo Credit: @brklynenna/Instagram
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    The depiction appears to show Clinton with cloven hooves.The depiction appears to show Clinton with cloven hooves.

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    A new national poll by the University of Massachusetts Lowell finds that nearly a quarter of millennials would prefer to see a meteor strike Earth than either of the major 2016 presidential candidates in the White House.

    The Odyssey Millennials poll released on Tuesday was conducted October 10 through 13 and asked Americans ages 18 to 35 about their attitudes and opinions on the upcoming election. Questions covered irreverent options about the candidates as well as serious issues such as race relations, immigration and the legalization of marijuana.

    Respondents were asked to choose their preference in the race for president, with Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 61-22, with Gary Johnson at 9 percent and Jill Stein at 5 percent.

    Clinton also fared well up against Trump, a random lottery to choose the president from all American citizens, President Barack Obama appointing himself to a life term or a giant meteor striking Earth and extinguishing all human life. Thirty-three percent of respondents ranked her first, followed by Obama staying in the White House for life at 27 percent. Trump's 16 percent just edged out the meteor and the lottery, which pulled 12 percent each.

    But when asked about their preference a different way, the poll found that 39 percent of those surveyed said they preferred Obama serve a life term over either a Clinton or a Trump presidency. Twenty-six percent prefer a random lottery to choose the next president over the two leading candidates winning and 23 percent (nearly 1 in 4) prefer a giant meteor strike to them.

    "We do not take our respondents at their word that they are earnestly interested in seeing the world end, but we do take their willingness to rank two constitutional crises and a giant meteor ahead of these two candidates with startling frequency as a sign of displeasure and disaffection with the candidates and the 2016 election," said Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of UMass Lowell's Center for Public Opinion, who wrote and analyzed the independent, nonpartisan poll, in a statement.

    The poll was based on responses from nearly 1,250 people and has a margin of error of 3.2 percent, which rises to 4.3 percent for likely voters.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on stage during the town hall debate at Washington University on Sunday, October 9, 2016, in St Louis. With the race in its final stages, a new poll asked millennials which candidate they prefer for president, and much more.Presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on stage during the town hall debate at Washington University on Sunday, October 9, 2016, in St Louis. With the race in its final stages, a new poll asked millennials which candidate they prefer for president, and much more.

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    A trio of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 owners have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Samsung USA, alleging that phone owners have "incurred millions of dollars in fees" while waiting for replacement phones.

    The lawsuit doesn't focus on the fires and overheating that sparked two recalls — the initial phone, then the replacement version Samsung released — but on the ongoing costs of paying for the devices and cell plans they were not able to use safely.

    About 1.9 million Galaxy Note 7s were recalled in the United States, after 96 batteries overheated and 13 burns were reported, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The suit, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey and made public Tuesday, claims that, on aggregate, people who bought or were financing Galaxy Note 7 phones lost over $5 million.

    The first recall was issued Sept. 15, and the second came just under a month later, on Oct. 13. In each case, Samsung and the CPSC asked users to power the phones down and replace or refund them, and with the second recall, it announced it was discontinuing the smart phone, just two months after it was launched. The phones are now banned on planes flying to, from or within the United States, including checked baggage.

    A company representatives said Samsung does not comment on pending litigation.

    Samsung has instructions for how to replace or refund phones on its website.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    A Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is held up as other Note 7 phones sit on a counter after they were returned to a Best Buy on September 15, 2016 in Orem, Utah, when the Consumer Safety Commission announced a safety recall on Samsung's new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after users reported that some of the devices caught fire when charging.A Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is held up as other Note 7 phones sit on a counter after they were returned to a Best Buy on September 15, 2016 in Orem, Utah, when the Consumer Safety Commission announced a safety recall on Samsung's new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after users reported that some of the devices caught fire when charging.

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    A Mexican judge who handled legal challenges from drug kingpins, including Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was gunned down in front of his home in Mexico City on Monday, Reuters reported.

    Judge Vicente Bermudez was fatally shot in the head, authorities said, and President Enrique Pena Nieto quickly announced his attorney general is investigating the shooting.

    Bermudez has handled overseen trials and legal challenges in the state of Mexico, outside the capital, since March. Miguel Trevino, ex-leader of the Zetas cartel, is jailed in Mexico's maximum security Altiplano prison, and Guzman was housed there before being transferred to a prison near the U.S. border.



    Photo Credit: Security footage obtained by Telemundo
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    A still of surveillance footage showing the shooting of Judge Vicente Bermudez Zacarias in Mexico City on Monday, October 17, 2016.A still of surveillance footage showing the shooting of Judge Vicente Bermudez Zacarias in Mexico City on Monday, October 17, 2016.

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    The 2016 presidential race has been contentious and full of surprises. Check out scenes from the campaign trail.

    Photo Credit: AP

    Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Oct. 17, 2016, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Oct. 17, 2016, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

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  • 10/18/16--19:05: 4 Shot at San Fran. School

  • Classes at a San Francisco high school are set to resume Wednesday after four students were shot just outside the campus, prompting a lockdown and sending waves of panic through local parents and students.

    Police continue to search for four suspects tied to the shooting reported Tuesday afternoon at the parking lot of June Jordan School for Equity. The campus is located in the city's Excelsior District.

    Police said at least three students were shot outside as school was dismissed for the day at around 3:15 p.m. A fourth victim, a male student, walked into the Bayview Police Station in San Francisco hours later with a gunshot wound. All four were students at the school.

    Four male suspects approached the school on foot before the shooting took place, police said. They shot two male students and a female student, who suffered a life-threatening injury. All three students ran back into the school after they were shot. They were transported to San Francisco General Hospital.

    The four suspects, who were all wearing black hoodies, were last seen running away on Brazil Avenue, police said.

    San Francisco Unified School District officials said the school immediately went on lockdown after the gunshots were fired because of fears of an active shooter. The lockdown was lifted after the scene was declared safe by police shortly after 4 p.m.

    Parents and grandparents came rushing to the school looking for their students after the scene was cleared.

    During the initial response, a swarm of police squad cars responded to reports of shots fired at Brazil and La Grande avenues.

    Students were too shaken to speak on camera to NBC Bay Area, but said they heard what sounded like fireworks right when school was letting out. Dozens of students came running back into the school.

    Police said classes at June Jordan High School will resume Wednesday and counselors will be available for students. Extra security will also be on campus Wednesday, school officials said.

    The scene where the shooting took place, 325 La Grande Ave., is the address for the June Jordan High School as well as City Arts And Tech High School.



    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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    Police investigate a shooting outside a school in San Francisco that left four students injured. (Oct. 18, 2016)Police investigate a shooting outside a school in San Francisco that left four students injured. (Oct. 18, 2016)

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    While Donald Trump has raised the specter of voter fraud involving the identities of dead voters on Nov. 8, elections experts say such fears are based in more fantasy than fact, NBC News reported.

    "It is possible to have some votes stolen in this way, but it's not possible to be done on a wide scale," said Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois-Chicago political science professor, who said there are many safeguards in place to prevent such fraud.

    And Simpson would know — he's also a former Chicago alderman.

    "The voting process is decentralized from state to state," he said. "There's no one button you can push to rig an election" and have thousands of votes be cast by dead people.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Experts say that Trump's claim that dead voters will sway the election is unlikely.Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Experts say that Trump's claim that dead voters will sway the election is unlikely.

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    A new survey by the online real estate firm Zillow shows that about one half of homebuyers in the United States are under the age of 36.

    The Zillow study, released Tuesday, highlighted trends that the firm said are transforming the housing market. Among them: Forty-seven percent of homebuyers are millennials and 63 percent of people selling real estate are doing so for the first time.

    "The Millennial generation is driving more of the housing market than we previously understood," said Zillow Group's chief economist, Stan Humphries, in the study's forward.

    The 200-page report surveyed more than 13,000 residents across the United States between the ages of 18 and 75. The average settled homeowner is white, a Baby Boomer and has a college degree; more than half earn less than $75,000 a year. 

    The report also showed the fast-paced nature of the current housing market: Many buyers (52 percent) also considered renting and less than half of those surveyed secured the first home they made an offer on.

    In addition, Zillow said more people are renting longer than previous generations and the sweeping majority shop for homes online. The study's authors linked that to millennials being more collaborative about home buying.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

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    While the presidential candidates debate in Las Vegas Wednesday, a fleet of taco trucks is set to line up to create a "wall" outside the Trump International Las Vegas hotel, NBC News reported.

    It's a response to Donald Trump's pledge to build a wall separating the U.S. and Mexico, and a cheeky reaction to a Trump supporter's warning in early September that the unchecked expansion of Latino culture in the U.S. would lead to "taco trucks on every corner." (Many viewers welcomed that notion.)

    Over 35 taco trucks were already helping to register eligible voters on Tuesday, Nevada's voter registration deadline, according to American Bridge PAC.

    "We did not come up with the idea for the wall, Donald Trump came up with building the wall," said Yvanna Cancela, political director of the Culinary Workers Union 226 in Las Vegas. "We are all coming together to make sure that Donald Trump never becomes president."



    Photo Credit: Pili Tobar
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    Photo of taco trucks parked in Las Vegas, drawing in potential eligible voters to register people to vote on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. More trucks are set to form a Photo of taco trucks parked in Las Vegas, drawing in potential eligible voters to register people to vote on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. More trucks are set to form a "wall" at Trump International Las Vegas on Wednesday.

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    The fall of the ISIS-held city of Mosul in Iraq would mean the fall of ISIS’s caliphate as well. That's according to the commander leading the U.S.-backed Iraqi ground forces pushing toward the city to oust the extremist terror group.

    “ISIS has said this is the crown jewel of Iraq and its idea of a caliphate,” Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky told NBC News Tuesday. “There’s not going to be a caliphate, if there ever really was one. So for ISIL, this is going to be a key loss for them, and it will be a loss.”

    Volesky expressed confidence in the military offensive, praising Iraqi troops for driving quickly toward Mosul.

    “Iraqis have the momentum,” he said.

    ISIS took control of Mosul two and a half years ago.  



    Photo Credit: AP

    Smoke rises from Islamic state positions after an airstrike by coalition forces in Mosul, Iraq, Oct. 18, 2016. The pace of operations slowed on Tuesday as Iraqi forces began pushing toward larger villages and encountering civilian populations on the second day of a massive operation to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group.Smoke rises from Islamic state positions after an airstrike by coalition forces in Mosul, Iraq, Oct. 18, 2016. The pace of operations slowed on Tuesday as Iraqi forces began pushing toward larger villages and encountering civilian populations on the second day of a massive operation to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group.

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    Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 250,000 vehicles because of a variety of issues, including air bags not inflating during a crash.

    The recall covers over 180,000 Jeep Wrangler SUV’s from the 2016 and 2017 model years with air bag issues - all in the US and Canada.

    In government documents, Fiat Chrysler says wiring to a sensor can come loose, cutting off signals to an air bag computer. If that happens, the seat belt pretensionsers won't work and the air bag won't deploy.

    The problem was discovered during company crash tests. Fiat Chrysler recalled nearly 1.9 million vehicles worldwide last month for the same problem.

    Also recalled were nearly 75,000 Dodge vehicles that have a potential fire risk after tests were conducted. Those models include: Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups, 3500, 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs from the model years 2007 to 2013 as well as Dodge Charger Pursuits from the model years 2011 to 2014.

    Owners will be notified when to bring in their cars for service.


    The recall covers over 180,000 Jeep Wrangler SUV’s from the 2016 and 2017 model years with air bag issues - all in the US and Canada.The recall covers over 180,000 Jeep Wrangler SUV’s from the 2016 and 2017 model years with air bag issues - all in the US and Canada.

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    Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida warned his Republican colleagues not to discuss the WikiLeaks dump of emails stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign chair John Podesta. 

    "I will not discuss any issue that has become public solely on the basis of WikiLeaks," said Rubio in a statement to NBC News, breaking with Donald Trump's approach. "As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it."

    Rubio did not mention Trump by name, but he is clearly departing from his former rival on the issue. Trump has repeatedly brought up the WikiLeaks' hack, accusing the media of ignoring the stolen emails in an effort to protect Clinton.

    "I want to warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks," Rubio said. "Today it is the Democrats. Tomorrow it could be us."



    Photo Credit: AP

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a debate with Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., at the University of Central Florida, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Orlando, Florida.Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a debate with Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., at the University of Central Florida, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Orlando, Florida.

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    Two Americans — a service member and a civilian — were killed in a attack near a coalition base in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday, the U.S. military said, NBC News reported.

    A U.S. service member and two American civilians were also wounded and in a stable condition, according to a statement by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.

    The attack was carried out by an "unknown assailant who was later killed," the statement said. It did not offer any more details about the nature of the attack.

    The Americans were conducting duties as part of NATO's wider mission to "train, advise and assist" the Afghan security forces in their ongoing fight against the Taliban and other groups.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    An aerial view of Kabul near Hamid Karzai International Airport on Feb. 22, 2015, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.An aerial view of Kabul near Hamid Karzai International Airport on Feb. 22, 2015, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

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    A young mother says a stranger walked up to her inside the Overland Park, Kansas, Walmart and attempted to steal her baby before he started choking her four-month-old.

    Overland Park Police said the woman stopped by the Walmart on Wednesday morning to pick up a few items when she was approached by an unidentified man at checkout, NBC affiliate KSHB reported. 

    The stranger then attempted to grab the infant out of a cart and flee. He began choking the baby until it turned red, police said. The mother screamed for help and other shoppers tackled the man and subdued him until police arrived. The suspect remains in police custody.

    The mother told police she did not know the man. Authorities said the man may have been under the influence.

    The child was treated at the scene and was not seriously injured in the attack, KSHB reported. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    A Kansas mother says a stranger choked her baby at a Walmart store.A Kansas mother says a stranger choked her baby at a Walmart store.

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    The NYPD sergeant who shot and killed an emotionally disturbed 66-year-old woman at her apartment in the Bronx Tuesday after she charged him with a bat has been placed on modified duty as top city officials, including the mayor and the head of the police department, condemn the gunfire.

    Police Commissioner James O'Neill said after a breakfast in the city Wednesday that it appeared some NYPD protocol as it relates to emotionally disturbed individuals was not followed in the case of Deborah Danner, who was shot twice after police responded to her apartment building. 

    "What is clear in this one instance, we failed. I want to know why it happened," O'Neill said. "We do have policies and procedures for handling emotionally disturbed people and it looks like some of those procedures weren't followed." 

    Mayor de Blasio said there had been past 911 reports regarding Danner, who had schizophrenia. Danner's sister, Jennifer, had been there many of those times to help authorities take Deborah to the hospital. She was there Tuesday, expecting police to help escort her sister out safely as they had in the past. 

    "She said she'd seen it done the right way and expected it to be done that way this time as well," de Blasio said. "You can only imagine the pain she feels having had to stand there and hear the shots fired and the recognition coming over her that she had lost her sister."

    Both de Blasio and O'Neill pledged a thorough investigation. Officials will be looking into why the sergeant did not deploy his stun gun, for example. 

    Dozens of people called for justice for Danner in a march Wednesday night through the streets of Castle Hill. 

    "There's no justification for killing a 66-year-old mentally ill woman," one protester said.

    "We're hurt, we're neighbors," another said. 

    De Blasio said the sergeant who shot Danner, an eight-year department veteran identified by the police union as Hugh Barry, was among the thousands of cops who received proper training as it relates to the mentally ill. 

    "Something went horribly wrong here," the mayor said. "It's quite clear our officers are supposed to use deadly force only when faced with a dire situation and it's very hard for any of us to see that that standard was met here."

    "Deborah Danner should be alive right now, period," de Blasio added. "If the protocols had been followed, she would be alive. It's as simple as that." 

    The state attorney general's office said on Wednesday that it was reviewing the shooting to determine if it fell under a 2015 executive order assigning Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as the case's special prosecutor.

    Officers were called to Danner's seventh-floor apartment on Pugsley Avenue in Castle Hill after a neighbor called 911 to report a disturbance. Barry encountered Danner in her bedroom; she was naked and armed with scissors, officials said. He persuaded her to put down the scissors but as he was coaxing her out of the room, she picked up the baseball bat and charged him. 

    That's when Barry fired two shots from his service gun, officials said. Danner was struck twice in the torso. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.

    Danner's cousin, retired NYPD officer Wallace Cooke Jr., said that the officers responding to the call should have taken more care with the woman. 

    "They have been here numerous, numerous times over the years," she said. "Debbie was sick since she was in college."

    Cooke added, "they have to do a better job of handling mental illness."

    Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association, said Barry was patient in trying to deescalate the situation. He said Barry was trying to convince Danner to leave the bedroom in a peaceful manner when she grabbed the bat, ignored his demands to drop it, and aimed the weapon at his head.

    "Fearing for his own life, as well as the lives of others, Sgt. Barry fired two shots from his service weapon and mortally wounded Ms. Danner," Mullins said in a statement. "He immediately ordered medical treatment for her, unfortunately to no avail. Sgt. Hugh Barry, an eight-year department veteran with an exemplary record, took immediate charge of the situation. As a frontline supervisor, it is his responsibility to do so."

    Mullins said "police work is not an exact science" and Barry had to make a split second decision. De Blasio -- and others -- say he made the wrong call. The mayor says NYPD training calls for isolation and containment of mentally ill patients; Barry should have held the woman at bay, protecting her, himself and the other officers at the scene, until members of the Emergency Services Unit arrived, he says.

    Barry has been the subject of two lawsuits in 2010 and 2011 alleging brutality, according to court records. The first was settled for $25,000 and the second for $10,000.

    Democratic State Sen. Ruben Diaz said the shooting was indefensible.

    "To me, it is very difficult to understand how a woman who is [66] years old and has emotional problems should have to die like this, especially if there are four or five police officers in the room with her," he said in a statement. "This elderly woman was known to the police department, yet the officer involved in this shooting failed to use discretion to either talk her down from her episode or, barring that, to use his stun gun."

    Diaz says officers need to better trained in dealing with mentally ill people and that if they must shoot, to shoot in the leg. 

    De Blasio acknowledged the need for better training Wednesday. He also said the "tragic" case underscores the importance of addressing mental health issues as early as possible and putting more efficient government systems in place to provide consistent support to decades-long sufferers like Danner.

    "We're dealing with human beings. Human beings sometimes make mistakes. Our job is to minimize those mistakes as much as possible," de Blasio said.



    Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

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    Julian Assange can’t access his internet after the service was cut off by the Ecuadorian embassy, so a Canadian comedian is bringing it to him. Bobby Mair has begun to stand outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange is, shouting the days news to the WikiLeaks founder, NBC News reported.

    Mair uses a bullhorn and holds up a sign, reading "Julian Assange’s Personal Internet Service." "In your hometown right now of Townsville, it's like 32 degrees [Celsius, 90 Fahrenheit]. Maybe some of your childhood friends are having a nice day." Mair shouted. "Maybe you could write them a letter."

    NBC News said it’s unclear whether Assange was listening or appreciative of the comedian's efforts.



    Photo Credit: AP
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    The Ecuadorian national flag flies outside their London Embassy, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Comedian Bobby Mair has been standing outside the embassy reading the news to Julian Assange through a bullhorn since the WikiLeaks founder's internet access was cut off.The Ecuadorian national flag flies outside their London Embassy, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Comedian Bobby Mair has been standing outside the embassy reading the news to Julian Assange through a bullhorn since the WikiLeaks founder's internet access was cut off.

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    North Carolina is offering a reward of $5,000 for information that can help authorities find and arrest whoever is responsible for firebombing a local Republican Party headquarters last weekend, NBC News reported.

    Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, called it an “assault on democracy.” Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence visited the site Tuesday, calling the attack an “act of terrorism.”

    Authorities said a bottle containing a flammable substance was thrown through the front window at the offices. Swastikas were also painted on a nearby wall, threatening “Nazi Republicans” to leave town “or else.”

    Both Republicans and Democrats condemned the attack, with Democrats creating a GoFundMe page to help raise money to reopen the office. The group said it has raised about $13,000 so far.



    Photo Credit: AP

    Workers at the Orange County GOP office set up a makeshift operation with folding tables on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 in Hillsborough, N.C.Workers at the Orange County GOP office set up a makeshift operation with folding tables on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 in Hillsborough, N.C.

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