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US and World News

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    Another day, another media outlet drawing the wrath of President-elect Donald Trump. 

    Today it's Vanity Fair, which reviewed Trump Grill, the steakhouse in the lobby of Trump Tower, under the scathing headline, "Trump Grill Could Be the Worst Restaurant in America."

    The clubby restaurant, according to the magazine, is a "cheap version of rich," featuring "flaccid, gray Szechuan dumplings with their flaccid, gray innards," "a stingy number of French-ish paintings that look as though they were bought from Home Goods," and a steak that was "overcooked and mealy, with an ugly strain of pure fat running through it, crying out for A.1. sauce." 

    The mocking takeaway was replete with lines like these: 

    "Renowned butcher Pat LaFrieda once dared me to eat an eyeball that he himself popped out of the skull of a roasted pig. That eyeball tasted better than the Trump Grill's (Grille's) Gold Label Burger, a Pat LaFrieda–branded short-rib burger blend molded into a sad little meat thing, sitting in the center of a massive, rapidly staling brioche bun, hiding its shame under a slice of melted orange cheese." 

    And: "If the cheeseburger is a quintessential part of America's identity, Trump's pledge to 'make America great again' suddenly appeared not very promising. (Presumably, Trump's Great America tastes like an M.S.G.-flavored kitchen sponge lodged between two other sponges.)"

    On Twitter, Trump was understandably less than pleased with the magazine and its editor, Graydon Carter, though without mentioning the pan of his place: "Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!"

    Trump and Carter have a long history of antipathy. Carter was a co-founder of Spy magazine, which skewered Trump mercilessly as a vulgar representative of ostentation in New York in the 1980s. 

    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    Donald Trump.Donald Trump.

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    The Kremlin on Thursday disputed an NBC News' report that U.S. intelligence has documented Vladimir Putin's personal involvement in a Russian intelligence operation to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.

    Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told The Associated Press the report was "laughable nonsense."

    Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, accused "Western media" of being a "shill" and a "mouthpiece of various power groups."

    NBC News reported Thursday night that two senior officials with direct access to the information say new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used. The intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said.

    Appearing on MSNBC Thursday, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said: "We just don't think Russia would engage in activities like hacking American political organizations without the approvals from the highest level of government. And we are considering what are the responses that can be taken."

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    A nightclub and event venue outside Washington, D.C. is receiving threatening phone calls and online comments after the small business chose not to host an inauguration party called the DeploraBall. 

    DeploraBall organizers say Clarendon Ballroom cancelled the event booking because they caved to pressure from Hillary Clinton supporters.

    But managers of the venue say they never had a contract with the party's organizers, who they say sold more than 500 tickets to their venue without their knowledge.

    "We cannot cancel an event that was never booked. There was never an in-person meeting with organizers, never a hand shake and definitely not signed contracts or deposits," Clarendon Ballroom said in a statement issued Thursday evening.

    Some calls and messages Clarendon Ballroom received were so threatening that they called police. Arlington County police are monitoring the situation, spokeswoman Ashley Savage said. The department is not aware of any credible threat.

    The Arlington, Virginia, venue was contacted last week by a man who said he wanted to throw an inaugural party for an organization called Citizens for Trump, they say. 

    Managers say they sent the man a proposal and spoke with him by phone, but they did not sign a contract.

    On Monday, they say they learned from a tweet more than 500 tickets had been sold for an event at their venue called the DeploraBall. Then, they say that on Tuesday evening a for-profit company requested a contract. 

    "Clarendon Ballroom made the business decision not to issue that contract due to the suspicious actions of the organizers," the company's statement said. 

    Organizer Jack Posobiec said Clarendon Ballroom cancelled the event when word got out of social media that it would occur there. 

    "The minute they did that regarding our event, they got a slew of comments and negativity regarding us, and after that, almost immediately after that, the Clarendon Ballroom called and cancelled our arrangement," he said. 

    A Washington Post reporter tweeted Monday night that DeploraBall organizers were selling tickets. Clarendon Ballroom responded in a tweet the following morning that no event was contracted for the day.

    Another DeploraBall organizer, Mike Cernovich, said in a video posted to his Twitter page that he also believes Clarendon Ballroom fell to pressure from people who oppose President-elect Donald Trump.

    "They caved to left-wing harassment," he said in the video.

    Cernovich, a self-described "American nationalist" who The New Yorker called "the meme mastermind of the alt-right," showed in the video what appeared to be a proposal from Clarendon Ballroom. He did not show a signed contract.

    Cernovich did not respond to a request for comment. 

    The event scheduled for Jan. 19 will have guests that have contributed to alt-right websites. 

    The alt-right is a conservative political movement that mixes racism, populism and white nationalism. 

    Since Clarendon Ballroom said they would not host DeploraBall, they say they have been overwhelmed by threats.

    "I have literally spent my entire day blocking people and deleting hundreds of slanderous, dangerous, vulgar and threatening posts and tweets, answering threatening phone calls and watching my first ever Twitter War," operations director Adrianne Freshman wrote in an email obtained by News4.

    Last month, the D.C. location of the restaurant chain Maggiano's Little Italy apologized after they say they hosted the National Policy Institute without knowing they are a white nationalist group. Members of the group offered praise of Adolf Hitler inside the restaurant.

    Maggiano's said in a statement that they would donate the profits of the group's sales that night, $10,000, to the D.C. office of the Anti-Defamation League.

    Some Trump supporters began calling themselves "deplorables" after Clinton used the word at a fundraiser in September.

    “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” she said to applause. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

    Located in a historic building with an Art Deco sign, Clarendon Ballroom opened in 2000 and regularly hosts weddings and dance parties.

    Organizers say the event will go on, at a new, to-be-announced location. Unlike many inauguration parties, ticket costs are low, at $30 each.

    Photo Credit: NBC Washington

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    The obituary of a York, Maine, man is getting plenty of attention for its humor-infused celebration of his life.

    Chris Connors died last week at 67 “after trying to box his bikini-clad hospice nurse just moments earlier,” according to the obituary published to

    Speaking to necn over the phone, his daughter, Caitlin Connors, said he came up with the idea a few months before his death.

    She said, “It's going to make people laugh and bring people together."

    The obituary touches on humorous parts of his life, saying, “Most people thought he was crazy for swimming in the ocean in January; for being a skinny Irish Golden Gloves boxer from Quincy, Massachusetts; for dressing up as a priest and then proceeding to get into a fight at a Jewish deli. Many gawked at his start of a career on Wall Street without a financial background - but instead with an intelligent, impish smile, love for the spoken word, irreverent sense of humor, and stunning blue eyes that could make anyone fall in love with him.”

    It added, “Throughout his life, he was an accomplished hunter and birth control device tester (with some failures, notably Caitlin Connors, 33; Chris Connors, 11; and Liam Connors, 8).”

    Connors said since the obituary has been gaining attention, more than $10,000 in donations have been made to the Chris Connors Fund for water safety.

    Chris Connors was a scuba diver and started the search and rescue program in York, Maine, training firefighters how to perform water rescues. This summer there will be a free day at the beach to train people in CPR and learn other life safety tips.

    His family is having a celebration of his life at the York Harbor Inn on Monday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Since the obituary went viral, they have been hearing from strangers who want to join the party.

    Photo Credit: Caitlin Connors

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    Bunker Hill, Indiana has been left without a police department after the town marshal and four reserve deputies resigned over complaints about mismanagement and unethical requests from the town council, NBC News reported.

    Town Marshal Michael Thomison, in his resignation letter, accused the town board of engaging in illegal, immoral and unethical actions, including requests to conduct criminal background checks on other board members and retaliation against deputies who pulled over council members or their spouses.

    In addition, deputies were rankled by a lack of adequate supplies and skimpy funding for the force, which has volunteer members who do not receive benefits. Thomison was the only paid full-time member.

    In a statement Wednesday night, officials disputed the deputies' assertions that something nefarious was being done by the government, and chalked it up to "disagreements" in policy making.

    Photo Credit: Michael Thominson

    Former members of the Bunker Hill police forceFormer members of the Bunker Hill police force

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    Craig Sager, the longtime NBA sideline reporter famous for his flashy suits and probing questions, has died after a battle with cancer, Turner Sports announced Thursday. He was 65.

    "Craig Sager was a beloved member of the Turner family for more than three decades and he has been a true inspiration to all of us," Turner President David Levy said in a statement. "There will never be another Craig Sager. His incredible talent, tireless work ethic and commitment to his craft took him all over the world covering sports."

    Levy's statement did not say when or where Sager died.

    Sager, who worked basketball games for TNT for nearly a quarter-century, revealed in March 2016 that his leukemia was no longer in remission. He said doctors told him the typical prognosis was three to six months to live, but "I am receiving the best treatment in the world and I remain fully confident I will win this battle."

    As news of his death spread, testimonials of sympathy across the sports community began pouring in on social media.

    Sager first announced in April 2014 that he had been diagnosed with leukemia, and he missed the playoffs and much of the following season as he underwent two bone marrow transplants.

    His battle with cancer brought out the soft side of Gregg Popovich, the prickly San Antonio Spurs coach with whom he had many memorable exchanges during in-game interviews.

    Sager sported suits in every color of the rainbow and plenty of shades not found in nature, from teal to fuchsia to magenta. He would match plaid blazers with paisley ties or striped shirts — all in bold hues.

    Kevin Garnett once told him to burn an entire outfit. In a 2016 interview with HBO's "Real Sports," Sager recalled how Popovich reproached him for trying to stand out. Sager explained to him: "Coach, you don't understand. If I'm not wearing bright colors and if I don't feel lively, it's not me."

    Sometimes lost in the glare of his wardrobe was Sager's relentless nature as a reporter. Every time Popovich would give a terse non-answer, an unfazed Sager would pepper him with another question.

    During the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend, Popovich described Sager as "an iconic figure in the NBA."

    "He does a great job," the coach added. "His sense of humor is obvious. We have a lot of fun going back and forth with that."

    Sager's persistence was on display at the start of his career, when the 22-year-old found himself in the middle of one of the most famous moments in sports history. Making $95 a week in 1974 as the news director at WSPB — a Braves-affiliated AM radio station in Sarasota, Florida — Sager risked getting fired by deciding to hop a flight to Atlanta for a game with Hank Aaron a home run away from breaking Babe Ruth's career record.

    With a last-minute credential, Sager was stuck in the third-base photographers' well. As the historic homer sailed out of the park, Sager, without thinking, sprinted onto the field and wound up chasing Aaron down the third-base line. When Aaron's teammates mobbed him at home plate, Sager can be seen in his trench coat in the middle of the scrum.

    The next day, Sager caught a 5 a.m. flight to Sarasota to be back in time for his morning drive responsibilities, and his tapes from the game wound up in Cooperstown.

    During his career, Sager would work as a reporter on the Olympics, Major League Baseball playoffs, NFL and NCAA Tournament, among other sports. But he was indelibly connected to the NBA.

    "Craig was as vital to the NBA as the players and coaches," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "A true original and an essential voice on Turner Sports' NBA coverage for 26 seasons, Craig chronicled some of the most memorable moments in league history and was a ubiquitous presence with his splashy suits and equally colorful personality. Craig earned widespread respect for his insightful reporting and inspired so many most recently with his courage."

    His popularity around the sport was evident as he went through his cancer treatments.

    Sager got to cover his first NBA Finals in 2016 through an unusual arrangement between TNT and ESPN, which invited him to join its coverage. He marked the occasion by wearing a blazer with a royal blue floral print. In an interview with LeBron James after Game 6, the Cavaliers star turned the tables to giddily ask Sager a question: "How in the hell do you go 30-plus years without getting a Finals game?"

    Bulls star Dwyane Wade also sold paisley ties during the 2016 playoffs to raise money to combat blood cancers.

    Earlier that season, Sager called the support he received from Silver, coaches, players and fans "humbling."

    "It's been very uplifting, very therapeutic," he said.

    And Sager loved everything about his job.

    "I try to get there three hours before the game, talk with the ushers and the security guards, the coaches and the fans," Sager said in 2015.

    A native of Batavia, Illinois, Sager attended Northwestern, where walked onto the football and basketball teams and served as the school's "Willie the Wildcat" mascot for three years.

    He worked at several TV and radio stations in Florida after college before spending two years in Kansas City. Sager joined CNN in 1981 after handling the network's first live remote report during the 1980 baseball playoffs.

    Sager was in Dallas for a game in April 2014 when he felt ill and sought treatment from Mavericks team physician Dr. Tarek O. Souryal, who had previously performed Sager's knee surgery. With a dangerously low hemoglobin count, Sager had six blood transfusions over a 24-hour period before returning to Atlanta.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    File photo of  TNT sports reporter Craig Sager following game one of the NBA Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on May 16, 2016 in Oakland, California.File photo of TNT sports reporter Craig Sager following game one of the NBA Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on May 16, 2016 in Oakland, California.

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    Facebook is letting its users flag news stories as fake or a hoax and working with fact checkers to vet them, the social media giant announced Thursday, in its first efforts to address fake news since the United States election.

    Some news articles that were widely shared on the platform in the run-up to Election Day were obviously and demonstrably false, like the Pope and Denzel Washington endorsing Donald Trump for president — they did not. It's causing widespread confusion, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, and the propagation of a baseless conspiracy theory is being blamed for gunman walking into a Washington, D.C., pizzeria shop and shooting a rifle.

    Facebook executives have indicated since the election that they were reviewing what changes to make, if any, to combat fake news, though none have said they believe the false news shared on the platform changed the outcome of the election. Those changes were announced at 1 p.m. ET Thursday.

    News that's identified as fake by the fact checking organizations, which must sign on to Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles, will be marked as "disputed" and have an explainer accompanying that content, Facebook said. Facebook's algorithm may also have those stories appear lower in users' feeds. Recode reported that ABC News, Politifact, FactCheck and Snopes are the partner news organizations.

    Facebook is also trying to reduce the financial incentive for creating and posting fake articles, and is testing a way to see if reading an article leads fewer people to share it indicates the story is misleading and should be ranked lower.

    "We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully," News Feed Vice President Adam Mosseri said in a statement. "We've focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations."

    A Pew survey released Thursday found that 64 percent of U.S. adults say fabricated news stories are causing confusion about basic facts in current events, while only 10 percent said they believed it was causing not much or no confusion.

    Seventy-one percent of the 1,002 people surveyed between Dec. 1 and 4 said they see fake news online often or sometimes.

    Fake news became a massive point of contention in the final days of the election and afterward, with Hillary Clinton calling fake news a "danger that must be addressed" quickly in a speech on Capitol Hill last week.

    The fake news seemed to target Clinton more than Trump, according to analyses of the content, including one by Buzzfeed that found top false articles generated more engagement than top election stories posted by 19 major news outlets, like NBC News, The New York Times and others. Only three of the top 20 performing false stories didn't target Clinton or support Trump, it found.

    Producing fake news became a cottage industry in one part of Macedonia, where NBC News spoke to a teenager who said he's earned $60,000 in six months off of baseless, incendiary posts that mainly targeted followers of Donald Trump, because "Nothing can beat Trump's supporters when it comes to social media engagement," he said.

    Those stories appear to have had real-world effects. Edgar Maddison Welch took an AR-15 rifle and handgun into the popular Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in D.C. in early December, to investigate the a rumored child sex abuse ring purportedly run by a Clinton aide, police said. The store's owner had already been receiving death threats, as the hoax became popular on Reddit and other online forums, before spinning off into fake news stories.

    Welch discharged his rifle, but no one was hurt, police said. He later told a New York Times reporter that his "intel on this wasn't 100 percent."

    CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he doesn't think fake news swayed the election, and Mosseri told The New York Times Thursday he doesn't believe the feed directly caused people to vote for a particular candidate: "the magnitude of fake news across Facebook is one fraction of a percent of the content across the network."

    Americans are split on whether fake news should be limited by social media, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll of just over 1,000 adults out Thursday. Fifty-three percent said it should be up to users to determine what information is true, while 41 percent said Facebook and Twitter should be responsible for preventing false information from spreading. 

    A higher portion of those surveyed by Pew — 71 percent — said social networking sites and search engines bear a great deal or some responsibility for preventing their spread.

    According to that poll, only 15 percent of people are not confident in their ability to spot fabricated news. But many have difficulty differentiating fake news from real, according to a recent Stanford study of students across the country. 

    Photo Credit: File – Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
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    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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    The Obama administration didn't respond more forcefully to Russian hacking before the presidential election because they didn't want to appear to be interfering in the election and they thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win and a potential cyber war with Russia wasn't worth it, multiple high-level government officials told NBC News.

    "They thought she was going to win, so they were willing to kick the can down the road," said one U.S official familiar with the level of Russian hacking.

    The administration did take action in response to the hack prior to the election. In September, President Obama privately confronted Vladimir Putin about the hacks at the G-20 summit in China. He warned the Russian President of unspecified consequences if the hacks continued.

    On Oct. 7, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued an unprecedented joint statement pointing the finger at Russia, saying hacks of U.S. political groups and individual politicians could only have been done with the authorization of "Russia's senior most" officials and that its intent was to undermine the integrity of the election.

    Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    In this Sept. 28, 2015, photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands for the cameras before the start of a bilateral meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.In this Sept. 28, 2015, photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands for the cameras before the start of a bilateral meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

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    President-elect Donald Trump protests an NBC News report that U.S. intelligence points to Vladimir Putin personally approving a Russian hack of a Hillary Clinton staffer.

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    In the midst of a fraying social fabric, a deep recession and soaring inflation, Venezuelans are fighting to live through their country's economic crisis. Some are smuggling goods in from other nations, and some are giving away their children in hopes the kids could have a better life.

    One of those parents is Zulay Pulgar, who struggled to feed herself and her seven children on her father's pension, worth $6 a month at the black market rate. She asked a neighbor in October to take over care of her six-year-old daughter, NBC News reported.

    "It's better that she has another family than go into prostitution, drugs or die of hunger," the 43-year-old unemployed mother said, sitting outside her dilapidated home with her five-year-old son, father and unemployed husband.

    The country's prices for many basic goods are surpassing those in the United States. And with average wages less than the equivalent of $50 a month at black market rates, three local councils and four national welfare groups all confirmed an increase in parents handing children over to the state, charities or friends and family.

    Photo Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

    People carry goods purchased in Colombia on their way to cross the international border bridge back to Venezuela on Oct. 4, 2016, in Cucuta, Colombia. The dire economic crisis in Venezuela sends thousands of Venezuelans daily across the international border bridge to Cucuta, Colombia, to purchase food, medicine and other desperately needed supplies. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the situation in Venezuela a 'humanitarian crisis'.People carry goods purchased in Colombia on their way to cross the international border bridge back to Venezuela on Oct. 4, 2016, in Cucuta, Colombia. The dire economic crisis in Venezuela sends thousands of Venezuelans daily across the international border bridge to Cucuta, Colombia, to purchase food, medicine and other desperately needed supplies. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the situation in Venezuela a 'humanitarian crisis'.

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    The U.S. and its NATO allies are taking no chances amid a build-up of military force on Europe's eastern frontier with Russia.

    Three years after the last American tank left Europe, they are being brought back "as part of our commitment to deterrence," Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges told NBC News.

    Hodges, who is commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, welcomed a batch of tracked and wheeled support vehicles to a depot in the Netherlands on Thursday.

    Amid the new threat from the East, with Russia's recent unannounced military exercises along the borders of the Baltic states and the 2014 annexation of Crimea, U.S. and NATO officials have been preparing for an increased presence across Europe, especially at NATO's eastern borders, "sending a clear message to Russia," officials say.

    Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

    In this May 14, 2014, photo, members of the U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade practice during a military exercise 'Black Arrow 2014' at the Rukla military base some 75 miles west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania.In this May 14, 2014, photo, members of the U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade practice during a military exercise 'Black Arrow 2014' at the Rukla military base some 75 miles west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania.

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    A group of Brigham Young University students is turning heads on campus by wearing traditional hijabs.

    For the last three Wednesdays, Sondra Sasser and 11 other students have added the garment to their wardrobe to show support for Utah's Muslim community.

    "A lot of Muslims are feeling uncomfortable about things... feeling scared about things or just misunderstood, and so any show of solidarity I think can be touching," Sasser said.

    She said that the move is no doubt raising a lot of eyebrows around the Provo campus.

    "I think a lot of people get excited to see diversity on campus a little bit," Sasser said.

    Muslim student Hanif Sulaeman said he supports the group's efforts.

    "It's like they are saying, 'This is how we can support you' and 'You are not alone,'" Sulaeman said.

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    Two Navy contractors were arrested and charged Wednesday for allegedly giving false information about two separate hoax bomb threats made to Naval Base San Diego, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    Joshua Rice, 26, and Roberto Rubio, 22, were charged in two separate incidents that prompted mass evacuations aboard Navy ships and the nearby pier where they were docked, according to U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

    The arrests come after a spate of hoaxes at naval facilities in San Diego. In at least the two incidents identified by prosecutors, the hoaxes were allegedly made to get out of work early. 

    “Everyone should know that making false bomb threats is taken very seriously by federal law enforcement, and it is a felony offense,” Duffy said.

    Both men were arraigned Thursday, but it's not clear whether they entered pleas, The Associated Press reported.

    Rice reported that he found the word "bomb" written on the inside of a portable toilet located near three naval vessels docked at the base on May 17, according to the news release. 

    The bomb hoax prompted a security response, including from military K-9 officers. Work on nearby ships and the pier was shut down as well, though the area was deemed safe and the scene was cleared a few hours later.

    That hoax was the 17th threat to a U.S. Navy facility in San Diego since November 2015 at that time. The number of threats has increased since, bringing the total up to 32.

    Officials say the other threats are not connected. You can read more about the incident here.

    Rice had been working as a contractor for American Marine at the time.

    American Marine General Manager Pat Riley told NBC 7 that Rice worked for the company for 11 months and had a good work ethic.

    "His Navy base access security credentials were retained by the Navy after his meeting with NCIS on June 23," Riley said.

    Without security clearance to perform the necessary work, Rice was terminated on June 30, Riley added.

    Rice is scheduled to appear in court on January 30. 

    In a separate incident, Roberto Rubio was charged with writing "9-24-16 400 bomb" on a wall aboard USS Cowpens on September 24, according to the indictment.

    Rubio then allegedly reported the writing to another contractor, which once again prompted a security response on the San Diego Ship Repair Facility. Work on the ship was stopped until authorities deemed it was safe.

    He was working as a welder for BAE Systems, a contractor for the Navy, athorities siad.

    BAE Sytems spokesperson Karl Johnson told NBC 7 that Rubio worked for the company from August 2015 to October 2016. 

    “We'll continue to cooperate with authorities going forward," Johnson said.

    Rubio is expected to be in court on January 9.

    In addition to the 17 threats, 15 other bomb hoaxes were called in to U.S. Navy facilities and local properties owned by BAE Shipyards and NASSCO since November 2015, according to the U.S. Navy.

    “The bomb threats on and around Naval Base San Diego since November 2015 have had a huge negative impact on the efficiency and productivity of the shipyard's efforts to maintain Navy readiness,” said Gunnar Newquist, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Southwest Field Office.

    But the prosecution suggests it was a ploy to end work early.

    "Our biggest concern is we don't want someone doing it because they think it is an easy way to get off work we want people to understand it is a serious crime," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Pettit.

    In August, a $20,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest of anyone involved in the false threats.

    Pettit told NBC 7 that Rubio and Rice are only facing charges related to those two separate incidents.

    If convicted, both Rice and Ruibo could face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

    Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego

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    A U.S. Border Patrol agent appeared in court Thursday on charges that he picked up backpacks filled with drugs while on duty at the U.S.-Mexico border fence in exchange for cash, FBI officials said. 

    Noe Lopez, an agent working out of the Imperial Beach station, was arrested Wednesday and charged with attempted distribution of six pounds of methamphetamine, attempted distribution of seven kilograms of cocaine and bribery, according to a federal court complaint.

    Lopez, who appeared in court for the first time Thursday, twice picked up and delivered backpacks dropped off for him at the San Diego County border fence, according to the complaint. 

    In both instances, the transactions were part of an undercover law enforcement sting, the complaint said. Lopez allegedly described his ability to smuggle narcotics into the U.S. to a confidential informant, providing the informant with specific details of his operation. 

    Lopez agreed to pick up backpacks filled with narcotics and transport them to safe locations north of the international border, for a fee, according to the complaint.

    A woman who identified herself as Lopez's ex-wife told NBC 7 that the allegations surprised her.

    “Everyone has money issues. We live in San Diego, but I mean nothing to this extreme for someone to risk their career," she said.

    The court docket does not list an attorney for Lopez, The Associated Press reported.

    Lopez, 36, has 10 years of service with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and has since been placed on non-duty/non-pay status pending the outcome of the investigation, CBP officials said in a statement.

    "The U.S. Border Patrol stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of its mission. We do not tolerate misconduct on or off duty and will fully cooperate with all investigations of alleged unlawful conduct by our personnel," the statement read.

    On December 6, Lopez allegedly picked up a backpack filled with what he believed to be six pounds of meth, then a backpack with cocaine on December 8. 

    The agent delivered the backpacks to a pre-determined location in San Diego in both instances, according to the complaint, and received $10,000 in cash in exchange. 

    Lopez additionally accepted bribes in exchange for helping with drug trafficking events, and ignored his official duty to enforce narcotics laws, according to the complaint. 

    “The U.S. Border Patrol is cooperating with all agencies involved in this investigation. Border Patrol agents are held to the highest standards, and we remain committed to performing our duties for the American people in the most professional way," Chief Patrol Agent Richard A. Barlow said in a statement.

    Lopez will next appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt on December 20 for a detention hearing. 

    Photo Credit: NBC 7, File

    Imperial Beach station for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agencyImperial Beach station for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency

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    A Chicago teen charged with stealing a car this week told police he took the vehicle because it was too cold to wait at the bus stop, according to authorities. 

    Eduardo Rivera, 18, is accused of stealing a vehicle parked on the street near his home in the 2300 block of North Austin Avenue Wednesday. Police said the car was running and unlocked at the time.

    Rivera was seen driving the vehicle around 10 a.m. along with two passengers in the 4800 block of West Belmont Avenue, according to police. He allegedly told officers he took the SUV because “it was too damn cold to wait at the bus stop."

    Rivera was charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle and appeared in court Thursday. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney. 

    Wednesday marked the start of a bitter blast in the city that brought some of the coldest air of the season so far. Temperatures dipped into the teens with below-zero wind chill values before even colder temps arrived Thursday. 

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    Two people were asked if they were Muslim before being attacked in Brooklyn, police say, and now the NYPD's Hate Crime Task Force is investigating.

    Two attacks in the first two weeks of December, both in Bedford-Stuyvesant, are being investigated, according to police.

    Police released surveillance video of the suspect linked to the two cases.

    In the first attack, on the afternoon of Dec. 4, a group of men, including the suspect, walked up to a 20-year-old man on Gates Avenue. Police say the suspect asked the victim, “Are you from Saudi Arabia? Are you Muslim?” Moments later, he allegedly punched him in the face and another person pushed him to the ground. The group took off down Marcy Avenue.

    The victim checked himself in at Elmhurst Hospital.

    The victim, speaking to NBC 4 New York Friday, said his attackers were wearing hoodies and smoking cigarettes when he encountered them. They threw him to the ground and punched him, breaking his jaw, he said. 

    "One guy push me, hit in the face and second guy throw me down... I  broke my bones," said the victim, who asked that his identity remain concealed.

    The man, who just moved to the U.S. from India last month, still had his jaw wired shut Friday and he says he has been unable to eat since the attack. 

    In the second attack, this Monday, a 58-year-old man was walking on Marcus Garvey Boulevard, near Vernon Avenue, around 3 p.m. when three men allegedly stopped him and asked where he was from.

    The victim was taken to Woodhull Medical Center with a bloody nose and swelling to his face.

    The attack comes amid a spate of apparent instances of bias crime and hateful language throughout the region following the presidential election.

    Earlier this month, a man called a Muslim MTA worker a terrorist and pushed her down a flight of stairs at Grand Central Terminal, according to police.

    In New York City, hate crime has spiked 115 percent since Election Day, with 43 cases reported compared with 20 cases in the same period in 2015, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. Bias against Muslims has doubled, with four cases reported since Election Day compared with two reported in the same time period last year.

    One report, however, was found to be a hoax. A Muslim college student said she was harassed on a subway train by three men shouting "Donald Trump" but was later arrested on suspicion of making a false report. 

    Overall, hate crimes are up 35 percent year over year, with a 45 percent uptick in arrests, Boyce said.

    Photo Credit: Handout

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    Online retailers are spreading some some much-needed holiday cheer for late shoppers: Friday, Dec. 16, is free shipping day.

    More than 1,200 merchants are taking part in the offer that will ensure packages will arrive in time for Christmas Eve. Many of the participating retailers are also offering additional deals and sales with the free shipping guarantee.

    The complete list of all participating retailers can be viewed here. Deals and guidelines vary from company to company, and free shipping is only guaranteed for items that are currently in stock and may exclude certain purchases.

    FedEx and UPS are gearing up for last-minute cyber purchases and have advice for frantic consumers on their websites. FedEx encourages preparation and planning to ensure a stress-free delivery and even has a hotline for consumers to keep tabs on their packages. FedEx and UPS also have holiday calendars that explain the last days to order so the gifts arrive by Dec. 24. 

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    In this file photo, a UPS worker delivers packages on December 26, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.In this file photo, a UPS worker delivers packages on December 26, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.

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    At President Barack Obama’s last press conference, he listed the areas where the country has seen progress in his tenure and thanked the American public for their contributions.

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    In the last press conference of the year, President Barack Obama condemned Russia and Vladimir Putin for the hack that leaked emails from Hillary Clinton's staff and influenced an election.

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  • 12/16/16--09:46: St. Nick All Year Round

  • In case you haven't been told, Santa is real and he lives in Manchester, New Hampshire.

    Dan Greenleaf is the founder of the New England Santa Society and has been working professionally for decades. This Santa has the white beard, a jolly belly and enough Christmas spirit to last the whole year.

    His Santa-like features make him a perfect fit to ride with reindeers in a sleigh, but Greenleaf says there is more to being Santa than just looking like him.

    "It's really in the heart. It's not how you look, it's not the beard, or if you have a real beard or not," he said.

    Of course, his beard is pretty outstanding, but it takes a lot of preparation to bring out the Christmas spirit in Santa Claus -- and a lot of products.

    "Santa has more hair care products than Mrs. Claus," Greenleaf said. "If you ever see a group of 50-, 60-, 70-year-old old guys talking hair care, bleaching, product, it's a group of Santas. We are known as peacocks."

    "Having that authentic Santa look means being Jolly Ol' Saint Nick all year round — he also works as an actor and has a side business on eBay — and that means a lot of kids approach him.

    They ask him why he isn't at the North Pole, or if he is real, and he always has a Santa-ready reply for them. There are plenty of skeptics among the children, but it's the adults who tend to pull his beard the most. They just don't believe it is real.

    Greenleaf knows it's important that each kid get the same magical experience when they talk to him.

    "I want to be that child's real Santa," he said.

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