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US and World News

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    The spontaneous Post-Its that decorate New York City's subway stations with messages of hope will soon be permanent.

    The New-York Historical Society will partner with the MTA to preserve the impromptu "Subway Therapy" installations popping up in subway stations throughout the city, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

    A large selection of notes will be preserved beginning Tuesday, Dec. 20 through Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, 2017, as part of the Historical Society's History Responds Program.

    Anyone can contribute by placing sticky notes on the glass wall at the Society's front entrance on Central Park West at 77th Street.

    Thousands around the world have penned messages of encouragement on vibrantly colored Post-Its to share with curious onlookers. In the days following the election, it became a means for strangers to express their uncertainties about the future of the nation.

    Cuomo was spotted posting his own note with a quote from Emma Lazarus to the 14th Street-Union Square wall Wednesday.

    "'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free...I lift my lamp beside the golden door'-Emma Lazarus," the Post-It read. It's some of the same quote that can be found at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

    The project was created by artist Mathew Levee Chavez in February when he brought sticky notes and pens to subway stations to encourage New Yorkers to share their feelings. 

    "Maybe someone just has this one thing they need to get off their chest, but they lack outlets to express it," he told Forbes.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    President Barack Obama, speaking at his final year-end news conference, answered questions about the Russian election hack.

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    Thirty-five states are seeing winter weather advisories Friday night Dec. 16, 2016. Snow from the Plains and Midwest is making its way to the Northeast, with the rest of the country blanketed in bitter cold and rain.

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    An armed man who entered an adult-themed store Wednesday and demanded cash was chased off by two employees who lobbed sex toys at him in a bizarre confrontation that was caught on camera.

    The man can be seen pacing around outside Lotions and Lace, which bills itself as San Bernardino's "One Stop Sex Shop," before pulling a hood over his head and entering the store. He marched toward the cashier's counter with gun drawn, but two women working the late shift refused to back down.

    Instead, they began yelling at the man and throwing sex toys at him.

    "It blew me away," said store owner Janel Hargreaves. "I initially walked in and see all these toys all over the store, and I say, 'Did you throw these at him?' They're launching them all the way from the cash register all the way up to the front door. It just blew me away that they took it into their own hands."

    Hargreaves said the employees thought the gun might be fake, but added employees are encouraged to avoid any type of confrontation.

    The man demanded cash, but left with nothing under the barrage of adult merchandise. One of the sex toys appeared to sail just over his head, but a second struck him in the upper body.

    Cameras showed the robber walking out with his back turned to employees, but not before they tossed a third toy that rolled on the floor near the robber's feet as he left.

    "I told the girls it was not a good idea," she said. "But nope, they took it one step further.

    "I think they felt violated. Away from home, this is their home. The message is get out, we're not going to stand for it."

    No arrests were reported. 



    Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

    An armed robber who entered an adult-themed store Wednesday Dec. 16, 2016 and demanded cash was chased off by two employees who lobbed sex toys at him.An armed robber who entered an adult-themed store Wednesday Dec. 16, 2016 and demanded cash was chased off by two employees who lobbed sex toys at him.

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    Two lawyers were charged Friday with a "massive extortion scheme" in which they uploaded X-rated films to file-sharing sites, sued the people who downloaded them — and collected millions from victims who feared public humiliation, prosecutors said.

    Paul Hansmeier and John Steele actually produced some of the pornography, solely for the purpose of copyrighting it so they could file "sham lawsuits" used to shake down their targets, Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said.

    "The conduct of these defendants was nothing short of outrageous," Luger said at a news conference hours after Hansmeier and Steele were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering and perjury.

    "Everything about their practice of law was fraudulent," Luger said, according to NBC News.

    In previous litigation the two have denied any fraud.



    Photo Credit: ullstein bild via Getty Images

    Lawyers Paul Hansmeier and John Steele were charged for extorting millions from fraudulent lawsuits claiming copyright infringement from victims who downloaded their self-produced pornography illegally.Lawyers Paul Hansmeier and John Steele were charged for extorting millions from fraudulent lawsuits claiming copyright infringement from victims who downloaded their self-produced pornography illegally.

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    Former astronaut and Ohio senator John Glenn was remembered at the Ohio capitol as state residents paid their respects on Dec. 16, 2016 before his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

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    A mother and her young daughter, whose Twitter updates from besieged Aleppo have captured the world's attention, appealed to first lady Michelle Obama as the Syrian crisis continued to unfold Friday without intervention from the West.

    "I talk to you as a mother," Fatemah Bana al-Abed said in a video message sent to NBC News. "I implore you to help us ... because we are so afraid."

    The message ends with a plea from her 7-year-old daughter, Bana: "Hello, Mrs. Obama. Please help us."

    Syria's President Bashar Assad has called their Twitter account propaganda promoted by terrorists or their supporters.

    Speaking with NBC News via Skype late Thursday, Fatemah confirmed that she and Bana remain in the shrinking rebel-held pocket of devastated eastern Aleppo. The evacuation of civilians to the relative safety of opposition areas in Idlib and the Aleppo countryside stalled Friday after pro-government militias opened fire on buses carrying civilians, rebel sources told Reuters.



    Photo Credit: NBC News
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    Bana Bana al-Abed and her mother send a video message to NBC News.Bana Bana al-Abed and her mother send a video message to NBC News.

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    An unmanned, underwater U.S. Navy vehicle was stolen from international waters by a Chinese naval vessel near the Philippines Thursday, according to the Pentagon.

    The U.S. Navy Ocean Glider Unmanned Underwater Vehicle was on a routine survey collecting data about 50 miles northwest of Subic Bay, in the South China Sea, when a Chinese ship "unlawfully retrieved it," an official with knowledge of the incident told NBC News.

    The ship had been shadowing the oceanographic research ship USS Bowditch, where the drone, carrying an unclassified system, was returning, according to the official.

    The U.S. has issued a formal diplomatic complaint, though officials told NBC News the issue did not qualify as an act of war.

    It comes amid a series of tense exchanges with China, including its sharp rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump's phone call with Taiwan's president.



    Photo Credit: AP/Ritchie B. Tongo

    This Monday, May 11, 2015, file photo, shows an island in the South China Sea from a military plane.This Monday, May 11, 2015, file photo, shows an island in the South China Sea from a military plane.

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    Firefighters put out a massive fire in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood Friday in freezing conditions that left the street, firefighting equipment and even fire crews covered in ice. No one was injured in the 6-alarm fire, though Boston's Fire Chief estimates it caused $2 million in damages

    Photo Credit: Eli Rosenberg

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    A white-tailed buck who was granted a last-minute reprieve from euthanasia after being captured in Harlem has died.

    The one-antlered buck died while state officials from the Department of Environmental Conservation were arranging transportation to relocate the deer upstate. It was kept in a caged area outside the animal shelter.

    The city blamed the state for the animal's death.

    "Because of the length of time we had to wait to pick up the deer, the deer has died," Parks Department spokesman Sam Biederman said. 

    The state says that's not true. 

    "We offered yesterday to take possession of the deer and transport it to a suitable habitat," DEC spokesman Sean Mahar said in a statement. "The city did not accept our offer until just before noon today, and while we were arriving on scene the deer died in the city's possession."

    The buck was captured at the Polo Grounds Towers on West 155th Street and taken to an animal shelter early Thursday. He drew crowds for about two weeks at Jackie Robinson Park, where curious passersby snapped photos of "J.R.," a nickname given to him by residents.

    Outpourings of sadness immediately followed the news of the four-legged viral sensation's death.

    Mayor de Blasio had said the deer would be put down Thursday evening after the state Environmental Conservation officials initially said they wouldn't be able to relocate the buck in the city.

    "It's going to be a quick and merciful death versus a long and painful process," de Blasio said on WNYC Radio Friday. "That's the governing philosophy as best I understand it." 

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo made efforts to rescue the buck in its 11th hour. He said the state would "find a new habitat for it immediately," just an hour after the mayor ordered the deer to be euthanized. 

    The city Parks Department said euthanasia would be more humane because travel causes stress and relocated deer have low survival rates. However, city officials said they "defer to the state as the regulatory authority on wildlife."

    J.R. wasn't the only deer in the news Friday. Officials were trying to rescue a deer that fell through the ice in South Amboy, New Jersey.



    Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York
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    A video that shows Joe Mixon, the University of Oklahoma running back who plead guilty to punching a female student in the face in 2014, was released on Dec. 16 after the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters sued to obtain it.

    Photo Credit: KFOR

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    FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper agree with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two U.S. intelligence officials confirmed to NBC News.

    But the officials noted electing Trump was only "one part" of what Moscow was trying to accomplish. The larger goal, they said, was to undermine confidence in America's election system.

    The confirmation that major intelligence agencies agree on the nature and intent of the Russian operation may put additional pressure on the president-elect and his supporters, who have sought to portray the government as divided about what happened.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    A 34-year-old Florida man is accused of holding his girlfriend captive in a shed, stabbing her in the leg and sexually assaulting her over the course of a month.

    Bertin Ocampo was arrested on Dec. 3 after Polk County Sheriff's deputies discovered the woman in his Haines City home.

    The victim told deputies she and Ocampo had been in an intimate relationship for about three months when he locked her in the shed behind a home he shared with his nephew and the nephew's wife.

    According to a police report, Ocampo kept her locked in the room, which contained only a bed and television, for up to 18 hours a day. She told deputies Ocampo hit her, stabbed her in the leg with a knife and threatened to harm her daughter if she tried to escape.

    Ocampo also allegedly forced her to have sex with him three or four times in the course of the month, the woman said.

    The victim said during her captivity, she and Ocampo went to public places together and visited her mother's home to see her daughter. She said she never alerted anyone or tried to get away because she was scared of what he might do to her or her daughter.

    A search warrant was issued for the home after police received a tip to investigate the property.

    When Polk County deputies found the victim, she had bruises around her eyes, legs and arms, and two small scabs which she said were the stab wounds.

    Ocampo was charged with false imprisonment, sexual battery, aggravated assault, battery and aggravated battery.



    Photo Credit: Polk County Sheriff's Office

    Bertin Ocampo, 34.Bertin Ocampo, 34.

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    Michelle Obama says the White House needs a "grown-up" and the nation will come to appreciate President Barack Obama.

    In an interview with Oprah Winfrey set to air Monday night on CBS, the first lady says the election has reinforced her view that her husband's administration was able to inspire hope "because we feel the difference now."

    "Now we're feeling what not having hope feels like," she says. "You know? Hope is necessary. It's a necessary concept. And Barack didn't just talk about hope because he thought it was just a nice slogan to get votes. I mean, he and I and so many believe that if you ... what else do you have if you don't have hope?"

    "What do you give your kids if you can't give them hope?" she added. 

    Mrs. Obama sat for the interview five weeks after the election of Donald Trump to the White House. The Obamas campaigned aggressively against Trump and argued that the New York businessman is unfit to be president.

    CBS released an excerpt of the interview on Friday. In it, Mrs. Obama does not mention the incoming president by name.

    While Obama has refused since the Nov. 8 election to repeat his criticisms of Trump, Mrs. Obama comes off as less accepting of the outcome.

    In the interview, which was taped Wednesday in the White House residence, she said the public will eventually appreciate what a reassuring presence her husband was during the past eight years. She compared him to the person who doesn't freak out when a toddler bumps his head, causing the child to start crying.

    "I feel that Barack has been that for the nation in ways that people will come to appreciate," she said. "Having a grown-up in the White House who can say to you in times of crisis and turmoil, 'Hey, it's gonna be OK. Let's remember the good things that we have. Let's look at the future. Let's look at all the things that we're building.'"

    "All of this is important for our kids to stay focused and to feel like their work isn't in vain. That their lives aren't in vain," Mrs. Obama added. "What do we do if we don't have hope, Oprah?"



    Photo Credit: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive for a reception to honor recipients of the 2016 Kennedy Center Honors in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive for a reception to honor recipients of the 2016 Kennedy Center Honors in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.

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    In the days after President Obama granted her early release from prison, Mandy Martinson drifted from joy and gratitude to guilt.

    She felt blessed that her 15-year sentence for playing a small role in a methamphetamine ring had been cut short. But she also puzzled over why she received such a gift while thousands of other federal drug offenders were seeking the president's mercy, NBC News reported.

    Some were on her housing unit at Waseca Federal Correctional Institution in Minnesota. They included lifers who saw Obama's ambitious clemency program, focused on low-level, nonviolent drug offenders, as their only hope at avoiding death behind bars.



    Photo Credit: AP

    File Photo -- President Barack Obama speaks at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, about the administration's approach to counterterrorism campaign. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)File Photo -- President Barack Obama speaks at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, about the administration's approach to counterterrorism campaign. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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    Golden-aged jewel thief Doris Payne was released from jail Saturday after she posted $15,000 bond, NBC News reported.

    The 86-year-old won her freedom after convincing a judge she wouldn't disappear. 

    "I've never been late for a court date," the sticky-fingered senior citizen said Friday in her first appearance since she was charged with stealing a $2,000 diamond necklace from an Atlanta-area jewel store.

    In previous interviews, Payne has said she's been arrested more than 20 times in a globe-trotting career that inspired a 2013 documentary.



    Photo Credit: Atlanta Police Dept.

    A mugshot of Doris Payne taken on Oct. 23, 2015A mugshot of Doris Payne taken on Oct. 23, 2015

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    For the second time in one night, a would-be victim turned the tables on a robber in Philadelphia, according to police. Officials say a pizza deliveryman shot a suspect who was trying to rob him in Northeast Philadelphia Saturday night.

    The deliveryman was on the 1400 block of Wellington Street at 9:24 p.m. when he was approached by a 19-year-old man who tried to rob him, police said. The deliveryman, who was armed, opened fire, striking the suspect once in the right lower leg and once in the left lower leg.

    The suspect was taken to the hospital where he is currently in stable condition, police said. They have not yet released his identity.

    The shooting was the second incident in Philadelphia Saturday night in which a robber was shot by his intended victim, according to investigators. Police say the owner of an auto repair shop shot a man who was trying to rob his business.


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    Authorities said two people were killed and more than a dozen were injured when a gas tanker skidded off a highway in Baltimore and exploded. Police said a third person died in a separate incident.

    Baltimore City Fire Chief Roman Clark said the tanker fell over the jersey wall on Interstate 95 and burst into flames early Saturday. WBAL-TV in Baltimore received a graphic video from a viewer who captured the crash on his cell phone.

    At least 15 people were injured in a 55-vehicle pile up. Clark said it's unclear whether the pileup started before the tanker crash or was a result of the debris from the explosion.

    Scores of traffic accidents were reported across the region due to slick roads. Maryland State Police said troopers responded to 330 crashes across the state in a 24-hour period.

    Clark said the roads were very icy, but it was too early to say what caused the tanker to careen off the highway.

    The Maryland Transportation Authority said southbound I-95 reopened around 1:30 p.m. Traffic was detoured off northbound I-95 onto I-695. Crash investigation and cleanup continued on the northbound lanes. It was not clear when those lanes would be reopened.

    Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement after the crash.

    “I strongly urge all Marylanders to use common sense and put their safety first by heeding all travel warnings from state and local authorities. Road conditions in many areas of the state are still extremely dangerous, and all those who can avoid travel should stay off the roads until conditions have improved.

    “The First Lady and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the families and loved ones of the individuals who lost their lives early this morning as a result of fatal accidents. Our state’s entire emergency management, transportation, and law enforcement resources are fully engaged in managing this situation and are working closely with local jurisdictions to provide needed support. I offer my sincerest gratitude to the state and local first responders who are working diligently at the scene of these incidents and who will continue to do so until the roadways are clear.”

    MdTA police Lt. Kevin Ayd said the other incident occurred around 5 a.m. near Exit 59 along I-95. A driver, who was involved in a fender bender, stepped out to assess the damage and was accidentally struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle.

    Baltimore County emergency officials said dozens of vehicles collided on the Beltway in the Rosedale area, and six people were taken to a hospital, according to WBAL-TV.



    Photo Credit: WBAL-TV/NBC News

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    The nation's vice president and a retired Marine Corps general were among the dignitaries, family members and other mourners who choked up Saturday during a memorial tribute to the late space hero John Glenn.

    Roughly 2,500 people gathered at Mershon Auditorium on the Ohio State University campus for "a celebration of life" for the former fighter pilot, history-making astronaut and longtime Democratic U.S. senator from small-town Ohio. He was remembered not only for bravery, but for his thoughtful consideration for others, his integrity and his patriotic optimism.

    "I think John defined what it meant to be an American, what we were about, just by how we acted," said Vice President Joe Biden, a former colleague of Glenn's in the U.S. Senate. "It was always about the promise. We were a country of possibility, opportunity, always a belief in tomorrow."

    Retired USMC Gen. John Dailey said Glenn was "never in it for himself," but always acted for the nation's greater good. Like many others, he recalled Glenn's humility and basic kindness.

    "We had John for 95 great years and it still wasn't enough," Dailey said.

    Glenn died Dec. 8 at age 95. He was the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, and then in 1998 became the oldest person in space at 77.

    Thousands of people, including Democratic U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, visited the Ohio Statehouse on Friday as Glenn lay in honor. A solemn funeral procession through the center of the capital city carried his casket past more mourners willing to withstand cold and ice.

    Ethel Kennedy, widow of close Glenn ally Robert F. Kennedy, and their son Robert F. Kennedy Jr., were among the mourners present, along with Ohio political leaders including Gov. John Kasich and former Govs. Ted Strickland and Richard Celeste.

    The service was preceded by recordings of hymns, arias and popular songs. Some — including Nat King Cole's "Smile" and Susan Boyle's version of "Impossible Dream" — nodded to Glenn's trademark optimism. Others, including "You Are My Sunshine," ''Moon River" and Shirley Jones singing "Goodnight, My Someone" — recalled Glenn's long love affair with wife, Annie, who survives him.

    Their marriage was cited frequently as a source of Glenn's strength and an inspiration to those who have known and watched the couple for 73 years.

    U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a fellow Democrat who first met Glenn when he was a teenage Eagle Scout, called Glenn "an FDR Democrat" who believed in the power of government and the importance of public service — through his military and space career and his tenure in the Senate.

    "He was a work horse, never a show horse," Brown said. "He labored over the details of non-proliferation and environmental cleanup of nuclear disposal sites, grunt work to some, but John was content to spend his time not on collecting instant headlines but achieving lasting results that would leave the world better than he had found it."

    Brown's wife, journalist Connie Schultz, recalled his tenderness when their grandson was curious about how astronauts urinate in space. She saw it as example for the nation.

    "If American icon John Glenn could take the time to treat a child with such respect, surely we can find the time to listen to one another," she said.

    NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. said the U.S. space program remains indebted to Glenn.

    "It was courage, grace and humility John displayed throughout his life that lifted him above the stars," Bolden said. "As the current head of NASA, I can say unequivocally that we are standing on John Glenn's shoulders as we pursue a human journey to Mars, a journey that would not be possible without his bravery and selfless dedication."

    Glenn's son, David, said his father let him find himself and make his own mistakes — even when he came home with long hair and wearing bell bottom pants. "He might have blinked twice, or his face twitched or something like that. But that was it," he said.

    Daughter Lyn said she wanted an "atta girl" for some good grades she brought home at age 8, to which Glenn replied, "Yes, but what have you done for your country today?"

    She said Glenn refused a deal worth as much as $5 million to have his photo placed on a Wheaties box because he saw it as making money from government service.

    She ended a touching recollection with a simple farewell, "Godspeed, Dad."

    Taps was played as Glenn was carried from the auditorium. He'll be buried at Arlington Cemetery near Washington, D.C., in a private ceremony this spring.



    Photo Credit: John Minchillo, AP

    Vice President Joe Biden wipes a tear from his eye as he speaks at the funeral of John Glenn at The Ohio State University, Dec. 17, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. Glenn, the famed astronaut, died Dec. 8 at age 95.Vice President Joe Biden wipes a tear from his eye as he speaks at the funeral of John Glenn at The Ohio State University, Dec. 17, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. Glenn, the famed astronaut, died Dec. 8 at age 95.

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    President-elect Donald Trump continued to use social media to poke at China Saturday, saying on Twitter that the U.S. should refuse to take a drone seized in international waters after the Communist country agreed to return it, NBC News reported.

    "We should tell China that we don't want the drone they stole back. — let them keep it!" Trump said on Twitter Saturday night.

    Trump's Tweet came after China's defense ministry said it agreed to return the drone, which was taken Thursday in the South China Sea, and after the Pentagon said it had secured the agreement "through direct engagement with Chinese authorities."

    Trump communications director Jason Miller credited the president-elect with China's decision to return the vehicle, saying on Twitter that Trump "gets it done" — but there was no evidence presented or claim made that Trump did anything besides Tweet about the seizure.


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