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    In Stephen Hawking's final book "Brief Answers to Big Questions," published Tuesday (Oct. 16) by Bantam Books, the Cambridge professor begins a series of 10 intergalactic essays by addressing life's oldest and most religiously fraught question of all: Is there a God? 

    Hawking's answer — compiled from decades of prior interviews, essays and speeches with the help of his family, colleagues and the Steven Hawking Estate — should come as no surprise to readers who have followed his work, er, religiously, NBC News' MACH reported

    "I think the universe was spontaneously created out of nothing, according to the laws of science," Hawking, who died in March, wrote. "If you accept, as I do, that the laws of nature are fixed, then it doesn't take long to ask: What role is there for God?"

    In life, Hawking was a vocal champion of the Big Bang theory — the idea that the universe began by exploding suddenly out of an ultradense singularity smaller than an atom. From this speck emerged all the matter, energy and empty space that the universe would ever contain, and all that raw material evolved into the cosmos we perceive today by following a strict set of scientific laws. To Hawking and many like-minded scientists, the combined laws of gravity, relativity, quantum physics and a few other rules could explain everything that ever happened or ever will happen in our known universe.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

    In this Jan. 14, 2010, file photo, Stephen Hawking speaks via satellite in Pasadena, California.In this Jan. 14, 2010, file photo, Stephen Hawking speaks via satellite in Pasadena, California.

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    The U.S. government is offering an unprecedented $10 million reward to capture the leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

    Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervantes, 52, is known as “El Mencho.” He is currently a fugitive and was designated as a “Kingpin” under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act by the Department of the Treasury in April 2015.

    The reward for Oseguera Cervantes’s arrest is the highest the government offers for narcotics fugitives.

    His son, known as “Menchito,” is in custody in Mexico and awaiting extradition to the U.S.

    Another high ranking CJNG member Erick Valencia Salazar, aka, “El 85,” is wanted with a reward offered in the amount of $5 million.

    CJNG is believed to be influential in 75 percent of the states in Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The cartel once shot down a Mexican military helicopter with a rocket launcher.

    The group's primary product is methamphetamine, with main U.S. distribution hubs in Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta.

    "El Mencho" is considered one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the world, who experts say is partly responsible for the violence that exists in Tijuana.

    "Tijuana is the cherry on the cake, it's a very coveted place," said Victor Clark, an anthropologist.

    In August, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials unveiled additional strategies in combating Mexican drug cartels with the Mexican government, military and federal police.

    The new plans include putting greater emphasis on attacking cartels' financial infrastructure and calling for a new enforcement group based in Chicago that will concentrate on international investigations of cartels. 

    A 2018 report by the University of San Diego's Justice in Mexico said Guzman's takedown "dramatically reshaped the landscape of Mexican organized crime," including by clearing the way for the rise of CJNG. It added the cartel's 52-year-old leader "has a reputation as a ruthless killer." He migrated to the U.S. in the 1980s and was deported back to Mexico after a trafficking conviction.

    Photo Credit: DOJ

    Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervantes, aka “Mencho.”Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervantes, aka “Mencho.”

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    When you think of the best places to get a good slice of pizza, you may think of New York or Chicago.

    Now, you can add San Diego to the list.

    According to a survey TripAdvisor, San Diego is No. 8 in the country when it comes to the 'za.

    The travel site based its ranking on reviews from travelers, with more weight given to reviews in the past year.

    Travelers to San Diego also ranked Filippi's Pizza Grotto as the best pizzeria in the city, ignoring some of the hometown favorites such as Bronx Pizza in Hillcrest, Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria in Mission Hill or Pizzeria Bruno Napoletano in North Park.

    Off course, the Big Apple and the Windy City are still the top locations for good pizza, coming in at No. 1 and 2, respectively.

    Also making on to the list are Las Vegas (No. 3) and San Francisco (No. 5).

    Here's the complete list of the Top 10 Pizza Cities in the U.S.:

    1. New York City
    2. Chicago
    3. Las Vegas
    4. San Francisco
    5. Orlando
    6. Seattle
    7. Boston
    8. San Diego
    9. Atlanta
    10. Washington, D.C.
    Do you agree with the list? Tell us in the comments. Also, tell us where in San Diego do you go for a good slice of pizza.

    Photo Credit: NBC 5

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    San Diego police are asking the public's help to track the final moments of a man's life before he was found dead in the ocean near San Diego. 

    Haitham Elshayeb, 37, of Egypt was found off the coast of Mission Beach on Oct. 10.

    Elshayeb may have used the nickname "Max" according to police.

    A fisherman first spotted the Elshayeb roughly 2.5 miles offshore. Investigators have released his identity but they still know little about what led to his death.

    Elshayeb was wearing board shorts and there was a chain wrapped around his waist, police said. The chain was less than half of an inch thick.

    Images released by police show Elshayeb had extensive tattoos on his left shoulder and upper arm. 

    The SDPD Homicide Unit is currently investigating it as a suspicious death.

    Anyone with information about Elshayeb and his whereabouts prior to Oct. 10 can contact San Diego police detectives at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

    Photo Credit: San Diego Police

    Haitham Haitham "Max" Elshayeb, 37, was found dead on Oct. 10.

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    U.S. intelligence agencies investigating the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi believe it's inconceivable that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no connection to his death, but still have no "smoking gun" evidence that he ordered Khashoggi killed, multiple government officials tell NBC News.

    Although President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remain tight-lipped about what they know, Trump finally acknowledged Thursday that Khashoggi is likely dead.

    Behind the scenes, U.S. spy agencies are trying to determine whether the killing was pre-planned or resulted from either an interrogation that went awry or a botched operation to bring him to Saudi Arabia, officials say — and how directly Crown Prince Mohammed was involved.

    Photo Credit: Hasan Jamali/AP (File)

    Journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, on Dec. 15, 2014.Journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, on Dec. 15, 2014.

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    Sheriff's deputies are asking for help identifying a man accused of entering a Lemon Grove family's home and sexually assaulting a child.

    Deputies say the man entered a home on the 7000 block of Canton Drive around 2 a.m. Thursday where two children were inside.

    Investigators say he sexually assaulted one of the children before a family member confronted him and tried to restrain him. The suspect was able to escape and fled the home, possibly on a skateboard, deputies say.

    The suspect is described as a 20 to 25-years-old man around 5 feet 7 inches tall with a thin build. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie and black gym pants.

    Anyone with information regarding the suspect's identity or location can call the San Diego County Sheriff's Department at (858) 285-6222, or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers online or by calling (888) 580-8477.

    No other information was available.

    Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

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    Some residents in Alpine feel state and federal authorities could be a doing a better job clearing forests of brush in order to prevent future wildfires.

    “It’s a big deal," Julie Munoz said. "It’s a big fear,” 

    “I think they’re doing a horrible job managing the land,” Steven Ritter said.

    The comments come in light of remarks made by President Donald Trump this week. He blamed wildfires on California forest policy and threatened to withhold funding from the state. The President never specified what that funding would be.

    Cal Fire, the state's fire protection agency, disputes the president's claims about California's forest management plans, saying it does not know what Trump was referring to.

    "Cal Fire has historically utilized every resource possible to focus on reducing wildfire risk through prescribed burning, fuel reduction, and forest health," the department's deputy director Michael Mohler said in a statement to NBC 7. "We are proud to say that Cal Fire is the leader in forest management on the West Coast and we will continue to expand on this extremely important mission."

    But it raised a point of concern for longtime residents in fire-prone areas of San Diego’s east county.

    Munoz has owned a home that is on Cleveland National Forest property for 18-years. She’s watched brush in the surrounding area grow out of control.

    "I just think it needs to be controlled more. There's a lot of dry brush out here," she said. "I see how they're clearing paths off the freeway, they're clearing all the brush away from there, but there's so much brush out here that needs to be done here too."

    For Ritter, also owns a home on Cleveland National Forest property, the discussion has extra meaning. He lost a home during the 2012 Shockey Fire.

    Through Oct. 14 of this year, Cal Fire has responded to more than 5,300 fires and more than 620,000 acres have burned. Could that number drop if wild lands were better managed?

    “California definitely needs to do a better job, it's very apparent," Ritter said. "We have more fires burning here than anywhere else in the whole country,”

    Munoz agreed.

    “I mean, our firefighters work their behinds off," she said. "They're hard workers and I know they do a good job of putting them out, but they shouldn't have to put so many fires out." 

    Cal Fire said it is proactively awarding grants to local communities to reduce dry brush and fuels and for forest health projects throughout the state.

    "Furthermore, looking towards the future, Cal Fire is implementing 6 hand crews to work year round on these efforts. These are just some of the examples of programs that we will continue to foster." Moler said. "However, we understand that participation from many agencies and the public is vital to maintaining forest health and fuel reduction so it is our top priority that we offer as much of our resources as we have available to work towards the common goal of reducing wildfire risk."

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    It's up in the air right now whether restrictions passed by the San Diego City Council will be permanent on short-term vacation rentals.

    Regardless of if they go through or not, what does it mean for the local real estate market? 

    In July, the City Council voted to limit rentals to primary residences for six months a year. That means the elimination of out-of-town owners and multiple property investors. The change was set to go into effect in July. 

    Councilmember Lori Zapf said the new restrictions would protect "Property owners from the hell of seeing their neighborhoods being taken over by mini-hotels." 

    But opposers gathered 62,000 signatures for a referendum. With more than enough signatures (35,000 verified signatures were required).

    Now, one of two things could happen: city council will either have to rescind the new restrictions or send it to voters on the 2020 ballot. 

    Nancy Kramer said she has 62 rental units and has never had a complaint in 17 years.

     “We need to keep vacation rentals in San Diego," she said. "It’s a lot of income, it’s the tourists, we’re a tourist town.”

    Real estate analysts told NBC 7 Thursday that there will be very different outcomes on the housing and rental market depending on if the ordinance is permanent. 

    “We have an incentive for people who are paying a lot to buy a home or to sublease,” said Dana Kuhn of Johns Burns Real Estate Consulting. Kuhn has 40 years of experience in the business and teaches real estate development at San Diego State University. "Anything possible to offset that expense." 

    Kuhn said the market is now experiencing a net-negative domestic migration, meaning more people are leaving San Diego than coming in. A factor that could stabilize rent rates and prices. 

    "If the ordinance goes through in July, there would be a temptation for people who own those units to put them on the market for sale," said Kuhn. "You'll see rents stabilize and more homes up for sale." 

    Which means housing costs for buyers would decrease, according to Kuhn. 

    But if the referendum is successful, we'll continue to reach a peak in the housing market, according to Kuhn. It could be possible that rent rates stay the same while housing costs for buyers increase. 

    Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

    Grapevine is the next North Texas city set to consider regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb, Wednesday, August 29, 2018.Grapevine is the next North Texas city set to consider regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb, Wednesday, August 29, 2018.

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    Anyone is missing a tortoise?

    The Heartland Fire Department in a Facebook post Thursday said its medics came across a "rather interesting patient."

    They said the tortoise was moving slowly near Emerald and Washington Streets in El Cajon and was possibly suffering from "a little shell shock."

    Medics transported the plodding pedestrian to the El Cajon Animal Shelter where it will be held until its owner can claim it, according to the post.

    Photo Credit: Heartland Fire Department
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    A poodle trained to detect when his owner is about to have a medical emergency is the undisputed "teacher's pet" at Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Scripps Ranch.

    Susan Beisel teaches 7th grade science and doesn't leave home without her service dog named "Quincy" because of his ability to sense when she needs medicine.

    "Similar to a diabetic with high blood sugar or a person with epilepsy, he senses my condition in advance and he signals me so I'm able to take my medication and not interrupt my day," said Beisel.

    She declined to specify the chronic condition behind the painful episodes, but said they pop up about three to five times a year and can be easily avoided with preventative medicine.

    Quincy spends most of his downtime sleeping behind Biesel's desk. 

    "He's just a pretty chill dog. He doesn't really do anything. Sometimes I don't even notice he's there," student Dallas Barksdale said.

    And that's the way Beisel prefers it. She sets firm ground rules with her students at the beginning of the year to let them know they are not to call, pet or otherwise distract with Quincy during class.

    "He's here to do a job and if they distract him they put me at risk," Beisel said.

    Quincy isn't part of any clique, but everyone knows he's the big dog on campus.

    Beisel says he's planning on buying a motorcycle equipped with a sidecar fit for her one true teacher's pet.

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    Kevin Mawae played 16 seasons in the NFL, earning eight Pro Bowls and three All-Pro honors. Yet the former offensive lineman found himself struggling to walk in the summer of 2017.

    With each step came stabbing pains because of severe plantar fasciitis.

    The Breakfast Club came to his rescue by figuring out what caused his pain instead of focusing only on the symptoms.

    "I started through the program, and it turns out for me I just got to stretch and take care of my body instead of being complacent in that area," Mawae said.

    The Breakfast Club is a free six-week program for former players with at least two credited seasons at EXOS workout facilities or YMCAs, bringing them together for three workouts a week, along with physical therapy and a nutritionist. The club started in February 2015 in Arizona through The Trust, which developed out of the 2011 labor agreement following a lengthy lockout. The Trust was created to help players transition to non-football lives once their careers end.

    Mawae, a former president of the NFL Players Association, joined such former players as Pittsburgh linebacker Levon Kirkland and long snapper Jason Kyle, who played for four teams, in the club session in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mawae also spent four weeks with the club this summer before reporting for fall practice in August in his new job as a quality control analyst at Arizona State for coach Herm Edwards.

    The man who played center his final 14 years in the NFL had a simple issue: He never stretched.

    "So to finally get from where I could barely touch my shins to where I can put my hands on the ground now in a straight-legged stretch, that's a huge accomplishment for me," Mawae said.

    A nutritionist also helps each player with an individual eating plan and teaches them how to pick healthy foods when shopping. They also get a cookbook developed to assist with making better choices.

    Support comes from The Trust, which assists former players with career counseling, finances and education. Connecting former players and helping them take care of their bodies is where the Breakfast Club comes in. Bahati Van Pelt, executive director of The Trust, credits former player Aaron Taylor for creating the group workout concept by asking if EXOS could provide a workout plan if he got 10 players together in San Diego.

    The concept quickly grew from a couple groups to five a year, then 12, and now through expansion with about 400 former players have taken part.

    The Breakfast Club has been in the Dallas area; Miami; Tampa; Birmingham, Alabama; Jacksonville, Florida; Brentwood, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri; and New Orleans. Van Pelt said they went to New Orleans last year because several former players reached out to Tulane, a medical partner of The Trust, when they had a large enough group for a Breakfast Club.

    "Anytime we can have a player-driven, organized community that players are willing to buy into and incorporate and be active in, a part of that's a no-brainer for us," Van Pelt said.

    With so many former NFL players in the Atlanta region, The Trust needed another gym option in areas without EXOS facilities. That led to the YMCA, where a free one-year membership is renewable and keeps former players working out once the club's six-week sessions end.

    Former players only have to register with The Trust, which is identifying more cities to host future Breakfast Clubs. The current club started Oct. 8 in Carlsbad, California, near San Diego, with players including former offensive tackle Vaughn Parker, now 47 who played 10 of his 11 NFL seasons with the Chargers.

    The biggest benefit may be recreating the locker room vibe that disappears after football. Van Pelt said they've had former players ask when the club is coming back to their towns.

    "It brought back that feeling of being in the locker room, of having a workout in your position group and having an accountability partner with your wellness," Van Pelt said. "So if I don't come work out on a Monday and Wednesday, I have teammates that are going to check in on me and find out what's going on and make sure I'm there on Friday."

    Getting moving again with a routine matters most for players accustomed to living by practice and meeting schedules through high school, college and the NFL.

    But Mawae said no former player wants to be a statistic, and the club can help men live longer, healthier lives.

    "It doesn't mean you can't have a drink every now and then, you can't indulge in sweets or candies or whatever, you can't just relax for a week. That just means you don't live a sedentary lifestyle where all your previous injuries can pile up and debilitate you," Mawae said.

    "And unfortunately for a lot of the players that retire, that's exactly what happens."

    Photo Credit: Gregory Bull/AP

    In this Oct. 8, 2018, photo, former NFL football player Vaughn Parker, left, balances himself on a plank of wood as he works with Cole Tomlinson during a range of motion and balance evaluation at Exos in Carlsbad, Calif. Parker played for the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins during his time in the NFL.In this Oct. 8, 2018, photo, former NFL football player Vaughn Parker, left, balances himself on a plank of wood as he works with Cole Tomlinson during a range of motion and balance evaluation at Exos in Carlsbad, Calif. Parker played for the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins during his time in the NFL.

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    The nation that buys most of San Diego’s recycled bottles, cans and paper is now buying less.

    China’s strict new regulations for the purchase of foreign recycled material is causing a recycling glut in the city of San Diego.

    That surplus is costing local taxpayers millions of dollars.

    In fiscal year 2017, the city made $4 million dollars from its curbside recycling contract with IMS Recycling Services and the Allen Company. In fiscal year 2018, revenue dropped, but the city treasury still netted $3 million from the program.

    But the city’s Environmental Services Department now predicts that China’s restrictive policies will cause the city to lose at least another $1.5 million in the current fiscal year.

    Ken Prue III, the city’s recycling program manager, told NBC 7 that the program might, in fact, generate no income this fiscal year. “Best case, we’ll get $1.5 million, but most probably, nothing,” Prue said.

    China has adopted strict standards for its purchase of recycled products. Prue said that the Asian nation no longer accepts mixed paper or mixed plastics and is closely inspecting U.S. shipments of cardboard and other items it does take, to ensure those items meet strict new standards for cleanliness.

    “And when they turned off the tap, (we) had to find a new home for that material,” Prue said.

    Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries also buy our recycled items, but Prue said those markets lack the capacity of a huge, industrialized country like China.

    It's also gotten more expensive to process our recycling because the companies that handle that chore must hire more workers and slow down their sorting lines to make sure no dirty material gets through.

    Prue said the city’s business partners are always looking for new markets for our recycling, and are now focused on domestic uses for the material.

    “Ultimately it would be best if we had more domestic infrastructure that could take it,” Prue said. “Paper mills and mills that could process the plastic. Things like that."

    Until that happens, Prue said San Diego residents can help relieve the recycling glut by paying close attention to what they put in their blue bins.

    Prue said customer should never put plastic bags filled with recycling directly in the blue bins. Take the newspapers, bottles, cans, and other items out of the bags, before you put that material in the bins.

    Don’t put empty plastic bags, garden hoses, cords or other non-recyclable items in the blue bins.

    And never assume the city will find a way to recycle items that are not on the approved list

    "People think, ‘Well, it's not really the cardboard or the paper or the bottles or cans or the plastic items that I'm supposed to put in the bin. But you know what, if I put it in there, they'll find a way to [use it].’ We ask people not to do that."

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    With more people around town riding on dockless electronic scooters, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Thursday proposed several new regulations to make them safer.

    Among the new rules, he is proposing to limit scooter speeds to 8 mph in crowded areas, such as the beach boardwalk, Downtown Embarcadero and the Convention Center.

    "As with many disruptive new technologies, there are issues that need to be addressed," Faulconer said in a statement. "First and foremost, public safety is our top priority and that will be reflected in these common-sense regulations."

    Other rules he is proposing include more safety education for riders, data sharing and proper liability insurance.

    Scooter share operators will be required to educate users of local city, state vehicle and traffic codes. They will also be required to provide the city with monthly reports of where the scooters are, how often they are being used and the number of scooters in the city.

    The report will be used by the city for its Climate Action Plan monitoring and mobility planning.

    All scooters operating in the city will also be required to clearly label that it is illegal to ride on sidewalks.

    "My goal has always been to slow down the speed of the scooters and address safety concerns," Councilwoman Lorie Zapf said in a statement. "With this proposal, I feel confident that we will see changes for the better."

    Zapf, who is on the City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods committee, worked with the mayor on the proposed regulations. The committee will hold a hearing on the proposal framework next Wednesday.

    Circulate San Diego, a nonprofit that works to promote public transportation, praises the mayor's plan, saying it will improve safety and provide a safe mode of transportation.

    "The scooters are game changers that provide new mobility options, and with safe infrastructure, they will help San Diego meet its Climate Action Plan and Vision Zero goals," Circulate San Diego's policy director Maya Rosas said in a statement.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    People ride Bird shared dockless electric scooters along Venice Beach on August 13, 2018 in Los Angeles.People ride Bird shared dockless electric scooters along Venice Beach on August 13, 2018 in Los Angeles.

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    Men and women of the California Highway Patrol's San Diego headquarters showed off their lip sync skills, and a few of their toys, in their rendition of the popular lip sync challenge.

    The office said they never intended to take part in the challenge until the Oceanside office called them out. So they responded with a tribute to the city and the legendary movie "Top Gun."

    Their journey to the Danger Zone starts on the deck of USS Midway Museum with a special cameo from Maverick and features plenty of classic San Diego scenes.

    Buckle up!

    Photo Credit: San Diego CHP
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    Voters across the county will be deciding on various hot-button issues come Nov. 6, like Measure Q which could decide the fate of marijuana dispensaries and manufacturers in Chula Vista.

    Supporters of Measure Q say it’s a big deal because if voters don't approve it, things will stay just like they are now: Absolutely no legal marijuana manufacturing or dispensaries in city limits.

    If the yes votes prevail, that means licensed shops can open up and the city can tax manufacturing, cultivation and testing sites, as well as dispensaries and delivery services anywhere from 5 to 15 percent.

    Manufacturing, cultivation and testing will be limited to industrial-zoned sites only, and those establishments will have to qualify for a permit.

    "We will not grant a license to anybody who has been operating illegally," Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said.

    Every applicant will have to pass a criminal background check, financial check, and have their site approved through the whole permit process. They’ll also need a plan for security and money handling.

    According to City Councilmembers, some of the revenue from the tax would go toward setting up an enforcement unit focused on regulating legal pot shops and shutting down illegal ones. The rest of the revenue would go into the general fund.

    The Chula Vista City Council has been working on Measure Q for the past two years while cities across the state have approved sale and cultivation of laws of their own.

    "We decided as a council that we needed to control our own destiny relative to the number of pot shops and the placement of them," Mayor Salas said.

    The measure gained even more momentum after countless illegal pot shops and delivery services sprouted in the city.

    "They have spinners outside advertising. They're really being bold and aggressive. We really need to be able to rein that in and control the situation here in Chula Vista," Salas said.

    Measure Q stipulates an eight-dispensary maximum in the city, and if the maximum is reached then only four additional delivery services will be allowed.

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    A fire weather warning is in effect for San Diego County with gusty winds and low humidity expected Monday, forcing San Diego Gas and Electric to shut power off to hundreds due to an increased risk for wildfires.

    NWS issued a high wind warning Monday for San Diego's mountains until 8 p.m. Tuesday. Gusts are expected to reach 25 to 40 mph with gusts to 65 mph.

    SDG&E turned off the power to roughly 360 customers in the Cleveland National Forest area for public safety Monday. The utility said around 8:45 p.m. that power was restored.

    Conditions are considered Santa Ana when temperatures are higher west of the mountains than east of the mountains in the desert communities. The combination of high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds creates dangerous fire conditions. 

    Humidity is expected to be about 10 percent with little overnight recovery, according to NWS. By Wednesday, the humidity will increase. 

    “What little rain we got over the weekend, it will be gone like that,” NBC 7's Whitney Southwick said, clicking his fingers.

    “All it takes is a spark and fires spread very quickly.” 

    High winds could down trees and power lines, prompting power outages; driving may be difficult especially for high profile vehicles; dust may limit visibility during this time as well, NWS said. 

    "While concerns are justifiable for the fire growth potential these dry winds present, don’t forget about the non-fire-related wind damage these powerful winds can do," NWS said on Twitter

    Cal Fire is increasing staff across the state as a precaution for the next two days and they are urging people to do their part by mitigating the potential for the wildfire.

    Cal Fire Capt. Isaac Sanchez said don’t be fooled by the weekend rain.

    “We’re going to see an increase in temperatures and of course the winds start to blow,” he said.

    He said in San Diego, everyone should be on alert. 

    “We have our initial attack resources that we have staffed up constantly. In addition, we’ll be staffing up additional engines and forming up some hand crews into strike team formations,” Sanchez said. 

    Cal Fire advises residents to exercise extreme caution when in or near open areas to prevent sparking a fire. 

    • Don’t mow or trim dry grass on windy days
    • Never pull your vehicle over in dry grass
    • Target shoot only in approved areas, use lead ammunition only, and never at metal
    • Ensure campfires are allowed, and if so, be sure to extinguish them completely
    • Report any suspicious activities to prevent arson 

    For more fire prevention tips and evacuation steps visit this website.

    Southern California was met with torrential downpours and bursts of lightning flashes over the weekend but that rain was not enough to prevent the risk for wildfires amid Santa Ana conditions. 

    Stay up to date on changing weather conditions by downloading the free NBC 7 mobile app and selecting weather as your home screen.

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    Warner Workman has met his Virginia congresswoman several times at local events and says he's "always dumbfounded when she actually remembers my name."

    Rep. Barbara Comstock's social media pages are filled with photos of her thanking local first responders at 9/11 memorials, posing with families at county fairs, attending Boy Scout events and opening new police stations in Virginia's 10th Congressional District.

    The Republican congresswoman is "always out there … getting to know people," Workman said.

    Her approach worked in 2016, when she won re-election even as the district voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton by 10 percentage points. But the 2018 midterm election could spell the end of Comstock's tenure in Congress and nearly four decades of Republican control of the district, which stretches along Virginia's northern border from the progressive suburbs of Washington, D.C., into the Blue Ridge Mountains.

    Comstock is running against Democratic state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, a former prosecutor from Loudoun County, which experts see as a crucial part of the district. The wealthy and increasingly diverse county has started swinging toward Democrats, as has the state overall. 

    Comstock, who lives closer to D.C. in neighboring Fairfax County, faces two strong headwinds: the district's burgeoning Democratic bent and those voters' opposition to the leader of her party, President Donald Trump.

    Experts say people are looking beyond the boundaries of their own district to inform how they vote in this election, and that makes Comstock one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election.

    After the two contentious years that followed Trump becoming president, "the Trump agenda is very important to voters," George Mason University political science professor Toni-Michelle Travis said.

    This article, part 3 in a series, examines one of the key battleground races for control of the House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Carried by grassroots momentum, Democrats must take 23 seats from Republicans to win the balance of power. They are contending with Republicans' experience and organization, and an outspoken but polarizing president.

    Comstock has distanced herself from Trump on some key issues like health care — she voted against the American Health Care Act, which would have repealed "Obamacare" — and imposing sanctions on Russia. At a televised roundtable with Trump in February, she told Trump a government shutdown was a bad idea for her constituents, some of whom work for the federal government.

    "This election is about results versus the resistance," Comstock said at a late-September debate with Wexton, where she touted her support of the Republican tax cut plan and "a booming economy."

    But she's voted in line with Trump's agenda 97.8 percent of the time, putting her among the most consistently pro-Trump members of Congress, according to a tally kept by news outlet FiveThirtyEight. (By contrast, only a few Democrats voted along with Trump 50 percent of the time or more.)

    Wexton's campaign has zeroed in on Comstock's voting record, recently running attack ads that call her "Barbara Trumpstock." This week, The Washington Post endorsed Wexton after backing Comstock in 2016, calling the Republican an "often unquestioning foot soldier in the president's ranks of Republican loyalists."

    In the debate, Wexton hit back at Comstock's resistance remark, saying the Trump administration "is constantly assaulting many of the values that Americans hold dear."

    Travis, the George Mason University professor, said Trump's agenda has been "so disheartening" that many voters don't see a candidate with Comstock's voting record as the best person to represent them in Congress.

    "Comstock's cred has just gone down," Travis said.

    Comstock campaign manager Susan Falconer argued in an email that Comstock is a bipartisan and independent leader who's deeply engaged in the district and "will stand up for what's right for the district, regardless of party." She pushed back on the reliability of the Trump agenda tracker, contending that 82 percent of votes Comstock took had support from some Democrats.

    "She trusts the independent minded men and women of her district who know how important it is to have bipartisan leadership for the region in order to get these important victories," Falconer wrote, referring to the congressional delegation representing the D.C. area — all the others are Democrats.

    But public polling indicates that Wexton is running ahead of Comstock. One poll from the Post this month put Wexton's lead at 12 points. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as lean Democrat. Travis argued it would be "very hard" for Comstock to pull ahead, unless something "weird" happens.

    "But Wexton needs to still work at it," Travis added, saying the other party "can always win if you underestimate your opponent."

    Think Nationally, Act Locally
    Tina Stevens-Culbreath, a Democrat from the city of Winchester, west of D.C. in the Shenandoah Valley, is concerned about a "culture of hate" in the country that stems from the 2016 election.

    People "feel they are allowed to do and say basically anything that they want without consequence," Stevens-Culbreath said.

    She and her husband are looking to Wexton to be a unifier, someone "we're going to need to bring this country together," as Rodney Culbreath put it. The couple founded the I'm Just Me Movement, a mentorship nonprofit that aims to promote diversity and inclusion among kids in the area. 

    To win, Wexton may need a strong performance in suburbs like Winchester that are further from D.C., as well as in crucial Loudon County, which is more diverse and more likely to vote Democrat, according to John J. McGlennon, a government and public policy professor at The College of William & Mary.

    Voters in the area are especially attuned to national issues, he said, partly because of their proximity to D.C., which affects their livelihood.

    Seventeen-year-old Ainsley Rucker said that it's become a "moral obligation" to vote in the midterms to "put the Trump administration on check," even if she can't yet cast her own ballot.

    Women's rights, LGBTQ rights and education are among the issues fueling Rucker's political passion. She is the president of the Winchester Young Democrats coalition, which has expanded to every local high school since its inception earlier this year, Rucker said.

    "Since we can't have our voices directly heard through voting, we feel like the only thing we can do to make ourselves heard is ... get other people to understand what we think as young people and influence the people around us," Rucker said.

    Casey Turben, a longtime Winchester resident and local historian, said that Trump's election has sparked local-level activism, and it will be "the lasting story of 2016."

    Rucker also pushed back on the notion that Comstock is deeply involved in the district, saying she was "refusing to answer questions" from her constituents by not holding formal town hall meetings.

    Asked by NBC, Comstock's campaign manager didn't say when Comstock last held a town hall meeting. But Falconer said the congresswoman attended a recent forum on the opioid crisis in Loudon County and emphasized her many visits with local civic, religious and ethnic organizations.

    Workman, the Comstock supporter, argued she just "does things a little differently" in regards to meeting with her voters, saying "she goes to the people instead of having the people come to her."

    Comstock still has support in Winchester, too, a city that was nearly evenly split between Clinton and Trump in 2016.

    Robert Starkey, a local electrician, said she "just seems to care for Virginia and supports guns."

    And as a small business owner, Starkey said he wants a representative who will help him be successful and keep the economy strong.

    "I think Comstock is for helping us with taxes," he said. 

    'Common-Sense Gun Laws'
    Gun rights is one national issue that animates the supporters of both candidates who spoke to NBC.

    Workman, the Comstock supporter, said he's looking to her to protect his Second Amendment rights. A retired CIA technical intelligence officer who owns Minuteman Arms in Lovettsville, in Loudon County, Workman said he respects people who don't want to carry guns or have them on their property.

    He said always will "respect the private property rights of others" and leave his gun in his car, for example, if a person or private business doesn't want firearms on their property.

    Workman worries that so-called "common-sense gun laws" could lead to it becoming more difficult overall to purchase firearms, a right he deeply believes in and which he depends on to keep his shop running. Workman said he donates his store profits to veterans groups and Little League baseball in the area.

    Comstock has an "A" rating from the NRA and is one of the top recipients of the group's political contributions. She has supported bills that address mental illness treatment, which she has said is one of the issues at the heart of gun violence, along with increased funding for school safety and security and strengthening the national gun background check system.

    According to her campaign, she also supports banning "bump stocks," a device used in last year's Las Vegas massacre that increases the rate of fire on semi-automatic rifles, and "red flag" laws that provide a way to take weapons from people who are a harm to themselves or others.

    Rucker and Winchester Young Democrats vice president Niko Christen, 15, are looking to Wexton for her plans to take on gun violence. They were in high school during a year that saw mass shootings at several U.S. schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 people died, and Santa Fe High School in Texas, where 10 died.

    The students said they want "common-sense gun laws that could prevent people who shouldn't have them from getting them," which could include "red flag" laws and a slower process for purchasing firearms.

    Wexton spokesman Ray Rieling said "common-sense" gun legislation is one of the candidate's top priorities, along with affordable and accessible health care and fighting political corruption.

    Wexton most strongly supports universal background checks, a "great first step for tightening up our gun violence prevention measures," Rieling said. The Democrat also supports banning military-style assault weapons and allowing the federal government to study gun violence as a public health issue, according to her campaign website.

    "We may not be able to stop all the school shootings, but shouldn't we at least try to stop some?" Wexton asked the state's General Assembly in February.

    The district has a large population of the kind of voters who recently have turned away from the NRA — college-educated, white-collar workers — and the issue could be what helps tip the balance for Wexton. According to a recent NBC News poll, Americans in suburbs who had a negative view of the NRA increased from 36 percent in April 2017 to 40 percent after the Parkland shooting.

    Can Comstock Come Back?
    Comstock's campaign manager said that the Republican "has never lost a race and always overperforms expectations," noting that Comstock's district was rated as a "toss-up" in 2016 before she won by 6 percentage points.

    While recent public polls put Wexton in front by at least 6 percentage points, a recent internal poll gives Comstock a slight lead, though within the margin of error.

    But Turben, the Winchester historian, said the tides are changing in Virginia's 10th District. He said a Wexton victory would come with "a slump of sure GOP votes in the western boundaries of the district," adding that it would be a "loud and clear" message to Congress that the expectations rural voters have for Washington are shifting.

    William & Mary professor McGlennon said that educated, affluent Loudon County represents a political shift happening in suburbs across the country.

    "Suburbia has become a lot more diverse, and suburban voters have been moving strongly towards Democrats, and that has the potential to transform not just the politics of Virginia, but much of the country," he said.

    While Comstock appears to be "in a very deep hole," McGlennon said, she could still win by finding a way to convince voters that she won't regularly support Trump, that "she will be an independent voice" and more attuned to her voters on social issues than a typical Republican.

    "And I think that's a very tall order," he added.

    It's an issue that the Wexton campaign is latching on to.

    Trump is "certainly part of the conversation about everything," Rieling said, and Wexton's plans for "holding this administration accountable is an enormous issue for voters."

    NBC's Sierra Jackson contributed to this report.

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    Dashcam video shows an Orange County sheriff’s deputy repeatedly punching a man in the face and then dragging him to the ground, but the sheriff’s department says the force used was appropriate.

    Mohamed Sayem was sitting in his car in a parking lot of the Corner Pocket Bar in Westminister waiting for the alcohol to wear off, but his attorney said what happened next is use of excessive force. The video shows two Orange County deputies on either side of Sayem’s car asking to see his identification.

    Sayem and the deputies are seen talking to each other just before he is pressed up against the car and punched in the face repeatedly until he finally falls to the ground.

    "You going to shoot me?," Sayem asked the deputies.

    He is then restrained on the ground. Sayem suffered injuries to his head and knees, attorney Scott Sanders said. 

    Deputies were called to the parking lot by a resident who encountered Sayem, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department. In a statement, the agency said "the deputy made every attempt to deescalate the situation."

    "The subject refused to do so and attempted to physically engage the deputy, during which the deputy used force appropriate for the situation to gain control of an uncooperative, assaultive and intoxicated person," the statement continued. "The deputy's report is consistent with the video in its entirety, and charges were filed by the OC District Attorney's office. Any assertion otherwise substantially misrepresents the facts, and serves only to swell an anti-law enforcement narrative."

    Sayem is now charged with a felony of resisting arrest.

    "You blew it," Sander’s said. "You beat him up in a situation you didn’t need that level of force. The answer can’t be that Mr. Sayem pays the price."

    Photo Credit: KNBC

    Mohamed Sayem was repeatedly punched in the face by Orange County Deputies in Westminister.Mohamed Sayem was repeatedly punched in the face by Orange County Deputies in Westminister.

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    At least 15 people were injured due to "severe intense turbulence" on an Aerolíneas Argentinas flight Thursday from Miami to Buenos Aires, the airline said in a statement.

    Aerolineas described the injuries as "minor." 

    Flight 1303 departed Miami just after 9 a.m. Thursday with 192 passengers onboard. According to the airline, the incident occurred during the so-called "cruise" phase of the flight. 

    Photos and videos shared on social media appear to show the cabin in disarray, with oxygen masks hanging, damage to the cabin's interior and passengers' items strewn across the floor. 

    "Once the turbulence zone was crossed, the crew in charge of the flight was dedicated to assist the injured passengers and to relieve the general state of the 192 passengers," Aerolineas Argentinas said. 

    The airline said it arranged to have a medical team on hand upon arrival at Ezeiza airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.  Eight of the passengers were taken in for a second check-up. 

    Turbulence, which can occur when two air masses of different temperature or speed collide, can generate sudden, forceful movements to an aircraft.

    Photo Credit: Aerolíneas Argentinas
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    Aerolineas Argentinas says 15 passengers aboard a flight from Miami to Buenos Aires suffered minor injuries after their plane hit turbulence.Aerolineas Argentinas says 15 passengers aboard a flight from Miami to Buenos Aires suffered minor injuries after their plane hit turbulence.

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    In a video advertisement for his Florida gubernatorial campaign, Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis urged his toddler-aged daughter to "build the wall" with colorful toy blocks. DeSantis, who faced off against an establishment Republican, had already gotten President Donald Trump's endorsement the month before. DeSantis would go on to win his primary in a landslide, the race called within minutes of polls closing. 

    His path hasn't been so easy since. A late September NBC News/Marist poll has him trailing Democrat Andrew Gillum by 5 points.

    Many Republicans pursuing the governor's mansion this cycle face a predicament in the general election: a tie to President Trump may have swayed a primary in their favor, but in closer races, it could impede chances of winning the seat.

    The recipe for a possible blue wave in November, a surge in Democratic wins, includes state specific issues but Trump is another main ingredient. This fall's gubernatorial races could be an indicator of sentiment on the president himself, though incumbency and other factors will also play a role, according to political academics.

    "In any midterm election, the president’s party tends to pay a price," said Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the 2018 election, Trump has an especially low approval rating, he said. "I think that puts Republicans in particular jeopardy this year."

    Of the nine governor's seats Democrats hold, the Cook Political Report predicts one race is a tossup and one leans Republican. The rest are rated as leaning or likely blue. But of the 26 seats Republicans hold, nine are tossup races, two lean Democrat and one is likely going Democratic. The upshot: many Republican seats are up for grabs this November.

    Nonpartisan Michigan pollster Richard Czuba told The Associated Press that many independents lean Democrat in large part due to "distaste" for the president.

    "The national tide towards Democrats is tilting states like Colorado and Minnesota in the Democratic direction," said Stephen Ansolabehere, professor of government at Harvard University. "Those are pretty competitive states, maybe slightly leaning Democratic, but there are national conditions pushing in that direction."

    "A lot of Republican candidates in other places couldn’t necessarily [distance themselves from Trump] because that's a good way to lose a primary," said Geoffrey Skelley, who worked at Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball when NBC spoke to him and is now an analyst at FiveThirtyEight. "President Trump remains popular among Republicans nationally."

    In Minnesota, GOP nominee Jeff Johnson beat former Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the primary, slamming him for being "anti-Trump" in 2016. He later won Trump’s endorsement even though Pawlenty pointed out Johnson had once called Trump a "jackass." Heading into the general election, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party challenger Tim Walz has been leading in the polls.

    Similarly, in Florida and Kansas, Ansolabehere noted, Trump-backed candidates are underperforming. DeSantis was behind in September, and Kris Kobach is leading but not by as large a margin as expected for a Republican in Kansas.

    And in Georgia, a tossup race in a state that went for Trump in 2016, the Democrat, Stacey Abrams, faces Trump-endorsed state Attorney General Brian Kemp, who has been sued for putting 53,000 voter registrations on hold. Governors and allies in the Republican Governors Association were frustrated by Trump’s decision to endorse Kemp, The New York Times reported in July.

    Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee told the Times: "Our focus at the R.G.A. has always been on making certain we can win the general election."

    The governors association has since backed Kemp, funding TV ads targeting Abrams.

    The majority of the governor's races seen as close contests lean Democrat, according to polls, and are in places where incumbents are not running, such as Florida, Nevada, and Ohio. 

    Open seats present the most promising opportunity for Democrats, even when Republicans are the majority in the state, if the outgoing incumbent is unpopular. 

    "Governors races can be separated from the federal election environment to some extent," Skelley said. "But at the end of the day, there is still a pretty strong connection there, and a Republican president with a mediocre approval rating [has] also helped."

    A comfortable distance from Trump is easier to establish for certain popular incumbent governors. With Congress in Washington and governors more associated with state management issues like infrastructure and education, their races are less bound to presidential approval than federal elections. Moderate first term Republican incumbents Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan could win reelection in their blue states. 

    "If federal context is the only thing that mattered, Republican governors in Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont would be done for," Skelley said. "They would have no way of surviving. Yet, they are all heavily favored to win reelection."

    Ansolabehere noted that a "great" economy also balances the effect of Trump's low popularity. Many Democrats have run on, in part, critiques of Republicans' tax bill and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, measures they say will exacerbate disparities in wealth.

    Beyond Trump's influence, 2018 is expected to result in what many midterm elections have seen in the past — a reaction to the party in power. 

    "This year we’re seeing a corrective," Ansolabehere said.

    Americans voted out the majority party in 2014, as they did in 2010, and in 2006. This round of midterm elections might not be too different, he and others predict.

    "Whereas, for the last several election cycles, the Republicans have been particularly strong, picking up governors mansions, this time around they have a lot of territory to defend and they have to defend it in a political environment that is amid a Democratic wave," said Jennifer Lawless, professor of government at American University. She said that the majority of competitive races "are competitive in a way that would allow Democrats to pick up a seat.”

    Democrats have been arguing in campaigns that if Trump can nominate another Supreme Court justice, tipping the balance of the court further, some issues might revert to the states to sort out. State legislatures become increasingly important when that occurs. Lawless cited Roe v. Wade as an example — if it is overturned, the party controlling the state legislature "becomes far more important than they have been in the past."

    It remains unclear what role Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation fight will have this November in governor's races.

    For Republican gubernatorial incumbents, separating their campaigns from their party's national reputation this election cycle can be difficult, Lawless said. 

    "If this is a change election, and if this is an election cycle where voters want to move in a new direction, that disproportionately benefits Democrats," she said.

    Even incumbents who have been vocal opponents of Trump "are in some ways wearing the national Republican albatross around their neck." 

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Gubernatorial candidates endorsed by President Donald Trump include (clockwise from top-left) Ron DeSantis for Florida, Jeff Johnson for Minnesota, Kris Kobach for Kansas and Brian Kemp for Georgia.Gubernatorial candidates endorsed by President Donald Trump include (clockwise from top-left) Ron DeSantis for Florida, Jeff Johnson for Minnesota, Kris Kobach for Kansas and Brian Kemp for Georgia.

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