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    The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico launched the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund to help those affected by California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire.

    In a statement, the brewery said they were contributing $100,000 to the fund and put out a call to other breweries to participate in the collaborative brewing process on Tuesday.

    “Today is a special day for our brewery,” Sierra Nevada posted on its Facebook page. “Today, we're brewing Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, and we are absolutely blown away to report that more than 1,000 breweries around the world are brewing it with us. 100% of the sales of this beer will be donated to the Camp Fire Relief Fund. Thank you to our employees, thank you to our community, and thank you to our incredible brewing industry. Humbled and grateful doesn't begin to describe it.”

    Breweries from San Diego, Portland, Ontario, Canada and other countries responded and pledged their support to brew the beer. Find the full list here

    The Russian River Brewing Company from Santa Rosa organized a similar fundraiser after the Tubbs Fire last year.

    Today is a special day for our brewery. Today, we're brewing Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, and we are absolutely...

    Posted by Sierra Nevada on Tuesday, November 27, 2018



    Photo Credit: Sierra Nevada Brewing

    The brewing Resilience Butte County Proud IPA.The brewing Resilience Butte County Proud IPA.

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    The federal government's National Climate Assessment says that climate change will unleash heat waves that make Chicago feel like Las Vegas, bring disease-carrying mosquitoes to Florida year-round, warm oceans enough to drive lobsters from Maine and more, NBC News reports.

    This version of the report, released over Thanksgiving weekend, gives many examples of the impact of climate change on the local level both today and what it's projected to do in the future, something critics said the last version lacked.

    Among the findings for if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the same pace: Chicago could see about as many 100-degree days by the end of the century as Las Vegas did on average between 1981 and 2010.

    The report projects that wildfires in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where the Camp Fire killed at least 88 people this month, could burn as much as three times the area between 2071 to 2100 compared to 1961 to 1990.



    Photo Credit: John Locher/AP, File

    This June 20, 2017, file photo shows a man in a Darth Vader costume spray water on his face to cool off along the Las Vegas Strip.This June 20, 2017, file photo shows a man in a Darth Vader costume spray water on his face to cool off along the Las Vegas Strip.

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    President Donald Trump's lawyer has acknowledged that he received briefings from attorneys for Paul Manafort while Manafort was cooperating with Robert Mueller, an unusual development that legal experts say raises the specter of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

    Trump's chief defense lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told the Associated Press that Manafort's attorneys had been briefing him, a fact first reported by The New York Times, to whom Giuliani also confirmed the briefings.

    "They share with me the things that pertain to our part of the case," Giuliani told the AP. He declined to make the same acknowledgement to NBC News, but he did not dispute the reporting.



    Photo Credit: AP

    File - President-elect Donald Trump calls out to media as he and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J..File - President-elect Donald Trump calls out to media as he and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J..

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    A bill that would have protected special counsel Robert Mueller was blocked by Senate Republicans Wednesday over the objections of one member of the party threatening to hold up judicial nominations, NBC News reported.

    The effort to safeguard Mueller and his probe into Russian election meddling gained new momentum this month after President Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with a loyalist who criticized the Russia probe before joining the administration.

    Retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., threatened to withhold his key vote on the judiciary committee for Trump judges unless the bill got a vote, saying on the Senate floor, "To be so sanguine about the prospects of (Mueller) being fired is folly for us."

    But his fellow Republican, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, objected to a request for unanimous consent to proceed on that full vote, dashing hopes that the bill would progress.



    Photo Credit: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images, File

    This June 21, 2017, file photo shows special counsel Robert Mueller leave a meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C.This June 21, 2017, file photo shows special counsel Robert Mueller leave a meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C.

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    Four productions will be a part of La Jolla Playhouse's 2019-2020 season, including two world premiere pieces and a new musical with a book by John Leguizamo, fresh off his Tony Award win.

    “The 2019/2020 season showcases four riveting new pieces that represent a multitude of vibrant and vigorous voices, all of which examine – in vastly different ways – how ordinary people attempt to persevere under extraordinary circumstances,” said Artistic Director Christopher Ashley in a statement.

    "Put Your House in Order," by Ike Holter, and "The Luckiest" by Melisa Ross, will have their world premieres at La Jolla Playhouse in the upcoming season.

    Holter's play, "Put Your House in Order," tells the story of a couple's first date and the horrors of the city around them as it exhibits signs that something is wrong. Ross' play, "The Luckiest," follows a fiercely independent young woman whose world is shattered with a sudden diagnosis. 

    John Leguizamo will bring his new musical, "Kiss My Aztec!" to La Jolla Playhouse. The musical, with a book by Leguizamo and Tony Taccone, tells the story of the Spanish as they set their sights on Mesoamerica, and how the Aztecs fight back. It's a satire, based on a screenplay by Leguizamo and Stephen Chbosky. The musical features music by Benjamin Velez and lyrics by David Kamp, Benjamin Velez and John Leguizamo. 

    The upcoming season also features "Cambodian Rock Band," a rock concert play by Lauren Lee that tells the story of the life of a young woman trying to piece together her family's history, years after her father fled Cambodia. 

    Two additional productions, to be announced shortly, will round out the season next year. 

    Currently, tickets are only available through a subscription by clicking here



    Photo Credit: Vito di Stefano

    La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California.La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California.

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    A man was shot outside a bank in Lemon Grove on Wednesday, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. 

    The shooting happened at about noon near an ATM outside the Union Bank on Lemon Grove Avenue, south of Broadway, according to an SDSO spokesperson. 

    Deputies were initially called to respond to a robbery at the bank's address. 

    The nature surrounding the shooting was unclear but a Heartland Fire Department spokesperson said crews transported a 62-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the leg. 

    The man was being taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital in unknown condition. 

    SDSO said a suspect has not been located. 

    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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    Millennials, roughly ranging in age from 21 to 34, may seem relatively young and inexperienced in comparison to baby boomers. But, that doesn’t mean the generation doesn’t know what it likes, and that includes its preference in alcohol. While some millennials likely ushered in their legal drinking age with a craft beer in hand, recent data shows the consumer group is now beginning to lean toward distilled craft spirits as its drink of choice.

    According to the American Craft Spirits Association 2018 annual report, the number of active craft distilleries in the U.S. climbed 15.5 percent from 1,589 to 1,835 in the United States in 2017.

    California leads in the number of distilleries in the country with 156 — up from 148 the year prior. In the U.S., craft spirits had an estimated market share of 3.2 percent in cases sold in 2017, up from 1.2 percent in 2012. In terms of revenue, the industry sold nearly 7.2 million cases in 2017 and reached $3.7 billion in sales.

    While millennials may be driving craft distilleries to mushroom in the region, what’s fueling the growth is relatively new legislation that has loosened restrictions on distillers, including allowing them to sell products straight to consumers and an increase in the total volume distillers can produce a year. Experts believe changes in law are a direct result of lawmakers realizing that, much like the craft beer scene, the craft distillery sector can create substantial economic growth.

    Changing Laws

    The California Craft Distillers Act of 2015 was the first law to define craft distilleries operating in the state as only those producing up to 100,000 gallons of distilled spirits annually. Authored by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, the law allows distilleries to sell up to three 750 ml bottles per customer per day on site; it allows license holders to open a bar or restaurant on site; and have tastings where cocktails and mixed drinks can be made. In September, a Senate bill expanded that capacity to 150,000 gallons per year.

    Additionally, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017, which became effective Jan. 1, 2018, lowered the federal excise tax on beer and distilled spirits.

    Carl Winston, director of the School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at San Diego State University, says, much like with the craft beer explosion in San Diego, politicians saw the benefit in the tax revenue craft distilleries could bring.

    The San Diego Distillers Guild website shows nearly 15 craft distilleries as members in the county.

    ”Politicians saw an opportunity to do more entrepreneurship in the state and San Diego was a good place to do that,” Winston said. “They figured out what happened to craft beer in the city — we have become a craft beer city in the last decade — and that created a lot of economic activity for locals and visitors alike that is driving tax revenue.”

    The other side of this, says Winston, is that the No. 4 economic driver for the city is agriculture, so, if you grow stuff, you want to experiment with it to create new and interesting flavored craft spirits, he says. And, because millennials are more inclined to try more out-of-the-box offerings, this works well for San Diego’s consumers.

    Brick-and-Mortar Incentive

    Nick Apostolopoulos, owner of 619 Spirits founded in 2012 and treasurer of the San Diego Distillers Guild, says as soon as he heard the craft license law was changing, he rushed to find a brick-and-mortar location to open up a distillery with a full kitchen. One of the stipulations of the new craft license is that if a distillery has a bona fide restaurant, it can host tastings and private events as well as serve any brand of beer, wine and spirits. After some setbacks, he officially opened the doors to his North Park location in July.

    “Before, all you were allowed to do as far as interacting with the general public was just serve them six quarter-ounce chasers of spirit straight, you couldn’t mix the drink,” said Apostolopoulos. “Now, you can have lunch, five cocktails and walk away with bottles of my stuff, because I have a full kitchen. You can also do private events and serve any beer, wine and spirit because we have a full kitchen. And, because we have a bar and restaurant and are open seven days a week, revenue is going up month-over-month. Yet, we are still very much a distillery.”

    Millennial Momentum

    Steve Kuftinec, co-founder of East Village’s Storyhouse Spirits, a restaurant, bar, private event space and distillery that produces vodka, gin, bourbon and rye, and is expected to open as soon as December, says he believes that, like the craft beer, craft spirit is on a similar, if not more accelerated trajectory of growth. He also credits this to millennials, because they are drawn to authenticity, not marketing ploys.

    According to a 2018 millennial drinking trends report by BreakThru Beverage Group, a wine, spirits and beer distributor headquartered in New York, 41 percent of millennials prefer craft spirits than beer, the latter coming in at 39 percent.

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    According to analysts and experts, the reason for this preference is because millennials are more interested in exploring newer, smaller and “authentic” brands with quality ingredients and homegrown productions versus big-box brands; they are more inclined to try new, nontraditional flavor combinations; and the generation is more calorie-conscious, preferring the lighter count in spirits, particularly vodka, versus that of craft beer.

    “Millennials are the next generation of drinkers, and they don’t want to be marketed or sold to,” Kuftinec said. “You don’t need two bikini-clad models holding a bottle to convince you that’s what you want to drink. They prefer real, authentic brands they can trust and believe in. This is a monumental shift in marketing and sales. You don’t want to push brands on someone — you want to have your brand out there to be discovered.”

    Winston, of SDSU, agrees.

    “I think it’s this whole notion of this anti-branding type of thing,” he said. “They don’t want Bud-Light. They prefer something authentic.”

    While the craft distillery market is still a relatively small piece of the spirits pie, projections look promising for artisans, as data indicates craft distillers are expected to increase production by 37 percent over the next five years.

    Another San Diego Craft

    Tom Gibson, president and chief operating officer of Los-Angeles-based 21st Century Spirits, says San Diego is at and will continue to be at the forefront of the craft spirits movement.

    “San Diego is one of the originators,” he said, namedropping larger local craft distillers like Cutwater Spirits and Malahat Spirits specifically. “Consumers are asking for it at bars, because, it’s about being an individual and adding to the trend conversation. And, of course, restaurants and bars like to pour it, too, because it helps them stand out among the rest.”

    [[283098621,C]]



    Photo Credit: Jamie Scott Lytle
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    Steve Kuftinec (R), co-founder of Storyhouse Spirits with partner Matt Kidd (L), believes that, like the craft beer scene in San Diego, craft spirit is on a similar, if not more accelerated trajectory of growth.Steve Kuftinec (R), co-founder of Storyhouse Spirits with partner Matt Kidd (L), believes that, like the craft beer scene in San Diego, craft spirit is on a similar, if not more accelerated trajectory of growth.

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    Smoke may be visible Wednesday as fire agencies conduct wildfire-prevention burns in remote areas across the county.

    Several prescribed burns were planned by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Cal Fire for Mount Laguna, Santa Ysabel and the Palomar Mountain areas. Agencies warned that smoke may be visible nearby. 

    About 45 acres of land will be burned on Mount Laguna, along Los Huercos Road, smoke may be visible from Interstate 8, Alpine, Lyons Valley and Sunrise Highway, the USFS said.

    In North County, firefighters will be conducting a pile burn along Palomar Mountain and smoke may be visible from Pamo Valley. 

    Cal Fire crews were conducting a burn near Highway 79 and Mesa Grande Road in Santa Ysabel, the agency said. 

    Prescribed burns are planned and are conducted during favorable weather conditions, according to the USFS. They are meant to reduce hazardous fuels that could lead to unplanned and extreme wildfires.

    USFS said the burns serve other purposes as well, such as minimizing the spread of pests, promoting pant growth and improving habitat for endangered species. 

    Prescribed burns will continue through May 2019 at various times, according to USFS.


    Cal Fire San Diego shared a map of the area scheduled for a prescribed burn on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018.Cal Fire San Diego shared a map of the area scheduled for a prescribed burn on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018.

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    North Park residents and businesses have joined forces to save a beloved holiday parade after it was abruptly canceled by organizers this week.

    The annual North Park Toyland Parade will go on – as planned – this Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., along University Avenue, between Utah and Iowa streets.

    North Park Main Street, an organization that supports arts, culture, entertainment and small businesses in North Park, told NBC 7 Wednesday that the organizer of the annual holiday parade, Victoria House Corporation, ran out of funds and canceled the event Tuesday.

    With just a few days until the big parade, North Park Main Street knew something had to be done to save the holiday tradition. The organization put out a call to local businesses and volunteers, and the community banded together.

    North Park Main Street held a meeting Wednesday morning at Urban Solace restaurant to figure out the logistics and organize volunteers who will be helping with the parade route and other responsibilities.

    The group is also in the process of getting the word out to parade participants to let them know the parade is back on. The parade typically features local marching bands, dance groups, vintage cars and city officials, as well as an appearance by Santa Claus riding atop a red fire engine.

    Angela Landsberg, executive director of North Park Main Street, said those participants can reach out to her via email at angela@northparkmainstreet.com to get the most current details.

    "We want them to show up at the same time as they were told to show up in the first place. The show will go on," Landsberg said. "We'll try to make this as seamless as possible."

    Earlier this year, on the Toyland Parade website, the Victoria House Corporation announced that the festival that usually follows the parade would be canceled, but the procession would still take place.

    A visit to the parade website Wednesday was met with this message against a bright green backdrop: “Dear North Park: The 2018 North Park Toyland Parade has been canceled. The Parade will resume next year, Saturday, December 7th, 2019.”

    NBC 7 reached out to the Victoria House Corporation Wednesday to ask why the parade had been canceled and a representative said she had no comment on the matter.

    When asked what would happen to the entry fees that participants paid to be part of the parade, the woman again said the organization had no comment. Entry fees for this year ranged from $25 to $150, depending on the group participating in the parade, from schools and community organizations to local businesses or national corporations. The fee form states, “donation fees are non-refundable.”

    The Toyland Parade is attended by thousands of locals. Parking is available for only $1 that day at the North Park Parking Garage on 29th Street, or attendees can take the 2 bus line that runs along 30th Street to get to the event.

    The Toyland Parade has seen many incarnations over the decades, even dating as far back as 1936. The event was canceled for more than 20 years between the late 1960s and late 1980s but ultimately returned to the community. In 2007, the parade was canceled due to rain.

    This year's parade is particularly exciting for the children at Jefferson Elementary School who will display a float they've been working on for the past six weeks. The kids started an after-school club at their school to build floats and make costumes for the community parade and they're eager to present their masterpieces.

    Andy Hinds, a parent and the president of the school foundation at Jefferson Elementary, said he didn't want to think of the disappointment on the kids' faces had the parade been canceled. They've been looking forward to marching for weeks.

    Landsberg said community involvement like this is why North Park Main Street had to step in and save the parade.

    "It's a big part of the community. The kids in the community make floats, the firemen come out. We have people from all over San Diego bring their low-riders, we've got bands from high schools that prepare all year long to be in these parades," said Landsberg. "It's a tradition."

    Landsberg said her organization also has the support of San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward and Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office.

    "A lot of volunteers in this community don't want the parade to go away."



    Photo Credit: North Park Toyland Parade/Facebook
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    The North Park Toyland Parade ushers in the holiday season for that community in uptown San Diego.The North Park Toyland Parade ushers in the holiday season for that community in uptown San Diego.

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    Criminal charges have been filed against a luxury art and jewelry business in La Jolla that was discovered to be in possession of more than $1 million dollars worth of illegal elephant and rhinoceros ivory, the San Diego City Attorney's office said Wednesday. 

    Carlton Gallery in La Jolla's popular Prospect Street shopping area was discovered to be in possession of more than 300 pieces of ivory and relics made with the illegal product after an investigation that began in May 2017, City Attorney Mara Elliott said at a press conference.

    The store's salesperson, Sheldon Miles Kupersmith, and the store's owner, Victor Hyman Cohen were named in a criminal complaint filed on Tuesday. 

    The investigation was launched after wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife spotted two art pieces in the store's display windows that appeared to contain ivory. 

    More potentially illegal items were spotted on various trips back to the store and on May 1, 2018, a sting operation uncovered Kupersmith selling ivory products, according to the city attorney's office. 

    That same day, wildlife officers descended on Carlton Gallery with a search warrant. Their sweep confiscated 146 items with ivory from the gallery. Nearly 200 more pieces were discovered in a warehouse nearby, the complaint said. 

    Some of the pieces containing ivory included art sculptures, rings, boxes and ivory pieces themselves. 

    A law banning the sale of nearly all ivory in the state of California took effect on July 1, 2016.

    Illegal ivory comes from the tooth or tusk from a species of elephant, hippopotamus or walrus and has led to animal trafficking and poaching, according to wildlife animal experts with San Diego Zoo Global. 

    Under Fish and Game Code, there are two exceptions to selling ivory. The ivory must be less than 20 percent by volume in a musical instrument that was manufactured no later than 1975.

    The second exception is the ivory must be less than five percent in a bona fide antique with historical documentation proving the antique is more than 100 years old. 

    Law enforcement said the ivory pieces in the Carlton Gallery were not part of musical instruments and had ivory more than five percent volume of the product. 

    According to officials with Fish and Wildlife, many times when items such as ivory are confiscated, they go to a warehouse in Denver, Colorado where they are placed permanently. 


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    President Donald Trump left open the possibility of pardoning his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in an interview with The New York Post on Wednesday, telling the publication that the option is "not off the table."

    "It was never discussed, but I wouldn't take it off the table," Trump told The Post. "Why would I take it off the table?"



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    President Donald Trump (L) and Paul Manafort.President Donald Trump (L) and Paul Manafort.

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    A man killed Tuesday during a suspected road rage confrontation in Chula Vista was a father of five daughters and was returning home from dropping off his little ones at school when he was stabbed to death, his brother confirmed.

    On Wednesday, the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) identified Horace Williams, 36, of National City, as the victim in the disturbing incident.

    NBC 7 reached out to Williams' family. His brother confirmed Williams was a beloved father, with daughters ranging in age from 1 to 9. His littlest girls are twins.

    The victim's brother said Williams had been returning home when the altercation on the road with suspect Rickey Smith, 60, escalated to deadly violence.

    The family is distraught and, at this point, wants privacy. They have created an online fundraiser page to help cover funeral costs. On that GoFundMe page, Williams is described as a "funny, laid-back and amazing person."

    On Tuesday, Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) Capt. Phil Collum said officers were called to Willow Street and Sweetwater Road just after 9 a.m. to investigate a stabbing that happened at the intersection near the bridge.

    Collum said two men -- now identified as Williams and Smith -- were involved in a "rolling altercation" that began a few blocks away from the intersection -- maybe even up to one mile away.

    Smith was in a white Ford Ranger, Williams was in a silver minivan.

    Witnesses reported seeing the men yelling at each other while driving along the bridge. Police said Smith pulled up alongside the van and threw a soda at Williams.

    Smith then pulled in front of the van and slammed on his brakes, causing Williams to rear-end him, according to police.

    CVPD called the collision minor but what happened next was anything but that.

    Following the fender-bender, Smith got out of his truck, approached Williams and stabbed him with a retractable blade knife. That knife was found in Smith's belt when officers arrived, according to CVPD.

    When police got to the area, Williams was lying on the ground. Remnants of blood could be seen on the roadway.

    Williams was rushed to a local hospital but ended up dying from his wounds a short time later, Collum said. The stabbing took place less than two miles away from Williams' home, his family said.

    Smith waited at the scene and cooperated with police as they began questioning him. Ultimately, he was arrested on one count of first-degree murder.

    It is unknown how many times Williams was stabbed. Smith was not injured in the altercation, Collum said.

    Collum said the incident appears to be road rage after initially hesitating to confirm that was the case.

    The police captain had at first referred to the incident as a "rolling altercation" because witnesses told police they saw the vehicles traveling near one another as the drivers were engaged in a dispute.

    The police captain called this incident a "tragedy" and said that, while cases of road rage do occur, the severity of this case takes it to a new level. 

    Collum said the area around the intersection is highly-trafficked and he believes there could be several witnesses who saw a portion of the events leading up to the stabbing. Any of those details could help police piece together what happened. Collum said witnesses can call the CVPD's tip line at (619) 422-TIPS.

    Late Tuesday, NBC 7 learned that Smith is involved at St. Steven's Church of God where he plays the organ and his wife is a youth minister.

    Friend and neighbor Andy Tait can't imagine Smith as a murder suspect.

    "I don't know the circumstances," Tait said. "A guy's got a right to defend himself. I don't know what happened."

    A church elder and administrator turned down interviews with NBC 7 and deferred questions to Bishop George McKinney who did not return the station's calls.

    Smith is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

    Williams' brother told NBC 7 the father of five was engaged and had planned to wed on his birthday, next March. Williams was also the middle sibling of five brothers.



    Photo Credit: Joe Little/NBC 7
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    The scene of the possible road rage incident in Chula Vista on Nov. 27.The scene of the possible road rage incident in Chula Vista on Nov. 27.

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    An odor investigation possibly caused by a spill is keeping Chula Vista School District buses from leaving their yard and will make them late to picking up students.

    Chula Vista fire and police departments are investigating the incident on the 1800 block of Maxwell Road.

    No other information was available.

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



    Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

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    Mandatory evacuations were underway and some officers were set to go door-to-door to warn residents in Riverside County of a pending storm approaching Southern California Wednesday evening. 

    Authorities had already asked residents near the Holy Fire burn scar area to voluntarily evacuate Tuesday, before the threat of debris flow worsened. 

    Storm Photos: Send Us Your Weather Images

    The brunt of the storm is expected to pack a wallop Thursday morning.

    "It's really going to pick up as we go to bed tonight and then into tomorrow," said NBC4 forecaster Shanna Mendiola. "You'll have a (Thursday) morning commute that's going to be soggy with a break in between, then another round of rain in the afternoon." 

    Rain totals will range from .75 inch to 2 inches. Three inches are possible in some mountain communities.

    The following areas were under mandatory evacuation Wednesday at 3 p.m.:

     

    • Amorose
    • Alberhill
    • Glen Ivy A
    • Glen Eden
    • Grace
    • Horsethief A
    • Laguna A
    • Matri
    • McVicker A
    • Rice
    • Withrow A

     

    "People in these zones MUST GO NOW," a news release read.

    Authorities also advised residents check the city's maps to see which zones were being evacuated. 

    "Now is the time to grab your documents. Now is the time to get your spare medication, extra water, and make arrangements for wherever you're going to stay whether it's a local hotel or with a family that's outside of the area," said Riverside County Fire Capt. Fernando Herrera.

    A reception center was set up at Temescal Canyon High School, located at 28755 El Toro Rd. in Lake Elsinore.

    Debris flows were not expected in the areas near the Cranston Fire burn scar.

    Residents near the Woolsey, La Tuna Canyon, Creek and Skirball fire areas were advised to be on alert for potential evacuations, though none were in place Wednesday afternoon. The Los Angeles County Fire Department and The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have staffed additional resources in the area as well as a precaution.

    CalTrans was also warning drivers to be on alert in Los Angeles and Ventura counties as rocks, debris and mud may spill onto roadways. 

    The city of Beverly Hills was providing sandbags to residents at 342 N Foothill during business hours.

    NBC4's Fritz Coleman said the heaviest rain will fall between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. Thursday in Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

    Everyone can expect a soggy morning commute Thursday morning.

    Even moderate rainfall can produce flooding in burn areas because they lack the vegetation that would normally absorb water. Fire-scarred hillsides are left with a repellent layer that blocks water absorption. If it's not absorbed by the soil, rainwater simply washes down the hillside, sometimes with enough force to move boulders, tear out trees and damage buildings and bridges.

    The potential for destruction was illustrated in January when an early morning downpour in the Thomas Fire burn area triggered a mudflow that killed 21 people in the Santa Barbara County community of Montecito. 

    NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: KNBC-TV
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    Radar shows rain moving into California Wednesday Nov. 28, 2018.Radar shows rain moving into California Wednesday Nov. 28, 2018.

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    A 51-year-old man accused of making criminal threats over a dispute involving a dove release at a funeral was in custody after police discovered an arsenal of weapons and Nazi memorabilia in his Huntington Beach home.

    The suspect, identified as 51-year-old Mitchell Todd, was taken into custody Tuesday after Laguna Beach police served a search warrant at his home in the 15000 block of Cambay Lane and recovered more than 50 weapons, which included assault and sniper rifles, according to the Laguna Beach Police Department. Police served the search warrant at the home after a complaint of threats against a resident.

    Laguna Beach police Sgt. Jim Cota said the threats stemmed from a dispute between Todd and a man who hired him to release doves at his adult son's funeral. Cota said the funeral ran long, angering Todd, who left before releasing the doves but still demanded payment.

    He said the grieving father refused, after which Todd began making threatening calls and texts, most recently one that included the sound of a gun being readied to fire.

    Police found 57 guns in Todd's home. Only 12 were registered.

    It's not immediately clear if Todd has a lawyer.



    Photo Credit: Laguna Beach PD

    Laguna Beach Police released these photos of some of the weapons and other items seized at a Huntington Beach residence.Laguna Beach Police released these photos of some of the weapons and other items seized at a Huntington Beach residence.

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    Tony Hicks, who at 14 years old was the youngest person ever to be sentenced to a life term as an adult in California, was granted parole Wednesday nearly 24 years after the crime.

    Though the California Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) granted 38-year-old Hicks parole, his release is not guaranteed and a lengthy review process will take place before the Governor's office decides for or against it.

    Hicks pleaded guilty to the murder of 20-year-old Tariq Khamisa in 1995. He was tried as an adult and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

    The District Attorney's office said Khamisa was working as a pizza delivery driver when he was called to a fictitious address on Louisiana Street in North Park by Hicks and others.

    When Khamisa refused to hand over the pizza or his cash, Hicks shot and killed him.

    At Hicks' first parole hearing Wednesday at the California Men's Colony at San Luis Obispo where he has served for the past two years, Khamisa's father Azim vouched for Hicks' rehabilitation.

    In the years since losing his son, Azim and Hicks' grandfather Ples Felix started the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, which has over the last 23 years taught thousands of kids to turn away from violence and instead embrace responsibility, education and leadership.

    In the days before the hearing, Hick's attorney Laura Sheppard said his chance of release was good.

    "He has a reason to succeed when he gets out. He has far more than the majority of lifers,” Sheppard said. Azim said that Hicks had a job at the Tariq Khamisa Foundation waiting for him when he gets out.

    Sheppard shared with NBC 7 a recommendation for release letter from sentencing Judge Joan Weber.

    In another letter, former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, Dumanis wrote that "Hicks has been punished enough.”

    The DA's office did not formally favor or oppose parole for Hicks, but gave the BPH an outline of "key considerations and public safety concerns." The office said that typically it would oppose parole at an inmate's first hearing if that inmate committed a violent act in prison.

    According to the DA's office, Hicks was cited for several misconduct violations while in prison including a 2002 incident where he attacked a correctional officer with a homemade knife.

    "The case is unique and compelling. As an adult, Mr. Hicks committed a serious, violent offense during his incarceration several years after the murder,” DA Summer Stephan said in a statement. “We also consider his young age at the time of the murder, the fact that he has been free of violations in prison for two years, and the support he has waiting for him on the outside, which are all factors in his favor. Ultimately, the parole board weighed all those factors and made a decision based on whether or not he poses a unreasonable, current threat to public safety. I respect the board’s decision as well as the views of the victim’s family who have turned their personal tragedy into a force for good. It’s my sincere hope that Mr. Hicks will become a productive member of the community upon his release.”

    A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) said the BPH's decision will be reviewed internally for the next 120 days before it is forwarded to the governor.

    At that point, the governor has several options for both keeping Hicks in prison or granting his release.

    According to the DCR, the governor can approve the release, modify the release date, allow the BPH's decision to stand by taking no action within 30 days of receiving it, or refer the decision back to the BPH for reconsideration.

    The governor also has the option of reversing the parole grant, the DCR said.

    Hicks' Attorney says statewide, only 1 percent of prisoners sentenced to life terms and given release reoffend. The recidivism rate for paroled prisoners with lesser sentences is 60 percent.


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    “Unproven but profitable”. That’s the headline of a recent Journal published by the American Medical Association, exploring the explosive growth of stem cell clinics across the country, including here in San Diego County. The clinics offer questionable “breakthrough” cures for a wide range of health problems.

    In May, NBC 7 Investigates first reported on these “surgery-free” fixes that were drawing hundreds of local potential buyers to free seminars. In one seminar, attendees were not told that the costly procedures, sometimes costing up to $6,500 per injection, have not been FDA-approved, nor were they told the procedures do not have scientific support for their claims.

    The only proof provided to patients are testimonials from patients who say the products were miracle workers.

    Now, the claims made by these clinics have gotten the attention of the California Medical Board and has led to the creation of a task force to review the clinic’s practices. The task force was formed as a result of an inquiry about the industry from the chairman of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

    Currently, the only stem cell-based products approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are for transplant procedures. But these clinics are offering something different. Clinics advertising through Stem Cell Health Centers offer stem cell injections that they say are a “cutting edge treatments” that offer “regenerative cures”.

    NBC7 Investigates has found newspaper and broadcast advertisements for free seminars running nearly daily in San Diego, making stem cell health claims without providing specific information about what procedures are performed. 

    The ads list hotels hosting these seminars from Oceanside to Chula Vista, all centered around how to “restore your pain-free life”.

    NBC 7 Investigates spoke with a registered nurse and a patient advocate who agreed to attend two of these stem cell sales presentation seminars, one in Mission Valley and the other in Rancho Bernardo.

    At both locations, Chiropractor Doctor Jared Taylor pitched to the crowd stem cell injections, costing at least $5,000 each, through the Create Wellness clinic in La Jolla. After the seminar, Taylor would not comment on the claims and treatments offered in the seminar. Create Wellness is owned by Acupuncturist Roya Nikzad, who did not return NBC 7 Investigates’ calls for comment.

    In May, NBC 7 Investigates found another chiropractor, Michael Van Derschelden, using similar sales tactics at a Carlsbad hotel seminar. Van Derschelden told the audience of mostly senior citizens, some in wheelchairs, that he’s a specialist in regenerative medicine at West 2 North Medical Solutions in San Marcos. After the seminar, Van Derschelden refused to answer questions surrounding the claims he made to seminar attendees.

    Promises of Pain Relief

    For Actor Ed Hollingsworth, pain relief is top of mind. Hollingsworth has serious back, spine, knee and shoulder injuries, so he agreed to attend a stem cell sales seminar in Mission Valley and relay what was said to NBC7 Investigates.

    “I heard a lot of anecdotal things,” Hollingsworth said. “[I] didn't see a lot of proof. It concerns me the fact that it is so expensive. Like for me, with all the different areas, it would cost me conservatively maybe $30,000 to get all the different [treatments].”

    His wife, patient advocate Marian Hollingsworth, said the sales pitch included numerous promises for pain relief.

    “They talked about an I.V. infusion [offered] for somebody with cystic fibrosis. And that this woman is [now] off her meds,” she said. “Now this is somebody who was turned down for a lung transplant. So that's a pretty hefty claim.”

    NBC 7 Investigates found orthopedic problems are the primary draw for the clinics but not the only claim of relief promised by the chiropractors in the sales seminars.

    The underlying “science” of the claims made in these seminars is that the injections “take advantage of your body’s ability to repair itself naturally,” according to the clinic’s advertisements.

    “They didn't really say what is in it exactly, besides stem cells from birth waste,” Marian said. “And that seemed kind of farfetched.”

    While Marian and Edward attended the seminar in a hotel conference room, NBC 7 Investigates Producers sat in the hotel lobby. The couple texted Producers about the different claims made by Dr. Taylor. Some of the claims made involved "cures" for a range of ailments, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's disease.

    “[They] said only one shot was needed, with pain relief in two to four weeks with no downtime,” one text read.

    “Stem cell therapy helps with COPD--lung disease,” Marian Hollingsworth texted. “They claim [to have] FDA clearance.”

    Outside of the Mission Valley hotel conference room where the seminar was held, Create Wellness Clinic Director Melody Darvish sat and shared information with attendees as they left the presentation. After attendees left, NBC 7 Investigates asked her what the term “FDA clearance” meant but she would not tell us.

    “I think you have all the information you need,” Darvish said.

    NBC 7 Investigates asked the FDA about the term "FDA clearance" versus "FDA approved”.

    Stephanie Caccomo, a spokesperson for the FDA, said the term "FDA Clearance" only applies to medical devices, not treatments. And that the stem cell procedures offered by these clinics are neither approved or cleared.

    NBC 7 Investigates also asked Dr. Taylor about the fact that on the day of the Mission Valley stem cell seminar, September 25, his chiropractor license was expired.

    Taylor said his license wasn’t suspended and that he had “sent his paperwork through the mail.” According to California’s Department of Consumer Affairs website, Taylor’s license, issued out of Utah, had expired in February after the “licensee failed to pay renewal fees”. NBC 7 Investigates found no previous disciplinary actions are taken on Taylor’s license and since the seminar, his license has been reinstated.

    The website for Create Wellness, the La Jolla clinic Taylor works for, states his role is to consult with potential candidates for stem cell therapy and to “utilize functional medicine for customized healthcare.”

    Stem Cell Health Centers

    NBC 7 Investigates has found a common thread with all of the stem cell seminars and advertisements for these treatments, a group called Stem Cell Health Centers. Stem Cell Health Centers has used similar advertisement campaigns involving chiropractors and acupuncturists in 14 states, including California.

    Digital forensic experts confirmed what NBC 7 Investigates found, that Stem Cell Health Centers’ website has done a good job of hiding the creators of its domain. The domain was created in July 2017 with a private registration invoked immediately.

    Materials on Stem Cell Health Center’s website link to a 40-year-old Salt Lake City acupuncturist named Regan Archibald.

    On the website, an e-book written by Archibald is offered for free and referenced often titled “The Stem Cell Breakthrough”. In the book, he claims Stem Cell Health Centers has seen, “well over 25,000 [stem cell] cases with over a 90% success rate.”

    Archibald also states in the book that his own life experiences and injuries led to his discovery that, “stem cell therapy could repair and enhance”.

    NBC 7 Investigates contacted Archibald to find out more about Stem Cell Health Centers and he said he has nothing to do with what other clinics are claiming at seminars, including here in San Diego. “This is simply a website where individuals and clinicians can reference many of the studies that I’ve found to be helpful. I’ve been able to learn from Arnold Caplan Ph.D.”

    Dr. Arnold Caplan of the Case Western Reserve University and a noted expert in the field of stem cell research told NBC 7 Investigates, “I do not know this guy but am VERY (sic) supportive of your efforts to strip away the unsubstantiated claims made by many online”

    When asked about Archibald’s role with Stem Cell Health Centers, the advertising campaign and for proof behind claims made in his book and elsewhere, Archibald stopped responding.

    On YouTube, Archibald provides a video tutorial or “how to” for anyone interested in starting a stem cell practice. 

    Stem Cell Clinics Across the Country 

    Leigh Turner of the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics said the rise in stem cell treatment offers here in San Diego can be seen across the country. 

    “We're talking about hundreds of these across the United States,” Turner said. “By my count, it's over a thousand at this point.” 

    Other experts NBC 7 Investigates spoke with provide similar figures on the number of stem cell clinics. 

    Turner notes the clinics are expanding rapidly, with different owners and clinic names, all making similar promises. He believes it’s up to both state and federal agencies to investigate this further, but so far they have largely ignored the issue. 

    “If someone has set up shop in San Diego or San Francisco or somewhere else, that company can market stem cell treatments for years with no evidence behind what they're doing and no one's going to come knocking on their door,” Turner said. 

    But that may be changing, at least here in California. Recently, the California Medical Board announced they are setting up a task force to investigate the claims made by these stem cell clinics, among other things. 

    Its impetus was a letter from U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to the Federation of State Medical Boards, in which he voiced concerns that “recent reports indicate some patients have been harmed by unproven or investigational treatments received at stem cell clinics.” 

    The Federation was asked to create a “best practices” list for state medical boards to review when dealing with these types of clinics. The result is 11 recommendations that range from reviewing a clinic’s marketing materials to physicians being required to support health claims made with documented evidence. 

    A spokesperson for the California Medical Board said they are now reviewing the Federation’s recommendations but there is no date set for when the task force will get to work. 

    NBC7 Investigates has learned the California Attorney General and San Diego County District Attorney’s offices have both received information on various stem cell clinics and their practices. Neither office would confirm or deny that any active investigation is taking place.



    Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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    Stem cells obtained from cord blood under a microscope.Stem cells obtained from cord blood under a microscope.

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    The San Diego Police Department is taking part in a new initiative to re-examine sexual assault cases involving untested DNA.

    Victims of sexual assault often don't want to be part of the investigation. So the DNA evidence remains untested.

    At SDPD, that accounts for about 500 of their 1,700 untested sex assault kits dating back 30 years.

    "We really want to look at these kits one by one and make sure we're doing the right thing," said Jennifer Shen, SDPD crime laboratory manager. "As a department, we decided the best way to do this is to put together a working group that brought all of our stakeholders together."

    The five stakeholders include a representative from the SDPD crime lab, the SDPD sex crimes unit, the City of San Diego Attorney's Office, the San Diego County District Attorney's office and a victims' rights advocate.

    Shen said the five representatives meet nearly every week at SDPD headquarters and work together to understand each other's positions, to make the best decisions for the victims.

    "We chose this category of (the 500) cases for two reasons," explained Shen. "One, we wanted to make sure we were following the rules: did a crime occur and can we put whatever profile we might get out of testing the kit into the database. Two, are we really doing what the victim wants."

    The working group has reviewed about a third of the 500 cases, and will finish going through them by the spring. The cases that are selected will then undergo DNA testing, which is expected to take a few months.

    As for the other 1,200 or so untested kits, Shen said in many of those cases, the suspect was already in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), investigators determined there was no crime, or the victim did not want to file a police report.

    "One of the things people sometimes don't realize is that in order to put a DNA profile into (FBI's CODIS) we have to follow certain rules," explained Shen. "One of those rules is we have to show a crime occurred. And the other rule is we have to be reasonably certain that the profile we have actually belongs to the bad guy."

    The five stakeholders also plan to develop new policy, to ensure sexual assault victims have power over their own cases.

    "The victim can stop her (or his) case at any time, stop her (or his) interaction with law enforcement at any time. We really want to respect that," added Shen. "The goal is to build this really victim-centric model when handling this kind of case."

    A new law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September requires all law enforcement agencies and medical facilities in California to inventory their untested DNA in sex assault cases, and explain why those samples were not tested. 

    The agencies and facilities must submit their audit to the U.S. Department of Justice by July 1, 2019.

    SDPD completed this task a few years ago.



    Photo Credit: NBC10

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    A scientist in China claims to have created the first genetically modified humans. 

    The research, led by HeJianku of Shenzhen, took embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, which resulted in the birth of twin girls, named Lulu and Nana. 

    Shenzhen claims to have used DNA sequencing, called CRISPR, to modify the genes of the babies so that they will have a resistance to the AIDS virus. 

    This kind of gene editing is banned in the United States because it risks harming other genes. 

    Scientists around the world are concerned about this use of CRISPR. It has been used by many researchers to modify animal DNA, but never in this way. 

    "It's troubling because we don't have an international consensus on how this type of research could or should be ethically conducted," said Kimberly Cooper, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego. 

    Cooper's research at UCSD is one of the only labs in the world that is using CRISPR on Jerboa rodents. She is studying their hearts to find out how disease forms. 

    "As soon as CRISPR was implemented in a variety of species it cust the costs," said Cooper, "And made it almost trivial to make many other mutations that model disease and help us understand how genes work in cells."

    Cooper said before CRISPR, her research would have required up to 700 animals to get the same effects she can get in a single Jerboa now. 

    She hopes that the research will help to show how disease forms, which can lead to future cures for diseases like Alzeheimer's and diabetes in humans. 



    Photo Credit: AP

    Fred Gmitter, a geneticist at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center, holds citrus seedlings that are used for gene editing research at the University of Florida in Lake Alfred, Fla., on Sept. 27, 2018. Gene-editing tools, with names like CRISPR and TALEN, promise to alter foods precisely, and cheaply _ without necessarily adding foreign DNA. Instead, they act like molecular scissors to alter the letters of an organism's own genetic alphabet. (AP Photo/Federica Narancio)Fred Gmitter, a geneticist at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center, holds citrus seedlings that are used for gene editing research at the University of Florida in Lake Alfred, Fla., on Sept. 27, 2018. Gene-editing tools, with names like CRISPR and TALEN, promise to alter foods precisely, and cheaply _ without necessarily adding foreign DNA. Instead, they act like molecular scissors to alter the letters of an organism's own genetic alphabet. (AP Photo/Federica Narancio)

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    Three weeks ago Robert Crooks made the decision to leave his Nevada home and return back to the U.S.-Mexico border in California.

    “This is neighborhood watch, I call it, I haul it,” Crooks said as he stood guard along the top of Patriot Point in Campo.

    Crooks is the founder and leader of Mountain Minute Men. He told NBC 7 that once he learned about the migrant caravan he decided to bring his group to the border to serve as watchdogs for any illegal border crossings.

    “I call the Border Patrol, I have them on speed dial,” he said. “I’ve been up here a really long time.”

    Crooks said he started his group in 2005 during the height of vigilante groups seeking to increase patrol along remote parts of the border.

    “I have nothing against immigration in this country as long as it’s done legally,” he said. “Desperate people do desperate things, hence we’re on a heightened alert out here.”

    Many in the migrant caravan are seeking asylum through official points of entries, but Crooks said Sunday’s confrontation between migrants and Customs and Border Patrol is enough to have him living in his truck armed with a radio, binoculars and a cell phone, watching and waiting.

    “If there’s no one here to watch it, then there’s no one to call it,” Crooks said.

    More than 5,000 active-duty troops are along the California border, as attention is growing on the migrant caravan camped out in Tijuana, Mexico. With growing barriers and an additional 300 troops recently dispatched to the border, Crooks said he’s worried attention along the San Ysidro Port of Entry is taking away focus from where more agents and troops should be.

    “The dog and pony show in San Ysidro is great, the big show of troops, barriers, concertina wire, but this is where they have to be,” he said referencing the remote stretched of the border, like the fence between Campo and Tecate, Mexico.

    In regards to the Minute Men group, Customs and Border Protection said they don’t endorse or support any private group taking matters into their own hands. But, they do strongly encourage concerned citizens to call the Border Patrol if they witness or suspect any illegal activity.


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