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    2018 was loaded with musical treats, from St. Vincent to Fleetwood Mac and everything in between. Relive the best of the year with this look back at some of SoundDiego's favorites.

    Photo Credit: Tim Fears

    St. Vincent kicked off 2018 with her incredible one-woman show at the Observatory North Park on Saturday, Jan. 27: https://bit.ly/2BSPcecSt. Vincent kicked off 2018 with her incredible one-woman show at the Observatory North Park on Saturday, Jan. 27: https://bit.ly/2BSPcec

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    TGI Weekend! It’s the last hurrah of 2018 and it’s going to be very busy in San Diego. From an annual auto show and a food truck festival to sports, ice skating and New Year’s Eve parties, there are so many ways to finish out the year with a bang. Get up. Get out. Play. And cheers to a happy, healthy 2019 in America’s Finest City. Get up. Get out. Play!

    Thursday, Dec. 27

    San Diego International Auto Show
    10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Thursday through Sunday), San Diego Convention Center
    Gearheads, this one’s for you. The annual San Diego International Auto Show returns to the San Diego Convention Center to showcase more than 400 of the latest new models in the industry. Every ride imaginable will be on display – from American-made cars to exotics. The Auto Show revs up Thursday and runs through Sunday, open daily at 10 a.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $11 for children ages 7 to 12. Sunday is Family Day, and kids age 12 and under get into the expo for free when accompanied by a paying adult. NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 will host a booth at the event – stop by and say hello!

    Balboa Park Holiday Food Truck Festival
    12 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Dec. 26-30), Balboa Park
    Celebrate good cheer at this Holiday Food Truck Festival under the twinkling lights of Balboa Park, running Wednesday through Sunday this week. More than a dozen of San Diego’s top-notch food trucks will line the heart of the landmark, selling their signature snacks. Free live entertainment and activities for the family start at 2 p.m. daily, including yard games like corn hole and giant checkers. By the way, a couple of museums will offer extended hours during this event: the San Diego Museum of Art and the Fleet Science Center. The Holiday Food Truck Festival is free to enter; bring money for food. 

    Beer Release: Resilience IPA
    12 p.m. to 9 p.m., Pure Project
    Pure Project Brewery & Tasting Room in Miramar (9030 Kenamar Dr., Suite 308) will release its version of Resilience IPA, a craft beer made in support of the victims impacted by Northern California’s Camp Fire. One-hundred percent of proceeds from sales of this brew will be donated to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund to help Butte County rebuild its community. This craft brew project is a nationwide movement: Sierra Nevada has partnered with 1,400 breweries around the country to roll out the Resilience IPA. Read about those efforts here

    North Park Thursday Market
    3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., North Park Way & Granada Avenue (North Park)
    Shop local produce at this year-round farmers market located on the corner of North Park Way and 29th Street. Farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs, sauces, bread and even handcrafted gifts will be available for purchase from local small businesses. The free festival also features live music and is surrounded by gourmet dining options in the heart of North Park.

    Viejas Outlet Center Ice Rink
    Times vary, Viejas Casino and Resort
    Hit the ice skating rink at Viejas Casino & Resort – one of the largest rinks of its kind in sunny Southern California. A $16 ticket for adults or $14 ticket for kids (12 and under) gets you 90 minutes on the ice, or you can buy a season pass if you plan to visit several times this season. The rink is typically open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekends. Check the schedule here before you go.

    Oceanside Sunset Market
    5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Main Street Oceanside (Canceled due to rain)
    As if anyone needed another excuse to head to the beach for a sunset over the Pacific Ocean, the Main Street Oceanside business association is giving you one anyway. The Oceanside Sunset Market is taking over four city blocks of the downtown area so that about 200 local merchants can feature homemade crafts and tasty grub as live music wafts through the sea breeze-driven air. The free market is located on Pier View Way between Pacific Coast Highway and the Ocean every Thursday.

    Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience
    7 p.m., House of Blues
    Because I’m bad, I’m bad, come on. Who’s Bad, the ultimate Michael Jackson tribute group pays homage to the one and only King of Pop at House of Blues in downtown San Diego. The doors open at 7 p.m. and the music starts at 8 p.m. All ages are welcome to this show, though those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Tickets range from $19 to $40. 

    San Diego Gulls vs. Bakersfield Condors
    7 p.m., Pechanga Arena San Diego
    The San Diego Gulls take on the Bakersfield Condors at this Thursday night hockey match at the newly-rebranded Pechanga Arena San Diego. Tickets start at $22; the puck drops at 7 p.m.

    Friday, Dec. 28

    Jungle Bells
    9 a.m. to 8 p.m., San Diego Zoo
    Each year during the holiday season, the San Diego Zoo transforms into a wild wonderland of twinkling lights, festive food and seasonal entertainment dubbed “Jungle Bells.” This year’s festive fun runs through Jan. 6 and includes daily performances from Jingle Brass, a jazzy caroling group (on the Front Street Stage) and The Tinseltones, a holiday harmonizing bunch (Africa Rocks Stage). Visitors can also enjoy the Celebration of Lights show every half-hour, from 4:55 p.m. to 7:55 p.m., on Front Street and “Dr. Zoolittle’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” a zany retelling of the classic poem (at Koalafornia Boardwalk). All Jungle Bells activities are included with paid admission into the zoo. Daily zoo hours are extended for this event until 8 p.m.

    Rady Children’s Ice Rink
    10 a.m to 10 p.m., Liberty Station
    Grab your skates and take a spin on the ice while supporting a good cause this holiday season. NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 are partnering with Rady Children’s Hospital for this festive ice rink in the heart of Liberty Station. All proceeds benefit the hospital’s Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. The Rady Children’s Ice Rink is open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Jan. 6 at Liberty Station, except Christmas Day. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for children. Discounts are available for military personnel.

    Dr. Seuss's ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’
    5 p.m., The Old Globe
    The Grinch can't stop Christmas from coming this year but he can bring his shenanigans to The Old Globe. For the 21st year, the theater in Balboa Park is showcasing "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" the classic musical with catchy tunes like, "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," and "Welcome, Christmas (Fah Who Doraze)." See the show on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage with tickets starting at $54.

    Garden of Lights
    5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., San Diego Botanic Garden
    After the sun goes down, more than 125,000 sparkling lights will illuminate the San Diego Botanic Garden, turning the grounds into a festive, winter wonderland. The Garden of Lights celebration is included with admission into the Botanic Garden, which costs $25 for adults, $10 for seniors and active duty military, and $5 for kids ages 3 to 17.

    Tour of Scotland
    6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Vom Fass Hillcrest
    Take a “tour” of Scotland via samples of rare and small-batch scotches at Vom Fass Hillcrest on University Avenue. As patrons sip, they are invited to discuss the intricacies of the scotches. Tickets cost $40 and includes food.

    G-Eazy
    10 p.m. to 2 a.m., Parq Restaurant & Nightclub
    California native and rapper G-Eazy (“I Mean It,” “Me, Myself & I”) takes the stage at Parq Friday night in downtown San Diego. Tickets are still available for the show, starting at $55.

    Saturday, Dec. 29

    Seas ‘N’ Greetings
    9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Birch Aquarium
    Santa is a man of many talents: he can also scuba dive! Birch Aquarium celebrates the holiday season and the jolly guy in red with its annual “Seas ‘N’ Greetings” event, running now through Dec. 31. This event features a host of seasonal activities, including the “Scuba Santa Kelp Forest Dive Show” in the aquarium’s biggest tank. It’s a magical sight for the little ones: Santa – sporting his red suit on top of scuba gear and a microphone – dives into the tank and gives viewers a lesson on sea life through the glass. This Saturday, Santa dives from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again from 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Seas ‘N’ Greetings also includes live music at the aquarium on the weekends. All seasonal activities are included in the price of admission: $19.50 for adults and $15 for kids ages 3 to 17 (kids under 2 get in free).

    Three Decades in the Rearview
    10 a.m. to 5 p.m., San Diego Automotive Museum (Balboa Park)
    Over the past 30 years, the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park has exhibited cars and motorcycles from across the globe. This retrospective exhibit, “Three Decades in the Rearview,” showcases a variety of unique vehicles that encapsulate the automotive culture including race cars, hot rods, low-riders and more. The anniversary exhibit runs through Jan. 26, 2019, and is included with the purchase of a general admission ticket, which costs $10 for adults and $4 for kids age 15 and under.

    Holiday by the Bay
    5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Hilton San Diego Bayfront
    New this year, the Hilton Bayfront has opened a holiday adventure park along San Diego Bay, up and running through Jan. 5, 2019. Holiday by the Bay features reimagined traditions -- like a two-story ice tubing slide, “iceberg” bumper cars and a dynamic light show centered around a Christmas tree, to name a few. For adults, festive cocktails will be doled out at the Yule Lodge cocktail bar. Tickets start at $20 for adults or $15 for kids under 12. Some activities cost extra. 

    SDSU Men’s Basketball vs. Brown
    5 p.m., Viejas Arena
    Cheer on San Diego State University as the Aztec Men’s Basketball team takes on Brown at Viejas Arena. Tickets start at just $6.

    Honda Family Night Out: Pajama Jam
    5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., The New Children’s Museum
    Ring in the New Year with kids a couple of days early at Pajama Jam, a party at The New Children’s Museum that includes dinner, dancing, crafts and a celebratory balloon drop. The family can show up in jammies for the fun outing. Tickets cost $35 for adults and $25 for kids ages 3 and up. Parking is available for $10.

    The Nutcracker
    7 p.m., Copley Symphony Hall
    Sugarplum fairies and snowflakes will twirl across the stage at Copley Symphony Hall as the San Diego Ballet performs its version of the holiday classic, “The Nutcracker.” The cast features more than 100 costumed characters bringing to life this production. Tickets range from $40 to $100. The San Diego Ballet performs this show once more at 2 p.m. Sunday at the same venue.

    Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
    7:30 p.m., San Diego Civic Theatre
    The holiday tradition created by Grammy Award winner Chip Davis returns, featuring the Christmas music of Mannheim Steamroller, along with dazzling multimedia effects. Tickets to this show at the San Diego Civic Theatre start at $57.50.

    Sunday, Dec. 30

    Guided Nature Walk
    9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Mission Trails Regional ParkStart your Sunday with a little nature walk at Mission Trails Regional Park. A trail guide will take visitors through one of three trails -- the Oak Grove Loop, the Visitor Center Loop or the Riverside Grinding Rocks -- while talking about the plants, animals, geology, history, and ecology of the park. These weekly guided walks are free and open to the public and begin at the Visitor Center. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water, a hat and sunscreen. Rain cancels the walk.

    Gaslamp Artisan Market
    10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Gaslamp Quarter (Fifth Avenue)
    Still have some holiday shopping left to do? Peruse more than 30 local artisans offering carefully-curated, handmade products at this weekly outdoor market in the Gaslamp Quarter. The Gaslamp Artisan Market sets up shop every Sunday on Fifth Avenue, between Market Street and Island Avenue.

    Skating by the Sea
    Times Vary, Hotel Del Coronado
    There are few places in the world where you can glide on an ice rink just feet from the ocean. The Hotel Del Coronado offers just that at their annual Skating by the Sea event. Through Jan. 1, 2019, guests can take a spin on this beachside rink and enjoy sweeping views of the San Diego Bay with the purchase of a $35 ticket. Times vary by day so be sure to check the schedule here before you go.

    Trashy Hour
    11 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Homebrewer
    The Homebrewer in North Park (2911 El Cajon Blvd., Space 2) hosts a holiday edition of its trash pick-up event aimed at cleaning up the neighborhood. Volunteers are asked to walk around the block and pick up trash for 30 to 45 minutes. Afterwards, they can stay for “Trashy Hour” in The Homebrewer tasting room, where $3 pints will be poured until 2 p.m.

    Live Music: Backstage Pass
    1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Liberty Public Market
    Local band Backstage Pass – a touch of funk, soul and blues – takes the stage at the patio at Liberty Public Market on Sunday, playing this free show. Grab a bite from one of the marketplace vendors, sit outside with your food and enjoy the live music.

    Gremlins
    11 a.m., Ken Cinema
    The 1984 cult classic, “Gremlins,” plays on the big screen at Ken Cinema in Kensington this Sunday. Watch ‘80s stars like Corey Feldman, Phoebe Cates and Judge Reinhold figure out what to do with a mess of little monsters in arguably one of the greatest not-so-Christmassy Christmas movies ever made. Tickets cost $9 a pop.

    Free or Cheap Things to Do in San Diego
    Times and locations vary

    Looking to save some cash, but still enjoy the city? In San Diego, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy for free or on the cheap. Go for a hike at Torrey Pines State Park or Cowles Mountain, stroll Balboa Park, try a new craft brewery, admire the murals of Chicano Park or read a book at a downtown park. Get out there and explore America’s Finest City.

    Monday, Dec. 31: Happy New Year!

    NBC 7, Telemundo 20 & SoundDiego Host New Year’s Eve Bash
    11:35 p.m. to 12:05 p.m., NBC 7
    Ring in 2019 by watching our special live broadcast on NBC 7 on New Year’s Eve from 11:35 p.m. to 12:05 a.m. NBC 7, Telemundo 20 and SoundDiego will take you to the biggest NYE party in town: Big Night San Diego at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. Tune in! If you’re interested in attending the event, visit this website for info on Big Night San Diego.

    Eater San Diego’s Guide on Where to Spend New Year’s Eve
    Times and Locations Vary
    If you’re a foodie looking to close out 2018 with one heck of a meal, this guide to New Year’s Eve dining in San Diego may suit your needs. Our food-forward friends at Eater San Diego have compiled a list of 18 options for celebrating NYE while enjoying the best of our local dining and drinks scene. Bon appetit!

     

    New Year’s Eve on the Water
    8:30 p.m., San Diego Bay
    There is, perhaps, nothing more San Diego than celebrating the New Year along our scenic waterfront. If you’ve got your sea legs, you can ring in 2019 on one of many cruises around San Diego Bay. Rock the Boat by the Hornblower invites revelers aboard the Adventure Yacht for drinks and dancing from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. There’s also the New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise by Flagship Cruises & Events, which cruises from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Another option is the New Year’s Eve Yacht Party aboard the three-level Spirit of San Diego, which boards at 9 p.m. and returns to the docks at 12:45 a.m.

    Do you love the weekend in San Diego? Are you looking for things to do? Join our Facebook group, Your San Diego Weekend. We're sharing weekend events, things to do with the whole family, weather, the newest restaurant openings and more! Click here


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    Repairs were made to a piece of San Diego Gas & Electric equipment that left nearly 2,500 customers without electricity on Wednesday.

    A power outage affecting the communities of Imperial Beach, North Island, 32nd Street Naval Station and the Tijuana River Park began at about 8:20 a.m. and potentially affected 2,425 people, SDG&E said. 

    The gas and electric company said the outage was caused by a piece of equipment in need of repair. 

    Crews restored power to about 800 customers at 9:18 a.m. and the remaining customers at 12:22 p.m., according to City News Service.


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    New laws are coming to California.

    On Jan. 1, laws regarding minimum wage, workplace harassment, driving, public health and safety, transportation and other subjects go into effect.

    Below, a look at some of the most relevant laws.

    Employment and the Workplace

    • SB 3, Minimum Wage Increase: Workers in companies with 25 or fewer employees will have a salary increase of $10.50 to $11. At companies with more than 25 employees, the increase will be $11 to $12. This law was approved in 2016 and will continue until the minimum wage reaches $15.
    • AB 1066, Overtime for Agricultural Workers: Under AB 1066, agricultural workers will receive an overtime payment in their salaries. This regulation will slowly increase the wages for extra hours for agricultural employees over a period of four years. Changes begin on Jan. 1, 2019 for employers who hire more than 25 employees.
    • SB 946, Street Vendors: The law, passed in 2018, protects the activity of street vendors in the state and allows them to sell on the streets. However, under this measure, local authorities will have the power to establish regulations based on aspects of health, safety and public welfare.
    • AB 2770, Protection Against Lawsuits in Cases of Harassment Complaints This new law protects victims of sexual harassment and employers from being sued for defamation by the alleged harasser in cases of a complaint of sexual harassment and while the employer conducts your internal investigation.
    • SB 820, Confidentiality Agreements: This measure prohibits confidentiality agreements in cases of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination that are signed as of Jan. 1, 2019, unless the claimant requests the inclusion of the provision.
    • SB 1300, Waiver of Legal Claims: This workplace law prohibits employers from forcing new employees or those seeking raises to waive their right to file legal claims. However, employees could still waive those rights as part of an agreement, such as in cases for compensation packages.
    • AB 1976, Breastfeeding at Work: This legislation requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or place for breastfeeding that is not a bathroom.

    Health and the Environment

    • AB 1884, Straws at the Customer's Request: California restaurants will only provide straws or plastic straws to customers who request it. Restaurants may receive fines if they do not comply with this legislation.
    • SB 1192, Beverages for Children: Restaurants in California may only serve water or milk without flavor in children's meals that combine a food with a drink. Clients can order it if they wish.
    • AB 626, Home Cooking as a Microenterprise: Allows cities and counties to authorize and regulate the sale of home-made foods.
    • AB 485, Sale of Pets: Prohibits the sale of breeding dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores and requires that these animals be obtained from animal shelters or rescue groups.

    Public Safety

     

    • AB 748, Police Transparency: Requires that the images of body cameras on police officers and any other audio recording acquired by a police agency be disclosed to the public. This must be done within 45 days after a police shooting or excessive force causes death or injury to a person.
    • SB 1421, Police Transparency: Allows public access to police records in cases of force, as well as investigations that confirmed the lack of honesty in the work or sexual misconduct.
    • SB 1391, Juvenile Justice: Requires that juveniles ages 14 and 15 accused of crimes be tried in the juvenile justice system instead of being prosecuted as adults.
    • SB 1200, Gun Control: Eliminates fees for requesting a Firearms Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) and adds ammunition and bullet drums to the list of items related to firearms that can be confiscated.

     

    For a look at some of the new DMV laws going into effect in 2019, click here



    Photo Credit: Jonathan Lloyd/NBC4

    The history of the official flag of California dates to 1846, when California was still a territory of Mexico. A group of settlers took over the Mexican garrison at Sonoma, where they raised the hastily designed flag featuring a grizzly bear and lone star. California was declared a state four years later, but the flag was not adopted by the State Legislature until 1911.The history of the official flag of California dates to 1846, when California was still a territory of Mexico. A group of settlers took over the Mexican garrison at Sonoma, where they raised the hastily designed flag featuring a grizzly bear and lone star. California was declared a state four years later, but the flag was not adopted by the State Legislature until 1911.

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    TSA says the day after Christmas is expected to be the busiest air travel day. NBC 7's Audra Stafford talks to travelers at San Diego International Airport before they depart.


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    The former CEO of a drug company that produced a powerful and addictive painkiller containing fentanyl for cancer patients has agreed to plead guilty in connection with a scheme in which the firm's leaders bribed doctors in return for their prescribing the drug, court documents filed Wednesday show.

    Michael Babich, a former president and CEO of the Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics Inc., producer of the drug Subsys, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of mail fraud for his role in the alleged conspiracy, according to court documents.

    As NBC News reported, Insys executives allegedly defrauded insurance companies through their actions because the insurance providers made payments to doctors without knowledge of the bribes and kickbacks, according to court documents filed by the Andrew Lelling, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. 

    "The bribes and kickbacks took multiple forms," the prosecutor's motion filed Wednesday states. Babich and other company executives allegedly paid doctors fees that were purportedly for speaking engagements. They also allegedly hired and paid the salaries of some office staff for "certain targeted practitioners."


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    Fat cells deep in the skin play a role in how our skin ages and how it maintains its ability to fight infections, according to a study published Wednesday by UC San Diego researchers.

    “We have discovered how the skin loses the ability to form fat during aging,” said Richard Gallo, MD, Ph.D., with the Department of Dermatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

    Gallo was the senior author of a study published Wednesday in Immunity.

    The study shows how specialized cells become fat cells and live under the skin. The cells not only create youthful looking skin but they also create a peptide that plays a role in fighting infections.

    Researchers say they found a protein that stops those specialized cells from converting to fat cells, thus making the skin more susceptible to infections. It also makes the skin look less plump.

    “Loss of the ability of fibroblasts to convert into fat affects how the skin fights infections and will influence how the skin looks during aging,” Gallo said in a UC San Diego news release.

    A protein that controls many cellular functions is called transforming growth factor beta. In the study, researchers inhibited the protein in mice. As a result, the mice’s skin allowed the dermal fibroblasts to convert into fat cells and create the antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin.

    The findings may determine how we can better fight infections like Staphylococcus aureus. We know that infection as MRSA when it becomes resistant to antibiotics. MRSA is the leading cause of death resulting from infection in the U.S.

    The fat cells aren’t the answer necessarily. Carrying excess weight is not a solution, researchers say, as obesity also makes it difficult for the skin to fight infections.

    Gallo believes the research may play a role in better understanding the infant immune system, obesity, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.



    Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

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    A convicted felon who led police on a high-speed chase down a busy San Diego freeway faces more than 10 years in prison for a series of alleged crimes.

    A judge Wednesday increased Dontae Douglas Smith’s bail to $250,000 from the $50,000 amount set after his arrest last week.

    Outside the courtroom after Smith’s arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Matthew Carberry explained that the increased bail reflects the seriousness of the charges against Smith, and his criminal record.

    “After (his arrest), a firearm was located in the vehicle,” Carberry explained. “Being that he’s a convicted felon, that’s unlawful possession of a firearm.

    Judge Joseph Brannigan entered not guilty pleas on Smith’s behalf.

    The 28-year-old defendant is charged with five felonies: felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, evading arrest, and two counts of hit-and-run.

    The prosecutor said Smith’s criminal record includes a felony “strike” and two prison priors, one of them for felony assault.

    Smith was also on parole at the time of his alleged crime spree last week.

    The defendant is accused of breaking into two homes on Dawson Avenue in Talmadge, according to the San Diego police.

    Smith is accused of following a woman into her home and then running to a neighbor's yard two doors down.

    A babysitter and two young children were in the backyard at the time, according to the police. The babysitter grabbed the children and ran to the driveway. The suspect ran through the house and out the front door, police said.

    Officers arrived and got a witness description of the car that left the area. They located a vehicle matching the description and pursued the driver on Interstate 8 to Lake Murray Boulevard then to Spring Street in La Mesa.

    The pursuit suspect's car collided with another vehicle on Spring Street, near the Spring Street Trolley Station.

    The suspect jumped out of the car and fled to a nearby canyon, he said. A La Mesa motorcycle police officer saw the suspect fleeing and helped San Diego police locate and arrest him.

    Smith is scheduled to return to court January 7 for a readiness hearing.

    Smith’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 9.



    Photo Credit: NBC 7

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    NBC 7 Melissa Adan reports from San Ysidro after speaking with a local pediatrician. Two children have died while in custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.


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    A meaningful gesture became even more meaningful for some South Florida shoppers who offered to help a "homeless" man on Christmas Day.

    With dirt on his face and a cardboard sign that read "Homeless, just need a little help to feed my family through the holidays," Brian Breach appeared down-and-out to several shoppers outside of the Target store near SW 82nd Avenue and 3rd Street in Plantation.

    But Breach, a content creator and speaker, wasn’t actually homeless. His disguise was all part of a plan to give back.

    When shoppers stopped to help Breach, he handed them a crisp $100 bill in return. One man, he said, was moved to tears by the gesture.

    "He went on to tell me how he always gives back to the community and he truly believes that things come back to you for doing good deeds and it did,"Breach said.

    Breach posted a video of the “Homeless Holiday (giving back) prank” on his Facebook page.

    "For Christmas I pretended to be homeless to see who would help my family out during the holidays," the video caption read. "Those who did got something in return. Always Pay it Forward!"

    The video shows several instances of shoppers approaching Breach, asking him what type of food he needed or scrummaging for cash. In each case, Breach presented the kind strangers with a $100 bill.

    Breach, who has lived in South Florida since he was 13, said he saw a video that inspired him to give back. Within a few hours, the plan was in action.

    Breach said the experience was heartwarming and that he was glad he was able to put a smile on people’s faces during the holiday.



    Photo Credit: Brian Breach
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Brian Breach stood outside a Florida Target store dressed like a homeless man and begged for money. If unsuspecting shoppers stopped to help, Breach rewarded them with a $100 bill.Brian Breach stood outside a Florida Target store dressed like a homeless man and begged for money. If unsuspecting shoppers stopped to help, Breach rewarded them with a $100 bill.

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    The anticipation has been building for weeks for Brandon and Jamie Grant who started Rise City Church in Lakeside five years ago.

    This week they get to perform the favorite part of their jobs by delivering donations from the church's Christmas Offering.

    On Wednesday, a surprise gift was delivered to Sam Bodger, a former Granite Hills High School student and a first-year student at UCLA.

    Bodger was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma several years ago.

    A sprained ankle never healed and turned out to be bone cancer. She underwent nine months of chemotherapy and the amputation of part of her left leg.

    While insurance covered a basic prosthetic, it was just enough to get around and ended up breaking.

    The church received a nomination from Bodger’s mother and decided the church could cover a new prosthetic foot.

    NBC 7 tagged along as they met Bodger and her mom for the first time in Alpine on Wednesday.

    “As we celebrate Christmas, just want you to know this is God saying ‘I love you, I got your back,’” they told Bodger.

    “The newer foot I'll be getting, it'll allow me to do so many other things," Bodger said.

    The Grants say more than 250 people contributed to this year's offering. The collection of strangers believe giving really is the best part of Christmas.

    This year the congregation set out to raise $175,000 and brought in $260,000.

    The Grants told NBC 7 all of the money will go towards helping people outside the church walls.

    Some of the larger gifts from the church this year include funding 270,000 meals for kids in third world countries and a $55,000 check to Lindo Park Elementary School in Lakeside.


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    The San Diego border saw a lot of activity in 2018, from phony iPhone parts to millions of dollars worth of drugs. The latter was disguised and hidden in some pretty creative ways, including decorative Aztec calendars and car parts you didn’t know existed. Here are 18 of the biggest border busts of 2018.

    Jan. 18: Ecuadorian Men Plead Guilty to Trying to Smuggle 2K Pounds of Cocaine by Speedboat

    Two Ecuadorian citizens pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to charges of intent to distribute cocaine in the U.S. by way of a speedboat. The two men were crew members aboard a go-fast vessel caught in international waters more than 100 miles off of the coast of the Guatemalan-El Salvadorian border, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Adam Braverman said. The boat was loaded with about 2,160 pounds of cocaine.

    March 30: 3 Teens Smuggle Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars of Fentanyl: CBP

    Three teens were arrested after reportedly trying to smuggle $143,000 worth of fentanyl across the U.S.-Mexico border. On March 30, a 17-year-old Mexican citizen was stopped at the San Ysidro Pedestrian East Border Crossing, and then on March 31, a 15-year-old Mexican citizen and a 17-year-old U.S. citizen were also stopped at the same border crossing. The boys were said to have strapped the drugs to their bodies, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

    April 9: Woman Had 5 Kids, $1M in Illegal Drugs in Minivan: Border Officials

    A SoCal mother of five was stopped at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry with 231 pounds of drugs stashed in her minivan, CBP agents said. The woman, identified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as Karen Celia Solis, 34, was driving a Honda Odyssey just after midnight. Her five children were in the van at the time. Drugs were found in the car doors, side panels, gas tank, and in the spare tire, CBP said. Methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin were all found, valued at more than $1 million in total. “CBP has seen many forms of drug smuggling through the years,” Pete Flores, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego said. “The hardest ones are when adults include their children in attempted smuggling schemes.” Solis’ kids were turned over to the custody of a family member.

    April 20: Border Patrol Officers Seize $4.7 Million in Drugs, Arrest 9 Fugitives Over Weekend

    More than 800 pounds of narcotics were intercepted as nine fugitives were arrested at the border over this weekend, CBP said. Charges ranged from parole violations, burglary, assault, and weapons offenses. Of the drugs confiscated, 590 pounds were meth, 193 pounds were cocaine, and 23 pounds were heroin. They were hidden inside car seats, doors, gas tanks, floors, and some of it even strapped the suspects’ bodies, according to CBP.

    June 13: Man Tries to Smuggle 115 Pounds of Meth Through San Ysidro

    A French citizen was stopped at the San Ysidro Port of Entry with nearly $400,000 worth of meth, CBP agents said. The 30-year-old man is a legal U.S. resident. He tried to enter the country in his 2018 Jeep Cherokee when he was stopped for a secondary inspection. This prompted CBP agents to find 109 wrapped packages of meth, totaling 115 pounds, hidden in the Jeep’s quarter panels and its tailgate.

    July 1: Jeep Hides 43 Pounds of Meth

    El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents seized 43.16 pounds of meth at the Highway 86 checkpoint. The 49 packages were concealed inside the Jeep's firewall and were worth an estimated $142,428. Agents arrested a 33-year-old Mexican citizen in the incident.

    July 3: CBP Frees Mother, Daughter Trapped in Convertible Compartment at Otay Mesa Port of Entry

    A CBP detector dog alerted officers to check the retractable roof of a Nissan 350Z, driven by a U.S. citizen trying to cross the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. In the area where the roof is stored, agents found a 30-year-old woman and her 10-year-old daughter. However, the two appeared to be stuck in the car and it took officers 30 minutes to free them. Neither was injured. The 27-year-old American was arrested.

    July 12: Man Arrested With Duffel Bag Full of Meth

    A man was pulled over just north of the Murrieta checkpoint on Interstate 15 for “unusual and suspicious driving behavior,” one BP agent said. Inside the 41-year-old man’s truck, agents found a duffle bag containing 40 vacuum-sealed bags full of meth. The drugs, weighing in at around 45 pounds, were valued at $830,000.

    July 13: $2.8M Worth of Narcotics Intercepted at San Diego Borders Last Weekend: CBP

    CBP officers stopped 13 narcotic-smuggling attempts over this weekend, totaling more than 580 pounds of meth and 69 pounds of cocaine. The drugs’ value was estimated to reach $2.8 million. A 41-year-old man was stopped in Otay Mesa as CBP agents noticed a large bulge in his chest, which was later discovered to be 13 pounds of meth. He was traveling with his minor daughter, who was turned over to Child Protective Services, CBP said.

    Aug. 1: 11K Fentanyl Pills Seized From Car Driven by US Teen: Feds

    A U.S. teen was arrested after 11,490 fentanyl pills, 61 pounds of meth, and 14 pounds of heroin were found inside the car he was driving across the border. The drugs were hidden in the car’s firewall, doors, and quarter panels. Cristian Araujo Aguirre, 19, faced possible prison time and a potential $1 million fine. It marked one of the largest fentanyl busts at the border. One week later, the record was smashed by Fernando Jesus Peraza after 20,000 fentanyl pills were found in his car at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Peraza, a U.S. citizen, later pleaded guilty to importing the pills. In both cases, the pills were designed to look like oxycodone, complete with the M30 marking on them.

    Aug. 8: 81-Year-Old Woman Drove Car with 92 Pounds of Heroin Worth $870K Across US-Mexico Border: Federal Prosecutors

    An 81-year-old woman was stopped at the Tecate Port of Entry where, under a secondary inspection, CBP agents found $870,000 worth of heroin inside the car. She was driving a 2011 Chrysler 200, which had 34 wrapped packages of the drug stashed in its rocker panels, CBP said. An officer’s dog was helpful in the confiscation. The woman was taken into the custody of the Department of Homeland Security.

    Aug. 18: Border Patrol Agents Intercept Firearm, Drugs Thrown Over Border Fence

    BP agents received a call from a witness who said they saw a suspicious item in the middle of the road near the border at 11 p.m. Officers with the Calexico Border Patrol Station found a football-shaped package wrapped in tape. Another package was spotted 150 feet away. It was a Jennings Firearms Bryco-59 9mm handgun, also wrapped in tape. The substance in the first bundle tested positive for marijuana, BP said. “There is no doubt in my mind that the firearm recovered would have been used to perpetrate violent crime,” said El Centro Sector Chief Gloria Chavez.

    Sept. 18: $220K in Fake Apple Products Seized by CBP at Port of San Diego

    Thousands of counterfeit Apple products were confiscated by CBP during a shipment inspection at the Port of San Diego. The package was labeled as “back covers” and “polarizers.” Inside, there were 4,820 fake iPhone parts, valued at $222,113, if real, according to CBP. “One of our goals is to protect American consumers and U.S. industry from the threats posed by counterfeiting and piracy,” said Port of San Diego Port Director Bill Snyder. The shipment came from Portugal, CBP said.

    Oct. 16: 9 Arrested as Meth Disguised as Decorative Aztec Calendars Heads to Hawaii

    Nine people were arrested for allegedly conspiring to ship meth to Hawaii, including some drugs that were disguised as decorative Aztec calendars and statues. The group reportedly made at least three shipments of the drugs to Hawaii over the past year, but all were intercepted by law enforcement. One of the times, the group allegedly tried mailing a nearly 90-pound shipment from a Garden Grove post office, according to federal prosecutors.

    Oct. 25: Tijuana Man Finds Bundles of Illegal Drugs Under Work Truck

    A Mexican citizen who crosses the border regularly for work called authorities after finding several bundles of drugs attached underneath his truck. The packages were heavily duct taped with magnets attached so they would stick to the truck. The driver said a neighbor alerted him that some men were "messing around" with his truck while it was parked in Tijuana. Upon inspection, the man found strange objects in his fender. He called local law enforcement who quickly removed the bundles. NBC 7 reported that smugglers would use powerful magnets to turn “trusted travelers” into unwitting mules.

    Nov. 23: 170 Pounds of Meth Seized at San Ysidro Border Crossing

    From the 23rd to the 27th, BP agents seized 625 pounds of drugs, totaling $2.7 million, along the six land Port of Entries from San Ysidro to Calexico. Of the drugs confiscated, nearly 580 pounds were meth, 26 pounds were heroin, 17 pounds were fentanyl, and five pounds were cocaine, CBP said. In total, 10 people were arrested of suspected drug smuggling attempts. “In addition to dealing with the arrival of a large caravan of migrants and the processing of asylum claims, CBP officers within the San Diego Field Office continue to seize narcotics and arrest wanted individuals all while performing their traditional duties of processing lawful trade and travel,” said Pete Flores, CBP San Diego director of field operations. To view an extensive timeline of the migrant caravan’s clash with BP agents, click here.

    Dec. 7: 1K Pounds of Marijuana Hidden in Cargo Boxes

    CBP officers discovered 1,000 pounds of marijuana hidden in cargo boxes marked as "abrasive cutting wheels" at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. The marijuana was valued at around $625,000. The driver, a Mexican citizen, had his Visa cancelled and was placed in custody of the Department of Homeland Security.

    Dec. 17: $1.4M in Meth Seized in Ultralight Aircraft Drop Over Calexico

    Two people were arrested and nearly 130 pounds of meth was seized after BP agents spotted an ultralight aircraft fly over the border just north of Calexico. These aircraft are small and can’t weigh more than 254 pounds, according to the Experimental Aircraft Association. In the U.S., ultralight pilots do not need a license. Agents tracked the aircraft’s pathway and found the drugs at its drop-off location, hidden under heavy brush. “Ultralight aircraft not only pose a threat to legitimate air traffic in the vicinity, but also to national security,” said Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez. The drugs were estimated to be worth $1,422,553, according to BP. A metal cage and a bicycle were also found at the scene.

    Round-Up of Total Drugs Seized by CBP in San Diego in 2018

    Marijuana: 7,713.29 pounds

    In 2018, CBP agents discovered the least amount of marijuana, roughly 400 pounds away from the other lowest point, at 8,158 pounds in 2015. The highest recorded seizure was nearly nine times more than this year's haul, at 68,825 pounds in 2011.

    Meth: 5,186.37 pounds

    This year marked the highest amount of meth confiscated by the CBP. The second most was more than 1,000 pounds behind, coming in at 4,122.83 pounds in 2017. The amount of meth seized this year was roughly nine and a half times more than the agency's lowest point, at 548.85 pounds in 2011.

    Cocaine: 1,820.63 pounds

    Cocaine seizures in 2018 took third, about 900 pounds behind the highest amount, at 2,902.70 pounds in 2017. This year's confiscated cocaine is roughly twice as much as CBP's lowest haul, coming in at 827.96 pounds in 2013.

    Heroin: 2,827.27 ounces

    In 2018, the amount of heroin confiscated fell to the middle of the list, coming after 2017's record-breaking 5,706.83 ounces.

    Fentanyl: 2,737 pounds (Seized by ICE)

    The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it confiscated the large load of drugs over the past year in a press release. This equates to roughly 4,121,220 million pill dosage units seized.

    This data reaches back to 2011 and was provided by the CBP as of Dec. 17.

    BONUS:

    Oct. 13: Lester Holt Tags Along With CBP Drug Interdiction Team

    NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt stopped in San Diego as part of his nationwide “Across America” tour. “More heroin, cocaine, and meth come through the San Diego border than anywhere else in the U.S., and while the fencing here has become more fortified, smugglers are stopping at nothing to get around it,” Holt said. He rode along with CBP agents to see the multitude of ways drugs pass through the local border and how agents are trying to stop it.


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    Teams of engineers are putting the finishing touches on the Mars 2020 Rover ahead of its mission. But when the exploration vehicle launches towards the red planet in two years, it won't be the first, or the last, NASA project a San Diego-based company has helped. 

    Malin Space Science Systems helped make history when their cameras, built and operated from San Diego, launched into space attached to the Mars Global Surveyor in 1996 and captured photos of the planet as never seen before. 

    "I mean you write these proposals and you say 'I will discover this and I will discover this,' but the interesting things were the things we found that no one had ever suspected before," said the company's advanced projects manager, Michael Ravine. 

    The company currently has cameras orbiting Earth's moon and Mars and is in production on small cameras that will be attached to the 2020 rover. The product will be shipped to NASA sometime in early 2019, the company said. 

    Next, Malin Space Science Systems will be building cameras for NASA's Lucy Project, a daring exploration that will examine two swarms of asteroids that travel on Jupiter's orbit around the sun, called Trojans.

    According to NASA, the asteroids may be remnants of material that formed planets and could provide insight into the solar system's birth 4 billion years ago. 

    Just like the project's namesake, the fossilized human which provided insight into human evolution, NASA hopes Lucy will provide knowledge of the solar system's origin. 

    Lucy will launch late 2021 and will complete a 12-year journey, launching to one set of asteroids and then slingshotting around Earth to reach the second group.

    "This is like little pieces leftover from all the other planets forming so this is our chance to see what the original pieces looked like before they collapsed together and formed things that look like Jupiter and Saturn and Uranus and Neptune," Ravine said. 

    Malin Space Science Systems is also named on two proposals that NASA is considering, including Dragonfly, which would land a nuclear-powered drone on Saturn's largest moon called Titan, and CAESAR, which would grab a piece of a comet before it can burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

    CAESAR would be groundbreaking because comets burn up when they hit the earth's atmosphere and no sample has ever survived for exploration. 

    Ravine said either they would be enthusiastic to work on either project if their bids win. 



    Photo Credit: NASA/JPL

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    President Donald J. Trump traveled to Iraq Christmas night, according to the White House, his first visit to U.S. troops in a war zone and a day after facing criticism for failing to spend time with any military personnel on Christmas Day.

    Trump, who was accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, had been derided by his critics for not visiting troops in a combat zone, particularly after he canceled a trip to an American military burial ground outside of Paris because of bad weather. Two days later, he skipped a Veterans Day visit to Arlington National Cemetery.

    Trump defended his decision to withdraw 2,000 U.S. forces from neighboring Syria despite a drumbeat of criticism from military officials and allies who don't think the job fighting Islamic State militants there is over.

    "We're no longer the suckers, folks," Trump told American servicemen and women at a base in western Iraq, according to The Associated Press. "We're respected again as a nation."

    Air Force One, lights out and window shutters drawn, flew overnight from Washington, landing at an airbase west of Baghdad in darkness Wednesday evening.

    During his three-plus hours on the ground, Trump did not meet with any Iraqi officials, but spoke on the phone with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

    Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that Trump visited the troops and senior military leadership “to thank them for their service, their success and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas.”

    The president also stopped at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany on his way back, for a second unannounced visit to troops and military leaders.

    Trump’s visit follows his controversial Syria announcement just before Christmas, a decision that his opponents said could endanger Kurdish allies who have been fighting ISIS there. Secretary of Defense James Mattis abruptly submitted his resignation in a letter that lambasted Trump’s worldview and treatment of allies.

    Trump, in remarks to reporters on Wednesday, said he had “no plans at all” to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. About his decision to leave Syria, Trump said, "A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking," according to Reuters.

    "I made it clear from the beginning that our mission in Syria was to strip ISIS of its military strongholds," Trump told troops at al-Asad Airbase west of Baghdad, according to AP. If ISIS were to have a resurgence, the troops in Iraq would be able to combat it, he said.

    Troop said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to take out "any remnants" of IS left in Syria, AP wrote.

    He said that he was in no hurry to name a replacement for Mattis, and that the planned acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan “could be there for a long time,” Reuters reported.

    "I think a lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking. It's time for us to start using our head," Reuters reported that the president said.

    The president and first lady got a standing ovation when they walked into a dining hall, and greeted troops, took selfies and signed autographs. 

    The prime minister's office said "differences in points of view over the arrangements" prevented the two from meeting but they discussed security issues and Trump's order to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria over the phone. Abdul-Mahdi's office also did not say whether he had accepted an invitation to the White House. But Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on the flight back that the Iraqi leader had agreed to come.

    Trump's Iraq visit appeared to have inflamed sensitivities about the continued presence of U.S. forces in Iraq. The two major blocs in the Iraqi parliament both condemned the visit, with the head of the Islah bloc likening it to a "blatant violation of Iraq's sovereignty."

    Trump had faced criticism for not yet visiting U.S. troops stationed in harm's way as he comes up on his two-year mark in office. He told the AP in October that he "will do that at some point, but I don't think it's overly necessary."

    Trump told reporters that he had planned to make the trip three or four weeks ago, but word of the trip started getting out and forced him to postpone it.

    Trump had planned to spend Christmas at his private club in Florida, but stayed behind in Washington due to the partial government shutdown over funding for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. He said he was prepared to wait for “whatever it takes” to get border security, Reuters reported. 

    The visit also came as The New York Times revived questions about Trump avoidance of the Vietnam War draft after finding the daughters of a doctor who diagnosed the bone spurs that kept him from combat. They suggested he made the diagnosis as a favor to Trump’s father, Fred, though the doctor left no medical records with his family. The White House has not responded to written questions.

    Last year, Trump visited wounded troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.



    Photo Credit: Sarah Huckabee Sanders/White House
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    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit soldiers on Christmas night, as seen in a photo released by the press secretary, on Dec. 25, 2018.President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit soldiers on Christmas night, as seen in a photo released by the press secretary, on Dec. 25, 2018.

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    Wednesday brings the first full business day after several government departments and agencies closed up over the weekend due to a budgetary stalemate between President Donald Trump and Congress. And there is no end in sight.

    The partial government shutdown is affecting those visiting the snow this week in San Diego County. 

    Anyone who stopped in the Cleveland National Forest to go sledding and play in the snow might have noticed some odd signs on public bathrooms. 

    Both permanent male and female bathrooms were locked and closed, with signs that read: 

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture facility is currently closed/not serviced, due to the lapse in federal government funding. 

    The facility will reopen/be serviced once Congress restores its funding.

    Anyone who needed to use the bathroom near the popular Laguna Mountain Lodge store on Wednesday was encouraged by staff to drive three miles north or south to get to a bathroom.

    There were two portable toilets set up in the area as well. Some visitors complained that the temporary facilities needed to be drained. 

    Trump said Tuesday that the closed parts of the government will remain that way until Democrats agree to wall off the U.S.-Mexico border to deter criminal elements. 


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    A man died of influenza, county health officials reported Wednesday, bringing the total of local deaths this flu season to seven. 

    That number is fewer than the 11 deaths that were reported at the same time last season, county officials said. 

    A 73-year-old man died on Dec. 16 from influenza A, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday.

    Officials did not have information regarding the man's medical history or his vaccination status. 

    For the week ending on Dec. 22, there were 410 lab-confirmed influenza cases reported. That's significantly lower than the 2,332 cases that were reported during the same week last season, health officials said. 

    In the 2017-2018 flu season, 342 influenza deaths were reported in San Diego. 

    Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., the county public health officer, advises residents to get vaccinated to protect themselves from the flu.

    “While we’re seeing fewer flu cases this season, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated since the flu season could last through April and even May,” she said. 

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

    Read the local flu report here.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 26: (FILE PHOTO) A technician prepares a flu vaccine by drawing it from its vial through a needle into a syringe September 26, 2002 at a health clinic in Chicago. Flu-shot season officially begins next week. Health officials are calling for wider use of influenza vaccine this during the Flue season. About 36,000 people die each year from influenza or its complications. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 26: (FILE PHOTO) A technician prepares a flu vaccine by drawing it from its vial through a needle into a syringe September 26, 2002 at a health clinic in Chicago. Flu-shot season officially begins next week. Health officials are calling for wider use of influenza vaccine this during the Flue season. About 36,000 people die each year from influenza or its complications. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

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    Former Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott believes the government needs to raise the bar on protecting the community from fires.

    The very strong statement from the retiring chief of the state's fire agency resonates with many North County residents urging similar protections are needed where some new housing developments are located in high-risk fire zones.

    One controversial project is located in Eden Valley, just west of Escondido, where horses possibly outnumber people, where living in the peaceful enclave also means accepting the risk, and the reality, of wildfires.

    The Valiano housing project, already approved by county supervisors, would add more than 300 homes and widen nearby roads.

    "It's tough getting everybody out at the present population," said Eden Valley resident Jan Duncan. "The last fire that came through here, Cocos Fire, took out five houses in this very neighborhood."

    And if neighbors were already concerned, this might alarm them even more: bombshell remarks from Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott, just before his retirement in early December.

    In an interview with the Associated Press, Pimlott said government officials need to raise the bar on protecting the community. And much to the satisfaction of neighbors, Pimlott also said officials should consider banning home construction in vulnerable areas.

    Cal Fire in San Diego would not comment on those remarks, saying the agency does not dictate policy.

    The County of San Diego gave us this statement: "The County's General Plan and Zoning Ordinance establishes development standards and guides where development can and cannot occur. Also, various open space and conservation easements may be used to limit building activities to protect biological resources."

    But as more people move to California, developers will continue to build. And locals will often try to stop the developments from going through.

    Community groups have filed a lawsuit over the Valiano development.

    "We already know from the Cocos Fire, there are 80 homes in this valley and they had a difficult time evacuating all 80 of us without animals," said Bill Osborn, a former firefighter who lives in Eden Valley.

    The county said it does not comment on pending litigation, but did tell us it take fire safety seriously.

    "County staff work with the local fire departments and the County Fire Authority to ensure projects meet the County Consolidated Fire Code through the preparation of Fire Protection Plans that address aspects like water supply, road access, and defensible space."

    Osborn said fire planners are looking at evacuations microscopically.

    "So if you look at the surrounding roadways that exit this development there are two planned primary exits and one emergency exit. But those roadways all lead to one road-- Country Club Drive, a two-lane country road," said Osborn. "While they may be able to get everybody out of the immediate development, as soon as they hit Country Club, They're going to be stuck in traffic. And that's an ideal situation for people to die trying to evacuate from a fire."

    Osborn added, even building with new fire-resistant materials isn't enough.

    "You can surely build it so that it makes it more protectable, more defensible. But you're not going to be able to keep it from burning. you bring in an urban environment into a rural community and they're not going to be prepared. they're not going to understand how fast fire moves.

    What most do understand-- wildfires are part of California's ecosystem and the uneasy coexistence of homes, canyons and dry brush mean communities need to become more resilient.



    Photo Credit: John Beaune

    The Cocos Fire broke out in May 2014 in the North County of San Diego.The Cocos Fire broke out in May 2014 in the North County of San Diego.

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    Staff members at an Escondido preschool arrived after Christmas to find vandals had damaged the school's property. 

    Escondido police are asking for the public's help to catch whoever used spray paint to damage a vehicle and a sign at A Place of Our Own.

    The graffiti and drug paraphernalia were left on the property on Christmas Day.

    Surveillance video showed three people on the property Tuesday, one of the school's administrators said. The taggers may be juveniles, she said.

    It's the fourth time vandals have struck at the preschool, the staff said.  

    One teacher told NBC 7 that any money they will spend on repairs ultimately hurts the low-income families they serve.

    "It goes out of the pocket for us," Isabelle Gutierrez said. "Now we don't have the benefit of putting that money towards our books, towards our supplies. So it affects us tremendously."

    One of the senior directors at the school said they need the public's help.

    "We're asking for support," said Erica Gonzalez. "It's a small community in Escondido and if we all support one another I think at the end of the day we will all benefit from it and our children will as well." 

    The school reported the vandalism to Escondido Police who said they will the public's help in reporting these types of crimes to find those responsible.


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    Two U.S. citizens were arrested Sunday after approximately $10,000 worth of black tar heroin was discovered in the woman's bra, U.S. Border Patrol officials said.

    Agents released images Wednesday showing the package discovered as well as an image of the driver with her face concealed.

    The package weighed a little over a pound and had an estimated street value of $10,170, agents said. 

    The woman was driving a Nissan Altima through the checkpoint on Highway 86 near Salton City, California at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 23.

    Agents said a canine team alerted to the vehicle so they sent the car over to secondary inspection. 

    Once there, agents said they found a package hidden in the driver's bra. 

    Agents said the package contained something consistent with the characteristics of black tar heroin.

    The woman, a 45-year-old U.S. citizen, and her male passenger, identified only as a 29-year-old U.S. citizen, were taken into custody by the Border Crime Suppression Team to face charges of smuggling heroin. 



    Photo Credit: U.S. Border Patrol

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    Hundreds of palm trees are being removed from canyons in the Tierrasanta neighborhood this week as the result of a project between the city of San Diego and local conservancy groups.

    Palm trees are not native to San Diego’s urban canyons but seeds from the trees move by a stream and spread into the canyons. The palm trees take over space from the native trees that should be there like Coast Live Oak, Willow and Sycamore trees.

    “When a palm tree catches on fire, it’s like a Roman candle,” said Eric Bowlby, Executive Director of San Diego Canyonlands.

    So beginning at 8 a.m. every day this week, crews will remove approximately 300 mature palm trees that have grown in the urban canyons. Cutting the trees began around Dec. 10 and this week a helicopter will lift the trees from the canyons and deliver them to the Sycamore Landfill.

    In the meantime, public access to Rueda Canyon Open Space Park will be restricted.

    Bowlby said removing the trees that are not well maintained is a matter of safety.

    “All the dead palm fronds from bottom to top,” he said. “A big bonnet of dead palm fronds. That’s a huge load of fuel if there should ever be a fire in the canyon.”

    The cost of the project was estimated at $220,000.

    The non-profit organization was awarded a grant from California Prop 1 funds to remove the invasive plants and restore the native vegetation in this section of the San Diego River watershed," Bowlby said.

    The project should be complete by Jan. 11.



    Photo Credit: NBC 7

    Tierrasanta residents watched as a helicopter removed palm trees Wednesday, Dec. 26.Tierrasanta residents watched as a helicopter removed palm trees Wednesday, Dec. 26.

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