<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - National & International News]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/national-internationalhttps://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.pngNBC 10 Philadelphiahttps://www.nbcphiladelphia.comen-usTue, 17 Oct 2017 00:12:06 -0400Tue, 17 Oct 2017 00:12:06 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Ex-Obama Aides: Trump's Fallen Soldiers Claim Is a Lie]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 17:34:28 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/120767608-Obama-Dover-Families-of-Fallen.jpg

President Donald Trump insisted without evidence on Monday that Barack Obama didn't call the families of fallen soldiers when he was president, then promptly walked the claim back when fact-checked by a reporter.

Some of Obama's former aides reacted angrily on Twitter, calling Trump's statement a lie. Obama has in the past also talked about spending "countless hours" grieving with Gold Star families. 

"President Trump’s claim is wrong," a former Obama administration official told NBC News. "President Obama engaged families of the fallen and wounded warriors throughout his presidency through calls, letters, visits to Section 60 at Arlington, visits to Walter Reed, visits to Dover, and regular meetings with Gold Star Families at the White House and across the country."

The issue came up at a wide-ranging news conference Monday, when Trump was asked why he hasn't discussed the Green Berets who died in an ambush in Niger in early October. Trump explained that he's written their families personal letters that have either gone out or will by Monday night, and added that he will "at some point" call their families.

"The toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed," Trump said. "It gets to a point where you make four or five of them in one day, [it] is a very, very tough day."

Trump went on to say that Obama and other prior presidents "didn't make calls," and that he likes to do it "when it's appropriate, when I'm able to do it."

When pressed by NBC News' Peter Alexander, Trump walked his statement back.

"I don't know if he did," Trump said. "I was told that he didn't often, and a lot of presidents don't."

He added that he does a combination of phone calls and letter writing.

Late Monday afternoon, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump "wasn't criticizing predecessors, but stating a fact."

"When American heroes make the ultimate sacrifice, Presidents pay their respects," she said in a prepared statement. "Sometimes they call, sometimes they send a letter, other times they have the opportunity to meet family members in person. This President, like his predecessors, has done each of these. Individuals claiming former Presidents, such as their bosses, called each family of the fallen, are mistaken.”

Alyssa Mastromonaco, a deputy chief of staff for Obama, used an expletive to call Trump's first statement a lie.

"To say President Obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA - he's a deranged animal," Mastromonaco tweeted, using the acronym for "killed in action."

Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes tweeted, "This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family."

Rhodes was referring to the feud between Trump, then running for president, and the family of a Muslim-American Army captain killed in combat in Iraq. 

“No one — no one has given more for our freedom and our security than our Gold Star families,” Obama said at the time. “Michelle and I have spent countless hours with them. We have grieved with them.”

Photo Credit: Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[California Inferno: Images From NorCal's Deadly Fires]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 03:59:37 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/AP_17288122901418.jpgMore than a dozen wildfires have swept through Northern California since late Sunday, leaving charred homes and businesses in their wake.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]]>
<![CDATA[Guy Fieri Cooks Barbecue in Fire-Devastated Santa Rosa]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 15:25:46 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/IMG_08983.jpg

Out among the barbecue smokers behind a shelter in Santa Rosa for fire-displaced residents, television chef Guy Fieri has been helping to serve up chicken, pulled pork and sides to evacuees and firefighters battling the blazes in California's North Bay.

"With these fires, and the evacuations and with all the people that have lost their homes, we're feeding over 5,000 people a day," Fieri said between lunch and dinner in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Auditorium on Sunday. "Anybody who needs food at this time in this area."

He and other local chefs are working with Operation BBQ Relief, a non-profit that was formed in 2011 after the tornado in Joplin, Missouri. By the end of Sunday, they will have served 23,000 meals, some being sent directly to firefighters on the front lines.

Fieri, who lives in Santa Rosa and had to evacuate from his house, has been cooking there since Thursday morning with a mix of volunteers from Operation BBQ Relief and others from nearby.

"You've got some amazing chefs from the area," he said. "You've got an insurance agent, you've got a car mechanic, you've got a lumber salesman, restaurant managers, and the kids, people from all over."

Over the last week, the chefs have prepared meals of pork loin, mushroom gravy, a pineapple apple teriyaki sauce, braised cabbage with apple, onion and brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and baked beans.

"It's good to see everybody come together," said Nathan Trivers, an owner of the Up and Under Pub and Grill in Point Richmond.

Operation BBQ Relief has been to 23 states and 44 disasters. Its volunteers have cooked nearly 1.7 meals, but this is their first visit to California, said Dewayne Daniels, a director in field operations.

"The community has absolutely opened up their arms to us," Daniels said.

Fieri's house was spared, but it is close to the Coffey Park neighborhood that was destroyed.

"Just terrible," he said. "Just devastating. Never seen anything like it in my life. But the only good thing we can say out of this is the resiliency. And the community outpouring of support is amazing."

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[#MeToo Goes Viral With 12M Facebook Posts and Counting]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 23:26:42 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-605831668.jpg

The #MeToo social media campaign has exploded across social media, empowering women to come together in solidarity and to share their stories of sexual abuse and harassment without shame. 

Actress Alyssa Milano posted a tweet on Oct. 15 and ignited the social media movement. Milano's "Charmed" co-star Rose McGowan is one of more than 40 women who have accused movie executive Harvey Weinstein of sexual harrasment, abuse or rape. 

Weinstein has denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.

According to Facebook, "4.7 million people around the world have engaged in the 'Me Too' conversation on Facebook in solidarity with victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment." 

In less than 24 hours, there were more than 500,000 tweets and more than 12 million Facebook posts, comments and reactions on content that included #MeToo. Also, more than 45 percent of people in the United States are friends with someone who has already made a "Me Too" post, according to Facebook.  

Senator Elizabeth Warren joined the chorus of posts, writing on Facebook, "If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too.' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

While this movement has helped women come out of the shadows, men are also sharing their stories of sexual abuse. 

Former NHL star Theo Fleury shared his experience, writing, "I am a #metoo and I’m a male I would like to know how many guys out there are #metoos just reply with the hashtag #metoo."

Milano said her use of the hashtag "might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem." She said she got the idea from a friend. 

Milano wrote: "While I am sickened and angered over the disturbing accusations of Weinstein's sexual predation and abuse of power, I'm happy - ecstatic even - that it has opened up a dialogue around the continued sexual harassment, objectification and degradation of women."

Activist Alicia Garza took to Twitter Monday and gave credit to Tarana Burke as the founder of the #MeToo hashtag 10 years ago. 

[[451187143, C]]

[[451190493, C]]

Photo Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images, File
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[School Board Pulls 'To Kill a Mockingbird' From Reading List]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 17:17:47 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-469622398.jpg

The school board in Biloxi, Mississippi, has pulled "To Kill a Mockingbird" from an eighth-grade reading list after receiving complaints about wording in the book, NBC News reported. 

Last week, Kenny Holloway, the board's vice president, said there was language in the book that "makes people uncomfortable."

"We can teach the same lesson with other books," Holloway said, according to the The Sun Herald newspaper. "It's still in our library. But they're going to use another book in the eighth-grade course."

The Biloxi School District didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Joked That Pence Wants to 'Hang' Gays: Report]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:42:38 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/pence-trump-whispering-EM.jpg

In a profile of Vice President Mike Pence published Monday in The New Yorker, Jane Mayer reported on a meeting among an unnamed legal scholar, President Donald Trump and Pence in which Trump joked that Pence "wants to hang" gay people. 

Mayer also cited two sources who told her Trump routinely enjoys needling the conservative former Indiana governor about his views on abortion and homosexuality, NBC News reported. During the meeting with the legal scholar, Mayer reported Trump "belittled Pence's determination to overturn Roe v. Wade" after the scholar said many states would likely legalize abortion if the Supreme Court were to rule against it.

When the conversation shifted to gay rights, Trump allegedly motioned to Pence and joked, "Don't ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!"

A request for comment from the White House was not immediately returned.

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Man Suspected of Killing Muslim Teen May Face Death Penalty]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 22:18:05 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Nabra+Darwin.jpg

The man suspected of killing a Muslim teenage girl as she headed to a mosque in Virginia this summer may face the death penalty. 

Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh told News4 he will seek the death penalty against Darwin Martinez Torres. 

A grand jury indicted Torres on capital murder and rape charges on Monday in the killing of Nabra Hassanen. The 17-year-old high school student's death has rattled Muslim communities in northern Virginia and across the country.

Virginia state law allows prosecutors to pursue a death penalty under certain conditions, including premeditated murder during a rape.

The indictment is the first indication that authorities believe Nabra Hassanen was raped.

Police say Martinez Torres encountered Hassanen among a group of teenagers in Sterling, Virginia, as they walked from a mosque in June for a service. Authorities say Martinez Torres got into a confrontation with some of the teens, and chased them. Police say Martinez Torres caught Hassanen and bludgeoned her with a bat. A search warrant says he then dumped her body in a lake.

Torres was charged with murder but not a hate crime. Prosecutors say he lashed out in a case of road rage.

On Friday, Hassanen's devastated parents interrupted court proceedings

"You killed my daughter!" Nabra Hassanen's father shouted. He stood on a courtroom bench and lunged at the accused in a packed courtroom.

Hassanen's mother hurled a shoe at Torres from across the courtroom and screamed "I kill you!"

Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Hernandez Lawyers Sue NFL, Helmet Manufacturer]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 23:02:35 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/aaron-ap.jpg

Lawyers for Aaron Hernandez's family have re-filed their lawsuit against the NFL, but the New England Patriots are no longer named in the complaint.

The family's lawyers filed the complaint Monday in Norfolk County Superior Court. They said the Patriots have been removed as a defendant, but a separate action involving the team will be filed at a later date.

Named in the suit are the NFL and several of its subsidiaries, as well as Riddell, the company that manufactured the official NFL helmet from 1989 to 2013. Hernandez played in the NFL from 2010 to 2012.

The suit claims the defendants knew of CTE dating back to the 1960s but intentionally kept that information from Hernandez and other players. The suit accuses them of a "long-running conspiracy" aimed at insulating themselves from litigation and financial responsibility.

"(Aaron's) decisions with respect to football would have been different had there been no intentional concealment for football-exposure risk," the complaint reads. "Defendants' multi-decade-long efforts to justify ignoring these warnings created a time-bomb in Aaron. Defendants did so to perpetuate the industry of football."

Attorneys for the Hernandez family initially filed suit last month in federal court after a brain study showed he suffered from a "severe case" of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Experts said it was the most severe case of CTE they had ever seen in someone his age.

The suit claimed the team and the league deprived 4-year-old Avielle Hernandez of the companionship of her father.

That suit was dropped on Friday because the lawyers said the issues involved belonged in state and not federal court.

The NFL has said it will "vigorously" contest the lawsuit, saying it would face "significant legal issues from the start."

"More than 15 years ago, Riddell introduced its first helmets specifically designed to mitigate concussion risk and warnings written to raise concussion awareness and promote medical treatment of concussions," the company argued in a statement. "Riddell intends to vigorously and successfully defend its products, its warnings and its reputation from the claims now being made by a handful of plaintiff lawyers."

Hernandez had Stage 3 CTE, the second-most severe out of four stages. That level of degeneration is usually found in players with a median death age of 67. Boston University officials who examined his brain said he also had early brain atrophy and perforations in a central membrane. CTE can be caused by repeated head trauma and leads to symptoms like violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive difficulties.

The 27-year-old former star tight end killed himself on April 19 in the prison cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, where he was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. He hanged himself with a bed sheet attached to his cell windows.

Hernandez blocked access to his cell from the inside by jamming cardboard into the door tracks, investigators said. They also said there were no signs of a struggle and Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging.

His Bible was found marked with blood at John 3:16, a verse that describes eternal life for those who believe in God. The verse name was also written in blood on the wall and in pen on his forehead.

His death came just hours before the Patriots visited the White House to celebrate their latest Super Bowl victory.

Soon after his suicide, Hernandez's family decided they wanted his brain to be studied by the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center.

State officials originally refused to release the brain because it was part of the ongoing investigation into Hernandez's death, but later agreed to release it after his lawyer accused them of holding the brain illegally.

A star for the University of Florida when it won the 2008 title, Hernandez dropped to the fourth round of the NFL draft because of trouble in college that included a failed drug test and a bar fight. His name had also come up in an investigation into a shooting.

In three seasons with the Patriots, Hernandez joined Rob Gronkowski to form one of the most potent tight end duos in NFL history. In 2011, his second season, Hernandez caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns to help the team reach the Super Bowl, and he was rewarded with a $40 million contract.

But the Patriots released him in 2013, shortly after he was arrested in the killing of Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. Hernandez was convicted and sentenced to life in prison; the conviction was voided because he died before his appeals were exhausted, though that decision is itself being appealed.

SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Paddington Bear Dances with the Duchess of Cambridge]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 19:28:34 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DIT+PADDINGTON+DANCE+Thumb.jpg

Paddington Bear shared a dance with the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, at a charity event the Royals were hosting at the famous Paddington Station, where the iconic children's book character got his name.

<![CDATA[Ahead of White Nationalist Speech, Fla. Gov Declares Emergency]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 19:39:55 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-831454884.jpg

Ahead of a speech by a white nationalist leader at the University of Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency to direct resources to ensure Gainesville's safety.

Scott signed the Law Enforcement Coordination executive order following a request from Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell in anticipation of the Thursday event.

The order allows Darnell to quickly "coordinate resources from other state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies," Scott's office said in a statement, adding the governor will maintain in constant communication with security officials to ensure "every request to the state is quickly granted to keep the public safe."

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Spencer as: "one of the country’s most successful young white nationalist leaders – a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old, a kind of professional racist in khakis."

The SPLC points to a 2014 column Spencer wrote for the National Policy Institute — the white nationalist think tank he led at the time — in which he wrote that "immigration is a kind of proxy war — and maybe a last stand — for White Americans, who are undergoing a painful recognition that, unless dramatic action is taken, their grandchildren will live in a country that is alien and hostile."

UF officials reluctantly granted Spencer permission to speak.

However, UF President Kent Fuchs has urged his students to "avoid the event" and to "not let the message of hate and racism go unchallenged."

Protests challenging Spencer's rhetoric are scheduled for Thursday.

Scott said violence by any side will not be tolerated.

“We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion; however, we have zero tolerance for violence, and public safety is always our number one priority," Scott said in a statement.

"I have been in constant contact with Sheriff Darnell, who has requested this Executive Order to ensure that county and local law enforcement have every needed resource," he continued. "This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe.”

Photo Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Who's Who in the Trump-Russia Investigation]]>Wed, 09 Aug 2017 18:29:15 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/russiathumb2.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[How to Scrutinize Fake Business Reviews Online]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 16:18:00 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/CHENG+ITEAM+FAKE+REVIEWS+VO+-+00004702_WNBC_000000018196970.jpg

More than 80 percent of people sometimes check reviews for businesses, but half wonder if they can be trusted, according to the Pew Research Center -- and they have good reason to, according to experts in online reviews. 

"I laugh at the absurdity of some of the reviews I find," said Jason Brown, who founded the website reviewfraud.org, which lists thousands of businesses with suspicious reviews, including more than 200 in the tri-state area. 

Brown pointed to one review of a rug-cleaning company on Staten Island. The man who left a five-star Google review? It's a suspect from the 2015 Paris terror attacks. The same user reviewed another cleaning company in Oregon.

NBC Los Angeles spotted another familiar figure in a review for an air-conditioning company, supposedly by Marilyn R. Park. 

"I absolutely am not Marilyn R. Park," said the woman in the photo, who's actually Alicia Kozakiewicz, a nationally known crime victim advocate who survived an abduction at age 13. 

A law firm with offices in Queens and Manhattan says they had no ideas there were questionable reviews on their site. The firm gets very high marks on Google, including a review by a man named Mack Soto, whose picture is that of a reality TV star named John McGuire.

The firm's lawyer told the I-Team in a statement, "Our firm had hired a third-party search engine optimization company," and that it "had not seen and was not aware of these reviews."

Fake reviews are a big business, according to Dr. Ted Lappas, who studies online reviews at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. 

"You can hire them, and among other things they offer this service, a review service. So you can hire them and they do that for you," he said. "You basically say, 'I want this many reviews, either good reviews for me or bad reviews from the competitors.'" 

Money can be a motivator. A 2016 Harvard study found that a 1-star rating increase on Yelp can boost an independent restaurant’s revenue by up to 9 percent. But there can also be a dark side.

Jeffrey LaViano, the owner of a New Jersey-based jewelry store, believes he’s the victim of a false review by a vendor with a vendetta. 

"I’ve never done business with this person," said LaViano.

But when he tried to contact the website to dispute the review, there were few options.

"Unless I was taking my credit card out, and signing up for their step-by-step process to clear my name, they weren't interested in having any conversation," he said. 

Yelp says it relies on users to flag suspicious reviews and then it investigates, posting a consumer alert when it finds signs of deception. Google says it uses automated systems to detect spam and fraud in reviews. 

In New York, the attorney general has been cracking down on companies that produce fake reviews. In 2013, the AG fined 19 companies $350,000 for flooding the Internet with fake reviews, and the office has fined six more companies since then.

The bottom line for consumers, says Brown: "You shouldn’t just take one website's reviews as fact. I’ll check Google. I’ll check Facebook. I’ll check Yelp. I’ll check the BBB." 

Jason Brown of ReviewFraud.org offers these tips for spotting fake reviews: 

  • Look at the profile of the poster. Is it a celebrity or a stock photo?
  • What are they reviewing and from where? Are there too many reviews around the same time and in locations far from each other? 
  • Read the review. Are there too many spelling errors? Is the review too non-specific? Is the review contradictory? 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Trump, McConnell Discuss Legislative Priorities, GOP Unity]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 17:27:58 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Trump161016_MP4-150818725928600002.jpg
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stood together Monday as a show of solidarity during an impromptu question-and-answer session with reporters. 
The two have publicly feuded in recent weeks, but now, as they're trying to advance the GOP agenda, they say they're closer than ever. 
<![CDATA[Donald Trump Through the Years]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 07:29:28 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Trumpthumb.jpgWhat Donald Trump's presidency will look like is unclear to many observers. He has not previously worked in politics, and has made contradictory statements on policy issues in several areas during his campaign. Despite the unknowns, Trump has an extensive public profile that, along with his real estate empire and the Trump brand, grew domestically and internationally over the last few decades. Here is a look at his personal and career milestones and controversies.

Photo Credit: AP, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[In Photos: Total Devastation in Puerto Rico After Maria]]>Fri, 29 Sep 2017 11:19:36 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/AP_17271040483244.jpgThe island territory of more than 3 million U.S. citizens is reeling in the devastating wake of what Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello called "the most devastating storm in a century."

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa]]>
<![CDATA[This Is What Happens When You Take a Fidget Spinner to Space]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 15:25:48 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DIT+SPACE+FIDGET+SPINNER+THUMB.jpg

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station tested a fidget spinner in zero gravity. They had time to play with the popular toy in between three scheduled space walks this month.

<![CDATA['Krack' Security Flaw Puts Every Wi-Fi Connection at Risk]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:28:48 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/551984311-Hacker.jpg

A newly discovered Wi-Fi security flaw reveals that your home network is hackable, giving outsiders access to everything from private chats to baby monitors, NBC News reports.

The attack, called Krack, takes advantage of the longstanding connection between devices and routers that is supposed to deliver a fresh, encrypted session every time you connect.

"When I woke up this morning and saw this one, I was taken aback," said Bob Rudis, chief data scientist at threat intelligence company Rapid7.

The gaping hole in the Wi-Fi protocol is fixable, and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team has been reaching out to the many vendors who are affected. Rudis recommends checking with your internet service provider for the latest information on updates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF]]>
<![CDATA[Pot Arrests 7 Times More Likely for Black Adults in Suburbs]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:20:00 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Marijuana+Smoking+Smoke+Beard.jpg

Black communities in Pennsylvania continue to be disproportionately impacted by the war on weed, according to a new report released Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In Montgomery, Bucks and Chester counties, black adults are nearly seven times more likely than white adults to be arrested for pot, according to the report.

In Delaware County, the rate drops down to nearly five times more likely. And in Berks County, it's around four times more likely.

Philadelphia, which decriminalized small amounts of personal use pot three years ago, has the lowest racial disparity with black adults three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis-related offenses compared to their white counterparts.

“Racial disparities have actually gotten worse” across the state, Andrew Hoover, spokesman for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said. “These arrests create major barriers for people in their daily lives.”

The rates are especially glaring because “marijuana use is virtually identical across the races,” Matt Stroud, of the ACLU, said.

Roughly 70 percent of all arrests in Philadelphia were millennials between the ages of 18 and 30 years old, according to Goldstein.

“We see these arrests are primarily young people,” Chris Goldstein, Temple University adjunct professor and marijuana activist, added. “This is a very serious thing for young people - they lose their chances of going to college and getting jobs.” 

The report used data submitted by Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies to the state Uniform Crime Reporting System.

Between 2010 and 2016, nearly 178,000 people were arrested throughout the state for cannabis. The majority of those arrests were for marijuana possession, which accounts for half of the state’s total drug arrests even as cities and counties drown under the weight of a burgeoning and persistent opioid crisis.

Because low-income communities and people of color are disproportionately impacted by the so-called war on drugs, lawmakers throughout the region have called for comprehensive drug law reform.

State Sen. Daylin Leach, who represents portions of Montgomery and Delaware counties and co-sponsored the state's medical marijuana bill, has introduced legalization in every legislative session since 2013, according to his spokesman. 

Prohibition is a "continuation of Jim Crow policies," Leach's spokesman, Steve Hoenstine, said. "We don't think about it that way, but that's exactly what it does and it has to stop for that reason."

In private conversations between Leach and other local lawmakers, several have expressed their support for legalizing adult-use cannabis, Hoenstine said. But few are willing to go public with their votes. 

"It's a ridiculous policy that costs taxpayers money and now we have to borrow all this money just to pay our bill," he said. "It destroys [people's] lives and then they have to use state resources when they get out of prison."

Other jurisdictions in the region have also called for legalization. In August, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, citing the uneven application of law enforcement when it comes to marijuana arrests.

His bill would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes and incentivize states through federal funds to change their cannabis laws if those laws were shown to have a disproportionate effect on low-income individuals or people of color.

“Tragically, in this country, if you’re African-American, you’re going to be arrested for using drugs almost 4 times more than someone who is white,” Booker said at the time.

His bill was largely taken as a symbolic gesture at a time when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to crack down on all cannabis use. But other local municipalities have started to soften on marijuana, including Delaware, which created a task force to examine the potential impact of legalizing adult-use pot.  

Meanwhile, Philadelphia decriminalized cannabis in October 2014. A $25 fine was implemented for people possessing fewer than 30 grams of marijuana and up to 8 grams of hash, but police maintained the power to arrest people at their discretion.

Buying and selling recreational cannabis remains illegal at the state and federal level.

“When you leave things to be subjective, racial bias creeps in. We need to decriminalize across the board,” State Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia and chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said.

Decriminalization in Philadelphia led to an 88 percent decrease in marijuana-related offenses in the last three years, according to the ACLU report, but arrests surged in other parts of the state. Pennsylvania’s overall possession arrest numbers for adults and minors combined increased by nearly 25 percent between 2010 and 2016.

“I would much rather my tax dollars going to our police stopping gun violence, making sure child predators stay off our streets, than arrest a guy who smokes a doobie on his way to work or his way from work,” Harris said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[As Trump Deregulates, Chicken Lobby Would Speed Inspections]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:03:15 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/chickenfarm_1200x675.jpg

While President Donald Trump unravels many of the policies put in place during the Obama administration, the poultry industry has been lobbying hard to speed up poultry inspection lines, NBC News reported.

The Obama administration rejected the idea to speed up the process, capping it at 140 birds per minute, after warnings that doing so could increase food contamination and endanger workers.

Most poultry plant employees use sharp tools to eviscerate animals with foreceful, repetitive motions at high speeds, becoming exposed to toxic chemicals used to kill bacteria. "Even at existing line speeds, it's extremely unsafe," said Debbie Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the research and advocacy group National Employment Law Project.

One congressional Republican pushing to change the rules, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., asked the secretary of agriculture for the increase, citing a wish to be competitive with other countries.

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Says He Understands Bannon's War on GOP Establishment]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 16:05:06 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_17289583762038.jpg

President Donald Trump said Monday he can "understand fully" why his "friend" and former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon has declared war on the Republican establishment.

"I can understand where Steve Bannon is coming from," Trump said. Praising his former adviser's commitment "to getting things done," he added, "I know how he feels," NBC News reported.

Trump's comments came just an hour before the president was scheduled to have lunch with McConnell.

But after their lunch, Trump said that while Bannon is doing what he "thinks is the right thing," he will try to talk Bannon out of seeking primaries against some Senate Republicans.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci]]>
<![CDATA[Donald Trump's Presidency in Photos]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:38:46 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/trumpunfeuerherdIBIBI.jpgTake a look at significant events from President Donald Trump's time in office, including the signing of the travel ban, Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the Supreme Court, the launch of 59 missiles at Syria's government-held Shayrat Airfiled and more.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Footage Captures Dramatic Escape From NorCal Wildfire]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:13:15 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2017-10-16+at+12.07.06+PM.png

Dramatic footage captured on Oct. 2, 2017, shows the narrow escape of Yuba County, California, roommates from the wildfire that burned down their home. Mike Vien and Layton Smith is seen driving down a road covered in flames and embers as they tried to reach safety.

<![CDATA[Trump Businesses See Losses Since Election Day]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 06:41:50 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-148110464.jpg

From golf courses to hotels to fashion, the brands of the Trump family have been taking hits since Election Day, based on details eked out in the past year in flashes of disclosure and data, NBC News reported.

President Donald Trump's luxury golf course in Scotland, which he famously visited during the Brexit referendum, saw losses that doubled to $23 million in 2016 while revenue fell by 16 percent.

Meanwhile, the Trump SoHo in New York City isn't faring well. Professional athletes have refused to stay there, employees were laid off and big-name corporate events are book elsewhere. Room rates have slashed from $700 to $400.

However, business is brisk in Trump country. For example, the Trump National Golf Club in Mooresville, North Carolina, has seen swelling membership. Also, private event bookings are on an upswing at the club in an area that voted heavily for Trump.

Photo Credit: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Passengers Describe Terrifying Indonesia AirAsia Flight]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:31:22 -0400https://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2017-10-16+at+11.22.01+AM.png

A screaming and hysterical flight staff on Indonesia AirAsia’s Flight QZ535 caused panic among passengers headed from Perth to Bali as the plane lost air cabin pressure and descended 4.5 miles in nine minutes.