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    A Natick, Massachusetts, firefighter took a break from battling blazes to spread some holiday cheer in a fun and silly way.

    Dressed as Will Ferrell's character, Buddy, from the movie "The Elf," Brendan Edwards instigated dozens of pillow fights around Boston's Faneuil Hall marketplace. To be fair, the jolly firefighter gave his opponents a few seconds of notice before he armed them with a pillow for their battles.

    "We would run up to random people and toss them a pillow," Edwards said.

    Edwards challenged strangers from all walks of life: the old, the young, those who were working and those who were enjoying some time with loved ones. His Yuletide request was accepted by many and prompted smiles from onlookers.

    Edwards said there's a simple reason he wanted to pause and have a little fun.

    "We just wanted to spread holiday cheer really. We wanted to brighten people’s day maybe. And it looks like we did it," Edwards said.

    By Thursday morning, the video, which Edwards posted Tuesday to his Facebook page, had received more than 100,000 views.



    Photo Credit: Brendan Edwards

    Brewster, Massachusetts firefighter challenges a Faneuil Hall patron to a pillow fight while dressed as Buddy from the movie Brewster, Massachusetts firefighter challenges a Faneuil Hall patron to a pillow fight while dressed as Buddy from the movie "Elf."

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    NBC Bay Area has learned that authorities investigating the deadly Camp Fire have tied its origin to the failure of a single steel hook that held up a high voltage line on a nearly 100-year-old PG&E transmission tower.

    The fire began at the base of a transposition tower, which serves to redistribute the electricity on the system to balance the load and assure safety. The tower has two arms holding out the “jumper,” a part of the line that’s being shifted to another point at the top of the tower.

    The arms each hold electrical insulators, which resemble a series of white discs. Authorities believe the fire started with the fracturing of a steel hook that holds up the insulators to the arms above. It is one of those hooks, sources with knowledge of the investigation say, that failed in high winds the morning of Nov. 8.

    “PG&E failed to maintain the tower, and they have an obligation to do that -- and it means they are liable for this disaster,’’ said attorney Dario de Ghetaldi, who is suing the utility over the fire.

    Cal Fire would not comment for this story, citing the ongoing investigation. PG&E would not address our information on the apparent cause, instead sending us a statement saying, “The cause of the Camp Fire is still under investigation. We continue to focus on assessing infrastructure, safely restoring power where possible and helping our customers recover and rebuild.”

    But Frank Pitre, another attorney who has sued over both wildfires and the San Bruno gas explosion, worries the hook failure is just more evidence that PG&E is simply not able to deal with the risk posed by its system.

    “That’s a red flag,” he said, a warning that parts of the system could fail due to corrosion and fatigue from decades of service.

    “You have to a have a rigorous system of inspection, particularly when you have systems that are 50 years old or more. You can’t just visually inspect these things.’’

    De Ghetaldi says PG&E should have done those detailed inspections after 2012, when five towers collapsed during a winter wind storm. “They should have taken a serious look at the entire circuit,” he said, “after those five towers collapsed in 2012, and it appears they didn’t do that. That’s a big problem for PG&E. And it’s a big problem for the people who were killed, who were made homeless, and who were harmed in many ways.”


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    Moments after a Michigan man made the heart-wrenching decision to take his wife off life support, she started breathing on her own.

    Michele De Leeuw, 57, was rendered nearly brain dead by a heart attack in August while at home with her husband. Days later, one of her doctors told her husband, Karl De Leeuw, that, "the woman that you know as your wife is not there anymore," he said.

    Less than four months later, she's made an almost full recovery, NBC News reported.



    Photo Credit: Courtesy: Myles De Leeuw

    Michele De Leeuw recovers in the hospital, with her friend by her side.Michele De Leeuw recovers in the hospital, with her friend by her side.

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    Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

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    The Sierra destination has more snow than any other ski resort in the country.

    Photo Credit: Christian Pondella

    Picture a person who is 5' 10Picture a person who is 5' 10", and you'll have a general idea as to how much snow has piled up on at the Eastern Sierra ski resort since its Nov. 10, 2018 opening.

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    What constitutes a perfect seasonal brew? 

    Is it a big forward flavor, like gingerbread? Is it because the beer is rather heartier than a lighter libation, the kind of drink you'd enjoy in the summer?

    Or does it just feel right to wear a loud Christmas sweater while sipping the ale, regardless of its holiday-like components?

    Make these your lively topics of discussion, as you, your pals, and your favorite designated driver (also a pal, we'll assume) ride a sleigh for The Phoenix Club in Anaheim, and the 7th annual Brew Ho Ho Holiday Ale Festival.

    The Saturday, Dec. 8 gathering puts the focus on "exciting seasonal flavors" from a large line-up of local and regional brewhouses, as well as other out-of-the-way beermakers who've been invited to stop by and pour.

    Look for "over 100 craft beers" to try, and unlimited tastings, too, as well as games, music that has a throwback punk-retro-'80s edge, a hello from Santa himself, and food trucks like Viking Truck and MEAT UP BBQ.

    On the brewery roster? Artifex Brewing Company, Bottle Logic, Firestone Walker, and several others will be seen on labels and the shirts of those behind the kegs.

    A ticket is $55, while your designated driver's entry is $20. 

    And this is an afternoon affair, on from noon to 4 o'clock, meaning you'll want to select an ugly holiday sweater that glitters in the daylight. And, yes, you'll want to be 21, or older, too.

    Details? Ho and fa and la, they're all right here.



    Photo Credit: Brew Ho Ho Holiday Ale Fest

    The Brew Ho Ho, a major OC foam fest, prepares to fa, la, la at The Phoenix Club in Anaheim on Dec. 8.The Brew Ho Ho, a major OC foam fest, prepares to fa, la, la at The Phoenix Club in Anaheim on Dec. 8.

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    Holiday decorations, from beautifully carved menorahs to a line-up of festive toy trains, can pop up, quite easily, in any location. 

    The decorations, in short, don't need a local angle to appear festive, for a wreath in one city can be as charming as a wreath viewed somewhere faraway.

    But let's be real: There are certain sights that have stronger ties to particular regions, and when those sights take on seasonal flair, you have a joyful expression on the holidays that cannot be denied.

    Take the Woodie, a vintage-cool vehicle that's as synonymous with our sandy expanses as kelp, surfboards, and striped towels.

    Deftly place some decorations on the old-school ride, like some bows, lights, or candy canes, and you have, right there, a very merry Malibu icon.

    Malibu gets this, and embraces one of its most quintessential symbols quite festively each December. As it shall again, on Sunday, Dec. 9, when a host of Woodies roll into Malibu Village during the 15th annual Christmas Woodie Parade.

    Woodies all wearing their most whimsical and cheerful gewgaws will be on display, from 3 to 5 p.m., giving lovers of the woodsy wheels ample chance to get amped over the up-close opportunity to view them.

    Rad.

    Even radder? While there's no admission price to admire the Woodies, you can donate to "the fire relief efforts of the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu." They'll be a place to do so, so keep your peepers way peeled.

    Serenading all of the Woodie admirers will be The Hodads & Malibu Ukulele Orchestra, lending a beachy sound to a beachy bash.

    Because, after all, a Malibu yuletide is distinctive, unique, and way boss.

    Shouldn't the town's take on the sparkliest season have a dose of salt air, sandy feet, and Woodie wonderfulness?

    Answer: Fer sure.



    Photo Credit: The Christmas Woodie Parade

    Vintage vehicles will sport their seasonal best on Sunday, Dec. 9 at Malibu VillagelVintage vehicles will sport their seasonal best on Sunday, Dec. 9 at Malibu Villagel

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    Apple Watch is now fulfilling its promise to let people take EKGs of their heart and notify them of any irregular heartbeat.

    Apple announced the heart features in September, but didn't make them available until Thursday. The new features have been given clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are for U.S. customers only.

    The watch can intermittently check the wearer's heart rhythm in the background and send a notification if it detects irregular heart rhythm. That can point to atrial fibrillation, a condition that can increase the risk of stroke and other complications. Apple says the watch will notify users if it detects an irregular rhythm on five checks over at least 65 minutes.

    When symptoms appear, users can also take an EKG, or electrocardiogram, and share that with doctors. This feature is available for the latest, Series 4 version of the watch. The app, called ECG, comes as part of a free software update for the watch.

    The irregular heart notification is available for older models, too, starting with the "Series 1" model in 2016. It doesn't work with the original, 2015 model.

    Apple is adding medical features to make the watch feel more useful to people. A fall detection feature launched in September. It claims to be able to tell the difference between a trip and a fall — and when the latter occurs, it will suggest calling 911 (or the equivalent outside the U.S.). If it receives no response within a minute, the watch will automatically place an emergency call and message friends and family designated as emergency contacts.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Updated Apple Watch unveiled during an Apple event at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park on September 12, 2018 in Cupertino, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Updated Apple Watch unveiled during an Apple event at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park on September 12, 2018 in Cupertino, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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    Ride-sharing company Lyft announced it has filed initial public offering documents with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) early Thursday morning.


    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 31: An Amp glows on a driver's dashboard on January 31, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Lyft)SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 31: An Amp glows on a driver's dashboard on January 31, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Lyft)

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    Holiday Boat Parades: There's so many ways to describe December in Southern California, but if you're not dropping the words "holiday" and "boat" and "parade," you're not telling the full story. For we do so love to see on-the-water vessels in full shimmer 'round these parts, and we'll have ample opportunity to do so in the coming weeks. The grand Newport Beach affair is still some days out, but yachts, kayaks, and more will motor by appreciative on-lookers in Dana Point and Marina del Rey. Dana Point sails on Dec. 7, 8, 14, and 15, while Marina del Rey's big night is Saturday, Dec. 8.

    Menorah Lightings: Finding a place to come together with other revelers, all to share a special moment during the Festival of Lights? There are so many beautiful menorahs currently flickering around Southern California, from the menorah on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade to the Original Farmers Market to Pretend City Children's Museum in Irvine. And a Hanukkah Festival at the Zimmer Children's Museum by Sharewell will summon the dreidel-making sweetness, in Santa Monica, on Dec. 9.

    Santa Cares at Citadel Outlets: The 5-adjacent shopping center will once again welcome "... families with special needs children," creating "a photo environment supportive of their sensory, physical, and developmental needs." This means that the volume on overhead music will be turned down and lights on Santa's cottage lowered. Also? Reservations are available, meaning shorter wait times to see Santa, so definitely look into those before you go. The free event is happening on Sunday morning, Dec. 9.

    Christmas Tree Lane Lighting: While plenty of SoCal events have pomp, and some have splendor, and a lot boast historical significance, few have what this Altadena tradition has, plus some very large deodar cedars. It's one of the best-known thoroughfares around, and it is ready to wear its shimmery holiday lights, for a few festive weeks, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 8. There's a community festival, too, beforehand. The bulbs'll glow on the big trees of Santa Rosa Avenue, right through to Jan. 1, 2019, and again on Jan. 7, Orthodox Christmas.

    Free Cocoa Concert: Picture a trio of Friday nights, in December, and one grand train station, and lots of good tunes, and sippable chocolate of a tum-warming nature. You're imagining the Cocoa Concerts, at Union Station, but it is no dream: They're real, and they'll be dancing on Dec. 7, 14, and 21. The Brazilian beats of Môforró are up first, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7. A Holiday Craft Zone, an ugly holiday sweater contest, and more high jinks of a joyful nature will be on tap. Details? Swing by the site now for more this on this December dazzler. 



    Photo Credit: Dana Point Holiday Boat Parade

    Dana Point Harbor will shimmer 'n glimmer over four December nights: Dec. 7, 8, 14, and 15, 2018. Why? The decorated boats'll be out on the water, ready to summon splashy seasonal wow.Dana Point Harbor will shimmer 'n glimmer over four December nights: Dec. 7, 8, 14, and 15, 2018. Why? The decorated boats'll be out on the water, ready to summon splashy seasonal wow.

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    Mudslides, flooded freeways and dangerous driving conditions plagued the Southland Thursday thanks to a second straight day of rain, prompting road closures, mandatory evacuation orders in Orange County and even a skidding airplane in Burbank.

    Although stronger than forecasters had anticipated, Thursday's rain never prompted any evacuation orders in the Malibu area, although some hillsides scorched in the recent Woolsey Fire sent mud and rocks cascading onto some mountain roads. The biggest mudslide in the area occurred during the morning commute, inundating a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway near Leo Carrillo State Beach. All lanes were blocked in both directions for several hours, but the road was cleared and reopened by about midday.

    In Orange County, voluntary evacuation orders were issued Thursday morning for select neighborhoods near the Holy Fire burn area, affecting the Trabuco Creek, Rose Canyon and Mystic Oaks/El Cariso areas.

    By early afternoon, however, the evacuation order was elevated to mandatory for Trabuco Creek, and residents in Rose Canyon were asked to shelter in place due to road closures at Trabuco Canyon Road at Rose Canyon and Plano Trabuco Road, according to Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

    With showers expected to linger into the night, sheriff's officials said the evacuation orders will remain in place overnight. The unexpected force of the storm was most evident in the northern reaches of Los Angeles County, where forecasters has initially said they didn't expect extensive snowfall.

    But by late morning, snow blanketed the area and forced a closure of the 5 Freeway through the Grapevine in both directions. Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on the closed highway, with no means of escaped from the jammed roadway.

    The roadway was cleared and reopened by mid-afternoon. According to the NWS, a rainfall record for a Dec. 6 was set in downtown Los Angeles, with 1.9 inches falling. The previous record for the date was 1.01 inches in 1997.

    In Santa Clarita, sheriff's deputies and county firefighters helped residents evacuate two homes that were affected by flooding around 9:30 a.m. in the 17800 block of Sierra Highway.

    The downpour also prompted a temporary closure of Sierra Highway in the area, but the water had subsided by late morning and lanes were reopened. In Sun Valley, rainwater flooded a stretch of the Golden State (5) Freeway.

    All southbound lanes of the freeway were closed at Sheldon Street, and the Lankershim Boulevard, Sunland and Penrose onramps were shut down until the water receded. At Hollywood Burbank Airport, a Southwest Airlines jet from Oakland skidded off the slick runway while landing, forcing a temporary ground-stop of all flights heading to the airport.

    No injuries were reported, but passengers reported a harrowing flight.

    "I knew that it was raining, but I was just working as we landed," one passenger said. "We hit pretty hard, and you could see a lot of water coming up. I noticed the plane was hydroplaning -- went kind of diagonal to almost sideways. Mud started hitting the windows very heavily to where you couldn't see out of it."

    Orange County was hit with a strong rain cell late Thursday morning and into the afternoon, prompting a wave of flooding reports. Garden Grove police shut down northbound Magnolia Street between Imperial and Garden Grove Boulevard due to flooding.

    Rain water also inundated the intersection of Garden Grove Boulevard and Fairview. Flooding was also reported off the 55 Freeway at Fourth Street in Tustin, with several vehicles trapped. Flash flooding was also reported in portions of Orange and at Balboa Island in Newport Beach.

    Many drivers in Orange County were found themselves stuck in flooded streets, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito.

    "We've got calls all over the place with flooding trapping people in cars, but no injuries reported," he said Thursday afternoon. "We have multiple cars stalling in intersections. We're telling people if you can stay indoors then stay indoors and wait till the rain subsides. Right now the drains can't keep up. Public works is doing their best to clear the drains right now, but there's been too much water coming down."

    A flash flood warning was briefly in effect for east-central Orange County, but while it was allowed to expire at 4 p.m., forecasters warned that "significant" runoff was still possible into early evening, with showers potentially dropping as much as one-fifth of an inch of rain per hour.

    A less serious flood advisory was in effect until early afternoon in Los Angeles County, later replaced by an urban and small stream flood advisory, but that too was allowed to expire as rains tapered off.

    The rain made for a challenging morning commute, as was the case Wednesday, when, according to the California Highway Patrol, there were 119 accidents reported on Los Angeles County freeways between 5 and 10 a.m., compared to 93 under dry conditions a week earlier. Forecasters said motorists must be particularly vigilant on canyon roads.

    Forecasters noted that showers were expected to continue throughout the evening, but the precipitation will likely taper off by Friday morning.

    Forecasters said the system will exit the area Thursday night and leave dry and warmer weather along with light offshore flow through the weekend.

    "By (the weekend), daytime temps will top out in the lower 70s many areas, 2 to 4 degrees above normal. The only thing that might interfere with the warm-up on Sunday might be a rather thick area of high clouds that will be coming through as a trough to the north pulls up high-level moisture from the southwest."

    Current road closures: 

    • Malibu Canyon Road closed in both directions from Malibu Presbyterian Church (near Malibu Knolls) to Piuma Road due to rock slides and loose boulders
    • Trabuco Canyon at Rose Canyon and Trabuco Canyon at Plano Trabuco
    Areas under mandatory evacuation: 
    • Holy Fire burn area zones: Amorose, Alberhill, Glen Ivy A, Glen Ivy B, Glen Eden, Grace, Horsethief A, Laguna A, Matri, McVicker A, Rice and Withrow A
    • Private residences within Trabuco Creek


    Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

    A storm doused Southern California on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018.A storm doused Southern California on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018.

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    If you're a devotee of decorations, and you go fully gaga for anything that glows, you know that you'll assuredly come across a host of amazing holiday lights, in several places around the region, during the month of December.

    But some categories of holiday lights are a bit rarer, and harder to find, when compared to strings of bulbs and big LED figures, which can be seen in so many places at the close of the year.

    Take, for example, the luminaria, which is seen in profusion, come Christmas Eve, in places like Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and points beyond.

    The small brown bags, which include flickering candles (real or simulated), line park paths, sidewalks, and adobe rooftops. And when there are a lot of them, all together? "Magical" is a word that springs to many a mind.

    Finding a luminaria-type experience beyond New Mexico can be a bit tricky, unless, of course, you happen to be at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden on the right December night.

    And, as it has done in the past, the Claremont destination will place "... over 1,000 illuminated lights along Garden trails," all to present to visitors a more meditative and quiet expression of the season.

    The official name, "Luminaria Nights at Origami in the Garden," reveals that the "larger-than-life origami sculptures" on view will also play a beautiful part of the nights. As will live music, which will complement the feel presented by both the sculptures and the paper lanterns.

    The dazzling dates? Be there on Dec. 7, 8, 14, or 15, from 6 to 8:30 in the evening. (And, indeed, dress warmly, as this is outside).

    A ticket? It's $12, with seniors, students, and children 3-12 entering for $8.



    Photo Credit: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

    The traditional paper-bag'd lanterns'll light up the Claremont destination on Dec. 7, 8, 14, and 15.The traditional paper-bag'd lanterns'll light up the Claremont destination on Dec. 7, 8, 14, and 15.

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    Police have given the all-clear after a phoned in bomb threat forced the evacuation of CNN's offices in New York.

    Police said a man with a southern accent called CNN about 10 p.m. Thursday and said five bombs had been placed throughout the facility inside the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle. The NYPD asked the public to avoid area. 

    Security officers evacuated the building as a precaution and called police. A preliminary search by in-house security did not turn up anything, but the NYPD was searching as a precaution. 

    No evidence of any device was found, police said. The all clear was given just before midnight. 

    The threat came less than an hour after Trump tweeted about "FAKE NEWS," which he has often labeled CNN.

    "FAKE NEWS - THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE," Trump tweeted just after 10 p.m.

    The cable news network had to air taped programming as the facility was evacuated, on-air personnel including Don Lemon and Brian Stelter tweeted.  

    The timing wasn't lost on many. One person noted on Twitter, "A CNN building was just evacuated because of a bomb threat not even half an hour after Trump calls the media the enemy of the people again." 

    "Trump tweets 'FAKE NEWS - THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!' Now the CNN building is being evacuated and taped programming is airing," said another. 

    It's not clear, however, whether the unsubstantiated phone threat was aimed at CNN in particular. 

    CNN host Chris Cuomo tweeted that everyone was "fine" after being ordered to leave the building: "Thanks for all the well-wishing, but even more so for not making stupid jokes empowering such a threat. People will re-enter ASAP. Onward." 

    In October, the building was partially evacuated after a suspicious package containing a crude pipe bomb was delivered to the company.



    Photo Credit: AP
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    After the building was determined safe, NYPD officers walk from the area of Time Warner Center in New York Thursday night after a bomb threat was called into the building and occupants were evacuated, including CNN employees.After the building was determined safe, NYPD officers walk from the area of Time Warner Center in New York Thursday night after a bomb threat was called into the building and occupants were evacuated, including CNN employees.

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    The second round of a fall storm doused Southern California with rain and snow on Thursday, causing major flooding, mudslides and road closures.

    Photo Credit: California Highway Patrol

    The 5 Freeway in the Grapevine was closed for hours on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, as snow blanketed the roadway.The 5 Freeway in the Grapevine was closed for hours on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, as snow blanketed the roadway.

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    Former Angels player Luis Valbuena died in a car accident in Venezuela, along with former MLB player Jose Castillo, their Venezuelan Winter League team announced early Friday.

    "We're living a horrible tragedy," the Venezuelan baseball team Cardenales de Lara posted in Spanish on Twitter. "We lost two of our players Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo in a car accident."

    Valbuena, a 33-year-old free-agent infielder, played for the Cubs for three seasons from 2012 through 2014. He had most recently played for the Los Angeles Angels for two years before being released in August.

    Over 11 total MLB seasons, Valbuena batted .226 with 114 home runs and 367 RBIs. In addition to the Cubs and Angels, he also spent time playing for the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros.

    "We are saddened by the passing of former Cub Luis Valbuena," the Cubs tweeted, adding, "The #Cubs organization sends its condolences to his family and friends."

    Castillo, 37, spent five years in the MLB, with the Pirates from 2004 to 2007, last appearing with the Astros in 2008.

    The car accident took place after a winter league game in Venezuela Thursday night, according to the Houston Chronicle.

    Citing reports from Venezuela, the Chronicle said Castillo and Valbuena's car hit a rock in the road. Both men played in Thursday's game in Caracas, according to their team's website.



    Photo Credit: Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Luis Valbuena #18 of the Los Angeles Angels looks on during the game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium on July 21, 2018 in Anaheim, California. The Astros defeated the Angels 7-0.Luis Valbuena #18 of the Los Angeles Angels looks on during the game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium on July 21, 2018 in Anaheim, California. The Astros defeated the Angels 7-0.

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    White House chief of staff John Kelly's long-expected departure will occur in the days ahead, four sources tell NBC News.

    His tenure has been marred by controversy since he became chief of staff in the summer of last year, amid reports of tension with the president and West Wing staff.

    Reports of recent clashes with first lady Melania Trump made his already tenuous position only more so.

    Among the leading candidates to replace him is Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers.



    Photo Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images, File

    This Oct. 11, 2018, file photo shows White House chief of staff John Kelly in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.This Oct. 11, 2018, file photo shows White House chief of staff John Kelly in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.

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    "Who's a good dog?" is a commonly asked question, but it is a question no human ever truly need spent time pondering, for the answer remains consistent throughout the canine kingdom.

    For that dog, and this dog, and your dog, and every dog is, yes, a very good dog.

    Santa Claus knows this — after all, he keeps the whole "Nice/Naughty" list nearby, if not on a scrolled-up piece of paper, then, probably in like an app — and he always makes time to meet with some really good dogs each year.

    Which, as stated earlier, is every. Single. Dog.

    If you'd like your canine to commune with Kris Kringle, there are opportunities coming up, around Southern California. 

    Some arf-able examples?

    The District at Tustin Legacy will be offering free pet photos with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 8. The hours are noon to 2 p.m., and the place is the Wonderland Holiday house, a Noël-tastic nook made for card-ready photo-taking. You'll get a free print-out, or the snapshot mailed to you, too. 

    The Citadel Outlets is hosting Santa Pet Night on Sunday, Dec. 16 from 6 to 8 in the evening. Just make sure your favorite furry one is rocking a leash or harness, and then prepare for some Santa-style posing.

    The Grove is all about the Santa Paws Pet Photos on Tuesday, Dec. 11. You and your four-footed friend'll want to be there from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and you can reserve through the shopping center. (But, yep, walk-ins are okay, too.)

    Brea Mall is welcoming wet-nosed visitors and their humans on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 9. Spend the afternoon gussying your lil' guy up for his Santa pic, or, you know... just relax before heading over to the mall for your sitting.

    Santa Monica Place has reserved two special dates, Dec. 12 and 19, for pet photos with Santa. Head for Center Plaza from 5 to 8 p.m., and, you bet, cats are welcome. Please do bring your buddy in a carrier or with a leash in tow.

    And while Santa may not be in the house, there will be "all-new holiday photo props" at Old Pasadena Yappy Holidays, a dog-gone cute happening around the district on the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 8. Several pup-nice restaurants around the area will keep the happy hour deals flowing all the way to 5 o'clock. The dogly details? Woof.



    Photo Credit: Citadel Outlets, The District, Old Pasadena

    Who's a good dog? Santa knows. (Answer: All of them.) Find fun places to take Fido around SoCal this season.Who's a good dog? Santa knows. (Answer: All of them.) Find fun places to take Fido around SoCal this season.

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    A distraught mom has sent a letter to Amazon pleading with the company to help stop the bullying she says her 6-year-old daughter has experienced from sharing the same name with its virtual assistant device Alexa.

    “Mr. Bezos, I write to you as a father and human being rather than the CEO of Amazon,” she said. “We are not asking for wealth or recognition from this request. We just want to correct an error we believe was a giant mistake.”

    The Lynn, Massachusetts, woman, who wanted to be known by her first name Lauren to protect her child's identity, wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last week after saying she witnessed her 6-year-old daughter being bullied at school and in public, with kids ordering her daughter to complete tasks and laughing at her.

    “Kids are telling her, ‘Turn on my T.V., tell me today’s weather…,” Lauren wrote in the letter. “They laugh at her and treat her like a servant, and this has been an ongoing issue, everywhere we go.”

    The letter went on to describe that everywhere the family goes, people acknowledge the name her daughter shares with the Amazon device, and often makes jokes asking if her daughter “Can do the same things the Alexa device does?” The letter was originally sent three weeks ago, but Lauren sent it again early last week, and told NBC 4 she got an apology from a member of technical support on behalf of the CEO. 

    Lauren says these incidents have occurred numerous times throughout the last year, constantly making her daughter Alexa upset, and she was at a loss of what to do. “It’s the world we live in,” she said. “And people mean no harm. But Alexa is a person, not a machine, and people have to stop referring to her like she is one.” She says companies should not be using women's names to name their products. 

    Lauren claims her daughter is not the only Alexa that this has happened to, and says she is aware of at least one other seven-year-old whose mother shared the same grievance as her. With 11 million Amazon Echo and Dot products now in homes worldwide since its launch in 2014, Alexa is inescapable.

    Many women around the world have reported how problematic it is to share their name with the Amazon homing device. An article in The Seattle Times found four women who considered changing their own names just to escape the jokes. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported a story of a woman whose daughter named Alexa often thinks her mom is talking to her, when in fact she is trying to address the artificial intelligence.

    “This is everywhere,” Lauren wrote to Bezos. “You’ve already ruined the name, but you don’t have to continue to hurt these girls and women. I ask, make an apology and start a movement. I am.”

    An Amazon representative named Patricia, from Amazon's Tech Support Customer Relations Team, replied to Lauren's letter last week "on behalf of Jeff Bezos." She apologized for the experiences Lauren and her family had been going through.

    "I'm very sorry to hear about the experience you're having. I definitely understand this has been frustrating," Patricia wrote. "I really appreciate the time you've taken to voice your concern and let us know about the issues you've run into. I have sent your feedback on to our internal teams. Thanks for making sure we're aware of your experience."

    Lauren said that she assumes this will be the only response from the email she sent, but said it was a start.

    Amazon did not respond to NBC New York's request for comment. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    As the holidays near, many people decorate their homes with festive trees and ornaments — reminders of the celebrations to come. But for some, these cheerful adornments are reminders of what has been lost. 

    Joshua McKerrow is a photojournalist for the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland. He visited Gov. Larry Hogan’s residence on Thursday to take pictures for the paper of Hogan's holiday decorations. McKerrow said he’s done this “every year, for years” and called it “a very light but very fun story.” 

    However, McKerrow said his annual assignment was different this time. 

    “Every year my reporting partner was Wendi Winters,” McKerrow wrote in a series of tweets Thursday that came as a response to President Donald Trump again calling fake news the enemy of the people. “This year, it was Selene. Wendi was murdered in June.” 

    Winters, a community writer, was one of five people killed when a gunman stormed the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis and opened fired on June 28. Editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, editor Gerald Fischman, sports writer John McNamara and sales assistant Rebecca Smith also died in the mass shooting, what one reporter described as a “war zone.” 

    The shooter had an ongoing dispute with the paper after a July 2011 story detailed a criminal harassment case against him. He sued the paper’s writer and publisher for defamation, but the case was thrown out after a judge ruled that the story was based on public record and there was no evidence suggesting it was inaccurate. The publisher later told police that the man began harassing newspaper staff, and he also posted tweets attacking the paper. Police said the gunman sent threatening letters in the days before the shooting as well. 

    On Thursday, nearly six months after the deadly attack, McKerrow said he took his camera through the rooms of the governor’s brightly lit and colorful home, “focusing on the trees and the ornaments.” But there was something — or someone — missing. 

    “All I could think about was Wendi,” McKerrow wrote in his Twitter thread. “I felt like she was with me, that she was actually present.” 

    McKerrow said he could feel Winters in his mind and could “almost hear her voice echoing through the empty rooms.” 

    “How many cookies are you making this year?” was her favorite question to ask for the holiday report, McKerrow said. 

    Despite Winters’ noticeable absence for McKerrow, he said he managed to keep himself together for the photoshoot. That is, he said, “till the very end.” 

    “Interviewed the butler, like I have every year, and when we were done she took me aside and whispered, ‘I really miss Wendi. Next Year I’m going to name a cookie for her,’” McKerrow wrote. “And that was it. The tears started, and I’m standing in the Maryland Governors home weeping to myself about my dead friend, … shot by a man who wanted to kill every journalist he could.” 

    McKerrow shared his story in a response to a tweet from President Donald Trump the same day. That one-line tweet repeated a phrase the president commonly uses to attack journalists and media organizations: “FAKE NEWS - THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

    “Wendi was no ones enemy,” McKerrow wrote in a single tweet in his thread.

    The day after the shooting, Trump condemned the gunman's actions as "horrific" and said that journalists "should be free from fear of being violently attacked while doing their jobs." However, he continued his attacks on the "fake news" less than a month later.

    Hundreds of newsrooms across the country pushed back against Trump in the aftermath of the shooting by publishing a coordinated series of editorials. The pieces argued for a free press and said newspapers are not the enemy.

    After crying "on and off" on Thursday, McKerrow said he is "comforted that in a way she's still with me, when I do the work that she loved to do." That work, he said, is "Journalism. Patriotic, truth telling, American."

    McKerrow concluded: "We'll keep on doing the work. And if we die for it, someone else will pick up the threads, and report on the holiday decorations at the Governor's house. Its what we do."



    Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun Media Group
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    A file photo of Wendi WintersA file photo of Wendi Winters

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    The Ventura County Sheriff's sergeant who was slain during a gun battle with the Borderline Bar mass shooter was fatally struck by a California Highway Patrol officer's bullet and not the suspect, the department said Friday.

    Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the department, was struck 5 times by the suspect's gunfire. The sixth bullet was fired by a CHP officer. That gunshot struck vital organs and proved to be fatal. 

    Sheriff Bill Ayub described the scene as "chaotic" and "confusing," adding that the sequence of events are still being analyzed. 

    The Nov. 7 Borderline Bar shooting ended with 13 people dead, including the gunman. 



    Photo Credit: AP

    Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub speaks at a news conference in Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. Investigators said Tuesday that the number of victims from a shooting at a country music bar in Southern California this month could have been much higher based on the amount of ammunition the gunman carried.Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub speaks at a news conference in Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. Investigators said Tuesday that the number of victims from a shooting at a country music bar in Southern California this month could have been much higher based on the amount of ammunition the gunman carried.

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