Category Archives: US & World

Nolanville man presented with $1M check by Old Navy

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HARKER HEIGHTS — Nolanville resident and Army veteran Scott Rowe is still in a state of disbelief after finding out he won $1 million in Old Navy’s Overnight Millionaire Black Friday Sweepstakes.

Rowe, 35, and his family gathered Wednesday with store officials in the Harker Heights Old Navy store, where he was presented with his $1 million check.

“We had Thanksgiving dinner and decided to do some shopping and that’s when we found out about the contest,”

Rowe said. “I was standing in line behind like 300 other people and I was joking with a lady in front of me who already had a (contest) bracelet on that she didn’t have to worry about the rules because I had already won.”

Little did he know, he would get a phone call that would change his life Friday.

“When I got the call after picking up my mom from the Killeen airport, I thought it was a prank,” he said. “You fill out those sweepstakes forms and then you forget about it because the odds of you actually winning are not possible.”

According to Julie Luker, Old Navy spokeswoman, Rowe was randomly selected from more than 500,000 sweepstakes entrants from stores across North America. The first 500 people who entered an Old Navy store on Black Friday were given a game piece, which they later had to register online to be eligible for the grand prize.

“When the call came through, I thought to myself ‘there is no way this is happening to me,’” Rowe said. “The good Lord has shined down on me and my family and blessed us with this.”

Scheduled to go back to Afghanistan in 11 days to resume training explosive detection dogs, Rowe recently submitted his letter of resignation.

“This is the first time in four years I will be home for Christmas,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to spending quality time at home with my family.”

His daughters, Paityn, 6, and Keiley, 7, received an early Christmas gift this year: being able to open gifts together as a family.

“I’m really happy my daddy doesn’t have to go back to Afghanistan,” Paityn said.

Keiley said she is looking forward to opening presents face-to-face this year, instead of via Skype.

Despite being a $1 million richer, his No. 1 objective with the money is to secure his daughters’ futures.

“I can set them up to go to college now without having to worry,” he said.

“Sure, I’ll buy some things here and there and we will go on some family trips, but my No. 1 priority is my girls and there well-being.”

Steve Stickel, senior vice president and head of stores for GAP, said Black Friday comes and goes and the company wanted to do something special this year and reach out to its customers.

“Here at GAP we sell more than just clothes,” he said. “We set out to make a difference in someone’s life with this contest and no one is more deserving than Scott. His story is magical.”

Carolee Setting Up Shop in Macy’s

Carolee has found a new home: Macy’s Herald Square. The fashion jewelry brand is setting up shop within Macy’s flagship with a 200-square foot space.
The boutique, located on the store’s newly renovated first floor, marks a reunion for the brand and retailer.
“If you go back 10 years or so, we had about half a dozens shop-in-shops, including with Macy’s,” said Carolee president Joel Fivis. “But the trends change, and a lot of stores went from having shop-in-shops to a more generic presentation of fashion jewelry. We think the pendulum may be swinging back the other way now.”
Standing near the Michael Kors and Sunglass Hut shop-in-shop outposts, the Carolee space integrates new technology with classic jewelry displays. A stacked bazel-less video screen displays short seasonal videos, while special LED lighting creates extra sparkle to the stands.
To celebrate the new shop, the brand has created a new “Simply Emerald” collection. The line, available through the holidays, will be sold exclusively at the Herald Square location.
“Macy’s Herald Square has a very traveled audience, so it makes economic sense to develop things specifically for the store,” Fivis said. “It’s a win-win for us.”
Additionally, Carolee plans roll out several events throughout the holiday season, beginning this evening with an in-store appearance by Allen Schwartz, designer of ABS by Allen Schwartz Jewelry, a liscensee of Carolee.  Beginning at 6 p.m., Schwartz will be on hand to personally accessorize shoppers in his designs.

Toys ‘R’ Us Agrees to Settlement in Price-Overcharge Case

Retail chain Toys R Us agreed to pay about $178,700 to resolve a consumer case involving purported overcharges to customers at the company’s stores in California, including Los Angeles County, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige approved the settlement payment, under which the Delaware-based corporation did not admit any wrongdoing. The settlement resolves a complaint by Los Angeles and San Diego county prosecutors alleging pricing errors at checkstands at the corporation’s toy stores and Babies R Us outlets.

Pricing inspections conducted by county and state agencies between late 2009 and mid-2012 revealed a pattern of inaccuracies in prices charged at many Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores in California, including some of the 10 in the San Diego area and 30 in Los Angeles County, according to the plaintiffs.

The checks found overcharges in 5 percent of a survey of about 4,200 purchases, court documents stated. Higher percentage errors were found in selected areas and stores, despite a pricing-compliance program that Toys R Us had implemented.

Under the terms of the settlement, Toys R Us-Delaware Inc. is enjoined to fully comply with California’s pricing-accuracy and false-advertising laws, and must implement an additional internal compliance program with annual reporting to the Los Angeles County and San Diego County district attorneys’ offices.

The corporation also agreed to pay agency investigative costs of $28,730 and civil penalties totaling $150,000, to be divided equally between the two prosecuting counties.

Winter weather advisory issued for region

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After awakening to spring-like weather Thursday, Pittsburghers were in for a second awakening — a rude one — that will be soaked with rain, chilled by a dive in the temperature and possibly coated with ice and/or snow.

Rain moved in during the balmy morning, causing the National Weather Service to post a flood advisory for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, in effect from 1 a.m. Saturday to 10 p.m. Sunday.

As much as 1.5 to 3 inches of rain was expected to fall over the Monongahela, Youghiogheny and Cheat river basins.

The weather service said the rivers at the Point in Downtown Pittsburgh would pass the 18-foot threshold for Mon Wharf flooding on Saturday morning, eventually topping out just above 20 feet, which is enough to swamp parts of the North Shore Riverwalk.

That prompted the Public Parking Authority to close the wharf for parking today as a precaution. It will remain closed until further notice. The weather service said it didn’t expect the river to recede until late Sunday.

As with last week’s storm, Pittsburgh will spend time on the edge of freezing, creating uncertainty about what will fall and when. The weather service said most precipitation south of the city will be rain, while to the north it will be frozen. The likely transition from rain to something else is expected to come late this afternoon or early in the evening.

AccuWeather, based in State College, said 1 to 3 inches of snow would fall in Pittsburgh tonight after the changeover.

The weather service Thursday night posted a winter weather advisory for Allegheny and surrounding counties, with 1 to 3 inches of snow and sleet possible, from 7 a.m. today to midnight.

The weather service and AccuWeather forecasts call for a break in precipitation for much of Saturday, but much colder with a high in the low 30s. The rain-snow-sleet trio will perform again on Sunday.

The Thursday high temperature of 61 degrees in Pittsburgh was well above the normal high of 43 for the date but did not threaten the all-time record of 73 degrees set in 2001.

Stop freaking out about the United States’ World Cup draw

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Yes, this is a hard group.

Really, it couldn’t have been more difficult. The Americans open the tournament against Ghana, who eliminated the U.S. in the last two World Cups, and then face two of Europe’s best teams in Portugal (in the Amazon rainforest) and Germany (who the U.S. lost to in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups).

Compounding the task of advancing to the second round is the ridiculous amount of travel facing the United States. The Americans will have logged nearly 9,000 miles after they complete group play. To recap: The U.S. will play the team that has ended their last two World Cup runs, one of the best players in the World, and a three-time World Cup champion.

In 20 years, there hasn’t been a harder Group of Death. But this is why it’s going to be OK.

The U.S. is fitter than any other team on earth.

There isn’t a team better suited to handle the rigors of travel and less-than-ideal conditions. For all the things the United States has lacked in the past, it has always been one of the fittest teams on the planet. No one wants to play in a rainforest, but if you do, the longer you can keep up the pressure the better you will be. These games won’t be won in the first 15 minutes, but they very well could be lost in the final 15. Who is going to be able to keep running on empty in the stifling jungle? Bet on the U.S.

Jurgen Klinsmann has made the roster deeper than ever before.

The lack of depth has plagued the U.S. for decades. They simply didn’t have the quality to last an entire month in 2010. The playmakers ran out of gas, and the team limped into its second round game against Ghana. That won’t be the case this year. The U.S. has a bench capable of maintaining that quality throughout the group stage. That quality will be especially important heading into the final match against Germany.

The U.S. is resilient.

Advancing out of the group stage has nothing to do with being the best team and everything to do with being the most consistent team. The U.S. has never won two matches in group play, and yet advanced out of their group in two of the last three World Cups. The 2010 Group of Death featured Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, and Portugal playing some of the most uninspired, conservative soccer in recent memory. Brazil snatched first in that group with two wins and a draw, while Portugal took second with a win and two draws.

If the U.S. is able to knock off Ghana to start the tournament, they control their own destiny. A strong defensive shape, strong set pieces, and a scrappy mentality have served the Americans well in the past. It will again.

The U.S. is better.

The quality overall is simply better. This is a team that can survive without players who they leaned on heavily in years past, like Landon Donovan. If the U.S. drew this group in 2002, 2006, or 2010, it would have been too much to overcome. Not anymore, and not with this talent pool. The 2014 World Cup should be an opportunity for players like Graham Zusi and Omar Gonzalez to shine, and set into motion a new generation of American soccer.

It’s time to grow up.

American soccer has come a long way since 1990, and every World Cup, U.S. fans cross their fingers for a favorable draw. At some point, it’s time to buck up and embrace the challenge. When Paul Caliguiri hit the shot heard round the world against Trinidad in 1989, he launched U.S. soccer into a stratosphere it had never encountered. The ’90s saw the founding of Major League Soccer and the United States’ first appearance in the knockout stage since 1930.

That revolution started with a team in 1989 facing what seemed to be insurmountable odds.

Kind of like now.

Teen arrested for allegedly stealing part from Walker crash

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A Los Angeles teenager has been arrested and a second plans to turn himself in after allegedly stealing some parts from the Porsche that  “Fast & Furious” star Paul Walker was in when he died in a crash, authorities said.

The two men allegedly stole wreckage from the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT as it was being towed away from the scene Saturday night after the crash, Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker told the Los Angeles Times.

The investigation led detectives to Jameson Witty, 18, who was arrested at his home in Los Angeles and was being held on $20,000 bail, the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.  A second suspect, a 25-year-old man whose name has not been released, was outside California and arranging to surrender, according to the statement.

“A witness saw a male exit a vehicle that was following the tow truck. The male grabbed a piece of the wrecked Porsche off the tow truck bed. The male drove away with the stolen vehicle part,” the statement said.

Detectives identified the two suspects, and while serving a search warrant at a home in Canyon Country, a community north of Los Angeles, they found a red T-top roof panel from the Porsche, sheriff’s officials said. They would not say what led them to the two men or what evidence they had against them.

Sheriff’s detectives planned to meet with prosecutors to discuss charges.

It wasn’t clear if Witty has an attorney, and no phone listings for family or associates could be found.

An Instagram account with the profile name “Jameson Witty” shows a picture of what appears to be a car part with the caption, “Piece of Paul walkers car, took it off a tow truck at a stop light,” TMZ.com reported.

Walker, who starred in all but one of the six “Fast & Furious” blockbuster films that glorified fast cars and dangerous driving, was killed when the Porsche smashed into a light pole and tree then caught fire on Saturday afternoon, authorities said. The seventh installment of the movie series was on a break from shooting for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The crash also killed friend Roger Rodas, who was driving the car. Sheriff’s investigators are still trying to determine what caused Rodas to careen out of control.

Olympic outsourcing: Team USA snowboarders’ uniforms foreign-made

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The newly-unveiled uniforms for the U.S. Olympic snowboarding team are star-spangled and red, white and blue — but they’re not made in America.

The hodgepodge design, which designer Burton Snowboards says was inspired by a vintage quilt, features the faded colors of Old Glory and stars on the shoulder, base-layer henleys, hats and gloves. But like Ralph Lauren, which designed U.S. Olympic gear for the 2012 games in London, Vermont-based Burton is now defending its decision to use a global set of vendors to complete the job ahead of the Sochi Games, which begin on Feb. 7.

“To achieve this level of performance and function, Burton turned to its best, long-standing and most trusted technical partners around the world to produce the uniforms, to ensure that our high technical and design standards were met,” Burton Snowboards said in materials obtained by FoxNews.com. “For example, the original quilt was sourced in the U.S. and brought back to Vermont to be deconstructed and reconstructed for jacket fabrication with Vermont-based designers.”

“The fabric of the competition fleece was woven in Italy, and the technical and waterproof corduroy pant fabric was developed in Taiwan and sewn in Vietnam.”

– Burton Snowboards

The quilt was then sent to Japan for final technical fabrication, company officials said.

“The fabric of the competition fleece was woven in Italy, and the technical and waterproof corduroy pant fabric was developed in Taiwan and sewn in Vietnam,” the statement continued. “Next, we turned to our longstanding, trusted vendors in China to produce several of the accessories.”

The statement continued: “And finally, the majority of the actual snowboards that the Burton athletes will ride in Sochi are being handmade in Vermont at Burton Headquarters in Burlington. As a global sport, snowboarding knows no borders. We’re proud that we used our best vendors from around the world, including our own Craig’s facility in Burlington, Vt., to ensure our American riders have the highest-performance gear during one of the biggest competitions of their lives.”

The Sochi Games will mark the third Winter Olympics where Burton partnered with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association to create uniforms for the U.S. Snowboarding team. The primary focus of this year’s design, according to company materials, was “technical performance” above all.

“As such, every piece of the uniform has to perform at the highest level and keep the athletes warm and dry in the unpredictable weather conditions that could come in Sochi,” Burton’s statement continued.

Greg Dacyshyn, chief creative officer of the company, said in a statement that the design continues Burton’s legacy of fun, unconventional outerwear.

“The vintage quilt and flag print of the jacket combined with the corduroy pants give the uniform an ‘heirloom hippie’ vibe that lines up with snowboarding’s laid-back culture while paying respect to America’s longstanding creative heritage,” Dacyshyn said. “It will stand out in Sochi for sure.”

In 2012, Ralph Lauren was widely criticized after it was revealed that uniforms for U.S. athletes at the 2012 London Summer Olympics were made in China as the American textile industry continued to struggle. That decision prompted sharp words from some members of Congress, including Republicans and Democrats alike.

“I am so upset,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters in July 2012. “I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.”

Reid continued: “If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, then that’s what they should wear.”

At least snowboarding fanatic contacted by FoxNews.com, however, said they didn’t have much of a problem with the news.

“With nationalistic bravado at an all-time high, it makes sense that some people might be appalled at a country’s uniform not being made there,” wrote Avran LeFeber of AngrySnowboarder.com. “They need to look past this. The world is a global economy and, as such, it just isn’t feasible to make a product 100 percent in one place. About 80 percent of the world’s winter sportswear is made in the Asian marketplace for a reason: they have an established history of working with various textile materials. Burton wants the best for the riders and therefore went out to have the best materials, designs, and factories work on it. Will this make everyone happy? No, but the age-old statement of ‘You can’t make everyone happy all the time’ needs to be used in this.”

Who stiffed who? Wounded Warriors has no record of donation from lesbian waitress accused of tip hoax

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The lesbian waitress who claimed she received an anti-gay note in lieu of a tip promised to donate the subsequent gratuities that poured in to the Wounded Warrior Project — but the veterans organization reportedly can’t verify it had received any donations from Dayna Morales.

 

Morales, a 22-year-old former Marine, claimed last month that a family of four who racked up a $93.55 bill at the Gallop Asian Bistro in Branchburg, N.J., left her no tip, only a note saying they couldn’t leave any extra cash for her service because they “do not agree with your lifestyle.”

 

Morales quickly emailed the story to a gay advocacy website and later posted a photograph of the purported check on her Facebook page. The alleged incident made national headlines and resulted in thousands of dollars being donated to Morales, who said she would send all proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project. But a representative of the Florida-based charity could not confirm Morales had made any donations as of Wednesday, Bridgewater Patch reports.

 

A representative for the nonprofit group that caters to veterans returning from overseas checked for donations by Morales’ name and within the ZIP codes for Bridgewater, N.J., where she worked, and Bedminster, where Morales said she lives, and was unable to locate any correlating donations. The donations may have been made from a different ZIP code or by a third-party, the representative told the website.

 

Morales, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from July 2009 through May 2013 in Newburgh, N.Y., as an administrative specialist, could not be reached for comment. Restaurant manager Byron Lapola told NJ.com earlier this week that she remains off the schedule, at least temporarily.

 

“We’re still waiting for the owners to finish their investigation,” Lapola told the website. “It’s pretty complex, so until then we’re restraining comment.”

 

The couple accused of leaving the note for Morales has since denied doing so, telling NBC 4 New York they did in fact leave an $18 tip on the $93 bill. The unidentified couple also provided the station a credit card statement that indicated the tip, according to the report.

 

NBC News has also reported that a Pentagon source said Morales was dismissed from the Marine Reserve Corps in May because she was not attending drills and that she was discharged under “less than honorable” conditions.

 

Several of Morales’ acquaintances also since questioned her credibility. Kristina Calamusa, who described herself as a former friend of Morales, told The Daily Caller late last month that the waitress claimed to her that she was “blown up by a land mine overseas.”

 

But, according to Calamusa, that story was false; Morales was never on active duty. The Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., has also quoted acquaintances of Morales who say she lied about her military service.

 

Julie Howat and Karolee Larkin, both 23, related to the newspaper a story Morales supposedly told them about her serving in Afghanistan and surviving an explosion that killed everyone in her platoon, leaving her as the unit’s sole survivor. But Maj. Shawn Haney, a spokesman for the Marines, said in an email to The Journal News that while Morales did serve in the Marines Corps reserve from July 2009 to May 2013, there’s no indication in her record of combat service in Afghanistan or Iraq.

 

“While (Morales) did not fulfill her reserve obligation, per the Privacy Act, administrative actions are not releasable,” Haney said. “The same applies to character of service and type of discharge.”

 

That’s not all Morales has allegedly concocted about her past, acquaintances said.

 

“She said that her dad raped her and got her pregnant,” Kiersten Bremer told The Daily Caller News Foundation. When Morales failed to produce a child, she told Bremer and other friends that she had cervical cancer which spread to the baby, killing it, Bremer claims.

 

Bremer says Morales later admitted she fabricated the entire story.

 

Another story comes from a day care center where she once worked, when she told co-workers that Superstorm Sandy so badly damaged her former home in Stony Point, N.Y., that a boat tore through the living room, The Journal News reported. Concerned friends who stopped by the house found only minor damage to the carpet by the front door and no indications of the catastrophic damage Morales described.

 

“Every story she comes up with has a lie,” Howat said.

 

Indiana University removes ‘misguided’ black Santa display

A bulletin board meant to provoke discussions of racial stereotypes has been removed Monday night from an Indiana University residence hall after generating outrage on social media.

The Foster Residence Center display featured an African-American in a Santa suit and the question, “Can Santa Claus be a black man?”

WTHR-TV reports that the display also asked whether a black Santa would be allowed down the chimney or would only visit poor urban areas. One of the questions also asked, “Did you ever play with a black Barbie doll?”

IU spokesman Mark Land said the display was part of a residence hall diversity program, IU’s CommUNITY Education Program, designed to promote discussions about race, gender and sexual identity. He said the intent was good but calls the execution “misguided.”

“If you didn’t know any of the context—you just saw the bulletin board—it looked like someone had created a poster that had very negative stereotypes about African Americans,” he toldIndianaPublicMedia.org.

The school tweeted that “the intention was to educate, not offend, but we recognize the problem and apologize to everyone effected.”

Florida man kills wife, son with crossbow, sheriff says

A South Florida man used a crossbow to kill his wife and teenage son in their townhouse, tried to kill a second son who is a student at Florida State University and wound up dead in a motel bathroom, authorities said Wednesday.

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies said the body of Pedro Jose Maldonado Sr., 53, of Weston was found inside the motel room near Lake City. He apparently died by slitting his own throat, investigators said.

Before that, deputies said Maldonado called a friend to say he had killed his wife, 47-year-old Monica Narvaez-Maldonado, and younger son Pedro Jose Maldonado Jr., 17. Both had been shot with what deputies described as a handheld crossbow that fires small darts.

Authorities believe they were killed sometime Monday. After that, they said, Maldonado drove to Tallahassee and rented a motel room. Just after 7 a.m. Tuesday, he apparently attacked his older son, 21-year-old Jose Maldonado, with the crossbow but the dart just grazed the son’s ear. Deputies say the father tried to choke the son, but the younger Maldonado managed to escape.

Authorities had responded to the Maldonado home Tuesday with a SWAT team after the man’s friend telephoned about his confession to the killings. After finding the bodies, they learned through unspecified means that Maldonado was staying at a motel near Lake City, east of Tallahassee and hundreds of miles north of the original crime scene.

Columbia County Sheriff’s Office deputies found Maldonado dead about 2 a.m. Wednesday.

No information was provided about a possible motive for the rampage.