Turnover happy Chargers lose pivotal AFC West clash in KC 30-13

Dec 17, 2017 5

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Alex Smith threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns, Kareem Hunt ran for 155 yards and a score, and the Kansas City Chiefs routed the turnover-prone Los Angeles Chargers 30-13 on Saturday night to seize control of the AFC West.

Hunt also had a TD catch for the Chiefs (8-6), whose eighth straight win over the Chargers all but sewed up the division and a spot in the playoffs. The only way Kansas City can squander it is by losing its last two games and the Chargers or Oakland Raiders winning out.
The Chargers (7-7) led 13-10 early in the second half, but Philip Rivers threw three interceptions two of them to Marcus Peters and Austin Ekeler coughed up a fumble down the stretch.

That ended their four-game win streak and quite possibly their playoff hopes.

Rivers finished with 221 yards passing and a touchdown, but has thrown 13 interceptions during the Chargers losing streak to the Chiefs. Melvin Gordon added 78 yards rushing and a score.

The game shaped up as a matchup of teams going in opposite directions: The Chiefs were 5-0 before watching their division lead waste away, while the Chargers started out 0-4 but won seven of their next nine to forge a near-winner-take-all divisional showdown at Arrowhead Stadium.

Instead, the Chiefs looked like they did in their Week 3 win over the Chargers.

So did the Chargers, for that matter.

The Chiefs defense, which played so salty last week against Oakland, was buoyed by the return of Peters from a one-game disciplinary suspension in helping to build a 10-6 halftime lead.

Rivers soon got on track, going 5 for 5 for 88 yards on his first drive of the second half. And his 10-yard touchdown pass to trusty tight end Antonio Gates gave Los Angeles its only lead.

One that didnt last very long.

The Chiefs answered with a methodical, 69-yard scoring drive of their own. Hunt supplied most of the work, and he capped the drive by catching Smiths short TD toss to give the Chiefs a 17-13 lead.

Two plays later, Rivers floated a pass downfield and Peters leaped up to make an easy interception, and his long return set up first-and-goal at the Chargers 6. The Chiefs nearly turned it into another TD when Smith found Hunt again, but the tip of the ball hit the turf for an incompletion.

The Chiefs challenge failed and Harrison Butker knocked through a field goal for a 20-13 lead.
The Chargers offense, which had committed just six giveaways over the last nine games, coughed it up again three plays later. Peters helped to pry loose the ball from Ekeler, and Butker tacked on a 51-yard field goal a short while for a comfortable cushion.

Rivers threw two more picks in the fourth quarter, giving him six in two games against Kansas City this season, and ending any hopes of Los Angeles mounting a comeback.

Coyotes fall to Penguins on decisive goal with 14 seconds left

Dec 16, 2017 5

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Pittsburgh Penguins have struggled in close games recently and giving up a two-goal lead to the team with the league’s worst record was not a good sign.

One shot from Olli Maata changed their fortunes.

Maatta scored from just inside the blue line with 14 seconds left and the Penguins ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.

“We just stayed with it,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, who became the fourth Penguins coach to win 100 games with the franchise. “It was a little discouraging when they tied it up, but I thought we controlled the play most of the night.”

Pittsburgh pressured Arizona early and took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals by Carter Rowney and Evgeni Malkin.

Arizona got a spark when Nick Cousins scored in the closing seconds of the second period, and Max Domi scored early in the third to tie it against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

The teams traded good chances and appeared to be headed to overtime until Maatta beat Antti Raanta to the stick side on a shot from the left point. Raanta smacked his stick on the goal after missing the puck and Sidney Crosby closed it out with an empty-net goal.

“That’s tough. I mean, it was 14 seconds,” said Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet, whose team has lost six straight and nine of 10. “It’s been a season like that, and it’s going to build character. We’ll weed this out, and these losses are going to build character.”

Pittsburgh came to the desert on a three-game losing streak after falling 2-1 Thursday at Las Vegas. It was the Penguins’ fourth loss in five games, all by one goal.

The Penguins were sharp early, putting constant pressure on the Coyotes in their own zone, outshooting them 26-11 through the first two periods.

Rowney scored in the second period on a nice feed from Bryan Rust after Domi was bumped off the puck in his own zone, creating a 2-on-1. Malkin scored on a rebound with just over minute left in the second, getting the tip of his stick on the puck to trickle it past Raanta.

“All the way through the game I thought we generated some good chances,” Crosby said.

Arizona’s funk has been season-long its first year under Tocchet, playing well for stretches, but unable to sustain it. Arizona entered Saturday’s game with eight losses in nine games and Tocchet called his team soft after a 4-1 loss to NHL-leading Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Arizona had a little more fight against the Penguins, starting with Domi’s roughing penalty for going after Chad Ruhwedel after the Pens’ defenseman ran Clayton Keller into the boards.

Raanta was sharp early, making some tough saves to keep the Coyotes in it. He needed to be, too, with the Coyotes making a parade to the penalty box and the Penguins spending a lot of time in Arizona’s zone.

The Coyotes showed some life after falling into a 2-0 hole, scoring with 8.7 seconds left when Cousins banged the puck in off the crossbar from the left circle.

Arizona carried the momentum into the third period, tying it when Domi scored on a feed from Keller after the Penguins turned it over in front of the crease.

The Coyotes kept it close, but lost when Raanta tried to steer Maatta’s shot wide and had it go off his stick into the goal.

“When you’re a goalie, you want to make sure the game is tied under a minute, you want to make the save,” said Raanta, who stopped 30 shots. “When you make that kind of mistake, it’s tough because you let your whole team down.”

Nick Cousins sums it up: ‘It’s a heartbreaker.” pic.twitter.com/Mf9fG9zz9j

— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) December 17, 2017

Notes: Coyotes C Zac Rinaldo was out sick for the second straight game. … Pittsburgh is 6-1-1 its last eight games against Arizona. … Coyotes LW Jordan Martinook played his 200th career NHL game. … Malkin had an assist on Maatta’s goal, extending his points streak to seven straight games.

UP NEXT

The Coyotes host Florida on Tuesday, the second game of a five-game home stand.

Wreaths Across America draws thousands of volunteers to Arlington National Cemetery

Dec 16, 2017 17

Thousands of volunteers traveled to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday to help with an annual holiday wreath laying.

Despite fears that the cemetery would not reach its annual goal, this year’s large crowd placed more than 245,000 wreaths at gravesites of U.S. service members, WTOP-FM reported.

As the wreaths were placed, the names of the fallen service members were read aloud.

“There are 25 funerals at the Arlington National Cemetery every day, so the need grows every year,” said Bree Kingsbury with Wreaths Across America. “That one wreath is really a symbol of honor and respect for each fallen service member.”

“There are 25 funerals at the Arlington National Cemetery every day, so the need grows every year. That one wreath is really a symbol of honor and respect for each fallen service member.”

– Bree Kingsbury, Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit that also places wreaths at more than 1,500 other cemeteries across the country.

The Wreaths Across America caravan traveled earlier this month from Columbia Falls, Maine, where the wreaths were made. The caravan went through several states before arriving in Arlington, Va.

The Arlington event has been going on for 26 years, honoring the men and women who’ve served in the U.S. armed forces.

This year’s grand marshals are Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Roger Donlon and his wife, Norma Donlon.

The tradition began when Maine wreath maker Morrill Worcester donated 5,000 wreaths to Arlington Cemetery. A total of 1.2 million wreaths will be placed on markers across the country in 1,238 locations.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Josh Richardson's career-high 28 points lift Heat past visiting Clippers

Dec 16, 2017 5

MIAMI (AP) — Josh Richardson scored a career-high 28 points to help the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Clippers 90-85 on Saturday night.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra became the franchise’s victory leader with 455, passing Pat Riley. Spoelstra is only one of two active head coaches in the NBA with at least 450 wins with their current team, joining San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.

Dion Waiters added 13 points, and Kelly Olynyk scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter for Miami. The Heat have won four of five.

The Clippers’ Lou Williams was held to 13 points, snapping a string of scoring at least 17 in 11 consecutive games. Williams missed his first seven shots before slamming home a two-handed dunk on a backdoor cut. He made 4 of 16 shots from the floor.

Despite his struggles most of the game, Williams rattled in a 3 from the left wing with 1:50 left for an 85-84 lead.

Miami’s Goran Dragic hit a baseline jumper on the ensuing possession to regain the lead.

After a review, the Heat were awarded the ball after a turnover by the Clippers as the ball was batted around the court, but Dragic badly missed a 3 keeping the Heat lead at 86-85.

Sindarius Thornwell was then called for an offensive foul and Richardson responded with a pair of free throws for an 87-84 lead.

Jamil Wilson missed a 3 and the Heat held on for the win.

Los Angeles was led by Montrezl Harrell’s 15 points and DeAndre Jordan’s 12 points and 20 rebounds.

Richardson was 10 for 16 from the field to record his second 20-plus scoring game of the month and is averaging 16.3 points a game in December.

TIP-INS

Clippers: G Austin Rivers (concussion) did not play, but has been cleared and is expected to make his return next game. . Willie Reed made his first return to Miami after playing in 71 games with the Heat last season. Reed scored two points in four minutes. . The Clippers are 0-5 on the second game of a back-to-back.

Heat: Justise Winslow (left knee strain) missed his second straight game, but has been cleared to travel with the team for the upcoming two-game trip, while Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise) has not. .

Miami’s James Johnson suffered a right ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return. … Jordan Mickey scored a career-high nine points off the bench picking up the minutes left behind by Johnson’s exit. . Spoelstra has a career record of 455-296. Riley went 454-395 with the Heat.

UP NEXT

Clippers: At San Antonio on Monday night to conclude a four-game road trip.

Heat: At Atlanta on Monday night looking for its fourth consecutive win over the Hawks.

Dognapped: Iraq War vet's service dog is stolen in New Hampshire, report says

Dec 16, 2017 17

Police in New Hampshire are searching for the person who allegedly assaulted an Iraq War veteran and stole her service dog on Thursday, Fox 25 Boston reported.

Ashley McCall told the outlet that a stranger took her dog, Jax, as the pair were getting into her car near her apartment in Concord. The man reportedly approached her and asked about the dog allegedly pushing her to the ground and making off with Jax, abandoning his leash and service vest.

“And he reaches for my door and he pulls it open so I shut it back and as I do that he takes me and slams me to the ground and then takes Jax and gets into this silver Ford Focus and leaves and starts speeding off,” McCall told Fox 25 Boston.

The loss left McCall both “extremely sad” and “amazed at the lengths people will go to,” she told Fox News in a text on Saturday night.

“He is a provider of unconditional love,” she said in another text. “Jax helps calm me when anxious.  Could really use him now.”

WWII VET DANCES TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS AND HIS 95TH BIRTHDAY

The owner of a neighboring florist shop, who was nearby at the time, told the outlet that he’d noticed the same car in the lot all day. But when he asked for an explanation, the answer he got “didn’t make sense.”

The owner, Fred Keach, said the explanation, about waiting for someone, didn’t add up at a time when cellphone access makes checking on a person’s whereabouts so simple, and so “from the beginning it looked like there was some ambush that was about to happen at some point.” 

WORLD WAR II VETERAN GIVEN ‘BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT’ BY STRANGER AT GROCERY STORE

After the dog was stolen, Keach reportedly called the police.

McCaul told Fox 25 Boston that Jax, who helps her with anxiety and depression, is “a family member,” and she wants him back home where he belongs.

“Ultimately, we just want the dog back,” McCall said. “He’s a family member. He’s not a pet. He’s a family member.”

Thwarted by chimney, 'criminal Santa' has to call the cops on himself

Dec 16, 2017 11

A burglary suspect in California reportedly had to call the police on himself earlier this week after getting stuck in a chimney.

According to police, Jesse Berube, 32, was allegedly attempting to rob a business in Citrus Heights and thought he could slide in through the chimney. But once he tried, he found himself stuck on Wednesday with no way out on his own, police said.

Berube was reportedly able to move just enough to reach his phone and dial 911.

SANTA, CHRISTMAS TREES ‘NOT APPROPRIATE’ FOR HOLIDAYS, STUDENTS TOLD AT UNIVERSITY EVENT

Responders from the Sacramento Fire Department arrived at the scene and used special equipment to get the suspect out.

Berube was removed from the tight space uninjured but now faces one count of burglary, police said.

Authorities referred to the man as a “criminal Santa” but said he “does not have the same skills as the real deal.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Residents flee as California wildfire nears Santa Barbara, Montecito

Dec 16, 2017 9

Strong winds drove one of the biggest wildfires in California’s history toward Santa Barbara and the nearby wealthy enclave of Montecito Saturday, prompting residents to flee as authorities issued new evacuation orders. 

The 404-square-mile Thomas Fire was moving rapidly westward and crested Montecito Peak, just north of Montecito. Known for its star power, the enclave boasts the mansions of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and many other celebrities.

“It is right above the homes,” fire spokesman Jude Olivas told the Associated Press. 

Mandatory evacuations around Montecito and neighboring Summerland came as winds that had eased a day earlier roared back at around 30 mph, with gusts to about 60 mph. Firefighters stood by yellow fire trucks with hoses unspooled, ready to protect the historic San Ysidro Ranch as heavy smoke rose from the coastal hills, blotting out the blue skies.

A portion of Santa Barbara also was under mandatory evacuation. The city’s zoo was under voluntary evacuation, and workers there began putting some animals into crates and kennels as a precaution.

In downtown Santa Barbara, Maya Schoop-Rutten, owner of Chocolate Maya, said she saw through the window of her chocolate shop smoke suddenly appear after strong winds blew through.

“It was absolutely incredible,” she said. “There was a huge mushroom of smoke that happened in just a matter of a few minutes.”

Restaurants and small stores on normally bustling State Street were shuttered, as they have been on and off for more than 10 days as the varying winds pushed the flames and smoke back and forth.

“It’s a ghost town. Everything is shut down,” Schoop-Rutten said. “It’s very, very eerie.”

The northbound lanes of U.S. Highway 101, coming up the coast from Los Angeles, were closed for a few hours south of Santa Barbara, with cars stopped on the freeway.

Pierre Henry, owner of the Bree’osh Bakery in Montecito, said he got a text to evacuate Saturday morning as the fire approached homes. He estimated the fire was about a mile away.

“The worst was the smoke,” Henry said. “You couldn’t breathe at all and it became worse when the wind started. All the ashes and the dust on the street were in the air. It was very, very frightening.”

The city, according to Henry, became devoid of people except for firefighters and as many as 50 firefighter trucks.

“We left everything,” Henry said. “There is nobody in Montecito. Just firefighters.”

The morning passed with no homes damaged or destroyed as firefighters dealt with “extreme and erratic” fire behavior, Olivas said.

Schoop-Rutten said the fire is taking an economic toll, even if it doesn’t invade the city.

“It’s tragic for businesses at this time of the year because this is when we make the money,” she said. “Imagine all the restaurants, all the Christmas parties have been cancelled. People lost a ton of revenue in the past few days.”

There was a spot of good news down the coast. Emergency officials announced that the same fire that was burning about 25 miles southeast of Montecito was 40 percent contained. Evacuation orders for the city of Ventura were lifted.

As the northerly “sundowner” wind was driving the fire south and west, firefighters were left to hope for them to calm back down.

“When the sundowners surface in that area and the fire starts running down slopes, you are not going to stop it,” Mark Brown, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told a news conference. “And we are not going to stand in front of it and put firefighters in untenable situations.”

For the 13th straight day, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning of extreme fire danger because of hot, dry, windy conditions.

The fire is now the third-largest in California history. It has burned more than 700 homes and killed a state firefighter.

Cory Iverson, 32, died Thursday from burns and smoke inhalation, according to autopsy results announced Saturday by the Ventura County medical examiner’s office. Details of his death were not released.

Since the fire began on Dec. 4, about 95,000 people have been placed under mandatory evacuation. The evacuation zone near Santa Barbara on Saturday was 17 miles long and up to five miles wide and the new expansion encompassed about 3,300 people.

The Santa Barbara Zoo, which is near the mandatory evacuation zone, announced it was putting some animals in crates to prepare for possible evacuation. The zoo has about 150 species of animals, including a pair of Amur leopards, a critically endangered species. Workers began putting vultures, California condors and some smaller animals into crates and kennels in case the fire approached.

“Everything is fine right now. The wind has shifted in our favor,” spokesman Dean Noble said. “However, we just don’t want to get caught by something unexpected.”

Other zoos are ready to accept the evacuated animals, he said. The Fresno zoo has an incubator available for a baby giant anteater, and the San Diego zoo is prepared to accept the Amur leopards and other cats, Noble said.

Everything about the fire has been massive, from the sheer scale of destruction that cremated entire neighborhoods to the legions attacking it: about 8,300 firefighters from nearly a dozen states, aided by 78 bulldozers and 29 helicopters.

The cause remains under investigation. So far, firefighting costs have surpassed $100 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

1st grader asks for food, blanket in heartbreaking letter to Santa

Dec 16, 2017 21

Ruth Espiricueta(EDINBURG, Texas) — A first grader’s heartbreaking letter to Santa has spurred a flood of donations, after her teacher shared the humble wish list on social media.

Ruth Espiricueta, a first-grade teacher at Monte Cristo Elementary School in Edinburg, Texas, asked her students this week to write a letter to Santa Claus about something they want and something they need, after a lesson about the difference between the two. When school was dismissed for the day, Espiricueta began reading the letters and was taken aback in particular by one student’s note.

The 7-year-old girl wrote to Santa, “I have [been] good this day. This Christmas I would like a ball and a food. I need a [blanket].”

“I never expected for students to ask for things we usually take for granted,” Espiricueta told ABC News. “I was heartbroken because no one should ever go hungry or be cold on winter nights.”

The next day, Espiricueta asked the student about her letter to Santa. The girl said she wanted a ball, rather than a doll, so both she and her brother could play with the toy. She told the teacher she wanted eggs for food.

“I had no idea she was going through hard times being that she is always at school with a big smile,” Espiricueta said of her student. “Her act of unselfishness made me realize that I needed to share this with others.”

The girl was not the only student to ask for basic necessities in her letter to Santa, Espiricueta said.

“Unfortunately, there are other students that as part of their needs they included food, towels, blankets, pillows, bed, clothes, shoes and a stove,” the teacher told ABC News. “Some of my students were not even excited about Christmas because they know that their parents can not afford to buy a Christmas tree or gifts for them.”

More than one in five children in Texas — about 22.4 percent — live in poverty, according to 2016 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Espiricueta said she couldn’t bear the thought of her own child going hungry or cold. So she shared a photo of her student’s letter on Facebook on Wednesday, hoping to help the students and their families in need. People immediately offered to donate to the student as well as to others at the school.

The letter inspired the principal at Monte Cristo Elementary School to start a donation drive, with a goal of collecting 724 blankets to give to each student. So far, 616 blankets have been donated.

“She is happy her friends will also be receiving a blanket to stay warm,” Espiricueta said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Video captures Wisconsin firefighter's sweet holiday proposal to girlfriend and her daughter

Dec 16, 2017 11

A Wisconsin firefighter made a sweet holiday proposal on Thursday to his girlfriend of two years and her young daughter, Fox 32 reported.

During the Winter Daze Parade, Menomonie firefighter Matt Poliak reportedly asked both his girlfriend, Grace Johnson, and her 2-year-old daughter, Isla, to spend the rest of their lives with him. He sealed the deal with two diamond rings, the outlet said.

WWII VET DANCES TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS AND HIS 95TH BIRTHDAY

Video of the moment shows Poliak, who was in the parade, getting out of his Christmas-themed truck and summoning both mother and daughter, who were watching from the curb, out to the street with him.

When the procession stops, the firefighter kneels down in front of Johnson, and after he seemingly pops the question, the crowd erupts in cheers and applause as the couple embraces.

SANTA, CHRISTMAS TREES ‘NOT APPROPRIATE’ FOR HOLIDAYS, STUDENTS TOLD AT UNIVERSITY EVENT

Poliak then turns to kneel before Isla and presents her with an opened jewelry box. You can’t quite hear what he asks the little girl, but she nods her head before jumping into Poliak’s arms.

The newly engaged little family is all smiles as Isla waves to the  crowd.

Couple's fury as jury pays illegal immigrant maid's fine after jewelry theft conviction

Dec 16, 2017 9

A Virginia woman was outraged after the maid she hired stole $5,000 worth of jewelry from her home and then the jury chipped in to pay for the woman’s fine after convicting her of theft.

Sandra Mendez Ortega, 19, who is in the country illegally, was convicted of felony grand larceny for stealing three rings on Dec. 8 by a jury at Fairfax County court. Instead of jail time, the jury sentenced her to a $60 fine.

A sympathetic jury for the teenager, who is pregnant with her second child, and pulled together $80 to pay for the fine after they convicted her/

Jury foreman Jeffrey Memmott told The Washington Post the jurors felt sympathy for the woman who testified she dropped out of school after sixth grade, had one child and was pregnant with another but was not employed. 

“The general sentiment was she was a victim, too,” Memmott said. “Two of the women (jurors) were crying because of how bad they felt. One lady pulled out a $20 bill, and just about everybody chipped in.” 

Memmott said he contacted the case’s public defender and went to the former maid’s home to give her $80, more than enough to pay her $60 fine.

DEMOCRATIC VIRGINIA REP. BOBBY SCOTT ACCUSED OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT 

“Justice had to be done,” Janice Woolridge, a juror, told The Washington Post. “But there’s also got to be some compassion somewhere. Young people make bad decisions. We just couldn’t pile on any more.”

However, Lisa Copeland, Mendez Ortega’s employer, was not happy with the sentencing – or their actions. She told the post that a $60 fine was insufficient for the crime committed and claimed Ortega told lie after lie.

“I was outraged,” Copeland said. “I was just flabbergasted. I didn’t think $60 equated to the crime at all.” 

Copeland said she discovered the rings missing in Sept. 2016 and actually did not realize a third ring had disappeared until they were turned in. The rings were worth at least $5,000, she aid.

Copeland called Fairfax City police who questioned the three housekeepers – including Mendez Ortega – who cleaned Copeland’s home and they all denied wrongdoing.

However, following the questioning the 19-year-old reportedly felt guilty about the stealing and told Copeland’s husband, Jeff, she had the rings and gave them back, The Washington Post reported. Police also had the young woman write the Copeland’s a letter of apology. Copeland said she has never seen the apology and the former maid never said sorry to her in person.

“Never saw it,” Copeland said. “Never heard about it until the trial, during sentencing.”

STRIPPER’S JEALOUS BOYFRIEND SET FIRE TO STRIP CLUB, COPS SAY

Mendez Ortega was arrested and spent eight days in jail but posted the $1,000 bond and was released. The jury was not told of the woman’s stint in jail and that she was in the country illegally because “it was not relevant to whether she stole the rings.”

Copeland said she felt the jury should have been told these facts.

“I think it’s relevant to the case,” Copeland said.

“It really irritates me that she came here and committed a felony,” Jeff Copeland told The Washington Post. “People are coming here because there is opportunity here. But when they come here and commit crimes, that’s where you’ve got to draw the line.”

Lisa Copeland said she was “amazed” the jury did not want to convict Mendez Ortega although she confessed.

“The fact that she confessed,” she said, “and they didn’t want to convict her? I don’t get this. That’s basically saying it’s okay to steal.”

Mendez Ortega faced up to 20 years in prison and a $2,500 fine but the jury only made her pay a fine that would be equivalent to a day’s pay.

Speaking through an interpreter, she said she was “happy” following her sentencing.

“I became happy when I heard they wanted to give me that (money.) Thank you very much to all of them, God bless them,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.