St. John’s set to go small in first NCAA Tournament game for seniors, battle bigger San Diego State

CHARLOTTE - The moment they’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. St. John’s four key seniors - D’Angelo Harrison, Sir’Dominic Pointer, Phil Greene and Jamal Branch - are at last going to realize the dream of playing in the NCAA Tournament at 9:40 p.m. Friday night when the ninth-seeded Red Storm (21-11) faces No. 8 San Diego State (26-8) in a Round of 64 game. They don’t want the moment to feel too big, but there was no avoiding the magnitude of finally being in the Big Dance. Between practices and meetings, the Johnnies watched Baylor and Iowa State get upset. And then, in what have been an even bigger upset, St. John’s sent sophomore Rysheed Jordan to the interview room with the seniors for his first interview in two years. Jordan said he was happy to get to speak. He was asked if he would go pro after the season and said “I’m not focused on that right now, I’m focused on today’s practice and tomorrow’s game.” And he was asked about the seemingly rocky course of his St. John’s career, where he lost an aunt and close friend in two shootings and a grandmother to cancer, where he took a leave of absence and once was suspended a game. “I’m here now, so that’s all that matters, with my team right now,” he said. St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said he liked the idea of playing the last game on Friday’s docket here because it would give the Johnnies a chance to feel what it’s like being in the tournament before walking on the court. “We saw the teams that weren’t ready and the teams that were ready, and it’s good to see that feeling before tomorrow so we know we need to come out ready or anything is possible,” Branch said. The Storm’s six-man rotation was pared by one when center Chris Obekpa was suspended for a positive drug test on Sunday. The 6-6 Continue Reading

March Madness: Jahlil Okafor leads Duke past San Diego State, into Sweet 16

CHARLOTTE — Duke’s ultra-talented freshman class took its first exams this weekend, and the grades are posted on every bracket in the land. So far, they’ve gotten straight A’s. The top-seeded Blue Devils got big contributions from all of their first-year players as they rolled through the first NCAA Tournament weekend with a pair of blowout victories, reaching the Sweet 16 on Sunday with a 68-49 pounding of No. 8 San Diego State in a South region game in front of 18,482 fans at Time Warner Cable Arena. Duke’s Big Three freshmen — center Jahlil Okafor, forward Justise Winslow and point guard Tyus Jones — played on on the biggest stage and under the brightest spotlight yet and it didn’t rattle them. Even Grayson Allen, the non-starting frosh, played well. “Me, Justise, Tyus, Grayson — the freshmen who are coming in here — we had one big dream of winning the national title,” said Okafor, who had 26 points, on 12-for-16 shooting, plus eight rebounds. “That’s what led me to come to Duke, was the opportunity to win a national title. That’s where all my focus has been the entire season and that’s where it still is. We’re putting everything on the line and that’s our No. 1 goal.” RELATED: THE 10 NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES OF ALL-TIME “As a kid, you grow up wanting to be in that moment and play on that big stage,” added Winslow, who had 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocked shots. “It’s been a long season. We had our ups and downs. For us to finish off in that fashion would be great, but we’ve got a lot of work to (do).” The work continues on Friday when Duke (31-4) faces No. 5 Utah in a regional semifinal in Houston. The Blue Devils are making their 28th Sweet 16 appearance and eyeing their 20th Elite Eight. Jones had six points and six assists and Allen added five Continue Reading

McDonald’s to test all-day breakfast at some San Diego locations beginning in April

A McMuffin for dinner? It might happen, as McDonald’s plans to test an all-day breakfast at some locations in the San Diego area starting next month. The company said in a statement that the test is in response to customers who have said they’d like to eat breakfast foods outside the typical morning hours that they are served. The world’s largest restaurant chain said the test will include a partial menu and feature some of McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches and hash browns. The company didn’t say which sandwiches would make the cut. Fans of McDonald’s breakfast menu have long wanted the option to get breakfast at McDonald’s after 10:30 a.m. But offering both the breakfast and lunch menu had been considered logistically impossible, given the tight kitchen spaces of the restaurants. McDonald’s had even tweeted about the topic in February, saying it doesn’t serve breakfast all day because its grills “just aren’t big enough for breakfast and lunch.” Still, Jeff Stratton, head of McDonald’s USA, said in an interview with The Associated Press that same month that the company was taking a look at how it could make breakfast available later in the day. The push to make breakfast outside normal hours partly reflects how McDonald’s is working to keep pace with shifting habits. In particular, executives have noted that customers increasingly want foods personalized to their tastes and schedules. McDonald’s said Monday that it was too early to speculate on any outcomes from the test. Janney Capital Markets had released an analyst note earlier Monday saying that their industry sources had told them that McDonald’s planned to test all-day breakfast in the U.S. The analyst note was released before McDonald’s confirmed the report. “Having those breakfast items available to sell all day Continue Reading

San Diego sheriff defends use of Taser on 13-year-old runaway

San Diego’s sheriff claims his deputy did what he had to when he zapped a 13-year-old runaway with a stun gun. The yelling, flailing struggle was caught on video, sparking allegations of police brutality. “The video shows the actions of someone who is not complying,” Sheriff Bill Gore said in a statement. “He was wrestling with the deputy instead of just getting in the car to go home to his mother.” The boy’s mom reported him missing on Friday, the fifth time he’d run away, authorities said. San Diego County Sheriff’s deputy Jeremy Banks’ struggle with a 13-year-old runaway was videotaped and posted on Deputy Jeremy Banks found the teen skateboarding with friends in a parking lot in Fallbrook near the northern end of the county. The boy refused to get in the patrol car. When Banks grabbed him, the 13-year-old chomped down on his arm, drawing blood, authorities said. The two were wrestling on the ground when the cellphone video began. Banks pulled out his Taser and jolted the teen in the back. “What the f--k, man?” shouted one of the bystanders as the boy’s legs thrashed against the pavement. “He’s a kid,” yelled another. Banks eventually managed to load the teen into the patrol car. “You’re gonna get sued, buddy,” one of the witnesses yelled. The footage quickly went viral and made the local news. On Sunday, vandals spray painted the front of the sheriff’s Fallbrook station and smashed the windows out of several patrol cars, the Los Angeles Times reported. It wasn’t clear if the wreckage was retribution for the boy’s arrest, Gore said. The sheriff defended Banks on Monday after reviewing the video, and the sheriff’s department tweeted out photos of the bloody bite marks on Banks’ arm. The deputy never used a Continue Reading

More than 200 people sick aboard San Diego cruise ships

More than 200 people on two different cruise ships have fallen ill with gastrointestinal sickness, and both vessels were to be disinfected in San Diego, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday. The first ship, the Celebrity Infinity, saw 106 of its 2,117 guests and six of its 964 crew members come down with what was determined to be the highly contagious norovirus, which can cause symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, the CDC said. The Celebrity Cruises vessel returned to San Diego on Monday where it would undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfection, the CDC said. Passengers would disembark in stages to prevent contact with those who fell ill, it said. The vessel departed San Diego on March 29 for a two-week cruise with stops in Mexico. "At Celebrity Cruises we have high health standards for all our guests and crew," the company said in a statement. Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States, with up to 12 million illnesses each year resulting in up to 71,000 hospitalizations and about 800 deaths, according to health officials. As the Celebrity Infinity begins its disinfection process, a second cruise ship, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd's Legend of the Seas, was headed to port in San Diego with 114 of 1,763 passengers suffering symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea, the CDC said. Two members of the 747-person crew had also fallen ill. The cause of the illness was not yet known, the CDC said. The Legend of the Seas was due to return to port in San Diego on Tuesday. The ship was on a two-week cruise that started on March 30 and continues until April 14, the company, which also owns Celebrity Cruises, said in a statement. "Royal Caribbean is undertaking direction from the CDC to inhibit the sickness and prevent further outbreaks," the company said in a blog post. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. Continue Reading

Chris Obekpa suspended for failed drug test per source, St. John’s will face San Diego St. as No. 9 seed in NCAA Tournament

On a big day for St. John’s, the Red Storm learned it’s going to have to go small. The Johnnies made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years – a No. 9 seed in the South Region − but the achievement was saddled with some shocking news. Starting center Chris Obekpa was handed a two-week suspension by coach Steve Lavin for a violation of team rules just hours before the selection show began. A source told the Daily News the suspension is for a failed drug test that was positive for marijuana. RELATED: PRINTABLE NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET St. John’s (21-11) will play No. 8 San Diego State on Friday in Charlotte. Should the Storm advance, it could be looking at a rematch with Duke on Sunday. In the first round, No. 1 Duke meets the winner of a Wednesday play-in game between Robert Morris and North Florida. The Johnnies watched the selection show at a party with classmates at the student center. Their reaction − jumping up at the sight of their name on the bracket − was part of the telecast. “That’s the first step − getting in,” Sir’Dominic Pointer said. “Once you get in, no matter where you’re seeded, you can make some noise. No matter what team you are or where you come from, you can make some noise.” RELATED: NCAA TOURNAMENT: LOCAL STAR JAYVAUGHN PINKSTON VILLANOVA LEAD EAST REGION St. John’s is making its 29th NCAA Tournament appearance (officially it’s 28 because 2002’s is vacated). The Johnnies haven’t recorded a NCAA win since March 16, 2000. “In trying to restore a once-proud program, there are watershed moments. Winning a game would be the next one. . . . but the goal is to do something special,” said Lavin, who’s taken eight of his 12 teams to the NCAAs. The Obekpa suspension won’t make it any easier. He was part of a tight six-man rotation. Though he averaged Continue Reading

San Diego man who intentionally spread HIV sentenced to 6 months in jail

A California man accused of deliberately infecting his lover with HIV has been sentenced to six months in prison, but showed no remorse as an angry judge said she wished she could order him to more time behind bars. Thomas Guerra, 30, blamed the victim, who was not named in court. He had responded to a post from Guerra on the gay dating app Grindr. "I did not rape this person. I did not take him against his will. Within five minutes of Grindr text-messaging he was there. If you're that reckless with your life, how can you blame anyone else for your actions?" Guerra asked the court Monday. San Diego County Judge Katherine Lewis said Guerra's statements were jaw-dropping, reported KSWB-TV. "'I don't think in my career of 25 years that I've seen even someone who's been convicted of murder be so lacking of insight," she told Guerra, who is also known as Ashton Chavez. The landscape artist also claims to be a distant relative of farmworker activist Cesar Chavez. Prosecutors said Guerrra bragged about having unprotected sex knowing he was carrying the virus. Investigators found some 11,000 text messages sent by Guerra. In some of them, he falsely told would-be lovers that he was HIV negative. He was charged with transmitting an infectious disease, a misdemeanor health code violation that carries a maximum sentence of six months. CALIFORNIA MAN ACCUSED OF SPREADING HIV ON PURPOSE Investigators allege that he infected others as well, but lacked evidence to charge him with more counts. Lewis said it was a "travesty" that she couldn't hand down a harsher punishment, and called on lawmakers to make such actions a felony. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? SEE THE VIDEO HERE. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Six people in Minnesota, San Diego busted by FBI for joining ISIS

Six men from Minnesota who tried to get to Syria to join Islamic State extremists have been arrested and charged with terrorism, the FBI said Monday. Three of them were initially stopped in New York City, where they planned to use John F. Kennedy airport as their gateway to the jihadi life, the criminal complaint said. All six were friends in Minnesota and plotted together to join ISIL fighters overseas, according to the feds. They were U.S. citizens of Somali descent, authorities said.  They’re accused of conspiracy to provide material support and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Charged are Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21; Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19; Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 21; Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19; Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19; and Guled Ali Omar, 20. The six men were nabbed in Minneapolis and San Diego on Sunday, authorities said. They were due in federal court Monday. Mohamed Farah, Abdurahman and Musse were grabbed by FBI agents at JFK in November, after taking a Greyhound bus to the city from Minneapolis. With them was 19-year-old Hamza Ahmed, who was also stopped by feds. The agents were able to grab three of them as they boarded — but one actually slipped onto a plane and was hauled off just before it departed, authorities said. All four were held and questioned but eventually allowed to return to Minneapolis — where they began plotting to try again, the complaint said. “These were focused men who were intent on joining a terrorist organization,” Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said at a news conference Monday. They were part of a coordinated effort from ISIL to recruit young fighters in the U.S., the feds said. A handful of Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria to fight with militants in the past year, and at least one has died, authorities said. Hamza Ahmed was indicted in February on charges of lying to the FBI Continue Reading

San Diego cop kills service dog after knocking on wrong door: owner

A San Diego cop gunned down a man’s service dog after knocking on the wrong door, the heartbroken owner said. Ian Anderson claims he opened the door to two officers early Sunday morning, and his pet pit bull, Burberry, bounded out behind him. The first officer reached down as if to pet the 6-year-old pooch, but his partner danced away, drew his gun and unloaded, surveillance video revealed. “Boom. Shot right in the head, and he was done,” Anderson told NBC San Diego. “He was dead.” The officers were reportedly investigating a domestic disturbance call about 5:30 a.m. and ended up on Anderson’s doorstep by mistake. It’s not clear why they targeted his house. A police spokesman didn’t immediately respond to questions from the Daily News. “I know nothing will bring Burberry back, but it only seems necessary that this Officer is reprimanded for his disorderly actions, before this trigger happy Officer takes more lives,” Anderson wrote on Facebook. Burberry was a registered service animal, who helped the 24-year-old deal with anxiety following his father’s death, Anderson told NBC San Diego. “He was the best dog in the entire world,” he told NBC San Diego. “I would do anything to have him back right now. Absolutely anything.” The grieving dog lover is lobbying for better training for police officers who might deal with animals. An online petition started by a friend calls for police to take courses modeled after a Colorado law, designed to cut down the number of animals killed by cops. More than 4,600 people had signed on Wednesday. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Baby hippopotamus born at San Diego Zoo

Hip-hippo-hooray for the San Diego Zoo! Officials there are keeping careful watch over a newborn river hippopotamus, who checked in on Monday, the organization reports on its Facebook page. The youngster is said to be healthy and nursing several times a day, though the zookeepers have been unable to get a real close look. The calf has been so attached to its mother Funani, they have yet to determine the newborn's sex. A zoo spokeswoman said Thursday there was no update, but officials posted videos of the adorable baby swimming in the water with mommy. The babies usually nurse for about eight months, the zoo said in a statement. The animals can weigh between 50 and 110 pounds at birth, according to the zoo's website. The mother, who is 30 years old, has raised five calves at the zoo. Though the newest addition to the family is staying close to its mom the zoo said visitors who are patient enough for the animal to swim in the habitat's shallow water will get a good look at the newest attraction. The animals are members of the River Hippopotamus species, which is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the zoo said. USING A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading