<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - National & International News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/national-internationalhttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.pngNBC 6 South Floridahttp://www.nbcmiami.comen-usFri, 20 Oct 2017 10:11:00 -0400Fri, 20 Oct 2017 10:11:00 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Grandparents Fill Void as Opioid Crisis Steals a Generation]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 07:04:23 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2017-10-20+at+6.28.07+AM.png

Everything his grandpa does, 5-year-old Colton wants to do. Even if it means wearing Crocs with socks.

"If grandpa wears his Crocs with socks, Colton has to wear his Crocs with socks," Pennie Krietemeier, 53, told NBC News. "I have to walk behind them because it's so embarrassing."

Her grandson's idolization of his grandfather Randy, 53, is one of the sweet spots in a childhood that has otherwise been marked by chaos.

As the opioid epidemic forces increasing numbers of children into foster care or otherwise out of their parents' custody, grandparents like the Krietemeiers are stepping in, NBC News reported. Those grandparents face the daunting task of caring for young, vulnerable children while navigating courtrooms and complex child welfare systems, often with little financial or social support — all while coping with their adult offspring's addiction.

Photo Credit: NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Returns to the Campaign Trail]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 09:43:07 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/DIT+OBAMA+CAMPAIGNING+THUMB.jpg

Former President Barack Obama returned to the political spotlight Thursday for the first time since leaving office by campaigning for the Democratic nominees for Governor in New Jersey and Virginia.

<![CDATA[Sonoma Co. Toxic Clean Up May Not Finish Until Early 2018]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 22:17:22 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/10192017SonomaAftermath_488009.JPEG

FEMA announced Thursday the North Bay fires rank 4th on their list of disasters in terms of the amount of destruction and the number of lives taken in a single incident. The urban wildfires have killed at least 42 people and more than 50 remain on the Sonoma County Sheriff’s missing persons list.

As containment of the fires tops 85 percent, the attention now turns to the clean up and recovery for thousands of families, beginning with the removal of thousands of tons of toxic debris.

Santa Rosa city council member Chris Rogers wrote in a Facebook post, “Clean up should begin within the next few weeks with a goal of being done by early 2018.” He added that homeowners will need to a sign a “’right of entry form’ that will allow the clean up” of their properties. The city has entered into agreements that will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to handle the first wave of toxic testing and cleanup, and then CalRecycle will take over the secondary wave of clean up to get up to California’s standards. Rogers said, “They will properly document the home for insurance/FEMA purposes, and the cleanup will be 100 percent reimbursed.”

He said homeowners “retain the right to clean up their own property through private, certified contractors” but then they will bear the liability and “FEMA is unlikely to reimburse them for the entire cost of the cleanup.” 

Yvette Escutia and her 2-year-old son Juan Carlos were among seven family members living on Dennis Lane who fled with nothing as flames raced through their home in Coffey Park. Three generations in one home, now hoping to return and salvage anything they can.

“It's just memories that we would like to get. My wedding ring is still there, my charm bracelet that my husband gave me when my son was born. Little things like that. We know we're not going to be able to repair anything that was burned or anything but I wish that, I hope that my ring is still there,” Escutia said.

But many of the homes in Coffey Park are now red-tagged, warning people to keep out because the buildings are uninhabitable. Some signs also instruct people to keep several feet away from structures like chimneys or unstable walls. 

Still, Sean Smith with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services understands many residents will want to comb through the remains of their homesites. He instructs them to be aware of hazards, such as holes they may step into under the rubble.

“When people get back they have to be careful about what they touch and expose people to, the ash and chemicals that get on them,” Smith said. “Don’t take kids or animals they’re smaller, closer to the ashes they’re more vulnerable.”

He advises people to wear boots, gloves, and masks, and then bag those items before getting back in the car.

Smith could not offer an exact timeline for the toxic cleanup but says the state is waiting for contractors to arrive. He said cleanup efforts will be prioritized based on location.

“We’re gonna look at waterways, the environment, other facilities, [is it a] daycare center, hospital, school, elderly folks home? We want to clean around those properties first.”

Escutia, who has asthma, worries about the longterm health of her family. More than 6,500 structures burned in Sonoma County, leaving behind an unknown toxic cocktail of lead, asbestos, plastics and chemicals.

“It will all have to go to a toxic dump somewhere. We just don’t know what’s in there,” John Buchanan said. The retired fire chief with 50 years of service now works with Statewide, a contractor specializing in decontamination and fire damage reconstruction.

He said it’s critical to get the cleanup done efficiently and thoroughly, especially with the impending rainy season.

“Rain’s coming. It’s gonna push that stuff farther down and percolate in the soil we’re concerned about that.”

Buchanan said he’s impressed with Santa Rosa’s efforts to fast track construction by streamlining the permitting process for rebuilding. He said homeowners should feel confident the cleanup will be managed properly but that people who are concerned about potential toxins left behind can expect to pay $300 to $1,000 for further environmental testing by private companies.

Now staying with friends in Petaluma, Yvette Escutia said she hopes the recovery efforts will go smoothly, and quickly. “I would like to stay here because I’ve been here my whole life.” 

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Raqqa's Devastation Shows Entire Neighborhoods Destroyed]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 08:45:28 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2017-10-20+at+8.44.14+AM.png

Shells of buildings, concrete slabs littering dust-choked streets and destroyed cars are all that is left of whole neighborhoods in Raqqa, Syria, after weeks of fighting and bombings between Islamic State militants and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the U.S.

<![CDATA[Who's Who in the Trump-Russia Investigation]]>Wed, 09 Aug 2017 18:29:15 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/russiathumb2.jpg

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Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Fire Evacuees Link Up With Homeowners With Space to Spare]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 18:25:08 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/North-Bay-fires-Noreen-EM.jpg

By the time the two evacuees from California's North Bay wildfires reached Ronit Rubinoff's house in Sebastopol Sunday morning, the women had slept in their car in a grocery store parking lot, put up at an animal shelter and bunked with strangers.

It would have been a harrowing experience for most anyone. But the six days were exceptionally tough for 72-year-old Deborah Sawyer and 86-year-old Mildred Liles.

"I didn't have any place to go," Sawyer said Monday afternoon.

For now, they can stay with Rubinoff through a quickly arranged emergency house-sharing program in Sonoma County, which is pairing those left homeless by the fires with those who have rooms to spare.


The program had already made 75 matches over the weekend and was amassing piles of applications as fast as volunteers could fill them out.

Five hundred homes were available from people throughout the area, up and down the California coast and elsewhere across the county, outnumbering the families who had so far sought shelter.

Someone called to offer a campground, and that's where 22 members of the Huntington Fire Department who arrived to help will stay.

"It's very rewarding," said Amy Appleton, the executive director of SHARE Sonoma County, the permanent house-share program for older residents on which she based the emergency one. "We are genuinely helping people who are severely traumatized. You're trying to give them some sense of stability while they try to figure things out."


The deadliest wildfires in California history, which have been burning for more than a week, killed at least 41 people and destroyed nearly 6,000 homes. About 34,000 people remained under evacuation Tuesday, down from 40,000 on Monday.

Housing was already in short supply in hard hit Sonoma County, where rental vacancy rates fell from 5.8 percent in 2011 to 1.8 percent in 2015, and homeowner vacancy rates dropped from 2.2 percent to 1 percent. The county grew by 30,000 people between 2006 and 2015, but added only about 11,000 housing units.

Across California the statistics aren't more forgiving. One research company, Beacon Economics, found that in 2014, California ranked 49th in the country in homeownership and was last in affordability.

The Sonoma County SHARE program is meant to keep older homeowners in their homes by finding younger tenants who can help cover the costs of utility bills or mortgages. The emergency program will draw on that model by helping the evacuees to find the services they need, and it is already setting up a corps of volunteers to make weekly calls to ensure the shares are working smoothly.

"It's hard to live with anybody in any kind of situation, even harder when they're stressed," said Elece Hempel, the executive director of Petaluma People Services Center, where the program is based.


Outside The Press Democrat building in Santa Rosa over the weekend, where a relief center had been set up, lines stretched of people waiting to register for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other state and local agencies.

Jane Matthew and her husband were among them, their house in Santa Rosa destroyed in the flames. They and her 91-year-old mother are staying with their son but need somewhere more permanent nearby and were considering trying the home-sharing program for help.

"We literally only had five minutes to get out," she said. "Smoke was everywhere. We got an emergency call to leave because we had a landline. If we haven't got the landline — anybody who had a cellphone in the neighborhood did not get that phone call."

Matthew, 58, who runs a daycare center for the Santa Rosa schools, has already visited some of the children in the shelters and knows how traumatized they are. She said one told her, "My house blew up."

"I want to get back to work," Matthew said.


Rubinoff, 52, who is the executive director for Legal Aid of Sonoma County, had spent a day at the relief center answering legal questions and was already foreseeing problems with renters facing price gouging and efforts to push them out of their homes.

"We're expecting a big spike in renter-related issues," she said.

Kayaks lined her driveway, emptied out of the house to make room for Sawyer and Liles. She is turning over her bedroom to them and will sleep in another room or camp out in her backyard.

"It seems like everybody I know has someone in their house, and it's the right thing to do," she said. "How can one sit in one's house with all this room when there are people sleeping in campsites and shelters? It's unconscionable."


Tautuiki Uluilakepa and his family had been staying at a shelter in a high school in Sebastopol, but it was closing and they needed a new place quickly. Meanwhile, 68-year-old Steve Kay had watched the disaster unfold and had wondered what he could do. On Sunday, he was offering three bedrooms in his home in Petaluma to Uluilakepa, his wife, who is a caregiver for the elderly, their 19-year-old son and an older man who lives with them.

"This is just so heart-rending for everybody who lost their homes in this tragedy, and because I have three bedrooms I really wanted to see if I could keep a family intact," Kay said. "The worst thing is to have people separated for any length of time."

Kay, the author of a marketing and business newsletter for the U.S. meat industry, is originally from New Zealand. Uluilakepa, a self-employed mason who built a patio and retaining wall at the house he had rented in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa, is from Tonga. When they met, the men drew on their shared connection to the South Pacific.

"I already know we don't have anything left," Uluilakepa said. "I didn't know I already had a brother here."


Uluilakepa had woken his family when he smelled the smoke and hurried them out of the house, even as the older man resisted leaving.

"I tell him, 'You better listen to me,'" Uluilakepa said. "I said, 'Right now, we have to go.'"

They drove south to Rohnert Park and waited until daylight, when Uluilakepa returned by himself to see that they had lost everything.

"You're thinking about the next day, what is your next move, where are you going?" Uluilakepa said.


Sawyer and Liles had their own frightening escape from their mobile home retirement community, The Orchard. They fled when a neighbor rang the doorbell to warn them to leave.

"I looked behind him and there was a fire," Sawyer said. Sawyer helped Liles dress and they fled without their medications, driving for an hour before Sawyer became too tired to go further and pulled into the parking lot of a Raley's supermarket. They slept in their car for three nights before finding room at an animal shelter with other people, plus goats, horses, burros and dogs.

At one point, looking for a temporary shelter at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Sawyer almost drove through a barricade and hit a police officer. He found another officer to drive them to safety.

"People were just completely wonderful, giving us shelter and help, taking care of us," Sawyer said.

Sawyer and Liles have been together for 40 years and married four years ago. Sawyer worked as a postal worker for 20 years, Liles is a retired high school teacher and a U.S. Army veteran, and they moved to The Orchard from Monte Rio along the Russian River. Their mobile park was badly damaged but their home is standing, and Sawyer wants to return.

"Tragedies and disasters bring people together," Kay said. "That's why we're in this world, to help each other."

Photo Credit: Noreen O'Donnell/NBCUniversal
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<![CDATA[California Inferno: Images From NorCal's Deadly Fires]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 03:59:37 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/AP_17288122901418.jpgMore than a dozen wildfires have swept through Northern California since late Sunday, leaving charred homes and businesses in their wake.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]]>
<![CDATA[Donald Trump Through the Years]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 07:29:28 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Trumpthumb.jpgWhat Donald Trump's presidency will look like is unclear to many observers. He has not previously worked in politics, and has made contradictory statements on policy issues in several areas during his campaign. Despite the unknowns, Trump has an extensive public profile that, along with his real estate empire and the Trump brand, grew domestically and internationally over the last few decades. Here is a look at his personal and career milestones and controversies.

Photo Credit: AP, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Casual Cruelty' Degrades US Discourse, George W. Bush Warns]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 15:54:50 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_17292573775204-George-W.-Bush-Speech.jpg

Former President George W. Bush is warning against the proliferation of cruelty and bigotry in American life that is threatening public discourse and may be harming faith in democracy.

Bush's comments deriding the divisions in the United States came Thursday at an event held by his institute in New York. He will accept an award at West Point.

"Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry and compromises the moral education of children," he said, adding later, "bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed."

While Bush took aim at bullying from public figures, a representative said his comments weren't meant to criticize President Donald Trump, who is embroiled in a feud with a Democratic congresswoman over whether he made an insensitive remark to the grieving wife of a fallen soldier.

The speech also comes on the day that a white nationalist is speaking at the University of Florida, with the governor declaring a state of emergency to free up public safety resources for expected demonstrations and counter-demonstrations.

Bush said there are signs that support for democracy is on the wane, especially among young people, who didn't live through the Cold War, and that "casual cruelty" has degraded public discourse. 

He also took a shot at the economic promises that won Trump the White House, though without naming the president.

"We cannot wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution," Bush said, while acknowledging that globalization has caused some pain and anger.

A Bush spokesman told NBC News that the speech wasn't a criticism of President Donald Trump, saying, "These are the same themes President Bush has spoken on for the last two decades."

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

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa]]>
<![CDATA[LAPD Opens Weinstein Sexual Assault Probe]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 09:47:01 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/DIT+HARVEY+WEINSTEIN+THUMB.jpg

The LAPD has launched an investigation of Harvey Weinstein involving a possible sexual assault in 2013. Over 40 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault.

<![CDATA[White Nationalist Speech Fizzles Out to Protests in Florida]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 23:20:37 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/NC_spencer1019_1920x1080.jpg

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Gainesville, Florida, ahead of a planned speech from white nationalist Richard Spencer Thursday. 

<![CDATA[Protesters Decry 'Nazi Hate' at White Nationalist's Speech]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 23:27:27 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-863078442.jpg

Crowds of demonstrators gathered at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville Thursday, holding signs and chanting anti-Nazi slogans in protest of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Hundreds of police officers stood outside the UF Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to prevent violence. 

Anti-Spencer protesters shouted, "Not in our town! Not in our state! We don't want your Nazi hate!"

Inside the venue, dozens of officers in riot gear stood guard around the auditorium. Throughout the event, protesters tried to drown out Spencer's speech, chanting "go home Spencer" and "black lives matter."   

Spencer, who preaches a fiery brand of politics and looks to preserve a white majority in America, was one of the organizers of the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that left one counter demonstrator dead and several others injured when a vehicle plowed into a crowd of people.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other top state officials urged people to ignore Spencer and his event. On Tuesday, Scott even declared a state of emergency to direct resources to ensure the community's safety during the event.

"The values of our universities are not shared by Mr. Spencer, the National Policy Institute or his followers," UF President W. Kent Fuchs said in a taped message earlier this week. "Our campuses are places where people from all races, origins and religions are welcome and or treated with love."

Fuchs estimates the school will spend $600,000 on security for Spencer's speech. The school has called in hundreds of law enforcement officers from federal, state, county and city sources. Streets will be blocked off, and movement around the campus tightly controlled.

The president said Spencer is "hijacking" public universities — which are compelled by the First Amendment to provide a speaking forum — and forcing taxpayers to pay the resulting security costs. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government, in this case a public university, cannot charge speakers for security costs.

Earlier in the day, Spencer got into a heated exchange with NBC News reporter Kerry Sanders during a press conference before his speaking event.

Spencer denied Sanders claim that he would "only allow my extremist supporters into the audience" and demanded a retraction.

Sanders reported on the "Today" show Thursday that Spencer had 700 tickets to distribute for the event and would "only give them to those who believe in his extremist beliefs." 

"I have said the exact opposite of that on multiple occasions to many reporters," Spencer said. "So, one of two things happened: You were ignorant of this and you didn't do suitable research, which is understandable, I've certainly made lots of mistakes. Or you lied. So I'm curious, which of those two things happened."

Spencer initially refused to take questions until Sanders retracted his statement, to which the reporter responded, "Let’s try this: Tick tock. People are here to hear you speak."

The school initially said it would not approve an application for the speech from the National Policy Institute before reversing course, saying while they disapprove of Spencer’s message, he has a First Amendment right to speak at the public university.

The leader of the conservative alt-right movement recently spoke of his First Amendment right and his upcoming speech in Gainesville.

"This is where the rubber hits the road, this is where free speech is really meaningful," he said in an alt-right podcast online. "It's not just some abstract concept. I mean every single American citizen, if you ask them, 'Do you support free speech?' 99.9 percent of them say ‘Yes, of course we love free speech.'"

Spencer's National Policy Institute is paying $10,564 to rent space for the speaking event.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[October Is the Best Month to Book Holiday Airfare]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 06:37:15 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/10.19.jetblue860631530.jpg

The idea that the sooner you book, the more you save, isn't necessarily true. 

If you waited until this month to purchase your flight home for Thanksgiving, you won't pay much more than others who booked months in advance, NBC News reported.

Prices start high because airlines know that travelers don't have a lot of flexibility in terms of dates and destinations, according to research from Hopper. As long as you book before Halloween, prices for Thanksgiving travel remain stable throughout the month of October. 

The first week of October is the best time to book flights for Christmas. Prices go up daily thereafter. 

"October seems to be the sweet spot for holiday travel deals, with prices fluctuating based on the supply and demand of flights," said personal finance expert Kimberly Palmer. 

Photo Credit: Robert Alexander/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kelly 'Stunned' by Rep.'s Criticism of Trump's Call to Widow]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 23:36:00 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Kelly_FULL-150844371186000002.jpg

White House chief of staff John Kelly said Thursday he was "stunned" and "broken hearted" by a Florida congresswoman woman's criticism of President Donald Trump's phone call to one of the families of Americans killed in Niger nearly two weeks ago.

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

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bipartisan Senate Bill Aims to Prevent Western Wildfires]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 18:00:21 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/wildfire.GettyImages-591911058-2.jpg

As wildfires rage across California and the West, Democratic and Republican senators have joined forces to help rural communities better prepare for and prevent catastrophic wildfires.

A bill introduced Thursday by senators from three Northwestern states would authorize more than $100 million to help at-risk communities prevent wildfires and create a pilot program to cut down trees in the most fire-prone areas.

Under a streamlined approval process, forest managers would "thin" pine forests near populated areas and do controlled burns in remote regions. The bill also calls for detailed reviews of any wildfire that burns over 100,000 acres.

Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state said the bill would "create new tools to reduce fire risk and help better protect our communities," especially those in the Northwest near fire-prone pine forests.

Cantwell, top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, co-sponsored the bill with Democrats Patty Murray of Washington state, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republicans Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Risch, who also serves on the natural resources panel, said the nation needs to "actively manage our forests to reduce the fuel available for fires to burn."

The bipartisan bill is a compromise between Republicans eager to make it easier for federal land managers to thin overgrown woodlands and Democrats dubious of allowing timber companies greater access to harvest federally owned forests.

The bill comes as lawmakers from both parties push to rework a federal funding formula that makes it hard for officials to budget for extreme wildfire seasons such as the one ravaging the West this year. The formula ties spending to a 10-year average for wildfires even as fires burn longer and hotter each year and forces officials to tap money meant for prevention programs to fight wildfires.

Western lawmakers are seeking to ensure that Congress includes a fix to the "fire borrowing" problem in disaster-aid legislation being considered in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

"Congress must continue to pursue efforts aimed at reducing the risk and severity of wildfires and end the 'fire borrowing' that takes funds from other Forest Service maintenance priorities," Crapo said.

The bipartisan forest-management bill won praise from a range of timber industry, firefighting and conservation groups.

Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said the bill "will improve forest health and mitigate fire risks."

Travis Joseph, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group, called the bill "a thoughtful response to our nation's public forest health crisis."

Thomas Jenkins, fire chief in Rogers, Arkansas, and chairman of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said the bill would provide needed resources to protect at-risk communities and assist federal agencies develop preparedness programs.

Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Builds Two-Story ‘Star Wars’ Transport Replica]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 09:43:59 -0400http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/DIT+Star+Wars+Display+THUMB.jpg

Nick Meyer decided that his AT-AT walker model wasn’t big enough, so he built a two-story replica of the famous “Star Wars” vehicle on the front lawn of his house. The display has inspired some neighborhood Jedis to sharpen their lightsaber skills.