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House to Begin Six Weeks of Vacation, Campaigning

House to Begin Six Weeks of Vacation, Campaigning

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The House majority leader’s office announced Thursday that after the day’s votes, the rest of the legislative business that had been previously scheduled will be cancelled, allowing lawmakers to jet back to their districts for six straight weeks of campaigning ahead of the midterm election.

The House was previously scheduled to be in session on Friday, and Sept. 29 through Oct 2.

As noted in the announcement, the schedule change is contingent on the Senate passing the Continuing Resolution. But that bill to fund the government — and authorize U.S. military to train and equip vetted Syrian opposition forces — is widely expected to pass through the Senate Thursday evening.

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Sierra Leone to Start Three-Day Nationwide Lockdown to Stop Ebola

Sierra Leone to Start Three-Day Nationwide Lockdown to Stop Ebola

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Sierra Leone is set to begin a three-day lockdown Thursday night at midnight to curb the spread of Ebola, according to Doctors Without Borders.

Government authorities have ordered the country’s six million people to stay in their homes from Sept. 19 through Sept. 21, while volunteers go door-to-door to screen for Ebola and take infected people in hiding to Ebola facilities, according to Doctors Without Borders, which called the endeavor “coercive.”

“Large-scale coercive measures like forced quarantines and lockdowns are driving people underground and jeopardizing the trust between people and health providers,” Doctors Without Borders said in a statement to ABC News. “This is leading to the concealment of cases and is pushing the sick away from health systems.”

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has sickened at least 5,357 people since March, killing 2,630 of them, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization. This is the largest Ebola outbreak since the deadly virus was identified in 1976, and the virus has killed more people in the last six months than it had in the previous 38 years combined.

Doctors Without Borders said it will be “extremely difficult” for government health workers to screen patients in this way without proper expertise. And even if the effort was successful, there would be too many Ebola patients to fit into existing facilities.

“Without enough beds to treat patients who have Ebola we will fail to stop it spreading even further,” Doctors Without Borders said. “What Sierra Leone and Liberia urgently need are more beds in case management centers, and they need them now.”

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Three Key Differences Between iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Three Key Differences Between iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple(NEW YORK) — Having trouble choosing between Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus?

Both devices will be available in stores on Friday. Apple CEO Tim Cook called them the best iPhones Apple has ever produced.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet on the features of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, including how they differ:

Screen Size

The most obvious physical difference between previous iPhones and the latest devices is the screen size. The iPhone 5S screen was 4 inches.

The iPhone 6 is 4.7 inches, while the iPhone 6 Plus measures 5.5 inches diagonally — giving Samsung, which has dominated the giant phone market, some competition.

Price

The iPhone 6 starts at $199 for a 16 GB configuration, $299 for 64 GB and $399 for a whopping 128 GB configuration, with a two-year contract.

The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 (16 GB), $399 (64 GB) and $499 (128 GB). Both phones come in three colors: gold, silver and space gray.

Battery Life

While both phones meet or exceed the battery life of previous iPhones in all metrics, there is a clear winner.

The iPhone 6 has up to 14 hours of talk time on 3G, while the iPhone 6 Plus boasts up to 24 hours, according to information posted on Apple’s website.

When it comes to surfing the Internet on Wi-Fi through the devices, the iPhone 6 has up to 11 hours while the iPhone 6 Plus can handle an additional hour.

The iPhone 6 has up to 11 hours of video playback, while the iPhone 6 Plus has up to 14 hours.

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Outrage over Guardrail Crashes Tied to Lost Limbs, Deaths

Outrage over Guardrail Crashes Tied to Lost Limbs, Deaths

Law Enforcement Officials(NEW YORK) — Faced with widespread news reports of lost limbs and painful deaths tied to highway guardrails that have pierced vehicles, federal officials are backing a nationwide study of whether guardrails are as safe in reality as they appear to be in crash tests.

“We are supporting a national cooperative highway research program to look into the performance of guard rail terminals,” Federal Highway Administration official Nicholas Artimovich told ABC News.

The research will be done by a conglomerate of public and private highway engineers and experts, he said.

At issue, the federal official said, is whether the guardrail heads, or end terminals, can absorb the impact of a head-on crash of up to 62 miles per hour “in the real world” as they are designed to.

The federal move comes as a new study finds that a re-designed version of a widely used guardrail end terminal “placed motorists at a higher level of risk of both serious injury and fatality” than the original version.

The study, conducted by the University of Alabama Birmingham, examined serious and fatal accidents in Missouri and Ohio and was sponsored by the state of Missouri and The Safety Institute, a non-profit advocacy organization.

“This is an important first step in understanding the actual field performance of this product,” said Sean Kane, president of the board of directors of The Safety Institute, who in a different role also consults with some of the lawyers now suing the company that makes the guardrail.

“We are seeing on-road failures that shouldn’t be happening,” said Kane. “I have real concern about leaving them on the highways.”

A spokesman for the state of Missouri said it asked for the study “upon learning of concerns with the effectiveness” of the re-designed end terminal called the ET-Plus.

Missouri officials have not received the final report and the spokesperson said, “We are unable to state what our course of action, if any, will be.”

A spokesperson for Trinity Industries said the company had not seen the study and had no immediate comment.

Trinity is facing a series of lawsuits over accidents in which motorists were killed or lost legs when their vehicles crashed into guardrails.

It’s current guardrail end terminal, called the ET Plus, has passed safety crash tests and met federal standards, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

But officials say even crash-tested guardrails can be involved in fatal accidents.

“We’re interested in looking at how these devices perform in the real word after they pass crash testing,” said Artimovich.

In the lawsuits, victims allege slight modifications to the original design, including reducing one piece of metal from five inches to four inches, made them roadside hazards.

Trinity says its product meets all safety standards and it has “full confidence” in its performance. It says the slight changes had no effect on the end terminals’ performance.

The original design is credited with saving hundreds of lives since it was introduced in 1999.

Its inventor, Dean Sicking, told ABC News the changes made by Trinity in 2005 were without his knowledge.

“I was not involved in that change and never really understood why they did it,” Sicking told ABC News.

Internal company e-mails obtained by ABC News show that Trinity engineers calculated that shaving off an inch on a key piece of metal would save about $2 for each end terminal.

“That’s $50,000 a year and $250,000 a year by using the 4” channel,” the memo reads.

Trinity denies any of its changes were made to boost profits.

Tune in to ABC News 20/20 Friday for the full investigation.

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‘Person of Interest’ Sought in Disappearance of UVA Student

‘Person of Interest’ Sought in Disappearance of UVA Student

Charlottesville Police Department(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — A reward totaling $50,000 has been offered for information about missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham and police said they are looking for a man with a slight beer belly who was reportedly seen with the sophomore on the night she vanished.

The Charlottesville Police Department said the person being sought “is a person of interest” in Graham’s disappearance.

The description of the person of interest emerged after surveillance videos showed a man following Graham early Saturday morning. The man told police that he was following Graham because she appeared “physically distressed” and he was trying to help her.

The man also told police that he stopped following Graham when he she met a second man that she seemed to know and put his arm around her, according to police.

The videos and the description of the “person of interest” are the latest clues in the search for the missing sophomore, who has not been heard from since she texted friends just before 1:20 a.m. Saturday.

The new videos show Graham, 18, walking past an outdoor mall area at 1:06 a.m. and a man in light colored shorts following her. At one point, he ducks into a corner and watches her. A second camera shows the same man following Graham a few minutes later, according to police.

The man called into the police tip line hours before the surveillance footage that showed him following Graham was released. He went to the police station at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday.

“Anyone who saw her is a person of interest,” Capt. Gary Pleasants told ABC News. “He saw her and said he was following her, so that’s interesting. But right now we’re seeing him as a cooperative witness.”

Pleasants said there are no suspects or persons of interest in the case yet because “at this moment we still don’t know that there is any” criminal activity that took place. Graham’s mother said on Wednesday that she feared “foul play” was responsible for her daughter’s disappearance.

The man in the video is still in contact with investigators, police said.

“He told police that he was following Ms. Graham as she looked to be somewhat physically distressed and he wanted to make sure she got safely to wherever she was going,” police said in a statement.

Investigators are searching for the second man who the witness alleges spoke to Graham and stopped her as she was walking. The second man is not seen in any of the surveillance footage.

“Soon after [the witness] was following her, he said that a black male came up to her and put his arm around her, stopping her,” the police release states. “Ms. Graham and this black male started speaking and it appeared to the witness that the black male was either known to Ms. Graham or was trying to help her.”

The witness said that when he walked away, Graham and the other man were still talking.

Charlottesville police have called for area businesses to hand over any surveillance footage they have from the night when Graham disappeared in hopes that it could lead to more clues. Pleasants told ABC they received over 80 new tips from the public since releasing four clips of security videos Wednesday.

Graham’s parents, who are British but live in Alexandria, Virginia, have been in Charlottesville during the investigation and the University of Virginia plans to hold a candlelight vigil Thursday night.

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US Military Hits More ISIS Targets in Iraq

US Military Hits More ISIS Targets in Iraq

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. military conducted two more airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets across Iraq, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said Thursday.

One strike was southeast of Mosul, near an ISIS training camp. It “destroyed an ISIL armed vehicle, two ISIL-occupied buildings and a large ISIL ground unit,” CENTCOM said in a statement, using one of several acronyms for the militant Islamic group.

According to a Defense official, an estimated 40 ISIS fighters were killed in the attack.

The other strike was southeast of Baghdad and damaged an ISIS ammunition stockpile.

The bomber and fighter aircraft used in the strikes, which were carried out Wednesday and Thursday, all managed to exit the area safely.

Since Aug. 8, CENTCOM says it has carried out 176 airstrikes across Iraq.

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Mother’s Dying Wish Granted After Her Nurse Takes in Her Son

Mother’s Dying Wish Granted After Her Nurse Takes in Her Son

Courtesy of Tricia Seaman(HARRISBURG, Pa.) — When Tricia Somers was given the devastating diagnosis that she had terminal liver cancer last spring, her main concern was figuring out who would care for her 8-year-old son, Wesley.

Somers, a single mother, didn’t have any family she believed could take on caring for a child and her parents had died years earlier. But Somers was determined and has found a unique solution for her situation after asking her favorite nurse, Tricia Seaman, to care for her son.

Somers made her big request the day she was supposed to be discharged from the hospital. Somers and Seaman had become friendly while Somers underwent numerous diagnostic tests.

When Seaman visited Somers on her final day in the Pinnacle Health’s Community General campus in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, she had no idea of Somers’ intentions.

The long-time nurse told ABC News that after Somers said that her diagnosis was terminal, she asked one question.

“She said, ‘If I die will you raise my son?’” recalled Seaman.

Seaman said she initially had no answer for the big request.

“I didn’t know what to say in that moment,” said Seaman. “I told her I was flattered enough [that she] asked me. I said to her, ‘Why don’t you take a little time with this.’ …I was trying to be very diplomatic, everything in me said was saying ‘Yes I’ll do it.’”

Seaman and her family had actually been in the process of becoming foster parents and had just accomplished the first step after they were approved to be adoptive parents. They also are the parents of three teenage girls and a 10-year-old son.

Somers, who is now in hospice, spoke to ABC News affiliate WHTM-TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, about her decision to ask Seaman to take care of her son.

“She came in and I just felt this overwhelming feeling of comfort,” Somers told WHTM-TV. “It was strange. I never had that feeling before and I thought she is going to take care of me. She is the one.”

Seaman said after the request, she and her family started to visit with Somers and Wesley, first going to her apartment and then inviting them over to see their house. She said she wanted to make sure that this placement seemed like a good fit.

“The first time she was here, I said, ‘Does everything look okay to you? Is it what you had in mind?’” said Seaman. “I felt like I was interviewing. …She said it was perfect.”

When Seaman spoke to her husband Daniel about the idea of adopting Wesley, he simply told her, “We need to do something to help this lady,” Seaman recalled.

As Seaman and Somers became closer, 45-year-old Somers started grueling chemotherapy that left her barely able to walk. Some days she was unable to get Wesley to school because she couldn’t walk to her car or was too tired to get out of bed.

Eventually she became so weak she was hospitalized.

At that point, Seaman along with her family decided it was time to not only take Wesley into their family, but Somers as well.

“At one point I said, ‘I can’t be your nurse anymore. I’m your family now,’” said Seaman. “I talked to her and said I want you to come [home]. She kind of fell apart and cried. She said, ‘I’d love to.’”

Seaman said when Somers arrived in May, doctors thought she would survive for only a month. But with care and time, Seaman said Somers has improved and can now walk without the help of a cane.

Seaman said she and her husband have signed paperwork to become Wesley’s legal guardians after Somers’ death. This summer, the entire family, Somers and her son included, were able to go on vacation together.

“We just want to Trish to live life to the fullest and…we love her and love Wesley,” said Seaman. “He’s a very smart little boy. We want to see him get an education and be successful and know that he’s not alone. He has a family. He’s not going to be all by himself.”

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JetBlue Plane Evacuated After Emergency Landing in California

JetBlue Plane Evacuated After Emergency Landing in California

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(LONG BEACH, Calif.) — A JetBlue plane was forced to make an emergency landing Thursday in California because of an engine problem, the airline said.

Flight 1416 was bound for Austin, Texas, Thursday morning when it “declared an emergency” and returned to Long Beach Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The airplane landed safely, and all customers and crew have evacuated via slides with no reported injuries at this time,” JetBlue said in a statement, noting the runway at Long Beach was temporarily closed.

The airline said there was an “issue with the number two engine.”

The flight was scheduled to arrive in Austin Thursday afternoon.

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Alibaba: How Did the Chinese Company Gets Its Name?

Alibaba: How Did the Chinese Company Gets Its Name?

Hong Wu/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Alibaba, which is expected to go public Thursday in the biggest initial public offering ever, is a giant tech firm that remains a giant mystery to many Americans. The e-commerce company has a number of businesses all under the name Alibaba Group.

For one, why did founder and executive chairman Jack Ma choose to call his company Alibaba?

Though the origin has a colorful story, the company offers the short version on its website, explaining it’s a “well-known” name and easily pronounced. In the story “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” from the collection One Thousand and One Nights, a chamber of treasures is opened with the words, “Open sesame.”

“E-commerce is global so we needed a name that was globally recognized,” the website states. “Alibaba brings to mind ‘open sesame,’ representing that our platforms open a doorway to fortune for small businesses.”

But back in 2006, the former English teacher explained in detail how he chose the name in a San Francisco coffee shop.

“And then a waitress came, and I said do you know about Alibaba? And she said yes,” Ma told CNN’s Talk Asia show in 2006. “I said what do you know about Alibaba, and she said ‘Open Sesame.’ And I said yes, this is the name! Then I went onto the street and found 30 people and asked them, ‘Do you know Alibaba’? People from India, people from Germany, people from Tokyo and China…They all knew about Alibaba.”

“Alibaba — open sesame. Alibaba — 40 thieves,” Ma said. “Alibaba is not a thief. Alibaba is a kind, smart business person, and he helped the village. So…easy to spell, and global know. Alibaba opens sesame for small- to medium-sized companies. We also registered the name AliMama, in case someone wants to marry us!” 

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Missing UVA Student’s Case Similar to 2009 Murder, Mom Says

Missing UVA Student’s Case Similar to 2009 Murder, Mom Says

Courtesy Harrington Family(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The mother of a University of Virginia student who was abducted and slain in 2009 sees eerie similarities between her daughter’s death and the current disappearance of Hannah Graham.

Gil Harrington knows the agony that Graham’s parents are enduring. Her daughter, Morgan, disappeared from a Metallica concert in Charlottesville in 2009. Her body wasn’t found until months later and the murder remains unsolved.

What is also upsetting are the similarities to her daughter’s death.

“Hannah was seen for some of the time fairly close to where Morgan’s shirt was found maybe three weeks after her abduction,” she told ABC News.

She said there are other “coincidences” between the two students.

“College town, same town, same kind of look of a girl, same time of year,” she said. “Is this a pattern?”

Harrington said it would be “too speculative,” but she wondered whether the time of year is a trigger for a “predator” in the Charlottesville area “to go out and hurt somebody.”

“We know there’s one predator who killed Morgan,” she said. Harrington said the 2005 abduction and rape of a woman in Fairfax, Virginia, has been linked by DNA to her daughter’s killer.

Gil and Dan Harrington have helped create an organization called Help Save the Next Girl. It offers advice and tracks the disappearance and unsolved murders of girls. The group’s site lists five girls, including her daughter and Graham, from the Charlottesville area who have disappeared or have been killed since 2009. It also lists the cases of seven other Virginia women who disappeared or were killed in unsolved murders.

“Obviously they are not all connected, but it doesn’t seem normal. There’s either some connection of a serial predator or a crime spree gone crazy,” she said.

Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo conceded earlier this week there are similarities between the death of Morgan Harrington and Graham’s disappearance.

“Both of them occurred within the proximity of the University of Virginia. Both of them are young girls,” the chief said.

Charlottesville Police Capt. Gary Pleasants on Thursday would not make any connection to the deaths or disappearance of the other women.

“We said all along there is no criminal activity yet. At this moment we still don’t know that there is any (criminal activity)…because we don’t know what happened yet,” Pleasants said.

Gil Harrington said she and her husband Dan are praying for Graham’s family.

“Our hearts go out to them,” she said.

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Ukrainian President Pleads for Military Aid at US Capitol

Ukrainian President Pleads for Military Aid at US Capitol

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko spoke before a joint meeting of Congress Thursday, notably asking the United States to provide both lethal and non-lethal assistance to Ukraine, saying “one cannot win the war with blankets!”
 
“They need more political support throughout the world. They need more military equipment, both lethal and non-lethal, urgently need,” Poroshenko said to applause as he spoke to a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol. “Please understand me correctly. Blankets, night vision goggles are also important but one cannot win the war with blankets.  Even more we cannot keep the peace with a blanket and this is most important of our values, of our aim, not to win the war, but keep the peace. For keeping the peace, we should be strong enough and there is not any doubt that we will be strong because of you. because our solidarity.”
 
Poroshenko’s address came just hours before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee marks up legislation that would impose new sanctions on Russia and provide military and non-military assistance to Ukraine.
 
The Ukrainian president skipped an entire section from his prepared remarks in which he thanked President Obama. The prepared remarks feature these lines, which he completely left out of his speech:
 
“I would like to thank the U.S. and all our partners for their support. I want to personally thank President Obama for the coherent position on Crimea annexation and support to Ukraine. The world remembers his words in Warsaw: ‘We will not accept Russia’s occupation of Crimea or its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.”
 
Later Thursday, Poroshenko is slated to have lunch with Vice President Joe Biden and meet with President Obama in the Oval Office.

The White House Thursday announced that the U.S. will provide $53 million in additional aid to Ukraine, including $46 million in non-lethal security assistance.

In his speech, Poroshenko thanked Congress for its support and urged lawmakers to continue to stand in solidarity with Ukraine.

“I urge you not to let Ukraine, not to let Ukraine stand alone in the face of this aggression,” Poroshenko said.  “This is very important that the whole world will see this gesture of solidarity. Ukraine is not alone. We are together. We are united and we win because our fighting, is fighting for freedom, is fighting for democracy and I will absolutely no doubt that our victory will be very close. I’m absolutely sure that United States made the commitment it will stand behind Ukraine’s territorial integrity and we hope that it will live up to that promise.”
 
Closing out his speech, Poroshenko quoted New Hampshire’s motto “Live free or die!” saying it exemplified the tenacity of the Ukrainian people.
 
“Live free or die are words of Ukrainian soldiers standing on line of freedom of this war. Live free must be the answer with which Ukraine comes out of this war,” he said. “Live free must be the message Ukraine and America send to the world while standing together in this time of enormous challenge.”

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Thirteen-Word Paper Ballot Will Decide Scotland’s Future

Thirteen-Word Paper Ballot Will Decide Scotland’s Future

Courtesy Guy Dorey(NEW YORK) — The Scots wasted no words when they settled on language for the ballot used to determine whether they’ll break away from the United Kingdom: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

“Vote (X) only once,” the white-paper referendum reads. Yes or No. That’s it: 13 words in total.

Such simplicity belies the potentially complex future that awaits Scotland if a simple majority of its citizens decides they want to strike out on their own, which could be thousands of pen marks away from reality.

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Production of Lincoln Logs Returning to US

Production of Lincoln Logs Returning to US

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Lincoln Logs is returning to the U.S.

Production of the classic toy, which was created in 1916, had been outsourced in China. But soon, most of the toy’s manufacturing — 80 percent — will take place at Pride Manufacturing’s Burnham, Maine plant.

The company says its deal to build Lincoln Logs will add up to 10 jobs.

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US Senate Candidate Gets Boost from “Game of Thrones” Author

US Senate Candidate Gets Boost from “Game of Thrones” Author

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Tom Udall’s campaign has enlisted the help of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, who is holding a unique event for the incumbent senator’s re-election bid.

One winner and a friend will get to attend the exclusive VIP event with Udall, D-N.M., and Martin at Martin’s personal cinema in Santa Fe, where a “discussion on New Mexico issues and politics in support of Sen. Udall’s reelection campaign” will take place.

The minimum $5 donation for the contest gets the lucky winners airfare and hotel, along with VIP access to the main event, photo reception and dinner. General admission tickets start at $250, with additional meet and greet and photo reception tickets costing $1,000.

Big fans (and supporters) might be most interested in the $2,600 ticket option, which will give them VIP access to the event, photo reception and an exclusive dinner where they will “get to talk with George and Tom and ask them anything.”

 

Win a trip to meet George R.R. Martin and Senator Udall in Santa Fe. Enter here: http://t.co/gqPj0ohYQ4 #GRRM #GoT pic.twitter.com/mLG9CD8Vjs

— Tom Udall (@tomudall) September 18, 2014

 

A Game of Thrones, the first book of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, fantasy series was published in 1996. The series was adapted for television by HBO in 2011. Over seven million viewers watched the Game of Thrones season finale in June.

Both the senator and author are supportive of New Mexico’s conservation efforts. Earlier this year, Martin hosted a Prizeo fundraiser to benefit New Mexico’s Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary and the Food Depot of Santa Fe, which went on to raise over $500,000.

Martin is naming two characters in his upcoming novels after the highest donors.

Udall has served in the Senate since 2009, and is favored to win the election.

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How to Wipe Your Old iPhone Before You Give It Away

How to Wipe Your Old iPhone Before You Give It Away

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The announcement of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus might have made you eager to part with your old iPhone — but there’s one important step you need to take before making the switch.

If you’re planning on giving away, selling or trading in your current iPhone, it’s recommended that you make sure your device is wiped clean. This will make sure your personal information and digital memories aren’t given to someone else.

First, it’s important to make sure your phone is backed up. There are two easy ways to do this.

iCloud

Chances are you’re already using the iCloud, but here’s how to make sure you’ve recently backed up everything.

Tap Settings, then go to iCloud, choose Storage & Backup.

Make sure the iCloud switch is toggled to “on” and then choose “Back Up Now.”

iTunes

Connect your iOS device to your computer and open iTunes. Then, choose file, devices and then backup.

If you’re using a version of iTunes 10.7 or earlier, right click the device from the list and then choose “backup now.”

Double check that the backup worked by going to preferences and then clicking devices. The latest backup and the device should be listed on the screen.

Wiping the Phone

Once you’re satisfied everything is backed up to the iCloud or iTunes, you’re ready to restore the phone back to its factory settings. Go to settings, general, reset and then choose “Erase All Content and Settings.”

Now you’re ready to sell, trade-in or give away your iPhone.

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Darrell Hammond to Return to “SNL” as New Announcer

Darrell Hammond to Return to “SNL” as New Announcer

Charles Norfleet/WireImage(NEW YORK) — Former Saturday Night Live cast member Darrell Hammond will return to the NBC show — not as a member of the troupe, but as its new announcer.

Iconic Saturday Night Live announcer Don Pardo, who’d been with the show since its inception, died last month at age 96.

When the show’s 40th season premieres on Sept. 27, it’ll be Hammond reading the cast members’ names, as well as those of the guest host, Chris Pratt, and musical guest Ariana Grande. It’s not a role unfamiliar to Hammond — he occasionally filled in for Pardo over the years, impersonating the veteran announcer when Pardo was unavailable.

Hammond was a cast member for 14 seasons, longer than any other member in the show’s history. He was also the oldest cast member in the show’s history.

He was well known for his impressions of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Donald Trump, Regis Philbin and, perhaps most hilariously, Sean Connery, whom he played during the show’s Celebrity Jeopardy skits opposite Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek.

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French President Authorizes Airstrikes Against ISIS in Iraq

French President Authorizes Airstrikes Against ISIS in Iraq

Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images(PARIS) — French President Francois Hollande said Thursday he officially authorized French air attacks against ISIS in Iraq.

“In a national security council meeting this morning, I gave authorization to respond favorably to Iraq’s request,” for the airstrikes, Hollande told reporters in Paris. “I won’t go beyond that. There will be no troops on the ground and we’ll only intervene in Iraq.”

France now joins the U.S. in the battle against the militant group from the air. Since Aug. 8, the U.S. military has conducted more than 170 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday, was handed a note about the news, to which he responded: “We obviously welcome that public announcement.”

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Broncos Happy to Have Welker Back

Broncos Happy to Have Welker Back

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images(ENGLEWOOD, Colo.) — The Broncos are happy to have Wes Welker back on the field after the new NFL drug policy deal was announced on Wednesday.

Welker was re-instated just in time for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks after the NFL’s new policy on performance enhancing drugs was passed.

Welker was originally suspended for four games and was not eligible to return until Oct. 6.

“It feels great, it feels great,” Welker said. ” … You really realize how much you miss it.”

Welker continued, “It seemed like every other day, I was kind of going back and forth about whether I was coming back or not.”

Quarterback Peyton Manning is among the players welcoming back Welker on the field. “Good to have Wes back,” he said. “Guys were excited when he walked in the offensive meeting this morning…I know he’s been excited to get back out here.”

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Clapper Talks ISIS at Intelligence and National Security Summit

Clapper Talks ISIS at Intelligence and National Security Summit

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — ISIS is a group of “very sophisticated recruiters and motivators.”

That’s what Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told intelligence experts at the Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington Thursday when asked about raids in Australia the day before that resulted in the arrests of 15 people involved in a terror plot connected to ISIS.

“It’s emblematic of the world we’re in — a lot of the discussion about ISIL and the potential threat it may pose to the homeland.  People conjure up the image of another 9/11 attack or something of that magnitude,” Clapper said. “…In this case with this group, who are very sophisticated recruiters and motivators…we continue to worry, I think, more than any other single threat — you know the homegrown version, which are very hard to detect. So I think what’s happened in Australia is a manifestation of that threat.”
 
Clapper also unveiled the 2014 National Intelligence Strategy, which is entirely unclassified. It lays put the intelligence environment and tried to identify emerging threats. This year, Clapper put the code of professional ethics for intelligence gathering right in front in the report. It’s seven points are mission, truth, lawfulness, integrity, stewardship, excellence and diversity.
 
The DNI chief noted that AFPAK fighters in Syria, in terms of a threat to the homeland, perhaps pose the same threat as ISIS.
 
As for government funds that would be allocated to counterterror efforts, Clapper added that many people in government have high security clearances, which largely go unused, that cost the government large sums of money that could be better spent.

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Pregnant Duchess Kate Cancels Solo Tour of Malta

Pregnant Duchess Kate Cancels Solo Tour of Malta

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) — The Duchess of Cambridge has made the difficult decision to cancel her first solo foreign visit to Malta this weekend, Kensington Palace announced Thursday.

Kate, 32, had been planning to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations in Malta at the request of her grandmother-in-law, Her Majesty The Queen.

“The Duchess of Cambridge will no longer visit Malta this weekend. The Duke of Cambridge will undertake the visit instead,” the palace said in a statement.

“Her Royal Highness continues to suffer from the effects of hyperemesis gravidarum. The decision not to travel was taken by the duke and duchess on the advice of the duchess’s doctors,” the statement read.

Kate and Prince William announced earlier this month that the duchess is pregnant with the couple’s second child. The palace announced the pregnancy after Kate was unable to travel to an event with William due to hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition marked by acute nausea and sometimes dehydration.

Kate and William were also forced to announce their first pregnancy with now 1-year-old son, Prince George, when Kate was admitted to a London hospital in the early stages of that pregnancy for the same condition.

Kate is believed to be about eight weeks along now, but still before the 12 week mark when most couples elect to share news of a pregnancy.

The palace said, “The Duke is honored to represent Her Majesty The Queen on the visit, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of Malta’s independence. The visit itinerary remains unchanged.”

Malta holds a special place in the queen’s heart as she and Prince Philip spent time there during Prince Philips’ naval officer posting shortly after they were married. The queen has often said it was one of the few places they were able enjoy a “normal” life.

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