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Yankees Brace for the Return of Alex Rodriguez

Yankees Brace for the Return of Alex Rodriguez

Mike Stobe/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — While the New York Yankees just lost shortstop Derek Jeter to retirement, they’ll be getting back third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod will be removed from the restricted list at the end of the World Series after his year-long suspension because of his role in the Biogenesis scandal.

Still, Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn’t sure how much play they can get out of A-Rod.

“We have to see where he is at,” he said Monday. “I think that is the thing that we have to do. I believe he is going to be 40 next summer, and we need to see where he is physically at.”

The Yankees and Rodriguez both decided it’d be best for both parties to remain apart during the season even though he could have been with the team.

The Yankees still owe Rodriguez $61 million over the next three seasons and will make an additional $6 million if he hits six more home runs, which would tie him for 4th place on the All-Time list.

Rodriguez has been one of the best players of his generations, but his connection to PEDs has tainted his playing career. In 20 seasons, Rodriguez has hit 654 home runs.

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New Afghan President Tore Page Straight from Obama-Like Playbook

New Afghan President Tore Page Straight from Obama-Like Playbook

Zoonar/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The road to a new Afghan government has been paved with confusion over election results, accusations of fraud and the shape of a new unity coalition. But for newly inaugurated President Ashraf Ghani, his campaign strategy was just the opposite, largely mimicking those of successful Western politicians like President Obama, Ghani’s social media guru and longtime adviser said.

“We did take cues from other campaigns; we studied up on them,” Hamdullah Mohib said in an interview with ABC News before Ghani’s victory was certified Sunday by a United Nations-supervised election audit.

The exact vote tally is being withheld for now but, as of Monday, Ghani was officially the new president. During Mohib’s visit back in July, he shared some keys to his candidate’s victory, which bears a striking resemblance to those that netted Obama two terms in office.

1. Keep it simple.

Ghani’s background as an academic and technocrat meant he was used to speaking with high-level officials, not throngs of everyday Afghans. So he had to work on appealing to voters without speaking down to them. “His language is not as simple,” Mohib said. “He had to work on that to make sure he can simplify what he says so he can reach the masses.”

Plus, not everyone in the country is literate. To make the balloting process simple, Ghani campaign workers passed out cards with symbols that would show them what to do, as in showing which box they would need to tick next to a picture of Ghani’s face. That was a lesson learned after a preliminary round of voting in which Ghani lost handily to Abdullah. “We had problems in the first round,” Mohib said.

2. Network, network, network.

Like successful U.S. campaigns, the Ghani team first targeted the support of influential voices within individual communities. In Afghanistan, those tend to be the leaders of mosques and, Mohib said, Ghani’s campaign won the coveted clerical vote. “The day before this election, in these provinces the imams told people it’s their civic duty to vote,” Mohib said.

The campaign also used a robust social media presence (like Obama, Ghani signs his personal tweets with his initials — “AG” — and his team routinely live-posted about his campaign events) to reach better connected, more educated Afghans who, in turn, would sway their family members toward whom to support. “When we reach one influential, educated person who has access and can afford Internet in the country, [he] has influence over the rest of the family,” Mohib said. “It’s a conservative society where people go by what others say.”

3. Keep that network.

Like the Obama campaign, which converted its Obama for America campaign apparatus into “Organizing for Action,” a second-term organization that focused on implementing the president’s policies, the Ghani campaign wants to apply its Election Day(s) network to the business of governing. “We have a way for [Ghani] to know what’s happening and how [voters] feel” down to the tiniest village, Mohib said. “Once you build a network, you don’t let a network go.”

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Facebook Names the Top Honeymoon Destinations in US, World

Facebook Names the Top Honeymoon Destinations in US, World

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The fact that Hawaii is a top honeymoon destination isn’t exactly a shocker. Gorgeous beaches, history, luxury hotels — all without a passport. It’s pretty much a no-brainer.

According to Facebook check ins, Hawaii’s islands account for five of the top 10 honeymoon destinations. But it’s not number one.

Las Vegas, according to Facebook, is actually the most popular place in the U.S. to take that all-important post-wedding getaway. And if that doesn’t surprise you, the number eight destination — the one that didn’t top Hawaii but did beat out both New York City and Lake Buena Vista (home to theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios) most surely will — because its Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Facebook measured the top destinations based on couples on Facebook who both posted a marriage event in 2014 and checked into a location within two weeks of their marriage date. Check-ins within 20 miles of their home location were excluded.

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg markets itself as a romantic getaway. And this small city of fewer than 4,000, according to the 2010 census, is poised to give the great state of Hawaii a run for its honeymoon money. Golfing? Check. Hiking? 600 miles of trails. Add in ziplining, snowboarding and tubing, biking, and horseback riding and you’ve got the making of action-packed vacation.

There’s a few hotels classified as “luxury” in Gatlinburg, according to TripAdvisor, but none of the luxury chains (think Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons and the like) that dot the Hawaii coast.

Call Gatlinburg a lovers’ hideaway, at least for the time being.

Top honeymoon destinations in the U.S. for all (international + U.S.) couples:

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
  3. Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii
  4. Lihue, Kaua’i, Hawaii
  5. Key West, Florida
  6. Poipu, Kaua’i, Hawaii
  7. Kihei, Maui, Hawaii
  8. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  9. New York City
  10. Lake Buena Vista, Florida

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NFL Suspends Colts Safety LaRon Landry for Four Games

NFL Suspends Colts Safety LaRon Landry for Four Games

David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) — The Colts defense has been dealt another blow as the NFL has suspended safety LaRon Landry for four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Landry will be eligible to return to the team on Oct. 27, the day after the team plays the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After a disappointing first season with the Colts, the 29-year-old Landry has been solid so far this season. In four games, Landry recorded 23 tackles and 1.0 sack.

Landry is in his eighth NFL season, and the Colts are his third team after previously playing for the Washington Redskins and New York Jets.

This is the second time a Colts player has been suspended in recent memory for a PED violation. Defensive end/linebacker Robert Mathis was suspended for four games. He then torr his Achilles tendon while he was working out during suspension.

The Colts have the 21st ranked defense through four games and are one of the worst teams in stopping the pass.

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Government Robots Will Decide If Your Thai Food Tastes Right

Government Robots Will Decide If Your Thai Food Tastes Right

iStock/Thinkstock(BANGKOK) — Pad Thai dishes don’t always taste the same. But they could from today onward.

Thailand is unveiling two new robots that can evaluate whether Thai food around the world is made according to government-standardized recipes, according to a spokeswoman from the Thai National Innovation Agency (NIA), which was tasked by the Ministry of Science and Technology to promote Thai food.

“It is found that the flavors of Thai food in many standalone restaurants and in hotels abroad are deviated from the authentic ones,” the NIA said in a written statement.

To resolve the issue, the agency developed equipment to measure and analyze flavors of Thai food.

Dr. Krit Chongsrid, who developed the robots, told ABC News the biggest challenge was syncing the taste analysis to the smell analysis.

“There is a 5 to 10 percent error probability,” Chongsrid said.

The first robot is called e-Delicious, according to a report provided by the NIA to ABC News.

The machine, equivalent to a human food critic, is composed of an electronic nose made with 16 gas sensors and an electronic tongue made to detect sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (meat or savory) flavors.

The second robot is called ESenS, according to the same report. It’s a smart application on Android, and is the size of a printer that uses micro-sensors to compare samples to an existing database of recipes.

It took Chongsrid’s team about a year to develop the two robots. He told ABC News the team hoped to develop at least 100 or more.

So far, samples can be compared to 11 recipes approved by the Thai government and its “Thai Delicious Committee.”

The recipes include Tom Yum Kung, Pad Thai, Mussaman Curry and Golek Chicken Sauce, according to the NIA. The agency is currently working on standardizing 10 more recipes.

The NIA also launched an iPad and iPhone app called “Thai Delicious” for users to download recipes.

Many university laboratories and nanotechnology companies around the world have joined the race to develop “taste robots.”

For example, Spanish researchers recently managed to distinguish between different varieties of beer using an “electronic tongue.” According to the journal Food Chemistry, the beer tasting technology is accurate in 82 percent of cases.

Similarly, in Denmark, scientists have inaugurated a nano-sensor that evaluates a wine’s quality by measuring its astringency. They’ve called it “mini-mouth.”

While Thailand’s goal to preserve its culinary reputation is understandable, questions remain on the government’s ability to market the new robots and make sure it is used properly — or to get restaurants to use them at all.

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Raiders Fire Head Coach Dennis Allen

Raiders Fire Head Coach Dennis Allen

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) — After a 0-4 start to the season, the Oakland Raiders have fired head coach Dennis Allen.

Allen ends his tenure like the six head coaches that preceded him, with a losing record. In his two-plus seasons under the helm, Allen went just 8-28.

Dating back to November 2013, the Raiders have lost ten-straight games and are 0-4 for the first time since 2006. The Raiders lost by 20 or more points in nine of Allen’s 36 games as coach.

“It’s a tough deal, especially for him,” tight end David Ausberry told ESPN. “As we all know, this is the NFL and it keeps growing. So we just all got to as a team pull together and keep going forward. That’s all we really can do.”

Since Allen was hired back in 2012, the Raiders have a .222 winning percentage, which is the second-worst mark in the NFL over that time.

Since 2001, the Raiders have had seven head coaches, the most in the NFL during that time.

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Police Recover Body of Missing Arkansas Real Estate Agent

Police Recover Body of Missing Arkansas Real Estate Agent

Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — The body of missing Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter has been found, authorities have confirmed to ABC News. 

Police found Carter’s body overnight in Cabot, Arkansas, one day after arresting the case’s main suspect, Arron Lewis.

Lewis admitted to kidnapping Carter after police questioned him all night. He did not admit to murder, nor did he provide any details of Carter’s whereabouts, leaving police to recover the missing realtor using other information, which they have declined to disclose.

Lewis now faces a capital murder charge in addition to kidnapping.  He is scheduled to appear in court later Tuesday morning.

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“People” Magazine Publishes Clooney Wedding Pics

“People” Magazine Publishes Clooney Wedding Pics

Robino Salvatore/GC Images(NEW YORK) — While George Clooney and new wife Amal Alamuddin bask in newly-wedded bliss, the details of their lavish, star-studded, Venice-set nuptials can now be peeked at by the little people, thanks to a spread in People magazine.  

The pair officially sealed the deal Monday with a short civil ceremony, which followed a Saturday wedding befitting Hollywood royalty.

The magazine’s latest issue boasts 25 exclusive photos of and surrounding the event, which was held at Italy’s historic Aman Canal Grande Venice hotel.

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“Selfie,” “Manhattan Love Story” Premiere Tuesday Night on ABC

“Selfie,” “Manhattan Love Story” Premiere Tuesday Night on ABC

ABC/Eric McCandless(NEW YORK) — Two new ABC comedies premiere Tuesday night: Selfie and Manhattan Love Story.

Selfie
is a twist on the classic My Fair Lady story, but in this case, we get an uptight marketing genius named Henry Higgs, trying to “make over” an obnoxious social media addict named Eliza Dooley, and turn her into a person who actually cares about people in real life.

Henry is played by John Cho, of Harold & Kumar, Sleepy Hollow and Star Trek fame — he plays Mr. Sulu in the rebooted films.  Eliza is played by Scottish actress Karen Gillan, best known in the U.S. for playing Amy Pond on Doctor Who and Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Gillan started out doing sketch comedy in the U.K., but in the U.S., she’s better known for sci-fi, so, she tells ABC News Radio, “To return to that was really exciting, especially in this country, where I think you make the best comedy.”  She uses an American accent to play Eliza, and is pretty much flawless, though she admits that she’ll occasionally ask Cho to say a certain word so she’s sure how to pronounce it American-style.

As for Cho, his part was originally envisioned for a British actor to play, and he considers the fact that he ended up with it to be a “personal revolution.”  Why?  The Korean actor explains that during a Q&A with TV critics, “Karen had, like, seven questions about her being Scottish, and I came off the stage and I was like, ‘I went through a 45-minute panel, and we didn’t talk about my race at all,’ which was, like, so awesome to me, and the absence of those questions was, to me, the revolution.”

In the first episode, we see Gillan’s super-obnoxious and shallow Eliza making a lot of progress as she tries to wean herself from her social media addiction. But according to Gillan, she’s got a long road to go, and Cho’s Henry is a big part of it. 

“We realize, quite quickly, that Henry needs Eliza just as much as she needs him, and they can learn a lot from each other,” she tells ABC News Radio. “And also, I mean, this is the story of an addict, essentially, at its core. And that means there’s going to be, like, a lot of, you know, one step forward and two steps back. So it’s not going to be easy.”

Selfie premieres at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

Afterward, ABC debuts another new comedy, Manhattan Love Story. It follows the ups and downs of a New York romance between Dana and Peter, played by Crazy, Stupid, Love actress Analeigh Tipton and Greek actor Jake McDorman, respectively. The twist is that viewers will be able to hear the characters’ inner thoughts — and, as a result, what each really thinks of the other.

Veteran character actor Kurt Fuller, whom you’d recognize from his roles in various projects like the film Midnight in Paris and ABC’s Scandal, plays Peter’s dad, William. He says of Peter, “He’s a big, you know, ‘I know everything, I can do everything, I’m the best,’ just like me.  We all sort of find out that…maybe we didn’t know so much. And that’s one of the things I actually love about the show.”

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Wal-Mart Blames Tracy Morgan After Fatal Crash

Wal-Mart Blames Tracy Morgan After Fatal Crash

ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) — Wal-Mart is pointing fingers, saying Tracy Morgan and his fellow passengers should’ve worn seatbelts, in a formal response to the lawsuit over the June crash on the New Jersey Turnpike involving one of its drivers.

In court papers, Wal-Mart broadly denied allegations of recklessness and negligence when the vehicle Morgan and his friends were riding in was struck by Wal-Mart truck driver Kevin Roper’s rig and said the plaintiffs’ injuries were caused “by failure to wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device.”

Had Morgan and the others been wearing seatbelts Wal-Mart said, “all or a portion of the injuries could have been diminished or minimized.”

Morgan was seriously injured in the crash. He suffered a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs, among other injuries. His friend, comedian James McNair, died.

Wal-Mart declined to answer a specific allegation that its driver, Roper, was fatigued. The company said it can’t because it’s also involved in the National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

But Wal-Mart did say, “the plaintiffs’ alleged damages may have been caused by third parties over whom Wal-Mart had no control.”

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Robert Pattinson’s Girlfriend Responds After Enduring Racism Online

Robert Pattinson’s Girlfriend Responds After Enduring Racism Online

Photo by Alo Ceballos/GC Images(NEW YORK) — Earlier this month, news broke that Robert Pattinson has a new flame — FKA Twigs. The British singer says that since being tied to the Twilight actor, she’s endured tons of racism online.

“I am genuinely shocked and disgusted at the amount of racism that has been infecting my account the past week,” the singer, whose birth name is Tahliah Debrett Barnett, tweeted.

“Racism is unacceptable in the real world and it’s unacceptable online,” she continued.

According to US Weekly, FKA is half-Jamaican and half-Spanish. She’s been public about her relationship with Pattinson since early September.

Pattinson romantic relationship with his Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart ended after Stewart was caught cheating on him in 2012 with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders. Since then, Pattinson has been romantically linked to model Imogen Kerr and Dylan Penn, the daughter of Sean Penn and Robin Wright.

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Kansas City Chiefs Fans Reclaim Guinness World Record for Crowd Noise

Kansas City Chiefs Fans Reclaim Guinness World Record for Crowd Noise

Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — Kansas City Chiefs fans were as loud as a jet engine Monday.

Fans at Arrowhead Stadium reclaimed the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd roar during the team’s victory against the New England Patriots: 142.2 decibels, similar to the intensity of a jet engine at takeoff.

The roar topped the previous record, 137.6 decibels, at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field last year.

Kansas City’s fans registered a roar of 137.5 decibels earlier last season.

 

We did it. #LoudAndProud #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/qrNHbXc5MA

— Kansas City Chiefs (@KCChiefs) September 30, 2014

 

The Chiefs handed out ear plugs as fans entered the stadium gates Monday, a chance for attendees to preserve their hearing.

The team matched the fan intensity on the field, topping the Patriots 41-14. Running back Jamaal Charles led the way with three touchdowns.

It marked the Chiefs’ first home victory since last season, Oct. 27.

After the win, Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith reflected on the team’s fan support. “It’s been a little while since we won here,” he told ESPN. “We’ve got the best fans in the country, and they proved it again tonight.”

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Texas Hospital Evaluating Patient for Possible Ebola

Texas Hospital Evaluating Patient for Possible Ebola

Creatas/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — A patient at a Texas hospital has been isolated and is being evaluated to determine whether or not he or she has contracted the Ebola virus.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas said the patient was placed into strict isolation because of the patient’s symptoms and recent travel history.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects to have preliminary test results on the patient Tuesday, the hospital said.

The Ebola virus has killed at least 2,909 in West Africa and infected at least 3,000 more, according to the World Health Organization.

International and U.S. health officials have warned the outbreak could infect 1.4 million people in West Africa by January if more is not done to stop the disease.

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Nigerian Ebola Hoax Results in Two Deaths

Nigerian Ebola Hoax Results in Two Deaths

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two people have died and at least 20 were hospitalized, all because of a social media prank urging Nigerians to drink excessive amounts of salt water to avoid catching the Ebola virus.

The hoax started with a text message sent by a Nigerian student at the beginning of August, according to Edwin Ikhuoria, a development consultant for U2 frontman Bono’s ONE campaign who lives in Nigeria.

“Once the word was out, it spread like wildfire,” Ikhuoria told ABC News.

Within hours of the first text being sent, Ikhuoria said that everyone he knows had received the message multiple times on social media — including the Minister of Health.

The Nigerian newspaper Vanguard News reported two dead and 20 more hospitalized due to excessive consumption of salt water. The deceased were believed to have had high blood pressure, a condition that is especially sensitive to high salt intake.

“Please ensure that you and your family and all your neighbours bath with hot water and salt before daybreak today because of Ebola virus which is spreading through the air,” the text said in part, according to Ikhuoria.

The message also urged people to drink as much salt water as possible as protection against catching the deadly virus, which has killed nearly half of the more than 6,000 infected throughout West Africa.

Symplur, a company that tracks health information trends on Twitter, said that Nigerians first began sending tweets using the words “Ebola,” “salt water” and “drinking” starting on Aug. 4 with social network activity ramping up to a peak of about 450 tweets on the day of Aug. 8.

“People seem to [have been] woken up by friends and relatives in the early morning in order to drink and bathe with salt because the local town doc said you needed to do this before sunrise,” said Thomas Lee, co-founder of Symplur, noting that much of the activity took place overnight.

And then, just as quickly as the rumors proliferated, they were quashed.

Ikhuria said as soon as the government got wind of the hoax, it immediately began its own campaign using both traditional and social media to reiterate the fact that there is no vaccine or cure for the virus.

“Other people also amplified the message from the ministry and it was all over,” he said.

By Aug. 10, there were almost no tweets mentioning the bogus treatment, Symplur data revealed.

“The power of social media to rapidly spread information, both accurate and inaccurate, is enormous, and nowhere is that more impactful than on topics related to our health,” said Lee.

According to Informa Telecoms, nearly 70 percent of the Nigerian population owns a cell phone, a typical onramp to popular social media platforms such as texting, Twitter and Facebook. The ability to mobilize information quickly through social channels has contributed to an effective campaign against the Ebola virus in that country, Lee speculated.

Nigeria had only 17 confirmed cases of Ebola and there are currently no new cases, the Nigerian Health Ministry reports. Nearby Sierra Leone, where under 2 percent of the population uses the Internet, has seen nearly 2,000 Ebola cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Toheeb Ojulari, a Nigerian blogger who also received the salt water tweets, said that when the prankster realized what she had done, she immediately took to social media again to apologize.

“All efforts to tell people that I was the one who started the joke failed,” reads the message Ojulari and thousands of other Nigerians reposted. “Even my mum [called] me this morning, I did not know what to tell her.”

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Reese Witherspoon Says She Wanted to Be ‘Raw’ in “Wild”

Reese Witherspoon Says She Wanted to Be ‘Raw’ in “Wild”

ABC/Image Group LA(NEW YORK) — Reese Witherspoon is ready to walk on the wild side. And since she figured no studio would want to cast her as a woman dealing with drug addiction and reckless behavior, she decided to produce her new film, Wild, herself. The actress’ own production company adapted Cheryl Strayed’s novel, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, for the big screen.

“I just didn’t want to hear, ‘Oh, we don’t want to see Reese have sex….Oh, can we not have any profanity?” Witherspoon told Vogue of why she produced the film. “I wanted it to be truthful, I wanted it to be raw, I wanted it to be real.”

After being portrayed largely as the girl next door, Witherspoon wants to challenge herself to be even more real, even if no one believes she can do it.

“When people underestimate me, it’s actually a comfortable place for me,” she explained. “‘Oh, that’s what you think I am; well, no, I’m not.’ I’m a complex human being. I have many different shades.”

So how did Witherspoon portray a character who looks like she does heroin and has a string of one-night stands? The actress said she did draw some inspiration from her own life.

“Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, but I think there’s a general sense now that I’ve lived a pretty textured life. So many of the things that Cheryl goes through in the book I’ve been through, you know? I’ve been married, I’ve been divorced,” she explained in the magazine. “I haven’t lost my mother, but my mother’s mother died in a very similar way, of an aneurysm very suddenly.”

“Cheryl has this idea that the things that have happened to you are part of you. There’s something really beautiful about that idea,” Witherspoon continued. “I’m not sure I agree with her about everything. Someone might say, ‘I was raped. Is that a part of me? Am I supposed to accept that?’ That’s her perspective.”

Wild will hit theaters on Dec. 5.

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Seven Questions for Secret Service Director Julia Pierson After WH Intrusion

Seven Questions for Secret Service Director Julia Pierson After WH Intrusion

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — On the heels of the Washington Post’s revelation that the armed man who scaled the White House fence earlier this month not only entered the executive mansion but bolted past a guard and into the East Room, the Secret Service has come under fire once again.

According to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, President Obama was “obviously concerned” about the Sept. 19 perimeter breach — and in a rare moment of accord, the Republican-controlled House share his concern.

Tuesday, members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will grill Secret Service Director Julia Pierson about the agency’s repeated lapses. Here’s seven questions lawmakers are likely to ask:

1. Why the lack of transparency?

Monday’s revelations don’t exactly square with the agency’s original explanation, which seemed to imply that the 42-year-old fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, had been apprehended just inside the entrance.

The day after the incident, the Secret Service released a statement saying simply, “Gonzalez failed to comply with responding Secret Service Uniformed Division Officers’ verbal commands, and was physically apprehended after entering the White House North Portico doors.”

2. Didn’t Gonzalez’s erratic history raise a red flag?

Secret Service investigators interviewed Gonzalez, an Iraq vet, at least twice before he stormed into the White House on Sept. 19.

Two months before the incident, authorities in Virginia discovered a sawed-off shotgun and a map marking the White House stashed in Gonzalez’s car. They confiscated the weapons but concluded he wasn’t a threat to the president. And about a month later, officers spotted Gonzales wandering along the south fence with a hatchet in his waistband. They determined they didn’t have enough evidence to hold him.

Gonzalez’s motives aren’t clear: Though he had armed himself with 3 ½ inch knife, he claims his only intent was to warn the president that the “atmosphere was collapsing.” Still, the fact that a man repeatedly flagged by Secret Service managed to make it so far into what was once considered most secure residence in the nation is troubling.

3. Why didn’t agents fire?

The Secret Service Uniformed Division supposedly maintains “five rings” of protection to create a secure perimeter around the executive mansion. But it was a counterassault agent patrolling the interior — an agent who was never supposed to come face-to-face with a would-be fence jumper — who eventually subdued Gonzalez.

At the North Gate, a plainclothes surveillance team posted outside the gate failed to notice Gonzalez clambering over the eight-foot fence.

Then, in quick succession, a guard booth officer, SWAT team, and K-9 unit all failed to respond.

They allowed Gonzales to dart into the White House, which had been vacated by the first family just minutes before.

4. Why didn’t they release the dogs?

The K-9 unit, a team of Belgian Malinois dogs trained to attack intruders, was also not deployed.

Sources say officers were afraid the dogs would attack the officers pursuing Gonzalez instead of the intruder himself.

5. Why wasn’t the door secured?
Gonzales didn’t have to force the front door or pick the lock. It wasn’t locked.

Secret Service agents generally wait for notice of an intruder to lock the front door — but the officer guarding the entrance on Sept. 19 wasn’t aware of a fence jumper until he was almost upon her.

Gonzales dashed past her and ran past the entrance to the first family’s private quarters and into the ceremonial East Room on the first floor.

6. Why is the Secret Service taking direction from hospitality staff?
According to the Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig, someone had apparently muted a “crash box” alarm designed to alert officers of intruders — at the behest of the usher’s office.

Apparently, the alarm frequently went off without provocation, disturbing the staff. Even so, some lawmakers are chiding the agency for disabling the crash box “to appease superficial concerns of White House ushers.”

7. How did the President actually react?
In public, President Obama appeared calm, saying that the Secret Service “does a great job.” But previous security breaches have reportedly left the president and first lady fuming.

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Brad Pitt Says Marriage to Angelina Jolie Is More Than ‘Just a Title’

Brad Pitt Says Marriage to Angelina Jolie Is More Than ‘Just a Title’

ABC/Rick Rowell(NEW YORK) — Now that he’s a married man, Brad Pitt seems to be relishing his new role as husband.

“I wouldn’t say [marriage is] just a title. There’s more to it than that,” the actor told the November issue of British GQ.

Pitt tied the knot last month with his longtime partner, Angelina Jolie in an ultra-private ceremony at their home, Chateau Miraval in Correns, France. The intimate wedding, attended only by family and friends, featured their six children.

Though Pitt reportedly missed out on the wedding of his close pal, George Clooney, who married lawyer Amal Alamuddin, in Venice, Italy, on Saturday, he still gushed about his good friend to GQ.

Responding to Clooney’s previous description of the very private Pitt as “unreachable,” the World War Z actor joked, “Well, you know, George is extremely accessible. He’s one of our best representatives. He’s funny as s***. He’s a joy to be around.”

In contrast, Pitt said, laughing, “I guess maybe I’m more of a miserable bastard. I’m a bit of a loner, you know? I’m more quiet by nature. And coming from, you know, hillbilly country, I’m probably more reserved.”

That reserve extends to his work on the screen. These days, Pitt is more likely to say no than yes to work. “I’m actually very snobbish about directors. I have to say no all the time,” he told the magazine. “‘No’ is the most powerful word in our business. You’ve got to protect yourself. …To leave home, it’s got to be worth leaving. It’s got to be worth it.”

The actor admitted, “I’ve been slowing down for a while now. And slowly transitioning to other things. And, truthfully, I do want to spend more time with my kids before they’re grown up and gone.”

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Seattle: The Number One City for Coffee Snobs

Seattle: The Number One City for Coffee Snobs

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you had to select any city in the U.S. with the most discerning coffee addicts, chances are Seattle would be at the top of most people’s lists.

That’s the case of a combined Redfin and Foursquare survey, which picked Seattle as number one in the ten best cities for so-called “coffee snobs.”

Just to clarify, Redfin and Foursquare based their findings on indie coffee shops, that is, those with under ten locations in a given city.

So although Starbucks is excluded, Seattle still winds up as the ultimate U.S. mecca for picky coffee drinkers.

Here’s the rest of the top 10:

  1. Seattle, WA
  2. Portland, OR
  3. Boulder, CO
  4. San Francisco, CA
  5. Denver, CO
  6. San Diego, CA
  7. Madison, WI
  8. Austin, TX
  9. Minneapolis-ST. Paul, MN
  10. Sacramento, CA

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Do a Little Studying Before Applying for Seasonal Work

Do a Little Studying Before Applying for Seasonal Work

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Looking for temporary work as retailers start hiring for the holiday season?

Although most stores and other businesses are predicted to boost their seasonal employees from last year, getting a job may not be as easy as answering a few simple questions, such as, “Can you work weekends?”

According to a survey of big retailers by the consulting firm Hay Group, 18 percent said they want temporary workers who align with their brand culture.

That basically means some retailers want hires, even if they’re only seasonal, who are familiar with the store, its products and the kinds of customers it attracts.

Last year, just four percent in the Hay Group survey looked for the same things from its seasonal workers.

Without mentioning names, Craig Rowley, the global leader of Hay Group’s retail practice, said that some stores have prepared a custom test that prospective employees will have to take before they even get to the interview process.

Such is the new paradigm in the increasingly competitive world of retail sales, particularly during the busiest shopping time of the year.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Deep-Fried Candy Bars May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Deep-Fried Candy Bars May Be Hazardous to Your Health

iStock/Thinkstock(GLASGOW, Scotland) — Candy is dandy but deep-fried candy bars are really tasty.

The problem, according to a report in the Scottish Medical Journal, is that these sugary and fatty confections normally sold at state fairs could put you in serious medical jeopardy.

In fact, the researchers from Glasgow say that a deep-fried Mars bar may increase the risk of a sudden stroke by slowing blood flow to the brain.

Their small study of 24 participants found that men with narrow arteries may be playing Russian roulette if they consume a deep-fried candy bar as blood flow was found to “moderately” decrease in as little as an hour-and-a-half.

However, women didn’t seem to have the same reaction after they ate one.

The researchers say a lot more research is needed to confirm the possible dangers of deep-fried candy bars.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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