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Taylor Swift Reveals How Fame Has Changed Her Day-to-Day Life

Taylor Swift Reveals How Fame Has Changed Her Day-to-Day Life

ABC/Richard Harbaugh(NEW YORK) -- Taylor Swift may sing about universal truths, but her life is decidedly different.Fame, she said, has allowed her to splurge on things like a private jet ("Isn't that crazy?" she said in Esquire) but it's also forced her to lose a bit of autonomy."I fought the idea of having security for a very long time, because I really value normalcy. I really do. I like to be able to take a drive by myself. Haven't done that in six years," she told the magazine. "[Even in Tennessee, my bodyguards] have to be in a car behind me because just the sheer number of men we have in a file who have showed up at my house, showed up at my mom's house, threatened to either kill me, kidnap me, or marry me. This is the strange and sad part of my life that I try not to think about. I try to be lighthearted about it, because I don't ever want to be scared. I don't want to be walking down the street scared. And when I have security, I don't have to be scared."There have been a lot of changes in Swift's life recently. The singer, 24, recently moved to New York City and is planning to release her new album, 1989, later this month. And despite recently moving to a place that many stars call home, New York City, Swift said she won't leave her home if she's having a bad day, so that she doesn't accidentally snap at a fan."It's a social situation every time I go out," she explained. "I just have to wake up in the morning and say, 'How am I feeling today? If someone asks for a picture, am I gonna feel imposed upon today because I'm dealing with my own stuff? Am I gonna take my own stuff out on some innocent 14-year-old today and be in a bad mood?' OK, maybe not … Maybe I won't leave the house."Her career also forced the singer to finish two years of high school in 12 months ("That was just the most practical way to do it," she said) and deal with online trolling in a way that would reduce most people to tears."That's what I don't like about celebrity culture and the obsession with it, and the takedown culture that we seem to be in. You have celebrities who are pushed to the brink of a public meltdown, and so the public thinks that every person in the public eye has dirty secrets that they're keeping, or isn't what they seem, or is masking it and faking sincerity, faking authenticity, faking being surprised at award shows when you win a Grammy," she said. "I'm not gonna let them make me have a meltdown."

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Canada Shooting Hero Identified as Sgt. at Arms Kevin Vickers

Canada Shooting Hero Identified as Sgt. at Arms Kevin Vickers

Alex Boutilier/Toronto Star via Getty Images(OTTAWA, Ontario) -- Sgt. at Arms Kevin Vickers is being hailed a hero on Wednesday for shooting the gunman who ambushed the Parliament building in Ottawa.Lawmakers confirmed to ABC News that Vickers fired the fatal shot that killed the gunman, who has not been identified.Vickers, 58, is a former police officer who had worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for nearly three decades before he joined Canada's House of Commons as the head of security in 2005. He was appointed Sgt. at Arms the following year.Vicker's younger brother John Vickers told CBC News that his brother called their mother to say he's safe."I just couldn't be prouder of him right now," John said, noting that Kevin has "always been committed to service, people and country."Kevin Vickers, who lives in Ottawa, according to his Facebook profile, also drew praise on social media.Justice Minister and Attorney General Peter MacKay called Vickers and other security forces "true heroes," and politician Glenn Thibeault called him the "nicest guy you'll ever meet."

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Bill Murray Talks Dating and Whether He’d Try Tinder

Bill Murray Talks Dating and Whether He’d Try Tinder

ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) -- Bill Murray knows all about Tinder, but that doesn't mean he's going to use it.When asked if he would consider downloading the dating app, he responded in the negative."I think it could be amusing but I can't imagine doing it," he said during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. "I feel like I've lived that life and I can live that life at any moment."Need proof? The St. Vincent star, 64, looked into the studio audience and made eyes at a man in the front row."I can just sort of say, 'Hey you, with the camera. No, you. Come here,'" he said. "Dammit, I'm coming your way!"With that, he pulled the man onstage, to laughter from Kimmel and the crowd."Well, he blushes easily," Murray quipped. We're never going to get to a lot of the good stuff!"

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History Repeating Itself in Connecticut Governor’s Race

History Repeating Itself in Connecticut Governor’s Race

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Four years ago, Dan Malloy and Tom Foley had the tightest election in Connecticut’s history, with Malloy winning the governor's race by about 6,000 votes. Now, the two look headed for a similarly tight brawl.According to a new Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday, Gov. Malloy has 43 percent of likely voters while GOP challenger Foley has 42 percent. Independent candidate Joe Visconti has 9 percent.The results are similar to Quinnipiac's poll from earlier this month. There is a wide gender gap so Malloy will know who to thank if he does win. He leads Foley 51 to 32 percent among women, while Foley leads Malloy 53 to 34 percent among men. With just two weeks to go, 81 percent of Connecticut voters say their mind is made up.

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US Military Launches 18 Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria, Iraq

US Military Launches 18 Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria, Iraq

Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The U.S. military conducted 18 more airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Syria and Iraq on Tuesday and Wednesday.According to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), six of the strikes were in Syria, near Kobani. They destroyed fighting positions, two vehicles, an ISIS building and a logistical center.The remaining 12 airstrikes were in Iraq, near Mosul Dam. Those attacks destroyed a large ISIS unit, a mortar launching position, three vehicles and multiple fighting positions.CENTCOM said all the aircraft used in the strikes managed to exit the areas safely.

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Why Shailene Woodley Is Homeless by Choice

Why Shailene Woodley Is Homeless by Choice

Lloyd Bishop/NBC(LOS ANGELES) -- Shailene Woodley can certainly afford to buy a home, but the Golden Globe-nominated actress is homeless by choice.

On Wednesday's The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Woodley said she prefers a nomadic existence at this point in her life."I feel like I'm so young and this is the time to travel and experience new things," Woodley said, adding that she prefers to travel with a single suitcase.

"It feels so nice to not have to worry about 'Oh, where is that pair of jeans' because you only have one pair of jeans, which is why I have a carry-on. Because if everything I own is in a suitcase and that suitcase somehow gets lost then I would just be stranded," she said with a laugh.Although she doesn't have a home, Woodley said she does have a home city."I guess L.A. would be my hub because my family is here but I just travel around with my little suitcase that I stole from my mom's house," she explained.Woodley will next be seen on the big screen in White Bird in a Blizzard, out Oct. 24.

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Katy Perry Cancels Plans for Birthday Bash in Egypt

Katy Perry Cancels Plans for Birthday Bash in Egypt

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) -- Katy Perry was planning to spend her 30th birthday on Saturday like the Queen of the Nile, but now she's suffering a "denial" of celebration opportunities.According to The Hollywood Reporter, Perry was set to take her crew to Egypt to celebrate her milestone, and while there, had booked a schedule of parties and sightseeing, including a cruise down the Nile River. However, news of her visit leaked out, and a source tells the publication that the singer scrapped the plans due to "safety concerns."The idea for Perry to travel to Egypt may have been sparked by the Ancient Egypt-themed video for her #1 hit, "Dark Horse."Perry is on a break from her PRISMATIC world tour, but it will pick up again Nov. 7 in Australia, where she'll remain until Dec. 20. Another break will follow, and then a European leg begins Feb. 16. 

Between those two dates, Perry will presumably perform at the halftime show at the Super Bowl, though the NFL hasn't officially confirmed that.

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Kanye West Gushes over Kim Kardashian on Her Birthday

Kanye West Gushes over Kim Kardashian on Her Birthday

Steve Mack/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- In celebration of Kim Kardashian’s 34th birthday, Kanye West returned to his Twitter account to express his undying love for his wife."Happy Birthday baby! Thank you for being the dopest wife & mom!" he tweeted to Kardashian late Tuesday night.The rapper also professed that his love for her goes beyond what words can describe.

"Sometimes I feel like just saying I love you isn’t strong enough to express how much I love you…" he wrote, which was later retweeted 52,000 times by his fans.West seemingly showered Kardashian with a surprise vacation, judging by her recent Instagram picture. "Good morning #BdaySurpriseGettaway," she wrote in the caption along with a photo of an unnamed tropical locale.

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Swedish Massages for Rabbits? Taxpayer Expenses You Won’t Believe

Swedish Massages for Rabbits? Taxpayer Expenses You Won’t Believe

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In Washington, pork is often in the eye of the beholder. And retiring GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma sees a lot of it.

Coburn’s fifth annual and final “Wastebook” lists 100 “silly, unnecessary and low priority projects” that he says cost taxpayers a combined $25 billion.“Is each of these a true national priority, or could the money have been better spent on a more urgent need, or not spent at all?” Coburn writes in the 110-page report.Here are five eyebrow-raising entries on Coburn’s list:

1. Swedish Massages for Rabbits: $387,000Eighteen New Zealand white rabbits received 30-minute massages, four times a day in a taxpayer-funded study by the National Institutes of Health. The rub downs were performed by a specially-designed mechanical Swedish massage machine that “simulates the long flowing strokes.” Researchers say humans are the ultimate beneficiaries of the project, which studied the benefits of massage on recovery from exercise. But Coburn calls it a case of waste, citing existing studies of treatments for aches and pains, and suggesting that humans would be better subjects than rabbits. (As for those massaged rabbits, they were ultimately euthanized, the report says.)

2. Army Video Game Training Terrorists?: $414,000The U.S. Army spent $414,000 this year maintaining a free online video game that it first developed and launched as a recruitment tool back in 2009, the report says citing the Congressional Research Service. America’s Army is a first-person shooter game that simulates special forces operations. Coburn, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the realistic nature of the program makes it as much a training device as a recruitment tool. “Some intelligence officials worry it could also be aiding jihadists and mass murderers,” the report claims.

3. Hungry Spouses & Voodoo Dolls: $331,000What happens between couples when one is particularly hungry? A National Science Foundation study set out to evaluate a connection between low blood sugar and anger by arming couples with voodoo dolls representing their spouse. The hungrier the spouse, the more pins were poked into the doll when they got agitated. A lead researcher concluded, “Hungry people are cranky and aggressive.” Coburn’s report claims the findings are “already obvious to many couples.”

4. Mountain Lions on Treadmill: $856,000Three mountain lions spent eight months learning to walk on a treadmill as part of study funded by taxpayers through National Science Foundation. Researchers were studying the big cats’ energy consumption and hunting techniques to “inform public knowledge and opinion of large mammal behavior and conservation.” It follows similar government treadmill studies on monkeys, rats, cows and even shrimp. “While support for basic science is not itself wasteful,” Coburn’s report reads, “federal research agencies should better prioritize how tax dollars are directed to ensure adequate support for more pressing scientific endeavors.”

5. Unneeded “Sheep Station”: $1.98 millionA 28,000-acre facility in Idaho to graze 3,000 sheep -- dubbed the “U.S. Sheep Experiment Station” -- has been deemed unsustainable and unnecessary by the Obama administration. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said outright earlier this year that it should be closed to prioritize research on more important projects. But members of congress and other state officials have succeeded in keeping the $2 million a year facility open for the benefit of Idaho businesses, the report says.Asked about several National Science Foundation projects included in the report, NSF spokeswoman Dana Topousis told ABC News that each was funded after a "rigorous merit review process" through which only 20 percent of proposals each year are approved.

"All proposals submitted to NSF are reviewed according to two merit review criteria: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts," Topousis said in a statement. "Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers."

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What You Need to Know About Health Care Open Enrollment

What You Need to Know About Health Care Open Enrollment

Steve Hamblin/Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The stakes are higher for picking your health care insurance this year, whether choosing employer-sponsored plans or health exchange coverage.An individual must have some kind of coverage or pay the individual mandate penalty. For 2015, this will be $325 per adult in a family and half that much for each child under 18, up to $975 per household."Everyone should get some kind of coverage," said Timothy Jost, a professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law.Here are things you should know about open enrollment:

1. DeadlinesKnow your employer's open enrollment period.Open enrollment for all health care exchanges is shorter for 2015: Nov. 15 to Feb. 15. Individuals may qualify for special enrollment periods beyond this time frame if, for example, they get married, have a baby or move.

2. Employer-sponsored vs. exchange coverage?Some employees can decline employer-sponsored insurance and instead pursue tax credits on public exchanges. Employer-sponsored insurance must be affordable and offer adequate coverage, said Andrea Riggs, director of communications for GetInsured. If the employee's contribution toward a plan is less than 9.5 percent of the employee's household income, then it is deemed affordable.An employee with low enough wages may also be eligible for Medicaid, Jost said.

3. Research a plan’s total costDon't just focus on the premiums, Riggs said. A few employers, for example, do not cover hospitalization, Jost said. What's the out-of-pocket limit? Does your employer offer a Health Savings Account (HSA), which can roll over and is yours to keep?

4. Vocabulary and mechanicsHealthy people who need less care should be more comfortable paying lower premiums (the amount paid for your health plan by you and/or your employer) with less coverage, Riggs said. This means higher co-pays (fixed amount paid for a service) and higher deductibles (the amount paid out of pocket before an insurer will pay up). People who need more care should opt for richer benefits (lower co-pays, lower deductibles) with higher premiums.

5. Don't forget about providers and drugsMake sure any doctors and specialists key to you are in a plan's network, that there are enough providers near your home or work and that your prescribed drugs are covered.

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CDC to Monitor All Travelers Coming from Ebola-Affected Countries

CDC to Monitor All Travelers Coming from Ebola-Affected Countries

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- All people returning to the United States from Ebola-affected countries will undergo 21-day monitoring, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday.Travelers arriving from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people since the worst outbreak of the virus in history began in March, will be given a home kit with a thermometer and Ebola information so that they can self-monitor and report to the CDC, according to the agency.If they do not report, officials will track them down, the CDC said.Travelers will need to take their temperature twice daily and answer several questions about their symptoms, according to the CDC.The program will focus on the six states that see about 70 percent of the traffic from these regions: Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.Some states may monitor these travelers in person.

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Dog of Ebola-Infected Nurse Tests Negative for Deadly Virus

Dog of Ebola-Infected Nurse Tests Negative for Deadly Virus

Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center(DALLAS) -- The dog of an Ebola-infected nurse has tested negative for the deadly virus.Bentley has been quarantined after its owner, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with Ebola earlier this month.According to a statement from Dallas City Hall, the dog was tested Monday and will be tested again while he remains in quarantine for 21 days, similar to how humans are quarantined for the duration of a possible Ebola incubation.Pham was diagnosed on Oct. 12.The dog has been cared for at an undisclosed location by a large team including Dallas Animal Services, Texas A&M University and the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and Texas Animal Health Commission, among others.The Dallas Animal Services, which has helped care for the the dog in quarantine, posted images of the dog on Monday as he was being tested.A team member from the Texas A&M University Veterinary Emergency Team wore full protective gear as he took samples from Bentley.In Spain, the dog of an Ebola-infected nurse there was euthanized amid fears the animal could spread the virus although there was no confirmation the dog had been infected with the virus. Thousands protested the decision by local government officials.Pham contracted the virus after she treated Thomas Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. She was moved to the National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, on Oct. 16 for further treatment.

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First Day on the Job for Ebola Czar Ron Klain Begins at the White House

First Day on the Job for Ebola Czar Ron Klain Begins at the White House

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It's day one for Ron Klain and already the newly-minted Ebola Czar has a full plate and a packed schedule. On Wednesday he sits down with President Obama at the White House and gets up to speed with the administration's Ebola response team.

As the new point-person, Klain is tasked with coordinating the various agencies, and all of the bureaucracies involved, and making sure the government's response runs more smoothly. One item not on Klain’s schedule: testifying before the House on Friday. Other administration representatives will speak at that hearing, since it will only be day three of Klain's tenure.Meanwhile, Klain hasn't even started his new job and already speculation is swirling about his next position. Politico reported on Wednesday that he is in line to replace John Podesta as counselor to the president, or possibly even to succeed Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Not surprisingly, the White House insists Klain is focused on the task front of him.

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Ashoka Mukpo Says He Owes Hospital a ‘Debt He Can Never Repay’

Ashoka Mukpo Says He Owes Hospital a ‘Debt He Can Never Repay’

Ashoka Mukpo(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Ashoka Mukpo, the freelance American journalist who caught Ebola and was discharged from Nebraska Medical Center on Wednesday, said he owes the hospital staff "a debt he can never repay."Mukpo, 33, a cameraman covering the Ebola outbreak in West Africa for NBC News, Vice and others, contracted the deadly virus. He was flown to Nebraska Medical Center for treatment in its isolation unit on Oct. 6."After end weeks where it was unclear whether I would survive, I’m walking out of the hospital on my own power, free from Ebola," Mukpo wrote in a statement read at a news conference at the hospital Wednesday.He took to social media throughout his treatment, tweeting Tuesday night that he tested negative for Ebola three times over three days.

Just got my results. 3 consecutive days negative. Ebola free and feeling so blessed. I fought and won, with lots of help. Amazing feeling

— ashoka (@unkyoka) October 21, 2014

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White House Still Confused About Bruce Braley

White House Still Confused About Bruce Braley

David Greedy/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is doing its best to boost Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley, but it keeps getting tripped up.After repeatedly flubbing his name and referring to him as “Bruce Bailey” at a rally last week, first lady Michelle Obama got a do-over Tuesday while stumping for the Democrat in Iowa City.This time, she made sure to get it right, joking that she has so much trouble with names she sometimes can’t keep her daughters straight.“It’s like, who are you? I call Barack Bo,” she said, explaining how she sometimes calls her husband by the dog’s name. “It never works out really well.”Despite the first lady’s attempt to smooth things over, the White House goofed again, sending out the transcript of Mrs. Obama’s remarks in a an email entitled “Remarks by the First Lady at a Grassroots Campaign Event with Democratic Candidate for Governor Bruce Braley.”They got the name right, but not the title. Braley is a candidate for Senate, not governor.The White House later issued a correction.They will get another chance to get it right when Vice President Joe Biden campaigns for Braley next Monday.

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Apple Issues Security Warning over Attacks on iCloud Users

Apple Issues Security Warning over Attacks on iCloud Users

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple said it is aware of "intermittent" attacks on iCloud users and is urging users to take precautions to make sure their private information stays safe.The new security bulletin comes as reports have emerged that some iCloud users in China have been taken to unauthorized websites after trying to log into their accounts.

A post on Apple's support website does not explicitly refer to China. The iPhone maker also noted that its servers have not been compromised."We're aware of intermittent organized network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information, and we take this very seriously," the bulletin said.The hacking attempts don't impact users who sign in to their iCloud accounts on iOS devices. Macs running the new OS X Yosemite using Safari are also not impacted, Apple said.The company recommends users protect their data by making sure they have a secure connection to iCloud.com before entering any personal information."If users get an invalid certificate warning in their browser while visiting www.icloud.com, they should pay attention to the warning and not proceed," Apple said in the post.

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Mariota: Excited to Play in Levi’s Stadium

Mariota: Excited to Play in Levi’s Stadium

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images(EUGENE, Oregon) -- Sixth ranked Oregon will get another test on the road when they travel to California on Friday night.

The Ducks come into the game 3-1 in the Pac-12 this season and the team is looking forward to playing in the newly built Levi's Stadium.

"It'll be exciting to play in Levi's Stadium," Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota  said Tuesday. "My brother and my dad are huge Niners fans, it'll be cool to take pictures and show them."

"Playing on a Friday night, there's not that much college games on, people will be tuning in," Mariota added. "It'll be a lot of fun."

Mariota has thrown 19 touchdowns and passed for 1,957 yards this season.

The Golden Bears are 2-3 in the Pac-12 so far this season.

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What Supreme Court Did (and Did Not) Reveal About Three Hot Button Issues

What Supreme Court Did (and Did Not) Reveal About Three Hot Button Issues

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Without uttering a word from the bench, the Supreme Court acted on major hot button issues in the last month concerning voting rights, abortion and gay marriage.The cases weren’t on the Court’s argument calendar. Parties were either asking the Court to act on an emergency basis to freeze a lower court decision, or requesting that the Court step in and take a case for later in the term.

The Court responded by issuing orders that were usually only a few sentences long. We never got the majority’s reasoning, but in some cases a few of the Justices released a public dissent.Here’s some of what we know, and what we don’t, about the hot button issues:Voting Rights:The court sent a strong signal that it didn’t like voting changes made too close to an election. It allowed voting restrictions to remain in effect in North Carolina, Texas and Ohio. It stopped Wisconsin’s Voter ID law from going into effect.But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most senior member of the liberal wing of the Court, had a couple of things she wanted to make clear: the country, she believes, is now feeling the impact of the Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County that invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

In two separate dissents, she pointed out that voting restrictions in Texas and North Carolina would most likely not have been able to stand in pre-Shelby days.

She said the Texas Voter ID law “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification.”Abortion:The Court blocked part of Texas’ abortion law from going into effect pending appeal. Pro choice groups praised the court’s order saying that several abortion clinics -- forced to close because of a lower court ruling -- would be able to reopen while the merits of the case were argued.What’s interesting in this case is that while Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas publicly dissented, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy were publicly silent.The court’s action was not a ruling on the merits; it simply granted an emergency application from pro-choice groups fearful that the state would be left with just seven clinics. But the silence on the part of Roberts and Kennedy gave the groups some hope that they might be able to get five votes down the road to permanently strike down provisions of the law.Gay Marriage:The justices cleared the way for gay marriage in several states when the Court declined to step in and review seven cases from three appeals courts. President Obama went as far as telling the New Yorker that the Court’s action was as “consequential” as anything the Court has done.We may never know what went on behind closed doors when the justices made their decision. It would have taken four votes to grant any one of the cases. Every justice knew that if the Court chose not to take up the cases, in short order 35 states would allow gay marriage.

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Feds: Our Bad, Millions More Airbags Could Be Dangerous

Feds: Our Bad, Millions More Airbags Could Be Dangerous

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal officials say a previous count of the number of vehicles that could be loaded with defective airbags came up short by more than three million, and the government website drivers could use to see if their individual car is on the list is currently down due to “intermittent network issues.”On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published an urgent plea on its website for more than 4.7 million owners of vehicles with Takata airbags to immediately get the airbags replaced, as the owners had been directed in previous recall notices over the past two years.

Auto safety expert Sean Kane told ABC News that the renewed warning is related to the potential for the airbag’s inflator to explode when deployed, sending “shrapnel” into the face of the car’s occupant -- a phenomenon allegedly linked to gruesome injuries and a small number of deaths.“This is literally like having an IED [improvised explosive device] in your car,” Kane said.Late Tuesday, the government revised the number, however, saying actually 7.8 million vehicles have been subject to the airbag recall since 2013.“The list below corrects the list that accompanied our October 20 advisory, which incorrectly included certain vehicles,” the NHTSA website says, noting that the numbers could change again.Beyond the list of make and models on the NHTSA website, the federal agency says concerned vehicle owners can contact their manufacturer’s website to search by the vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if the vehicle they drive is one of those under recall. NHTSA has its own VIN lookup website, but as of this report, that function was unavailable due to “intermittent network issues,” according to a posting on the site.The recall reminder is “especially” urgent for vehicle owners in warm climates like the southern U.S., Hawaii and American island territories. Toyota, a maker of some of the recalled vehicles, said on its website Monday said the “influence of high absolute humidity” in the airbag malfunctions is under investigation.Earlier this month, Florida woman Hien Tran was killed in a mysterious auto accident that police initially treated like a homicide due to the apparent stab wounds on her neck. Later, however, investigators determined her fatal wounds were “consistent with…exploding airbags,” according to The Orlando Sentinel. If confirmed, auto safety experts say Tran’s death would be the fourth linked to the dangerous defect.NHTSA opened an investigation into the issue back in June, at which time airbag supplier Takata published a statement on its website saying the company “is committed to the highest standards of safety for our customers -- and their customers.”“For the past several months, we have been consistently cooperating with NHTSA, and we will continue to do so during the defect investigation that the agency recently opened, but we also stand by the quality of our products,” says the note, which was reposted on Takata’s website earlier this week. “Takata is committed to ensuring the safety and functionality of its airbag inflators, and we strive to avoid any malfunction.”

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Chuck Norris Gives Texas Voters a Kick, Boosts GOP Candidate

Chuck Norris Gives Texas Voters a Kick, Boosts GOP Candidate

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Walker, Texas Ranger returned to the Lone Star State on Wednesday, but not to fight bad guys. He swooped in to lend a helping hand to Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.“Chuck Norris doesn’t campaign with Greg Abbott,” Abbott’s campaign spokesman Avdiel Huerta said. “Greg Abbott campaigns with Chuck Norris.”“Together,” Huerta added, “they plan to give Texas voters a good roundhouse kick in the direction of their local polling places.”With the first week of early voting underway in Texas, both Abbott and his challenger, Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis, are increasing their get-out-the-vote activities, and Abbott is counting on a little star power. Norris will join Abbott at stops in Corpus Christi and San Antonio.This isn’t Norris’ first time in the political arena.In 2012, he endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for president, saying he was the “best man left on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his campaign machine.”Norris, 74, also got involved in the National Rifle Association’s “Trigger the Vote,” campaign this summer.“Anyone can throw a punch. It takes a real man or woman to punch a voter registration card,” Norris said in a video.

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