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Cancer Survivor Saved by Measles Virus Raises Funds for Expanded Trial

Cancer Survivor Saved by Measles Virus Raises Funds for Expanded Trial

Mayo Clinic(NEW YORK) — After battling blood cancer for 10 years, Stacy Erholtz has no signs of the disease, thanks to an experimental treatment that used an engineered version of the measles virus.

Now, a year after finishing her treatment, the 50-year-old mother of three is transitioning from patient to advocate, working with the Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic to expand the tiny trial that saved her life.

“When I was first diagnosed, there was not a lot of options. We strung together 10 years of life with a disease that is typically done in three to five,” said Erholtz, who had tumors on her forehead, color bone, sternum and spine from multiple myeloma before the last-ditch treatment. “I’m encouraged. I want people to join me in remission right now.”

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that affects the immune system, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can cause kidney failure, bone fractures and repeated infections.

After chemotherapy and stem cell transplants failed, Erholtz was accepted into the measles trial and given the highest possible dose of the engineered virus, which was designed to attack her cancer cells and leave her healthy cells alone, according to her physician, Dr. Stephen Russell.

“It’s been adapted, so that it learned in the lab how to grow pretty efficiently on myeloma cells, “said Russell, who is in charge of the new trial. “It’s lost the ability to cause harm on normal cells.”

The effects were immediate and incredible, according to Erholtz. A large tumor on her forehead — nicknamed Evan by her children — disappeared within 36 hours, she said, adding that her energy “quadrupled” within weeks and within a few months, all of her tumors disappeared.

“At the Fourth of July parade, my mom and my husband accused me of taking steroids because I was so crazy energetic,” Erholtz said. “I was having a great time. They had not seen that kind of energy from me for a long time.”

Erholtz was one of two patients given the highest dose of the engineered virus. Both patients experienced some degree of remission but Erholtz was the only one to have all signs of cancer disappear. One forehead tumor did come back in January, she said, but it disappeared after a localized radiation treatment.

Another four patients received a lower dose of the engineered virus, according to Russell.

Now the trial is entering its second phase, with nearly 400 patients on a wait list hoping to have a reaction similar to Erholtz’s. But the researchers only have enough engineered measles virus to treat 20 patients initially, according to Russell.

The patients enrolled in the trial will need to meet certain criteria, which include having virtually no measles antibodies circulating in their blood, according to Russell. They will also need to have exhausted other treatment options.

The researchers will have to see if the staggering results from the initial trial can be repeated. They plan to work with one patient about every week, and if the results don’t appear to be positive over consecutive weeks, Russell said they’ll likely halt the trial with 20 participants. But if the treatment appears to be working, they’ll expand the trial to include an additional 17 patients, he said.

Erholtz said she wants to help other patients on the wait list get access to the treatment she received. Beyond partnering with the Mayo Clinic to raise funds for the trial, she also launched a foundation called Viral Village, which aims to stop “the bottleneck” of manufacturing process for experimental cancer drugs, she said.

“I had applied for [the trial] and [been] rejected 18 months before I got accepted,” she said. “I had my mind and heart set on the measles trial.”

And that trial led to a “beautiful remission,” according to Erholtz.

“It’s been a roller coaster for everyone as a family, [thinking] ‘Is this going to work?’” she said. “We were all excited and we just take it one a day at a time.”

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FDA Approves Weight-Management Drug Contrave

FDA Approves Weight-Management Drug Contrave

Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved weight-management drug Contrave on Wednesday to help adults with weight-related health problems.

According to a press release from the FDA, the drug is approved for use in adults with a body mass index above 30 (considered obese) or above 27 (considered overweight), or who suffer from high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol. “Obesity continues to be a major public health concern,” says Jean-Marc Guettier, director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “When used as directed in combination with a healthy lifestyle that includes a reduced-calorie diet and exercise, Contrave provides another treatment option for chronic weight management.”

Contrave combines two FDA-approved drugs, naltrexone and bupropion. Naltrexone is approved to treat alcohol and opioid depenence, while bupropion is used to treat depression and season affective disorder, and as a smoking cessation aid.

Contrave was expected to receive FDA approval in 2011, but the agency opted to wait for the results of clinical trials to evaluate the cardiovascular risks of the drug. Even after approving the drug, the FDA is requiring several more post-marketing trials to ensure patient safety.

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Alex Trebek Will Have a New Look When “Jeopardy!” Returns

Alex Trebek Will Have a New Look When “Jeopardy!” Returns

Kris Connor/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Back in 2001, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek shaved off a mustache he had for 30 years. But now, when fans tune into the premiere of the syndicated game show’s new season next week, they’ll see the ‘stache is back.

“In 2001, I shaved my mustache on a whim,” Trebek told People magazine. “This year I had a two-and-a-half-month period where we were not taping a show, so I grew it back on another whim. I like to keep my life simple.”

The new season of Jeopardy! begins Monday, Sept. 15.  Check local listings.

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Jobless Claims Climb Higher to 315K

Jobless Claims Climb Higher to 315K

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims were higher last week, increasing by 11,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

For the week ending Sept. 6, the number of people filing for benefits jumped to 315,000. The previous week, claims stood at 304,000.

The Labor Department said there were no “special factors” impacting that week’s figures.

The four-week moving average jumped higher, increasing by just 750 to 303,250.

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Prince Harry Opens the Invictus Games

Prince Harry Opens the Invictus Games

Paul Thomas/Getty Images for Jaguar Land Rover(LONDON) — An idea that Britain’s Prince Harry has said he stole from America and “made it bigger” kicked off Wednesday night with his emotional speech in front of thousands of wounded veterans and members of the royal family, minus Duchess Kate.

Harry, who was introduced by first lady Michelle Obama, told the crowd gathered for the start of the inaugural Invictus Games that “lives would be changed” during the athletic competition for wounded veterans from 13 nations.

“Over the next four days, we will see some truly remarkable achievements,” Harry said.

The prince, 29, was joined at the ceremony in London by his father, Prince Charles, stepmother Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and big brother Prince William.

William’s wife, Kate, did not attend. Kensington Palace announced Monday that she is pregnant with the couple’s second child and suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition characterized by acute morning sickness.

For Prince Harry, the kickoff to the Games marked the culmination of a year-long journey that began with a trip to Colorado in 2013 to participate in the U.S. version, called the Warrior Games.

“The Americans made it, I stole it and we made it bigger,” Harry said earlier this week as he handed out the first medals of the Invictus Games for a driving challenge, according to the BBC.

One-quarter of the 400 participants in the Invictus Games are U.S. veterans. Prince Harry has already met with some of the U.S. competitors who flew into London to compete.

“I’ve realized what a difference it can make, using the position to do good,” Harry said of his high-profile role in putting the Games together.

The athletes gathered in London will compete in adaptive sports ranging from wheelchair rugby and basketball to archery and indoor rowing, according to the Invictus Games’ website.

The Games’ official anthem was penned by Coldplay’s Chris Martin and performed Wednesday by singers from the U.K.’s Armed Forces.

The closing concert, scheduled for Sunday, is expected to include performances by the Foo Fighters, James Blunt and Ellie Goulding, among others.

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Sens. Jeff Flake, Martin Heinrich to Star in Discovery Survival Show

Sens. Jeff Flake, Martin Heinrich to Star in Discovery Survival Show

Discovery Channel(WASHINGTON) — Congressmen from opposing parties have a hard time getting along sometimes. Here’s one way to solve that: abandon them on a deserted island.

From the people who brought you Naked and Afraid comes Discovery Channel’s Rival Survival, where two politicians are forced to set aside their political differences and work together for six days on an uninhabited island in order to survive.

Rival Survival will feature Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., on the remote island of Eru, which is known for its shark-infested waters.

A Discovery Channel official told ABC News that the show was the senators’ idea. The two released a joint statement.

“Both of us know just how frustrated people are with Washington right now. We can both attest that no one is more frustrated than those of us trying to get things done in this environment,” Flake and Heinrich said. “We recognize how difficult it can be to cut through the partisanship. So we decided to do something completely out of the ordinary and frankly a little extreme to show the world and our colleagues that even if you have serious differences, if you want to survive you have to work together. ”

Flake is a conservative Republican who, in 2001, was elected into the House of Representatives, where he served six consecutive terms before being elected into the Senate in 2013. According to his website, he has “long fought the expansion of the national government and the growing national debt,” and favors tax reform. In 2013, Flake joined Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the “Gang of Eight” and introduced a bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill.

Heinrich is a Democrat from New Mexico who served on the House from 2009-2013 before joining the Senate in 2013. He serves on the U.S Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and describes himself as an “avid sportsman” who wishes to preserve New Mexico’s public lands and wildlife.

A Discovery Channel official told ABC News the show was filmed in August during congressional recess.

“The senators were not given help,” the Discovery spokesperson said. “It’s the same producers that do Naked and Afraid and they were treated the same way, but got to keep their clothes.”

Rival Survival premieres on Discovery Channel Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 10 p.m., one week before Election Day.

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Former Chef of Disgraced Gov. McDonnell Says Wife Was ‘Not Balanced’

Former Chef of Disgraced Gov. McDonnell Says Wife Was ‘Not Balanced’

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The executive chef of disgraced former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell said the former first lady of Virginia would regularly yell and swear at her staff along with routinely flaunting their lavish lifestyle.

“She was not balanced,” Todd Schneider told ABC’s 20/20 in an exclusive interview in which he revealed sordid details about what life was like behind closed doors at the Virginia governor’s mansion during McDonnell’s term. “You had your Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…every day you didn’t know what you were walking into.”

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell were convicted last week on corruption charges. A Richmond jury found Bob McDonnell guilty on 11 of 14 corruption counts and his wife was found guilty on nine corruption counts and obstruction of justice.

The charges stemmed from granting favors to a wealthy Virginia businessman in exchange for more than $177,000 worth of lavish gifts, vacations and loans. The pair was acquitted of bank fraud charges.

“The first lady’s office was right next to my kitchen so we were very close,” Schneider said. “I could see everything that was happening and almost hear everything…we all talked in the kitchen.”

Prior to working for the McDonnells, Schneider was a chef to the stars, cooking for Steven Spielberg, Garth Brooks and the Clintons, among others. It was his willingness to please that made him a favorite with the McDonnells.

“I was very close with Maureen and the governor,” he said. “I was basically living with them. I was basically part of the family.”

When he first met the McDonnells, Schneider said they were “fun, outgoing, very charismatic,” but he said the stresses of being a governor’s wife made Maureen McDonnell increasingly unpredictable, overly demanding and frequently verbally abusive.

“She would just say anything that came out of her mouth, but she really talked down to you, and she would swear at you,” Schneider said.

The first screaming incident with Maureen, Schneider said, happened with the director of the governor’s mansion.

“They were upstairs with guests and Maureen got upset and called her a f****** bitch, and screamed and her, and called her an idiot, and the director came down crying,” he said.

Afterwards, Schneider said he pulled Maureen aside: “And I just [said], ‘you cannot talk to people this way. You are the first lady of Virginia.’ ‘Well, she’s an idiot,’ and I go, ‘but you can’t do that.’”

According to Schneider, this was just one of her frequent blow-ups. Another example of her wrath, he said, was that Maureen wanted her bed sheets ironed and starched, and would berate the housemaids if the beds weren’t made correctly.

“If the sheets were about an inch on either side, she’d strip the bed and make them come back up and make it again,” he said.

But he said Maureen was usually cordial to him.

“She didn’t berate me as much as she did the other people, I think just because we were closer,” Schneider said. “I think it depended who you were.”

Things got so bad at the governor’s mansion, Schneider said, members of the staff wrote a letter threatening to quit if things did not change. But Schneider said the letter was never given to the first lady.

“The letter was delivered to the chief of staff and to the governor and to someone else,” he said. “They had a meeting with us and said, ‘everything’s going to be cool, don’t worry about it. We’ll take care of her, and it’s all going to be fine,’ and we went, ‘OK.’”

But things were far from being fine and Schneider said being in the governor’s mansion only emboldened Maureen to flaunt her connections and lavish gifts.

A frequent visitor, Schneider said, was Jonnie Williams, the founder and CEO of Star Scientific Inc., a pharmaceutical company that produced an anti-inflammatory pill called Anatabloc. Williams acknowledged under testimony that he contributed gifts and loans with the hopes of gaining access and federal testing for his company’s products.

When he came over to the governor’s mansion, “he got carte blanche,” Schneider recalled. “And he was treated very well. …He was there for a reason.”

According to Schneider, not only was Williams making regular appearances at the mansion, but so were the gifts he was buying for the governor’s family, everything from golf clubs and outings, to paid vacations, to a $20,000 designer shopping spree in New York City, to a $6,500 Rolex watch that McDonnell said in court that his wife gave him as a Christmas present.

“We knew things were getting better financially…you’d hear through the grapevine in the house where it was coming from,” Schneider said.

Schneider said the McDonnells would constantly throw parties and catering requests would come often and would be extravagant and short notice, so much so that he often had to borrow food from his own private restaurant and catering business.

“I had to call my restaurant and I had to say, ‘I need all this food,’” he said. “And we were invoicing them.”

But according to Schneider, the director of the mansion told him it was a conflict of interest for his private company to be paid for their services, and came up with an alternative plan.

“They said, ‘Well, why don’t we do this? We’ll do a barter system. You can take back what we owe you in food and we’ll call it that,’” Schneider said. “The voice down in me said, ‘Not kosher.’ But here you have everybody telling me it’s cool. So, I did it. And that’s what I was doing from then on…[and] this governor had parties every day.”

The McDonnell’s hired Schneider’s company to cater their daughter’s wedding, but when the $15,000 payment was due, the source of the check raised eyebrows.

“That’s what started it, was the check and the $15,000 that they received from Jonnie Williams,” Schneider said. “I said, ‘Copy it.’ For some reason, I don’t know why, something said, ‘Copy this check.’”

Before the McDonnells’ lifestyle unraveled, Schneider said he would come into his kitchen to find the mansion pantry raided — the governor’s friends and five children having cleaned it out of food and home goods bought with the mansion’s state budget.

Then, in a shocking twist, Schneider said he was accused of stealing food and charged with embezzlement. He pleaded no contest. In an attempt to help clear his name, he turned over documents and invoices, including the copy of the $15,000 check.

“I did everything I was told to do, and that’s why I was really hurt by everything that happened to me,” Schneider said. “I thought I was part of that family. We were so close.”

The McDonnells are scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 6, 2015 for sentencing. The maximum sentence for each corruption charge is 20 years in prison.

Watch the full story on ABC News’ 20/20 Friday, Sept. 12, at 10 p.m. ET.

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America Commemorates the 13th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks

America Commemorates the 13th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks

Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Image(NEW YORK) — Thursday marks the 13th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States.

It was on this day in 2001 that al Qaeda hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan as well as the Pentagon building in Washington D.C. A fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew rushed the cockpit.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed that day, including all 19 hijackers, in the deadliest terrorist strike on U.S. soil. It led to two overseas wars and substantial lifestyle changes at home as Americans no longer took their national security for granted.

[SLIDESHOW: View Photos of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum Exhibit]

This year’s commemoration also comes on the heels of President Obama’s speech to the nation Wednesday evening that outlined steps the U.S. will take to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State, a possibly bigger threat now than al Qaeda to American interests, the Middle East and the rest of the world.

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Meanwhile Thursday, cities across the nation are planning prayer services in remembrance of the attacks. The president and first lady Michelle Obama will lead a moment of silence on the South Lawn at the White House and later attend the annual September 11th Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial.

Meanwhile in lower Manhattan, the ceremony will again feature the reading of the names of the 2,983 men, women and children who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

Following the ceremony, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum will be open to victims’ families and first responders.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Faces New Pressure to Resign

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Faces New Pressure to Resign

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — What did the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell know about player Ray Rice’s assault of his then-fiancée in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City and when?

Some critics — including retired NFL players, women’s rights groups and TV hosts — are now calling for Goodell’s dismissal.

Former FBI director Robert S. Mueller has been tasked with getting to the bottom of the matter, assigned by the league to conduct an independent investigation into the NFL’s pursuit and handling of evidence following the February fight between Rice and his now-wife, Janay.

Within days of the incident, surveillance video from outside the elevator emerged, showing Palmer unconscious. The NFL’s efforts to acquire additional surveillance video from inside the elevator, showing the actual attack, remain unclear.

Rice, 27, was initially suspended for two games. But after the second video was released by TMZ.com on Monday, showing Rice punching his now-wife, the Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice’s contract. The NFL followed up with suspending him indefinitely.

Both the team and league have said they asked for the video, but police and prosecutors did not turn it over because it was part of a grand jury hearing.

But two sources briefed on the incident and behind-the-scenes discussions regarding the tape told ABC News that the Ravens knew that the tape existed and knew what was on the tape almost immediately after the incident.

ABC News reported Wednesday that the Baltimore Ravens knew shortly after Rice knocked out his wife that a surveillance video of the assault existed and that Rice’s lawyer had a copy of the video, but never asked to see it, sources said.

The claim by Goodell that the league was unaware of the brutality of Rice’s assault on his then-fiancee has also come under a cloud because a police report at the time stated clearly that Rice committed assault “by striking her with his hand, rendering her unconscious,” sources told ABC News.

Rice and Palmer were fighting before they entered the elevator at Revel Casino Hotel on Feb. 15.

Rice spat in his then-fiancée’s face twice — outside the elevator and then inside, a former staffer at the now-closed facility told ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

Palmer retaliated.

Rice punched her.

Her head hit a banister and she fell, unconscious, her body slumped in the elevator doorway. As Rice dragged her body out of the elevator, bystanders and security responded, according to the video.

“Get him away from her! Get him away from her!” a first responder was told by another security officer over a radio, a former security staffer told Outside the Lines.

Rice tried to get Palmer to stand.

“The first thing he said is, ‘She’s intoxicated. She drank too much. I’m just trying to get her to the room,” the Revel staffer told Outside the Lines.

According to Outside the Lines, Rice made a phone call as his fiancée remained groggy, saying, “I’m getting arrested tonight.” It is unclear from where Rice made the phone call.

Rice was charged with aggravated assault. But since he had a clean record and faced a third-degree charge, he was allowed to enter a pre-trial intervention program.

Rice and Palmer married in March.

Goodell met with the couple in mid-June before deciding on the initial two-game suspension for Rice.

“The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game,” Goodell said in a statement at the time. “This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.”

Goodell defended the NFL’s ruling a week later at the Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities, calling the suspension “consistent” with other punishments issued by the league.

The firestorm lingered. On Aug. 28, Goodell changed course, outlining a six-game ban for league personnel who violate the league’s policy on domestic violence.

“I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will,” Goodell wrote in a memo to NFL owners.

Less than two weeks later, the second video surfaced showing the attack from inside the elevator — a knockout punch, Palmer’s head hitting a banister, her body limp. The criticism re-ignited, with more force and fury and questions about how much the NFL knew and when.

Now, former players are calling on the NFL to act.

“If Roger Goodell won’t resign put him on leave of absence pending outside investigation. NFL fans, players and sponsors deserve that,” London Fletcher wrote.

Longtime Eagles running back Brian Westbrook was also critical. “Being a leader is not a part time job,” he wrote on Twitter. “If Goodell holds the players to a high standard, he should be held to that same high standard!”

National Organization of Women President Terry O’Neill is among Goodell’s most vocal critics. “The NFL sets the example for college, high school, middle school and even elementary school football programs. And the example it is setting right now is simply unacceptable,” she wrote in a statement.

ESPN’s Keith Olbermann also called for Goodell’s dismissal during Wednesday’s episode of Olbermann, comparing the NFL’s efforts to acquire information in previous investigations into the Patriots “Spygate” scandal in 2007 and a Saints bounty system, when evidence was gathered from non-law enforcement sources.

“Your guys seized video in one case and interpreted vague sideline video the way you wanted to in the other,” Olbermann said, addressing Goodell. “But the images of Ray Rice brutally knocking out his wife, symbolically knocking out every woman football fan in this country, symbolically knocking out every woman in this country, either you’re still waiting for the nice policeman on the corner to walk you home and give you that tape, or your office has reportedly had it all this time and they didn’t tell you about it, or you are lying about it.”

Now it’s up to Mueller to make sense of it all. Mueller’s investigation will be overseen by NFL owners John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers — and the final report will be made public, the league announced.

Mueller, 70, served as director of the FBI from 2001 until 2013, and is currently a partner in the law firm of WilmerHale. He is based in Washington, D.C.

But with Mueller’s appointment, a new question has emerged — can the investigation be truly independent? Mueller’s firm has helped negotiate the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package with DirecTV. The firm has also represented Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, and several league executives previously worked at WilmerHale.

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Florida Woman Found Dead in Bathtub Murder Mystery

Florida Woman Found Dead in Bathtub Murder Mystery

Insight For The Blind(DAVIE, Fla.) — Police in Florida are investigating the mysterious murder of a woman found dead in her bathtub.

Jill Halliburton Su — the wife of a prominent University of Florida professor — was found dead Monday inside her Davie, Florida, home in Broward County. The 59-year-old’s son discovered her body and called 911.

Davie Police Capt. Dale Engle said it didn’t take long for authorities to conclude that foul play was involved.

“The initial call came in as a possible suicide, but it became very evident that this was not a suicide, but in fact a homicide,” Engle said.

At this point, police aren’t saying how Halliburton Su died.

She was related to the founder of the billion-dollar Halliburton oil services empire and also volunteered, reading books for the blind.

Her husband, Dr. Nan Yao Su, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida’s Research and Education Center in Fort Lauderdale, was at work Monday, and said he called home when he couldn’t see his home surveillance cameras on his computer, police said. He told his oldest son to check on the house, at which time the victim’s body was found.

Both father and son were questioned by police and, at this point, neither are considered suspects, Engle said.

“I don’t want to say anybody’s been ruled out as a suspect. At this time, this is a very active investigation,” he said. “We did find a door that was broken or the glass of a door that was broken.”

That broken glass suggests that the house could have been broken into, with a room reportedly ransacked. Police are now canvassing the gated neighborhood, looking at surveillance tapes and even diving into nearby canals for clues.

“We’re going door-to-door, literally speaking, with residents over there to see if anybody captured any evidence that we may be able to utilize in this investigation,” Engle said.

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Woman’s Bid to End Prescription Drug Sales on eBay

Woman’s Bid to End Prescription Drug Sales on eBay

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Almost everything is for sale on the Internet auction site eBay, sometimes including powerful and potentially dangerous prescription drugs.

Nancy White, a Tennessee-based IT manager, said she has filed hundreds of reports with eBay customer service over the past four years complaining about prescription drugs being sold illegally on the site. She began her quest after ordering a skin cream and receiving a potentially harmful prescription medication instead.

“It was alarming, especially after I started investigating the scope of the problem,” she said.

Every time White makes a complaint, she said the company responds by removing the offending listings. But they’re usually back up within hours and often under the same seller profile, she said.

“They always assure me that this should not happen again and it will not happen again, but I’ve seen the same vendor relist the same drug over and over,” she said.

eBay spokesman Ryan Moore said the company goes through great lengths to protect consumers.

“eBay does not allow the listing of any substance that requires a prescription from a licensed medical practitioner or must be administered by a licensed practitioner. Listings that violate our policy are removed promptly after coming to our attention,” Moore told ABC News, adding that the online retailer is invested in systems dedicated to monitoring illegal listings.

However, White offered one example of a seller who has relisted the cosmetic cream, retin-A, eighteen separate times. While not the most hazardous product, retin-A does require a prescription. Side effects include excessive redness, blisters or a severe reaction to the sun in those who are allergic to it, according to Gina Caliendo, director of pharmacy at the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

The seller, whom ABC News is not naming, boasts a “100 percent positive feedback” rating. He did not immediately return a request for comment.

White said she concentrates on reporting vendors located in the U.S. Many appear to sell prescription drugs exclusively but some sell other products like e-cigarette devices, candy and even bow ties. Since there’s obviously no “prescription drug category” on the site, sellers typically post under “health and beauty,” “skin care,” “over-the-counter medications” or even “pet supplies.” Images of packaging are often posed to hide the “RX Only” notation, she said.

Some of the more than 50 medications White said she has reported to eBay do have serious side effects. Among them is Yasmin, a birth control pill that carries an increased risk of blood clots compared to other birth control medications. It also increases the risk of stroke, especially in smokers, Caliendo cautioned.

“Birth control is in common usage but no one should be using it without the supervision of a healthcare provider,” Caliendo said.

Another potentially dangerous drug White said she has reported multiple times is the anti-seizure drug, Tegretol. Caliendo said that doctors monitor use of this drug closely as patients are usually stepped up to a full dose over a period of weeks. Blood tests should be performed periodically to rule out potential toxic effects to the liver and bone marrow, Caliendo explained, adding that the drug can be fatal in high doses.

Dr. Ford Vox, a brain injury specialist with the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, said eBay isn’t the only high traffic website that has a prescription drug problem. Several months ago, his wife ordered an acne medication on Amazon that turned out to be the prescription-only antibiotic, clindamycin.

“Many of these large, multinational sites blame the people who use their platforms when in actuality they need to rethink some of their fundamental procedures,” Vox said. “It indicates they aren’t taking upon themselves to look for patterns of abuse on their own.”

Amazon declined to comment for this story.

The Food and Drug Administration, one of the government agencies responsible for the oversight of prescription drug sales, did not respond to several requests for a comment. But Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, told ABC News that the agency is serious about stopping the sort of illegal activity described by White.

“We look anywhere and everywhere if there is an indication of drug trafficking, even a large site like eBay,” he said.

Vox said there is currently so little government supervision that only the companies themselves can find out the extent of criminal activities on their site. And he said the global nature of the sites are no excuse for allowing illegal activity.

“Imagine any local flea market operating under similar circumstances where individual vendors were selling illegally,” he said. “Law enforcement would come down hard. This is no different.”

As for why people would risk purchasing potential harmful prescriptions online, Vox said they might not realize they’re doing anything wrong.

“They may mistakenly believe that ordering their prescriptions like this is perfectly legal,” he said, adding that some might do it to save money or because they don’t have access to a doctor.

White said she hopes her crusade results in eBay cleaning up all illegal prescription drug sales.

“I want everyone to see that selling these drugs can have consequences,” she said. “There is a person at the other end of each transaction who could be in danger from what they buy on this site.”

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Parties Prep Campaign War Chests for ‘Overtime’ in Louisiana Senate Race

Parties Prep Campaign War Chests for ‘Overtime’ in Louisiana Senate Race

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — If you think election season doesn’t go on for long enough as it is, get ready for some overtime.

Television viewers across most of the country can take comfort knowing that political TV ads will pass with Election Day on Nov. 4. But that’s not the case for Louisiana, where people can expect the airwaves to be pounded with aggressive political advertising for a full month after November’s Election Day.

That’s because the outcome of the Louisiana Senate race may not be known until December thanks to the state’s unique jungle primary system. In a race that could determine control of the Senate, incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu is locked in a tough bid for reelection against two Republican challengers and is expected to go to a runoff against her leading Republican challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy.

Republicans and Democrats alike are actively bracing for the likely scenario by setting aside money in their respective war chests to be used during the period after the general election in the lead-up to the runoff, ABC News has learned.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has already reserved nearly $3.4 million to spend on the political TV ads between Nov. 6 and Dec. 6, an NRSC official confirmed.

In Louisiana’s jungle primary electoral system, known more formally as a non-partisan primary, all candidates seeking an elected office run against each other on one ballot in the general election instead of having party primaries to decide on one candidate for each party. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates advance to a runoff election on Dec. 6.

An NRSC official told ABC News the group’s reserved funds are part of a strategy to support Cassidy in his race against Landrieu.

There is a second Republican challenger, tea party favorite and political newcomer Rob Maness, but he is not expected to pose a real threat to either candidate, though his presence in the race does increase the probability that the race will go to a runoff.

The NRSC official argued that the Democrats’ reserved funds tell a more interesting story, one of “panic.”

According to information collected by the NRSC’s media buyer, the Democrats have already set aside $7.9 million to spend in the runoff period, compared to the Republicans’ $3 million.

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White Sox DH Paul Konerko Plans to Return Next Week

White Sox DH Paul Konerko Plans to Return Next Week

Leon Halip/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — In the midst of the final weeks of his professional career, Chicago White Sox DH Paul Konerko hopes to return to the team’s lineup next week.

The 38-year-old Konerko has been out of action since Sept. 2 with a broken bone in his left hand when he was tagged out by Minnesota Twins outfielder Danny Santana.

Konerko said he might take some swings on Friday, and thinks that he could rejoin the team next week for a nine-game road trip.

Now in his 18th and final season in Major League Baseball, Konerko’s farewell tour has been plagued with injuries. He’s appeared in just 74 games this season, which will be his lowest mark since 1998.

Konerko is in his 16th season with the White Sox as he joined the club back in 1999, and has been a team staple ever since.

The team captain, Konerko has hit .281 with 432 home runs and 1,383 RBIs, and helped the team win the World Series back in 2005.

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Ted Cruz Booed Off Stage at Middle-East Christians’ Group

Ted Cruz Booed Off Stage at Middle-East Christians’ Group

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — It’s not every day that you see a presidential contender getting booed off stage.

But that’s what happened Wednesday night when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, widely viewed as a likely Republican candidate for the White House in 2016, addressed a group called In Defense of Christians at a gala dinner for its inaugural summit at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, D.C.

The video suggests, and Cruz’s office concurs, that the senator was booed and jeered for speaking favorably about Israel.

The video is missing some context and begins after Cruz has already been interrupted and as an apparent organizer urges “respect for dialogue.” Audience members shout at Cruz, who says he is “saddened.”

“If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,” Cruz says, and walks off the stage to some applause and a good number of jeers.

The group says it advocates for Christian communities in the Middle East. Its advisory board includes former attorney general John Ashcroft, former transportation secretary Ray Lahood, and Arab American Institute president James Zogby, according to its website. Its executive director is a former State Department representative to UNESCO.

“Tonight in Washington should have been a night of unity as we came together for the inaugural event for a group that calls itself ‘In Defense of Christians.’ Instead, it unfortunately deteriorated into a shameful display of bigotry and hatred,” Cruz said in a written statement on the event.

Many in the audience applauded him, Cruz said in the statement, but a “vocal minority” shouted him down. As Cruz was making that point to the crowd Wednesday night, one man shouted that it was “most of us” who disagreed with him. In his statement, Cruz said he spoke to the group in the hopes of talking about persecution of Christians at the hands of ISIS, against which he has railed before.

“But bigotry and hatred have no place in this discussion. Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight,” Cruz said. “After just a few minutes, I had no choice. I told them that if you will not stand with Israel, if you will not stand with the Jews, then I will not stand with you. And then I walked off the stage.”

In Defense of Christians has not yet responded to an inquiry from ABC News about Cruz’s appearance.

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Movie Review: “Dolphin Tale 2” (Rated PG)

Movie Review: “Dolphin Tale 2” (Rated PG)

Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) — 2011’s Dolphin Tale was a surprisingly engaging and inspiring film, based on a true story, which was great for the whole family.  It was also a hit, which for Hollywood means, “Let’s get that dolphin back in the water and make a sequel.”

Dolphin Tale 2 is “inspired” by actual events, once again involving Winter, the dolphin with the prosthetic tail.  Returning as Winter’s best human buds are Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), the marine biology prodigy, and Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff), the daughter of marine biologist/pet vet  Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.).  Winter’s no longer just a symbol of hope: he’s also big business, helping to turn Dr. Haskett’s marine life rescue facility into a thriving aquarium. 

But then Winter’s elderly aquarium mate dies, and the feds threaten to take Winter from the aquarium because it’s against regulations for a dolphin to be held in captivity without a companion dolphin.  If they lose Winter, they will probably lose the aquarium.  The dramatic tension — or lack thereof — is supposed to come from whether or not Winter will bond with a new, young dolphin named Hope.

None of this will engage adults, even if they do manage to stay awake during a movie that seems much longer than its 1:47 runtime.  However, small children will probably enjoy the dolphins, and a pelican that shows up strictly for comic relief but is rarely funny (to adults).  The best lines in this movie are delivered by Morgan Freeman, who once again plays Dr. Cameron McCarthy, the man who invented Winter’s prosthetic tail, and even that bit of dialogue is just a little too precious to feel organic. 

If it hadn’t been for the success of the first movie, Dolphin Tale 2 would likely have been one of those straight-to-DVD kids’ movies.

One out of five stars. 

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Google Says System Was Not Breached, Advises Users to Protect Themselves Online

Google Says System Was Not Breached, Advises Users to Protect Themselves Online

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Google denied on Wednesday that their system may have been compromised, allowing as many as five million users’ emails and passwords to be made public.

“The security of our users is of paramount importance to us,” a Google spokesperson said. “We have no evidence that our systems have been compromised, but whenever we become aware that an account has been compromised, we take steps to help our users secure their accounts.”

The Google spokesperson said that an exceedingly small percentage of the email addresses and passwords listed online match, meaning the majority are just random matches and would not allow access to a user’s account.

Google speculates that credentials could have been obtained in a number of ways without a breach of Google systems. Phishing schemes, the installation of malware, or the hacking of a third-party website where users may have reused passwords are among the possible causes.

As they have with other recent concerns about personal information, Google recommends users utilize a strong and unique password, update their recovery options and take advantage of two-step verification for log-ins.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Oscar Pistorius Did Not Intentionally Kill Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Judge Says

Oscar Pistorius Did Not Intentionally Kill Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Judge Says

Kim Ludbrook/ – Pool/EPA/Gallo Image/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) — Oscar Pistorius did not intentionally kill his girlfriend in a 2013 shooting, a South African judge ruled – but he could still be convicted of culpable homicide, she said in Thursday’s verdict proceedings.

Pistorius broke down into sobs as Judge Thokozile Masipa found the athlete not guilty of murder.

Masipa called Pistorius a “very poor witness” during the murder trial and found he was at times vague and avoided answering some of the prosecution’s questions. Despite that, she says this does not necessarily indicate his guilt.

Steenkamp was shot and killed on Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius has argued that the shooting was an accident, that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

Masipa is offering her insight and analysis on the evidence given by dozens of witnesses in the case. The verdict on Steenkamp’s shooting death was expected to span over two days but looks set to finish Thursday.

As Masipa began reading her ruling, Pistorius appeared tense and emotional. He was later seen crying.

Earlier, he squeezed through the media throng awaiting outside the courtroom.

The trial has spanned five months, prolonged by several interruptions including a month-long break so the paralympian sprinter could be examined by mental health experts.

Pistorius – known as “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs – served as an international inspiration after performing in the London 2012 Olympics.

Masipa, along with two assistants, are tasked with determining whether Pistorius is guilty or innocent. South Africa does not use jury trials.

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Did Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Martin Have a Date Night?

Did Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Martin Have a Date Night?

Rindoff/Dufour/French Select/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Martin both seem to have moved on from their past relationships. The Hunger Games actress and the Coldplay frontman were spotted dining together at a Beverly Hills hot spot this past Monday.

An onlooker tells People magazine, “They were super cute together,” adding, “They were laughing a lot and Jennifer was acting all goofy.”

Lawrence, 24, and Martin, 37, were first spotted together in public at one of his London concerts back in July.

Last month, sources told E! Online the couple has been spending “quality time” together since June.

Lawrence split from longtime boyfriend, X-Men actor Nicholas Hoult, over the summer.

Martin separated from Gwyneth Paltrow, his wife of 10 years, this past March.

Lawrence will next be seen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.  It opens nationwide Nov. 21.

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Wedding Gifts Include Artwork

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Wedding Gifts Include Artwork

CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Image(NEW YORK) — Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s wedding gifts seemed to carry a theme, according to a source who tells Us Weekly the couple received a lot of artwork from friends who attended the top-secret nuptials last month.

The source says Brad and Angelina “are building a large art collection” at their 1,200-acre Southern France estate, Chateau Miraval and some of the gifts will help them decorate the walls.

The insider says a close friend of Pitt’s presented the couple with original paintings by British urban artist Dom Pattinson.  The source says Brad and Angelina also received a giant elephant statue, although the sender remains unknown.

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Report: Khloe Kardashian and French Montana Split

Report: Khloe Kardashian and French Montana Split

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — After eight months of dating, Khloe Kardashian has split from rapper French Montana.

Sources tell E! News that Khloe broke things off and French is having a hard time with it and “won’t really accept it.” The source added that the rapper had grown increasingly “needy” and “obsessive.”

“For all intents and purposes, Khloe is single again,” the source continued.

French said in a recent Billboard interview that he benefited from dating the reality star, saying “I want to capitalize on it” as his new album Mac & Cheese is set to be released later this year. Still, the E! News source said the break up had nothing to do with that report.

“That stuff never bothered her because she doesn’t care what people think,” the source explained. “She’s just decided to move on.”

“Khloe thinks he’s a great guy but it just wasn’t working out,” the source added.

The pair were first linked earlier this year as they were frequently spotted together. French will even be featured in the forthcoming E! spin-off, Kourtney and Khloé Take the Hamptons, which is set to premiere Sept. 14.

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