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Sara Hall

Likes: Good (read: bad) puns, puppies, embarrassing pop music, burritos, idolizing Beyoncé and Tina Fey Dislikes: Squirrels, typos, socks with sandals (and other unforgivable fashion mistakes) Sara hasn't always been a journalist -- unless you count that time she put out a newspaper in the third grade about her dog. Still, she's been making up for lost time ever since she began attending Eastern Illinois University and started writing for The Daily Eastern News. When people ask her why she wants to be a writer, she tells them it's because she genuinely enjoys journalism and everything that goes with it (which is true, but let's be real, she not-so-secretly wouldn't mind just being Carrie Bradshaw for the rest of her life). In the fall, you'll find her where she really belongs: as online editor, blogging and tweeting like it's her job -- because hey, it actually is (thank God).

Ticket sales for 2012 Olympics lower than expected

Tickets prices are being elevated in “hospitality packages”

Ticket sales for the 2012 Olympics are lower than originally projected despite Lord Sebastian Coe’s predications that there would be “no empty seats” at this year’s game. Now Olympic veterans’ predictions are coming back to haunt them as rows of empty seats are visible, especially those in the premium front-row positions.

Empty seats are not uncommon for Olympic Games, but they do not mesh with Lord Coe’s plans to fill every seat for the 2012 Olympics. Still, some of these seats may look unused, but they are actually reserved for the families of 2012 Olympics athletes and officials, who may have chose not to show up to the events for whatever reason.

Another motive may be floating around for the cause of the empty seats at the 2012 Olympic. Sources have told The Daily Telegraph that many of the ticket agencies are holding on to as many as 50,000 tickets to the games so they can eventually cash them in as part of last-minute hospitality packages – with elevated prices.

Still, the 2012 Olympics team is not giving up completely on ticket sales. The Games’ organizer is hoping to buy back up to 70,000 cheaper tickets from ticket agencies because these agencies feel returning tickets is too costly and time-consuming to be worth it for them in the long haul. Of the 8.8 million tickets for the 2012 Olympics, around 1.2 million go to the national Olympic committees of foreign countries.

Under IOC rules, tickets for the 2012 Olympic Games cannot be sold for more than face value, so they are then sold as part of a hospitality package, including packages for hotel accommodations. This allows ticket agencies to inflate prices and essentially charge whatever the wish for the packages. Only time will tell as to whether the seats for the 2012 Olympics will be sold.

James Holmes allegedly bought gun on day of failed exam

Holmes dropped out of his doctoral program

James Holmes, the alleged gunman behind the Colorado shooting during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises that killed 12 people and injured 58, is now being accused of buying a gun on the same day he failed a key exam for his doctoral program.

Law enforcement officials are still searching for a motive behind the Colorado shooting massacre, and experts are saying James Holmes, 24, might have an “underlying mental illness that was triggered by the stress of failure.”

Holmes is currently being held in solitary confinement as authorities are continuing to investigate Friday’s shooting.

Holmes was arrested almost immediately following the shootings incident, where he was found holding several weapons, including the high-powered rifle he bought from a gun shop on June 7, the same day he failed his oral exam at University of Colorado – Denver, where he was currently in the Ph.D neuroscience program.

Holmes was said to be a high-performing student and had even received a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Still, the pressure to perform well might have triggered James Holmes’ shootings.

“All of those things could actually make dormant schizophrenia come out, and come out relatively quickly,” Marisa Randazzo, a psychologist who studies targeted violence told ABC News in an interview.

Law enforcement officials said Holmes had begun buying weapons and ammunition for the guns months before the attack.

Mitt Romney calls for leaks investigation

Sen. Diane Feinstein is refuting Romney’s requests

Mitt Romney is calling for a special leaks investigation after sensitive national security intelligence has allegedly come from the White House. Romney is stating “the time for stonewalling is over,” but his claims are not going unchallenged.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is expressing concern that Romney is politicizing the leaks investigation. Romney addressed the issue at the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference on Tuesday, saying President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Defense Bob Gates told members of the West Wing staff to “shut up” when he read about details behind the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in the press.

Romney said that he was taken aback after he learned details about that raid and operational details were being leaked to the press. “This isn’t a partisan issue,” Romney said. “It’s a national security crisis.” He continued on to say, “Whoever provided classified information to the media seeking political advantage for the administration must be exposed, dismissed and punished.”

Sen. Feinstein told an audience at the National Press Club on Monday that she believes the leaks came directly from staff members within the White House. She continued to say Romney’s requests for a leaks investigation are not necessary. 

Sherman Hemsley dies at 74, remembered as TV groundbreaker

Hemsley starred on All in the Family, The Jeffersons

Sherman Hemsley, the comic actor best known for his groundbreaking role in the 1970s sitcom All in the Family and his lead role in the spinoff The Jeffersons, died at 74 on Tuesday in El Paso. El Paso police said Sherman Hemsley was found dead at a home where neighbors said he’d lived for years. No foul play is suspected.

Sherman Hemsley first got his breakout in his role as George Jefferson, the neighbor to Archie and Edith Bunker on All in the Family. He then moved on to his own spin-off show, The Jeffersons, in which he played the husband of Isabel Sanford’s character, Louise. The show was set on the East Side of Manhattan.

The Jeffersons was a groundbreaking show, as it was the first on primetime to feature an upscale African American couple, as well as the first to cast an interracial couple. The show dealt with controversial issues at the time, especially racism.  For his time on the show, Sherman Hemsley earned an Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. The Jeffersons ran for 10 years.

“He was a love of a guy” and “immensely talented,” Norman Lear, producer of The Jeffersons and All in the Family, said after learning of the death of Sherman Hemsley.

After the show’s run, Sherman Hemsley later starred as Deacon Ernest Frye on Amen, which aired from 1986 to 1991, as well as making other TV appearances throughout his acting career.

Sherman Hemsley was born Feb. 1, 1938, in Philadelphia. He trained at the Philadelphia Academy of Dramatic Arts, and then began acting in New York workshops and theater companies, such as the Negro Ensemble Company.

Sherman Hemsley also starred in films, including 1979’s Love at First Bite, 1987’s Stewardess School and 1987’s Ghost Fever. He also released an album, Ain’t That a Kick in the Head, in 1989.

Chick-fil-A under fire for anti-gay stance

Customers still in support, recent poll says

Chick-fil-A is getting a new round of publicity following their more publicized views on gay marriage. Although the fast food company has never kept their views on gay marriage secret, after Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy gave an interview with Biblical Recorder in which he reiterated the company’s strict following of biblical practice and consequent disapproving stance on homosexual lifestyles, a media firestorm has quickly spread.

In Cathy’s interview with the Biblical Recorder, he was asked about the company’s support of the traditional lifestyle – meaning the heterosexual family – and Cathy replied, “Well, guilty as charged,” then continuing on to say, “We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit.”

News sources like CNN, Washington PostAtlanta Journal-Constitution, the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press and The Huffington Post have since reported on the story, and an outcry has ensued as the result of Chick-fil-A’s more publicized stance on gay marriage and rights. To counteract the publicity, Chick-fil-A issued a statement July 19 telling its customers that they are “going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” and that its tradition is “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect—regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

Still, the Chick-fil-A press has so far not been viewed as negative. The Washington Post conducted a poll that reported 66 percent of respondents say they’ll continue eating at Chick-fil-A. Supporters also took to social media to express their continued support. As of Thursday afternoon, more than 14,000 people had commented on Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page, many of whom said they still approve of the company.

Chick-fil-A operates more than 1,600 restaurants. They are known for being closed on Sundays in honor of the Bible’s recommendations.

Victims from Alabama bar shooting still in hospital

Suspect remains in custody

An Alabama bar shooting has left five people still hospitalized. Doctors have upgraded the medical conditions of four of the five people who have been hospitalized from gun shot wounds; one is now in serious condition, upgraded from critical, Brad Fisher, communications director for DCH Regional Medical Center, said.

Another person has been upgraded to fair condition and two to good condition. One remains in fair condition.

Authorities have charged Nathan Van Wilkins, 44, with 17 counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting which occurred Tuesday at the Copper Top bar near University of Alabama’s campus.

Wilkins also faces another attempted murder charge for a shooting earlier that night in a nearby subdivision.

Wilkins is currently at the Tuscaloosa County Jail with a $2 million bond following the Alabama bar shooting.

Police are almost completely sure Wilkins was the shooter “based on some of the things he’s told us,” Police Chief Steve Anderson said earlier Tuesday.

Police are reporting that the suspect went into a business in Jasper, a town about 50 miles north of Tuscaloosa, and “indicated he was involved in the incident,” Anderson said. The man was then taken into custody and returned to Tuscaloosa following the Alabama bar shooting.

A surveillance video shows the man walking up to the bar and then, only a few minutes, shooting around military-style with an assault rifle.

Seventeen people were admitted to the hospital following the suspect’s shootings; most of the victims were students. Approximately 80 to 90 people were at the bar at the time of the Alabama bar shooting.

Boy Scouts of America under fire again

LGBTQ activists like Ricky Martin come out to protest

Boy Scouts of America is standing by its policy of “No gays allowed,” and some of Hollywood’s biggest LGBTQ players aren’t pleased about it.

Activist Ricky Martin is teaming up with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD) to express his anger towards the organization and their stance on gays.

RadarOnline.com reports that the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to not allow gays and lesbians into the organization stems from the promise that it “is absolutely the best policy” for the organization. This stance is not sitting well in the gay community.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans, including the corporate leaders of Ernst & Young and AT&T, current Eagle Scouts, and celebrities such as ‘Hunger Games’ star Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Dianna Agron and Ricky Martin, have spoken out against the ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders,” Rich Ferraro, GLAAD spokesperson, told RadarOnline.com in regards to the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to exclude gays and lesbians.

The Boy Scouts of America, and their partner organization, the Girl Scouts of America, as well, have both been under fire in the past for “not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals.”

Last fall a seven-year-old transgender boy was rejected from Girl Scouts because of his genitals.

His mother, Felisha Archuleta, was infuriated by the Girl Scouts of America’s decision to exclude her son.

“He dresses like a girl, and you can’t tell he is a girl?” Archuleta said. “But the Girl Scout leader told us he can’t join because he has ‘boy parts.’… But no one would know he’s a boy unless they pulled his pants down.”

Still, the organizations have continued to insist said in a statement that it is “an inclusive” establishment.

“If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout,” the statement said, which also said the organization is “reaching out to the family of the excluded child and will be altering its training programs so that all girls are supported.”

Janet Jackson dispute with niece escalates

Jackson “furious” over niece’s decision to take movie role in France

There’s a new Janet Jackson dispute – this time with her niece. Us Weekly is reporting that Janet Jackson is “furious” with her niece, Paris Jackson – her late brother Michael Jackson’s daughter—for accepting a role in the 2014 movie Lundon’s Bridge and the Three Keys

The Janet Jackson dispute with her niece is causing stress within the family, the source is saying.

“She feels it goes against Michael’s wishes to keep his kids out of the limelight until age 18,” the source says. “Janet thinks Paris should enjoy being a kid and possibly go to college.”

Still Paris isn’t having any of it, the sources says, as she is “hoping for more roles.”

The Janet Jackson dispute continues as she told her niece, “You’re only a child once.”

Sarah Silverman makes risque offer to billionaire Sheldon Adelson

Silverman offers to perform sexual act if Adelson donates $100 million to Barack Obama instead of Mitt Romney

Sarah Silverman is making a billionaire Republican an offer he may or may not refuse. In her offer, Sarah Silverman is making what she calls an “indecent proposal” to Las Vegas casino tycoon Shelden Adelson, who plans to back Mitt Romney in the upcoming election by giving him $100 million dollars, by telling him she will perform a sexual act for him if he donates that money to Barack Obama instead.

The ultimate goal of the Sarah Silverman campaign, however, is to raise awareness towards the true reality of campaign financing and donations and how the power of a few wealthy donors can vastly sway a campaign.

“If you give that $100 million to Obama instead of Romney, I will — well, I won’t have sex with you because we’re not married and I am a nice girl,” Silverman said in the video before naming a sex act that includes her wearing a bikini.

Despite her risqué request, Sarah Silverman is being backed by others, such as Mik Moore, treasurer for the Jewish Council for Education and Research, the pro-Obama PAC supporting the Sarah Silverman video.
“We’re uncomfortable with the size of the gift, [and] that one person can single handedly affect the election,” Mik Moore, said in an interview with ABCNews.com about Adelson’s contributions.

Moore said his group has objected to many of Adelson’s political viewpoints.

“They are not reflective of the priorities of American Jews, but [his money has] given him a large megaphone for which to amplify his views,” he said.

Adelson’s net worth is at an estimated $25 billion, and it has been reported he has already donated $10 million to Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future.

Mermaid body speculation still continues

Some people aren’t giving up hope that mermaids are real

Speculation is still stirring as to whether mermaids are real following an Animal Planet documentary titled Mermaids: The Body Found in which, you guessed it, a mermaid body is found. Animal Planet, typically known for their factual documentaries, aired the specified science fiction documentary about finding a mermaid body back in May and ran a repeat of it again earlier this week.

The documentary caused confusion in viewers as to the reality of mermaids. Using CGI techonology and faux-documentary filming style akin to The Blair Witch Project , the program follows a scientific team investigating what appears to be a mermaid body found on the shore and their investigations to find out if mermaids really exist.

Despite the show clarifying that it was just fiction, viewers were so convinced the mermaid body was real that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was prompted to release a statement stating that mermaids don’t exist.

“The belief in mermaids may have arisen at the very dawn of our species,” the NOAA statement said. “But are mermaids real? No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists. “

Still, Animal Planet is not giving up their claims that the mermaid body found could be, at least in part, true.

“What if there’s a kernel of truth behind the legend of this mythic creature?” a program description reads. “Is the idea of mermaids really so far-fetched? Maybe so, maybe not. The show itself, though science fiction, is based on some real events and scientific theory.”

Click here to view a video preview of the Animal Planet documentary about the mermaid body.