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Brittney Elkins

Erika Harold, former Miss America, seeking congressional seat

This girl has beauty and brains

Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, has more than just good looks going for her.

Erika Harold is an attorney in Chicago and graduated from Harvard University. Now she is exploring the possibility to be a Republican candidate for Congress in the new 13th Congressional District.

Erika Harold is from Urbana, Illinois, where her parents still live, and she said she would consider it “the ultimate honor and privilege to represent the area in which I grew up.”

State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, announced Monday that he has dropped out of consideration for Congress and will continue to seek for another Senate term.

“I am completely humbled and honored,” Erika Harold said, “I understand what an awesome responsibility it is to represent people’s interests and to be their advocate in Washington, D.C.”

Erika Harold has yet to make a decision as to whether or not she will run. But McClean County Republican Chairman John Parrott, one of 14 chairmen in counties in the new 13th district, says Erika Harold has a great resume.

“I think she’s an extremely viable candidate,” Parrott said. “One of the things that I think the Republican Party needs is a minority, conservative lady to be a part of the congressional delegation.”

Wheel-chair bound toddler screened by TSA, video goes viral

Dad posts video more than two years after incident, but the memory is still fresh

A wheel-chair bound toddler was screened by TSA in spring of 2010, and now video of the incident has gone viral.

Matt DuBiel, the father of the child, videotaped the incident in the spring of 2010, but he posted the video recently after rediscovering it. Matt DuBiel said he became enraged again while reviewing the tape of the TSA screening his wheel-chair bound child.

The TSA has stressed that the episode happened before the agency changed its guidelines for child screenings, stating, “The new modified screening measures have greatly reduced, though not eliminated, pat-downs of children. While recognizing that terrorists are willing to manipulate societal norms to evade detection, our officers continue to work with parents to ensure a respectful screening process for the entire family at the checkpoint.”

The wheelchair-bound toddler screening by the TSA has sparked an onslaught of criticism towards the TSA. It’s just one of the incidents in the past couple of years that have caused similar outrage by travelers. In May 2011, TSA agents patted down a baby at the Kansas City airport because the stroller the baby was in alarmed during explosives screenings. Just this month, a six-year-old in New Orleans was patted down.

TSA claims that agents are following standard procedure, but that doesn’t make Matt DuBiel feel any better.

“Apparently, there’s lots of children in wheelchairs being used to bring down airplanes. It’s a brilliant plan when you think about it. PRETEND you are going to Disney, with 3 children, 2 parents, and 2 grandparents… when REALLY you smuggle C4 inside your toddler’s cast and wheelchair,” Matt DuBiel posted in a note on the video.

The video of the wheelchair-bound toddler screening has received more than 1.5 million views in the past month. Check it out below.

People's Most Beautiful Woman in the World 2012: Beyonce Knowles

Beyonce says she feels more beautiful than ever now that she has given birth to a daughter

People’s Most Beautiful list is out this week with Beyonce Knowles named as People’s Most Beautiful Woman in the World 2012.

This is the ninth time Beyonce has made the People’s Most Beautiful list.

About her nomination as People’s Most Beautiful Woman, Beyonce said, “I feel more beautiful than I’ve ever felt because I’ve given birth. I have never felt so connected, never felt like I had such a purpose on this Earth.”

Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z gave birth to a daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, in January.

People’s Most Beautiful Woman went on to say, “The best thing about having a daughter is having a true legacy. The word ‘love’ means something completely different now.”

Nicole Kidman, 44, also made the People’s Most Beautiful list. She held the spot as People’s Most Beautiful Woman in 2002 and is a list regular. Others on the list include Rose Byrne, Elle Macpherson, Kate Middleton, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Adele, Sofia Vergara and Megan Fox.

Last year, Jennifer Lopez was People’s Most Beautiful Woman and made the list once again this year.

People’s Most Beautiful issue hits newsstands Friday, April 27. 

Salton Sea is drying up

The southern California lake may dry up faster than expected

The Salton Sea is shrinking rapidly, and a recent California Supreme Court ruling could intensify its decline.

Last month, the California Supreme Court upheld a water transfer deal that sends billions of gallons of water each year from Imperial Valley farmland in southern California to residents of San Diego County. It will cut off the agricultural runoff that replenishes the Salton Sea and could cause the lake to dry up entirely in a matter of years.

The Salton Sea was first created by a flood in 1905. It isn’t really a sea but a lake that covers more than 500 square miles.

The Salton Sea has been on the decline in recent years. The salinity concentration is higher than that of the Pacific Ocean because the Salton Sea has no outlet. 

The drying of the Salton Sea could release harmful elements like selenium and arsenic from the lakebed, which could spread toxic dust clouds across southern California.

According to the California Audubon Society, these clouds are already forming.

“As water has been siphoned off for agricultural and urban use, dust emissions have increasingly threatened public health,” the California Audubon Society states on their website.

According to NPR, the Salton Sea currently covers 376 square miles of toxic seabed.  Over the last 100 years, the sand has absorbed all the pollutants form the agricultural run-off of nearby farms.

The Salton Sea used to be a popular tourist destination. It was hailed as a “miracle in the desert” and was once a vacation spot that rivaled Yosemite in annual visits. Although people have stopped going to the Salton Sea for vacations, it is still a popular destination for bird-watchers and, of course, a stop for the birds they watch.

In fact, more than 400 different species stop at the Salton Sea each year. If the Salton Sea dries up, those flocks will lose one of the few waterways in southern California on their migration route and face extinction.

The water transfer deal, known as the Quantification Settlement Agreement, includes provisions to provide the Salton Sea with “mitigation water” through 2018, but experts say that is not enough. Politics are playing into the deal, and Californians are voicing their opinions, but the imminent demise of the “miracle in the desert” is just a matter of time.

Miss Dominican Republic is a Mrs.

Maybe they should start checking backgrounds earlier in the pageant process

Miss Dominican Republic has to relinquish her crown now that pageant organizers discovered Carlina Duran, Miss Dominican Republic, has been married since 2009.

Now the runner-up in last week’s Miss Dominican Republic contest, Dulcita Lieggi, will represent the Caribbean nation in the Miss Universe pageant.

The rules of the pageant state that those competing for the crown must not be married or divorced.

The briefly-crowned Miss Dominican Republic said in a statement Wednesday night that she had never lived with her husband.

“In my daily life, I remained like a single woman,” the statement said, adding that she never thought herself materially or spiritually married.

The statement added that the marriage was brief, and the couple had begun annulment proceedings but did not specify whether the annulment was finalized.

Carlina Duran was crowned Miss Dominican Republic on April 17, but Dulcita Lieggi will compete as Miss Dominican Republic in the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas this June.

Nadya Suleman is visited by family services and police

Octomom’s drain on California taxpayers continues.

Nadya Suleman, better known as Octomom, is making headlines once again.

Orange County Family Services and a police officer visited the home of Nadya Suleman Tuesday after Suleman’s hair stylist contacted family services to report that the 14 children are living in squalor.

TMZ published photos the hair stylist, Stephanie, took of the children using portable potty training toilets in the backyard. Other photos released to TMZ show a chair propped against a door as a means of locking someone in or out and a check Nadya Suleman wrote the hair stylist for $520.

Just a few weeks ago, Nadya Suleman went on the Today Show to address her decision to go on welfare, something she vowed from the beginning she would never do.

Nadya Suleman is pulling in $2,000 per month in food stamps. Now, she has written a check for a Brazilian blowout and a haircut, a previous haircut for which she owed, and $80 in hair products.

According to TMZ, Nadya Suleman dismissed plumber’s quote to fix her out-of-order restroom for $150. Nadya Suleman claimed it was “too expensive.” This was before the $520 check for hair services.

Nadya Suleman spoke to Good Morning America Thursday about the family services visit.

“She thought it was unacceptable that they’re half-naked going potty. I mean mom is out there, come on,” Nadya Suleman said.

She also claimed that the chair propped against the door was done by one of her older children to keep the younger children from entering the room and opening and closing the door.

As for the haircut, “I am making money, though. I have jobs and I can afford it,” the welfare recipient said.

Nadya Suleman also claimed that the haircut bill included haircuts for her 14 children.

Stylist Stephanie’s complaint to police was that the children are using the bathroom outside, only one toilet in the house is working because the plumbing is bad, the children are dirty and malnourished, some children are sleeping on the floor, the boys were wearing girls clothing and the children were locked in rooms while Nadya Suleman had her hair cut.

Police determined that the children were not in immediate danger after their home visit

Mad cow disease: infected meat not in the food supply

USDA will weed out cows from the same herd.

Mad cow disease has been detected in a cow in California.

This is the first incident of mad cow disease since 2006. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is searching for possible offspring of the dairy cow that has contracted mad cow disease. It’s believed that these animals also could have been infected with the brain-wasting ailment.

Officials said the infection was detected at a California rendering plant, but no meat from the cow had entered the food supply. The animal was said to have had a rare form of mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, that is caused by spontaneous mutation. That means the animal did not get the disease from contaminated feed.

As part of the investigation of the matter, the USDA will find out when and where the cow was born and will try to remove animals that were in the same herd.

The USDA began testing more cattle for mad cow disease after the first detection in the U.S. in 2003. Now they test 40,000 cattle a year, out of the nearly 34 million cattle slaughtered in the U.S. annually. The testing is meant to focus on older or sick cattle that are most likely to be infected.

How do people become infected with mad cow disease? They get it from eating meat infected from a cow. However, there is no imminent danger currently. No meat from the infected cow made it into the food supply, and it is not likely that it was ever meant for human consumption.

High-risk cattle parts were removed from the human food supply and from all animal feed more than a decade ago to protect against the spread of mad cow disease. Feed was considered the main cause of the British mad cow disease epidemic that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. More than 150 people died of the human strain of the disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, after eating meat from an infected cow.

Studies show that the human strain of mad cow disease can’t be caught by drinking milk. The disease affects the nervous system, and there’s no evidence that it has ever been transmitted by drinking milk.

The first time mad cow disease appeared in the U.S., beef exports plunged 82 percent. The initial report of this particular case sent cattle futures prices falling Tuesday, but Wednesday the prices rebounded after the USDA assured that no meat from the cow was in the food supply. Experts do not believe that a single case of mad cow disease will threaten the beef industry.

Natalee Holloway case still unsolved, Joran Van der Sloot to be extradited to United States

Extradition expected to happen in the next three months

Natalee Holloway disappeared 7 years ago on a class trip to Aruba, and now Joran van der Sloot, the person believed to have last seen her alive, may be extradited to the United States.

The process to extradite Joran Van der Sloot from Peru to the U.S. has begun. Documents show a judge has approved the U.S. request for a provisional detention, the first step in sending him to America to face charges of extortion.

Natalee Holloway was never found, but was declared legally dead last January. Joran Van der Sloot allegedly received $25,000 from Natalee Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway, in order for him to tell her where to find her daughter’s remains.

Joran Van der Sloot allegedly attempted to extort $250,000 from Beth Holloway, and then provided what appears to be false information. He then used the money to travel to a poker tournament in Peru, where he met Stephany Flores.

Joran Van der Sloot was convicted and sentenced to 28 years in prison for the murder of Stephany Flores.

Natalee Holloway was 18 when she disappeared. While Joran Van der Sloot has not been charged with her murder, he has been widely accused of killing Natalee Holloway.

Joran Van der Sloot’s Peruvian attorney, Maximo Altez, commented about Van der Sloot’s impending extradition.

“I think he will be extradited within the next here months. He will go to trial in the United States. Once he is sentenced, he will return to Peru to finish serving his 28 years, and then go back to the States to serve whatever sentence he gets there,” Maximo Altez said.

Joran Van der Sloot confessed to the murder of Stephany Flores, and another attorney for the Dutchman said Joran was under extreme stress the day of her murder. That day was the fifth anniversary of the Natalee Holloway disappearance.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher: Just friends?

Are the former costars dating, or just enjoying each other’s company?

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher took a mini-vacation together this weekend, but their reps continue to deny that the two are a couple.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher got out of Los Angeles and headed to Carpinteria, California over the weekend. They were spotted Friday enjoying a sushi lunch and hitting a roadside market where Mila Kunis bought sunflowers, and weren’t seen out again until Sunday.

Mila Kunis was with Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin for eight years, and the two recently split. Ashton Kutcher’s recent separation from Demi Moore has made headlines over the past few months.

The longtime friends were costars on That 70’s Show and Ashton Kutcher has reportedly had a crush on Mila Kunis for a long time, a source close to Kutcher told People.

“He was so in love with her for a while when they worked together,” the source said, “He thought she was a goddess, was always talking about how beautiful she is. But she was with Macaulay for a lot of that time and also just generally gave off a not interested vibe.”

Another source reported that Ashton Kutcher is not looking for romance right now, and that he has always thought of Mila Kunis as more of a sister.

Despite these conflicting reports, and reps for the two denying anything more than friendship, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher have recently been spotted doing some furniture shopping and dining with friends.

Heart Attack Grill sends another patient to the hospital

Woman suffers heart attack while eating, drinking, and smoking at the Heart Attack Grill

Heart Attack Grill strikes again.

The Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, NV was the site of an actual heart attack in February, and on Saturday, a woman collapsed as the result of the second heart attack at the aptly named restaurant.

The Heart Attack Grill is proud of their reputation for serving food that is bad for your health, boasting slogans like “Taste worth dying for.”

“We attact an avant-garde clientele—thrill seekers, risk takers,” Owner Joe Basso told the Los Angeles Times, adding that the restaurant is, “bad for you but fun,” and, “attracts people who don’t really take good care of their health.”

Basso also reported that the woman had been drinking a margarita and smoking a cigarette before she collapsed.

“She was drinking, smoking, laughing, dancing, having fun,” Basso said, “But when you treat your body like that day in and day out, eventually your body is going to give out.”

The Heart Attack Grill wheels out—on actual wheel chairs—items like the “Single,” “Double,” “Triple,” and “Quadruple Bypass Burgers,” the latter weight in at 32 ounces of beef and served up with 20 strips of bacon. Butterfat Shakes are made with pure cream, and the Flatliner Fries are fried in pure lard.

A sign on the door at the Heart Attack Grill reminds customers that it is a cash only establishment, “because you might die before the check clears.” If you weigh more than 350 pounds, don’t worry about hitting the ATM. You eat for free.

Joe Basso calls his customers “patients,” and now it turns out a couple of them have been called patients by Las Vegas hospitals, too. But Basso isn’t worried that his “patients” will sue.

“Unlike cigarettes, I have had warning labels since Day one when we opened in 2005 telling people how bad our food is for you. I think that skirts any liability we might have,” Basso has said.

A sign on the door at the Heart Attack Grill reads, “Caution! This establishment is bad for your health.”

Joe Basso said that he’s been following the woman’s condition and that she is recovering at a Las Vegas hospital.

The woman was eating a Double Bypass Burger when she suffered the apparent heart attack. The largest burger, the Quadruple Bypass Burger, comes in at 9,993 calories, which is a new Guinness World Record.

A place like the Heart Attack Grill is sure to attract criticism, especially after multiple patrons have had actual heart attacks while dining in the establishment. But, Basso says the restaurant’s bad rap says more about the diners than the ownership. Signs cover the restaurant touting the new World Record spot, and the calorie count is certainly no secret.

“So what is it about someone who sees that sign and sees that this burger has 9,993 calories in it, and that person says, ‘I want one of those.’”