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Blockbuster video to close in Alaska, only 1 store still open in U.S.

Alaska’s last two Blockbuster video rental stores are closing this weekend -- leaving only one Blockbuster store open in the United States.

>> Read more trending news 

Alaska Blockbuster posted a video on its Facebook page of employees mourning the closure by leaving candles outside the store.

The closures come just two months after John Oliver, the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” sent the Anchorage store a special gift to ramp up business -- the jockstrap worn by Russell Crowe in the 2005 movie, “Cinderella Man.”

“You would not believe how much business we got just from that memorabilia alone,” Kevin Daymude, the Anchorage store’s general manager told The Associated Press. “I can’t thank John Oliver or his show enough.”

It wasn’t enough to counter the planned lease increase at both locations in Alaska, 

The Associated Press reports that the jockstrap will probably go to Alan Payne, the franchise owner who lies outside Austin, Texas.

The stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks will close for rentals after Sunday night.

The stores will reopen Tuesday for a liquidation sale.

After the closures, the final Blockbusters location will be in Bend, Oregon.

“How exciting,” Sandi Harding, the Bend store’s general manager told the Associated Press. “It might end up being a little chaotic for a couple of weeks.”

Harding said business is good.

“We have no plans on closing anytime soon,” Harding said.

McDonald’s pulls salads from some restaurants after more than 100 people infected by parasite

Departments of public health in Illinois and Iowa are investigating some McDonald’s locations after people became ill after eating their salads.

CNN reported that Illinois has reported 90 cases of a parasite outbreak since mid-May. Iowa reported 15 cases since late June.

>> Read more trending news 

The Iowa Department of Public Health said there has been an increase in Cyclospora infections that were connected to salads at the fast-food chain. 

“This summer there have been several clusters of Cyclospora illness associated with various foods that are commercially available. This week IDPH has identified 15 Iowans who ate McDonald’s salads in late June to early July prior to getting ill,” Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said in a statement. “Anyone who ate these salads since the middle of June and who developed diarrhea, especially watery diarrhea and fatigue, should see their health care provider and get tested for Cyclospora to ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.”

According to an initial investigation from the Illinois Department of Public Health, about one-fourth of cases in the state reported eating salads from McDonald’s before getting ill.

“Although a link has been made to salads sold in McDonald’s restaurants in some Illinois cases, public health officials continue to investigate other sources,” IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, said in a statement. “If you ate a salad from McDonald’s since mid-May and developed diarrhea and fatigue, contact a health care provider about testing and treatment.”

Symptoms of Cyclospora infection include loss of weight and appetite, frequent watery diarrhea, cramping, bloating and increased gas, a low-grade fever, fatigue and nausea. Vomiting is less common, but could still be a symptom of infection.

Cyclospora is not spread directly from person to person, but people get infected by consuming food or water contaminated with feces that contain the parasite, according to the IDPH. It is the same parasite that has been linked to Del Monte vegetables, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to voluntarily stop selling salads at impacted restaurants until we can switch to another lettuce blend supplier,” McDonald’s told People in a statement. “We are in the process of removing existing salad blend from identified restaurants and distribution centers – which includes approximately 3,000 of our U.S. restaurants primarily located in the Midwest.

“McDonald’s is committed to the highest standards of food safety and quality control,” the burger chain added. “We are closely monitoring this situation and cooperating with state and federal public health authorities as they further investigate.”

Kroger launches fashion apparel brand

Kroger is getting into the fashion game.

Officials with Kroger Co. on Monday announced its new apparel brand Dip, developed by fashion designer Joe Mimran. Dip will launch with men’s, women’s, juniors, kids and baby collections.

>> Read more trending news

“We’ve worked closely with Joe and his team to develop a line of clothing that works for today’s times – easy to buy, easy to wear and easy to love. Effortless style, every day of the week,” said Robert Clark, Kroger’s senior vice president of merchandising. “Dip will transform our apparel business, further redefining the customer experience through Restock Kroger.”

With an overhauled and streamlined approach to apparel, Dip will replace more than a dozen of the company’s private-label clothing brands. The fashion line will launch this fall across America in more than 300 Fred Meyer and Kroger Marketplace stores.

Walmart facing calls for boycott after 'Impeach 45' shirts appear online

Retail giant Walmart is facing criticism and calls for a boycott after shirts appeared for sale on the company’s website emblazoned with the phrase “Impeach 45,” an apparent reference to President Donald Trump.

>> Read more trending news

Ryan Fournier, chairman of the group Students for Trump, first brought the issue to the public’s attention when he questioned the company’s decision to sell the clothing Monday in a tweet, according to the “Today” show.

“What kind of message are you trying to send?” Fournier asked.

The hashtag #BoycottWalmart started trending on Twitter as users questioned the decision to sell the shirts.

The T-shirts were no longer available on Walmart’s website by Tuesday afternoon.

Bloomberg noted that the shirts were not sold by Walmart itself. The company allows third-party sellers to advertise on Walmart.com in exchange for a commission on each sale, Bloomberg reported. The “Impeach 45” shirts were sold by retailer Old Glory, according to the “Today” show.

>> Walmart pulls controversial 'suicide scar' costume makeup amid complaints

It’s not the first time that Walmart has come under fire for items sold through its website. In November 2017, the company pulled a shirt that read “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED,” according to USA Today. The retailer pulled a shirt in December 2016 that said “Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter” on it after receiving complaints from the national Fraternal Order of Police, The Huffington Post reported.

Safety agency warns about sparkler, fireworks safety this Fourth of July

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is reminding people ahead of the Fourth of July to celebrate safely.

The agency said in a Wednesday news release that there were eight fireworks-related deaths reported in 2017. Victims ranged in age from 4 to 57, according to the agency’s 2017 fireworks report

>> Read more trending news 

“In CPSC’s new fireworks report, five of the eight deaths were related to reloadable aerial devices; one was associated with devices manufactured at home, one involved a firecracker, and one was related to sparklers. Seven victims died from direct impacts of fireworks, and one victim died in a house fire caused by misusing a firecracker,” the CPSC news release said.

According to the report, 70 percent of those injured from fireworks were male and 30 percent were female. Half of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to people under the age of 20. Hands and fingers were the most-frequently injured parts of the body in such incidents at 31 percent, followed by 22 percent to the head, face and ears, 17 percent to legs, 14 percent to eyes and 6 percent to arms.

During a CPSC-hosted demonstration for firework safety, Bowling Green, Kentucky, pilot Michael Spencer shared his story of injury. He was injured by a shell-and-mortar-style fireworks device and lost fingers on both hands. He’s had more than 11 surgeries since then.

“Fireworks can be extremely dangerous, even if they are legal,” Spencer said. “My advice would be to leave them to the professionals.” 

The CPSC advises the following fireworks safety tips for consumers :

  • Make sure consumer fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them. 
  • Never use or make professional-grade fireworks.
  • Do not buy or use fireworks that are packaged in brown paper; this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and are not for consumer use.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person or occupied area.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.

“CPSC works year round to help prevent deaths and injuries from fireworks,” CPSC acting chairman Ann Marie Buerkle said in a statement. “Beyond CPSC’s efforts, we want to make sure everyone takes simple safety steps to celebrate safely with their family and friends. We work with the fireworks industry, monitor incoming fireworks shipments at the ports and enforce federal fireworks safety regulations so that all Americans have a safe Fourth of July.”

More information on fireworks safety is at CPSC.gov. Fireworks recalls can be checked at the CPSC recalls page.

AT&T warns customers of Social Security scam

AT&T has reportedly issued a warning to its customers about a phone scam making the rounds.

WAFB reported that customers are reporting calls from people saying their service is being temporarily halted until they give the last four digits of their Social Security number.

>> Read more trending news 

“These calls are not from us,” AT&T said in a statement, according to WAFB. “If any company calls you and asks for your personal information, that is a red flag. One of our tips on our new Cyber Aware website is never give such information to someone who calls you. Call the company at the number found on your bill.”

Customers can also forward suspicious texts to 7726 or report scams to abuse@att.net.

Photographer accused of scamming a dozen brides also ripped off school, woman claims

Less than 24 hours after a dozen brides came forward and said they had lost thousands of dollars to Alphonso Morris, with A&T Enterprise, for wedding photography they never got, the founder of Academy of Scholars, a private school in Arlington, Florida, claimed Morris also ripped her off.

>> Watch the news report here

“At this time, it needs to be stopped. There’s too many people that trust him,” Shevonica Howell said.

>> Read more trending news 

Howell said she hired Morris in 2016 to be the band director at her school.

“I did see some red flags, I’ll be honest, on the background check, but things happen,” Howell said.

But she said that after he didn’t show up to work for 19 of the 44 instructional days, he was fired.

“He probably had about 10 kids based on how many times there was a birth or a death. I just couldn’t understand that,” Howell said.

When he left, she said, he took all the band equipment that was donated to the school.

She said she then found out he created a GoFundMe account with the school’s logo asking for donations.

“To scam the community, kids that look up to him – I don’t understand that,” Howell said.

Howell said she went to police and never heard from Morris again.

The Better Business Bureau has created a file on Morris’ businesses to help warn others.

“To hear that there were dozens of people scammed by this company and we weren’t reflecting that was disheartening,” said Shannon Nelson with the Better Business Bureau.

ActionNewsJax also found Morris was connected to another business called Snap It Photography.

A lawsuit was filed that claims Morris didn’t show up to photograph an event and it states, “This young man turned out to be a con artist."

The BBB wants people to contact the agency with complaints against Morris.

ActionNewsJax tried to contact Morris again but couldn’t get in touch with him.

Photos: Inside Oprah’s new $8.2M home on Orcas Island

Oprah Winfrey purchased a 43-acre estate on Orcas Island in Washington for $8.275 million.

Frosé at Taco Bell? Restaurant tries to lure millennials with frozen rosé wine

Say hello to the Berry Frosé Twisted Freeze, Taco Bell’s new frozen rosé wine now available at select cantina-style restaurants.

>> Read more trending news

The California-based fast-food chain announced the millennial-friendly boozy drink as part of a limited test launch this summer.

Taco Bell’s $7.99 16-ounce frosé is made with a couple of ounces of Charles & Charles rosé wine blended with a combination of berry flavors for “a tasty, strawberry-forward, easy-to-sip summer treat” as “refreshing as it is fabulous,” the restaurant told Thrillist.

>> Taco Bell announces new tortilla chips based on its sauces

As of Wednesday, the new Instagram-worthy drink is only available at the Chicago Loop and Newport Beach Cantina locations. But there’s a chance the company will roll out the new item to more restaurants in the coming months.

>> Candlelight vigil held for Alabama Taco Bell that burned down

Last year, Taco Bell announced an expansion of 300-350 new cantina-style locations between 2017 and 2022. The restaurants are known for selling margaritas, sangria, beer and other alcohol-infused concoctions in addition to Taco Bell’s popular late-night food options.

A total of 2,000 new locations are slated for Taco Bell by 2022, according to the company website.

Where did IHOP get its original name? Restaurant announces name change

The International House of Pancakes, better known as IHOP, is officially changing its name to IHOb next week.

>> Read more trending news

And what exactly the “b” represents remains a mystery. (Breakfast? Bacon? Biscuits? Best breakfast, bacon and biscuits?) We’ll find out Tuesday, June 11.

But before the IHOP we know and love is no more, here’s an ode to the original moniker and its history.

On July 7, 1958, Jerry Lapin, Al Lapin and Albert Kallis founded the first International House of Pancakes restaurant in Burbank, California. The acronym wouldn’t become popular for another 15 years.

>> IHOP to become IHOB, but what does the ‘B’ stand for?

But what was so “international” about the chain? Some say it’s because the restaurant served items considered exotic to Americans at the time, such as French toast and Swedish crepes.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Lapin brothers also hired a Le Cordon Bleu chef for the original “unusual” pancakes, such as Tahitian orange pineapple and Kauai coconut.

>> IHOP waiter says he was offered nursing job after helping feed disabled customer

The restaurant also expanded globally. Today, the chain has more than 70 locations in Bahrain, Canada, Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Guatemala, Kuwait, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In 1973, thanks to a winning marketing campaign, the chain name was shortened to IHOP, quickly popularized by the public and favored by the company.

Contrary to what some parishioners may believe, IHOP has no affiliation with the evangelical church the International House of Prayer, which originated much later.

According to CNN, the restaurant chain ultimately sued the church in 2010 for illegally using its acronym and settled out of court.

Learn more about the history of IHOP at ihop.com

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