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August 8, 2014

On Thursday, ESPN — like much of the Cleveland area — got word that one of its on-air personalities had welcomed LeBron James back to the Cavaliers with a not-terribly-welcoming billboard. Not amused, ESPN suspended South Florida TV and radio host Dan Le Betard, who had not-so-secretly financed at least six billboards in Akron with the following message:

James, an Akron native, is returning to Ohio on Friday, and he left many Miami fans cold not only by leaving the Heat with just two championship rings but also studiously not thanking Miami in his homecoming letter to Cleveland fans.

ESPN, through spokesman Josh Krulewitz, said that Le Betard will be off the air until Monday, adding: "His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN's standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance." They could have gotten a hint from tuning in to his show, the TV version of which is called, for the record, "Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable." Peter Weber

uber drama
10:47 p.m. ET
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

At least four Uber drivers cited by police at Los Angeles International Airport have serious criminal records that would make them ineligible for a taxi permit in the city, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The men have been convicted of child exploitation, manslaughter, driving under the influence, and identity theft, court records show. The information was presented to a city official by a representative of the taxi industry, as the Los Angeles City Council looks into whether it should assert jurisdiction over a new permit process that would let Uber and other app-based ride companies legally pick up passengers at LAX, the Times reports. The Times was able to independently confirm the records were accurate. "These are cases that reinforce the need to have this kind of dialog," Councilman Paul Krekorian said. "They're very good examples of why it's important."

The taxi industry is against the permit process, saying it's unfair because Uber drivers are held to a lower standard than licensed taxi drivers. Uber's chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, said drivers cannot work for the company if they have been convicted of any felonies or violent or sexual crimes in the past seven years, and said that while "every system of background checks that is available today has its flaws," Uber's "stacks up well" against the taxi industry's. Catherine Garcia

a candidate scorned
9:30 p.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a blistering statement released Tuesday night, Rick Santorum's communications manager made it clear the campaign wasn't thrilled that Fox News is not including seven of the GOP presidential candidates in its prime-time debate Thursday.

"The idea that they have left out the runner-up for the 2012 nomination, the former four-term governor of Texas, the governor of Louisiana, the first female Fortune 50 CEO, and the three-term Senator from South Carolina due to polling seven months before a single vote is cast is preposterous," Matt Beynon said in a statement. There are 17 Republicans in the race, and Fox decided to limit its debate to just 10 candidates, determining the final roster by looking at the average of five recent national polls.

Beynon saved some of his ire for the Republican National Committee as well, saying, "While Fox is taking a lot of heat, the RNC deserves as much blame for sanctioning this process. They should not be picking winners and losers. That's the job of the voters." Santorum and the other six candidates who didn't make the cut — Carly Fiorina, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and Jim Gilmore — have been invited to attend a 5 p.m. ET debate, four hours before the prime-time event. Catherine Garcia

work perk
8:57 p.m. ET
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This is a major work perk: Netflix announced Tuesday that it will offer employees unlimited maternity and paternity leave for the first year after a child's birth or adoption.

In a statement, the video streaming service's chief talent officer Tawni Cranz explained that parents can return part-time, full-time, or work and then take time off as needed. "We'll just keep paying them normally, eliminating the headache of switching to state or disability pay," she said. "Each employee gets to figure out what's best for them and their family, and then works with their managers for coverage during their absences."

The company believes that its employees should "be free to figure out their own work-life balance as responsible and accountable adults," Wired reports, and already offers unlimited time off to all employees. Catherine Garcia

gaffes
7:44 p.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Jeb Bush learned a valuable lesson on Tuesday: Don't go off script, and if you do, don't say that women's health programs aren't worthy of being fully funded.

While speaking to 13,000 people at a Southern Baptist convention in Nashville, Bush said that Planned Parenthood should be cut off from federal funding, and then went a step further by stopping mid-sentence to qualify his remarks and question government support for women's health programs in general, Politico reports. "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars in funding for women's health programs," he said. "If you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine organizations, community health organizations that exist, federally sponsored community health organizations to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues."

Not long after his remarks were made public, Hillary Clinton tweeted to Bush: "You are absolutely, unequivocally wrong." Bush quickly posted a statement online saying he "misspoke," and tried to clarify his comments. "There are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women's health organizations that need to be fully funded," he said. "They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don't have the access they need. I was referring to the hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood.” Bush has had to explain other blunders in recent weeks, including his statement in July that "workers need to work longer hours." Catherine Garcia

This just in
6:27 p.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Fox News announced the official line-up for its prime-time Republican debate Thursday.

Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Gov. Chris Christie (R-New Jersey), and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) all qualified, with Fox saying the roster was determined based on an average of the five most recent national polls.

The seven Republican candidates who did not make the list — Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana), George Pataki, Jim Gilmore, and Rick Perry — will be invited to a separate debate at 5 p.m. ET., four hours before the main debate starts. Catherine Garcia

This just in
4:22 p.m. ET
JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio mandated citywide inspections of water-cooling towers after they were determined to be the cause of an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York City. De Blasio additionally vowed to propose new regulations to prevent future outbreaks.

Since July 10, 86 people have fallen ill with Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia that is contracted by breathing in moist air infected with the bacteria; of 17 towers tested by city health officials, five in the South tested positive for Legionella bacteria. Seven people have died since the outbreak began. Jeva Lange

Pay up
3:40 p.m. ET
Yuri Gripas/Getty Images

Nearly a third of moviegoers surveyed by research firm C4 agree that they want customers' bags and purses checked for weapons before they enter a theater, Variety reports. The study asked the opinions of 250 moviegoers on July 28 and 29, less than a week after a shooter opened fire on an audience during a screening of Trainwreck in Lafayette, Louisiana, killing two and injuring nine. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed favored having armed security guards in theater lobbies while 14 percent called for armed security in every individual theater.

Despite the recent high-profile shootings in movie theaters — the 2012 massacre of 12 during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado among them — Americans do still seem to believe that movie theaters are among the safest public spaces where they can spend their time, according to the study. Even despite wanting armed guards and metal detectors installed, customers didn't want to have to pay more than $3 per ticket for the additional security, and only 85 percent of 124 moviegoers surveyed said their theater habits had actually changed since the attack in Louisiana. Jeva Lange

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