Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Close to 37 million Americans will mark the unofficial start of summer this Memorial Day weekend by hitting the road, a new forecast from AAA shows.

The automobile group projects 33 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home between Thursday and Monday by car– a 5.3 percent increase over last year.

AAA also expects that 2.6 million Americans will fly to a destination during the holiday weekend, while 1.6 million will be opting to travel by cruises, trains or busses.

Trak Lord, a data analyst for the traffic app Waze told ABC News that drivers should leave early Friday, travel during off-peak on Monday.

“So if you really want to get ahead of that, leave for work about 1-2 hours early. Unless of course you’ve got an audio book that you really want to finish, in which case, you’re golden,” Lord said.

He adds that drivers should plan extra time for the Tuesday post-holiday commute.

“On Tuesday, traffic is actually worse than you’d expect. We generally see a 5 to 6 percent increase in the amount of cars on the road that Tuesday morning,” he said.

ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

SeanPavonePhoto/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) — When you need it, the always-open Waffle House is there. And now, the 24-hour chain is coming to New Orleans in a seriously upgraded way.

Waffle House is adding a feature to its restaurants that will upgrade the experience a bit: The New Orleans location will have an outdoor area — the first of its kind for the chain — in addition to its more than 1,700 square feet on the inside.

“We’re actually providing something we’ve never provided on another restaurant we’ve ever done, with a little side bistro courtyard area,” Waffle House real estate executive Bob Pence said at a meeting of New Orlean’s Board of Zoning Adjustments, according to the Mid-City Messenger.

The over 12,000 square feet lot used to be a used car shop, but Waffle House has much bigger plans for the space.

“I think that once we get this built, you will see that it’s probably the fanciest Waffle House restaurant you will ever see,” Pence said. “We tried to make it look a little New Orleans-ish.”

So watch out, all you other Waffle Houses — there’s a fancy new one on the way.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Workers’ compensation programs are meant to help those who are severely disabled, but some attempt to game the system by faking an injury to collect disability payments, thinking they will never be caught.

Insurance fraud is typically very hard to catch than these cases, so private investigators like Bari Kroll and Bob Kiehn are hired by insurance companies to catch fraudsters on tape.

“The secret to some my success is being a woman. It’s still pretty uncommon for people to think women are private investigators.” Kroll said. “This job isn’t for everyone. But it is for me, because I’m OK waiting for something to happen.”

Kiehn, who is also an ABC News consultant, brought ABC News 20/20 along as observers on a mission to capture video of a farmer suspected of fleecing an insurance company. The farmer claimed that injuries from a car accident caused him difficulty with daily farming.

Kiehn said he was looking to capture “Anything he does that makes him look like he’s working.”

After four hours of surveillance Kiehn was able to film the farmer lifting a heavy object into his truck.

“It’s something for us to start building a case on.” Kiehn said. “You have to have a creative solution… [fraudsters] think they’re five steps ahead of us.”

ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

Kiehn is the founder and president of National SIU, a company that specializes in insurance fraud investigations, and watch him in action in the video player above. Watch the full story on ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Virginia Sherwood/NBC(NEW YORK) — Blythe Danner doesn’t go online. One reason? It would be tough for her to read criticisms of her daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow.

“I don’t like to read stuff. I don’t even know what they write,” she told Vulture. “I’m told, but it’s hurtful to see things written about your baby.”

Danner added that she struggles with making “my brain and my fingers cooperate with the text. I’m just a mess.”

While she believes she belongs in “another era,” she does break her self-imposed Internet ban to read Paltrow’s lifestyle website, Goop.

“I’m a devoted mother. That’s the one thing I know how to do,” she said. “She’s a very bright, brilliant girl, my girl. She’s really handled all of her life quite well. She’s got a thick skin, which we all have to have in this business.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

David Welker/TLC(NEW YORK) — In the wake of Josh Duggar admitting that he inappropriately touched minors several years ago as a teenager, TLC has pulled the show in which he’s featured with his large family, 19 Kids and Counting.

In a statement to ABC News, the cable network said: “Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time.”

The firestorm started when In Touch magazine reported that Duggar was investigated in 2006 for alleged misconduct starting when he was 14 years old.

Duggars’ representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a statement first provided to People magazine and then posted to Facebook, Josh admitted, “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. …I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged.”

Josh, now 27, admitted he told his family, including his wife Anna, of his actions and received counseling.

People magazine added that Josh has now resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Byron Motley/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — While no embassy opening was announced after a fourth round of talks between the United States and Cuba, a top U.S. diplomat called the talks “very productive” and doesn’t foresee the need for a fifth round.

Instead, Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Roberta Jacobson, said the details could be ironed out by the respective diplomatic missions.

Both U.S. and Cuban sources told ABC News they are optimistic an agreement will be reached on the fine details and an announcement made from respective capitals soon.

The talks come five months after President Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced their intention to improve relations.

Prior to these talks, the major sticking point for Americans was the freedom for staff to move throughout the country; for the Cubans, it was courses provided to Cuban journalists by the U.S. government at the interests section in Havana, which they say fall outside normal diplomatic activities.

But both countries refused to get into the details of what remains to be worked out this time. Saying only they continue to work forward on how an embassy will function in each country.

“Fact is we are making progress on these areas,” Roberta Jacobson said at a news conference. “But I’m not going to be specific on where we have to close.”

“Still talking about the various aspects of the functioning of an embassy,” she added. “It isn’t a lack of measurement progress. Each time we have met we’ve made progress and made progress this time… Made great progress and I remain optimistic.”

Cuban diplomat Josefina Vidal agreed, but would not comment other than to say the talks were respectful and productive.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Fuse/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — The Florida State Attorney General’s Office is investigating a dentist for Medicaid fraud after a group of parents alleged that he performed unnecessary and painful procedures on their children, ABC News has learned.

Dr. Howard Schneider, 78, has been practicing dentistry in Jacksonville since the 1960s. Authorities are investigating whether he collected millions of dollars in Medicaid payments for unwanted, unmerited procedures.

Brandi Motley says she took her 6-year-old daughter, Bri’el, in for a routine single-tooth extraction, but that the surgery took three hours.

“When I go back there, I notice she is hyperventilating, she’s bloody, she’s got marks all over her face, and I asked them what had happened, and she said, ‘Well, we stepped out of the room, came back in, and she was face first on the floor,’” Motley said.

Motley rushed her daughter to the hospital. During the trip, the girl removed the gauze in her mouth.

“She told me, ‘Mommy, they’re lying to you,’” Motley said. “And that’s when I noticed all of her teeth were gone.” The dentist’s records show he extracted eight teeth.

Motley said she went to the police and also took to Facebook, posting on social media about her daughter’s experience.

Sherraine Christopher saw Motley’s note – and posted a video that she says shows her 3-year-old son Zion strapped onto a restraining board, crying.

“While we were there, I pretty much told him, ‘Why is he screaming? Why are you being so rough with him?’” Christopher said.

Christopher said Schneider originally told her Zion needed one metal cap, but during three sessions, he implanted 13. Christopher says she is going to sue and use the video as evidence.

Christopher said that she only allowed the procedures to continue because Schneider was one of the few pediatric dentists who accepted Medicaid.

Law enforcement sources also told ABC News that they are investigating allegations that he physically abused his young patients.

Lawyer John Phillips said his law office is currently representing the families of 50 children who were treated at Schneider’s practice.

The dentist allegedly took advantage of the Medicaid process by “doing every possible service on teeth to maximize profit because Medicaid pays per procedure per tooth,” Phillips said.

Phillips said as soon his office accepted this case, it was flooded with dozens of calls — some of them from Schneider’s former pediatric clients who had received treatment decades history.

In the past five years, Medicaid paid Dr. Howard Schneider’s practice nearly $4 million.

Schneider has never been charged with any crime and still has his medical license. The dentist and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

In a previous interview with ABC News affiliate WJXX-TV, he stated that he never abused patients.

“I’m not worried about the allegations because the allegations are not true,” he said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

ponsulak/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Between mobile check-in, automatic check out and even robots delivering room service, hotel guests have decreased their interaction with staff dramatically in recent years.

And this summer, travelers staying at Marriott hotels no longer need to pick up the phone to get even the most unusual requests fulfilled. They can just send a text.

The brand has just announced its new Mobile Request app feature. It was introduced at 46 hotels earlier this month and will launch across the entire portfolio of the Marriott Hotels brand — 500 in all — this summer.

“Some 75 percent of people travel with one or more mobile devices and the percentage is higher for younger travelers,” said Matthew Carroll, vice president, Marriott Hotels. “We know today’s travelers want a mobile experience built around their changing needs and desire to communicate on their terms. Mobile Request is the brand’s next evolution since our introduction of mobile check-in, checkout and room ready alerts worldwide.”

Mobile Request will be available to the 50 million members of Marriott Rewards, the company’s loyalty program. Members will be able to communicate with their hotel in two ways within 72 hours of their reservation and for the duration of their stay. The “Anything Else?” feature offers guests two-way chat functionality to have conversations in real time with the hosts at Marriott Hotels who can fulfill and confirm their requests. It also offers a drop-down menu with most requested services and amenities, such as extra towels and pillows.

And while a few may bemoan the loss of the personal touch at hotels, industry experts say texting is exactly what travelers want.

“Texting for hotel service is a brilliant idea whose time has come.,” Professor Chekitan Dev, hotel expert at Cornell University and author of Hospitality Branding told ABC News. “Today’s customer has a very simple mantra for businesses they deal with: I want what I want, when I want it, how I want it, and I want it now. In our age of instant gratification, reducing the response time from wish to fulfillment is key.”

He added that his research indicates request response time is closely tied to guest satisfaction and loyalty.

Guests are getting far more creative than pillows and towels. Marriott said guests have requested running routes near the hotel for workouts, car service from the airport and even a cinnamon roll with a candle for a 6-year-old’s birthday.

Marriott’s not the first hotel to use texting, Dev said, but the hotels using it are still few. Marriott said the two-way chat feature is an industry first.

Texting requests is particularly attractive to millennial travelers, Dev said. They’re the “hotel industry’s newest target customer, for whom texting is the preferred mode of communication.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

adisa/iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — More than 50 people in nine states have been sickened with salmonella, and investigators suspect raw tuna in sushi is to blame, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC is reporting that 53 people have been sickened — including a child younger than 1 year old — with a strain of salmonella called paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate(+).

No one has died, and 10 people have been hospitalized. Of the 36 people interviewed, 34 reported eating raw tuna in sushi, according to the CDC.

“The investigation has not conclusively identified the source of this outbreak, but most ill people interviewed reported eating sushi made with raw tuna in the week before becoming ill,” the CDC announced. “The investigation is ongoing and has not identified a common brand or supplier of raw tuna linked to illnesses.”

Symptoms usually take between 12 and 72 hours to appear and include cramps diarrhea and fever, according to the CDC. Children under 5, over 65 or with compromised immune systems are most at risk and should avoid raw seafood regardless of whether there’s an ongoing outbreak, it said.

Cases have been reported in Arizona, California, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

David Welker/TLC(NEW YORK) — In the wake of Josh Duggar admitting that he inappropriately touched minors several years ago as a teenager, several outlets are reporting that TLC has pulled the show in which he’s featured with his large family, 19 Kids and Counting.

When contacted by ABC News, TLC had no comment on reports that the show had been pulled from the cable network and has not officially announced any cancellation.

The firestorm started when In Touch magazine reported that Duggar was investigated in 2006 for alleged misconduct starting when he was 14 years old.

Duggars’ representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a statement first provided to People magazine and then posted to Facebook, Josh admitted, “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. …I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged.”

Josh, now 27, admitted he told his family, including his wife Anna, of his actions and received counseling.

People magazine added that Josh has now resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →