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Couple's quest to visit every Cracker Barrel in America nears end

An Indiana couple have nearly completed their decades-long quest to visit every one of the 665 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations across the United States, according to multiple reports.

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Ray and Wilma Yoder, both 80, have only one location left to visit: a Cracker Barrel in Tualatin, Oregon, The Lebanon Democrat and the “Today” show reported.

Ray Yoder told the newspaper he embarked on his mission to visit each Cracker Barrel 40 years ago, while he was working a job that saw him traveling the country to deliver recreational vehicles.

“It took the boredom out of being on the road,” Ray Yoder told the Democrat. “It has a down-home spirit, and everybody is friendly. It’s like being at home.”

His trips were initially made without his wife, who stayed home with their four children, according to a 2015 report from The News Herald in Morganton, North Carolina. Wilma Yoder eventually joined her husband.

In the 1980s, Ray Yoder said the couple thought, “Well, now why don’t we try to go to all of them?”

“It’s not like a McDonald’s place, where they have 26 or 30 thousand of them,” Ray Yoder told The News Herald. “It was something we wanted to do, so we are trying to hit all of them.”

The Yoders have since traveled more than 5 million miles in their quest, which once included trips to eight Cracker Barrel locations in a single day, according to the Democrat.

In all their visits in the last 40 years, Ray Yoder said, they never had a bad experience.

“It’s the same good service and great people wherever you go,” he told the Democrat.

Read John McCain’s speech on his return to the Senate after his cancer diagnosis

Sen. John McCain, (R-Arizona), returned to the Senate for the first time since he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer to cast a vote to start the debate on a bill that could repeal Obamacare.

McCain received a standing ovation when he entered the chamber to vote, and after he delivered his speech.

Here is the speech as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. President: “I’ve stood in this place many times and addressed as president many presiding officers. I have been so addressed when I have sat in that chair, as close as I will ever be to a presidency. “It is an honorific we’re almost indifferent to, isn’t it. In truth, presiding over the Senate can be a nuisance, a bit of a ceremonial bore, and it is usually relegated to the more junior members of the majority. “But as I stand here today – looking a little worse for wear I’m sure – I have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body, and for the other ninety-nine privileged souls who have been elected to this Senate. “I have been a member of the United States Senate for thirty years. I had another long, if not as long, career before I arrived here, another profession that was profoundly rewarding, and in which I had experiences and friendships that I revere. But make no mistake, my service here is the most important job I have had in my life. And I am so grateful to the people of Arizona for the privilege – for the honor – of serving here and the opportunities it gives me to play a small role in the history of the country I love. “I’ve known and admired men and women in the Senate who played much more than a small role in our history, true statesmen, giants of American politics. They came from both parties, and from various backgrounds. Their ambitions were frequently in conflict. They held different views on the issues of the day. And they often had very serious disagreements about how best to serve the national interest. “But they knew that however sharp and heartfelt their disputes, however keen their ambitions, they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively. Our responsibilities are important, vitally important, to the continued success of our Republic. And our arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all. The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America’s problems and to defend her from her adversaries. “That principled mindset, and the service of our predecessors who possessed it, come to mind when I hear the Senate referred to as the world’s greatest deliberative body. I’m not sure we can claim that distinction with a straight face today. “I’m sure it wasn’t always deserved in previous eras either. But I’m sure there have been times when it was, and I was privileged to witness some of those occasions. “Our deliberations today – not just our debates, but the exercise of all our responsibilities – authorizing government policies, appropriating the funds to implement them, exercising our advice and consent role – are often lively and interesting. They can be sincere and principled. But they are more partisan, more tribal more of the time than any other time I remember. Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we’d all agree they haven’t been overburdened by greatness lately. And right now they aren’t producing much for the American people. “Both sides have let this happen. Let’s leave the history of who shot first to the historians. I suspect they’ll find we all conspired in our decline – either by deliberate actions or neglect. We’ve all played some role in it. Certainly I have. Sometimes, I’ve let my passion rule my reason. Sometimes, I made it harder to find common ground because of something harsh I said to a colleague. Sometimes, I wanted to win more for the sake of winning than to achieve a contested policy. “Incremental progress, compromises that each side criticize but also accept, just plain muddling through to chip away at problems and keep our enemies from doing their worst isn’t glamorous or exciting. It doesn’t feel like a political triumph. But it’s usually the most we can expect from our system of government, operating in a country as diverse and quarrelsome and free as ours.  “Considering the injustice and cruelties inflicted by autocratic governments, and how corruptible human nature can be, the problem solving our system does make possible, the fitful progress it produces, and the liberty and justice it preserves, is a magnificent achievement. “Our system doesn’t depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections, and gives an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on earth. It is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning.’ Even when we must give a little to get a little. Even when our efforts manage just three yards and a cloud of dust, while critics on both sides denounce us for timidity, for our failure to ‘triumph.’  “I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood. “Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires. “We’re getting nothing done. All we’ve really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it, those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done. We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will. All we’ve managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it. “I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for the bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that. I have changes urged by my state’s governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill. I know many of you will have to see the bill changed substantially for you to support it. “We’ve tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it’s better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition. I don’t think that is going to work in the end. And it probably shouldn’t. “The Obama administration and congressional Democrats shouldn’t have forced through Congress without any opposition support a social and economic change as massive as Obamacare. And we shouldn’t do the same with ours. “Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act. If this process ends in failure, which seem likely, then let’s return to regular order.  “Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today. “What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting much done apart. I don’t think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn’t the most inspiring work. There’s greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don’t require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people. “The Senate is capable of that. We know that. We’ve seen it before. I’ve seen it happen many times. And the times when I was involved even in a modest way with working out a bipartisan response to a national problem or threat are the proudest moments of my career, and by far the most satisfying. “This place is important. The work we do is important. Our strange rules and seemingly eccentric practices that slow our proceedings and insist on our cooperation are important. Our founders envisioned the Senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour. “We are an important check on the powers of the Executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal! “As his responsibilities are onerous, many and powerful, so are ours. And we play a vital role in shaping and directing the judiciary, the military, and the cabinet, in planning and supporting foreign and domestic policies. Our success in meeting all these awesome constitutional obligations depends on cooperation among ourselves.  “The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America. This country – this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, good and magnificent country – needs us to help it thrive. That responsibility is more important than any of our personal interests or political affiliations. “We are the servants of a great nation, ‘a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.’ More people have lived free and prosperous lives here than in any other nation. We have acquired unprecedented wealth and power because of our governing principles, and because our government defended those principles. “America has made a greater contribution than any other nation to an international order that has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have been the greatest example, the greatest supporter and the greatest defender of that order. We aren’t afraid. “We don’t covet other people’s land and wealth. We don’t hide behind walls. We breach them. We are a blessing to humanity. “What greater cause could we hope to serve than helping keep America the strong, aspiring, inspirational beacon of liberty and defender of the dignity of all human beings and their right to freedom and equal justice? That is the cause that binds us and is so much more powerful and worthy than the small differences that divide us. “What a great honor and extraordinary opportunity it is to serve in this body. “It’s a privilege to serve with all of you. I mean it. Many of you have reached out in the last few days with your concern and your prayers, and it means a lot to me. It really does. I’ve had so many people say such nice things about me recently that I think some of you must have me confused with someone else. I appreciate it though, every word, even if much of it isn’t deserved.  “I’ll be here for a few days, I hope managing the floor debate on the defense authorization bill, which, I’m proud to say is again a product of bipartisan cooperation and trust among the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “After that, I’m going home for a while to treat my illness. I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me. And, I hope, to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the American people in your company. “Thank you, fellow senators. “Mr. President, I yield the floor.”

Former House Speaker John Boehner calls hard right conservatives ‘knucklehead caucus’

Former House Speaker John Boehner assailed GOP House arch conservatives led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) as the “knucklehead caucus,” calling them “anarchists” who stand “for nothing.”

>> Read more trending news

During a speech in Las Vegas, Boehner took aim at the conservatives who pushed him from office at the end of 2015. Jordan was among those who revolted against Boehner, even though Boehner was the first speaker from Ohio since Republican Nicholas Longworth in 1931.

The former speaker was asked to explain why House Republicans did not support House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to succeed Boehner as speaker.

“The knucklehead caucus decided they weren’t going to vote for him,” Boehner said.

“Now these are the guys in the Republican Party you could call right of right. They are anarachists. They’re for nothing,” he said.

>> Related: Boehner says Congress won’t repeal, replace Obamacare

The video of Boehner was obtained by the Washington Post. Although he did not mention Jordan by name, it was clear Boehner was referring to him.

Frank Sinatra's wife, Barbara Sinatra, dies at 90

Barbara Sinatra, Frank Sinatra’s fourth and final wife, died Tuesday, nearly 20 years after her husband’s death. She was 90 years old.

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According to a representative for the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation, she died at her home in California after her health had been on the decline for month.

“She died comfortably surrounded by family and friends at her home,” Children’s Center Director John Thoresen said.

RELATED: John Heard’s fellow “Home Alone” star shared an emotional tribute following the news of his sudden death

Barbara Sinatra married Frank Sinatra in 1976 and went on to stay married until his death 22 years later, making it the singer’s longest marriage. They do not share any children.

During her lifetime, Barbara Sinatra was an advocate for victims of child abuse and began her foundation in an effort to provide counseling and other services to victims.

“Barbara started raising funds for it in 1985 with Frank’s support,” said Thoresen. “It opened in 1986 and since that time, over 20,000 children have received beneficial therapy here. There are several child advocacy centers like it around the country, (but) this one is probably most recognized.”

Teen buys $1 scratcher, wins $26K per year for life

A Florida teen who bought a winning $1 lottery scratch-off game from an Orlando grocery store last week claimed her prize: $500 every week for the rest of her life.

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Florida Lottery officials said Daniela Leon Ruz, 18, decided to claim her winnings in annual payments of $26,000 for each year of her life. The winnings are guaranteed to be paid out for at least the next 20 years, officials said.

Leon Ruz picked up a $1 scratch-off for the Florida Lottery’s $500 A Week For Life game at a Publix in Orlando. The odds of her claiming the game’s top prize were about 1 in 5.4 million.

The game was launched July 3. Overall odds to win any of the game’s prizes is about 1 in5, officials said.

U.S. senators caught insulting Texas lawmaker on hot mic

The public got an unintentional earful from Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, after Collins’ microphone was left on following a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday morning, according to the Washington Post.

>> Read more trending news 

In a conversation that primarily touched on budget issues and President Donald Trump, the two senators also talked about Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican who earlier this week suggested he wanted to duel female lawmakers who opposed GOP health care reform bills. 

Reed mentioned the duel challenge and said Collins “could beat the s--- out of” Farenthold. 

Collins responded, “Well, he’s huge. And he -- I don’t mean to be unkind, but he’s so unattractive it’s unbelievable.”

She then brought up a photo of Farenthold in pajamas pictured next to a Playboy bunny.

 

The microphone then cut off, the Post reports. 

Earlier in the conversation, Collins and Reed talked about the Trump administration’s handling of government spending, with Reed seeming to say he thinks Trump is “crazy” and Collins saying she was “worried.”

Collins then said she doubted Trump is aware the Budget Control Act exists, referring to a law that defines the budget process.

Study finds 'increased risk' of brain disease in football players

A Boston University study found brain disease in 99 percent of deceased NFL players.

According to the key points of a study conducted by the university, 110 out of 111 former NFL players -- whose brains were available to be studied -- showed signs of neurodegenerative brain disease, namely Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

>> Read more trending news

Awareness in recent years has grown around the dangers of football and the risk of CTE in football players at all levels, which was made particularly prominent in the PBS documentary ‘League of Denial.’

“Players of American football may be at increased risk of long-term neurological conditions, particularly chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” the study’s abstract reads.

MORE: NFL links football, CTE; could it affect $1 billion deal?

The study included 202 brains, donated by deceased individuals who played at all levels of the game; 111 of them were former NFL players.

Former Patriot Aaron Hernandez’s brain was turned over to the university shortly after his suicide in prison earlier this year.

“In a convenience sample of deceased players of American football, a high proportion showed pathological evidence of CTE, suggesting that CTE may be related to prior participation in football,” the study reads.

MORE: NFL exec admits to CTE-football head trauma link

"The medical and scientific communities will benefit from this publication and the NFL will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes," the NFL said in a statement. "As noted by the authors, there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE. The NFL is committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries."

You can read the full study here.

Texas man ordered to pay child support for another man's child

A Houston man has been ordered by a judge to pay child support for a teenage girl who is not his biological daughter.

A judge ruled that Gabriel Cornejo, 45, must pay $65,000 in back child support to an ex-girlfriend who had a daughter by another man, the Houston Chronicle reported.

>> Read more trending news

The case goes back to 2003, shortly after the girl was born. Cornejo’s ex-girlfriend sued for child support, stating that she had only been intimate with him. Court records indicate the Cornejo was subpoenaed in the case, but he denies receiving the notice and never fought the case, the Chronicle reported. The attorney for the child’s mother claims that the refusal to dispute the case indicates that Cornejo was willing to take responsibility for the payments.

Since the relationship ended, Cornejo has married, has three children of his own, and is caring for his brother’s two children, according to KTRK. When he received court papers telling about the child from the previous relationship, he and his wife met with the child and her mother. Cornejo took a paternity test, which showed that he was not the child’s father.

Cornejo said the child was a nice girl. He described her as being wonderful and very smart, with a lot going for herself. She’s just not his daughter.

Despite the scientific evidence, both the state and the child’s mother insist that Cornejo make the child support payments, KTRK reported. He and his attorneys are attempting to have the case re-opened and get the payments dismissed.

“I never thought in my whole life I would have to defend myself for something that I am innocent of,” Cornejo said, according to KTRK.

Cheryl Coleman, Cornejo’s attorney, also spoke out about the decision.

“They say he should have fought back then and he failed to do so,” she said. “But how can you fight something you don’t know anything about? Unfortunately, this young child is the one who suffers.”

Read more at the Houston Chronicle and KTRK.

Cab driver refused drugs as payment, so man murdered her, court records show

David Garcia-Mendoza was drunk and high and wanted something for nothing on Oct. 1, 2016, when he climbed into a cab on Buford Highway.

Luz Mariana Matheu, 43, was behind the wheel for OK Taxi that night in Chamblee. Garcia-Mendoza, 21 at the time, said he would pay her with drugs, which Matheu refused.

>> Read more trending news 

As they argued, the young man placed a gun to the woman’s head and forced her to drive, according to authorities. In a few moments, he pulled the trigger and ran away when the car crashed.

But police found him hiding in a kudzu patch, and he’s now pleaded guilty to felony murder, kidnapping and aggravated assault, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

RELATED: Officials knew of no red flags before baby’s DeKalb hot car death

RELATED: Cops: Before DeKalb killing, suspect said ‘You know what time it is’

RELATED: With everyone else, father of baby killed in hot car seeks answers

“During a police interrogation,” DA’s spokeswoman Yvette Jones said, “the Defendant admitted being under the influence of drugs and alcohol and shooting the victim because she would not accept drugs as payment for his taxi ride.”

Now 22, Garcia-Mendoza was sentenced to life plus five years in prison by Judge Gregory A. Adams.

Watch: Shark dragged by boaters; FWC investigates

Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission confirmed they’re investigating an incident after someone posted video of what appears to be a shark dragged by a boat at a high rate of speed.

>> Read more trending news  

But investigators don’t know who posted the video, where the video was shot or what happened to the shark. 

A spokesperson for FWC said they are taking the incident very seriously and they’re investigating. 

FWC said they’re attempting to identify the people in the video. 

Anyone with information is urged to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or Tip@MyFWC.com. Individuals can remain anonymous. 

It is too early to speculate as to what, if any, violations took place in this incident.

This is a developing story. Check WFTV.com for updates.

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