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Car wash's billboard promoting QAnon conspiracy theory sparks controversy

A Georgia car wash has aligned its business with a group that believes a government insider is publicly uncovering a vast left-wing plot against President Donald Trump.

The billboard reads “#QANON” — citing a group many have said espouse conspiracy theories — and has a logo with the name of Car Nutz Car Wash in the bottom left corner. 

>> Read more trending news 

Car wash co-owner Cleve Meredith said the sign is about a mile away from his business in Acworth.

He said he let his employees know before putting up the sign in June.

“We all support Freedom and independent thought,” he wrote in an email response to questions from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.

Meredith said he put up the billboard because he’s “a patriot among the millions who love this country.”

>> On AJC.com: Two jailers fired for online comments

In October 2017, an anonymous user posted on 4chan, a shadowy part of the internet that has been used as a breeding ground for extreme ideas. The poster, under the moniker “Q,” claimed to have a high-level government clearance.

The right-wing group believes debunked myths, including those surrounding Pizzagate — the false notion that Democratic party officials were running a child-sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza shop. In 2016, a man who went to the store to “self-investigate” the fabrication fired three shots from an AR-15 in the shop. 

In June, an armed man drove an armored vehicle to the Hoover Dam claiming to be on a mission from QAnon.

Trump has not explicitly discussed Q in public, but the group’s followers divine meaning from actions and phrases used by the president. For the most part, they appear to be Trump supporters.

Dozens of people at a Trump rally in Tampa on July 31 had Q signs and T-shirts and spoke to reporters about their beliefs.

>> On AJC.com: What happened at Charlottesville: Looking back on the anniversary of the deadly rally 

Q has been amplified by people like actor Roseanne Barr, who was banished from her self-titled television reboot after comparing former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, who is black, to an ape. She claims she didn’t mean to evoke racism.

The Acworth business, which records show incorporated in the state in 2013, has received mixed reviews online. 

On Yelp, the business has been bombarded with one-star reviews that appear to be because of the sign. One reads: “The sign is rasict (sic) and basically conspiracy theories that prey on people's fears.”

In the reviews section of Google, the business has been flooded with five-star reviews like this one: “Thank you for your wonderful #QANON billboard. A true patriotic business - please patronize these wonderful people!!”

Meredith, the car wash co-owner, said “common sense” drew him to QAnon. He refuted calling it a group, instead describing it as “a wake-up call."

He said he felt the reviews created a "zero sum net gain" because "individuals have their own opinions and should express them freely."

When asked if he understood why some people would be offended by the sign, he simply responded: “Misinformation.”

Staples manager fired after accusing woman pregnant with twins of shoplifting

Staples said in a statement Monday that it has fired the manager who assumed an expecting mother had shoplifted at one of its stores in North Carolina.

>> Watch the news report here

Shirell Bates told WSOC-TV that she now regrets leaving her home on Friday for back-to-school shopping at the Pineville store.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Pregnant Staples shopper says she was wrongfully accused of shoplifting, hiding items under shirt

"Being pregnant is already high-risk, and having to deal with that, just additional stress that I don't need,” Bates said.

Bates said she learned that the manager was fired on social media.

Bates said a police officer asked her if she was shoplifting while she was checking out of the store.

"Mid-transaction, a police officer approached me and insisted he wanted to speak with me,” Bates said. “He asked what was under my shirt.”

Bates is pregnant with twins.

"Initially, I thought he was joking, so my response was, 'Twins,’” Bates said. “I'm 34 weeks with twins. I'm having a boy and a girl."

Bates said the officer didn’t believe her the first time, and he asked her again.

"At that point, to avoid him asking me again, I actually lifted my shirt just a little bit, just to expose my belly, so he could see that I'm just a regular pregnant person buying school supplies,” Bates said.

Pineville police said a Staples manager approached the officer and asked him to speak with Bates because the manager believed Bates may have been “concealing merchandise.”

>> More on WSOCTV.com: Manager at North Carolina Staples fired after accusing pregnant woman of shoplifting

"When I confronted her about what happened, she admitted that, 'In the past, we've had a lot of people putting school supplies or merchandise in their clothes and hiding, so I asked the officer to reach out to you,’” Bates said.

Staples issued the following statement:

“On Friday at our Pineville location a Staples’ manager mistakenly assumed a customer was shoplifting and reported this assumption to a police officer visiting the store. The police officer questioned the customer and quickly confirmed there was no theft. Based on the outcome, Staples’ issued a full refund to the customer.

Staples has since conducted a full investigation into the matter, and determined that the manager in question did not follow correct protocol and also failed to adhere to our existing policy on how to interact with our customers. As a result of this finding, the manager has been terminated and Staples has apologized to the customer. At Staples, we want all customers to feel welcome in our stores, and work with our associates to foster an inclusive culture. As an organization, we would like to apologize to the customer as that was not the case in this instance.”

Bates said she planned to contact Staples' corporate office and possibly seek legal action.

"You pretty much jumped the gun without any type of evidence, except my stomach is large,” Bates said. “That’s not fair. No mom should have to go through that."

>> Read more trending news 

Staples said Monday that the manager did not follow the correct protocol and did not adhere to the company's policy on interacting with customers.

The company said it has since apologized to Bates.

Bates said she would like Staples to provide sensitivity training for all employees.

She also hopes Staples improves its communication with customers who submit formal complaints.

Pregnant Staples shopper says she was wrongfully accused of shoplifting, hiding items under shirt

An expecting mother said she feels humiliated after she was asked if she was trying to shoplift from a Staples store in North Carolina.

>> UPDATE: Staples manager fired after accusing woman pregnant with twins of shoplifting

Shirell Bates said she now regrets leaving her home on Friday for back-to-school shopping.

>> Woman used identical twin's name during drug arrest, sister claims

"Being pregnant is already high-risk, and having to deal with that, just additional stress that I don't need,” Bates said.

Bates said a police officer asked her if she was shoplifting while she was checking out of the Pineville store.

>> More on WSOCTV.com: Manager at North Carolina Staples fired after accusing pregnant woman of shoplifting

"Mid-transaction, a police officer approached me and insisted he wanted to speak with me,” Bates said. “He asked what was under my shirt.”

Bates is pregnant with twins.

"Initially, I thought he was joking, so my response was, 'Twins,’” Bates said. “I'm 34 weeks with twins. I'm having a boy and a girl."

Bates said the officer didn’t believe her the first time, and he asked her again.

"At that point, to avoid him asking me again, I actually lifted my shirt just a little bit, just to expose my belly, so he could see that I'm just a regular pregnant person buying school supplies,” Bates said.

>> Read more trending news 

Pineville police said a Staples manager approached the officer and asked him to speak with Bates because the manager believed Bates may have been “concealing merchandise.”

"When I confronted her about what happened, she admitted that, 'In the past, we've had a lot of people putting school supplies or merchandise in their clothes and hiding, so I asked the officer to reach out to you,’” Bates said.

Staples issued the following statement:

"Yesterday at our Pineville location, while a customer was shopping, a manager mistakenly thought they were possibly shoplifting and asked a police officer that happened to be in the store to talk with the customer.

"After a quick conversation, the issue was resolved, the manager apologized to the customer and refunded their transaction due to the inconvenience. At Staples, we want all customers to feel welcome in our store, and work with our store associates to try and foster an inclusive culture. As an organization, we would like to apologize to the customer if that was not the case in this instance."

Bates said she plans on contacting Staples' corporate office on Monday and possibly seeking legal action.

"You pretty much jumped the gun without any type of evidence, except my stomach is large,” Bates said. “That’s not fair. No mom should have to go through that."

Police officer denied service at Verizon store; employee fired

An employee at an independently owned Verizon retailer has been fired after refusing service to an on-duty, uniformed Massachusetts police officer, Boston's WFXT reports.

Sources told WFXT that Waltham police Officer Dan Collins was refused service Tuesday at the Verizon store on Tower Road in Waltham.

The store is independently owned and operated by Cellular Sales

>> On Boston25News.com: Boy, 12, accused of beating man with baseball bat; here's why he won't be arrested

Waltham police Detective Sgt. Timothy King said the company reached out to officer involved and apologized. The officer involved told the department he’s satisfied with the company’s response.

“As the matter has been resolved by the officer and the company, there will be no further comment at this time,” read a statement from King. 

A representative from Cellular Sales told WFXT the following: 

"Cellular Sales, an independently owned, authorized Verizon Wireless retailer, became aware of an incident at one of our Boston-area retail locations in which apparently one of our sales representatives failed to provide service to multiple customers, including a uniformed police officer," the statement read. "Cellular Sales is committed to providing excellent service to all of our customers, and as a result of this incident, the sales representative has been terminated."

>> Read more trending news 

Verizon also sent WFXT the following statement: 

"Providing excellent service to a first responder is a privilege," the statement read. "We expect all of our partners to uphold our values and business practices. We are investigating this reported incident involving an employee of an independent authorized retailer."

WFXT requested an interview with Collins, but he was not allowed to speak to the media. The department said no on-camera interviews will be granted. 

Woman finds squatters in backyard of home

A Seattle woman said she came home to find homeless squatters setting up a tent in her backyard.

>> Read more trending news

The home is for sale. Lisa, the owner, who asked us not to identify her or the house so it would not interfere with her sale, said one man expressed interest in buying the house Friday. She told him to come back with an agent.

When she came home Monday, she found that man and another man in her backyard setting up a tent and drinking out of the hose. She said they'd spread items out on the patio and the stairs. She said they'd even brought religious statues to put on the steps.

Lisa said she screamed, told them they were trespassing and told them to leave. She said one man walked up to her and told her that she was the one trespassing, claiming he owned the house. 

"The delusion is what scares me. You never know what somebody's capable of when they don't have rational thought," Lisa said.

Neighbors rushed over and scared the men off, and Lisa called 911. While an officer was taking a report, the men came back. Lisa thinks they came to get their belongings. 

"I feel completely violated," Lisa said. "I've spent my last seven years putting my hard work and money into this house and I feel fiercely protective. But at the same time, I don't want to threaten my own safety by protecting this property."

She said the men have been back five times. Lisa had a friend stay at the house last night and he was armed. 

Lisa worries the men will be back again. "Who is to say it might not happen again?" she asked.

Lisa spoke to KIRO Radio's Dori Monson, who reported this story Wednesday afternoon. Listen to that interview from “The Dori Monson Show” below.

Seattle police took the items from the backyard and are investigating the pair for trespassing and prowling, according to the police report. Officers have been called to the house several times. 

MoviePass limits customers to 3 films per month

The popular movie theater subscription service MoviePass has changed its pricing plan for the second time in one week.

>> Over MoviePass? Here's how to cancel your membership

Last week, the company announced it would change its $10-per-month subscription that let customers see one movie each day, any movie at any time. To become sustainable, the cost would increase to $14.99 a month and limit the availability of blockbuster movies during their first week.

>> MoviePass users say they’re getting surcharge prices even when movie theaters are empty

But on Monday, the company announced its new plan of limiting subscribers to three movies each month to keep prices at $9.99.

>> MoviePass surge pricing: What it means for subscribers

The new plan, which will take effect Aug. 15, will offer discounts up to $5 on movie tickets that exceed the three included in the subscription cost. The company will no longer limit first-run films and will suspend peak pricing and ticket verification, two additions that frustrated customers.

About 15 percent of MoviePass’s 3 million subscribers who see four or more movies each month will be affected, according to a company release.

>> Read more trending news 

“We are well aware that during our journey to innovate moviegoing — a form of entertainment that over time has become unaffordable and broken — we’ve encountered many challenges,” said Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass. “We discovered over several months of research that our customers value a low monthly price above nearly everything else, so we came together to create a plan that delivers what most of our loyal MoviePass fans want, and one that, we believe, will also help to stabilize our business model."

Grilling fanatic? Get $10K to eat barbecue as Reynolds' new 'chief grilling officer'

Hungry for a new career? Reynolds Kitchens has a mouthwatering new job opportunity.

According to a post on its website, the company best known for its aluminum foil is hiring a chief grilling officer to help "identify the best grilling techniques and tips" to pass along to Reynolds' fans.

>> 6 tips for safe and fun summer grilling

"As CGO, you won't need a comfy corner office. That's because for two weeks, you'll be too busy sampling and savoring grilled goods from some of the top barbeque cities in the country," the job ad reads.

"Along the way, you'll share tips, techniques and pictures of your travels on the Reynolds Kitchens website and social channels, so that grilling enthusiasts at home can make drool-worthy meals on their own."

>> Read more trending news 

The gig includes a $10,000 stipend and "pre-paid travel and lodging for you and a (very lucky) guest," the listing says.

Ready to dig in? You can apply for the position by sending a 100-word essay about "why you think you would be the ultimate CGO" to ReynoldsCGO@gmail.com. You also must include an original photo of your favorite grilling recipe.

Read more here.

'N Sync's Lance Bass says he was outbid in effort to buy 'Brady Bunch' house

"Brady Bunch" fans, it's time to say "Bye Bye Bye" to your dreams of owning the iconic California home from the popular 1970s sitcom.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: ‘Brady Bunch’ house for sale

'N Sync singer Lance Bass tweeted Friday that he was buying the house made famous in exterior shots of the Brady home. It recently was listed for $1.885 million.

>> PHOTOS: Take a look inside the 'Brady Bunch' house

"Super excited to announce they accepted my offer on the #BradyBunch house last night!!!" Bass wrote. "This is going to be a fun project!"

But not so fast. A few hours after celebrating, Bass tweeted  he was “feeling heartbroken” when he apparently was outbid for the house, KABC reported. And -- Marcia, Marcia, Marcia -- Bass won’t be hosting actress Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia Brady in the series, for dinner any time soon.

Bass said he was told that another buyer -- perhaps a Hollywood studio -- was ready to buy the property “at any cost.”

Bass said after being told he was the winning bidder, he discovered that another buyer, possibly a Hollywood studio, was prepared to acquire the property "at any cost."

"They will outperform any bid with unlimited resources," he tweeted. “I'm hurt and saddened by this highly questionable outcome.”

According to the listing, the 2,477-square-foot home, located at 11222 Dilling St. in Studio City, California, features three bedrooms, three baths and a 12,500-square-foot lot.

>> Read more trending news 

"This iconic residence is reportedly the second most photographed home in the United States after the White House," the listing claims.

McCormick seemed pleased when she heard Bass had the high bid.

"Congratulations!" she tweeted to Bass. "May all your problems from here on out always be solved in a half hour." 

Woman outraged after homeless squatters set up tent in her backyard, claim to own house

A Seattle woman says she came home to find homeless squatters setting up a tent in her backyard.

>> Watch the news report here

The home is for sale. Lisa, the owner, who asked KIRO-TV not to use her full name or identify the house so it would not interfere with her sale, said one man expressed interest in buying the house Friday. She told him to come back with an agent.

>> On KIRO7.com: Seattle's illegal homeless encampments: Q-and-A on the city's response

When she came home Monday, she said she found that man and another one in her backyard setting up a tent and drinking out of the hose. She said they'd spread items out on the patio and the stairs, too. She said they'd even brought religious statues to put on the steps.

Lisa said she screamed and told them they were trespassing and to leave. She said one man walked up to her and told her that she was the one trespassing, claiming he owns the house. 

"The delusion is what scares me. You never know what somebody's capable of when they don't have rational thought," Lisa said.

Neighbors rushed over and scared the men off while Lisa called 911. While an officer was taking a report, the men came back. Lisa thinks they came to get their belongings. 

>> Read more trending news 

"I feel completely violated," Lisa said. "I've spent my last seven years putting my hard work and money into this house, and I feel fiercely protective. But at the same time, I don't want to threaten my own safety by protecting this property."

She said the men have been back five times. Lisa had a friend stay at the house Tuesday night, and he was armed. 

Lisa worries they’ll be back.

"Who is to say it might not happen again?" she said.

Lisa also spoke to KIRO Radio's Dori Monson, who reported this story Wednesday afternoon. Listen to that interview from the Dori Monson Show below.

Seattle police took the items from the backyard and are investigating the pair for trespassing and prowling, according to the police report. Officers have been called out to the house several times. 

>> Listen to the KIRO Radio interview here

Chipotle illnesses: More than 400 report sickness after eating at Ohio restaurant

An Ohio Chipotle Mexican Grill has reopened after reports of illness caused the restaurant to voluntarily shut its doors Monday.

>> Wraps, salads sold at Kroger, Trader Joe's recalled over possible parasite

As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Delaware County Health District had received 413 inquiries from customers who believed the Powell restaurant’s food made them sick, said the district’s public information officer, Traci Whittaker.

“Our staff has been fielding calls all day long yesterday, so what happens when we get calls is we have to follow up and investigate,” Whittaker said.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Chipotle website crashes for some customers ordering free guacamole

The cause of the illnesses is still unknown, as Whittaker said that investigation takes a significant amount of time. If everything went by the books, the health district would know the potential pathogen by Friday, but it never goes by the books, she said.

First the health district employees have to follow up and interview all of the customers who called, and if they’re willing to provide a stool sample, the health district will send them a kit, pick it up and send it to a lab for testing. More than 30 stool kits have been delivered to those who reported illness.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: MoviePass frustrates customers with higher cost, fewer movies

The Delaware County Health District will also test leftover food samples some of the customers provided.

The restaurant at 9733 Sawmill Parkway reopened Tuesday after correcting one critical and one noncritical violation related to pinto beans and lettuce being kept at the correct temperature. The restaurant threw all of its food away as well, Whittaker said.

“Our inspection saw no reason for them not to reopen,” she said.

The investigation will continue into next week, she said.

>> Read more trending news 

“We want to look at the whole big picture of what the potential pathogen is, where it came from, what is making these customers sick,” she said

Whittaker said if others were affected and have not yet called the health district, they should do so immediately.

Ron Simon and Associates, along with co-counsel DiCello Levitt and Casey, has filed the first lawsuit in the case against the restaurant.

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