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NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newly released e-mails offer a glimpse into Hillary Clinton confidant and personal aide Huma Abedin, who is facing growing scrutiny for her “special government employee” status inside the U.S. State Department while Clinton was in her final year as secretary of state.

Abedin has worked for Clinton for years, including her days in the U.S. Senate through the 2008 campaign and into the Obama administration. But it was a period of several months in 2012 -- when she split time working for the State Department, Clinton Foundation, an outside consulting firm, Teneo, which has close ties to the Clintons, and for Clinton herself -- that is now drawing a closer look by the State Department Inspector General and Clinton's Republican critics about potential conflicts of interest.

Some have alleged that Abedin used her ties to Clinton to improperly exert influence for the benefit of her bosses. No evidence has been presented publicly, however, and Abedin has not been charged with any crime or formally accused of violating government policy.

Special government employees are similar to outside government contractors. They are on the federal payroll but subject to guidelines about financial conflicts of interest and other restrictions on outside activities.

The emails -- which came to light as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit filed by the conservative group Citizens United, which was seeking information about the Clintons and Abedin’s time as a special government employee -- show how Abedin at times brought together players from her three other employers.

One set of e-mails, which were first obtained by the Washington Post, show Abedin e-mailing with Declan Kelly, a Teneo executive, about an outing with Hillary Clinton, Kelly, Clinton Foundation donors and State Department officials during an official State Department trip to Ireland by the secretary of state in December of 2012.

“Maybe we can all gather for drinks/dinner and HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] can come join for as long as she can?” Abedin wrote from her State Department account to the group about plans for the night of Dec. 6, 2012. “Declan has kindly offered to organize something. Either way, doubt we will lock anything for a few days but please know she does hope to see you that night!”

Abedin and Kelly exchanged several e-mails about plans for the evening. On Dec. 4, Abedin e-mailed a group that included Kelly, and members of the State Department and Clinton Foundation with the details of the event, which the Washington Post reported was organized by John Fitzpatrick, a Clinton supporter and Irish-American hotel magnate.

The e-mails do not detail whether Clinton attended the dinner with Teneo executives, but the Washington Post determined Clinton did participate, citing interviews with participants. The day of the dinner, Abedin informed a small group, including Kelly, that Clinton might be late because “hrc has to see the russians about Syria.”

The Clinton campaign defended Abedin and criticized Republicans' for promoting "baseless" allegations about her.

"This is someone who has spent nearly two decades in public service, and is widely known for her integrity and tireless work ethic," Nick Merrill, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said. "After the birth of her son she took maternity leave. The IG had questions about the details of her leave, Huma answered. Anything beyond that injected into the public sphere is unfounded and from partisans in Congress with a clear agenda. These emails serve to reinforce that these allegations are baseless. It's not surprising, but it is disappointing."

Abedin's lawyer declined comment.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has been investigating Abedin’s special employment status and whether her work involved conflicts of interest. He is pressing the State Department and Abedin to clarify the nature of her work on Clinton’s Ireland trip.

In new letters to State and Abedin obtained by ABC News, Grassley suggested that the emails “raise a number of questions” about Abedin’s employment.

“How can the taxpayer know who exactly you were working for at any given moment? How can the ethics officer at the State Department know?” he wrote in his letter to Abedin.

In a letter to the State Department, obtained by The New York Times, Abedin's lawyer called Grassley's allegations "unfortunate and unfounded."

"Ms. Abedin is known for her integrity and her tireless work ethic and has been a role model for young women who have sought careers in government, public policy, and foreign affairs," the lawyer, Miguel Rodriguez wrote. "No staffer - indeed nobody at all - should be subject to such unfounded attacks based on ill-informed leaks, much less someone who has made countless personal sacrifices in distinguished service to the country she loves."

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With the Chase approaching, the Sprint Cup Series drivers have the weekend off.

They return to action Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, in the Bojangles' Southern 500. It's the second-to-last event before the Chase begins.

You can still get your NASCAR fix this weekend with the XFINITY Series' Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville, held at Road America in Wisconsin. It airs Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern time on NBC Sports Network.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(SAVANNAH, Ga.) -- Shots rang out on Savannah State University's campus Thursday, with one student killed and the university placed on lockdown.

The shooting, which occurred at the SSU Student Union building, was sparked by an altercation, the university said in a statement.

Christopher Starks, a junior from the metro Atlanta area, died in the shooting, the school said. At this point, no arrests have been made.

The campus was put on lockdown following the shooting. The lockdown order was later lifted.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is handling the investigation, with the SSU Police Department assisting, the university said. Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to contact police.

Friday's classes will be delayed until 10 a.m. and grief counselors will be made available.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center(MIAMI) -- Another powerful storm is churning in the Caribbean.

Tropical Storm Erika arrives in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Thursday night and it may threaten Florida's Atlantic coast as soon as Monday.

So far, the storm's 12 inches of rain over the Island of Dominica caused floods and mudslides that led to the deaths of four people.

Will Erika become a hurricane?

To be considered a Category 1 hurricane, the storm's maximum sustained winds have to hit at least 74 mph. The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Erika's winds are at 45 mph with no projected significant change during the coming days.

However, the National Hurricane Center cites "unusually high uncertainty" in the intensity of the forecast over the next few days.

According to the National Hurricane Center, there is a Tropical Storm Warning in effect for Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the border of Haiti.

There is a Tropical Storm Watch in effect for Guadeloupe, the Southeast Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, said the National Hurricane Center.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There were mass losses earlier this week? All gains for Wall Street on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average up 369.26 to finish the session at 16654.77. Its biggest two-day gain since December 2008.

The Nasdaq also jumped 115.17, ending at 4812.71, while the S&P 500 climbed 47.15 to 1987.66.

Crude oil also rose 10 percent for its biggest one-day gain since October 2008.

Although there's hardly a sign of the plunging stock scare earlier this week, the S&P 500 may be headed toward a "Death Cross" according to Business Insider due to the technical damage. This happens when a stock or index's 50-day moving average "falls below its 200-day moving average and is often seen as a reversal in the prevailing long-term trend for a security," said Business Insider.

The second quarter estimate of the U.S. GDP beat expectations expanding at 3.7 percent when an estimate last month by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis had it at a 2.3 percent pace. The BEA believes the reason is because of an increase in exports.

McDonald's and Tyson have cut ties with a Tennessee poultry farm after a video surfaced showing workers stabbing, clubbing, and crushing chickens. The video was released by animal rights group Mercy for Animals and also reveals "disgusting" living conditions of the factory chickens at T&S Farms.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Ray Mickshaw/FOX(LOS ANGELES) -- Believe it or not, Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has two teenage sons.

Brandon, 19, and Dylan, 17, her children with ex-husband Tommy Lee, were too young when the show was a hit in the '90s, so they were caught off guard one year when they started going to surf camp and found out about their famous heartthrob of a mom.

"They came up to me and they said, ‘Mom, are you Pamela Anderson?’ And I said ‘Yeah,'" she told People magazine of their first day at camp years back. "They were like, ‘What is that?’ And ’Why are people saying these things? Are you Pamela Anderson for real?'"

It was such a surprise to the boys because they knew their father was a rock star, but they thought Anderson was just a soccer mom. "I built my whole life around them -- like their soccer games were in my contracts," she added.

Anderson was married to Lee from 1995 to 1998 and to singer Kid Rock from 2006 to 2007. She recently remarried her ex Rick Salomon last year, but got divorced months later.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Alli Harvey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A customer of the popular fitness craze SoulCycle says the company is forcing riders to use an "illegal" payment system that requires customers to buy certificates with "unreasonably short expiration periods," according to a new lawsuit.

Rachel Cody, of Los Angeles, told ABC News that SoulCycle's payment policy is "infuriating," because the firm requires customers to buy "Series Certificates" that can be redeemed for cycling sessions, the suit says.

Cody, who works in financial services, bought a Series Certificate online for $30 in June of this year with the intention of taking a single cycling class, but she didn't redeem it before its 30-day expiration period. Her lawsuit claims the certificates have "unreasonably short expiration periods."

There are other, more expensive packages that have longer expiration periods.

Her lawsuit, which alleges SoulCycle certificates have "illegal expiration provisions," was filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court and seeks class action certification.

Cody asserts that these Series Certificates “constitute ‘gift certificates’” and in purchasing one, believed “SoulCycle would abide by applicable state and federal laws”.

One of the laws Cody refers to in the suit is the federal Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure Act, known as the CARD Act, which prohibits gift certificates with expiration dates of less than five years.

In her lawsuit, Cody also says that “exacerbating the illegal nature of SoulCycle’s scheme is the limited availability of SoulCycle’s exercise sessions. In a July 2015 filing with the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission, SoulCycle stated that 30% of sessions were reserved within 15 minutes of availability.”

SoulCycle, based in New York City, has 47 locations with plans to open at least 250 studios in the next "several years," according to its IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month. The company said it had 235,000 unique riders last year.

According to the suit: "the number of separate individuals who have had all or a portion of their series certificate expire is likely to be in the tens of thousands and is identifiable and ascertainable based on SoulCycle’s records."

“SoulCycle’s practice of forcing its customers to forfeit unused exercise sessions is the epitome of soulless unlawful greed,” Cody's lawyer, Dorian Berger of law firm Olavi Dunne LLP said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for SoulCycle declined to comment to ABC News on the pending litigation. The company has about 30 days to file a response.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.





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