Washington -- U.S. air passengers opted to skip 41 million trips in the past year due to frustrations with air travel, a travel group said Thursday.
Testifying before the House Small Business Committee, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Travel Industry Association Roger Dow said travelers were frustrated with insufficient security screening, flight delays and cancellations.
"Our air travel system is in steep decline," Dow told committee members, noting the problems affected "business across America."
Dow referred to a TIA survey undertaken with Peter Hart Research Associates and The Winston Group, a statement from the association said.
The survey pointed to millions of trips avoided by passengers in the preceding 12 months, which totaled "a $26 billion loss in consumer spending," Dow said.
Los Angeles -- A foundation started by Hollywood film stars has donated $1 million to children impacted by the war in Iraq.
Usmagazine.com said the Jolie-Pitt Foundation has pledged $500,000 for school supplies and education programs for refugee children in Iraq, as well as $500,000 for U.S. children who have either lost a parent deployed in Iraq or have a parent serving there.
The donations for U.S. children will go to a tutoring initiative at the Armed Services YMCA Operation Hero Program, the entertainment news Web site said.
Jolie, who is pregnant with her and Pitt's fifth and sixth children, is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Edina, Minn. -- Veteran Pat Hurst birdied her final hole Thursday to shoot a 6-under 67 and share the first-round lead at the U.S. Women's Open in Edina, Minn.
Hurst, 39, was tied with Ji-Young Oh for the top spot on a day of low scoring at the Interlachen Country Club.
Song-Hee Kim was alone in third at 68 while amateur Maria Jose Uribe, Louise Friberg and Ji-Yai Shin were all at 69. Paula Creamer was among those at 70.
"In any tournament, if you get off to a good start it's always good," said Hurst, who lost in a playoff to Annika Sorenstam in this tournament two years ago. "You build confidence. It's a long week, but if you can get off to a good start, it's always a bonus."
Hurst had six birdies and an eagle on the par-73 course, but suffered bogeys on both the 13th and 14th holes.
New York -- Potential Olympians can probably use an illegal performance-enhancing drug to boost blood cell count with little risk, a study indicates.
The report may expose another flaw in what many regard as the world's toughest anti-doping program, The New York Times said Thursday.
The study, published Thursday in the online edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology, says a urine test intended to detect the drug, planned for use in the Tour de France next month and in the Olympics in August, is likely to miss it.
The substance, recombinant human erythropoietin, stimulates bone marrow to speed up production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, enabling endurance athletes like cyclists and distance runners to perform better.
EPO is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, an international group working with the International Olympic Committee to promote and coordinate efforts to stop doping in sports.
New York -- A representative for the USA network has confirmed to Usmagazine.com that Chris Noth will not be back for the eighth season of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."
Noth previously played Detective Mike Logan on the flagship series "Law & Order" and has been reprising that role on the spin-off "Criminal Intent" since 2005. He is also known for playing Mr. Big on the HBO comedy series "Sex and the City" and its big-screen follow-up.
While promoting the "Sex and the City" film in New York this spring, Noth said of working on "Criminal Intent," "I think we're doing some of the most powerful stories since my first year on 'Law & Order.' That said, the work itself is difficult. Because it's not based on character, it's based on pushing a story and a plot and you try to infuse a little character along the way … I'm lucky because people know my character from how I created Logan."
New York -- Major league umpire Brian Runge was suspended Thursday for one game for his actions in Tuesday night's game between the New York Mets and Seattle.
New York's Carlos Beltran began arguing balls and strikes with Runge in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Mets interim manager Jerry Manuel came out of the dugout to protest the umpire's strike zone.
During the argument, Runge bumped Manuel and subsequently ejected both Manuel and Beltran before the incident ended.
Runge's suspension starts immediately.
In a release late Thursday afternoon, Bob Watson, baseball's vice president of on-field operations, announced that Manuel and Beltran received undisclosed fines.
Denver -- Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall calls his third arrest within a year part of a "shakedown" plot by his former girlfriend, his attorney says.
Marshall said he has a letter proving she was trying to extort money from him, the Rocky Mountain News reports.
The two reportedly have a history of domestic spats.
Marshall was arrested March 6 in the Atlanta area for investigation of misdemeanor battery after his longtime partner, Rasheeda Watley, accused him of "striking her in the mouth and left eye." Marshall was released March 7 on $1,000 cash bond after a night in jail.
Harvey Steinberg, Marshall's Denver attorney, noted Wednesday that based on testimony from Watley at a hearing on the matter in May, she admitted to "striking Brandon in the eye" during their latest spat.
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