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“America’s Got Talent” Recap: The Final Five Acts Advance to the Finals

Eric Liebowitz/NBC(NEW YORK) — On Wednesday night’s installment of NBC’s America’s Got Talent the 11 acts that performed on Tuesday’s show learned which five of them will be the moving on to next week’s finals.

Judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel, along with host Nick Cannon, were on hand for the live event airing from New York’s Radio City Music Hall to learn which acts America had selected to advance for a chance at the $1 million top prize.

Also back this week was the “Dunkin’ Save,” which allowed viewers to vote live to save an act in danger of elimination. Viewers were instructed to search “Dunkin’ Save” on Google and select one of the three acts with the lowest vote totals that they wanted to see in the finals.

Magician Piff the Magic Dragon, The Professional Regurgitator Steve Starr, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, ladder acrobat Uzeyer Novruzov and comedian Paul Vider all advanced to the finals.

Rock band 3 Shades of Blue; singers Daniella Mass, Alondra Santos, Sharon Irving and Alicia Michilli; and dance troupe Freelusion were sent home.

Here’s a rundown of Wednesday’s action:

Rock band 3 Shades of Blue and opera singer Daniella Mass were the first two acts to learn they’re fates. Surprisingly, neither advanced to the finals. Mel B was “really confused” by the decision and predicted a great future for both acts.

Mariachi singer Alondra Santos and comic magician Piff the Magic Dragon were called to the front of the stage next. Piff moves on to the finals. Howie advised the magician to simply “stay the course.”

The next acts to learn their fates were The Professional Regurgitator Steve Starr and Alicia Michilli. Starr advances to the finals. Heidi was “happy” Steve was headed into the finals and called Starr her million dollar act. Steve told Klum, “If I could swallow you I would not bring you back.”

Gospel singer Sharon Irving and ventriloquist Paul Zerdin were called to the front of the stage next. Zerdin advances to the finals. Howard thought America got it right, noting Zerdin made ventriloquism and puppetry “cool,” noting that he was “edgy” and “rock and roll.” He added that Paul could very well walk away with the million dollar prize.

Earlier in the show, Nick Cannon revealed that ladder acrobat Uzeyer Novruzov, comedian Gary Vider and dance troupe Freelusion were the acts with the three lowest vote totals and gave viewers a chance to save one of them with the “Dunkin’ Save.” In a shocker, America picked Novruzov, who took a spill during Tuesday’s performance, to advance to the finals. An emotional Novruzov thanked the audience and promised to try his best to convince them they made the right choice.

The judges then got to decide which of the remaining two acts would advance. Heidi and Mel B picked Freelusion. Stern and Mandel picked Vider. The tie-breaker went to the act with the most viewer votes, which was Vider.

The evening also featured season-9 AGT finalists AcroArmy, performing to Little Mix, who sang their hit “Black …read more […]

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Justin Timberlake Teams Up with Jimmy Fallon for ‘History of Rap 6’

Jamie McCarthy/NBC(NEW YORK) — Justin Timberlake dropped by The Tonight Show on Wednesday and dropped some beat with longtime friend, host Jimmy Fallon, for the sixth installment of their “History of Rap.”

The two opened the show cold by performing a medley of 25 classic rap songs from the 1990s through the present. Among them, Salt-N-Pepa’s “Let’s Talk About Sex,” MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This,” DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime,” NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton,” Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right” and Fetty Wap’s “My Way.”

Later, Timberlake, 34, sat down for an interview with Fallon and discussed his five-month-old son Silas Randall, whom he shares with wife Jessica Biel, 33.

“I have trouble wiping my own a**,” the “SexyBack” singer joked, before describing fatherhood as, “the most insanely, amazing, most beautiful, unbelievable thing.”

Justin, who also has his own premium tequila brand called 901, brought one of the company’s mixologists out for a segment in which they introduced a new cocktail consisting of jalapeño infused tequila, maple syrup, and a splash of orange bitters served on the rocks. The drink, a twist on an Old Fashioned, was dubbed “The Fallon.”

Timberlake also hung around to judge a lip-sync battle between Jimmy and the show’s other guest, Ellen DeGeneres.

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Hamlin Injures Knee, Team Issued Inspection Warning

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team was issued a warning Wednesday afternoon by NASCAR officials for failing pre-race inspections four times ahead of Sunday’s Bojangles Southern 500, Fox Sports reports.

NASCAR officials also issued a warning to owner Jay Robinson’s No. 62 car driven by Timmy Hill after it failed pre-qualifying inspection twice.

Wednesday wasn’t a great day for Hamlin for another reason. Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Hamlin had torn his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee playing basketball Tuesday night, according to Fox. Although Hamlin will need surgery after the season, he has been cleared to continue racing this season.

It’s the second time Hamlin has torn an ACL playing basketball. He did it back in January 2010, undergoing surgery after that season.

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Business / Financial

Fewer People Filed Jobless Claims, Labor Department Says

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims fell lower last week, decreasing by 6,000 from the revised previous week’s level, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

For the week ending Sept. 5, the number of people filing for benefits fell 275,000. The previous week, claims stood at 281,000 — revised down from 282,000.

The Labor Department said there were no “special factors” impacting that week’s figures.

The four-week moving average increased by just 500, to 275,750.

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Business / Financial

Inside the Social Platform Connecting Grandparents and Grandkids

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Grandma and Grandpa now have a new digital tool at their fingertips to help them stay engaged with even their grandchildren no matter how far away they may live.

HomeTeam, a service created by Panasonic launching Thursday, helps connect several generations of family through a unique social platform.

While the site offers video chat, what distinguishes it is the option for grandparents or other relatives across the country to connect with younger family members by reading books together and playing games such as memory or checks in real-time

Although Home Team was originally designed by Panasonic’s Health and Wellness team for parents to connect the grandparents and grandchildren of the family, the ease of use also makes it ideal for divorced parents or those looking to stay engaged with their children while on a business trip.

HomeTeam is available for download on iOS and Android tablets, along with use available on PCs and Macs. The first month is free. After that, users can continue to enjoy free video chat or can upgrade to an $8.99 per month premium membership, which includes access to games and hundreds of children’s books.

There’s room for both sets of grandparents on the Home Team since one account covers up to five family members.

The move is the latest push in bringing more easy to use tech options to senior citizens. Earlier this year, Apple and IBM unveiled their plan for how the technology of the iPad can help serve the world’s aging population.

The plan is to put iPads into the hands of seniors in Japan. The tablets will be equipped with a customized suite of applications aimed at helping the country’s aging population live independently.

The team hopes the iPad service will reach as many as 5 million Japanese seniors by 2020. There are also plans to tailor it to different markets around the world.

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What Congress Did on Their Summer Vacation

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — It’s back to Washington D.C. for Congress. Fresh from their summer vacations, members of the House and Senate have a heavily packed agenda ahead of them.

For five weeks, Congress was out of session and free to return home, however their vacation was still a working vacation.

But here’s a snippet of what Congress was up to while they were away from the Capitol.

Braved a New Diet

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker challenged himself to go 10 days without added sugar, bread, pasta and other carb filled foods. Sen. Booker started Aug. 3 and blew well past the 10-day mark, nearly going all month.

“My sugar cravings have all but subsided and I’ve done away with my late night eating,” Sen. Booker wrote in a post on Instagram. “I so appreciate all the encouragement I’ve been receiving from folks on this platform and love reading about the experiences of others on the same journey.”

Got in Touch with Nature

Calling it a “hiking town hall,” Rep. Eric Swalwell of California and his constituents got some exercise while talking politics along the Sycamore Grove Park’s Regional Trail.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, and her daughter sought out some adventures. The two zip-lined at Gunstock ski resort in New Hampshire.

Sen. Susan Collins took advantage of Maine’s peak blueberry picking season. Wild blueberries are Maine’s official state fruit.

Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota went double kayaking along the Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz snapped this picture of a sunset over his home state of Utah.

It was a Portman family outing to the Edge of Appalachia. Republican Senator Rob Portman brought his family to hike on the edge of his homestate of Ohio.

It wasn’t all sunshine and beaches for everyone. Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski spent her Labor Day weekend with the U.S. Coast Guard aboard one of the National Security Cutters.

Traveled to Israel

To prepare themselves for key votes on the Iran nuclear deal this fall, nearly 100 representatives, Democratic and Republican took a trip to Israel.

Republican lawmakers Mimi Walters, Garret Graves and Patrick McHenry all went for a morning run in Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock in the backdrop.

Prepped for Fall

It seems some want Fall to come quick. Rep. Paul Ryan, a huge Green Bay Packers fan, tweeted this picture.

Attended State Fairs

The Iowa State Fair was a big attraction this summer for politicians, and presidential hopefuls. The fair this year attracted 1 million people over 11 days.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley posed for a picture in front of the butter cow.

And Iowan Rep. Steve King ate fried butter — just one of the many fried foods sold the fair.

Celebrity Run-In

Chuck Schumer ran into one of the lead singers of Blue Oyster Cult — the band known for the song “(Don’t …read more […]

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What Jeb Bush’s Tax Plan Might Mean for You

ABC News(GARNER, N.C.) — Of all the topics U.S. voters have to understand, none is more complicated than taxes. Think 80,000 pages of convoluted code, abstract loopholes and what seems like innumerable exemptions.

Confused yet?

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he wants to change all that.

“Of all the terrible things that can be said about our tax code – and I can think of a few – the worst is probably this: It punishes people for doing things we should encourage and rewards people for doing things that may not be so good. It taxes paychecks hard but gives companies a write-off for debt,” Bush said Wednesday in North Carolina. “I believe it’s time we build for the future, not borrow from it.”

In short, he plans to simplify the tax code, making it so that ordinary people can understand and file their own taxes. So what would this mean for you? We asked these two economists to help us figure it out:

Kevin Hassett: director of economic policy studies, the American Enterprise Institute, served as a policy consultant to the U.S. Treasury under Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Harry Stein: director, fiscal policy, the Center for American Progress

“It’s a really big proposal; kind of thing that a president pushes in the first State of the Union. It has a million bells and whistles,” Hassett said, adding, “It’s the kind of impressive tax plan that you usually don’t see.”

1. Reducing Tax Brackets:

Bush’s big goal is to do what President Reagan did: lower tax rates. In his policy plan, instead of seven brackets, there are now three: 28 percent, 25 percent and 10 percent. Bush noted in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that “at 28 percent, the highest tax bracket would return to where it was when President Ronald Reagan signed into law his monumental and successful 1986 tax reform.”

QUESTION: Aren’t these just more tax cuts for the wealthy?

That will undoubtedly benefit people in upper brackets more. One of the things we’ve seen is a collapse in the role of small business in the economy … this is the policy that has the potential to have the biggest positive effect.

Stein: Bush’s tax plan would give huge tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. It cuts taxes on investment income, which overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy (since they are the ones with wealth to invest).

2. Eliminating Penalties and Other Taxes

Bush’s plan also eliminates certain taxes to double the standard deduction now taken by roughly two-thirds of all filers. He would cut the marriage penalty, which causes some married couples to pay higher taxes than they would if they were single.

It also expands the Earned Income Tax Credit, ends the death tax, which requires a person’s estate to be taxed, retires the Alternative Minimum Tax and ends the employee’s share of the Social Security tax on earnings for workers older than 67.

Bush says that, under his plan, 15 million Americans would no longer bear any income-tax liability. Families of four, with an income less …read more […]

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Beverly Johnson Tells Bill Cosby: ‘I Forgive You’

ABC/Fred Lee(NEW YORK) — Supermodel Beverly Johnson said she would have three words to say to Bill Cosby if she were to see the controversial TV star, whom she accused of drugging her in 1986 during a meeting for a possible part on The Cosby Show.

“I forgive you,” Johnson said Wednesday on Good Morning America of what she would tell the comedian, who has been accused by more than two dozen women of drugging them or sexually assaulting them. To date, Cosby has not been charged with a crime in connection to the accusations of drugging and sexual assault and his lawyers have dismissed the allegations.

Johnson said she wants to leave it up to the legal system to decide Cosby’s fate. “I just feel that he’s a lightning rod for a much bigger conversation and that conversation would be the rape culture in America,” she explained.

Johnson, the first black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue, has put her life on the page in her new memoir, The Face That Changed It All. She hopes the book will be a warning for those dabbling in illegal substances.

“I’m not there in it but hopefully people understand the complications of drugs and the dangers of drugs,” Johnson said. “Basically that’s why I really wanted to do my memoir and that’s why I really wanted to share my sobriety with everyone.”

Johnson’s struggle with substance abuse was also a major part of her life story, until she got clean using a 12-step program.

“I think that people, and particularly in the 70s, remember it wasn’t addictive and that it increased your intelligence and it made your eyes sparkle and you lost your appetite,” Johnson said of the misconceptions about drugs during her modeling heyday. “We know more now than we did then.”

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Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show Debuts” with 6.6 Million Viewers

Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS(NEW YORK) — Stephen Colbert beat out his late night competition when he took over The Late Show Tuesday night.

CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show averaged 6.6 million viewers when the show returned. If you don’t count predecessor David Letterman’s final week before he said goodbye in May, those numbers were the biggest audience the show has received since July 1995.

When Colbert took the stage at New York City’s Ed Sullivan Theater, he not only gave a tribute to Letterman, but he also sat down with George Clooney. The show concluded with an all-star jam on Sly & the Family Stone’s 1968 hit “Everyday People,” featuring Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, soul legend Mavis Staples, R&B singer Aloe Blacc, rock guitarist Derek Trucks, and blues guitar legend Buddy Guy among others, joining The Late Show‘s New Orleans bandleader Jon Batiste and his band Stay Human.

And if you can’t score a ticket to see Colbert in New York City’s Ed Sullivan Theater, catch him with Star Trek director J.J. Abrams at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey on Nov. 21. Tickets go on sale Sept. 11 via Ticketmaster.

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World News

Baking Bling: Designer Unveils $74 Million Cake

Dress-turned-cake designer Debbie Wingham has created what may be the world’s most expensive cake, valued at $74 million. (Adel Hanna)(LONDON) — U.K.-based dress designer Debbie Wingham — the woman who created the “world’s most expensive black diamond dress” — has outdone herself, creating a $74 million cake for an undisclosed client from the United Arab Emirates.

The six foot long cake, created for the client’s daughter’s dual birthday and engagement celebration, was crafted to look like a fashion runway, but one lined with precious stones that give the cake its ludicrous pricetag.

“These [diamonds] were owned by the family already who had commissioned me to make the cake,” Wingham told ABC News. “The stones were gifted to the daughter by the family and were part of a private collection. So although the cake was worth 74 million U.S. dollars,” she adds, “that’s not what I was paid for the cake.”

The runway is decorated with 400 one carat and 35 three-carat white diamonds and 75 three-carat black diamonds. The diamonds were attached to the cake similar to the way Wingham attaches them to gowns: set in platinum in order to add impact and value — but this time, attached with icing instead of thread.

Every piece of the nearly thousand pound cake was hand-sculpted by Wingham over 1,100 hours.

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