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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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Sienna Miller Says She’s Overwhelmed Managing Work and Single Motherhood

Peter Kramer/NBC(LONDON) — Sienna Miller is having one of the best — and worst — years of her life.

“It’s been really quite overwhelming recently, just with the volume of everything going on,” the actress explained to British Vogue. “Everything is shifting. It’s actually been the s***tiest year, and amazing. It’s always yin and yang. I feel like if you’re excelling in one area, it’s hard to manage both, and I do feel like the work is going really well.”

After starring in two Oscar-nominated films in 2014 — American Sniper and Foxcatcher — Miller followed up with a stint in Cabaret on Broadway and is scheduled to begin filming Ben Affleck’s new gangster drama this fall, Live by Night.

On top of all that she recently split with partner Tom Sturridge and is raising their 3-year-old daughter Marlowe on her own.

Life as a single mom hasn’t been easy, Miller confessed. “Obviously when you have a baby it’s the most incredible experience but your life is also catapulted into this chaos and you are exhausted. I could literally get on this table and fall asleep,” she revealed.

“I’d like to be better at managing things; I’d like to be more super — although we’re never going to feel it, even if we are,” Miller added. “That’s the curse of motherhood — we just run ourselves ragged. I’m just trying to get a sense of what that guilt is. I sometimes feel like it’s a totally invented emotion. It’s strange to be punishing ourselves this way. It’s not healthy.”

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Scoreboard Roundup — 9/9/15

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here’s the latest scores and winners:


L.A. Angels 3, L.A. Dodgers 2

Houston 11, Oakland 5
Cleveland 6, Chi White Sox 4
Boston 10, Toronto 4
Tampa Bay 8, Detroit 0
Baltimore 5, N-Y Yankees 3
Minnesota 3, Kansas City 2, 12 innings
Seattle 6, Texas 0

Arizona 2, San Francisco 1
San Diego 11, Colorado 4
St. Louis 4, Chi Cubs 3
Miami 5, Milwaukee 2
Pittsburgh 5, Cincinnati 4
N-Y Mets 5, Washington 3
Atlanta 8, Philadelphia 1

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National News

Drivers Distressed Over 11 Possible Freeway Shootings in Arizona

iStock/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) — Drivers along a highway in Phoenix have endured 11 possible shootings in the last 11 days in a potential act of domestic terrorism, authorities said.

The freeway shootings have occurred along an eight-mile stretch of I-10.

The two latest shootings were reported Wednesday.

The spree began Aug. 29, when a bullet shattered the windshield of an SUV, injuring a 13-year-old girl, authorities said. Another shot hit a tour bus, putting holes through the seats. Robert McDonald was driving the bus at the time of the attack and was the only person on board.

“The person almost took me away from my family and almost caused catastrophic injuries to the other motorists on the street,” McDonald said.

Two more shooting incidents were reported Tuesday, including one involving a police sergeant’s personal vehicle.

“Both vehicles were hit on the driver side, passenger window by a projectile,” Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said. “I would call that related.”

Agents with the FBI and ATF have joined the investigation, and drivers in the area are warned to be vigilant.

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Taylor Swift Tops “Vanity Fair’s” New Establishment List

ABC/Fred Lee(NEW YORK) — Taylor Swift tops Vanity Fair‘s New Establishment list this year. The list, which ranks “the most important visionaries, investors, and cultural leaders” of 2015, is divided into two sections: “The Disrupters” and “The Powers That Be.” Taylor snagged the number-one spot on the “The Powers That Be” section.

According to the mag, Taylor proved her power when she got Apple to change its artist compensation policy by writing them an open letter on Tumblr a few months back.

“Swift isn’t merely the world’s favorite pop star, putting up sales numbers that are nearly unfathomable in the post-Napster age — she is also using her platform to make giant companies conform to her will,”Vanity Fair writes.

This marks Taylor’s first time on the list. She’s joined on “The Powers That Be” ranking by Kanye West and Kim Kardashian at number 12, and Jay Z and Beyonce at number 21.

In the more business-centric “The Disrupters” section, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tops the tally.

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