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Ward’s Aunt Says Tony Stewart Grand Jury Put ‘Wrong Man on Trial’

Ward’s Aunt Says Tony Stewart Grand Jury Put ‘Wrong Man on Trial’

Rich Barnes/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The aunt of Kevin Ward Jr., the sprint car driver killed when he was struck by NASCAR star Tony Stewart in a race last month, questioned why her nephew was drug tested, but not the driver that hit him, saying it seemed “the wrong man was on trial.”

“Why was the toxicology report even an issue? Seems to me the wrong man was on trial,” Wendi Ward wrote in the open letter shared with ABC News four days after a grand jury investigation determined there was insufficient evidence to indict the NASCAR star.

The grand jury’s findings clearing Stewart were released Wednesday by the Ontario County District Attorney’s Office in Canandaigua, New York. At that time, prosecutors said a toxicology report showed Ward had marijuana in his system the night he died.

Prosecutors said the grand jury considered manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges in the Aug. 9 incident that occurred during a sprint car event at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

Ward, 20, who had spun out while racing beside Stewart, died after he got out of his car and was struck by Stewart’s car.

She described Ward as “an amazing person,” who was devoted to his family and community, and loved his sport.

He was “just a small-town boy having fun until the days turned into years, and it then became his passion and life,” she wrote.

A representative for Stewart declined to comment on the letter.

In a statement released after the grand jury’s findings were announced, Stewart said the past two months have been the “toughest and most emotional experience of my life, and it will stay with me forever.”

“While much of the attention has been on me, it’s important to remember a young man lost his life,” he said. “Kevin Ward Jr.’s family and friends will always be in my thoughts and prayers.”

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Jennifer Lopez & Leah Remini Rear-Ended by Alleged Drunk Driver

Jennifer Lopez & Leah Remini Rear-Ended by Alleged Drunk Driver

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) — Jennifer Lopez is apparently okay following a fender-bender in Malibu, California, on Saturday, but she’s still pretty upset about the incident.

The 45-year-old American Idol judge posted a photo on Instagram of herself and pal, actress Leah Remini, in a car with the caption, “Sitting at a light, Riding high right before some drunk fool rear ended us in my new whip!!!” She added, “Thank god everyone ok!!!”

Police tell TMZ that Remini, 44, was driving J-Lo’s car with the singer and her two kids along the Pacific Coast Highway when they stopped at a light.

TMZ reports either Lopez or Remini called 911 and told cops a driver in a small pickup had rear-ended them and fled the scene.

According to the report, the driver of the pickup was located a short distance away and was arrested for DUI and hit and run.

No injuries were reported.

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Randy Jackson’s Wife Files for Divorce

Randy Jackson’s Wife Files for Divorce

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Randy Jackson’s wife has filed for divorce from the former American Idol judge and season 13 mentor after 18 years of marriage, according to court papers obtained by E! News.

Erika Jackson cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split and listed their date of separation as Sept. 11.

Randy and Erika have two children together, but 17-year-old Jordan is the only minor. She’s asking for joint legal custody and primary physical custody, with “reasonable visitation” for Randy.

Erika is also petitioning to have her maiden name of Riker legally restored.

This is the second marriage for Jackson, who has a daughter with his first wife.

American Idol
returns for its 14th season on Jan. 14 on Fox.

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Vanessa Williams Is Engaged

Vanessa Williams Is Engaged

Steve Granitz/WireImage(NEW YORK) — Vanessa Williams has exciting news to share: She’s engaged.

The actress, 50, is set to wed her boyfriend of more than a year, Jim Skrip.

“I’ve had a lot of good things happen while I’ve been on this lovely trip,” she told Queen Latifah, who commented on her “bling ring,” on Latifah’s daytime talk show. “I turned 50 when we were in rehearsal on Broadway, and I just got engaged a couple weeks ago. It’s been a lot of blessings on this trip!”

Williams said Skrip “was in real estate and, back in the day, he was an accountant.”

This will be the third marriage for the actress, who has three children with her first husband, her former manager, Ramon Hervy II. She has one child with her second husband, former NBA player Rick Fox.

The episode of Latifah’s talk show that features the interview will air Tuesday.

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Nick Lachey Returns as Host of VH1’s “Big Morning Buzz Live”

Nick Lachey Returns as Host of VH1’s “Big Morning Buzz Live”

Miller Mobley/VH1(NEW YORK) — Nick Lachey returns as host of VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live.  The 98 Degrees singer told ABC News Radio his morning show stands out from the rest.

“I think the biggest thing for me that sets us apart is that we have live music every day and you know that makes sense being on VH1,” he explained. “And certainly that’s special to me being a musician to be able to feature both established artists like Pharrell Williams, who was on last season, Neon Trees, Sam Smith, but also feature some up and coming artists who people may not necessarily be as familiar with.”

Big Morning Buzz Live
airs out of Total Request Live studios in Times Square in New York City. Lachey said the location is so important to the show.

“Times Square is almost a character on our show. And we make it a point to go out into the square every day [and] interact with the people who are there,” he said. “You’ve got kind of a cross section of New Yorkers and tourists and young and old and there’s cowboys and underwear and all kinds of crazy stuff. It brings the spirit of New York into the show.”

Lachey is getting a new permanent co-host this season, comedian Michelle Buteau, who has guest co-hosted previously.

“I adore her,” Lachey said of his new side kick. “[She's] one of the funniest people that I’ve ever been around, just quick as she can be, [and] obviously hilarious. She’s definitely going to keep me on my toes.”

VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live premieres Monday at 9 a.m. Eastern time.

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“Saturday Night Live” Returns with New Faces for Its 40th Season

“Saturday Night Live” Returns with New Faces for Its 40th Season

NBC (NEW YORK) — There were a couple of “firsts” on the 40th-season premiere of NBC’s Saturday Night Live over the weekend.

It marked the first appearance of new SNL featured player Pete Davidson. The 20-year-old comedian took part in a memorable bit on “Weekend Update,” leading a pretty raunchy discussion about a sex act.

“Weekend Update” also unveiled its new anchor: Michael Che, who was named Cecily Strong’s replacement earlier this month. Che, who was a writer on the show last season, joined Colin Jost at the desk.  

Former SNL star Darrell Hammond made his debut as the show’s announcer. He took over the role from the late Don Pardo, who passed away in August.

Guardians of the Galaxy actor Chris Pratt hosted the season premiere, and Ariana Grande was the musical guest.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the ratings were on par with that of last May’s season finale, but were down from the 2013 season premiere in the advertiser-coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic.

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Has the Luster Worn Off Kate Middleton?

Has the Luster Worn Off Kate Middleton?

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Kate Middleton, otherwise known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is among the most admired women in the world.

However, when polled in a survey by Newsweek Europe, it appears that virtually all the women of Britain are comfortable in their own skin when asked if they wished they could be Kate.

Just one percent said they would while 89 percent of the female respondents admitted they wouldn’t want to be the 32-year-old duchess even for a single day.

Perhaps even more incredibly, just six percent of the men polled in England, Scotland and Wales said they’d like to be married to Kate while six percent wanted to date her.

And while news of Kate’s second pregnancy made international headlines, just two percent of those surveyed cited it as the most important story of the day.

About 2,100 people responded to the survey.

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Consumers Mostly Pleased with Their Electronic Devices

Consumers Mostly Pleased with Their Electronic Devices

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Electronics have become such a big part of our lives that the thought of being without them, even for a short time, terrifies some people.

For the most part, Americans seem pretty happy with their devices, according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, although maybe not as pleased as last year, depending on the gadget.

Using a scale of zero to one hundred, customers gave personal computers a 78 rating, which is down slightly from 2013. Meanwhile, laptops got a score of 76, compared to 80 last year, while tablets fell from 81 to 80.

However, desktops seem to be making a comeback of sorts, the ACSI found, rising from a score of 78 to 81 in 2014.

As far as computer brands are concerned, Apple ranked first in customer satisfaction, followed by Dell and Acer.

Meanwhile, TVs, which seem low-tech compared to everything else these days, rated the highest among everything in the ACSI with score of 86, a slight improvement from last year.

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Talk Therapy Is Best for Overcoming Social Anxiety

Talk Therapy Is Best for Overcoming Social Anxiety

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — The best way to treat social anxiety disorder, which can literally paralyze people in social situations, is through talk therapy more so than drugs.

That’s the finding of a John Hopkins University study, which looked at a disorder affecting millions of Americans.

“Social anxiety is more than just shyness,” says study leader Evan Mayo-Wilson.

Mayo-Wilson says social anxiety goes far beyond ordinary shyness because the disorder can prevent people from establishing relationships or getting ahead at school or work.

In a meta-analysis of more than 13,000 participants from 100 clinical trials, it was discovered that cognitive behavioral therapy was more effective in getting people to deal with their social anxiety than either antidepressants or a combination of therapy and drugs.

Cognitive behavioral therapy predominantly focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Through talking, patients are able to overcome irrational fears that often lead to avoiding social situations.

Perhaps more significantly, many don’t lapse back into social anxiety after CBT is over.

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Guys, You’ll Really Pay for That First Date

Guys, You’ll Really Pay for That First Date

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — First dates can turn into magical moments. Or they can be duds.

Either way, if it means going out to a restaurant or anything else that involves money, men had better be ready to open their wallets when the check comes around.

That’s according to a new NerdWallet.com survey of 1,000 adults in the U.S.

A whopping 77 percent of the respondents, all of whom were currently in heterosexual relationships and living together six months or more, said that guys should pay on a first date.

Breaking it down by gender, 82 percent of men feel that way compared to 72 percent of women.

Talking about their own situations, 56 percent of male respondents and 59 percent of females say that men should continue to pay on date nights.

However, this being something of the age of equality, 41 percent of those surveyed admit they split the check.

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Cowboys Cruise Past New Orleans

Cowboys Cruise Past New Orleans

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Texas) — Tony Romo threw for three touchdown passes while DeMarco Murray rushed for two more as the Dallas Cowboys dominated New Orleans, winning 38-17 on Sunday night. The Cowboys (3-1) led 24-0 at halftime and maintained their double-digit lead throughout.

“That was very important for us to see what kind of team we were going to be,” said Romo who ended his day with 262 passing yards as well. “We kind of knew but it’s nice to go against a team…that is still a really good football team.”

Dallas began the scoring when Romo found Terrance Williams from six yards out in the first quarter. The two later connected with 19 seconds left in the half, upping the advantage to 24-0. While Romo was lighting it up in the air, Murray led a dominant rushing attack on the ground. The running back totalled 149 yards, his fourth 100-yard game of the year, as the Cowboys racked up 445 yards of total offense.

Meanwhile, the Saints (1-3) offense was held in check all night. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 340 yards but was unable to lead a scoring drive until the third quarter when New Orleans settled for a Shayne Graham field goal. They would close the gap to 31-17, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but Dallas’ defense held strong and prevented any thought of a comeback.

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Gordon Wins Final Race of “Challenger Round”

Gordon Wins Final Race of “Challenger Round”

Geoff Burke/Getty Images(DOVER, Del.) — Jeff Gordon led the final 71 laps of the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, cementing his spot in the next round of the NASCAR’s 10-race “Chase for the Sprint Cup”. It was Gordon’s fifth win at The Monster Mile, and his first since winning his last series crown in 2001.

“I think it makes a statement of what type of team we are,” Gordon said. “I think that it makes a statement that we’re a team to beat for this championship.”

Although he didn’t need the win to advance, Gordon joined Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano as winners through the first round of NASCAR’s new playoff format which eliminates four drivers after every third race. At the conclusion of the race at Dover, Kurt Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Greg Biffle, and Aric Amirola were knocked from championship contention.

Kevin Harvick led 223 laps but poor tire management left him with a 13th place finish. Keselowski took second while Jimmie Johnson, Logano and Matt Kenseth finished out the top five. The points will now reset for the “Contender Round” which features races at Kansas, Charlotte, and Talladega.

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Clooney Wedding Celebration Continues in Venice

Clooney Wedding Celebration Continues in Venice

PVS/GC Images(VENICE, Italy) — George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin are expected to make their weekend wedding official Monday with a civil ceremony in the Venice town hall. It was expected to take place between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. local time — or 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Eastern.

The newlyweds were expected to travel from the Cipriani Hotel down the famous city’s Grand Canal to the Aman Hotel where they were married, and from there to the town hall, which is across the waterway.

The couple had dinner Sunday night with approximately 100 guests at the Granaries of the Republic, according to People magazine. The venue is part of the Belmond Hotel Cipriani, where many of the guests were staying.

Clooney’s rep confirmed to ABC News over the weekend that the actor and the British-Lebanese human rights lawyer wed in a private ceremony in the Italian city on Saturday. They got engaged in April.

Speaking to AFP on Sunday, Clooney’s new father-in-law called the wedding “more than perfect.” Ramzi Alamuddin added that the wedding was “very good news among the bad news we are living now,” referring to the current unrest in the Middle East.

TMZ
claims that the wedding guests were asked to leave their cellphones in their hotel room. They were provided with cameras with which they could take pictures, but the cameras had a code associated with them that allows Clooney’s camp to keep tabs on all of the snapshots, just in case there are any leaks.

The guest list for the wedding reportedly included Matt Damon, Bono, John Krasinski and his wife Emily Blunt, and Cindy Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber.

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MLB Postseason Matchups Set

MLB Postseason Matchups Set

Zoonar/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It took all 162 games, but the Major League postseason was decided on Sunday as the top 10 teams found out where and when their next games will be. Both the American League and National League Central division titles were also won on Sunday while the final AL Wild Card spot was decided.

David Price tossed seven and one-third innings of shutout baseball, giving up four hits and striking out eight, to give the Detroit Tigers the AL Central crown for the fourth straight year. Ian Kinsler drove in a pair of runs in the 3-0 victory while Joe Nathan picked up his 35th save of the season. The Tigers will travel to AL East Champion Baltimore to begin best-of-five divisional series against the Orioles on Thursday.

The Tigers’ victory means that Kansas City’s first postseason appearance in 29 years will come in the Wild Card round. The Royals will host the Oakland Athletics, who eliminated the Seattle Mariners with a 4-0 win over the Texas Rangers Sunday, in a one-game “play-in” on Tuesday night. The winner of that contest will then travel to Los Angeles to battle the Angels in the divisional round, beginning Thursday.

In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0 after they were already crowned Central division champs. Pittsburgh’s 4-1 loss relegated the Pirates to the Wild Card round where they will host the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday. Whoever advances will then visit the Washington Nationals, winner of the NL East, in the divisional series on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals begin their defense of the NL Pennant on Friday when they travel to NL West champion Los Angeles to battle with the Dodgers.

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Jeter Ends Career with RBI Single

Jeter Ends Career with RBI Single

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images(BOSTON) — At Fenway Park, the home of the Yankees’ archrivals the Boston Red Sox, Derek Jeter received a standing ovation after recording the final hit of his 20 year career. The New York Yankees shortstop singled home a run in the top of the third before being lifted for a pinch-runner.  

The base hit was the 3,465th of his career, sixth most all-time, and gave New York a 3-0 lead en route to a 9-5 win. The 40-year-old removed himself from the game, being replaced by Brian McCann at first base. 

“I had a blast,” said Jeter, who made his Major League debut in 1996, winning the AL Rookie of the Year. “Listen, I had an opportunity to do what I wanted to do, the only thing that I ever wanted to do. I know that not a lot of people can say that. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had fun. There is not a thing I would change.”

Prior to the game, a ceremony honoring Jeter featured multiple Boston sports icons who could also call themselves “Captain” — former Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski, New England Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown, Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr, current Washington Wizard and former Celtics guard Paul Pierce all paid tribute to the 14-time All-Star.

The Red Sox also donated $22,222.22 to Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation. Almost $600,000 in charitable donations were given to his foundation throughout the course of the season.

Despite not reaching the postseason in his final year, Jeter was a member of five World Series championship teams and is the Yankees all-time leader in hits, stolen bases, singles, and doubles.

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Scoreboard Roundup – 9/28/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 9/28/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — NFL: Green Bay Packers 38 (2-2) – Chicago Bears 17 (2-2)

Indianapolis Colts 41 (2-2) – Tennessee Titans 17 (1-3) 

Baltimore Ravens 38 (3-1) – Carolina Panthers 10 (2-2)

Detroit Lions 24 (3-1) – New York Jets 17 (1-3)

Miami Dolphins 38 (2-2) – Oakland Raiders 14 (0-4)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 (1-3) – Pittsburgh Steelers 24 (2-2)

Houston Texans 23 (3-1) – Buffalo Bills 17 (2-2)

San Diego Chargers 33 (3-1) – Jacksonville Jaguars 14 (0-4)

Minnesota Vikings 41 (2-2) – Atlanta Falcons 28 (2-2) 

San Francisco 49ers 26 (2-2) – Philadelphia Eagles 21 (3-1)

Dallas Cowboys 38 (3-1) – New Orleans Saints 17 (1-2)

MLB: Cleveland Indians 7 (85-77) – Tampa Bay Rays 2 (77-85)

Cincinnati Reds 4 (76-86) – Pittsburgh Pirates 1 (88-74)

Baltimore Orioles 1 (96-66) – Toronto Blue Jays 0 (83-79)

New York Mets 8 (79-83) – Houston Astros 3 (70-92)

Detroit Tigers 3 (90-72) – Minnesota Twins 0 (70-92)

Washington Nationals 1 (96-66) – Miami Marlins 0 (77-85)

Atlanta Braves 2 (79-83) – Philadelphia Phillies 1 (73-89)

New York Yankees 9 (84-78) – Boston Red Sox 5 (71-91)

Kansas City Royals 6 (89-73) – Chicago White Sox 4 (73-89)

Chicago Cubs 5 (73-89) – Milwaukee Brewers 2 (82-80)

Oakland Athletics 4 (88-74) – Texas Rangers 0 (67-95)

St. Louis Cardinals 1 (90-72) – Arizona Diamondbacks 0 (64-98)

San Francisco Giants 9 (88-74) – San Diego Padres 3 (77-85)

Seattle Mariners 4 (87-75) – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 1 (98-64)

Los Angeles Dodgers 10 (94-68) – Colorado Rockies 5 (66-96)

NASCAR: Jeff Gordon won the Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.

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Tigers Clinch A.L. Central

Tigers Clinch A.L. Central

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images(DETROIT) — The Detroit Tigers (90-72) clinched the A.L. Central for the fourth consecutive season after they beat the Twins, 3-0 on Sunday.

Ian Kinsler led the offense, with a solo homerun in the third and further cemented the lead with an RBI single in the eighth. 

David Price tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings with two walks and eight strikeouts.

Joe Nathan closed out the game to earn his 35th save of the season.

The Tigers will travel to Baltimore to face the Orioles Thursday in the A.L. Divisional Series. 

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Nationals’ Jordan Zimmerman Tosses No-Hitter

Nationals’ Jordan Zimmerman Tosses No-Hitter

Rob Carr/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Jordan Zimmerman tossed a no-hitter in the Nationals 1-0 win over the Marlins on Sunday.

Zimmerman became the fifth pitcher in MLB history to pitch a no-hitter on the last day of the regular season.

This is the second year in a row the unique feat has happened after Henderson Alverez of the Marlins threw nine hitless innings against the Detroit Tigers.

The final out occurred in dramatic fashion as Christian Yelich smashed a ball to deep left center.  Nationals left fielder Steven Souza tracked the ball perfectly through the air, dove for the ball and raised his hands in triumph as he came up with the game-ending catch. 

The Nationals will host the winner of the Pirates/Giants wild card playoff game, which will take place on Wednesday.

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Indiana State University Student Arrested in Connection with Shooting

Indiana State University Student Arrested in Connection with Shooting

digicomphoto/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TERRE HAUTE, Ind.) — Police arrested a 21-year-old Indiana State University student on Sunday in connection with a Saturday shooting.

According to the Indiana State University Police, Calvin McCauley, 21, is in custody and faces a preliminary charge of attempted murder. On Saturday, McCauley allegedly shot and wounded a 20-year-old ISU student.

Investigators believe that McCauley knew the victim and had spent time together prior to the shooting on Saturday. The victim underwent surgery on Sunday to remove a bullet from his buttocks and is expected to recover.

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Two Killed in Monster Truck Accident in Netherlands

Two Killed in Monster Truck Accident in Netherlands

Tracy Fox/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AMSTERDAM) — A monster truck crashed into the crowd during a show on Sunday in the Netherlands, killing two and injuring at least 10 more.

Police confirmed the two deaths, but said that they were not certain of how many people were injured. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the truck to careen into the stands.

The injured onlookers have been taken to local hospitals in unknown condition. Police are expected to hold a press conference later on Sunday.

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