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American crowned Miss Universe

An American university student is the new Miss Universe, defeating dozens of contestants from six continents to bring the crown back to the U.S. after a drought of more than a decade.

Twenty-year-old Olivia Culpo won the title Wednesday night at the Planet Hollywood casino on the Las Vegas Strip, replacing outgoing champion Leila Lopes of Angola.

The Boston University sophomore’s coronation ends a long losing spell for the U.S. in the competition co-owned by Donald Trump and NBC. An American had not won the Miss Universe title since Brook Lee won in 1997.

Culpo, who beat out 88 competitors, wore a tight navy blue mini-dress with a sequined bodice as she walked on stage for the event’s opening number. Later in the night, she strutted in a purple and blue bikini, and donned a wintery red velvet gown with a plunging neckline. READ FULL STORY

Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, the man who became a meme, dies at 85

Robert H. Bork, legal scholar and former nominee for the Supreme Court, died on Wednesday at 85. His son said he succumbed to complications from a heart ailment.

Ronald Reagan nominated Bork in 1987 to fill the seat vacated by Justice Lewis F. Powell, but a national political and lobbying effort to block his nomination — the first of its kind for a US Supreme Court nominee — which included television ads and pointed televised speeches from prominent members of the Senate, was ultimately successful and led to a 58-42 vote against him. READ FULL STORY

'Burn Notice' star Jeffrey Donovan welcomes baby girl

Burn Notice star Jeffrey Donovan and his wife model Michelle welcomed a baby girl, People reports.

“She is a healthy and happy baby girl, and we are incredibly blessed to have her in our lives,” the first-time parents said in a statement that didn’t reveal any other details. The couple wed in August.

Read more:
‘Burn Notice’ star Jeffrey Donovan engaged
TV’s 20 Hottest Men in Suits
‘Burn Notice’: Michael falls apart during reunion with Fiona — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Richard Engel and NBC news team escape kidnapping in Syria -- VIDEO

More than a dozen heavily armed gunmen kidnapped and held NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and several colleagues for five days inside Syria, keeping them blindfolded and tied up before they finally escaped unharmed during a firefight between their captors and anti-regime rebels, Engel said Tuesday.

Speaking to NBC’s Today show one day after the escape, an unshaven Engel said he believes the kidnappers were a Shiite militia group loyal to the Syrian government, which is fighting to crush a bloody uprising by rebels. He said they executed at least one of his rebel escorts on the spot at the time he was captured.

“They kept us blindfolded, bound,” said 39-year-old Engel, who speaks and reads fluent Arabic. “We weren’t physically beaten or tortured. A lot of psychological torture, threats of being killed. They made us choose which one of us would be shot first and when we refused, there were mock shootings,” he added. READ FULL STORY

'The Mentalist' actress Samaire Armstrong gives birth

The Mentalist actress Samaire Armstrong is a new mom.

Armstrong announced the birth in a Facebook status update on Sunday. “Thank you sooo much for all the love!! Will post pictures after a little rest. We’re all doing wonderfully. It was an amazing experience and we couldn’t be more thrilled with our new arrival,” she wrote.

This is the first child, reportedly a boy, for Armstrong, 32, who currently appears on the CBS procedural and is also known for her role on Dirty Sexy Money.

‘Snooki & JWoww’ trailer: Watch Snooki give birth — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
Jennifer Nettles welcomes son

Donald Faison marries girlfriend Cacee Cobb

Donald Faison married his girlfriend Cacee Cobb yesterday, according to People. The ceremony took place at the Los Angeles home of Faison’s Scrubs costar Zach Braff, and Cobb’s friend Jessica Simpson was a bridesmaid. The couple got engaged in August 2011.

Newtown school shooting: 'Our hearts are broken today' says Obama -- VIDEO

President Obama addressed the nation this afternoon following the tragic school shooting that took place this morning in Newtown, Conn. that has left at least 27 people dead.

Speaking in the White House briefing room at around 3:15 p.m. ET, a visibly emotional President Obama, who paused several times to wipe away tears, said, “We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. Each time I learn the news I react not as a president but as anybody else would as a parent. … I know there’s not a parent in America that doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10. They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”

He also spoke of the future: “We’re going to have to come together to take meaningful action to prevent tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” and ended by saying, “May God bless the memory of the victims, and in the words of scripture, Heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds.”

The President has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff. Watch the video below: READ FULL STORY

SAG nominees leaked online

Taye Diggs and Busy Philipps announced the 2013 SAG Award nominees this morning at 6 a.m. PT. But if you knew where to look, you could have learned the news hours earlier.

According to the Los Angeles Times, readers of the Awards Daily blog discovered that a glitch in the SAG website allowed readers to see the nominees by typing in the actor or movie’s name in a simple search. Though there was no comprehensive list posted on the site, the database snafu revealed the eventual nominations several hours before the official announcement.

“We are aware of this matter,” a SAG spokesperson said in a statement. “There appears to have been a technical glitch with the website uploading process and we are working with our vendor to resolve the problem.”

Read more:
SAG Award nominations
SAG Awards: Movies analysis

Jenna Bush Hager is expecting her first child

Jenna Bush Hager and her husband Henry Hager are expecting a baby, People reports.

“We’re so excited,” Bush Hager told People. “We can’t wait.”

The first-time parents, who wed in 2008, announced the news this morning on Today, where Bush Hager works as a correspondent. The baby will be the first grandchild for former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. READ FULL STORY

Toni Braxton hospitalized for lupus complications

Singer Toni Braxton, 45, has been hospitalized for complications related to lupus, she revealed via Twitter yesterday. “Hey guys, I’m in the hospital for health issues related to Lupus & Blood clots, I will be home soon…Thanks for all the love&support,” Braxton wrote on Friday. Braxton hasn’t updated beyond that initial message.

The 45-year-old Grammy winner — famed for mid-’90s hits like “You’re Makin’ Me High” and “Un-Break My Heart” — announced she had the autoimmune disease lupus two years ago. The second season of her reality show with her family, WE’s Braxton Family Values, had its second season finale in September.

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