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POSTED February 23, 2012 9:06 p.m.

'IDOL' UNVEILS TOP 24 WITH A TWIST: LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's good news for 25 — not just 24 — singers on "American Idol."

After the "Hollywood Week" and Las Vegas performance rounds, "Idol" judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler narrowed the field from 42 contestants to 24 semifinalists on Wednesday's installment of the Fox singing competition, but they apparently cut too many.

At the end of the episode, "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest revealed in a voiceover that "the judges felt compelled to reinstate another guy." He teased that either Jermaine Jones, Johnny Keyser, Richie Law or David Leathers Jr. would be among the male semifinalists next week.

"You did a great job, and you got so far," Lopez told a weeping Jones after he was dismissed on a stage surrounded by bubbling water at the Wynn Las Vegas resort.

The semifinalists unveiled Wednesday were: Deandre Brackensick, Adam Brock, Hollie Cavanaugh, Hallie Day, Eben Franckewitz, Skylar Laine, Chase Likens, Shannon Magrane, Aaron Marcellus and Jeremy Rosado.

The semifinalists announced Tuesday were: Baylie Brown, Colton Dixon, Creighton Fraker, Reed Grimm, Heejun Han, Jen Hirsh, Haley Johnsen, Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, Chelsea Sorrell, Elise Testone, Erika Van Pelt and Brielle Von Hugel.

 

RIDICULE HELPED DOOM VA. ULTRASOUND BILL: RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Once the word "transvaginal" became a big joke on "Saturday Night Live" and "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," it wasn't long before Virginia's conservative Republicans realized they had overreached on abortion.

Gov. Bob McDonnell and GOP state lawmakers Wednesday abandoned a bill requiring women to undergo an intrusive type of sonogram before an abortion — an abrupt reversal that demonstrated the power of political satire and illustrated again how combustible the issue of women's reproductive health has become over the past few weeks.

"You never want to get on the wrong side of popular culture," said Steve Jarding, a professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Democratic consultant who has run campaigns in Virginia. He added: "When people are laughing at you, you know you've gone too far."

At issue was a bill pushed by anti-abortion lawmakers that would have required women seeking an abortion to undergo a transvaginal sonogram, in which a wand is inserted in the vagina to yield an image of the fetus. The procedure differs from an abdominal sonogram, in which a wand is rubbed over the woman's belly.

MICH. DAD WHO LET 9-YEAR-OLD DRIVE GETS PROBATION: DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area man caught on a gas station surveillance video boasting about his then-9-year-old daughter's driving skills was sentenced Thursday to two years of probation for having the girl drive him around because he had been drinking.

Shawn Weimer's demeanor was much different Thursday than it had been in the early morning hours of Oct. 8 in Brownstown Township when the camera caught him talking up his daughter's prowess behind the wheel of the full-size van, and declaring that she was his "designated driver."

The 39-year-old from Romulus said little in court, answering Wayne County Circuit Judge Margie R. Braxton's questions with clipped responses, and, when given the opportunity to speak, offering a brief apology for his actions that night.

Weimer pleaded guilty in December to second-degree child abuse and allowing an unlicensed minor to operate a motor vehicle. He was arrested two months earlier when police pulled over the van and found the child behind the wheel.

The girl testified in November that her father had consumed half a bottle of whiskey that night and that she had agreed to drive but felt a "little scared."

IND. LAWMAKER REGRETS TONE OF GIRL SCOUTS CRITIQUE: FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana lawmaker is apologizing for the tone of his accusations that the Girl Scouts is a radical group that promotes abortions and homosexuality, but is standing by his criticism of the national group.

Republican Rep. Bob Morris of Fort Wayne says in a statement to The Journal Gazette that his comments about the Girl Scouts were "emotional, reactionary and inflammatory." He says he shouldn't have "painted the entire Girl Scouts organization with such a wide brush."

The Girl Scouts have flatly denied Morris' charges.

Morris says he won't join all other Indiana House members in honoring the Girl Scouts' 100th anniversary because he believes its national organization has ties with Planned Parenthood.

COP SUSPENDED, CHARGED AFTER RAIDING REFRIGERATOR: DEER PARK, Texas (AP) — A sting operation by a suburban Houston police department netted one of their own when surveillance cameras caught an officer repeatedly stealing colleagues' food and drinks from the refrigerator in the station's break room.

Deer Park police Officer Kevin Yang was charged with misdemeanor theft and suspended for 30 days without pay. Deer Park Police Chief Greg Griggs tells KTRK-TV of Houston that a class C misdemeanor conviction would not keep Yang from returning to duty.

Griggs says he authorized the video sting because the thefts have been going on for too long. Even though the items being stolen may be of trivial value, Griggs says theft is theft.

Yang tells KTRK that he was merely taking it upon himself to keep the shared refrigerator clean.

SEX TAPE OF JOHN EDWARDS, MISTRESS TO BE DESTROYED: RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — The purported sex tape of former presidential candidate John Edwards and his mistress will be destroyed within 30 days after a lawsuit over who owned the tape was settled Thursday.

Rielle Hunter sued former Edwards aide Andrew Young and his wife in 2010 over the tape and other personal items the couple said she left in a box of trash while they were helping her hide out as the former North Carolina senator ran for the White House.

Hunter lived with the Youngs while she was pregnant with Edwards' baby, and Young initially said he was the father.

In the settlement, the Youngs agreed to give up their claim on the tape and other property, which has been held in the vault of a North Carolina courthouse. Hunter has long wanted the tapes destroyed.

GINGRICH UNPSET OVER APOLOGY: SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Thursday a U.S. apology to Afghan authorities for burned Qurans on a military base was "astonishing" and undeserved.

Gingrich lashed out at President Barack Obama for the formal apology after copies of the Muslim holy book were found burned in a garbage pit on a U.S. air field earlier in the week

Obama's apology was announced Thursday morning. A few hours later, news organizations reported that an Afghan soldier had killed two U.S. troops and wounded others in retaliation for the Quran burning.

Campaigning in Washington state, Gingrich said Afghan President Hamid Karzi owes the U.S. an apology for the shootings.

 

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