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July 29, 2014

A Rossen Reports investigation has found that a number of department stores, including Macy's and JCPenney, are marketing gems filled with lead glass as "real" rubies.

Rossen Reports staffers, along with a professional gemologist, visited Lord & Taylor, Macy's, JCPenney, and Littman Jewelers, purchasing items that contained "rubies." Salespeople at all of the stores told them the rubies were "real," "natural," and "genuine." But when they sent their purchases to two different labs, all of them contained "high contents of lead glass."

One of the purchase rings was essentially "fish tank gravel," Christopher Smith, president of American Gemological Labs, told Today. Smith explained that lead glass includes air bubbles, while natural rubies don't have bubbles. He suggests shoppers have jewelry appraised by a gemologist to avoid being duped.

JCPenney and Lord & Taylor are offering refunds for "dissatisfied customers." Watch Today's report on the ruby investigation below. --Meghan DeMaria

Clinton Emails
2:19 a.m. ET
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The FBI has started looking into the server that Hillary Clinton used for email while she was secretary of state, focusing on the security of sensitive information once housed on the server, at her and Bill Clinton's New York home, and now held on a thumb drive by Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall, The Washington Post reports. In the past week, the FBI has also contacted Platte River Networks, an IT firm the Clintons hired to help manage the server in 2013, after Hurricane Sandy shut it down for a period. The investigation is preliminary, and the FBI isn't targeting Clinton or accusing her of any wrongdoing, two officials tell The Post.

"The government is seeking assurance about the storage of those materials," Kendall told the newspaper. "We are actively cooperating." The Justice Department and Platte River Networks declined to comment. You can read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

who needs 21 bedrooms?
2:15 a.m. ET

What has 21 bedrooms, nine kitchens, and keeps bankrupting people? That would be the Farmington, Connecticut, home that rapper 50 Cent says costs $72,000 a month to maintain and has previously been owned by Mike Tyson and a millionaire convicted of bankruptcy fraud.

On Monday, 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) filed documents in a Connecticut bankruptcy court showing how much he spends a month on the enormous home, which sits on 17 acres and boasts 52 rooms, including a casino. Jackson purchased the house from Tyson’s ex-wife, who ended up with the property as part of a divorce settlement after Tyson lost his millions, MarketWatch reports. Jackson bought the home for $4.1 million, and part of the $72,000 he spends a month goes to gardening ($5,000) and household supplies ($1,500).

The Boston Globe says the estate has a rather sordid history when it comes to the finances of its owners. It was built in 1985 for Benjamin Sisti, founder of commercial real estate brokerage firm Colonial Realty. Sisti, who paid $2.3 million for the home, eventually wound up in prison for bankruptcy fraud. The property went into foreclosure, and was bought by an import-export businessman named Romas Marsinkiavitchous for $2.7 million. He sold it to Tyson in 1996 for $2.8 million, reportedly while facing bankruptcy himself.

Best wishes to whoever winds up with the house next. Catherine Garcia

yo quiero meth
1:35 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

If you like your Chalupas with a side of methamphetamine, well, you're out of luck.

Police in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have arrested two men after the remnants of a meth lab were discovered inside a Taco Bell. The men were found by officers outside the restaurant early on Tuesday, The Associated Press reports, and one said he was a Taco Bell employee. Police entered the restaurant and found the remnants in a utility area. Christopher Adam Matous, 31, and Kent Jerome Duby, 56, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

In a statement, Taco Bell said the employee has been fired, and the restaurant will be fully sanitized before reopening. Catherine Garcia

last night on late night
1:32 a.m. ET

"This song is called 'Chocolate Muffins' and it is not, I repeat, it is not a double entendre," Craig Robinson said on Tuesday's Late Night, "not if you're thinking sexually." And if you believe that, his musical preview of his new NBC show, Mr. Robinson, is totally safe for work. Watch below. Peter Weber

zingers
1:04 a.m. ET

It's a badge of honor to be insulted by Don Rickles, and Mr. Warmth dished it out to Jimmy Fallon and the Roots on Tuesday's Tonight Show. After telling Questlove that the "barber convention needs him," he congratulated Fallon on "the big crowd — 12 people" in the audience and admitted he never really liked him. Of course, Rickles also accused Fallon of faking his broken finger for laughs ("tomorrow night, come out with your neck wrapped") and ended the bit with the most backhanded of compliments regarding The Tonight Show's success. Watch the insults fly in the video below. Catherine Garcia

70 years later
August 4, 2015
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing about 66,000 people and injuring 69,000. Tens of thousands more suffered from radiation disease in the years after.

To mark the 70th anniversary, Public Radio International has created a sobering app that shows users the extent of damage that would take place if the same bomb was dropped today in their town or anywhere else in the world. The team behind the app used several reports, including "The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" prepared by the Manhattan Engineer District and "The Effects of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki" by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey, to ensure its accuracy. Visit PRI's website to use the eye-opening app. Catherine Garcia

uber drama
August 4, 2015
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

At least four Uber drivers cited by police at Los Angeles International Airport have serious criminal records that would make them ineligible for a taxi permit in the city, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The men have been convicted of child exploitation, manslaughter, driving under the influence, and identity theft, court records show. The information was presented to a city official by a representative of the taxi industry, as the Los Angeles City Council looks into whether it should assert jurisdiction over a new permit process that would let Uber and other app-based ride companies legally pick up passengers at LAX, the Times reports. The Times was able to independently confirm the records were accurate. "These are cases that reinforce the need to have this kind of dialog," Councilman Paul Krekorian said. "They're very good examples of why it's important."

The taxi industry is against the permit process, saying it's unfair because Uber drivers are held to a lower standard than licensed taxi drivers. Uber's chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, said drivers cannot work for the company if they have been convicted of any felonies or violent or sexual crimes in the past seven years, and said that while "every system of background checks that is available today has its flaws," Uber's "stacks up well" against the taxi industry's. Catherine Garcia

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