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Staples Investigating Potential Data Breach


Staples(NEW YORK) -- Staples is in the process of investigating a potential breach of customer credit card data, the office supply chain confirmed to ABC News Tuesday.

The Massachusetts-based company said it has contacted law enforcement and is working to resolve the situation. A source told ABC News that the U.S. Secret Service is taking the lead in the investigation.

In the meantime, Staples said customers are "not responsible for any fraudulent activity on their credit cards that is reported on a timely basis."

The company disclosed the investigation after cyber security blogger Brian Krebs said banks identified a pattern of credit and debit card fraud linked to Staples stores.

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Monster Energy College Ambassador Program Under Scrutiny


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Monster Energy drinks are getting a closer look Tuesday by officials who claim the caffeinated beverage is marketed to underage students and used as an alcoholic mixer on college campuses.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has revealed emails that he says prove Monster Energy both recruits students to promote their caffeinated drinks on campus and throw parties encouraging alleged underage freshman and sophomores to mix alcohol and energy drinks.

“There are large, almost cooler-like containers that are provided with the Monster logo, wherein they mixed alcohol and Monster drinks,” Karla Sanchez, New York’s Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice, told ABC News.

Monster calls the student promoters “Collegiate Ambassadors Team” members and pays them $100 per party, a student promoter, who wished to remain anonymous, told ABC News. The student also told ABC News “ambassadors” are encouraged to take photos at parties and report on the parties in emails to the company.

According to the legal filing, a Monster employee told the ambassadors, “Yes, it is okay to show mixed drinks.”

The Attorney General also claims Monster provided free energy drinks and provided cocktail recipes while telling the ambassadors, "it’s your job to throw rowdy events and photograph the madness!"

The New York Attorney General’s office has subpoenaed documents about the collegiate program and wants to talk with the person who it believes is the organizer behind the “Collegiate Ambassador Program.”

“We have evidence, emails that demonstrate 18 year olds and 19 year olds are being approached and encouraged to drink the alcohol with caffeinated beverages,” Sanchez said.

Monster Energy denies the claims.

“Monster did nothing illegal or deceptive,” the company said in a statement to ABC News, adding that the drinks, “will continue to be marketed in an appropriate, legal, safe and responsible manner.”

Monster argues it should not have to comply with the subpoena and it is the attorney general who is crossing the legal line.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) addressed caffeinated alcoholic beverages in 2010 with a letter to four manufacturers stating that their drinks could no longer stay on the market in their current form because, "FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is 'generally recognized as safe,' which is the legal standard."

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Google, Tech Giants Invest $542 Million in Magic Leap


Magic Leap(NEW YORK) -- Google and other tech giants are taking a half-billion dollar leap on a mysterious start-up that could change the way people interact with computers.

Magic Leap, a Hollywood, Florida, based start-up announced on Tuesday it received a $542 million round of funding led by Google, along with Qualcomm Ventures, venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz and a slew of other top technology investors.

"Magic Leap is going beyond the current perception of mobile computing, augmented reality, and virtual reality. We are transcending all three, and will revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share and play," Rony Abovitz, the company's CEO and founder, said in a statement.

Little is known about Magic Leap. However, the company's website yields a few clues about how they hope to create a natural interactive computing experience that could give others in the space, such as Facebook's Oculus Rift, some competition.

"Imagine being able to generate images indistinguishable from real objects and then being able to place those images seamlessly into the real world," the company teases.

When Magic Leap closed a $50 million round of funding in February, Abovitz said the funding would go toward developing and commercializing Cinematic Reality, the company's computing interface technology.

"What is remarkable is how well the human body and mind respond when technology respects biology, so truly magical experiences become possible," Abovitz said. "In this new world of the intimate relationship between computing and human sensory systems, Magic Leap is bending its proprietary technology to meet the very human needs of our future users and co-creators."

Google declined to comment on how it hopes to use Magic Leap's technology in the future, however the company is devoting some of its top talent to Magic Leap.

Sundar Pichai, the senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps at Google will join Magic Leap's board of directors, while Don Harrison, vice president of corporate development, will will join as an observer, alongside Paul Jacobs, the executive chairman of Qualcomm.

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IBM's Share Price Drops After Weak Third Quarter Report


IBM(ARMONK, N.Y.) -- After reporting disappointing sales and earnings, some painful choices are ahead for the once-invincible IBM.

Its latest quarterly report led to a seven-percent drop for the company's share price on Monday, plus a smaller decline overnight.

"We are disappointed in our performance," IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said in a statement Monday. "We saw a marked slowdown in September in client buying behavior, and our results also point to the unprecedented pace of change in our industry."

Rometty said the company "performed well in our strategic growth areas -- cloud, data and analytics, security, social and mobile -- where we continue to shift our business."

She added that IBM will "accelerate this transformation" and will "continue to make the investments and the changes necessary to manage our business for the long term."

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Florida Woman Starts Petition Asking Toys "R" Us to Remove "Breaking Bad" Action Figures from Shelves


Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Florida woman created a petition on Change.org in the hopes of getting a new line of Breaking Bad-inspired action figures removed from the shelves of Toys "R" Us stores.

Over 5,000 people have signed the petition in about two weeks. The figures, which feature Walter White and Jesse Pinkman -- characters from the popular television show -- come with a "detachable bag of cash and a bag of meth." As of Monday night, they appear to have been removed from the Toys "R" Us website.

Bryan Cranston, who starred as Walter White in Breaking Bad, posted to his Twitter account Monday in response to the petition.

 

"Florida mom petitions against Toys 'R Us over Breaking Bad action figures." I'm so mad, I'm burning my Florida Mom action figure in protest

— Bryan Cranston (@BryanCranston) October 20, 2014

 

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Apple Reports Better-Than-Expected Profits


Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple reported better-than-expected profits in the fourth quarter of the 2014 fiscal year.

Declaring a cash dividend of 47 cents per share, Apple announced Monday that it had posted a quarterly net profit of $8.5 billion. That's on the heels of the incredibly successful release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 .

The company announced that it had sold 39.27 million iPhones in the last three months, even higher than the 33.79 million sold in the same timeframe last year. While iPad sales were down slightly -- 12.3 million sold in the fourth quarter, compared to 14 million in that span last year -- the company believes that is in part because people are more quick to replace their phones than their iPads.

Mac computer sales were also up compared to last year, as Apple announced 5.5 million sold, one million more than last year.

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Gas Prices Down Nine Cents, Two States See Average Price Fall Under $3 Per Gallon


bizoo_n/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Gas prices dropped by about nine cents in the last week, with the average cost of a gallon of gas costing just $3.12, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

In the Gulf Coast region, the average cost of gas fell below three dollars, hitting $2.91. Gas remained most expensive on the West Coast, where motorists spent $3.42 per gallon on average.

A gallon in California cost $3.49, keeping its position as the most expensive state to buy gas. Minnesota and Texas each saw their average cost of a gallon of gas fall below three dollars.

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Whole Foods to Launch National Ad Campaign Focused on 'Values'


Whole Foods Market®(NEW YORK) -- Whole Foods Market will launch its first national ad campaign on Monday, highlighting, "groundbreaking quality standards, healthy offerings and key milestones as a pioneer in the natural and organic food industry."

The company's ads will air during primetime television, including shows like Modern Family, Scandal, and The Voice, during late night shows including Jimmy Kimmel Live and Saturday Night Live, and during the World Series and National Football League games. Whole Foods says it will spend over $15 million to launch the campaign, which will also include print ads.

With rival businesses beginning to offer organic product lines, Whole Foods, whose core customer base has long been concerned with healthy eating, hopes to maintain that base by sharing its, "deeper purpose and its history of celebrating food and the people who produce it."

"Whole Foods Market has been subtly telling our story for decades," the company's Global Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Jeannine D’Addario, said. "We are excited to share our stories and to have deeper conversations with our customers so they can make meaningful choices about what they decide to buy and support."

The campaign, titled "Values Matter," will air its first ad Monday night during Dancing With the Stars.

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10 Lucky Customers Can Win 'Starbucks for Life'


Starbucks(NEW YORK) --  Listen up, Starbucks addicts: the global coffee chain announced they’ll be randomly giving out 10 passes to what they call “Starbucks for Life.”

“This holiday season Starbucks is launching a unique opportunity for a select number of customers to win ‘Starbucks for Life’ by simply swiping their Starbucks card or paying with their mobile device,” the company said in a statement on their innovations for the coming year.

A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed to ABC News that Starbucks will be giving out a total of 10 passes within the United States. And, despite the program being called “for life,” the winners will actually only receive a drink a day for 30 years.

“What could be bigger this holiday than winning ‘Starbucks for Life?’ This is the first time we have ever offered customers something of this magnitude and what better way than to anchor it with our renowned Starbucks Card program,” Starbucks executive vice president and global chief marketing officer Sharon Rothstein said in the statement. “This giveaway is poised to bring great excitement and fun to our customers during this special time of the year.”

The giveaway will launch Dec. 2 and runs through the first week of January.

In addition to the opportunity to win “Starbucks for Life,” there will be other items that customers can win. Starbucks was tight-lipped on what those items will be.

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NHTSA Urges 'Immediate Action' for Owners of 4.7 Million Vehicles with Air Bag Issue


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The government is urging nearly five million drivers to take “immediate action” to protect themselves against “defective” airbags -- airbags that a safety expert says can explode in the vehicle and harm passengers.

“This message comes with urgency,” reads a post on the website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as it urges owners of, “certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.” The message is especially urgent for drivers in warm climates like Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, NHTSA said.

The NHTSA lists more than 4.7 million vehicles with model years from 2000 to 2006 -- in addition to the 2011 Honda Element -- that have been subject to related recalls over the past two years and urge owners to take them to their dealers.

Auto safety expert Sean Kane told ABC News the problem with the Takata airbags is its internal inflator.

“[It’s] the canister which sits in the center of the airbag, it’s like a metal can,” Kane said. “When that’s ignited, it’s overpressurizing the canister and the canister is exploding, much like an IED [improvised explosive device], and sending shrapnel into the occupants of the vehicle.”

Kane said that the explosions have caused “severe lacerations” and a reported four deaths.

Earlier this month, Florida woman Hien Tran was killed in a mysterious auto accident in which she was found with stab-like wounds to her neck, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Last week, detectives determined the injuries were “consistent with... exploding airbags bags.”

A week after Tran’s death, Tran’s family reportedly received a recall notice from Honda urging them to replace the 2001 Accord’s airbag.

In a post on its website Monday, Toyota issued its own “supplemental” safety recall for more than a quarter million vehicles with airbags supplied by Takata, saying the, “influence of high absolute humidity” in the malfunctions is under investigation. Toyota noted that it has not received any reports of injuries or deaths linked to the issue.

NHTSA opened an investigation into the airbags in June and in response, Takata said it has been, “consistently cooperating with NHSTA, and we will continue to do so during the defect investigation… but we also stand by the quality of our products.”

“Takata is committed to ensuring the safety and functionality of its air bag inflators and we strive to avoid any malfunction,” the company said in June. ABC News was unable to reach Takata representatives at their U.S. headquarters for an updated comment.

Kane told ABC News he’s “troubled” by how long it has taken to address the problem and urged car owners to see if their vehicle is effected by going to NHTSA’s Safercar.gov website.

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Wall Street Posts Gains, Despite Survey Indicating Slowed Wage Increases


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street built on Friday's gain by posting another positive day on Monday, with all three major indices finishing the day higher than they began.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 19.26 to 16,399.67.

The Nasdaq gained 57.63, closing the day at 4,316.07, and the S&P 500 jumped 17.25, finishing at 1,904.01 -- the first close above 1,900 in over a week.

A survey released by the National Association for Business Economics found that just 24 percent of responding firms increased wages and salaries in the third quarter of the fiscal year. That figure, lower than the preceding months, "signals a slowdown in the trend toward wage and salary increases that began with the January 14 survey."

Still, the NABE notes, 32 percent of firms saw larger employment figures, with just seven percent reporting declining employment.

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Guardrail Company Defrauded Government, to Pay $175M


iStock/Thinkstock(MARSHALL, Texas) -- A jury found Monday that a leading guardrail company made false statements to the government relating to a nearly decade-old modification that critics say made the guardrails more dangerous for motorists across the country, and ordered the company to pay $175 million in damages.

The jury in Marshall, Texas, found in favor of Josh Harman, a competitor of guardrail company Trinity Industries who sued the company over what he called fraudulent behavior.

At the center of the trial, which began Monday, were modifications made by Trinity Industries in 2005 to the design of guardrail end terminals used alongside many roads from coast to coast, and the company's failure at the time not to disclose the changes to the federal government or any state transportation departments.

The modified guardrail, called the ET-Plus, was the subject of an ABC News 20/20 investigation in September that looked into allegations from crash victims that the modified guardrail malfunctioned when struck from the front by their vehicles. Rather than ribboning out and absorbing the impact as designed, the guardrails "locked up" and speared straight through the cars, severing the motorists' limbs in some cases.

In an internal email obtained by ABC News, a company official said that one particular design change – the shrinking of a metal piece in the end guardrail terminal from five inches to four -- would save the company $2 per guardrail, or $50,000 a year. The company also admitted that it had “inadvertently omitted” documentation that was required to be turned over to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) about the change.

Harman alleged the guardrail maker sold states a product that was different from the one they believed they were getting.

Attorneys for Harman used the $2 email as evidence against Trinity as well as crash test videos produced by Trinity of a different configuration for the guardrail system – which weren’t disclosed to the government – that Harman’s team said showed the end piece failing. Trinity maintained those crash test videos were for an experimental system that was never produced for the real world and didn’t need to be turned over for review.

In their own fiery closing arguments Monday, attorneys for Trinity said the company had been the target of a “grand conspiracy” constructed out of “baseless allegations.” An attorney for the company, Ethan Shaw, noted that even after the FHWA learned of the modification in 2012, it was repeatedly approved for use on the nation’s highways.

Trinity told ABC News for its original report that the aftermath pictures of the fatal and serious accidents don’t prove anything – that each accident has its own unique circumstances and that their product has a proven record of safety. Trinity has a “high degree of confidence in the performance and integrity” of the ET-Plus system, the company said.

After the verdict, the company said it "respects the jury's decision."

"However, Trinity believes the decision cannot and will not withstand legal scrutiny. The Company strongly believes the courts will affirm its position," Trinity said.

In recent months, four states have suspended use of the modified guardrail system as they investigate further. Florida, for instance, has given Trinity until the end of the week to prove to them through new crash tests and crash test data that the system is safe.

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Matthew McConaughey's Lincoln Commercials Generate Lots of Buzz


The Lincoln Motor Company(NEW YORK) -- Matthew McConaughey may be an Oscar winner but it is his commercials for a car company that are generating all the buzz.

McConaughey, 44, who starred in 2011's The Lincoln Lawyer, is now the pitchman for another Lincoln, the car company Lincoln Motors.

"I've been driving a Lincoln since long before anybody paid me to drive one," the Texas-born father-of-three says in one commercial.

In another, McConaughey stares down a bull and says, "1,800 pounds and do whatever the heck I want. I can respect that."

The mood-filled ads have become viral hits -- drawing over 1.5 million hits and counting on YouTube.

The ads featuring McConaughey, who won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, have also drawn the attention of comedians like Ellen DeGeneres who spoofed the ads on her TV talk show.

"Maybe we should ask him to mooooove along. Mooooove it along," DeGeneres says in the spoof, during which she's superimposed behind McConaughey in a car.

Luckily for Lincoln, the online buzz is translating into big business for the brand. The company reports sales are up 13% year-to-date so far.

"The Lincoln brand has sort of been out of sight for so many years,"Benjamin Zhang, transportation reporter for Business Insider, told ABC News. "People are talking about Lincoln again."

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Woman Buys a Year's Supply of Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Feed Addiction


Sherry Lynn Gustafson(MOLINE, Ill.) -- If you're in Moline, Illinois, you might have some trouble finding a pumpkin spice latte.

"My husband went to three of the stores Saturday night, and they were all three already empty," Sherry Lynn Gustafson told ABC News. "I was smart to get mine."

Gustafson, 58, started stockpiling Keurig boxes of her favorite coffee drink after the gas station she got them at would sometimes run out or it would be weak.

So far she's bought 52 boxes.

"I started wanting it all the time. I thought, 'I'm tired of waiting,'  so I started getting five or six boxes at a time here or there," she told ABC News.

She now has three or four cups of the beverage a day.

"Somebody had mentioned something about shelf life, but they're good until August 2016 so I'm good until next fall when I need my other fix," she said.

Gustafson’s favorite part of the drink is that it tastes like her favorite fall treat, but with only 35 calories.

"It tastes like pumpkin pie with cream on it. It's really sweet and pumpkin, and I put my creamer in it myself so it tastes just like pie," she said. "I can make it a cup at a time and it’s really fresh and smells good."

This habit has set Gustafson back nearly $260, but she said it's well worth it.

"We get 5 cents per box off a gallon of gas, so we only paid 76 cents a gallon for gas here after I got my monthly stash," she explained. "I'm just a normal mom and grandma, but if I like something, at my age I try to make sure that I get it now. I juts figure why not."

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Apple Pay and Everything Else to Expect from iOS 8.1 Update


Apple(NEW YORK) -- The first major update to Apple's iOS 8 is set to make its debut Monday. It's packed with features that will enable Apple Pay for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users, while allowing others to enjoy increased continuity between their devices.

Apple hasn't released a time when the update will become available Monday, however if history is any indicator, it's likely the update will be offered to users beginning around 1 p.m. ET.

The iOS 8.1 update is also expected to address a number of lingering bug fixes from previous iterations of the operating system, which was released last month.

Here's what you can expect from iOS 8.1.

Apple Pay

Apple's mobile payment product, which works on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for online as well as brick and mortar store purchases, is perhaps the most anticipated update to come from iOS 8.1.

Checkout counters in more than 220,000 stores, including Whole Foods, McDonald's and Chevron, are equipped with contactless readers where Apple Pay users can begin using Touch ID to start paying for their purchases.

Continuity Features


It's now even easier for your Apple devices to be "friends" with each other.

The new iOS 8.1 comes with more continuity features that allow users to seamlessly transition between OS X Yosemite and iOS, including the ability to send and receive text messages from iPads and Macs. The feature even works for contacts who don't have an iPhone, making it even easier to stay in touch on any device.

Forget about paying for Wi-Fi, too. An iOS 8.1 update allows Mac users who have certain carriers to connect to the Internet on their computers -- using their iPhone as a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Other features, like call answering, became available with the release of OS X Yosemite last week. (Remember when Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software, called Stephen Colbert?)

Photos

Good news -- the camera roll that was stripped from iOS 8 is back. Also expect to see an iCloud photo library that lets you store photos and videos to your iCloud and makes them even easier to find.

The library will come with the ability to search by date, location or album name.

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