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NHTSA Expands Faulty Air Bag Warning to 6.1 Million Vehicles


bizoo_n/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration updated its list of vehicles being recalled due to defective air bags on Tuesday.

The agency had announced the recall of about 4.7 million vehicles on Monday, a figure that was expanded to about 6.1 million in a Tuesday release. The recall impacts vehicles made by BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota, all of which used air bags manufactured by Takata Corporation.

As with Monday's announcement, the NHTSA urges particular caution for those drivers who own impacted cars in warm and/or humid environments.

A full list of impacted makes and models can be found on the NHTSA's Safercar.gov website.

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Apple Issues iCloud Security Warning


Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple issued a new security warning on its website on Tuesday helping users to ensure that they are securely connected to iCloud, and keeping their data safe.

"We're aware of intermittent organized network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information," the Apple post reads. "We take this very seriously." However, Apple notes that those attacks "don't compromise iCloud servers, and they don't impact iCloud sign in on iOS devices or Macs running OS X Yosemite using the Safari browser."

Users are warned to pay attention to any invalid certificate warning they may receive in their browser when visiting the iCloud website and not proceed. The company also urges users not to enter their login information on a website that presents a certificate warning. The post describes how users can check the "contents of the digital certificate."

The "organized network attacks" appear to be unrelated to the incident in September when hackers stole nude photos from the iCloud accounts of numerous celebrities. Apple said an investigation into that incident determined that hackers had obtained celebrities' login information through "phishing attacks" or guessing answers to security questions.

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Wall Street Posts Gains Again, US Existing Home Sales Rise


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets rose again on Tuesday, marking the third straight day of gains after a difficult beginning to the month of October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 215.14, closing at 16,614.81.

The Nasdaq jumped 103.41 to a finish of 4,419.48, while the S&P 500 gained 37.27, finishing at 1,941.28.

The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday that existing home sales in September rose to their highest figure of the year, rebounding from a small decline in August. The organization also noted the 31st consecutive month of year-over-year gains for existing home prices.

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Small Colorado Town Runs Out of Seasonal Cereal


General Mills(FORT COLLINS, Colo.) -- A small Colorado town's grocery mystery was solved when it was discovered that a brewery had bought out boxes of a seasonal favorite to create a Halloween-themed beer.

As a result, there is a shortage of Count Chocula in Fort Collins, Colorado, where Black Bottle Brewery is using it as an ingredient in a small-batch beer.

The brewery's Cerealiously beer series has previously used cereal including Golden Grahams, Reese's Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, for a "milky stout," the Coloradoan newspaper reports.

Count Chocula was sold out in a local Albertson's grocery store in Fort Collins in just two days after it received its shipment.

Black Bottle Brewery sympathized with Kristen Clark, 37, a local resident who was distraught by the cereal’s dearth. So the brewery gave her a box of it on Sunday.

Though Clark, an accountant, is a vegetarian, she makes an annual exception to eat her favorite marshmallow-laden cereal, which she said she has loved ever since she was a kid.

“To me, it’s nostalgic,” she told ABC News. “I remember commercials when I was a kid. I always loved Count Chocula.”

Clark, who usually buys three boxes when the cereal is released, said her family is sending a couple more boxes from Oregon.

Albertson's grocery store in Fort Collins says it won't be receiving any more pallets of Count Chocula, as it is a seasonal item ordered in the summer. But the other two "Monster" flavors are in stock, they said.

Count Chocula, a vampire who prefers chocolate to blood, was first introduced in 1971 with his famous tag line. Since 2009, General Mills' monster cereals, including Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry, have only appeared in grocery stores for Halloween.

Black Bottle Brewery general manager Steve Marrick said the beer will be available on Oct. 30, and there will be future Cerealiously beers, including Lucky Charms for the next St. Patrick's Day.

"We put the cereal into a hop back so it doesn't get into the beer," Marrick told the Coloradoan. "We did it as a joke at first, but the beer turned out well."

Marrick did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

A spokesman for General Mills, Mike Siemienas, told ABC News: "We enjoy seeing people create new recipes with their favorite cereal products," and the "Monster" cereals' highest volume was during the Halloween season.

"We are hopeful that Count Chocula is still widely available at retailers throughout Colorado," he added.

If not, residents could always trek to a nearby state or even Canada, where for the first time in more than 10 years Count Chocula and Franken Berry are available at select stores.

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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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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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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

On Tuesday, Toys R Us tweeted that the action figures would take an "indefinite sabbatical."

Re: BB "Let's just say, the action figures have taken an 'indefinite sabbatical.'"

— ToysRUs (@ToysRUs) October 21, 2014

 

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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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