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Target to Lay Off Thousands of Employees in Restructuring Plan

Target(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Target will reportedly lay off thousands of employees -- many from its Minneapolis headquarters -- as part of a cost-cutting plan that will save the retailer $2 billion over the next two years, the company announced on Tuesday.

“While we’re in the early days and there’s no doubt that transformation can be challenging, we’re taking the steps necessary to unleash the potential of this incredible brand,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement.

“I’m encouraged by our early momentum, and am confident that by implementing our strategy, simplifying how we work, and practicing financial discipline, we will ignite Target’s innovative spirit and deliver sustained growth,” the statement continued.

The efforts are part of a larger measure to boost business operations, including opening more small stores and creating products to appeal to younger audiences.

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McDonald's Is Phasing Out Chicken with Antibiotics

McDonald's(OAK BROOK, Ill.) -- McDonald's, the world's biggest fast food chain, said it's phasing out the use of chicken with antibiotics over the next two years in the U.S.

In an announcement Wednesday, McDonald's said it will only source "chicken raised without antibiotics that are important to human medicine."

McDonald's U.S. restaurants will also offer customers milk from cows that are not treated with rbST, an artificial growth hormone.

"Our customers want food that they feel great about eating -- all the way from the farm to the restaurant -- and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations," said McDonald's U.S. President Mike Andres.

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K-Cup Inventor Admits He Doesn't Use 'Expensive' Coffee Pods

Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- John Sylvan, the inventor of K-Cups, admits he doesn't use his hugely popular product and laments their impact on the environment.

Sylvan not only laments that K-Cups, which are found in many households and offices around the country, contribute to waste, but that they're expensive, too.

“I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it," Sylvan told The Atlantic.

“I don't have one. They're kind of expensive to use,” Sylvan said about the coffee pods experience. “Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”

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

In the article, Monique Oxender, the chief sustainability officer for Keurig Green Mountain, said the pods are "fully recyclable" if a person is willing to disassemble them into paper, plastic and metal parts.

“I gotta be honest with you,” Oxender said, “we're not happy with where we are either. We have to get a solution, and we have to get it in place quickly.”

But Sylvan counters that the type of plastic creates a recycling challenge.

“No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” Sylvan said. “The plastic is a specialized plastic made of four different layers."

Sylvan said he has proposed a solution that's so far fallen on deaf ears.

"Take coffee and put it in a centrifuge, and it comes apart. Then you take the parts and combine them back when you make the coffee. So you could use something like a ketchup foil pack, and the separate parts won't become oxidized when they’re stored and transported. Then you can combine them again at the last minute while making the coffee,” he told The Atlantic.

Keurig Green Mountain did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Keurig said it is working toward making all of its K-Cup packs recyclable by 2020, in addition to other environmental goals like limiting water use, according to the company’s sustainability report released last year.

The company’s other goals include achieving “zero waste-to-landfill” at its manufacturing and distribution facilities. The company says it has also studied packaging for its Keurig 2.0 brewers to avoid using 16 million cubic feet of EPS foam each year, enough to fill a football field to a depth of 283 feet.

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Project Morpheus: Sony Reveals Latest Prototype of Gaming Headset

Sony(NEW YORK) -- Get ready for gaming to enter another world. Sony on Wednesday unveiled the latest prototype of its Project Morpheus gaming headset and revealed that consumers could strap on the device as early as the first half of next year.

While the virtual reality headset looks similar to the first prototype shown off last year, it's packed with new technological improvements that will give wearers a better experience.

Sony traded out its 5-inch LCD for a 5.7-inch OLED display, which allows the wearer's field of vision to expand, the company said on its PlayStation blog.

The new display is twice as fast as the first prototype, packing smoother visuals that allow wearers to feel as though they are in a virtual world and responding to wearers’ movements in half the time.

The lag time between when wearers move their head and when their movement is reflected on the screen has been shaved down to 18 milliseconds, according to Sony.

Other changes include three more LEDs on the front and sides of the headset, enabling better 360-degree tracking.

As with many virtual reality headsets, taking it off can be a production. The latest prototype is lighter and comes with a quick-release button for when gamers decide they've had enough of the virtual world, Sony said.

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Apple Bests Samsung in Global Smartphone Sales

Apple(NEW YORK) -- Apple bested chief rival Samsung in global smartphone sales for the first time since 2011, selling nearly 75 million units in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to research firm Gartner.

The larger-screened iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have fueled Apple's surge to top phone-maker, now commanding 20.4 percent of the smartphone market.

Sales of Samsung phones lost 10 percent of the total market share from last year, falling to just below 20 percent of all smartphones.

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Tax Tip: Understanding the Tax Code

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you have trouble understanding the tax code, you're not the only one.

"The code is essentially legal language," says Internal Revenue Service spokesman Eric Smith.

"It's really an instruction guide for reducing taxes," says Tom Wheelwright, CEO and founder of CPA firm ProVision.  And an enormous one at that.

"The tax code, just the code itself, is 5,800 pages," Wheelwright says.

So what does it all say?

"There’s one line that says all income is taxable unless we say it isn’t. And there’s about 29 to 30 pages of charts and tables on how much tax to pay. But the remaining 5,770 pages is literally a road map for reducing your taxes," Wheelwright explains.

The IRS and tax preparers agree that understanding the tax code is not easy. The best way to understand it is to either hire a professional, or use a computer program.

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$15 Million Jackpot for Engaged Massachusetts Couple

Massachusetts State Lottery(BOSTON) — Michael Milford and his fiancee got the jackpot of a boost just before tying the knot: a $15 million lottery prize.

Milford, 28, a sales manager from Melrose, Massachusetts, outside Boston, and fiancee Allison Gilgun claimed the prize on Tuesday together, choosing the one-time cash payment of nearly $9.8 million, less taxes.

It is the largest instant "scratch and win" prize awarded in their state, following the "World Class Millions" prize awarded for the same game in July.

Milford purchased only one lucky ticket for $30 on Sunday at Boyles Family Market in Medford. Durna Rejak, who works at the store, told ABC News Milford is a regular and a "really nice guy."

"Someone from the lottery came to the store with a banner," Rejak said. "I didn't know anything about it so I called the owner and he didn't know yet." The store gets $50,000 for selling the ticket. It's the highest retailer lottery bonus paid in Massachusetts.

Milford and his fiancee, a school teacher, will get married in December in the Dominican Republic, and will use part of the money for their nuptials. They have planned their wedding for several months, according to the state lottery. Milford said he would be using some of his winnings to pay off existing bills, help family members and invest for the future.

Two $15 million prizes remain in the state's “World Class Millions” game.

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Google Contacts Gets a Makeover: What's Changing

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Google Contacts are getting a makeover.

Google revealed a preview of the revamped contacts on its Gmail blog, showing off a clean and colorful new design that makes it much easier to find information.

Instead of sorting through a long, drab list of contacts, Google has neatly packaged a person's contacts into different categories. A navigation bar on the left side of the page allows users to quickly jump to frequent contacts, groups, circles and various other tabs.

Contact cards feature the information a user has stored about that person, but the updated version is also enhanced with information a contact may publicly share about themselves on Google.

It's also easy to find and consolidate duplicate contacts with just the click of a button, making it that much easier to get in touch with someone.

Gmail users can check out the update by visiting their preview page. Google Apps customers will have to wait a bit longer, as the company said they're still working on implementing the changes.

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Messages from Work Often Disrupt Life at Home

iStock/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Texas) — No one can escape electronic communications but it’s not as though people are really making much of an effort these days to do so.

Nonetheless, receiving an email or text from work while at home does seem to bug most Americans, according to a study by University of Texas at Arlington management researcher Marcus Butts, who surveyed 340 people over a week to measure their feelings about just such a circumstance.

The degree of displeasure about getting a message from work during downtime has a lot to do whether people consider themselves a segmentor or an integrator.

For instance, segmentors prefer a strict delineation between home and the workplace and therefore, get more upset with e-communications from the job, which interferes with their private lives.

On the other hand, integrators, who also expressed unhappiness with emails or texts from the boss or co-workers, aren’t quite as bothered when they get interrupted at home because they actually want to keep abreast of things at work.

Either way, Butts and his team came up with a list of do’s and don’ts for supervisors about how to best word e-communications, when the best time is to send them and which messages are most suitable for face-to-face meetings.

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Colorado Boy Sells Hot Cocoa to Raise Money for Hospital That Saved Friend’s Life

Courtesy Steve Regini(DENVER) -- Not even the winter weather could get in the way of one 8-year-old’s attempt to help a good cause.

Hoping to make some money to buy a toy, Tristan Regini opened up a hot cocoa stand in his front yard in Denver this past weekend. When he noticed he wasn’t getting many customers, he put up a sign saying he would donate half of his profits to the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colorado.

“I did it for my friend Cade. He went to the Children’s Hospital because he had cancer,” Tristan told ABC News. “So I’m trying to pay back the hospital by raising money.”

Tristan said he originally thought of having a lemonade stand, but realized it was too cold to do it in the winter. Instead, he sold hot cocoa for $1 and $2 for a cup with marshmallows. More customers came by with donations after seeing Tristan's story on a local news report, so he and his parents decided to donate anything over $5 straight to the hospital. By the end of the weekend, he raised $402.05.

“My wife and I were a little apprehensive because it was so cold outside,” Steve Regini, Tristan’s father, told ABC News. “The next thing you know, he made $400.”

"I'm pretty happy because Children's Hospital saved his life, and if there were no Children's Hospital, there would be no Cade,” Tristan said. “He's probably the nicest kid I ever met in my life.”

On Sunday night, Tristan and his mother visited the hospital to hand over his donation directly himself.

“Each gift, whether large or small, is an investment in a child’s healthy future and this gift is particularly meaningful because it demonstrates the youngest members of our community giving to enhance the hospital experience for his peers,” Cary Larger, Sr. Vice President of Community Fundraising at Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, said in a statement to ABC News.

Tristan plans to continue his business next week so “more money can go to the Children’s Hospital.” He said he also wants to open a lemonade stand in the summer and a leaf-raking business in the fall.

“He’s got that little entrepreneur spirit. This happened to be an occasion to use it for a good cause. This is the first time he’s really put it into practice,” Steve Regini said. “I’m really proud of him.”

“I like selling things to help people,” Tristan said. “I like to help the world.”

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'Zombie' Homes Horrify Neighbors Trapped Next Door

ABC News(ORLANDO) -- Orlando-area resident Mark Revord said he is living a nightmare, trapped next door to a so-called “zombie" home.

“Zombie" homes are dilapidated wrecks languishing in foreclosure limbo, abandoned by owners and often ignored for years by the banks that bring foreclosure proceedings against them, so they end up dying a slow, painful death and dragging down neighboring property values with them.

Revord’s neighbor’s house and yard are in shambles after being neglected for years, he said. The house was plagued by snakes, black widows and other poisonous spiders, and had an overgrown lawn, Revord added, before he took it upon himself to try to clean up the property.

Revord, 57, said his home was once valued at $250,000, but that plummeted down to $68,000 during the housing crisis. He and his wife are now trying to re-finance, but they are worried about the zombie home next door.

“The minute an appraiser wants to come out, that is going to be a problem,” he said, gesturing to the rundown home.

The state of Florida, where Revord lives, has more than 35,000 zombie homes, more than three times the national average, according to research firm RealtyTrac. New Jersey and New York are next on RealtyTrac’s list. In New Jersey, zombie foreclosures were up 109 percent from one year ago.

Once owners vacate a home, the bank that takes ownership, in many states, including Florida, is not obligated to maintain the property until the foreclosure process is complete, which can take years.

"If you just have one zombie property in a neighborhood, and there’s, say, 10 properties for sale within a mile of that home, or within half a mile of that home, it’s going to affect those homes," said RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Blomquist.

Debbie Payne, a real estate agent based in the Orlando suburb of Clermont, Florida, said she thought she had seen every type of home on the market until she went inside a few zombie homes in her area. One home had chickens inside. Another appeared to have become a squatters' hangout. All the windows were smashed out and copper had been taken from the air conditioners.

Revord said he tried to track down the bank that owned the dilapidated home next door.

“I actually tried to find out who the bank was that owned the house and it took probably nine months before I got an answer,” he said. “One answering machine to another, I never got someone.”

Property records tied the abandoned home next to Revord's property to Deutsche Bank National Trust, which referred ABC’s Nightline to a mortgage servicer, Bank of America, which in turn referred Nightline to Select Portfolio Services, which took over the loan servicing in 2012, and did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In New York, some housing regulation changes are being talked about. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is proposing new legislation, a “Zombie Prevention” bill, to hold banks accountable for abandoned homes they bring foreclosures against.

“There are banks that are allowing properties to deteriorate and, if it is for insurance or any other reason, it is unacceptable,” Schneiderman said. “[The bill] is going to give the banks every incentive to complete a foreclosure quickly because they are going to have to maintain the property.”

But the banks are pushing back. The New York Bankers Association told Nightline in a statement, “Lenders favor a different approach to the one the attorney general has promoted. His approach focuses on maintenance rather than the core problem, which is the length of time it takes to complete the foreclosure.”

Any changes in New York won’t help Revord, unless the state of Florida adopts similar legislation. For now, he, and hundreds of thousands of other Americans, are stuck.

“Something is not right,” he said. “I would like a few answers and I think a lot of people in this country are in the same boat as I am.”


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Nasdaq Fails to Hold 5K as Wall Street Drops

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A day after crossing a milestone for the first time in 15 years, the Nasdaq couldn't hold on.  

Stocks gave back gains on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing the session at 18,203.37, down 85.26 from its open.

The Nasdaq also fell by 28.20 to close at 4,979.90. The S&P 500 fell by 9.61 points to close at 2,107.78.

Energy shares rose on Tuesday, as oil prices edged back over $50 a barrel.

Despite the nasty weather in February, most automakers are reporting gains over a year ago.  

Toyota led with a 13.3-percent jump in sales. Chrysler, GM, Honda and Nissan all reported gains of 6 percent or less on Tuesday, while Ford sales fell just under 2 percent.  

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that federal courts can hear a dispute over Colorado's Internet tax law.  It's a win for business groups that want to challenge the so-called Amazon tax that requires extensive reporting by retailers that don't collect the state's 2.9-percent tax from Colorado customers.
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Hillary Clinton Email: Potential Risks of Using a Private Account

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When Hillary Clinton used a private email address to conduct business during her tenure as secretary of state, her team said she acted within "the letter and the spirit" of State Department rules.

However, the revelation has left some people wondering why the nation's top diplomat would use an outside channel to communicate.

"When you have the secretary of state conducting official business on a private domain, this is the sort of the stuff [you read in] spy novels," Bruce Webster, an information technology consultant at Ironwood Experts, told ABC News. "As soon as you go to a private domain and Web server, you, in effect, have no guarantee."

There are plenty of unknowns about Clinton's private email account. It's not yet even clear which email service she used for her State Department business or the level of security attached to that account.

The domain "clintonemail.com" was registered the week before Clinton was sworn in as secretary of state in 2009, the Washington Post reported. However, Clinton's team has not confirmed that she used an email at that address.

Without naming names, a senior state department official said Clinton’s predecessors practiced a similar private email policy.

However, two prior secretaries of state either exclusively used government email or used no email at all, and a third avoided private email for classified matters, sources close to them told ABC News.

An official close to Condoleezza Rice, who led the State Department for three years under George W. Bush, said Rice never used a personal email account for State Department business. A former State Department official close to Secretary Madeline Albright, who served in the late '90s, said she didn’t use email at all. Peggy Cifrino, a spokesman for Colin Powell, said the emails he did send from a personal account were mostly unclassified in nature and preceded any policy forbidding the practice of using personal email for work.

Robert Siciliano, an online safety expert for Intel Security, told ABC News that it's within the realm of possibility that whichever hosting company Clinton used for her private email address could have had access to her private messages.

"If a company is hosting a website, they have access to the web servers and the inner workings of the website," Siciliano said. "If they're hosting email, it would be safe to say that company could have access."

Also at issue is whether Clinton's emails were stored in accordance with the Federal Records Act. While her personal account would not have fallen under that umbrella, her team noted that much of her correspondence still was covered as a result of emailing people on their government accounts.

"For government business, she emailed them on their department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained," Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement.

Siciliano said it all comes down to whether the message passes through a wide-open server that anyone with access can read, or if it has a level of encryption attached to it. While Clinton's choice may deviate from the norm, it's also possible she was working with a service that provides encryption keys on both ends.

"It's a good rule of thumb to keep in mind that your emails are generally not completely private," Siciliano said. "Email can be read with a subpoena and someone on the inside of an organization that has access to the servers could have access as well."

Webster called Clinton's choice to use a private email account a potential "staggering breach of security" and said the implications could have been huge if hackers tapped in.

"You are just asking for world intelligence agencies, both friendly and hostile, to start looking at this domain and find ways to get into it it -- whether through technical hacking or social engineering," he said.

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BlackBerry Leaps Back to Touchscreens with New Phone

BlackBerry(BARCELONA) -- BlackBerry is hoping people shopping for a mid-market smartphone will take a leap on its latest device.

The Canadian company unveiled the BlackBerry Leap at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday, marking a shift from the traditional QWERTY phones that have come to define the device.

Geared to young professionals, the device boasts a 5-inch full touchscreen and a $275 price tag -- making it an ideal replacement for the mid-market touchscreen BlackBerry Z3 that was released last year but failed to gain traction among enterprise users.

Aside from the device's edge-to-edge touchscreen, BlackBerry is also playing up its mobility features that could make it attractive to the enterprise crowd. With more than 25 hours of battery life and the BlackBerry virtual assistant that was unveiled last year, the device can easily withstand a long workday.

"BlackBerry Leap was built specifically for mobile professionals who see their smartphone device as a powerful and durable productivity tool that also safeguards sensitive communications at all times," Ron Louks, president of devices and emerging solutions, said in a statement.

The smartphone is expected to go on sale in April.

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Three Signs Your 'Loan' Is Really a Scam

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What kind of crook would take money from a poor person?

In one of the most despicable -- but unfortunately, common -- scams, con artists are offering bogus loans to people with poor credit histories who need cash to pay their bills.

It’s called an “advance-fee loan” but it’s not a loan at all. It’s a scam.

These schemes can be quite sophisticated, using fancy websites, loan applications and even fake “loan officers” who are really just in on the scheme. After the scammers collect an upfront payment from the borrower, they disappear, leaving the consumer in even worse financial shape.

The ABC News Fixer has heard from numerous victims of this scam.

Make sure you don’t fall for it by noting these three red flags:

  • The supposed lender doesn’t seem to care about your credit history.
  • The lender guarantees you’ll get a loan, no matter what.
  • The lender claims that you’ve been approved for a loan, but then starts demanding fees upfront for vague reasons like “insurance,” “processing” or “paperwork.”

The Federal Trade Commission says a demand for any upfront fee is a clue to walk away.

If you need to borrow money, be sure to deal only with legitimate lenders that disclose all their fees clearly and conspicuously.

A legitimate lender will take its fees from the amount that you borrow -- and not ask you to give them your own money in advance to get a loan.

If you have poor credit, you’ll have a hard time getting a legitimate loan. You’ll need to put in time and effort to rebuild your credit history. If you’re falling behind on your bills, contact your creditors to ask for help and consider getting assistance from a nonprofit credit counseling service.

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