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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 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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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 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?)


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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More than 48 Million Fall Below US Poverty Line

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- More than 48 million Americans were living below the poverty line in 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau reports in its supplemental poverty measure.

The official poverty line was $23,283 last year for a family of four.

The supplemental poverty measure, as opposed to the national poverty rate, takes into account various benefits, expenses and resources faced by and available to families.

It also varies in cities and rural regions. For instance, the poverty line in major metro areas is $30,000 or above for a family of four because they have to pay more for housing, transportation and food.

The government says that certain entitlement programs, such as food stamps and Social Security, have helped to prevent another 13 million people from falling below the poverty line.

Meanwhile, last year's poverty rate -- 15.5 percent -- was actually down from 0.5 percent from 2012.

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Most Colleges Don't Mandate Teaching of Government, History and Economics

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Should college students be well-informed about the government, history and economics prior to moving on with the rest of their lives?

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni believes so but in its sixth annual analysis of core curricula at nearly 1,100 four-year colleges and universities, the group found that it just wasn't the case.

In fact, Michael Poliakoff, director of the survey, says that the vast majority of colleges in the country don't mandate the teaching of U.S. government, history or economics.

As a result, the survey found that most college graduates are unaware that a congressional term is two years long, that the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves and that George Washington led the American troops at Yorktown.

According to Poliakoff, "It’s much easier for campus administrators to let faculty make decisions rather than to decide with them what are really important and what really matters."

He says that failing to become skilled in critical thinking is hampering college grads and keeping many from getting better jobs.

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Apple Pay: What to Expect at the Checkout Counter

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the roll out of Apple Pay next Monday, the checkout experience is expected to evolve at some of the biggest retailers and restaurants in the United States.

Apple's mobile payment product, which works on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for online and brick and mortar store purchase, could very well be a credit card killer, according to industry observers.

There's no need to reach for a wallet, swipe a credit card or wait for a cashier to make change. Even if you're not set up on a device equipped with Apple Pay, but others queuing in front of you are, it's possible the simplicity of the transaction could make waiting in line faster for everyone.

What to Expect When You Step Up to the Checkout Counter

Checkout counters in more than 220,000 stores, including Whole Foods, McDonald's and Chevron, will be equipped with contactless readers.

All users have to do is position their iPhone near one of the readers at a store, hold their finger on their Touch ID and they're good to go. The simple, swift checkout motion is made easy due to the the Near Field Communication antenna in the iPhone 6, which connects with the payment point to complete the transaction.

A vibration and a beep will let users know that checkout was successful. There's no need to do anything else.

Behind the Scenes

With Apple Pay, neither Apple nor merchants see or store any of your private information.

Instead, users take a photo of their credit card and add it to their phone's Passbook, where it is assigned an unique device account number, encrypted and stored in the phone's Secure Element Chip.

When it's time to check out, the device account number and a dynamic security code are used to complete the transaction. Apple will never know what you purchased, the company said, and you'll still get rewards points on the credit cards you use.

Online Purchases

The two new iPads unveiled on Thursday -- the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3 -- also come equipped for making online Apple Pay purchases.

Users can add their debit or credit card information from their iTunes account or snap a photo with the tablet's camera. Select Apple Pay when it's time to check out, lightly touch the home button with your finger and the transaction is complete. Entering shipping or billing information -- perhaps the most tedious part of online shopping -- is no longer necessary.

Apple Pay works in a slew of popular apps, including Target, Uber and OpenTable.

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How Six-Year-Old Boy's Wish to Attend the World Series Came True

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A man has been raising money to send his 6-year-old neighbor, a huge Royals fan who suffers from a cancerous tumor in his spine, to see his favorite team play at the World Series -- and all the hard work and effort has worked.

In just one day, Ryan Zimmerman, of Olathe, raised more than $8,000 and counting through online crowdfunding -- plenty of cash to send young Noah Wilson and his family to the game.

At the same time, Zimmerman said Friday that StubHub has decided to donate six tickets so that the entire family can go to a game. The money raised, Zimmerman said, will go towards Noah's hospital bills.

But the offers didn't end there.

Moments after the StubHub offer was made, former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, who now works for Major League Baseball, invited Noah to the World Series.

Torre tweeted, "On behalf of @MLB we would like #NoahWilson to be our guest @ the 2014 #WorldSeries. Save the money for school! @RyanZOnline DM @DanScavino"

Noah will be at the hospital when the World Series starts Tuesday, so Zimmerman had been trying to get tickets for Wednesday's game.

"When you look online, the cheapest tickets are $750, and that's standing room only," Zimmerman said before StubHub made its generous offer.

Noah is about halfway through cancer treatment at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, with 14 more weeks of chemotherapy left.

"So far he's been responding well to it," Wilson said. "The tumor hasn't spread. It's gotten smaller so we're moving forward with high hopes."

Noah made headlines last month when he developed a program for the hospital to replace the boring brown bandages with bright colors and superhero patterns.

"It's a lot of fun. We just got a letter in the mail from a family that received some of the Band-Aids," Wilson said. "And he just smiles real big. It melts our hearts."

Zimmerman, who coaches soccer for one of Noah's sisters, said he's impressed by the boy's selflessness even while battling cancer.

"That's just another part of what makes this kid so special -- that he's dealing with things that I couldn't even fathom and he's still thinking about other kids in the hospital with him," Zimmerman said.

Noah couldn't be happier, his dad told ABC News.

"We're overwhelmed with appreciation," Scott Wilson said on Friday from the hospital, where Noah was getting his last radiation treatment. "I keep telling people I don't have enough words to say thank you."

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