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How Scientists Found Deepest-Ever Fish 5 Miles Down

How Scientists Found Deepest-Ever Fish 5 Miles Down

University of Aberdeen(NEW YORK) -- An underwater voyage has found an unidentified species of fish more than 5 miles down -- deeper than any other fish has ever been found before.The white, translucent fish, found in early December in the Mariana Trench below the Pacific Ocean, was 8,145 meters, or about five miles, below the surface, breaking the previous record of 7,700 meters set in 2011 by the pink gelatinous snailfish in the Japan Trench of the Pacific Ocean by almost 500 meters, or 1,640 feet. The species has not yet been identified."We're pretty confident it's a snailfish," Dr. Alan Jamieson from the Oceanlab at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland told ABC News. "Not that we know. It's a new species."The Ocean Schmidt Institute and Oceanlab carried out the 30-day voyage on the ocean vessel, the Falkor, as part of the Hadal Ecosystem Studies (HADES), an international project funded by the National Science Foundation that explores trench and hadal ecosystems.

The Falkor, using unmanned landers, encountered the critter with two or three other new species of fish while recording 104 hours of footage at depths as low as 10,990 meters.The fish is 20 centimeters in length, with a distinct snout similar to that of a cartoon dog. It also has long and very thin and fragile fins described as "tissue paper underwater," though scientists will not be able to identify it until a physical sample is captured, according to Jamieson."If you don't have a sample, a physical sample in your hand, you cannot do it," he told ABC News. "Which is why we can't do it for the fish."Fish contain osmolyte, a protein that allows their cells to function under high pressures, allowing them to thrive at low depths. Scientists theorize that the lowest level at which a fish can survive at is 8,200 meters below the surface.Timothy Shank, the director of the program and an associate scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said the program hopes to capture a physical sample in the near future."Absolutely. No doubt," Shank said. "We put out fish traps. We put out landers that have baited traps on them. We very much want to capture these deep-sea living fish."Other voyages in the Mariana Trench through HADES will continue, with one set in the coming weeks on the Falkor again, according to Shank. The current voyage took one physical sample of another, unidentified species of snail fish. It will take approximately one year to formally declare a name for that species.Jamieson told ABC News that deep-sea exploration is important and necessary for learning more about fish life and the depths at which they can thrive."There are still things to find because we weren't expecting that," Jamieson said. "And it shows that complex animals such as fish can exist much deeper than we thought."

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Sony Hacking: Obama Says Sony Made ‘Mistake’ in Canceling “The Interview”

Sony Hacking: Obama Says Sony Made ‘Mistake’ in Canceling “The Interview”

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama says Sony made a "mistake" in canceling its planned release of the movie The Interview following a destructive cyber attack the U.S. government says was launched by North Korea."Sony is a corporation. It suffered significant damage. There were threats against its employees. I’m sympathetic to the concerns that they faced," Obama said. "Having said all that, yes I think they made a mistake.""We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the U.S.," Obama said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.The FBI formally fingered North Korea as being responsible for the attack, which successfully forced Sony to cancel its planned release of The Interview, which depicts the fictional assassination of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.The FBI said the Sony attack was unprecedented given its "destructive" and "coercive" nature, saying it disabled "thousands" of Sony's computers and "significantly disrupted the company's business operations."The White House has declared the Sony hacking case a “serious national security matter" but has been trying to walk a fine line with its reaction. Administration officials say they are acutely aware that a public act of retribution could further give the hackers and the North Korean regime the kind of attention they seek. Some U.S. actions, they suggest, could be covert.“I don't anticipate that we'll be in a position where we're gonna be able to be completely forthcoming about every single element of the response that has been decided upon,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday."North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior," the FBI said.

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Sony Hacking: Obama Says Sony Made ‘Mistake’ in Canceling “The Interview”

Sony Hacking: Obama Says Sony Made ‘Mistake’ in Canceling “The Interview”

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama says Sony made a "mistake" in canceling its planned release of the movie The Interview following a destructive cyber attack the U.S. government says was launched by North Korea."Sony is a corporation. It suffered significant damage. There were threats against its employees. I’m sympathetic to the concerns that they faced," Obama said. "Having said all that, yes I think they made a mistake.""We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the U.S.," Obama said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.The FBI formally fingered North Korea as being responsible for the attack, which successfully forced Sony to cancel its planned release of The Interview, which depicts the fictional assassination of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.The FBI said the Sony attack was unprecedented given its "destructive" and "coercive" nature, saying it disabled "thousands" of Sony's computers and "significantly disrupted the company's business operations."The White House has declared the Sony hacking case a “serious national security matter" but has been trying to walk a fine line with its reaction. Administration officials say they are acutely aware that a public act of retribution could further give the hackers and the North Korean regime the kind of attention they seek. Some U.S. actions, they suggest, could be covert.“I don't anticipate that we'll be in a position where we're gonna be able to be completely forthcoming about every single element of the response that has been decided upon,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday."North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior," the FBI said.

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Caramel Apples Linked to Four Deaths in Multi-State Listeria Outbreak

Caramel Apples Linked to Four Deaths in Multi-State Listeria Outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Health officials are warning consumers to avoid eating caramel apples after linking the fall treats to a multi-state listeria outbreak that has been linked to at least four deaths.Officials from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that at least 28 people from 10 states, including Minnesota, Arizona and Texas, have been infected with Listeriosis due to Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that can cause life-threatening illness.Of those infected, five died and Listeriosis definitely contributed to at least four deaths, according to the CDC.Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC warned all consumers to avoid eating prepackaged caramel apples while they investigate the outbreak alongside the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state health organizations.The outbreak reported on Friday has infected people across a wide swath of the U.S. from North Carolina to California and across a large age range, from ages 7 to 92, according to the CDC.Listeriosis is usually caused when a person ingests listeria monocytogenes bacteria and it can cause particular harm among the elderly people, pregnant women or anyone with a compromised immune system. Symptoms can include gastrointestinal distress, fever and muscle aches.In severe cases, people can develop encephalitis, swelling of the brain, or bacterial meningitis, inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord.Of the 28 infected, three were children between the ages of 5 and 15 who developed severe meningitis symptoms, and nine cases involved either a pregnant women or a newborn infant, according to the CDC.Fifteen of 18 sickened people who were interviewed by the CDC told investigators they ate prepackaged caramel apples before they were sickened.Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said the outbreak is particularly troubling because Listeriosis can have a long incubation period from three to 70 days.“We can anticipate that more illnesses will occur over time,” said Schaffner. “Even [if] the product is removed from the market a lot of these [caramel] apples have been consumed.”Bill Marler, a food safety lawyer based in Seattle, said listeria can be a particularly difficult bacteria to control because its growth is not inhibited by refrigeration.“I can see caramel apples sitting in your refrigerator for a long time,” he said. “Listeria has evolved and it has evolved to grow really well at refrigerated temperatures.”The CDC reported the caramel apples can have a shelf life longer than a month and officials from the Minnesota Department of Health said they were concerned people may eat tainted apples left over from the fall.The outbreak was first reported by the Minnesota Department of Health, which found four people between the ages of 59 and 90 had been infected. The four patients had eaten caramel apples during the months of October and November and all four were hospitalized. Two subsequently died after being infected.Those sickened in Minnesota bought caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip and Mike’s Discount Foods, which carried the Carnival and Kitchen Cravings brand of caramel apples, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.The apples are no longer being carried in stores because they are a seasonal item.Dr. Jay Ellingson, the corporate director of food safety and quality assurance for Kwik Trip stores, said the pre-packaged caramel apples have been off the shelves for weeks and the company has been working with state and federal authorities "to make sure public health is protected."A spokesperson from H. Brooks and Company, which released the Carnival brand caramel apples, told ABC News the company was aware of the situation and working with local health officials during the investigation.Officials at Cub Foods and Mike’s Discount Foods could not immediately be reached for comment. A number for the Kitchen Cravings brand of apples could not immediately be found.Listeriosis was linked to one of the worst food-borne outbreaks in recent years when 147 people became infected after eating tainted cantaloupe in 2011. Of those infected, at least 33 died.In 2013, the CDC estimated approximately 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths caused by Listeriosis occur annually in the United States.

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The Science Behind Nailing Your New Year’s Resolution

The Science Behind Nailing Your New Year’s Resolution

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New Year's resolutions seem so full of promise on Jan. 1, but by the middle of the week, many people have already skipped the gym, eaten the stacked burger and been a jerk to their in-laws.No one said goal-setting would be easy.Fewer than one in five adults who made health-related New Year's resolutions were able to make any significant strides in weight loss, healthier eating, exercise or stress reduction by March, according to a 2010 poll by the American Psychological Association.Still, psychologists say there's no time like the present to give your goals a try. And if you want to be a better version of yourself in 2015, there's a science to conquering your resolutions.Read on to find out how to stack the deck in your favor and do your New Year's resolutions right this year:Choose Your Goal WiselyThe key to accomplishing your goal is to make it concrete and easy to break down into pieces, said Jeff Janata, chief of psychology at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland. Weight loss is actually an example of a resolution that sets you up to fail."Weight loss really isn't in our control," Janata said, explaining that no matter how rigid the diet and exercise, weight loss naturally plateaus. "That's one of the reasons people fail at weight loss. They focus on 'I need to lose a certain number pounds per week.'"Instead, cutting out fried foods or deciding to work out a few days a week are better goals, he said."Don't start off with these grand resolutions," said psychologist Joe Taravella, the supervisor of pediatric psychology at NYU Langone's Rusk Rehabilitation Center who also specializes in marital and family psychology.Don't Beat Yourself Up If You Mess UpNo matter how perfect the goal is, Janata said people are going to slip. But that doesn't mean they should give up completely."Re-adjust the goal according to how difficult it is for you," Janata said.He advised taking 2015 goals week by week or day by day."I remind people that we're human and we're not perfect," Taravella said. "We're going to mess up throughout our entire lives."He said one bad day "doesn't mean we're total failures and all progress we made isn't meaningful."Reward YourselfBuilding in days off is an important part of goal-setting, Taravella said."Being totally rigid 24/7 is not sustainable over the long haul," Taravella said.Go PublicWant to make sure you nail your 2015 resolutions? Make them public, psychologists advised."Talk to people about what you're doing, so you can be accountable," Taravella said, explaining that you'll be motivated to succeed because you won't want to fail in front of your friends.Make Sure You're Doing It for the Right ReasonsTackling a goal because someone told you to or because you simply think you "should" might backfire, Janata said. Sometimes, taking on a goal because of outside pressure just makes people want to rebel, he said."There's an important distinction to be drawn between goals that we feel that we should accomplish and those we believe we truly want to accomplish," he said. "Rarely do we attain goals unless we truly embrace the goal."So make sure you're only picking goals because you're ready and eager to fulfill them.

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Amazon Fire Phone Gets Major Updates

Amazon Fire Phone Gets Major Updates

Amazon(NEW YORK) -- Amazon is refusing to give up on its Fire phone and the users who snapped up the device, despite its lackluster debut over the summer.Six months after its release, Amazon has rolled out a software update for the phone that brings with it a number of new and smarter features.Among those are text translation in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The upgrade also enables the phone's much-hyped Firefly feature to be able to recognize 2,000 famous paintings.Another new feature is "best shot," which takes three versions of a photo, allowing the user to choose their favorite.In September, the Fire phone, which featured what Amazon called "breakthrough" technology, was being sold for 99 cents with a contract.Amazon revealed in its quarterly earnings call in October that it took a charge of $170 million for "inventory evaluation and supplier commitment costs" for the Fire, after it failed to create a spark in the smartphone market.Critics have said the Fire is less a phone and more a "shopping machine" designed to capture more Amazon customers.If you're still intrigued by the Fire phone, it's not too late to order one in time for Christmas.Amazon announced on Friday it will give free two-day shipping on most Amazon devices, including the Fire phone, through Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. ET.After that, the retailer will provide free one-day shipping on those devices until Dec. 23 at 3 p.m. ET.

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First Family Arrives in Hawaii for 16-Day Vacation

First Family Arrives in Hawaii for 16-Day Vacation

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The president and first family have arrived in Hawaii, for a 16-day tropical vacation that’s become their annual tradition over the Christmas and New Year holidays.“The president himself is eagerly looking forward to” the time away, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said last week.

They will remain on the island until after the New Year.While there’s no such thing as a work-free vacation for an American president, Obama will likely spend plenty of time soaking up the sun, snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, hiking and biking with his daughters, and enjoying the local cuisine.He’s also expected to play several rounds of golf and squeeze in a few workouts at the Marine Base Kanehoe.The White House says he plans to hold no public events. But as with past years, there’s the possibility Obama’s two-week getaway will be punctuated with breaking news around the world to which he’ll need to respond.This is the Obamas’ sixth trip to Oahu for family vacation since moving into the White House. The president has deep roots on the island, which is where he was born and spent most of his childhood.The first family typically rents a multi-million dollar beach-side home in the town of Kailua, on the east side of the island, footing the several thousand-dollar per night bill with personal funds, the White House says.Obama has taken fewer vacation days overall outside Washington than his predecessor, according to unofficial White House chronicler of presidential travel Mark Knoller of CBS News. While the meaning of "vacation day" is a matter of debate, by one measure, Obama had taken at least 140 days of R&R through August, per Knoller.That compares to 533 days in George W. Bush’s two terms, including trips to his Crawford, Tex., ranch; 174 by Bill Clinton; and 390 for Ronald Reagan.

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Putin Opposition Leader Facing 10-Year Prison Term

Putin Opposition Leader Facing 10-Year Prison Term

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — The day after President Vladimir Putin insisted Russia was not repressing his political opponents, Putin’s biggest critic is facing a lengthy prison term. Russian prosecutors announced Friday they are seeking a 10-year prison term for opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Navalny and his brother are on trial for what he says are trumped up corruption charges aimed at silencing Putin’s opponents. On Thursday, Putin denied there is any campaign in Russia to repress political opposition. Navalny was the ringleader of the massive protests against Putin back in the winter of 2011. After Putin returned to the Kremlin that spring, he started to crack down on his opponents, and Navalny soon found himself in court for another charge. Navally was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, but the sentence was quickly commuted. Navalny ran for mayor of Moscow where he won a surprising 27 percent of the vote. For the past year, however, he’s been under house arrest for this case. In court on Friday, Navalny was defiant, saying lies are the essence of today’s Russian government. Sentencing for Navalny is scheduled for Jan. 15.

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School Takes Away Blind Boy’s Cane as Punishment for Acting Up

School Takes Away Blind Boy’s Cane as Punishment for Acting Up

iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- A school took away an 8-year-old blind boy's cane as punishment for acting up and replaced it with a pool noodle, his father told ABC News on Thursday.Dakota Nafzinger, who was born with no eyes, was listening to his music on the school bus when the driver took it away from him, his father, Donald Nafzinger said. Dakota often taps his cane to the music, but this time, his father said he threw it in the air. Nafzinger said school officials told him they thought Dakota was getting violent.Then they gave Dakota a foam pool noodle in its place and sent him home with it, Nafzinger said."It is his eyes," Nafzinger, 35, told ABC News. "He said he was upset because that's something he needs to get around with."Dakota was born with a rare condition called bilateral anophthalmia. Nafzinger said Dakota's mother chose to call the local news media because she feared that "there weren't caring people left in this world.""They shouldn't treat my kid any different than the kids that have eyes," said Nafzinger, who works in Kansas City, Missouri, as a stage hand. "My kid is normal except he doesn't have eyes."The school district, North Kansas City Schools, admitted to the mistake and has since given Dakota his cane back. Nafzinger said not only was that a good outcome, but sharing the story has shown his family how many supporters they have."The District has reviewed the situation," North Kansas City Schools wrote in a statement. "We regret that a mistake was made in making sure the student was in possession of his cane when he boarded the bus Monday evening. The District has apologized to the family and is working to rectify the situation. When we were made aware of the mistake, corrections were made. It is always the District’s policy when we become aware of situations like this, we thoroughly and immediately investigate to ensure a safe learning environment for all students."

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Plus-Size Blogger Asks Beauty Editors to Transform Her Photo

Plus-Size Blogger Asks Beauty Editors to Transform Her Photo

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When blogger Marie Southard Ospina sent a photo of herself with no makeup and no clothes to photo editors in 21 countries around the world and asked them to Photoshop her, she said she was surprised by one thing most of the experts did not do to her image."I was surprised that only three out of 21 altered my weight and my bone structure," Ospina told ABC News' Juju Chang. "So that was nice to see.""[I thought] that the majority of the editors would slim me down and just make a very obviously airbrushed miniature version of me," Ospina said.The Manchester, U.K.- and New York City-based writer gave the beauty editors the instructions to simply "make me beautiful.""That was the tagline of the whole experiment," said Ospina, who wrote about it on Bustle.com.Ospina was inspired to do the experiment after seeing another journalist, Esther Honig, do something similar earlier this year. Honig sent her selfie to 25 countries around the world, asking people to make her beautiful using Photoshop."I was just fascinated by just how much people actually changed her bone structure and her weight, and she was already quite a slender woman," Ospina said.When it came to Ospina's experiment, the results varied widely according to each country. Canada gave her a new hairdo while Jamaica gave her a darker tan.Ospina said her favorite result came from Italy, where the editor glammed her up with some heavily Photoshopped makeup."I think, through these images, what I most saw is that beauty isn't definable," Ospina said. "It varies so much, not just from nation to nation but from person to person.""The biggest point of the experiment was to see and prove that people's perception of beauty is very individual rather than just one basic norm," she said.

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Iowa Spa ‘Makeover’ Lifts 4-Year-Old Cancer Patient

Iowa Spa ‘Makeover’ Lifts 4-Year-Old Cancer Patient

Blush Salon & Spa/Facebook(CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa) -- An Iowa spa catered to a very special client when it gave a full "makeover" to a young cancer patient Wednesday.Taryn Oberthein, 4, has spent much of the past year dealing with doctors and hospitals after she was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer, according to ABC News affiliate KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.Neuroblastoma is a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells in different areas in the body, according to the Mayo Clinic.Taryn was surprised with a very special day at the Blush Salon & Spa in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The spa is a member of the Hello Gorgeous! non-profit that provides free makeovers and pampering to cancer patients.Salon owner Susan Livingston told ABC News the girl started out a little "shy," but quickly warmed up as she enjoyed a free manicure, facial and pedicure."Her mom said [later] that she wanted to do it every day," Livingston said of the makeover day.The day of pampering comes after a difficult year, when Taryn underwent chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and radiation to treat her cancer, according to KCRG-TV."It just think it would make her feel so special to have a day where she can just feel pretty," Taryn's mother, Tara Martin, told KCRG-TV.The full pampering also included a special red carpet entrance, bouquet of flowers and even a little session with photographers, where Taryn was able to pose in her new look. She was even given her own wig specially made for pediatric patients."When we asked her what she wanted for her birthday, all she wanted was for her hair to grow back," Martin told ABC News.Martin said when the wig came out Taryn was initially a little afraid, but ended up enjoying her new accessory."She called it strutting her stuff," Martin said. "She's a pretty special little girl, she's always got a smile on her face."

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Santa’s Heartwarming Surprise for Deaf 6-Year-Old Girl

Santa’s Heartwarming Surprise for Deaf 6-Year-Old Girl

iStock/Thinkstock(WESTMINSTER, Mass.) -- For one 6-year-old girl in Westminster, Massachusetts, the best Christmas gift she received didn’t come in the form of a perfectly wrapped box with a bow under the tree. Instead, the special surprise came personally delivered from Santa himself -- in the form of sign language.For the first time in her life, Sadie Adam sat on Santa’s lap and the jolly-old-guy knew exactly what she was sharing, with no interpreter needed.“I am glad I was able to communicate with Sadie,” Westminster’s police chief, Salvatore Albert, who has played Santa for 15 years, told ABC News. “It was amazing to see the smile on her face and her eyes wide open with joy that Santa knew sign language. I am going to try to learn more for next year.”Sadie’s mom, Ronelle, taught Santa all the sign language he needed to know in order to prepare for her daughter’s visit on Dec. 6.“She sat with me for about an hour,” said Albert. “I practiced it for three days.”As Santa signed “Merry Christmas” to an unsuspecting Sadie, “her eyes were bright, wide open,” he told ABC affiliate WCVB.“Santa knew my name. He knew how to sign it,” an ecstatic Sadie signed. “I told him what I wanted -- a kitchen and a baby.”“I knew she’d be surprised, so I was just so happy,” her mom said. “I instantly started tearing up.”For little Sadie, who has been deaf most of her life, this is certainly a Christmas she’ll never forget.“This is the first time anyone has had any special request of any kind,” said Albert. “I was very happy to be able to do it.”

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Verizon Lets Users Text Message the Gift of Coffee

Verizon Lets Users Text Message the Gift of Coffee

Verizon(NEW YORK) -- There's nothing worse than being crunched for time while holiday shopping or realizing you forgot someone on your list.Verizon is aiming to solve its subscribers' gift-giving nightmares by allowing them to give anyone a Starbucks gift card by sending a quick text message. The gift will be added to the subscriber's Verizon bill.Here's how it works:Download the Verizon messages app and compose a text message. Next, click the + sign and choose the gift icon. From there, users are prompted to choose whether they'd like to send $5, $10 or $25. Choose a background image, enter a festive message and press send.The recipient will immediately get a text message letting them know they've received a Starbucks credit, along with a bar code that can be used to pay at the store.

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Top Year-End Money Tips for 2014

Top Year-End Money Tips for 2014

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With less than two weeks to go before the end of the year, both Santa and the "tax man" will be checking their "naughty or nice" lists.To start, remember that you'll get a better sense of where your money is heading if you know where it's been."If you’ve gone a little overboard on holiday gifts or eating out, it might be time to revisit your budget," said Holly Perez, Mint.com spokeswoman and consumer spending expert.

Here's how to enter 2015 without a holiday hangover:

1. Develop a debt payoff strategy."If you have extra cash in the bank, it’s worth making a large payment toward cutting down you debt. If you can’t pay down a debt you accumulated this year, create a debt payoff plan that will get it down next year," Perez said.If you discover you can't pay off your unsecured debt in five years or less, you may need to talk with a credit counselor or even a bankruptcy attorney, said Gerri Detweiler, a credit expert with Credit.com.

2. Automate everything."The more you can automate, the easier your finances will be in 2015," Perez said. "This is also a good time to review and cancel any automatic subscriptions you aren’t using, such as music streaming services, magazines, newspapers, premium subscriptions, etc."

3. Spend your FSA.Flexible spending accounts allow employees to set aside a portion of earnings tax-free to pay for qualified expenses, most commonly medical expenses and dependent care."So if you have a FSA for qualifying expenses, now is the time to submit any outstanding claims," Perez said. "You can carry over only $500 into 2015, so get those claims in now. This is the perfect excuse to make those doctor appointments you’ve been putting off all year."

4. Review your insurance plans and rates.Look over your health, life, homeowners, renters and car insurance plans."It’s easy to 'set it and forget it,' then end up with the same insurance carrier for years," Perez said.If you have any changes coming in 2015 that you need to plan for, including getting married, having a baby or buying a home, shop around for some new insurance plans and rates.

5. Tidy your tax tasks.First, pull out your credit card for tax deductions. Whether it’s a charitable purchase you want to make sure gets counted in 2014, or a business purchase you want made by year end, go online and use your credit card for the transaction, according to Detweiler."You’ll have a receipt for this year, but the bill won’t be officially due until next year. And if you get credit card rewards for the purchase, all the better," Detweiler said.Offset any capital gains by taking losses on positions that are in the red, suggested Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. In addition to the ability to offset capital gains completely, you can also offset up to $3,000 in income with capital losses.

6. Make charitable contributions by Dec. 31.And be sure to get a receipt, notes McBride.

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Why Natalie Portman Says “Star Wars” Actually Hurt Her Career

Why Natalie Portman Says “Star Wars” Actually Hurt Her Career

Merrick Morton/Lucasflim Ltd.(NEW YORK) -- When Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, it became one of the highest grossing movies of all-time, but fans of the Star Wars franchise were torn about the series of new prequels.Oscar winner Natalie Portman, who starred in all three of the prequels, said playing the female protagonist Padmé in the franchise actually hurt her career.In an interview with New York magazine, where A-list stars paid tribute to the iconic director Mike Nichols, Portman shared a tale of how the late legend helped get her career back off the ground after Star Wars.Portman, 33, starred in Nichols' Seagull as part of the NY Shakespeare Festival summer season in 2001. Nichols helped get her into other movies like Cold Mountain in 2003."Star Wars had come out around the time of Seagull, and everyone thought I was a horrible actress," she said. "I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me. Mike wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, 'Put her in Cold Mountain, I vouch for her.'"She continued, "And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis. I worked with Milos Forman a few years later. He said, 'Mike saved me. He wrote a letter so that I could get asylum in the U.S.' He did that for 50 people, and it doesn't make any one of us feel less special."Portman would end up winning the Oscar for her work in Black Swan in 2011.

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Angelina Jolie Opens Up About Directing Brad Pitt in Love Scene

Angelina Jolie Opens Up About Directing Brad Pitt in Love Scene

ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) -- Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will be back on screen together in By the Sea, which is set to be released next year and features the famous duo as a couple -- much like their debut movie together in 2005's Mr. and Mrs. Smith.While promoting her current film Unbroken, Jolie, 39, spoke to MTV news about directing a sex scene with her now husband in the future movie."I was the other person in the love scene, so it wasn't that hard," she quipped. "He knows what I need from him. He's always known."As for people making assumptions of the duo in real life based off what happens in the movie, Jolie said "I haven't thought that way for years. Because then you can't make a creative move if you're conscious of all the different interpretations. We wanted to be free and we wanted to play."She continued about the film, "It's a very creative film. We wanted to try things, so we intentionally made bold decisions...we just wanted to be artists and play."By the Sea, set in 1970s France, centers on a couple who travel and write together. Their relationship is falling apart until they happen upon a small town on the water.

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NASA Can See Christmas Lights from Space

NASA Can See Christmas Lights from Space

NASA's Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen(NEW YORK) — Those twinkling holiday lights illuminating suburban streets can even be seen from space.Using data from a satellite run by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, researchers determined that patterns of light intensity changed during the major holidays.In the United States, that means the lights shine brightest between Black Friday and New Year's, while in the Middle East they're most visible during Ramadan.The data was crunched after filtering out moonlight, clouds and airborne particles, NASA scientists said.Researchers found that light intensity increased by as much as 50 percent in suburban areas during the Christmas season, while urban areas were more illuminated by 20 to 30 percent, according to the findings, which were released on NASA's website.

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Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal Casino Safe — For Now

Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal Casino Safe — For Now

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Atlantic City, New Jersey will not witness the shutdown of another of its famed casinos -- at least for now.

Despite failing to negotiate on a $100 million settlement deal to save the floundering boardwalk fixture, billionaire investor Carl Icahn assured Taj Mahal employees on Thursday that they could keep the lights on, as he committed a $20 million investment to keep the casino operational throughout its bankruptcy proceedings.

The Taj Mahal casino was slated to shut down at 6 a.m. EST on Saturday.

In an open letter to Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Bob Griffin, Icahn proclaimed that he took “great pride in [his] ability to successfully rebuild failing businesses,” while subsequently calling the casino operator “one of the most distressed companies I have ever come across in my 50+ years of investing.”

Ultimately, while a wider deal could not be reached to save the casino, Icahn committed in his letter to work with the union and the state-local government on a new deal, but made no assertions that such a deal was formally in the works.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Report: Padres Acquire Outfielder Justin Upton from the Braves

Report: Padres Acquire Outfielder Justin Upton from the Braves

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The San Diego Padres have struck again this offseason by acquiring another big-time bat. According to reports, the team has acquired outfielder Justin Upton from the Atlanta Braves.

According to reports, the Padres will send Braves pitcher Max Fried, third baseman Dustin Peterson and outfielder Mallex Smith.

Still just 27 years old, Upton hit .270 with 29 home runs and 102 RBIs in his eighth season in the big leagues. He will be a free agent following the 2015 season.

The Padres now have a completely revamped offense/outfield. Not only have they acquired Upton, they've also made trades for former All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp and former American League Rookie of the Year outfielder Wil Myers.

The Padres also recently acquired All-Star catcher Derek Norris from the Oakland Athletics, and reportedly they've acquired third baseman Will Middlebrooks from the Boston Red Sox for Ryan Hanigan.

In 2014, the Padres ranked 30th in Major League Baseball in runs scored, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage.

San Diego hasn't made the playoffs since 2006.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Why Some Celebrities Lost Millions of Instagram Followers

Why Some Celebrities Lost Millions of Instagram Followers

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Call it the great Instagram purge of 2014.Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian, both celebrities who are active on the site, were among the A-listers who lost millions of Instagram followers, but by no fault of their own.

Chances are you may have even lost a few followers as well.Instagram said last week it was in the process of fixing a glitch that counts fake or inactive accounts in a user's follower/following count.The problem is most pervasive for public accounts where users do not have to approve their followers."As we remove these accounts, some people may notice a decrease in their follower/following counts," Instagram said on its website.The photo sharing service, which is owned by Facebook, began fixing the issue in April and said they expect it to be completed by the end of this month.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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