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Weird Tax Deductions Paid Off for These People

Weird Tax Deductions Paid Off for These People iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two out of three taxpayers have already filed their taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service. But if you're that remaining third, don't be tempted to pull tax savings out of thin air. There are some strange deductions that people have legitimately claimed."There are two camps -- the odd, really odd deductions that people try to take and don't get away with -- and then in some instances, there are the odder ones that people do get away with," said Richard Gartland, H&R Block senior tax advisor.Most people probably can't legitimately deduct elective plastic surgery, but one tax court approved an exotic dancer's deduction for the cost of her breast implants for business.Unusual medical deductions, boarding school for a child with respiratory problems and even clarinet lessons to deal with an overbite have been approved in some cases.Of course, talk to a tax professional if you have a doubt. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

What It’s Like to Try on the $17,000 Apple Watch Edition

What It’s Like to Try on the $17,000 Apple Watch Edition ABC NewsREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK by ALYSSA NEWCOMB(NEW YORK) — A girl can dream, right?I tried on the most expensive Apple Watch, the $17,000 Edition, Friday morning at the Apple Store on Manhattan's Upper West Side.The Apple Watch Editions were kept at the side of the Apple Store, where I was invited to sit down and have a fitting with an Apple employee who explained what makes it so special.The watch comes with the same functionality as the $349 Apple Watch Sport and the Apple Watch, but is crafted with 18-karat gold that Apple said has been developed to be twice as hard as standard gold.The display is kept in pristine condition thanks to polished sapphire crystal. The $17,000 Edition I tried on came with a red band that contrasted nicely with the gold watch.   Apple Watch fittings and preorders begin today. I checked out the $17,000 Apple Watch Edition. A video posted by @alyssanewcombabc on Apr 10, 2015 at 6:07am PDT   Having the watch on my wrist felt the same way as the more budget-friendly Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models, with the added bonus of a bit more bling. But it sure was nice to try on the ultimate techie status symbol.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Three Ways to Make the Most of Your Old Smartphone

Three Ways to Make the Most of Your Old Smartphone iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Having a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S6 may make it easy to part with one of its predecessors, but there are a few clever ways a functioning smartphone can still be put to use.With Samsung's Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge reaching customers on Friday, it may seem like a smart idea to trade in or sell old devices.Or you could put it to use.Here are three ways your functioning spare Android smartphone can be put to work:Chromecast ControllerHave a Google Chromecast streaming stick? You can now turn your Android device into a permanent remote control that can be used to wirelessly stream video content on your television.Digital Photo FrameTurn your old Android device into a digital photo frame to jazz up your office or make a curated stream for a special occasion with the Dayframe app.Photos will play on a continuous stream and can even pull in memories from social networks. Bonus: If you have a Chromecast, it's possible to enjoy the photos on a larger screen.Home Surveillance SystemPresence, an app available for iOS and Android, lets users turn an old smartphone or tablet into a home security system that will pair with their new device, allowing users a view of home even when they're away.Presence can also send video alerts to users if it suspects suspicious activity at home. Using its motion detector, it can turn on lights and other devices to alert intruders they have been detected. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Rob Lowe DirecTV Ads Misleading, Says Ad Watchdog

Rob Lowe DirecTV Ads Misleading, Says Ad Watchdog ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) — We've all seen the DirecTV commercials with Rob Lowe, Creepy Rob Lowe, Scrawny Arms Rob Lowe, Peaked in High School Rob Lowe...you get the picture.Well, it turns out those ads may have been somewhat misleading, according to the Council of Better Business Bureaus' National Advertising Division, which has recommended that DirecTV discontinue some of the claims it makes in its commercials.A competitor from the cable world, Comcast, had challenged several of DirecTV's claims, including that DirecTV offers 99-percent signal reliability and up to 1080p picture quality, and is number one in customer satisfaction over all cable TV providers.Following a review, NAD recommends, among other things, that DirecTV modify its 1080p claim to disclose the "limited programming on which resolutions of 1080p is currently available."Addressing Lowe's famous closing line in the ads, NAD determined that the statement, "Don’t be like this me, get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV," "reasonably conveyed a comparative and unsupported superiority message, and recommended that in this context the claim be discontinued."DirecTV says it will appeal NAD's findings to the National Advertising Review Board. It maintains in a statement to the NAD that it "continues to believe that the various Rob Lowe advertisements are so outlandish and exaggerated that no reasonable consumer would believe that the statements being made by the alter-ego characters are comparative or need to be substantiated."A DirecTV exec has told the Los Angeles Times it had already planned to retire the Rob Lowe campaign. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Don’t Delay Sending a Resume When a Job Is Posted

Don’t Delay Sending a Resume When a Job Is Posted iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If there’s any one lesson to be learned from a new study on getting a job, it’s that people who procrastinate are going to be left in the dust.The hiring platform SmartRecruiters looked at data from some 270,000 jobs in North America and concluded that if you jump on a posting immediately, it definitely improves your chances of getting hired.SmartRecruiters says that the bulk of activity occurs at the beginning of the workweek with 18.5 percent applying for jobs on Tuesday with Monday and Wednesday tied at 18 percent apiece.It makes sense too because Tuesday is the most popular day for employers to post jobs, followed by Wednesday and Monday. Furthermore, more hiring decisions occur on Tuesday than any other day.The recommendation then is that once a job gets posted, don’t wait more than a day or two to apply. According to SmartRecruiters, sending out your resume on a Friday or on the weekend is a death knell for your chances as possibly more qualified candidates are already being considered, perhaps because they are viewed as more ambitious. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

LinkedIn to Purchase Online Learning Company Lynda.com for $1.5 Billion

LinkedIn to Purchase Online Learning Company Lynda.com for $1.5 Billion Fuego/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- LinkedIn, the world's largest professional social network, announced on Thursday a $1.5 billion agreement to purchase online learning company lynda.com. "The mission of LinkedIn and the mission of lynda.com are highly aligned," LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said in a press release. "Both companies seek to help professionals be better at what they do."Lynda gives subscribers -- both individuals and organizations -- access to courses on topics including various languages, computer-related lessons, photography, business and music, among others."Lynda.com's extensive library of premium video content helps empower people to develop the skills needed to accelerate their careers," Weiner said. "When integrated with the hundreds of million of members and millions of jobs on LinkedIn, lynda.com can change the way in which people connect to opportunity."The press release also noted that "most members of the lynda.com team are expected to join LinkedIn" after the deal closes. That is expected to happen during the second quarter of 2015. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Stocks Climb Despite Higher Unemployment Claims

Stocks Climb Despite Higher Unemployment Claims tarabird/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thursday marked a second consecutive day of growth on Wall Street despite increased unemployment claim numbers released by the Labor Department.The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 56.22 to a close of 17,958.73.The Nasdaq rallied from early-session losses to close at 4,974.57, up 23.75 from its open, while the S&P 500 rose 9.29 to 2,091.19.The Labor Department's weekly update found 14,000 more Americans applied for unemployment benefits this past week, bringing the total number of claims to 281,000.Also on Thursday, LinkedIn announced the purchase of online learning company Lynda. The purchase came at a cost of $1.5 billion. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tax Scam Has Made Loser Lottery Tickets a Commodity on Craigslist

Tax Scam Has Made Loser Lottery Tickets a Commodity on Craigslist Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- There’s no escaping death and taxes, but some people may be trying to lighten their burden this tax season through a scheme that uses dud lottery tickets.Some folks appear to be buying and selling old, losing lottery tickets on Craigslist with the intention of writing them off on their tax returns as gambling losses, tax experts say.The premise is that people who've earned gambling winnings want to offset some of the taxes owed on those earnings with a gambling loss. Kelly Phillips Erb, a tax attorney who writes for Forbes as the "Tax Girl," says taxpayers have to report all their income, including gambling winnings. Conveniently, lottery and racetrack tickets often come without a paper trail, unlike gambling losses at a reputable casino. So people could potentially find old tickets on the floor or in the garbage and claim them as a loss when they file their taxes.In one Craigstlist ad in the Detroit area, a seller lists $1,100 worth of losing lottery tickets for $70. The ad states: "Good for tax write-off for your 2014 taxes to offset your winnings."Another Craigslist ad from a user in Knoxville, Tennessee, simply requests to buy "loser lottery tickets." The buyer states, "I would like the ones your [sic] tossing in the trash." These sellers and buyers did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News. Craigslist has not responded to a request for comment and the Internal Revenue Service declined to comment on this issue.Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School and author of gambling books, told The Daily Beast some tickets could be sold online as memorabilia, which won't get you in trouble with the IRS.Erb, the tax attorney, called the fraud scheme "silly." She said the scheme is not "terribly widespread," and the most famous case was a giant one from the 1980s that involved the winner of a $2.7 million jackpot winner. He and his accountant tried to use $200,000 worth of losing lottery and racetrack tickets to offset his lottery tax burden. They were caught, pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges and served time in prison."It’s oddly clever, but the potential offset and the potential for getting in trouble is not worth it," Erb said.The people who are attempting this are itemizing their tax deductions, which the IRS monitors. And if you happen to have losses that are the same amount as your winnings, it will likely raise the eyebrows of the IRS, she said.Plus, if you've made some winnings in gambling and you're not a professional gambler, you're ahead of the game, she said."I know no one likes to pay taxes. If I win $10,000 on a scratch-off ticket, going to the trouble to manufacture losses is ridiculous and it’s tax fraud," she said. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Smartphones: What You Need to Know

Samsung Galaxy S6 Smartphones: What You Need to Know Samsung(NEW YORK) -- Samsung, one of the pioneers of the giant phone, is making a play for Apple's market share with its newest flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, that will be released on Friday.Not only are the phones prettier, thanks to Samsung’s trading in the plastic backing for durable Gorilla Glass, but they're also packed with technological improvements."These products are the result of a simple philosophy," Samsung CEO J.K. Shin said. "It comes to two words: Relentless innovation."Here's a look at what to expect from the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge:CameraSamsung boasted that it would have the "fastest, brightest camera on the market" and showed how it was able to illuminate a night scene and turn on with a quick double-tap of the home key in less than a second.Samsung PayBoth phones have Samsung Pay, the smartphone maker's contact-less payment system. The mobile payments solution differs from Apple Pay, which requires participating merchants to have Near Field Communication readers.Samsung said its payment solution can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted and expects to roll out Samsung Pay sometime this summer in the United States and South Korea.Wireless ChargingBoth phones are outfitted with wireless charging, making power cords obsolete. In 10 minutes, Samsung says the devices can get enough charge for four hours of everyday use.What's the Difference Between the Two New Phones?The biggest difference between the two 5.1-inch-display phones is the curved edge in the aptly named Galaxy S6 Edge.The curved screen is designed with the purpose of helping users stay in touch with the people closest to them. The edge will light up with that person's corresponding color, meaning the user won't even have to lift their phone to see who left a message. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

YouTube Plans to Offer Paid Subscriptions to Skip Ads

YouTube Plans to Offer Paid Subscriptions to Skip Ads Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The more than 1 billion YouTube users may soon be able to skip those pesky ads, but for a price.The video-sharing service, currently in 75 countries and available in 61 languages, is planning to offer a paid subscription model that will allow customers to skip some ads.YouTube notified a large group of partners that the company is updating its terms to allow partners to receive revenue from subscription offerings, Bloomberg reported. But the company maintains that its ads business is still its core. Creators could potentially make more money, along with YouTube, by profiting from these subscriptions. The time frame and pricing have yet to be decided, the company said, though it may involve a monthly fee.A YouTube spokesperson told ABC News, "While we can't comment on ongoing discussions, giving fans more choice to enjoy the content they love and creators more opportunity to earn revenue are always amongst our top priorities."Each day, people watch hundreds of millions of hours of videos on YouTube that generate billions of views, the company said. People spent more time watching Super Bowl ads on YouTube in the first six weeks of this year than in all 52 weeks of 2014, making the 2015 Super Bowl YouTube’s most successful.YouTube already introduced its subscription "Music Key Beta" last year, which provides music without ads for $10 a month. YouTube faces stiff competition from other paid online video services, such as HBO Go, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.While the company produced revenue of $4 billion last year, up from $3 billion from 2013, it's not excessively profitable. The bottom line of YouTube, which is owned by Google, is "roughly break-even," the Wall Street Journal reported in February. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jobless Claims Climbed Higher Last Week

Jobless Claims Climbed Higher Last Week iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Jobless claims spiked higher last week, increasing by 14,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.For the week ending April 4, the number of people filing for benefits climbed to 281,000. The previous week, claims stood at 267,000.The Labor Department said there were no "special factors" impacting that week's figures.The four-week moving average, however, declined by 3,000, to 282,250. This is the lowest level for this average since June 3, 2000 when the figure was 281,500. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘Cash for iPhones’ Under Government Probe After Hundreds of Customer Complaints

‘Cash for iPhones’ Under Government Probe After Hundreds of Customer Complaints Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — If you’re in the market to sell an old phone, you may want to do some homework before handing it over to just any company with an appealing offer.A popular phone trade-in site, Cash for iPhones, offers cash for used phones, but the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recorded more than 900 complaints from customers across the country who claim the company offered to pay top dollar for their phones but then actually paid them significantly less.Francie Taylor, 22, of Chicago is fed up. Cash for iPhones originally quoted her $131 for an old iPhone 5c, but once the company received her phone, it dramatically lowered its quote, she said. The final offer was $11 -- a difference of $120.As part of the terms and conditions on its website, Cash for iPhones says that customers have three days to dispute their quote over the phone with the company’s purchasing department. So Taylor tried calling for three days straight as ABC's Good Moring America watched. After being hung up on two days in a row, she finally reached the purchasing department on the third day.“When you received my phone you quoted me $11,” Taylor said. “Is there any way that I could dispute that?”It was too late. Cash for iPhones said her old iPhone had already been recycled, even though nine hours remained in her three-day window to dispute her price quote. Many customers have complained to the FTC and said they have had a similar experience when trying to dispute their price quotes. Customers said they were unable to get through to the purchasing department at all or, once they did, it was too late.To see what the experience would be like, GMA Investigates purchased three refurbished iPhones, and ABC News correspondent Linzie Janis asked Dan Ackerman, senior editor at CNET.com, to estimate their market value.“These look like they’re in fairly good shape,” Ackerman said. “For a new iPhone 6, and this is the 16-gig version, you could probably do [$300], maybe close to $400, if you’re lucky.”And that quote was just for one iPhone.“Wow,” Janis said. “How about the iPhone 5s?”“Now the 5s is a bit older. Probably $150, maybe close to $200, if you’re lucky,” Ackerman said. “And for a 4 or 4s, you know, $50, if you’re lucky.”For our three refurbished iPhones, Ackerman told ABC News that we could get as much as $600. In general, Ackerman said, the market value for used phones depends on many factors.“The value can really vary a lot, depending on how new it is, how in demand it is, who makes it. iPhones tend to keep a lot of their resale value for years,” Ackerman said. “Once you get a model or two behind, then it kind of drops off quickly ‘cause people just want the most recent ones.”On the Cash for iPhones website, Janis plugged in the phones’ information.“The quote I’m getting for my iPhone 6, 16-gigabyte, from Cash for iPhones is $473,” Janis said. "The quote from my iPhone 4s, just $57 and for my iPhone 5s, $253. So all together I could make up to $783."The site said that the non-binding quote was pending inspection, so GMA Investigates sent in the three iPhones to Cash for iPhones’ warehouse in Sparks, Nevada. Two weeks later, Cash for iPhones emailed the final price quote -- $114 for all three phones.That’s $669 less than the original quote. The reason for the difference? Cash for iPhones cited the condition of the phones -- although they didn’t give specifics -- as well as “up to the minute market conditions.”Unhappy with the new price quote, Janis attempted to dispute it and called Cash for iPhones for three days -- within the company’s three-day time limit for disputes.On the first day, Janis was on hold for 16 minutes before she was hung up on. On the second day, she couldn’t get through again. When she called, she was told the offices were closed for the day, even though 15 minutes remained until the scheduled closing time. Janis called again for a third day.“This is day No. 3. I haven’t been able to get a hold of them for the last two days,” she said.Twenty-five minutes later, the call dropped.“They just hung up on me," she said. "They just hung up. I don’t believe it.”With just a few hours left to dispute the final quote, Janis called once more. Fourteen minutes after being on hold to speak with the purchasing department, the call dropped once more.“Oh! They just hung up. Unbelievable,” Janis said. “Second time I’ve been hung up on by them today. Well, guess we’ll have to try again tomorrow, but it’s the end of my three-day window.”The following day, Janis called yet again. It was only on this day -- the fourth -- that she finally spoke with someone about the phones.“I would like the telephones I sent returned to me,” Janis said.However, Cash for iPhones told Janis that her payment had already been processed.“I have been calling for the last three days to dispute the quote that I’ve been given, and no one would pick up the telephone,” she said. “Now you’re telling me that you’ve already sent me the money. Well, I don’t ... agree to this lower quote.Janis also sold three other phones which were same models and in similar condition as the ones Cash for iPhones got to another company, Usell.com. Its original quote for the three phones was $599. Ultimately, Usell.com paid Janis the exact amount -- $599.ABC News requested an interview with Cash for iPhones’ president, David Kruchin, but his lawyer declined our repeated requests. So GMA Investigates tried to catch him at his office outside of Reno, Nevada.After waiting for hours outside of Kruchin’s office, he eventually appeared.“Mr. Kruchin. Mr. Kruchin, it’s Linzie from ABC News. Can I just ask you a quick question? Mr. Kruchin? Mr. Kruchin, I sold you three phones,” Janis said. “I want to talk to you about those phones. You won’t stop and speak to us?”Kruchin refused to speak with Janis and drove away.Nevada’s attorney general, Adam Laxalt, is currently investigating Cash for iPhones’ business practices.“Our office started receiving a huge spike in complaints, which now totals over 300,” Laxalt said.In general, Laxalt said, many websites that buy used phones are legitimate, but he cautioned that some may engage in fraudulent business practices.“We're certainly not speaking about this particular incident. But in general, in this laptop, cell-phone kind of resell space, there's lots of legitimate companies all over the country that do this right,” Laxalt said.“But there seems to be a certain arena where fraud is being committed," he added. "So it's just important for us to continue to look out for the consumer.”To get the best price when selling an old phone, Laxalt suggested consumers compare prices and look at a company’s customer reviews.“Do your research, that’s the first thing we should always say. If the deal looks too good to be true, it's probably not true,” Laxalt said. “Do some comparative analysis. And if you're seeing, let's say, $20 for an iPhone from nine different entities online, and one is offering $200, that should be a warning signal.“The best thing we could do is just keep warning the customer to be aware of these kinds of things, and make sure that you're doing your due diligence so that you don't, hopefully, fall in these kinds of traps,” Laxalt said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sabra Recalls 30,000 Cases of Hummus Products

Sabra Recalls 30,000 Cases of Hummus Products iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Sabra Dipping Co., LLC is voluntarily recalling 30,000 cases of hummus products due to a possible risk of listeria contamination.Sabra said Tuesday the recall is limited to five SKUs of Classic Hummus sold nationwide.The potential contamination was discovered March 30 during a random sample collected at a retail location by officials in Michigan, the statement said. No illnesses have been reported to date, according to a statement posted by the FDA. Listeria can cause short-term symptoms such as fever, headaches, nausea and abdominal pain in healthy adults but can cause serious infections in children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems.Any of the recalled products can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.For full recall information, click here. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dog Owners Share Love of Fast Food with Rover

Dog Owners Share Love of Fast Food with Rover iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Dogs are true connoisseurs of fast food -- that is, if you regard a box of kibbles as fast food.However, a new trend appears to be emerging, based on a poll by marketing research firm Relevation Research, that suggests Fido is enjoying tastier meals normally reserved for people.According to the survey of 1,500 adults, one in six admit purchasing an item for their dog while taking out fast food or ordering at the drive-thru.Breaking it down further, among the third of people who've used a drive-thru with a dog in their car, 80 percent of these owners have ordered a menu selection for Rover.Men were found to go to fast food restaurants with their dogs twice as often as women, while people between 18-34 did this more often than any other age group.As for the most popular fast food restaurants to visit with a dog, McDonald's was first. with Burger King and Wendy's at second and third, respectively.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Kids Today Have Cellphones, Says Study

Kids Today Have Cellphones, Says StudyiStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — At the turn of the century, you might not have yet bought yourself a cellphone. Today, practically every kid in America has one.In a survey by coupon brand vouchercloud.net of nearly 2,300 adults with at least one child between the ages of 11 and 16, it's revealed that the average age for a youngster to own their first cellphone is six years old.As for the reasons why they want their children to own this mobile device, almost a third of surveyed parents said for security reasons; one in four said they wanted their children to stay in contact with family and friends; and a fifth of parents admitted that it was because they believed their children should keep up with their classmates at school who own a cellphone.When parents were asked which technology items were owned by their children, 96 percent owned a cellphone.Meanwhile, 83 percent of kids had their own TV/sound system and 75 percent owned a tablet, while hand-held game consoles, eReaders and game consoles followed.The average amount spent on all electronic items for youngsters was estimated at $462.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apple’s iOS 8.3 Update Is Here and Includes Diverse Emoji

Apple’s iOS 8.3 Update Is Here and Includes Diverse Emoji Apple(NEW YORK) --  On Wednesday, Apple rolled out iOS 8.3, the third major update for iOS 8 -- giving users access to emoji that are more representative of Apple's diverse user base.The update includes emoji that allow users to choose between six different skin tones, same-sex couples and families and flags from even more countries, allowing people to show their pride.The Unicode Consortium, which sets the standard for emoji for many technology companies, last November released a plan to have more diverse emoji in the group's 2015 update."Apple supports and cares deeply about diversity, and is working with The Unicode Consortium to update the standard so that it better represents diversity for all of us," an Apple spokesperson told ABC News in February while the update was in beta testing.Other updates include a smarter Siri, who can now serve speakers of Russian, Danish, Dutch, Thai, Swedish, Turkish and Portuguese for users set to those languages.Not only is Siri even more multi-lingual, but she can also now start a phone call on speaker phone, making it even easier to chat with someone while you're on the move.The update is compatible for the iPhone 4S and later, various iPads and the fifth-generation iPod Touch. To find out if your device is eligible for the over-the-air update, go to settings, general and then tap software update. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wall Street Posts Gains After Fed Minutes Show Possible Slower Increase in Interest Rates

Wall Street Posts Gains After Fed Minutes Show Possible Slower Increase in Interest Rates tarabird/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the minutes from the most recent meeting of the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee hinting that increased interest rates may be implemented more slowly, the market closed an up-and-down day with gains.The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 26.69 to a close of 17,902.11.The Nasdaq finished the session up 40.59 at 4,950.82, while the S&P 500 finished trading at 2,081.87, 5.54 higher than its open.The FOMC met last month to discuss, among other things, the eventual increase of interest rates. Rates have remained low since December 2008.The minutes of that meeting, released Wednesday, showed that while some felt the increase could come in June, others felt that the economy may not support such an increase until 2016. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Chipotle on Why There’s No ‘Quick Fix’ for Carnitas Shortage

Chipotle on Why There’s No ‘Quick Fix’ for Carnitas Shortage iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Chipotle said in January that it wasn't sure how long its "carnitas" shortage would last, and on Wednesday, it's acknowledging there's no "quick fix" to the problem, partly because it takes six months to raise a pig, a spokesman for Chipotle said.Back in January, the company announced that it pulled one of its major pork suppliers because its audits discovered it wasn't adhering to the restaurant chain's protocols. Since then, the company has asked its other suppliers for more pork and tried different cuts of pig.The pork dearth has stayed relatively consistent since then, with about a third of Chipotle restaurants without pork for its "carnitas" menu option today, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told ABC News.“If there’s [no] pork we [can] get from somewhere else, there’s not a button we can push to get more," Arnold said.At least two things need to happen for Chipotle to obtain more pork, or for pork producers to produce more, Arnold said. First, producers have to be able to sell the pork from animals at a price that allows them to raise pigs to Chipotle's standards and cover higher costs.The world's biggest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, based in Virginia, said it no longer produces antibiotic-free meat, which Chipotle asks its suppliers to do."We have produced antibiotic-free product lines in the past, but have since discontinued the product due to low market demand at a price point that sufficiently compensated producers for increased costs," Smithfield's director of corporate communications, Kathleen Kirkham, told ABC News.Another reason there's no "quick fix" to the shortage is it takes at least six months to raise a pig for pork, Arnold said."Even if we were in the position to buy a whole animal, which we don’t do because the economics don’t work, there isn’t a way to stimulate production that quickly," Arnold said.But don't fret, carnitas fans. No single restaurant stays without the menu item for too long, Arnold said, because the company is rotating the shortage through its restaurants.A restaurant could be out of "carnitas" for two to four weeks, and then have it for six to eight weeks, before the rotating pork wagon moves on. Besides, chicken is still the most popular protein at Chipotle restaurants by a "good margin," Arnold said, while carnitas only accounts for about 6 to 7 percent of the restaurant's entree, or protein, sales. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Skype Translator Now Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Italian

Skype Translator Now Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Italian Skype(NEW YORK) -- Skype Translator has made a huge stride closer to its goal of allowing everyone in the world to be able to converse with each other through technology, regardless of the languages they speak.Four months after a preview of the project was launched supporting English and Spanish, Microsoft-owned Skype on Wednesday announced it was adding Mandarin and Italian to the list of languages available.Mandarin has been a long time coming for Skype and is one of the first languages the company tested when it began working on its translator project, according to a blog post.Steve Clayton, the chief storyteller at Microsoft, told ABC News last year that Skype Translator is one of his "dream" projects."My mother-in-law is Chinese. In the 25 years I have known her, we've exchanged about six words," he said."My dream feature is to get to speak to my mother-in-law, which some people wouldn't say is a dream feature," he quipped. "But for me, it turns out it is a dream feature."While Skype Translator is still in preview, people are invited to sign up and put it to the test. The program relies on machine learning, which means the more people use it, the smarter and more precise it will get.Skype's long-term goal is even more ambitious. The company plans to "translate as many languages as possible on all relevant platforms" creating what will essentially become a real-life Star Trek-style translator. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How RadioShack Could Become Convenience Store for Electronics

How RadioShack Could Become Convenience Store for Electronics RadioShack(NEW YORK) — Now that a bankruptcy court has approved a hedge fund's takeover of RadioShack, the company may be rebranding itself as a sort of convenience store for consumer electronics.With the blessing from a court in Delaware last week, Standard General is keeping open about 1,740 of RadioShack's 4,000 stores, most of which will be co-branded with Sprint. The new strategy is described as a "bodega for batteries," according to the Washington Post, including what the newspaper says is some of the company's biggest sellers: hearing aid batteries.Anthony Chukumba, a senior research analyst with BB&T Capital Markets who no longer covers RadioShack, said he has doubts about the new strategy that are akin to the doubts he had when RadioShack was a publicly-traded company."The idea of a convenience store for consumer electronics is interesting, or different, I guess, but ultimately the ultimate convenience store is the Internet," Chukumba said. "What’s more convenient than not leaving your couch?"And besides that RadioShack's prices were not competitive with those of the Internet, there are other reasons Chukumba said he is "not optimistic."First, RadioShack is still operating in a competitive industry landscape, and even more than in the past. Chukumba points to "a reinvigorated" Best Buy and aggressive Amazon, Walmart and Target plus other online competition.“The parts of the business that you think are unsexy are the ones that are doing great,” Soohyung Kim, Standard General's managing partner, told the New York Times. “And the parts that you’d think are cool, the smartphones and the prime [retail] locations -- horrendous.”Standard General and RadioShack did not respond to requests for comment."With Standard General running and tweaking it, the competitive dynamics haven’t changed and certainly haven’t gotten better," Chukumba said.Second, RadioShack's business had effectively declined because of the smartphone."People don’t buy as many digital cameras or MP3 devices, and that hasn’t changed either," he said.Chukumba said RadioShack's one potential "saving grace" is that it will be a single phone carrier with Sprint, as opposed to supporting AT&T and Verizon."Sprint needs retail distribution and Sprint clearly has a very strong balance sheet, so they can afford to invest in these stores," he said.With the investment from Sprint, RadioShack will have more marketing support.But while he said that's beneficial, he said he's still "not terribly optimistic that this strategy is going to yield significantly different results than the prior strategy."Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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