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kzenon/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) — The winning lottery ticket for a $63 million jackpot possibly sits forgotten in someone’s desk drawer or glove compartment.

The deadline for the winner to claim the money for the “Super Lotto Plus,” and become a millionaire, is Thursday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. Russ Lopez, deputy director of corporate communications for the California Lottery, told ABC News that 5 p.m. is a hard deadline, and after that it will be too late to claim the jackpot.

“We have unclaimed money all the time, on an average it’s about $20 million a year. People just forget they bought a ticket. They misplace it. It’s not on their mind. We want people to immediately sign the back of their ticket and then put it somewhere important that they will remember,” Lopez told ABC News.

The $63 million unclaimed ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven located at 20871 Lassen Street in Chatsworth, California, lotto officials said, noting the winning numbers were 46-1-33-30-16 and the Mega number 24.
The unclaimed money does not go to waste if a winner does not come forward.

“According to the Lottery Act, all unclaimed prizes automatically go to California public schools,” Lopez said. “The Lottery money is largely unrestricted. That means that schools can use it for non-mandated programs such as computer labs and workbooks.”

“We’re talking about California with about 1,100 K-to-12 school districts and each district has many schools. According to our law, we have to equally divide that money to every school so that money becomes very modest. Last year, we gave $1.39 billion, but after it’s divided up between schools, it’s very modest so our public schools and our teachers still need a lot of help.”

As the clock ticks down on the deadline to win the $63 million, Lopez addressed reports that the California Lottery denied the prize to a person who claimed to have the winning ticket.

“We want people to win and we want people to get their prize money. It’s good for our business. We want people to win their prizes,” Lopez said. “If we deny them, it is because we have done a very thorough investigation.”

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stu99/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) — The markets moved higher as investors anticipate the government’s latest jobs report due out on Friday.

The Dow closed up 80 points while the NASDAQ rose five points. The S&P added three points for the day.

More people filed for unemployment last week but economists are not worried. They say the overall number is still historically low which is a positive sign for the job market.

The January employment numbers are set to be released on Friday morning. Economists say it could offer insight about the economy and determine whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again when it meets next month.

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izustun/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) — A blunt statement released from the United States on Thursday says Russia and the Syrian regime “have clearly signaled the intention to seek a military solution rather than enable a political one.”

The Office of the Special Envoy for Syria released a statement regarding the suspension of Syria negotiations going on in Geneva. In the statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “We call upon the regime and its supporters to halt their bombardment of opposition-held areas, especially in Aleppo, and to lift their besiegement of civilians in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 2165, 2254 and 2258.”

In the interim, Secretary Kerry urged that “the world needs to push in one direction — toward stopping the oppression and suffering of the Syrian people and ending, not prolonging, the conflict.”

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U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement(NEW YORK) — The Department of Homeland Security carried out raids this week ahead of the Super Bowl in an ongoing effort to block counterfeit sports apparel and merchandise that is smuggled into the country, principally from China.

“Make no bones about it, this is smuggling,” said Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Center Director Bruce Foucart.

Over the past year, investigators seized more than 440,000 sports-related items worth an estimated $39 million as a part of its “Operation Team Player,” a coordinated effort between the IPR Center and professional sports teams.

That’s 100,000 items more than last year, according to numbers released Thursday by the IPR Center.
The year-long operation, carried out by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and its partners, also resulted in the arrest of 41 people and 35 convictions.

In San Francisco, where Super Bowl 50 is taking place, the agency recently made 220 seizures of counterfeit goods worth $1.5 million.

Over the past week there, special agents from HSI and Customs and Border Protection, along with local law enforcement and the worked together to track down street vendors, flea markets and retail outlets selling counterfeit goods.

“Criminals selling counterfeit goods often use big events like the Super Bowl to trick consumers into buying high-priced, low-quality fakes,” said David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center in a statement Thursday about this week’s seizures.

Fake jerseys, hats and cellphone accessories were among the thousands of items they seized.
However, selling counterfeit items is often a “low risk, high reward” business, so criminals turn to it to fund other illegal activities, said Foucart.

“We certainly have a lot of criminals here that try to take advantage,” he said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. now estimates that the number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria has decreased to between 19,000 and 25,000 resulting from battlefield deaths and a reduced flow of foreign fighters into Syria. Yet, as ISIS numbers have been reduced in Iraq and Syria, they have increased in Libya to 5,000 where ISIS has seen an increased flow of foreign fighters, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Previous U.S. estimates for Iraq and Syria in the past year have been that ISIS has remained constant at between 20,000 and 30,000, with a peak of 33,000, according to a Defense Department official.

Thousands of ISIS fighters were killed by American airstrikes in Kobani, Syria more than a year ago, and despite battlefield losses in the Iraqi cities of Bayji and Ramadi, U.S. intelligence continued to assess that the numbers of ISIS fighters had remained constant, the Defense Department official said.

The new lower estimate for Iraq and Syria could be due to a combination of factors, such as coalition airstrikes, battlefield deaths, desertions, disciplinary actions, recruiting shortfalls and difficulties that foreign fighters face in traveling into Syria, the official said. It also could be that the U.S. intelligence community has a better handle on counting ISIS numbers.

The number of ISIS fighters in Libya was previously estimated at 2,000 to 3,000, the official said, speculating that there might be a correlation between the new ISIS estimates in Iraq/Syria and Libya as it’s getting harder for foreign fighters to get into Syria and that they may be diverting to Libya as a result.

The increasing ISIS presence in Libya has drawn increasing concern from American security officials.

Two weeks ago, the National Security Council discussed how the U.S. could target ISIS in Libya, though no military options were presented. Officials say those meetings looked at ways the U.S. could work with international partners against ISIS in Libya and supporting a new unity government. Future U.S. military options could result in airstrikes targeting against ISIS and possible support for militias opposed to ISIS, though no decisions were made.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Taxpayers filing their taxes online could face serious delays in getting a refund.

An unspecified number of online tax processing systems, including the “Where’s My Refund” tool, were down on Wednesday as a result of a “hardware failure,” the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said in a statement.

“The IRS is still assessing the scope of the outage,” the agency said in a statement on Wednesday. “At this time, the IRS does not anticipate major refund disruptions; we continue to expect that 9 out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days.”

A spokesperson for the IRS would not release further details.

Busy Time of the Year

The IRS told ABC News that it would not be able to release the filing numbers for this tax season, but according to previously released figures on the IRS site, the first week of February is a relatively busy time for e-filing.

In 2014, 26.1 million people filed online during the week of Feb. 7. That number increased to 26.5 million during the week of Feb. 6, 2015.

In 2015, $66.1 billion in refunds were issued during the week of Feb. 6.

Those numbers mark a significant increase from the week prior. Only 10.4 million returns were filed online during the week of Jan. 31, 2014 and 13.3 million were filed during the week of Jan. 30, 2015.

Getting It Fixed

When the outage was announced on Wednesday, the IRS said in a statement that its site would be down through Thursday. No additional information was given.

What to Do in the Meantime

The IRS said taxpayers can still file their tax returns and send the forms to e-filing providers while the systems are down.

The e-file companies will hold onto the tax returns they receive until they are able to file electronically when the systems are back up, the IRS said.

H&R Block said in a statement to ABC News that the company’s systems have not been impacted by the IRS hardware failure.

“We will submit returns to the IRS when it is ready to resume accepting e-filed returns. H&R Block clients who have provided their e-mail address will automatically receive an e-mail notification when their tax return has been accepted by the IRS,” according to the statement.

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iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) — In a rare move, a court in Jerusalem doled out very strict sentences to two Jewish teenagers who carried out the gruesome murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy in 2014.

One of the teens faces life in prison, and the other faces 21 years behind bars. A third convicted Israeli is awaiting sentencing due to an insanity plea.

The three Jewish extremists kidnapped Mohammed Abu Khadeir and took him to the Jerusalem Forest. That’s where they doused him with gasoline and burned him to death.

Khadeir’s grisly murder shocked the country and contributed to the outbreak of the 2014 Gaza War.

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NASA/JPL-Caltech(NEW YORK) — NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft successfully fired its thrusters on Wednesday and adjusted its path as it nears a rendezvous with Jupiter set for five months from now.

“This is the first of two trajectory adjustments that fine tune Juno’s orbit around the sun, perfecting our rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4th at 8:18 p.m. PDT [11:18 p.m. EDT],” Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator, said in a statement.

Juno is about 51 million miles from the largest planet in our solar system – and about 425 million miles from Earth, according to NASA.

The four-ton space probe was launched in 2011 and is equipped with three 30-foot-long solar arrays, along with 18,696 individual solar cells, to help it make the most of the solar power it receives on its journey.

Once it reaches Jupiter, Juno will orbit the planet a total of 33 times, coming as close as 3,100 feet above its cloud tops. NASA hopes the mission will help scientists learn more about Jupiter’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

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Courtesy Mueller Family(NEW YORK) — The family of slain ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller on Thursday honored the life of the young woman from Arizona and called on Americans to remember “those lives lost in terrorism and those still missing and held against their will.”

“It was one year ago this week ISIS announced the death of our only daughter, sister and friend, 26-year-old Kayla Jean Mueller after 18 months of forced captivity,” Mueller’s parents said in a statement provided to ABC News. “Kayla was given a special heart and mind not to only see suffering in its many forms but to reach out and find a way to help those God placed before her. Never deterred, yet always determined to help where she could, Kayla is honored today and always through various efforts.”

“We do not know why she was taken from us, but her uncrushable spirit and her compassionate heart, her unwavering desire to help others through peace and justice will be with us always and will lead us to the truth. We believe and will always say: ‘Kayla should be here,’” they said.

The Syria-based terror group ISIS announced Mueller’s death in early February 2015, a claim confirmed by President Obama with “profound sadness” days later. ISIS claimed Mueller had been killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike, but U.S. officials disputed that at the time.

Months later, U.S. officials told ABC News they believed that Mueller had been repeatedly sexually abused by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while being held captive in the home of another high-level ISIS figure.

Mueller, from Prescott, Arizona, was kidnapped in August 2013 after leaving a Spanish Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria, according to information provided by a family spokesperson.

She had graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2009 and “has devoted her career to helping those in need in countries around the world,” the family spokesperson said after her death was confirmed.

Mueller told her town’s local newspaper, The Daily Courier, she felt called to help those suffering the most in the midst of the Syrian conflict.

“For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal,” she said in the May 2013 report. “[I will not let this be] something we just accept… It’s important to stop and realize what we have, why we have it and how privileged we are. And from that place, start caring and get a lot done.”

Mueller’s parents said on Thursday: “In honoring Kayla we also ask that you remember those lives lost in terrorism and those still missing and held against their will. Kayla would want us to lift up and celebrate all those who have been freed and their families. She would want us to honor all those who have served our country so that we may be free. We must never forget those who have sacrificed their lives, the wounded still trying to get their lives back, and their families and friends.”

“Our hearts break for Kayla and all that happened, but we know from her letters that God was with her and she is with God,” they continued. “Her letters were such a gift to us — just like our ‘Special K’ to send us what we would need to carry on. She was a remarkable young lady who always looked to see what she could do to make this world a better place.”

Mueller’s parents said the “heartbreaking story” of their efforts to bring Mueller home and of the people who helped and “hindered” them “will be told.” The Muellers did not go into detail about who had “hindered” them, but U.S. officials have come under fire from the families of other hostages over U.S. hostage policy.

The family spokesperson said that several charitable efforts are ongoing in Mueller’s name, including The Kayla’s Hands Foundation and the Prescott Kiwanis Foundation, which is working to build a playground in Mueller’s name.

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Ricardo Botelho/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images(BRASILIA, Brazil) — As the Zika virus outbreak continues, including in wide swaths of Central and South America, concerns are growing, especially for pregnant women because the mosquito-borne virus has been linked with a serious birth defect called microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain.

On Wednesday, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said in a televised address that the virus has moved from a “distant nightmare” to a “real threat.”

She told residents that the government is working on a vaccine, but that right now mosquito prevention is the best course of action.

Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and health care workers were called up to help stop the Zika outbreak. Soldiers have been going door to door in hard-hit areas to look for standing water where mosquitoes could breed. More than a million people in Brazil are believed to have been infected with the virus since it was first found in the country last year.

This week, the popular Carnival festival will start across Brazil, bringing in many tourists to the country.

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