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    Are waiters and waitresses slowly being replaced?

    More and more tablets are appearing on restaurant tables. Is it good or bad?

    For some reason I’m addicted to the show "Bar Rescue."

    If you haven’t seen the show, it stars bar expert Jon Taffer, who has been responsible for opening or rejuvenating hundreds of bars around the world.

    In each episode a different bar owner calls on Taffer to help turn around his or her failing business. From there, Taffer makes the necessary changes to get the bar back on its feet, which usually includes changing the entire look of the bar and sometimes its name.

    In addition, Taffer usually modernizes the bar by giving it new gadgets and devices so it’s easier for the staff to do their jobs.

    In a couple of episodes Taffer provided each table with its own tablet, so customers could order directly from where they’re sitting, without having to interact with a waiter or waitress.

    And this new way of ordering food is not only popping up in many bars, it’s popping up in restaurants too, so there’s a good chance that ordering food from an actual person may be a thing of the past.


    Take, for example, the Presto touch-screen tablet that allows customers to view menus and order items with just a few swipes and presses. Customers can pay for their meals too, without having to wait for a paper check to arrive.

    Rajat Suri, the creator of the Presto touch-screen told Bloomberg Businessweek that people want faster service these days and pretty much want to bring the convenience of the Internet into the restaurant experience.

    “People have been changed by the Internet and expect faster speeds of service and access to information,” he said. “This technology makes it strictly better to attend a restaurant.”

    Another convenience of the Presto and other tablets like it is the fact that customers can view big bold images of their food before ordering it, which paper menus simply can’t provide. Many times people like to see what the menu items are since it helps them make a decision a little faster. 

    But Suri wasn’t the only person who jumped on the restaurant tablet craze.

    Companies like E Menu, TouchBistro, MenuPad, OwnPoint of Sale and Menupad have all created ways for people to interact with waiters and waitresses less.

    Many restaurant tablets display menus in multiple languages, so people will be able to view and order things regardless of the language they speak. In addition, many of the tablets come with an app that you can download, so you can stay abreast of future restaurant promotions and deals.

    Play games

    Ziosk is another company that makes restaurant tablets, and its devices allow customers to order food and play games until the food arrives. The cost of each game is usually 99 cents, which gets added to the bill at the end of each meal.

    Perhaps some might say that interacting with a server is a big part of the restaurant experience and using a tablet to order and pay for food lessens that experience a little.

    However, Charlie Ayers, who owns the restaurant Calafia, in Palo Alto, Calif., says tablets don’t take away from the dining-out experience, they add to it by allowing people to get their food faster, in case they have other places to go.

    “It’s the future,” he said in a interview. “People say it’s very inhospitable. But it’s the epitome of hospitality. It empowers the guest to get in and to get out.”

    But is that why people really go to restaurants, to quickly get in and out?

    Some might say people go to restaurants to slow down a bit and enjoy a new dish, as well as any ambiance an establishment may provide.

    Furthermore, others may not like the fact that many servers could lose their jobs, which is a great possibility, similar to the way many store cashiers have been replaced by digital checkout kiosks.

    And there could be security issues when customers use restaurant tablets.

    Credit card information could be compromised if businesses don’t take the right steps to protect you. And even then your information could still be stolen, because many times as a new gadget is created,  a new scheme to steal information from that gadget is created too.

    Human interaction

    And what about human interaction?

    Some people enjoy the server who may be funny or personable. And having a server who can give you their personal opinion about a particular dish can be helpful too.

    But according to Suri, restaurant tablets are not only here to stay, consumers will probably see more of them as time passes.

    Tablets are “propelling the restaurant industry into the Internet age,” he says.

    But Suri also believes that servers won’t be totally replaced. Consumers will just have another way to order and pay for their food.

    “We’re not totally replacing human interaction. This doesn’t prevent you from talking to a server. But now you have two options,” he said.

    For some reason I’m addicted to the show "Bar Rescue."If you haven’t seen the show, it stars bar expert Jon Taffer, who has been responsible ...

    Report: FDA jittery about caffeinated chewing gum

    Wrigley's new entry brings attention to a previously obscure niche

    Caffeinated chewing gum has existed in relative obscurity for a long time, but when Wrigley  announced in March that it was getting in on the game with its new Alert gum, things started happening.

    Competitors scrambled to get their names into the stories about Wrigley, but now they may wish they hadn't. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking at the effects of caffeine on children and, more specifically, whether chewing gum increases the risks of caffeine overdoses in kids, Bloomberg News reported.

    The FDA has also been looking sternly at energy drinks like those from Monster and Living Essentials following reports of deaths and hospitalizations involving children and teens.

    Not targeted to teens

    Wrigley, part of the Mars candy empire, says the new gum, Alert Energy, is being targeted at the 25-and-up market and will not be associated with existing brands like Doublemint.

    "Alert Energy Caffeine Gum is an energy product for adults who consume caffeine for energy and are looking for a portable solution that lets them control their caffeine intake," the company says on its website.

    Could be, but that's not likely to allay the suspicions of people like Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) who have been pressing the FDA to convene an expert panel to study the effects of caffeine on children.

    "Consuming large quantities of caffeine can have serious health consequences, including caffeine toxicity, stroke, anxiety, arrhythmia, and in some cases death," Durbin said in an April 2012 letter to the FDA. "Young people are especially susceptible to suffering adverse effects because energy drinks market to youth, their bodies are not accustomed to caffeine, and energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and stimulating additives that may interact when used in combination,” wrote Durbin.

    “The glossy marketing tailored to youth has worked -- 30 to 50 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks,” Durbin said. His letter calling for an investigation came after he learned of the death a 14 year-old girl from Maryland, Anais Fournier, who died in December 2011 of a cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity after drinking two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks in a 24-hour period.

    Durbin and Blumenthal have been critical of the FDA's response to their requests, saying the agency is not paying enough attention to the unique characteristics of children.

    "While we recognize the FDA’s efforts to assess caffeine consumption in the United States, young people are not small adults.  Therefore determinations on the safety of caffeine should not be based solely on healthy adults," Durbin said in a follow-up letter in September 2012. "We ask the FDA to include adolescents and children in their assessment of the safety risks posed by consuming high levels of caffeine, such as those in energy drinks."

    Not a new idea

    Wrigley and other companies have been producing caffeinated gum for years but distribution has been limited mostly to the military and other specialized markets. In 1998, it came up with a cinnamon-flavored caffeine gum intended for the military, the idea being to give combat troops a highly portable source of caffeine.

    Although it is effective at delivering caffeine, the gum has a somewhat bitter taste. Wrigley is now trying to turn that into an asset.

    Wrigley officials are hoping the slightly bitter taste is a reminder to customers that Alert is a gum with a purpose, not a sweet treat. No doubt the company is also hoping the taste discourages teens from abusing the gum.  

    The company said a pack of Alert will sell for about $2.99 and will contain eight pieces, each packing about 40 milligrams of caffeine. That's about half the amount in an eight-ounce cup of coffee.

    Caffeinated chewing gum has existed in relative obscurity for a long time, but when the Wrigley chewing gum folks announced in March that they we...

    Stay-at-home spouses to get credit card application break

    Reliance on 'accessible income' would now be considered for credit card applications

    Spouses or partners who do not work outside the home may soon have an easier time qualifying for credit cards.

    An amendment proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) would let credit card issuers consider income that a stay-at-home applicant, who is 21 or older, shares with a spouse or partner.

    “Stay-at-home spouses or partners who have access to resources that allow them to make payments on a credit card can now get their own cards,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. He called the new rule “an example of the Bureau’s commitment to working with consumers and financial institutions in order to ensure responsible access to credit for American families.”

    Changing the CARD Act

    The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act), which became law in 2009, requires that card issuers evaluate a consumer’s ability to pay before opening a new credit card account or increasing a credit limit. Under current regulations, a card issuer generally may only consider the individual card applicant’s independent income or assets.

    Those in the industry have provided information suggesting that otherwise credit-worthy individuals have been declined for credit card accounts, even though they have the ability to manage the debt. According to the data, a significant number of these individuals may be stay-at-home spouses or partners with access to income from an employed spouse or partner.

    The revision allows card issuers to consider third-party income if the applicant, who is 21 or older. has a reasonable expectation of access to it. Although the new rule applies to all such applicants regardless of marital status, the CFPB expects it will ease access to credit particularly for stay-at-home spouses or partners who have access to a working spouse or partner’s income.

    According to data from the U.S Census Bureau, more than 16 million married people do not work outside the home. That equates to approximately one out of every three married couples who now may have easier access to credit cards as a result of the amendment.

    Spouses or partners who do not work outside the home may soon have an easier time qualifying for credit cards. An amendment proposed by the Consumer Fina...

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      More women are getting upper arm surgery

      Surgeons say celebrities are to blame

      In today’s society it seems that celebrities have a tremendous amount of influence on folks.

      Whether it’s an influence on how people style their hair or an influence on how they dress, some people will shell out big bucks to look like their favorite celebrity.

      But some people just don’t stop at fashion or hair styles when it comes to looking like their favorite famous person, some will go under the knife and make a permanent change to their faces or bodies through plastic surgery.

      Today, it’s happening with a lot of women, as an increasing number choose to get arm lifts.

      According to new statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) the number of women getting upper arm lifts has increased by a whopping 4,378% between the years 2000 and 2012.

      An upper arm lift can either include a surgical procedure called brachioplasty or it can be done through liposuction.

      The big screen

      David Reath, MD, ASPS’s Public Education Committee Chair, says famous people have a tremendous influence on what we think we should look like.

      “I think we are always affected by the people that we see consistently, either on the big screen or on TV,” he said. “We see them and think, ‘Yeah, I’d like to look like that.’”

      And yeah is right, as 300 women received upper arm lifts in 2000 compared to 15,000 women who got the procedure done in 2012.

      When women were recently polled about which celebrities influenced them the most to get upper arm lifts, First Lady Michelle Obama came in first.

      “Women have probably been affected in terms of their perception of the beauty or esthetics of the arms as much by our First Lady Michelle Obama as anybody else,” said Reath.

      “This does get women thinking about how can I improve my arms. How can I look like the First Lady or someone else they may have seen. Either it’s an athlete or a celebrity in other ranks.”

      And who is the proper candidate for an upper arm lift?

      Not for everyone

      Reath says the procedure is not for everyone and only people who have excess skin should get it. Not people who believe their arms are a little bit flabby.

      “I think a brachioplasty is for a select group of people and that is people who have a significant amount of excess skin of the upper arm,” he says. “It’s not for somebody who’s just got a little bit of looseness or a little bit of excess fat.”

      “If you have somebody who is expecting a different outcome than you can give them or is expecting that there’s not going to be a scar, when in fact there will be one or expects the scar to go away, which it will never do although it will improve, that might not be a good candidate.”

      Weight loss

      Natalie Robinson of Knoxville, Tenn., recently lost over 100 pounds, but she still wasn’t satisfied with the appearance of her arms, so she went with a brachioplasty, according to the ASPS.

      Before Robinson got the surgery, she said her arms still reminded her of what she used to look like before losing weight.

      “There was a reminder of that heavier person and you just couldn’t get rid of it,” she said. “It was just something else to worry about.”

      Reath says that people should try exercising and eating properly to achieve the look they want, but for some exercise and proper diet just aren’t enough.

      “We are genetically programmed to have different accumulations of fat in different areas, and for some women the arms can be a problem area, he says. "The arms are a very noticeable area and if excessive fat and skin are an issue, they tend to look more out of proportion than the rest of the body.”

      What to do

      For those who are considering getting brachioplasty or liposuction, they should think long and hard, because there are some sacrifices they’ll have to make, especially if they opt for the brachioplasty.

      “It’s a trade-off,” says Reath. “We get rid of the skin, but we leave a scar. So as long as there’s enough improvement to be made in the shape of the arm to justify the scar, then it’s a great procedure.”

      In addition, Reath says a successful upper arm surgery has everything to do with matching up the procedure with the right person.

      “Success for an operation like this comes from selecting the right patient and making sure that patient has the right expectations,” he said. “You have to have enough there to make a difference."

      Robinson said it made a difference for her and if she had to do it all over again, she would still go ahead with the procedure.

      “I’m very happy,” she said. “It was well worth the investment. I’d do it again.”

      If you are considering getting an upper arm lift, it’s extremely important to make sure you’re the right candidate and if a plastic surgeon isn’t asking you the right questions, you probably want to look for another one.

      You certainly don’t want a plastic surgeon who takes on patients willy-nilly.

      Moreover, you should always remember there are risks associated with any surgery, regardless of how big or small. And your decision to get any procedure done should come with a lot of personal research and seeking out the proper medical advice.

      In today’s society it seems that celebrities have a tremendous amount of influence on folks.Whether it’s an influence on how people style the...

      The benefits of exercise go beyond weight loss

      Exercise can lower blood pressure, help your cholesterol count and improve your heart-lung function

      It's an article of faith that exercise is good or you, but have you every stopped to ask yourself why? The answers are varied and may not be as obvious as you might think.

      Most people exercise – and spend billions of dollars doing so – to lose or control weight. While regular exercise will help with weight control, it's really only a small part of that equation. It takes a lot of exercise to burn calories. Good nutrition and controlling calorie intake plays a bigger role in weight control.

      The best reason to get exercise is to improve overall health, and here there are many benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can ward off heart disease, prevent high blood pressure and boost the level of “good” cholesterol relative to “bad” cholesterol.

      Doctors say a lifestyle that includes regular exercise can also reduce the chances of stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and even arthritis. There's also evidence it can reduce some cancer risks.

      Reduced cancer risk

      Researchers in the Netherlands last week reported results of tests using laboratory mice that showed regular exercise to be effective at reducing liver cancer.

      "We know that modern, unhealthy lifestyles predispose people to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which may lead to liver cancer; however it's been previously unknown whether regular exercise reduces the risk of developing HCC (liver cancer),” said Prof. Jean-Francois Dufour of EASL, a European scientific society. “This research is significant because it opens the door for further studies to prove that regular exercise can reduce the chance of people developing HCC."

      For some time, doctors have prescribed regular exercise for people at risk for developing cancer. But controlling weight and preventing serious disease aren't the only benefits of exercise.

      Regular exercise can improve your mood and relieve stress. Physical activity stimulates chemicals in your brain that make you relaxed and happier. And because it also helps you control your weight, you may have more self-confidence.

      Even though exercise causes you to burn energy, you seem to end up with more energy when it's done. Regular exercise builds muscle strength and endurance and causes your cardiovascular system to work more efficiently.

      Have trouble sleeping at night? Doctors say you may have less trouble if you get some regular exercise. Exercise causes you to fall asleep faster and and sleep more soundly. It can even perk up your sex life.

      Economic benefits

      Aside from all these health and lifestyle benefits there is also a financial benefit. Consider that consumers spend billions on pills to perk up their sex lives, sleep better, boost their energy and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. A healthy lifestyle, then, has the added benefit of saving money.

      But what about the expense of a gym membership? Doesn't it cost money to get exercise? It can but it doesn't have to. For the cost of a pair of sneakers you can go jogging. If your knees aren't quite up to that, then you can walk.

      "Walking is the most accessible form of physical activity available to people," said Michigan State University researcher Mathew Reeves.

      Reeves led a team of researchers in a recent study that found people who walk their dogs were 34 percent more likely to be considered “physically active,” when measured using current federal benchmarks.

      "What we wanted to know was if dog owners who walked their dogs were getting more physical activity or if the dog-walking was simply a substitute for other forms of activity," he said.

      According to the data, dog walkers do indeed appear to be more active. Reeves says the results show that promoting dog ownership and dog walking could help many Americans -- of which fewer than half meet recommended levels of leisure-time physical activity -- become healthier.

      Decades ago Americans got more exercise because daily life demanded it. Today, most people engage in a sedentary lifestyle that is expanding waistlines and degrading health. Recent research suggests sitting for long periods should now be considered risky health behavior.

      It's an article of faith that exercise is good or you, but have you every stopped to ask yourself why? The answers are varied and may not be as obvious as ...

      Avoiding moving day disasters

      Picking a good moving company will take a lot of the stress out of moving day

      Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do. The choice of moving company can either add to the stress or lessen it a bit.

      There are three major issues when you choose a mover -- the final cost, the safe delivery of all your belongings, and maintaining a schedule. Any one of the three has the potential to turn your move into a nightmare if not handled correctly.

      Your move is probably going to cost more than you think. When a moving company representative visits your home and gives you a price for the move, the final cost to get your belongings delivered to your new home will almost always be higher.

      Dustin, of Beaux Bridge, La., was on a budget for his move and, after doing some research, contacted All You Can Move.

      Most quotes are not binding

      “I was given a quote based on 2,000 pounds at 45¢ per pound and was instructed that this was the most accurate way to pay since square footage is an estimate of about $7 per square foot and obviously a box of pillows weighs less than a box of books,” Dustin posted at ConsumerAffairs. “So my initial estimate was $1,170: $900 for the initial 2000 lbs, and the rest was made up of a $45 fuel charge, $75 elevator charge at my current residence and $150 stair charge at my final destination which is on the 3rd floor.”

      But the actual charge, he says, was 25% higher. It turns out that's not unusual. Dustin got a non-binding estimate. It was only an estimate of what the charges would be and moving company estimators, by and large, estimate low to beat the competition.

      Dustin could have asked for a binding estimate, requiring the moving company estimator to tell him exactly what the move would cost. He would then have gotten a not-to-exceed figure. It's almost a certainty that number would have been higher than the non-binding estimate.

      According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) a binding estimate must accurately describe what you are shopping and list all the services you are getting. If you requested additional services, like long carry charges, the company must bill you separately for these charges after the move. When the truck is unloaded, the moving company cannot charge you more than the binding estimate.

      Naturally, a binding estimate has to be in writing and given to you before the first item of furniture goes on the truck.

      Protecting property

      You also want to make sure the mover you hire will be careful with your property, not losing or damaging it while moving it from your old home to your new one. Marilyn, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., reports hiring Mayflower for her move, getting assurance that she would have two trucks and four men to load it.

      “One truck was sent and could not fit all the furniture,” she writes. “The movers had to pack our two cars and we had to make a half a dozen trips in our cars to unload everything we had until 11 pm at night. We were promised that mattresses and fragile things would be covered. Our mattress was handled by their bare hands with no cover. Damage was done to several pieces of furniture. We were overcharged for the move and when we turned in a form on the damage to the furniture, they are refusing to fix it.”

      Valuable and fragile items, needless to say, are best moved yourself.


      Scheduling is another critical consideration when making a move. In most cases the consumer must vacate one property on a specific date. When hiring a moving company you need to be sure they can accommodate your needs.

      Thelma, of Beaufort, S.C., says she hired Swift Movers Van Lines to move her from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. and was given a definite date for delivery.

      “I stressed the importance of a firm delivery date prior to leaving because my daughter and daughter-in-law were both requesting time off from work to help with the move,” Thelma wrote.

      But the trucks didn't arrive in South Carolina under several days after the promised delivery date. Thelma said another company representative told her that it was against company policy to guarantee exact delivery dates – that the person who told her they could do that was wrong. Perhaps so, but it didn't help Thelma to learn that after the fact.

      Choosing a moving company should not be done lightly. As a start, talk to friends and relatives who have moved recently. Find out what companies they liked and ones to avoid.

      Check the Internet. Sites like ConsumerAffairs have reviews of local and national movers and may help you avoid a stressful and costly mistake.

      One final thing. Under federal law every moving company is required to give you a booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” that spells out how moving companies are supposed to operate. If the moving company you are interviewing fails to give you that booklet, that should serve as a red flag.

      Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do. The choice of moving company can either add to the stress or lessen it a bit.There are three major...

      Home prices continue their rise

      Phoenix leads the way, while New York, Boston and Chicago lag

      Your home continues to become more valuable.

      According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, a leading measure of U.S. home prices, the 10- and 20-City composites rose 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively. from January to February. In addition, average home prices in the same composites increased 8.6% and 9.3% in the 12 months ending in February 2013.

      Phoenix continued to stand out with an impressive year-over-year return of +23.0% while Atlanta and Dallas had the highest annual growth rates in the history of these indices since 1992 and 2001, respectively.

      In 16 of the 20 cities, annual growth rates rose from the last month; Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix saw slight annual deceleration ranging from -0.1 to -0.4 percentage points. All 20 cities covered by the indices posted year-over-year increases for at least two consecutive months.

      “Home prices continue to show solid increases across all 20 cities,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The 10- and 20-City Composites recorded their highest annual growth rates since May 2006; seasonally adjusted monthly data show all 20 cities saw higher prices for two months in a row – the last time that happened was in early 2005.

      Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta were the four cities with the highest year-over-year price increases, with Atlanta recovering from a wave of foreclosures in 2012 while the other three were among the hardest hit in the housing collapse.

      At the other end of the rankings, three older cities -- New York, Boston and Chicago -- saw the smallest year-over-year price improvements.

      A bright spot

      “Despite some recent mixed economic reports for March, housing continues to be one of the brighter spots in the economy,” Blitzer noted. “The 2013 first quarter GDP report shows that residential investment accelerated from the 2012 fourth quarter and made a positive contribution to growth. One open question is the mix of single family and apartments; housing starts data show a larger than usual share is apartments.”

      The number of cities that posted positive monthly changes increased in February. Boston, Dallas, New York, Portland and San Diego are now among the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) posting month-over-month gains. Even though eight MSAs posted monthly declines, all twenty cities showed increases when compared to their February 2012 levels.

      Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa were the ten MSAs that continued to report double-digit year-over-year gains. San Diego and Tampa recorded their first months of double-digit annual increases of just over 10.0%.

      Your home continues to become more valuable. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, a leading measure of U.S. home prices, the 10- and 20-C...

      Cop claims his DUI firing violated disability rights

      Says alcoholism is protected by the law

      An Oregon police officer who was fired after he was arrested on DUI charges is now suing his former employer, claiming that they discriminated against him based on his alcoholism. He claims the termination is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

      Jason Servo, a former Gresham, Oregon police officer, was arrested in January 2011 after he crashed his car into a ditch.

      Servo, a detective and his department’s head firearms instructor, drove an unmarked police car to a firearms training program. He was off duty at the time. Afterwards, he went out for dinner and drinks with other officers. Servo was driving an unmarked police car at the time of the accident.

      Servo was known for aggressively investigating DUI cases and was credited with solving a 2006 fatal hit-and-run involving a drunken driver, The Oregonian reported. He was injured by a drunken driver in 2000, the newspaper reported.

      Arrested by deputy

      Servo was arrested by a Clackamas County, Oregon, sheriff’s deputy. When the deputy testified in front of Oregon’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, he said that Servo was "probably one of the top 10 most intoxicated people he had arrested in almost 15 years of drunken-driving investigations,” according to published reports.

      Ultimately, Servo pled guilty to the DUI and successfully completed a diversion program. After entering a rehabilitation center, Servo says he was diagnosed as an alcoholic and made the decision to get sober.

      "There were times where I went home and I couldn't get crime scenes out of my head; I went to drinking for that and there are other officers that do the same thing," Servo, who is now 818 days sober, was quoted as saying.

      ADA recognizes alcoholism

      Perhaps surprisingly, the ADA does recognize alcoholism as a disease, stating that:

      [A]n employer may not make job decisions based on the fact that an employee is an alcoholic, attends AA meetings, or takes medication to curb the urge to drink. However, an employer may prohibit drinking at work and may generally hold all employees to the same standards of performance and conduct.

      A FAQ page for the ADA states:

      While a current illegal user of drugs is not protected by the ADA if an employer acts on the basis of such use, a person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection. An alcoholic is a person with a disability and is protected by the ADA if s/he is qualified to perform the essential functions of the job.

      An employer may be required to provide an accommodation to an alcoholic. However, an employer can discipline, discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol adversely affects job performance or conduct. An employer also may prohibit the use of alcohol in the workplace and can require that employees not be under the influence of alcohol.

      An Oregon police officer who was fired after he was arrested on DUI charges is now suing his former employer, claiming that they discriminated against him ...

      "Pedacyclist" death rate surges in 2011

      Deaths were up 9% from the previous year

      Riding your bike is becoming more hazardous.

      Figures released by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that 677 "pedalcyclists," as NHTSA insists on calling them, were killed in 2011 -- 9% more than the 623 killed in 2010. Another 48,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.

      Pedalcyclist deaths accounted for 2% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities. In addition pedacyclists account for 2% of the people injured in traffic crashes during that year.

      Pedacyclists include bicyclists and other cyclists, including riders of two-wheel non-motorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals.

      Where, when and who

      Most 2011 pedalcyclist fatalities occurred in urban areas (69%) and at non-intersections (59%) between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7:59 p.m. The second highest number of fatalities, 142 (21%), occurred between the hours of 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. The fewest fatalities took place between midnight and 3:59 a.m.

      The average age of pedalcyclists killed in traffic crashes was 43, continuing the steady increase during the past 10 years in the average age of pedalcyclists killed and injured. Pedalcyclists ages 45–54 had the highest fatality rate (3.51) based on population, while the highest injury rate (380) occurred in the 16–20 age group.

      Those 16 and younger accounted for 10% of all pedalcyclists killed and 19% of all those injured in traffic crashes in 2011, compared with 23% of those killed and 39% of those injured in 2002.

      The vast majority of pedalcyclists killed or injured in 2011 were males (85% and 78%, respectively). The highest number of male fatalities was between the ages of 45–54 (130), and the most males injured were between 16–20 (6,000).

      The pedalcyclist fatality rate per capita was almost six times higher for males than for females, and the injury rate per capita was almost four times higher for males

      Alcohol a factor

      More than a quarter (28%) of the pedalcyclists killed in 2011 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher, and slightly fewer (23%) had a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. Alcohol-involvement -- either for the driver of a motor vehicle or the pedalcyclist -- was reported in more than 37% of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedalcyclist fatalities in 2011.

      In 31% of the crashes, either the driver or the pedalcyclist was reported to have a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. Lower alcohol levels (BAC .01 to .07 g/dL) were reported in 6% of the crashes

      State stats

      Among all states, fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2011 ranged from 3,016 (highest) to 27 (lowest) depending on the size and population of the State. Fatalities were highest in Florida (125), followed by California (114), and New York (57). There were no pedalcyclist fatalities in Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

      The proportion of pedalcyclist fatalities among total fatalities in states ranged from a high of 5.2% (Florida) to a low of 0.1% (Missouri and Oklahoma). The highest fatality rate per million population was in Florida (6.56) followed by Oregon (3.87).

      Riding your bike is becoming more hazardous. Figures released by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that 677 pedalcyclists were k...

      Study: Consumers strongly support higher mpg standards

      Car dealers are the only group still resisting the goal of 55 mpg by 2025

      Consumers are looking for better fuel efficiency in their cars and trucks and manufacturers are getting the message loud and clear even if car dealers are not, researchers from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) said today.

      A new CFA study found that 85% of Americans support the requirement that automakers achieve a fleetwide average of 55 miles per gallon by 2025 while 80% say fuel economy will be an important factor in their next vehicle purchase.

      The support for greater fuel economy extends across the political spectrum, with 77% of Republicans, 87% of Independents and 92% of Democrats saying they support the higher standard. Car dealers are the only organized group that has opposed it, the CFA researchers noted.

      Controversial claims

      Quizzed by ConsumerAffairs, CFA's Jack Gillis conceded that consumer confidence might be affected by controversies over manufacturers' fuel economy claims, like the lawsuits and consumer complaints challenging Ford's claim that its Fusion and C-Max hybrids get 47 miles per gallon.

      "I think that's always been a concern -- that people don't get what the EPA ratings claim they will get," Gillis said. "But recent developments in the testing progress by the EPA have resulted in a closer approximation of what the consumer can expect to get.

      "We think most consumers understand that the tests are best used on a comparison basis -- while the 37 miles per gallon car may not get you 37, it's going to be better than the 30 mpg vehicle," he said.

      Gillis added that the new labeling introduced in 2013 is "extra easy to understand and consumer-friendly." He said it provides a "better basis of competition among manufacturers."

      He noted that Hyundai's 2012 admission that it overstated mileage claims for its gas-powered vehicles didn't have an apparent impact on overall consumer confidence in mileage ratings.

      Overall, Gillis, CFA's director of public affairs, said that the dynamic of the American automobile marketplace today is towards more fuel efficiency.

      "If you see the TV ads, fuel economy is mentioned frequently. Go back ten years and you never saw it mentioned," he said at a news teleconference today.

      Four-cylinder engines

      The CFA report found the percentage of popular vehicles getting at least 30 mpg tripling over the last few years. Comparing popular 2009 models with 2013 models, the new analysis shows that the percentage of vehicles getting at least 30 mpg rose from 4% to 12%.

      Over the same time period, the percentage of popular vehicles getting at least 23 mpg rose from 30% to 56% and the percentage getting under 22 mpg fell from 70% to 44%.

      In part, this increasing mileage reflected the growing popularity of four-cylinder vehicles.  In 2005, less than 30% of the vehicles purchased had four-cylinder engines, and in 2012, nearly half of those purchased had four cylinders. 

      “What is remarkable is that improvements in engine efficiency, driven by the standards and consumer demand, resulted in a significant increase in four-cylinder vehicles with little compromise in performance,” said Mark Cooper, CFA’s Director of Research. Increasing mileage performance is also reflected in the growing sales of hybrid and electric vehicles, which have doubled in sales during the past four years to over half a million vehicles.

      The study did not look at diesel engines, the most popular fuel-saving choice in most European markets. 

      The Ford C-MaxConsumers are looking for better fuel efficiency in their cars and trucks and manufacturers are getting the message loud and clear even i...

      New home or existing home? Some things to consider

      In many area a new home may cost less

      When the housing market went into full meltdown mode in 2009, new home builders were hit hard. National and regional builders that had enjoyed explosive growth during the housing boom saw business dry up overnight.

      After all, the market was flooded with existing homes, many going for a song. Why buy a new home, which carries very real labor and material costs, when you could pick up an existing home at a bargain basement price? Besides, almost no one was buying a home anyway.

      So home building activity came to a screeching halt for a few years. When activity resumed, builders had learned how to be more competitive. The cost per square foot began to fall, to close the gap between new and existing homes.

      Over the last 18 months, prices for existing homes have begun to rise in most areas of the country, mainly because of a big drop in the number of available homes. Part of the reason home inventories declined, of course, is because of home builders' inactivity.

      New building boom

      Consumers rate DR Horton Homes

      But now construction crews have gotten busy again, meeting the new demand for homes. And home builders have become profitable again. Late last week home builder D.R. Horton reported second quarter earnings that delighted shareholders – income was up 236%, sales orders rose 34% and sales volume totaled $2 billion.

      Company chairman Donald R. Horton cites strong housing demand, plus the fact that the builder is able to deliver a house at an attractive price.

      “Our homes sold, closed and in backlog all increased by greater than 30% compared to the year-ago quarter, while the dollar values increased 52%, 47% and 76%, respectively,” he said. “With $250 million in pre-tax income through the first six months of the year, we have already exceeded our pre-tax profits for all of fiscal 2012.”

      Consumers shopping for a home may have discovered they can purchase a new home at a lower price than an existing one, when the price is measured on a square footage basis. One reason is the price of land. While home prices have been rising the cost of a land has remained static, or even declined. Some savvy home builders purchased thousands of acres of land at depressed prices in 2009 and 2010 and are now developing it.


      Existing homes in metropolitan areas tend to be in well-established communities closer to the city center. Buyers usually have to pay a premium for that. New home communities, on the other hand, tend to be on the outer edges of a metro area. If you are in the market for a home, and are trying to decide between existing and new, location is a very important consideration. But here are some other things to think about.

      You'll find a big difference in the design and layout of most new and existing homes. New homes tend to reflect modern tastes and trends. Kitchens, for example, are large and functional. New homes have lots of storage space.

      Older homes, depending on exactly how old, usually have smaller rooms and less storage. Kitchens are usually smaller, built to be functional food preparation areas, not gourmet and entertaining showplaces.


      Most new homes offer a large and spacious master bedroom suite, with adjoining bathroom that often includes both a spa tub and walk-in shower. Existing homes, especially if they were built in the 1940s or earlier, might feature design details not found in most modern construction.

      With an existing home, you pretty much know what you're getting. If there were problems with the house, they probably were addressed long ago. With a new home, you will be the one discovering a problem, if there is one. That's why it's very important to check out a builder before you buy.

      A new home is likely to be in a subdivision or development that carries a homeowners association fee. It might be a small annual assessment or might be more, depending on the common area and amenities.

      For example, if the community has a pool and fitness center, it can cost quite a bit to maintain them. Many existing homes are in mature neighborhoods that have no fee, although some do.

      According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the choice between a new or existing home will involve trade-offs, requiring you to think about what is most important to you. In the end, the choice should come down to the home you think best meets your needs, as well as your budget.

      When the housing market went into full meltdown mode in 2009, new home builders were hit hard. National and regional builders that had enjoyed explosive gr...

      Kids born outside the U.S. have lower allergy risk

      Study finds risk of allergy increases with time in the U.S.

      Asthma and other allergy-related diseases are serious business in the U.S., with the numbers of people affected increasing every year. And now a new study finds that children born overseas are less likely to suffer from allergies than U.S.-born children, but their risk of allergy diseases rises when they move to the United States.

      The study by researchers at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, looked at more than 91,000 children and measured the  prevalence of allergic disease, including asthma, eczema, hay fever, and food allergies. The study was published Online First in JAMA Pediatrics.

      According to the study results, children born outside the United States had significantly lower odds of any allergy disorder than those born in the United States, including asthma, eczema, hay fever, and food allergies.

      Children born outside of the United States whose parents were also born outside the United States had significantly lower odds of any allergy  disorders than those whose parents were born in the United States.

      Children born outside the United States who lived in the United States for longer than 10 years when compared with those who resided for up to 2 years had significantly higher odds of developing allergic disorders, including eczema and hay fever, but not asthma or food allergies.

      “In conclusion, foreign-born Americans have significantly lower risk of allergic disease than US-born Americans. However, foreign-born Americans develop increased risk for allergic disease with prolonged residence in the United States,” the study said.

      What's the cause?

      Why? The study didn't address that question.

      A leading theory for rising rates of allergies is known as the "hygiene hypothesis." The idea is that when things are too clean, the immune system doesn't get a chance to build up defenses against viruses, bacteria and so forth.

      While this may turn out to be true for allergies, most leading authorities now think it is not true for asthma, which is not always related to allergies.

      The reason the hypothesis has fallen out of favor, according to a recent Scientific American article, is that asthma rates are skyrocketing in urban areas that are not particularly clean. It may even be that developing childhood illnesses set the stage for asthma, rather than helping to prevent it, many researchers now think.

      Serious problem

      Whatever the cause, it's no small matter, as the number of people with asthma in the United States continues to grow. One in 12 people (about 25 million, or 8% of the U.S. population) had asthma in 2009, compared with 1 in 14 (about 20 million, or 7%) in 2001, according to the American Academy of Asthma Allergy and Immunology (AAAAI).

      About 1 in 10 children and 1 in 12 adults had asthma in 2009, the AAAAI said. It cited figures showing that 185 children and 3,262 adults died of asthma in 2007. 

      Among adults, women are more likely than men to have asthma while among children boys are more likely than girls to suffer from the disease.

      Asthma and other allergy-related diseases are serious business in the U.S., with the numbers of people affected increasing every year. And now a new study ...

      Nissan hopes to charge up Leaf sales

      More chargers would relieve buyers' range anxiety, the automaker hopaes

      The Nissan Leaf is a nice-looking little car, if you like that kind of thing. And as a plug-in electric, it's relatively simple, compared to a full-blown hybrid. All you have to do is plug it in.

      Buyers haven't been exactly electrified by the Leaf although sales have been starting to pick up. About  2,200 were sold in March and now a U.S. factory is starting to turn out Leafs in greater numbers.

      Hoping to keep the Leafs from piling up, Nissan is launching an effort to get more public charging stations in place in California, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., where the Leaf is starting to gain a little momentum. 

      In some of those markets, dealers have been selling as many as 100 Leafs a month, according to Automotive News. In San Francisco, the Leaf has become Nissan's second-biggest seller after the Altima.

      Nissan thinks that having more charging stations scattered around those cities would help bump up sales, since the car's maximum range on a good day is 100 miles on a charge. It's not hard to exceed that figure if unexpected errands crop up. Having more spots where a quick charge is available might relieve drivers' angst.

      Nissan says it will first try to install the powerful fast chargers at Nissan dealerships, then fan out to high-traffic areas. 

      The big chargers, which put out 400 to 600 volts, can charge a battery in  30 minutes or less. OK, that's longer than it takes to fill up a gas tank but it's in the ballpark. They can cost $18,000 or more.

      Smaller chargers for home use are much less expensive but take hours to fully charge the battery. Most electric-car owners do their charging at night.

      The Nissan Leaf is a nice-looking little car, if you like that kind of thing. And as a plug-in electric, it's relatively simple, compared to a full-bown hy...

      What makes you happy?

      A study has tracked Harvard graduates over 75 years to find out

      OK, bring a wise consumer is important but we all know it's not the only thing that makes for a happy and fulfilled life. So, what does? 

      To find out, George Vaillant has been analyzing a 75-year study on 268 Harvard students, documenting things like personality traits, physical well-being, IQ, alcohol consumption and overall style of living.

      Known as the Grant Study, its subjects included President John F. Kennedy, four people who ran for the U.S. Senate, and one who served in a Presidential Cabinet.

      One of the biggest contributors to living a full happy life, the study ha found, is how well the men maintained their relationships. And there was a definite correlation between how much money the men earned and how healthy their relationships were.

      There were 58 men in the study who scored highest in the area of “warm relationships.” They earned $141,000 more than the 31 who scored lowest in this area. In addition, the study shows the men earned their highest salaries between the ages of 55 and 60.

      Mom and dad

      The relationship that most contributed to a healthy and happy life, according to the study, was the one between the men and their mothers.

      The study shows that men who didn’t get along with their mothers had a higher chance of developing dementia in old age, while the men who had a strong bond with Mom earned $87,000 more than those who didn’t.

      There also was a correlation between the relationships men had with their fathers and their level of happiness.

      Those who got along well with Dad had lower rates of anxiety than those who didn’t. They enjoyed their time away from work more too. In addition, these men said they had more overall satisfaction in their lives once they reached 75 years of age.

      Demon rum

      Moreover, Vaillant learned that alcohol led to all kinds of problems and caused things like depression and neurosis. Along with smoking cigarettes, alcohol was the leading cause of dying prematurely.

      “Alcoholism is a disorder of great destructive power,” said Vaillant. In fact, not abusing alcohol was one of the seven major factors to living a full and happy life, the study shows.

      The other six factors were: education, having a stable marriage, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, getting regular exercise and changing some of habits as you get older.

      Healthy mind, healthy body

      Vaillant says people have to make sure they’re living in a healthy way -- both mentally and physically. 

      “So when we talk about well-being, we’re talking about two facets, not just one,” he said in a published interview.  For example, “alcohol abuse is bad for emotional and physical well-being. Smoking is only bad for physical well-being.”

      In an interview with The Atlantic, Vaillant says people need to constantly put in the effort to be happy, and not just wait for happiness to fall out of the sky.

      “Try being funny,” he said. “Try to make yourself fall in love. Try making yourself forgive someone. Studies have even shown that forgiveness is tremendously helpful to the heart and peace of mind. You can put yourself in positions where positive emotions are likely.”

      And although reminiscing about the days of your youth is okay, thinking about it too much can lead to unhappiness, Vaillant says.“The take-home lesson is to enjoy where you are now. It’s alright that young people can do the things that they can do.”

      Don't worry, be happy

      Vaillant cautions people in their 20s and 30s against worrying about being successful, noting that many people in the study did exactly that.

      “We have all this health and all this youth and you’re scared stiff that when it’s all said and done, you’re not going to amount to a hill of beans,” he said. “And if you just wait, virtually all of the men, by the time they were 45 or 50, amounted to something. Knowing that is such a relief and you just don’t know it at 30.”

      The last thing you want to do is attempt to keep up with the Joneses, said Vaillant, because it’ll never get you anywhere.

      “The job isn’t conforming. It isn’t keeping up with the Joneses. It is playing and working and loving. And loving is probably the most important. Happiness is love. Full stop," he said.

      What allows people to be happy and live fulfilled lives? To find out George Vaillant has been conducting a 75 year study on 268 Harvard students and docu...

      Acer settles Vista RAM class action

      Suit alleged that notebooks were unable to run certain Windows Vista versions

      Acer has settled a lawsuit that alleged it sold laptop computers with insufficient Random Access Memory, or RAM, to properly run certain versions of Microsoft Windows Vista.

      Acer maintains that it is not liable, but “has agreed to the Settlement to avoid the costs and risks of a trial,” according to a statement issued by the company. 

      The settlement covers “all U.S. residents who purchased a new Acer notebook computer that: (1) came pre-installed with a Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate operating system; (2) came with 1 gigabyte (“GB”) of RAM or less as shared memory for both the system and graphics; (3) was purchased from an authorized retailer; and (4) was not returned for a refund,” the company said.

      Crashes, freezing

      Consumers rate Acer

      The suit was filed in 2009 by an Ohio couple who bought an Acer notebook from Wal-Mart. “Shortly after their purchase, and well within the one year warranty period,” the class action complaintalleged, “Plaintiffs discovered that their computer would not run properly and that it experienced numerous ‘crashes,’ ‘freezing,’ and was operating very slowly.”

      The complaint cited numerous online consumer complaints, including one from ConsumerAffairs.com. The writer of that complaint said that, “I have had problems with my computer shutting down and restarting on its own since the second month ive [sic] owned it. I called acer tech support many times and was bounced back and forth ... Its [sic] had issues since the beginning.”

      Options and deadlines

      According to the press release, class members are eligible to receive one of the following: “(a) a 16GB USB Flash Drive with ReadyBoost technology; (b) a check for $10.00; (c) a check for up to $100.00 for reimbursement of any repair costs that were incurred before April 25, 2013 in an effort to resolve performance issues related to insufficient RAM; or (d) for Class Members who still own their computer, a 1GB or 2GB laptop memory DIMM that will allow the Acer notebook to operate with 2GB of RAM.”

      Class members who want to opt out of, or object to, the settlement, must file a notice by July 24, 2013. Claim forms are due on the same date. Claim forms can be accessed at the settlement website - AcerLawsuit.com - or by calling (877) 761-0698.

      Laptop manufacturer Acer has settled a lawsuit that alleged it sold laptop computers with insufficient Random Access Memory, or RAM, to properly run certai...

      Woman sues hospital over “Shy Bladder Syndrome”

      Alleges condition made her unable to provide urine sample for employment

      “Shy bladder syndrome” -- the medical term for difficulty urinating in front of others -- has become the seemingly unlikely topic of litigation in Iowa.

      It all began last June, when plaintiff Jennifer Conner applied for a job as organ transplant financial coordinator at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. The hospital offered her the job, but told her that she would need to provide a urine sample before she began working, the suit alleges.

      According to the suit, Conner was diagnosed with paruresis, or “shy bladder syndrome,” as an adolescent. She deals with the condition by flushing the toilet, running water, or avoiding bathrooms with multiple toilets, the suit says.

      “If Conner cannot flush the toilet or run the water in the sink, she is generally unable to urinate in a public restroom,” according to the complaint.

      Four-minute limit

      The suit says that Conner informed two nurses that she suffered from the condition “and that it might therefore take her awhile to provide a urine sample.”

      However, according to the suit, Conner was told that the hospital typically allowed only four minutes to provide the sample, and that a nurse would knock on the bathroom door when time was up. Conner was then “placed ... in a restroom with no running water and no flushing toilet,” the suit alleges.

      Conner was unable to urinate even as the four-minute time limit closed in, so she says she left the bathroom to tell the nurse she needed more time. Conner was given two more minutes, the suit alleges, after which time a nurse “informed Conner that someone else needed to use the restroom and instructed Conner to go back to the waiting room.”

      Conner was given a third chance to try and provide a urine sample, according to the suit, but “could not provide a urine sample under the conditions as they were.”

      Conner says she asked if she could provide a blood sample or use a catheter to provide a sample to the hospital, but was told that she should simply “go to lunch and come back and try again.” Conner left, knowing that she would be unable to provide a sample, the suit alleges.

      Ultimately, Conner’s job offer was rescinded, and she was told that she could not apply again for at least a year.

      Foundation: It's a “phobia”

      The Urology Care Foundation describes the condition as “a phobia that involves fear and avoidance of using public bathrooms and an irregular idiopathic form of urinary retention (when you are unable ‘to go’).”

      “Paruretics face difficulties ranging from work problems (when they have to submit a urine analysis for drug testing) to traveling on long plane rides to every day social situations,” the foundation’s site says.

      Conner, who obtained a master’s degree in health care administration in 2012, alleges violations of the Iowa Civil Rights Act and the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.

      “Shy bladder syndrome” -- the medical term for difficulty urinating in front of others -- has become the seemingly unlikely topic of litigation...

      Pending home sales rise in March

      Analysts say while there was an increase, a leveling-off appears to be in the works

      Pending home sales, which are based on contract signings, shot up 1.5% in March. However, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which tracks the forward-looking indicator, says contract activity in recent months shows only modest movement.

      With March's increase, the NAR's Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) stands at 105.7 -- 7.0% above March 2012 when it was 98.8. Pending sales have been above year-ago levels for the past 23 months. The data reflect contracts but not closings.

      Market leveling off

      "Contract activity has been in a narrow range in recent months, not from a pause in demand but because of limited supply,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Little movement is expected in near-term sales closings, but they should edge up modestly as the year progresses. Job additions and rising household wealth will continue to support housing demand."

      The PHSI in the Northeast was unchanged at 82.8 in March and is 6.3% higher than a year ago. In the Midwest the index was up 0.3% to 103.8 and is 13.7% percent above March 2012. Pending home sales in the South rose 2.7% to 120.0 in and are up 10.4% from the same time last year. And in the West, the index increased 1.5% in March to 102.9, but is 4.3% below a year ago.

      The NAR is projecting total sales of existing-home to increase 6.5 to 7% over 2012 to nearly 5 million sales this year. The the national median existing-home price is forecast to rise about 7.5%.

      Incomes and spending

      In other economic news, the government reports personal income inched up 0.2%, or $30.9 billion, in March, with disposable personal income rising by $20.7 billion, or 0.2%.

      The full report can be found at the Bureau of Economic Analysis website.  

      Pending home sales, which are based on contract signings, shot up 1.5% in March. However, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which tracks the forw...

      Maple View Farm recalls three flavors of ice cream

      The products contain allergens that were not declared on package labels

      Maple View Farm is recalling pint containers of Cookies & Cream, Carolina Crunch and Cookie Dough ice cream.

      Some or all of the products contain wheat, soy, almonds and peanuts not declared on the packages, which can cause serious allergic reactions in people who have an allergy or sensitivity to these ingredients.

      No complaints of allergic reactions to this product have been reported to date.

      The recall affects 2,650 pints of ice cream distributed between Sept. 5, 2012, and April 24, 2013. The products were distributed to a limited number of grocery stores and specialty shops in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Hillsborough, Mebane, Morehead City, Morrisville, Pittsboro, Snow Camp and Wilmington, N.C.

      Consumers who have allergies to these ingredients should return the product to the place of purchase or throw it away.

      Maple View Farm is recalling pint containers of Cookies & Cream, Carolina Crunch and Cookie Dough ice cream. Some or all of the products contain wheat, so...

      Honda recalls Fit Sport vehicles

      A problem with electronic stability control system increases the risk of a crash

      Honda is recalling 43,782 model year 2012-2013 Honda Fit Sport vehicles manufactured May 23, 2011, through March 22, 2013.

      The electronic stability control system of the affected vehicles may allow excessive yaw rates at high steering angles with certain tires. Excessive yaw rates prevent the proper function of the electronic stability control (ESC) system, increasing the risk of a crash.

      Honda will notify owners and dealers will update the ESC software free of charge. The safety recall will begin on May 17, 2013.

      Owners may contact Honda automobile customer service at 1-800-999-1009. Honda's recall campaign number is S99.

      Honda is recalling 43,782 model year 2012-2013 Honda Fit Sport vehicles manufactured May 23, 2011, through March 22, 2013. The electronic stability contr...