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3D printing gives dog a new leash on life
Derby the dog becomes a canine blade runner
Imagine being a dog seeing a ball but never being able to run for it let alone walk to it.
3D printing technology has completely changed that scenario for one lucky dog. Derby was born with a birth defect, a congenital deformity characterized by small forearms and no front paws. He was only able to get around on soft surfaces. Places like the sidewalk were off-limits because he would scrape up his legs.
3D Systems employee Tara Anderson had been fostering Derby through a rescue group Peace and Paws in Hillsborough, N.H. She tried to help Derby initially with a cart and wheels but saw that it really didn't give him true mobility. She knew that 3D technology could create prosthetics to help Derby walk.
Anderson recruited two designers along with Derrick Campana, an animal orthotist. They scanned Derby’s legs and made cradles and blades that fit him perfectly. The team used Geomagic Freeform, a digital sculpting platform, which allowed them to create organic shapes and smooth curves for Derby’s shape.
The prosthetics were made in just a few hours and shipped so Derby could try them out.
“The beauty of 3D printing is that if the design needs to be adjusted, we don’t have to wait for time-consuming and expensive traditional manufacturing processes, we can simply print out a new set,” said Buddy Byrum, Vice President of Product and Channel Management, 3DS.
“The dovetailing of 3D scanning and design with the ProJet 5500X multi-material 3D printing allowed for the creation of complete prosthetics printed in a single build, custom-fit to Derby,” he said.
Derby now has new owners, Sherri and Dom Portanova, and he is able to run all over them as well as past them, as shown in this video:
“He runs with Sherri and I every day, at least two to three miles,” said Dom Portanova. “When I saw him sprinting like that on his new legs it was just amazing.”
Imagine being a dog seeing a ball but never being able to run for it let alone walk to it....
By Stacey Cohen
Air pollution in pregnancy linked to increased autism risk
Genetics and airborne pollution seen as significant
Pregnant women exposed to high levels of fine particulate matter -- particularly during the third trimester -- may face up to twice the risk of having a child with autism than mothers living in areas with low particulate matter, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).
The greater the exposure, the greater the risk, researchers found. It was the first U.S.-wide study exploring the link between airborne particulate matter and autism.
"Our data add additional important support to the hypothesis that maternal exposure to air pollution contributes to the risk of autism spectrum disorders," said Marc Weisskopf, associate professor of environmental and occupational epidemiology and senior author of the study. "The specificity of our findings for the pregnancy period, and third trimester in particular, rules out many other possible explanations for these findings."
Pollution and genetics
Prior studies have suggested that, in addition to genetics, exposure to airborne environmental contaminants, particularly during pregnancy and early life, may affect risk of autism. This study focused specifically on the pregnancy period.
"The evidence base for a role for maternal exposure to air pollution increasing the risk of autism spectrum disorders is becoming quite strong," said Weisskopf. "This not only gives us important insight as we continue to pursue the origins of autism spectrum disorders, but as a modifiable exposure, opens the door to thinking about possible preventative measures."
The study population included offspring of participants living in all 50 states in Nurses' Health Study II, a cohort of more than 116,000 female U.S. nurses begun in 1989. The researchers collected data on where participants lived during their pregnancies as well as data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other sources on levels of fine particulate matter air pollution.
The researchers identified 245 children who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a control group of 1,522 children without ASD during the time period studied.
Exposure to particulate matter was significantly associated with autism during pregnancy, but not before or after, the study found. And during the pregnancy, the third trimester specifically was significantly associated with an increased risk.
The best way to help your child tell the truth and be honest, is to not threaten them with punishment if they spill the beans and fess up. That's the primary finding of a study conducted at McGill University in Canada with 372 children between the ages of 4 and 8.
The study left each child in a room alone for one minute with a toy that was placed behind them on a table. Researchers told the child not to look behind them to see the toy, then left the room. A hidden camera recorded what went on in their absence.
When the researchers returned to the room, they asked the child a simple question: “When I was gone, did you turn around and peek at the toy?”
Some kids were told, “If you looked at the toy, you will be in trouble” and others were told, “If you looked at the toy, you won't be in trouble.”
Lots of little liars
It will come as no surprise that 68 percent of the kids looked at the toy, and almost all of them (67 percent) lied about doing so. Results indicated that with age, children are more likely to lie and maintain their lie during follow-up questioning.
What was interesting was that children were less likely to tell the truth if they feared a consequence, as opposed to telling the truth either because it would please the adult or because it was the right thing to do and would make the child feel good.
The research found that younger children were more intent on telling the truth because they thought it would please the adults, the older children had more of a conscience which made them tell the truth because it was the right thing to do.
“The bottom line is that punishment does not promote truth-telling,” says Victoria Talwar of McGill’s Dept. of Educational and Counselling Psychology, the lead researcher on the study. “In fact, the threat of punishment can have the reverse effect by reducing the likelihood that children will tell the truth when encouraged to do so."
Talwar added that parents can encourage honesty by creating a safe place to tell the truth.
The best way to help your child tell the truth and be honest, is to not threaten them with punishment if they spill the beans and fess up. That's the prima...
By Stacey Cohen
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"Hypoallergenic" means what, exactly?
Not much, according to some experts
"Hypoallergenic" is like "natural" -- it just makes you feel good all over, as long as you don't break out in a rash. Neither word has any legal meaning, and should basically be considred as marketing hype.
Many consumers seek out shampoos, soaps and cosmetics that are labeled "hypoallergenic" or "dermatologist tested," words that imply the products are safe to use. But recent research gives shoppers reason to question what those labels really mean.
Now some scientists and consumer advocates are calling for change, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.
Britt E. Erickson, a senior editor at C&EN, notes that the definitions of the terms "hypoallergenic" and "dermatologist tested/recommended" is currently left to the manufacturers that put them on their products. The Food and Drug Administration has not set any standards for using these descriptions.
The last time the agency attempted to do so was in the 1970s, but cosmetic industry giants Almay and Clinique challenged the regulation and ultimately won in an appeals court.
A recent study led by Carsten R. Hamann, a medical student at Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California, confirms that the hypoallergenic label on many products, particularly those marketed for children, is meaningless.
The researchers find that many products labeled as hypoallergenic contain at least one known skin allergen.
Hamann and colleagues analyzed 187 personal care products intended for children from six retailers in California. They looked for 80 common allergens, including fragrances, preservatives, and surfactants. All of the products were labeled “hypoallergenic,” “dermatologist recommended/tested,” “fragrance free,” or “paraben free.”
Of the products studied, 89% contained at least one chemical known to cause contact dermatitis and 11% contained five or more contact allergens.
The products included shampoos and conditioners, sunscreens, diaper creams, and “anything marketed toward kids that was supposed to be used on skin,” Hamann says.
Some companies are self-regulating and moving away from using certain compounds, such as those that release formaldehyde. But that doesn't necessarily guarantee a safer product. And one preservative that some manufacturers have turned to in place of parabens, which are endocrine disruptors, can cause allergic reactions. Some researchers are calling for the FDA to step in. But for now, it is up to consumers to shop by trial and error.
"Hypoallergenic" is like "natural" -- it just makes you feel good all over, as long as you don't break out in a rash. Neither word has any legal meaning, a...
Consumers were duped into thinking the company was affiliated with unions
When is a credit card not a credit card? According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), when it's offered by Union Workers Credit Services.
The agency is suing the Texas-based company on charges it deceived consumers into paying fees to sign up for a sham credit card. According to the CFPB the company falsely advertises a general-use credit card that -- in actuality -- can only be used to buy products from the company.
Union Workers Credit Services also deceptively implies an affiliation with unions by -- among other things -- using pictures of nurses, firefighters, and other public servants in its advertising, the lawsuit says. The court action seeks compensation for victims, a civil penalty and an injunction against the company.
“The business model for Union Workers Credit Services is built on duping consumers into signing up for a sham credit card,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Hundreds of thousands of people, including a great many union members who were specially targeted, have been tricked into spending millions of dollars for a so-called credit card that can really only be used to buy the company’s own products. From the misleading photos of nurses and firemen on its website to its bogus credit card, Union Workers Credit Services is illegally deceiving consumers.”
History of deception alleged
The CFPB claims that the company, which has been in operation since roughly 2004, generates the vast majority of the its revenue from selling a buying-club membership card that it falsely advertises as a general-purpose credit card.
Most consumers never use the membership card but cannot recoup their membership fees -- $37 if they apply through the mail or $95 if they apply online. Union Workers Credit Services allegedly has collected membership fees from hundreds of thousands of consumers throughout the U.S., totaling millions of dollars.
According to the lawsuit, Union Workers Credit Services is:
Falsely advertising a general-use credit card: The complaint alleges that through direct-mail ads and on its website, the company advertises a credit card that it falsely implies is for general use. The company’s ads suggest to consumers they can receive a pre-approved “platinum card” with a credit limit of up to $10,000 and a 5% annual percentage rate. The offer says consumers do not have to worry if they “have been denied access to a Visa or MasterCard.” Later, many consumers realize what they really bought was a buying-club membership card to purchase only goods from the company itself, rather than from other retailers.
Falsely advertising an association with unions: The CFPB also claims that the company deceives consumers by falsely suggesting that it is affiliated with labor unions. The banner of its website has photos of police, firefighters, and medical workers. The online application form asks consumers to select their union membership from a drop-down list.
Misusing consumer credit reports: Federal law requires that when companies use consumer credit reports to target certain advertisements to consumers without their advance consent, they must advise those consumers of their right to opt out of receiving such advertising. The lawsuit alleges that Union Workers Credit Services failed to do this.
Thousands of consumers have filed complaints with law enforcement agencies and the Better Business Bureau about Union Workers Credit Services, which has also been sued by multiple government authorities, including the New York State Attorney General and the U.S. Postal Service.
In addition to seeking to stop the alleged unlawful practices of Union Workers Credit Services, CFPB has requested that the court impose penalties on the company for its conduct and require compensation be paid to consumers who have been harmed.
When is a credit card not a credit card? According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), when it's offered by Union Workers Credit Services. ...
And there are more signs of continued moderate economic growth
The number of people filling out initial applications for state unemployment benefits continued to decline last week.
According to the Labor Department (DOL) first-time jobless claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 289,000, in the week ending December 13 down 6,000 from the previous week's level, which had been revised up by 1,000 -- to 295,000.
Economists at Briefing.com, who were forecasting a total of 292,000 claims, says the claims data continue to suggest an economy at, or near, full employment.
The 4-week moving average, which strips out the volatility in the weekly number, and is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was down 750 from the week before to 298,750.
In other economic developments, The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI) was up 0.6% in November, following an identical increase in October, and a jump of 0.8% in September.
“The increase in the LEI signals continued moderate growth through the winter season,” said Conference Board Economist Ken Goldstein. “The biggest challenge has been, and remains, more income growth. However, with labor market conditions tightening, we are seeing the first signs of wage growth starting to pick up.”
The number of people filling out initial applications for state unemployment benefits continued to decline last week. According to the Labor Department (D...
More secure ways to pay and stronger economic growth could be in our futures
It's that time of year again. No, not the holidays. The time when trend-watchers peer into their crystal balls and make bold predictions about what the upcoming year might bring.
J. Walter Thompson and its affiliate, JWT Intelligence, look for trends in industry, technology, business, culture, beauty, health and wellness, food and drink, lifestyle, retail, travel and sustainability. They see a number of trends taking shape in 2015.
Among them is what the company calls Food 2.0 Start-ups. There are already businesses hard at work creating new kinds of food and this effort should only get bigger in the year ahead. JWT Intelligence reports food-science startups are beginning to draw serious venture capital. That could translate into new food products in the months ahead.
In culture, feminism is evolving – “rebooted for the digital era,” according to JWT. As a result, feminist rhetoric is occupying the center of popular discourse. JWT points to examples ranging from Sarah Silverman’s viral video about the pay gap in the U.S. to toy manufacturer GoldieBlox championing girl coders, to Disney’s "Frozen" co-opting parents with its female-friendship narrative rather than the traditional prince-rescues-princess theme.
In technology look for big changes in the way we pay for things, which may take on new urgency in the wake of hacking concerns. To improve security, JWT says businesses are starting to adopt systems that identify and authenticate people based on physical or behavioral characteristics.
As a result, iris scans, digital fingerprints, voice prints, vein or facial maps could become more common in 2015.
Meanwhile, personal finance website WalletHub.com is making predictions about the U.S. economy in 2015. Among them, that the U.S. economy will grow at about 3%.
Economic growth in 2014 has been inconsistent to say the least. If you'll recall the economy actually fell into negative territory in the first quarter of this year, a fact blamed on the polar vortex.
At the same time, the company predicts the unemployment rate will continue to decline as businesses grow and need more employees. WalletHub predicts the jobless rate will hit 5% in 2015.
Other predictions include a 3% increase in average wages, a rising stock market, continued low interest rates and a slight boost in home prices. Rising incomes would be a key development since many consumers have been treading water the last 5 years.
“A lack of wage growth is one reason many people have questioned the strength of the economic recovery, or at least its equality, and it will continue to serve as an easily identifiable example of this country’s income divide moving forward,” the authors write.
As for gasoline prices, they should continue to remain well below $3 a gallon in most areas as the price of oil will drop to $50 a barrel before it stabilizes. In fact, the price is closing in on that price level even before the end of 2014.
How did trend predictors do last year? You be the judge.
At the end of 2013 JWT predicted 3D printing would make major advances in 2014. In fact, it has. Late this year researchers were designing techniques to replicate human organs through 3D printing.
JWT also predicted 2014 would be a big year for virtual reality, allowing “arm chair travel.” As the year draws to a close there are virtual reality workout programs, allowing you to do your workout in the Swiss Alps if you choose.
It's that time of year again. No, not the holidays. The time when trend-watchers peer into their crystal balls and make bold predictions about what the upc...
It's the latest to be snagged for wireless cramming violations
In October, AT&T Wireless was fined $105 million for billing customers hundreds of millions of dollars for bogus cellphone subscriptions to horoscopes, love tips and other detritus they had never ordered. It was the largest fine in the FCC's history.
Now it's Sprint's turn. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today sued Sprint charging it illegally billed wireless consumers tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized third-party charges.
“Today we are suing Sprint for allowing illegal charges to be crammed onto consumers’ wireless bills,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Consumers ended up paying tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges, even though many of them had no idea that third parties could even place charges on their bills. As the use of mobile payments grows, we will continue to hold wireless carriers accountable for illegal third-party billing.”
The Bureau’s complaint alleges that Sprint operated a billing system that allowed third parties to “cram” unauthorized charges on customers’ mobile-phone accounts and ignored complaints about the charges. The CFPB seeks refunds for affected consumers and penalties to deter unauthorized third-party charges in the future.
The practice of billing customers for third-party services they did not order is known as cramming, and it is one of the plagues of the deregulated telecommunications environment. The charges tend to be small -- usually about $10 a month -- and are often missed by consumers when they examine their bills each month.
The charges are for such generally useless services as horoscopes, ring tones, sports scores and other information and features that are widely available at no charge on the Internet.
The CFPB said that Sprint outsourced payment processing for these digital purchases to vendors called “billing aggregators” without properly monitoring them.
The lack of oversight gave aggregators near unfettered access to consumers’ wireless accounts. Sprint’s system attracted and enabled unscrupulous merchants who, in some cases, only needed consumers’ phone numbers to cram illegitimate charges onto wireless bills. The charges ranged from one-time fees of about $0.99 – $4.99 to monthly subscriptions that cost about $9.99 a month. Sprint received a 30-40 percent cut of the gross revenue from these charges.
Most consumers were targeted online. Consumers clicked on ads that brought them to websites asking them to enter their cellphone numbers. Some merchants tricked consumers into providing their cellphone numbers to receive “free” digital content and then charged for it. Many others simply placed fabricated charges on bills without delivering any goods or communicating with consumers, the suit alleges.
Besides AT&T, the FCC has also sued T-Mobile in a case that is still pending. Prosecutors have said they will argue that T-Mobile made hundreds of millions of dollars through similar cramming schemes.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other agencies have gone after the third-party operators who promote the schemes and process the bills.
Today the FTC said that one of the defendants behind a massive landline cramming operation that placed more than $70 million in unauthorized charges on consumers’ phone bills has agreed to settle charges against him.
Nathan M. Sann, one of the defendants in the American eVoice, Ltd. case has agreed to settle the FTC’s charges related to his alleged participation in the scheme.
In its complaint, the FTC alleged that the operation placed charges ranging from $9.95 to $24.95 per month on consumers’ landline phone bills for voicemail services they never signed up for and never even knew they had. The case against the other entities and individuals involved in the scheme is on-going.
The settlement contains a monetary judgment of more than $21 million, which represents the amount of consumer injury attributable to Sann during his involvement with the scam. The judgment will be suspended due to Sann’s inability to pay upon his surrender of certain personal assets. Under the terms of the settlement, if Sann has misrepresented his financial condition, the full judgment would become due.
In August, the FTC reached a settlement from Andrew Bachman, who with a number of other defendants pitched text message services offering “love tips,” “fun facts,” and celebrity gossip alerts, and placed charges for these services – typically $9.99 a month – on consumers’ wireless bills without their permission.
Bachman, who appears to be typical of the relatively small operators who have turned wireless telecommunications networks into treacherous territory, agreed to surrender more than $1.2 million in assets, including the contents of numerous bank accounts, two luxury cars, shares in a number of startup companies and multiple luxury watches.
Unlike Bachman and other small-time defendants who lose all of their personal assets in negotiated settlements, AT&T, Sprint and other telecom giants simply pay the fines and move on, their executives free of personal liability and virtually never threatened with jail terms for the misdeeds that occurred on their watch.
In October, AT&T Wireless was fined $105 million for billing customers hundreds of millions of dollars for bogus cellphone subscriptions to horoscopes, lov...
Spirit of Black Friday extending well into December
Survey shows consumers are still in search of bargains, and finding them
Maybe one reason Black Friday sales were a bit disappointing to retailers is consumers appear to be in no rush to wrap up their holiday shopping. American Express predicts the vast majority of shoppers plan to be in stores right up until Christmas, and even the day after.
With sales starting in early November savvy consumers are betting the deals will only get better as the big day draws closer. American Express says it's a definite shift from previous years.
“This year’s holiday shopping season does not seem to have a clear-cut beginning, middle or end,” said David Rabkin, Senior Vice President of Consumer Lending Products at American Express. “Americans are spending steadily over a longer period of time, willing to hold out for better deals, even planning to hit the stores even after Christmas to get the gifts they want at the right price.”
More last-minute shoppers
In American Express' survey, 79% of consumers said they plan to do last minute shopping, up from 75% last year. Average projected spending on the day after Christmas, known as Boxing Day in the UK, is $192, up from $188 in 2013.
Regifting is also becoming more common. About 75% now say giving an unwanted gift to someone else is socially acceptable, with kitchenware the most likely gift to be repurposed. So if you give someone on your list a set of steak knives, it's likely to end up as someone else's birthday present.
Electronics are the least likely items to be regifted. After all, who doesn't like a new gadget?
While re-gifting is getting more popular, plenty of people will be lining up at customer service to return or exchange a gift. Among shoppers who plan to return and/or exchange gifts the day after Christmas, 95% say they plan to spend the same or more at the store that day.
And returning a gift is not nearly the social faux pas it once was. Nearly half of consumers say they have no qualms about telling the person who gave them the gift that they returned it.
Despite lower gasoline prices and an improving economy, this holiday season is not shaping up as one of over-indulgence. In fact, more shoppers – 70% – insist they are sticking to their budgets this year.
Higher holiday costs
Tempering the urge to splurge are some unexpected higher holiday season costs. Shipping costs are up this year, as are holiday decorations and wrapping paper. And even though oil prices have plunged, holiday air travel hasn't gotten any cheaper.
While consumers have done a good job of trimming their gift lists this year, more consumers have shopped for an additional person – themselves. American Express projects 74% of consumers will have bought themselves a gift this year, up from 53% last year. Not surprisingly, more than half those purchases will be impulse buys.
Feeding the trend
Retailers are feeding the trend for ongoing bargain hunting by continuing promotions that typically end with Cyber Monday. Walmart.com this week launched Cyber Monday 2.0, offering deals on electronics, toys and games, appliances and jewelry. There's free shipping on orders over $50.
Other retailers are slashing prices with more than a week to go before Christmas. According to BlackFriday.com, Amazon.com this week marked down the popular video game Assassin's Creed for Playstation 4 from $59.99 to $29.99.
Maybe one reason Black Friday sales were a bit disappointing to retailers is consumers appear to be in no rush to wrap up their holiday shopping. American ...
Parking lots and their payment vendors are the popular new hacker targets
Park-n-Fly, the St. Louis Parking Company and their customers all among the latest victims
Take note if you've paid to park your car recently: various banks are reporting a series of fraudulent credit card charges suggesting that hackers managed to steal information belonging to online customers of Park-n-Fly, an Atlanta-based offsite airport parking and valet service whose customers can reserve parking spots for themselves in advance.
Parking services, or the vendors which process their payments, seem to be the latest popular hackers' target. Last month, hackers attacked the payment vendor for SP+ Parking, owner of thousands of parking garages across the country, and in St. Louis, the St. Louis Parking Company recently announced the discovery that hackers had access to their customer credit card data for most of the month of October.
Security blogger Brian Krebs notes that card numbers stolen in such hackings are being offered for sale in the same “underground crime store” where hackers sold data stolen in earlier breaches at Target and Home Depot.
As always when news of a hacking breaks, take care to closely scrutinize your credit or debit-card bills, to ensure all the charges there are legitimate. Of course, you should be in the habit of doing that anyway, whether you've patronized a recently hacked business or not.
Park 'N Fly Canada is a separate, unaffiliated company and was not affected by the breach, a spokesman said.
Take note if you've paid to park your car recently: various banks are reporting a series of fraudulent credit card charges suggesting that hackers managed ...
By Jennifer Abel
Heat boosts phthalate emissions from vinyl crib mattress covers
Infants are exposed to fumes from the covers for 12 to 14 hours per day
Keeping kids safe from potentially toxic chemicals isn't always as easy as it sounds. Take phthalates, for example. It's a chemical that's used to make plastic softer but it has been linked to potential health effects, including reproductive issues and an increased risk for asthma and allergies.
Trying to reduce the risk, Congress banned six kinds of phthalates from toys in 2008, and manufacturers have been turning to alternative plasticizers, which are different phthalates.
A new study aims to improve scientists' understanding of one possible exposure route for babies: vinyl crib mattress covers. Scientists report in the American Chemical Society's "Environmental Science & Technology" that as these covers warm up, they emit more phthalates into the air.
But little is known about the toxicity of these replacements and it's unclear whether they waft into the air that infants breathe for 12 to 14 hours per day at potentially harmful levels.
Ying Xu and Yirui Liang decided to find out whether infants, who breathe in far more air (given their low body weight) than adults, might be getting exposed to high levels of alternative phthalates.
The researchers tested the amounts of the alternative-phthalate plasticizers released from vinyl crib mattress covers at different temperatures and estimated how much of that the infants might breathe in.
They found that, under warm conditions, the covers emitted significantly higher levels of phthalates that could cause a baby's exposure to increase four-fold. They say the preliminary study is an essential first step to investigating the potential risk posed by these new phthalates.
Keeping kids safe from potentially toxic chemicals isn't always as easy as it sounds. Take phthalates, for example. It's a chemical that's used to make pla...
14 indicted in 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64
Charges against New England Compounding Center pharmacists include second-degree murder
A 131-count criminal indictment was unsealed today in Boston in connection with the 2012 nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated vials of medication prepared by the New England Compounding Center (NECC). Sixty-four people died and 751 were sickened.
Barry J. Cadden, owner and head pharmacist of the compounding pharmacy and supervisory pharmacist Glenn A. Chin were charged with 25 acts of second-degree murder in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
The outbreak was caused by contaminated vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) manufactured by NECC, located in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Twelve other individuals, all associated with NECC, including six other pharmacists, the director of operations, the national sales director, an unlicensed pharmacy technician, two of NECC’s owners, and one other individual were charged with additional crimes including racketeering, mail fraud, conspiracy, contempt, structuring, and violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
“As alleged in the indictment, these employees knew they were producing their medication in an unsafe manner and in insanitary conditions, and authorized it to be shipped out anyway, with fatal results,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Actions like the ones alleged in this case display not only a reckless disregard for health and safety regulations, but also an extreme and appalling indifference to human life."
The 25 second-degree murders are included in the indictment as predicate racketeering acts under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). These charges relate to patients who received NECC MPA and died in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Generally speaking, second-degree murder does not require the government to prove Cadden and Chin had specific intent to kill the 25 patients, but rather that Cadden and Chin acted with extreme indifference to human life.
A 131-count criminal indictment was unsealed today in Boston in connection with the 2012 nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated vials...
Consumer prices drop in November thanks to lower gasoline costs
Energy costs overall were lower
The plunging cost of gasoline sent consumer prices spiraling downward in November.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the sharpest decline in gasoline prices in almost 6 years pushed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) down 0.3% last month. Over the past 12 months, the CPI is up a modest 1.3%.
Overall, energy prices fell 3.8%, the fifth decline in a row. Gasoline was down 6.6% in November -- the sharpest decline since December 2008, and has fallen 10.5% over the last 12 months. The cost of fuel oil was down 3.5%, its ninth consecutive decline. Natural gas prices dipped 1.7%, while electricity was the only energy component to rise; it increased 0.1% last month and has risen 2.8% over the past year.
Food prices, on the other hand, rose 0.2% on top of a 0.1% increase the month before. The cost of meats, poultry, fish, and eggs was up 0.6% as beef and veal posted their tenth consecutive increase. Nonalcoholic beverage prices rose 0.5%, and the index for other food at home increased 0.4%. In contrast, prices for fruits and vegetables were down 0.7%, dairy and related products and cereals and bakery products both fell 0.2%.
Prices for all items excluding food and energy -- the so-called “core rate” of inflation advanced 0.1% percent in November, with shelter costs up 0.3%, and prices for medical care, airline fares and alcoholic beverages also higher. The costs of apparel, used cars and trucks, recreation, household furnishings and operations, personal care, and new vehicles all declined. The core rate of inflation over the last 12 months is up 1.7%.
It's the first pay-TV service to add the popular streaming channel
Dish has been in the news lately for dropping, then reinstating, CNN and CBS stations in licensing disputes. Now it's adding something -- Netflix, the most popular and widely-watched streaming network.
Netflix will be available on Dish's second-generation Hopper box, rolling out today. That gives customers the ability to instantly stream Netflix movies and TV shows, including "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black," from the same platform used to access their linear television channels.
"This app integration eliminates the need to switch television inputs to access content on varying devices. It gives our customers easy access to their favorite shows and movies, on both DISH and Netflix, without ever having to leave their Hopper," said Vivek Khemka, Dish senior vice president of product management.
Hopper customers will find the same Netflix user interface found on most other platforms. The app is easily accessible from any channel by clicking the blue button on the Dish remote and selecting the Netflix icon, or from the Netflix icon on the Hopper main menu.
The Netflix app is currently available on all broadband-connected second-generation Hopper set-top boxes. In the coming months, DISH expects the app to rollout to Joey, Super Joey and Wireless Joey clients.
Additionally, in the future, titles available on Netflix could be integrated into the search functionality across live, recorded and Video On Demand programs for both the Hopper as well as DISH's forthcoming OTT service.
Dish has been in the news lately for dropping, then reinstating, CNN and CBS stations in licensing disputes. Now it's adding something -- Netflix, the most...
Cats aren't like dogs. Or people, for that matter.
Many people feed their dogs like they feed their family. I have a sister who buys her Maltese a cooked chicken from Costco each week. She cooks for her dog like it was one of her kids.
If she had a cat it might not turn out too well. Nutrition for cats is a little more complicated than it is for dogs. Cats are carnivores. They need a lot of meat for protein and for fat.
"If we ate like cats, we'd have heart disease by age 20," said Louise Murray, DVM, vice president of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York. She says that cats aren't like dogs nor are they like humans.
Because people don't know better they treat their cats like their dogs and think they can throw them random leftovers as they do their dogs. Some people even feed their cats dog food and that can be fatal over a period of time because cats aren't getting the proper nutrition. Dog food has a lot of carbs in it and cats can't digest them well.
Cats also have trouble with obesity and carbs tend to pack on the pounds which in turn can make a cat susceptible to diabetes.
"Feeding cats correctly is definitely a ʻpay me now or pay me laterʼ issue," said veterinarian Lisa A. Pierson on her website, catinfo.org.
High on the list is water. Cats need water and are prone to kidney problems without it, although cats themselves are not too aware of this.
"Cats do not have a very strong thirst drive when compared to other species. Therefore, it is critical for them to ingest a water-rich diet. Think of canned food as flushing your cat's urinary tract several times a day," Pierson said. "This is a very important tool to keep your cat from developing urinary tract problems including life-threatening urethral blockages, infection, inflammation (cystitis), and possibly chronic kidney disease which is a leading cause of death in cats."
Pierson is not a big fan of dry cat food. The water content is low and dry cat food is full of carbs.
You can ask your own vet what they recommend for your cat. Many factors will decide how and what you should feed them. Does your cat just stay indoors or is it a more active outdoor cat? Has it been spayed or neutered? These can affect the nutrition needs of your pet. Again your vet is your best guideline.
When you are picking your cat's food look for the label that says it meets the standards set by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). That ensures that the food meets at least the minimum nutritional needs of your cat.
Many people feed their dogs like they feed their family. I have a sister who buys her maltese a cooked chicken from Costco each week. She cooks for her dog...
By Stacey Cohen
Drunk driving deaths decline in 2013
The news comes as the feds begin their holiday drunk driving crackdown
Fewer people died last year in car crashes involving drunk driving.
According to the Transportation Department (DOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving deaths declined by 2.5% in 2013. Even with this decrease, 10,076 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver in last year --1 death every 52 minutes. December 2013 was the month with the lowest number of drunk driving fatalities -- 733 lives lost.
“We will continue to be relentless in our effort to curb drunk driving because each life is precious,” said DOT Anthony Secretary Foxx. “Too many lives are still being cut far too short because of drunk driving. We can stop these tragedies by making the decision not to allow ourselves or our loved ones to get behind the wheel after drinking.”
SaferRide app unveiled
SaferRide a new app introduced by NHTSA is designed to help keep drunk drivers off the road by allowing users to call a taxi or a friend and by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available starting for Android devices on Google Play.
“We’re making progress in the fight against drunk driving by working with law enforcement and our safety partners, and by arming people with useful tools, such as our new SaferRide app,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. “This holiday season, don’t make the selfish and deadly choice to drink and drive.”
During this year’s crackdown, which started on December 15 and continues until January 1, 2015, more than 10,000 participating police departments and law enforcement agencies will be out in force to get drunk drivers off the road. These efforts are supported by an $8 million dollar U.S. DOT national advertising campaign conveying NHTSA’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over message.
It is against the law in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to drive a vehicle while legally drunk, with a blood alcohol concentration BAC of .08 or higher. All states also prohibit anyone under the age of 21 to drink and to drive with any BAC in their system.
Fewer people died last year in car crashes involving drunk driving. According to the Transportation Department (DOT and the National Highway Traffic Safet...
Mortgage applications fell last week for the third time in four weeks.
Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey show that after rising the previous week, applications were down 3.3% during the week ending December 12.
“Amid plummeting oil prices and heightened concerns regarding global economic growth, interest rates dropped sharply through the course of the week, with longer-term Treasury yields falling more than 10 basis points. The average mortgage rate also dropped during the week, with several lenders offering 30-year fixed-rate loans with rates below four percent. The 30-year conforming rate was at its lowest level since May 2013, and the 30-year jumbo rate averaged 3.99 percent for the week,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist.
“Surprisingly -- given this large drop in rates -- applications for conventional refinance mortgages did not increase last week.” But, he added, “there was a notable pickup in government refinance applications, which were up 11% for the week, led by an almost 16” increase in VA refinance applications.”
The Refinance Index was unchanged from the previous week, while the refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 66% of total applications -- the highest level since December 2013.
The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity dropped to 6.2% of total applications, while the FHA share fell to 8.7%. The VA share of total applications rose to 10.6% and the USDA share of total applications was unchanged at 0.8%.
Contract interest rates
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) fell 5 basis points -- from 4.11% to 4.06% -- the lowest level since May 2013. Points decreased to 0.21 from 0.28 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate was lower.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) dropped to 3.99% -- the lowest level since May 2013 -- from 4.07%, with points rising to 0.28 from 0.16 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs backed by the FHA slipped 1 basis point 3.86%, with points dipping to -0.04 from 0.03 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate was down from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages slid to 3.33% from 3.35%, with points decreasing to 0.27 from 0.30 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs plunged 11 basis points to 3.00%, with points increasing to 0.43 from 0.19 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The survey covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications.
Mortgage applications fell last week for the third time in four weeks. decreased 3.3 percent from one week earlier, according to Data from the Mortgage B...
Wegmans Food Markets is recalling about 7,000 Gift Gallery Moody Face Stress Balls.
These rubber stress balls can break into pieces when squeezed, posing a choking hazard to young children.
No incidents or injuries have been reported.
The Gift Gallery Moody Face Stress Balls are solid rubber balls that you can squeeze in your hand. They were sold in five colors: blue, green, orange, red and yellow and have black eyes and mouth as a smiley face printed on the front with pink, orange or yellow yarn hair on top. The balls measure about 2.5 inches in diameter.
The stress balls were packaged in a clear bag with a white square label that has the “Gift Gallery” logo, model number 205617 and UPC code 0-67103-30053-6.
The balls, manufactured in China, were sold at Wegmans in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia during September 2014 for about $1.
Consumers should immediately stop using these stress balls and return them to any Wegmans service desk for a full refund.
Consumers may contact Wegmans consumer affairs toll-free at (855)-934-3663 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
Wegmans Food Markets is recalling about 7,000 Gift Gallery Moody Face Stress Balls. These rubber stress balls can break into pieces when squeezed, posing ...
When electronic cigarettes arrived on the scene they were billed as a safer alternative to cigarettes and a nicotine alternative that could help some smokers quit.
They may be that, though the jury is still out. But anti-smoking activists worried that these devices, which deliver nicotine through water vapor instead of smoke, would eventually be adopted by teens, hooking them on nicotine. Sooner or later, the activists said, these young people would graduate to cigarettes.
Cancer researchers in Hawaii say they are seeing evidence teens are, in fact, gravitating to e-cigarettes. Their data, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that nearly 30% of the more than 1,900 teens surveyed in Hawaii had tried e-cigarettes. Of those, 17% were regularly using e-cigarettes, a practice known as “vaping.”
Three times greater
Those numbers are about 3 time greater than previously reported in earlier research. In fact, very few adolescents in the national studies were just using e-cigarettes.
The Hawaii survey, which questioned 14- and 15-year-olds, measured responses to a broad range of substances – e-cigarettes, cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana. Researchers said teens who only used e-cigarettes were found to be intermediate in levels of risk and protective factors between nonusers and those who used both cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
“This raises a question about whether e-cigarettes are recruiting low-risk youth, who would otherwise not try smoking, to tobacco product use,” the authors wrote.
Dr. Thomas Wills, of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center's Prevention and Control Program, said researchers aren't sure why the rate of e-cigarette use is so high among teens in Hawaii. He thinks one reason may be that young people underestimate the difficulty of abstaining from nicotine once you become addicted. But there could be other reasons.
"The marketing is very aggressive here," he said, noting that manufacturers place ads at venues such as movie theaters that are accessible to teenagers.
They also make flavored liquids in varieties such as mango and pineapple. Other reasons could include the high tax rate on cigarettes in Hawaii, which makes alternatives such as e-cigarettes more attractive from a cost perspective.
The Food and Drug Administration has been studying these issues for more than a year, with the expectation the agency will issue e-cigarette regulations. Some manufacturers have supported regulations that would bar e-cigarette sales to minors.
Fuel for debate
The Hawaii study may add fuel to the debate over e-cigarettes, and whether these devices are a gateway to tobacco. Researchers at the University at Buffalo say it may be hard to determine that, since the data we have on teen smoking is not that accurate.
Their study says many public health agencies rely too heavily on reports of monthly cigarette use, a broad statistic that makes it difficult to draw conclusions about current habits and historical changes in behavior.
“We need information on smoking intensity to assess health risk, because heavy smoking causes more disease and death than light smoking,” said study co-author Lynn Kozlowski. “Also, non-daily smokers often represent lower-level exposure to carcinogens and can be more likely to quit.”
Not only should there be more accurate ways to assess cigarette smoking, Kozlowski says health researchers need much better data on who is using e-cigarettes and how they're using them.
“Given the increasing popularity of vaping, there needs to be more regular and diligent reporting of frequency and intensity of the use both of cigarettes and tobacco/nicotine products like e-cigarettes to insure accurate conclusions about the trends in teen tobacco use,” Kozlowski said.
When e-electronic cigarettes arrived on the scene they were billed as a safer alternative to cigarettes and a nicotine alternative that could help some smo...