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    How to tell if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes

    American Diabetes Association introduces app to help answer that question

    As Americans have become increasingly overweight and obese, there has been an explosion in the cases of type 2 diabetes. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 is largely tied to lifestyle risk factors.

    In 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated 29.1 million people – 9.3% of the U.S. population – had diabetes, a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar, or glucose.

    Type 2 was once most common in adults – typically older adults – but the Mayo Clinic reports that it has increasingly begun to affect large numbers of children. The disease is managed through insulin drugs, as well as by eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

    In addition to the growing number of diabetes cases, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates another 86 million American adults probably have prediabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels are higher than normal. More disturbing, the group says about 8 million Americans may have the disease and not know it.

    Risk factors

    How do you know if you or your child is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Being obese and living a sedentary lifestyle are 2 significant risk factors.

    The ADA has developed a Diabetes Risk Test, an online app that allows users to measure their risks of developing the disease. The quiz asks users to answer short questions about weight, age, family history and other potential risk factors for diabetes.

    The results are compiled into a numerical score that indicate either a low or high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. If the results suggest a high risk, the ADA urges you to speak with a health care provider to learn more about ways to either reduce the risk or delay the onset of the disease.

    “Awareness is crucial in the effort to stop Diabetes,” said David Marrero, an executive at ADA. “We’re asking the public to take It. Share it. Step out. Take one minute to take the risk test today, share it with your loved ones and get started getting active by getting involved in your local Step Out event. The Diabetes Risk Test can be the first step in knowing your risk and helping us get closer to our vision of a life free of diabetes and all of its burdens.”

    Primary risk factors

    Doctors say you are most at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you are overweight, sedentary, over the age of 45 and have a family history of diabetes. African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at an increased risk, as are women who have had gestational diabetes or had babies weighing more than nine pounds at birth.

    Symptoms

    How do you know if you have the disease? Symptoms can include blurred vision, excessive thirst and frequent urination. The problem is, these symptoms may not show up at the onset of the disease.

    ADA is trying to close what it sees as a diagnosis gap, getting treatment to patients earlier in the disease and heading off dangerous complicaitons, like heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and even death.

    The group cites studies showing type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by losing just 7% of body weight, regular physical activity and healthy eating.

    As Americans have become increasingly overweight and obese, there has been an explosion in the cases of type 2 diabetes. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 is ...
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    Studies suggest distracted driving getting worse

    But not all distractions are related to cellphones

    Two new studies of highway accidents and driver behavior are shedding new light on distracted driving, in particular on the part of young drivers.

    The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distracted driving was a contributing factor in nearly 60% of moderate-to-serious crashes involving teen drivers.

    This was something of a surprise since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had previously estimated that distracted driving contributed to only 14% of accidents involving teen-age drivers.

    According to the study drivers were seen engaging in some type of potentially distracting behavior leading up to 58% of all crashes that were examined. Two distractions played the biggest roles: in 14.9% of the crashes the driver got distracted while attending to a passenger. In 11.9% of the accidents, he or she was using a cell phone.

    Cell phone use was significantly more likely in cases where the vehicle left the road. Overall, males and females were equally likely to be engaged in potentially distracting behavior. However, females were more likely than males to have been using a cell phone, engaged in personal grooming, or singing or dancing to music prior to the crash.

    Driver behavior

    A second study, sponsored by Erie Insurance, also points to a wide range of distracting behaviors behind the wheel that have the potential to lead to traffic accidents. To gather its data the study asked subjects whether they engaged in certain behaviors.

    Besides the obvious phone distractions of texting and talking, other distractions people admitted to ranged from public displays of affection to personal grooming to taking selfies.

    "A distraction is anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, or their mind off their primary task of driving safely," said Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at Erie Insurance. "Our survey found drivers unfortunately are engaging in a wide range of distracting and potentially dangerous behaviors."

    Non cellphone distractions

    For example, 15% admitted to engaging in a romantic encounter, with public displays of affection, with someone while driving. An equal number admitted to combing or styling their hair while behind the wheel.

    Believe it or not 9% said they had changed clothes while driving. Eight percent said they had put on make-up and 4% said they had flossed or brushed their teeth while driving.

    Amazingly, 3% said they, as a driver, had changed positions with a passenger while underway.

    Other distractions showing up in the survey include putting in contact lenses or eye drops; curling eyelashes; scratching off lottery tickets; and even playing the guitar while driving.

    Regional difference

    When it comes to texting behind the wheel, there appears to be pronounced regional differences. Drivers in the south are most likely to text while driving, with 35% admitting to having done it. However, only 24% of drivers in the northeast admit to texting behind the wheel.

    Overall, the Erie survey suggests texting and driving remains a significant problem, with 30% of drivers saying they've done it and 75% saying they have seen other drivers do it.

    The survey found that texting while driving also remains a serious problem, with about one-third of drivers saying they themselves have done it and three-quarters saying they've seen others do it.

    Two new studies of highway accidents and driver behavior are shedding new light on distracted driving, in particular on the part of young drivers....
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    Electric toothbrushes leave a bad taste in some consumers' mouths

    Reports include durability issues, mold problems and other annoyances

    A toothbrush used to be a fairly simple device -- some bristles and a handle. But like everything, this rudimentary implement has become more complex and, therefore, expensive.

    But unlike a $600 smartphone, a good electric toothbrush can have very real health benefits, providing a massage motion that can help protect against gum disease while removing plaque and keeping teeth white.

    Philips pioneered the concept and still dominates the market with its Sonicare line of electric toothbrushes. But not everyone is happy, including longtime customers who say the quality isn't what it used to be.

    Other consumers have had problems with mold build-up and general durability issues. 

    Sonicare is heavily recommended by dentists so it may be that the gripes we've heard are isolated incidents. Before spending big bucks on any electric toothbrush, it might be worth checking with your dentist to see if he has strong feelings -- and evidence to back them up.

    A toothbrush used to be a fairly simple device -- some bristles and a handle. But like everything, this rudimentary implement has become more complex and,...
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      A slowdown in the rate of economic growth

      The fourth quarter was less than half of the pace set in the previous three months

      The government's third estimate of fourth quarter real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the production of goods and services in the U.S., adjusted for price changes -- is in and it looks just like the second estimate.

      According to the Commerce Department, GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.2% -- the same reading we saw a month ago in the second estimate. By way of comparison, the economy grew at a 5.0% annual rate in the third quarter.

      While there was no change in the bottom line, this latest estimate is based on more complete source data than were available last month. While there were larger increases in exports and in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) than previously estimated, the change in private inventories was smaller.

      As a result, the general picture of the economy for the fourth quarter remains the same.

      Additions and subtractions

      The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from PCE, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment. These were were partly offset by declines in federal government spending and private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

      The deceleration in real GDP growth primarily reflected an upturn in imports, a downturn in federal government spending, a deceleration in nonresidential fixed investment, and a larger decrease in private inventory investment that were partly offset by accelerations in PCE and in state and local government spending.

      For 2014 as a whole, real GDP increased 2.4% compared with an advance 2.2% in 2013.

      Inflation

      The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, slipped 0.1% in the fourth quarter -- the same decrease as in the second estimate following a 1.4% increase in the third quarter.

      Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases -- the “core” -- rose 0.7%, compared with a third-quarter increase of 1.6%.

      Corporate Profits

      Profits from current production plunged $30.4 billion in the fourth quarter, after soaring $64.5 billion in the third.

      For all of 2014, corporate profits were down $17.1 billion; they rose $84.1 billion the year before.

      The complete GDP report is available on the Commerce Department website.

      The government's third estimate of fourth quarter real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the production of goods and services in the U.S., adjus...
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      La Terra Fina expands recall of products containing organic spinach

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria

      La Terra Fina is expanding its recall of products containing organic spinach to include these products that were manufactured on the same production equipment on the same day as the product in the original recall.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria.

      There have been no confirmed cases of illness in relation to these products.

      The following recalled products were distributed to Costco stores in the Northwest, Midwest, Northeast and Southeast regions and Smart & Final stores along the West Coast only:

      Product DescriptionItem #UPC CodeBest By DateRetailer Region
      Spinach Artichoke & Parmesan Dip made with Greek Yogurt 31oz. tub3799036-40410-51338-94/14/15
      4/20/15
      Costco - NW Region
      Chunky Spinach Artichoke & Parmesan Dip 31oz. tub4076006-40410-51193-43/31/15
      4/5/15
      4/29/15
      Costco - MW, NE & SE Regions
      Chunky Spinach Artichoke & Parmesan Dip 31oz. tub43001936-40410-51193-43/28/15
      4/29/15
      Smart & Final-West Coast

      The "best by" date for each product can be found on the side of the container.

      Consumers who purchased the recalled products should discard or return them the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers may contact La Terra Fina at 510-404-5889 between Monday and Friday, 8:30AM - 5PM PST.

      La Terra Fina is expanding its recall of products containing organic spinach to include these products that were manufactured on the same production equipm...
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      BMW recalls motorcycles with rear wheel issue

      The rear wheel mounting flange may crack

      BMW of North America is recalling 43,426 model year 2005-2010 R1200GS and R1200RT, 2006-2010 R1200GS Adventure, 2007-2010 R1200R, 2007 R1200S and K1200R Sport, 2005-2007 R1200ST, 2008-2009 HP2 Megamoto, 2006 HP2 Enduro, 2008-2010 HP2 Sport, 2005-2008 K1200S, 2006-2008 K1200R, K1200GT, 2009-2011 K1300S, 2010-2011 K1300R, and 2009-2010 K1300GT motorcycles.

      The rear wheel mounting flange may crack if the rear wheel mounting bolts are overtightened. This could loosen the mounting bolts and the rear wheel may not remain secured to the motorcycle, causing a loss of stability and increasing the risk of a crash.

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the existing aluminum rear wheel flange with a steel one, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin April 21, 2015.

      Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417.

      BMW of North America is recalling 43,426 model year 2005-2010 R1200GS and R1200RT, 2006-2010 R1200GS Adventure, 2007-2010 R1200R, 2007 R1200S and K1200R Sp...
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      Specialized Bicycle Components recalls Aerobars

      The bolt used to affix the Aerobars to the bicycle can loosen

      Specialized Bicycle Components of Morgan Hill, Calif., is recalling about 8,300 Aerobars bicycle handlebars.

      The bolt used to affix the Aerobars to the bicycle can loosen, posing a fall hazard to the rider.

      The firm has received 4 reports of the Aerobars bolt loosening. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves carbon and alloy Aerobars sold individually and with model years 2012 through 2015 Specialized Shiv bicycles and model year 2013 Specialized Transition Apex bicycles.

      The carbon Aerobar was sold in black with a white Specialized logo on the top side of the handlebar, and the alloy model was sold in black with no markings.

      The Aerobars, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold at authorized Specialized Bicycle dealers nationwide and online at www.specialized.com from November 2011 to February 2015 for between $200 and $575.

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled Aerobars and contact Specialized Bicycle Components to receive replacement extension mounting hardware.

      Consumers may contact Specialized Bicycle Components at (800) 722-4423 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.

      Specialized Bicycle Components of Morgan Hill, Calif., is recalling about 8,300 Aerobars bicycle handlebars. The bolt used to affix the Aerobars to the b...
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      Scientists think saccharin could be a cancer-fighting tool

      It may destroy harmful protein, making other cancer drugs more effective

      In the 1960s, when American consumers first began to worry about their waistlines, food manufacturers started using more of the artificial sweetener saccharin, as a sugar substitute.

      It wasn't long before scientists were issuing warnings. Saccharin, they said, was linked to bladder cancer in rats.

      It turns out it wasn't, but it took about 30 years for other scientists to reach that conclusion. Today, saccharin is still a widely used artificial sweetener and now, in something of an irony, might turn out to be an effective weapon against some types of cancer.

      In information presented this week at the American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting in Denver, researchers shared tantalizing findings that suggest this popular sugar substitute could potentially play a role in the development of drugs capable of combating aggressive, difficult-to-treat cancers with fewer side effects.

      Untapped uses

      “It never ceases to amaze me how a simple molecule, such as saccharin — something many people put in their coffee everyday — may have untapped uses, including as a possible lead compound to target aggressive cancers,” said Robert McKenna, of the University of Florida. “This result opens up the potential to develop a novel anti-cancer drug that is derived from a common condiment that could have a lasting impact on treating several cancers.”

      Without getting too technical, the scientists working with saccharin found it binds to and deactivates a protein found some some of the more aggressive forms of cancer, such as in the breast, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas and brain.

      The researchers believe a saccharin-based drug could slow the growth of these cancers and maybe make them less resistant to chemo or radiation therapies.

      The destructive protein attacked by saccharine is very similar to other substances that the body needs to keep cells healthy. Previous drug candidates have all damaged the healthy proteins as well as the cancer-causing one.

      Building on previous work

      But in previous research, scientists at the University of Florence, Italy, discovered that saccharin inhibits the actions of the harmful protein but not the 14 other carbonic anhydrase proteins that are vital to human survival.

      In other words, saccharine only attacks the harmful protein while ignoring the healthy ones.

      Building on this finding, a team of researchers at Griffith University, Australia, created a compound in which a molecule of glucose was chemically linked to saccharin.

      This small change turned out to have big effects. Not only did it reduce the amount of saccharin needed to inhibit the harmful protein, the compound was 1,000 times more likely to bind to the enzyme than saccharin.

      Using X-ray crystallography, McKenna and his students Jenna Driscoll and Brian Mahon are investigating how saccharin-based compounds might be tweaked to enhance their anti-cancer treatment potential.

      McKenna’s team is currently testing the effects of saccharin and saccharin-based compounds on breast and liver cancer cells. If successful, these experiments could lead to animal studies.

      In the 1960s, when American consumers first began to worry about their waistlines, food manufacturers started using more of the artificial sweetener saccha...
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      Marchionne insists fire-prone Jeeps are safe; consumer questions safety of supposed fix

      The hitches being installed to prevent fires are not suitable for towing

      Older Jeep Grand Cherokees are not defective, even though 270 deaths have been attributed to fires caused by exploding gas tanks, according to Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of FDA US LLC, the company that was once called Chrysler.

      Marchionne testified earlier this week in the trial of a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the parents of Remi Walden, 4, killed when the family's 1999 Grand Cherokee burst into flames after it was rear-ended in 2012.

      This has been Marchionne's position throughout the controversy surrounding older Jeep Cherokee and Liberty models that were built with the gas tank behind the rear axle, making it prone to damage in rear-end collisions. 

      Way back in 2011, consumer crusader Ralph Nader called the Jeeps "a modern day Pinto for soccer moms with a fuel tank located dangerously behind the rear axle in the crush zone of an impact." The Pinto also had its fuel tank mounted behind the axle and was prone to fires in rear-end accidents.

      Nader called on Chrysler to recall the Jeeps before more lives were lost but nothing was done. Chrysler denied the Jeeps were unsafe and federal safety regulators continued to study the issue. 

      "Not an engineer"

      In his videotaped testimony, Marchionne said he is "not an engineer" and had "no way of knowing" whether more recent Jeeps, with the gas tanks in front of the rear axle, are safer. 

      Yet, although he is not an engineer, Marchionne negotiated a non-recall solution to the issue in a secret meeting with outgoing federal safety officials at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

      As a result of that secret, off-the-record meeting, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) agreed to let Chrysler install trailer hitches on the affected Jeeps, the idea being that the hitch will protect the gas tanks from impacts, even though no engineering studies were presented to support that theory.

      Safety advocates were furious.

      "We call on NHTSA to do crash tests of Chrysler's proposed remedy, just as it did with Ford's proposed remedy for the Pinto in 1978, to determine that the modified Jeeps meet the present Safety Standard just as the Pinto's had to the meet the new Safety Standard in 1978," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. 

      Instead, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood approved the deal and "retired," embarking on a lucrative career as a lobbyist and public affairs executive.

      The hitch that isn't

      The non-recall, meanwhile, has been going about as smoothly as the years-long effort to get Chrysler to take responsibility for the problem. Consumers have been complaining that dealers say they don't have the parts they need to make the modifications, even though the parts in question consist of a simple trailer hitch and even though Chrysler has been urging consumers to bring their Jeeps in promptly to have the hitch installed.

      Consumers who do that and who pay attentiion may be surprised, however. We heard recently from a Jeep owner named Jeff who had the modification performed but isn't convinced it's much of a safety solution.

      "A communication from Chrysler emphatically states that this assembly NOT be used for towing, since no wiring harness and/or other heavy-duty components are not included," Jeff said.

      "This poses a few questions. One, why did the recall take so long to implement since we are using already designed stock parts? Two, if the towing package cannot be used, why not bolt on some structural steel and be done? Three, if a future owner doesn't know that the hitch is not to be used, what prevents him from using it and possibly damaging the vehicle?" he asked.

      Good questions. 

      Timeline of Jeep Cherokee Fire Scandal

      Older Jeep Grand Cherokees are not defective, even though 270 deaths have been attributed to fires caused by exploding gas tanks, according to Sergio March...
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      Northern Arizona named top online college

      School cited for affordability, flexibility and academic rigor

      Once almost exclusively a feature of for-profit colleges, online degree programs have since flourished at non-profit private and public universities. As a result, a college education has recently become more flexible and more affordable.

      More flexible in that a college student can work full or part time while completing their degree from the comfort of their living room, doing the course work at any hour of the day or night.

      Affordable, in that the competition between colleges and universities for online students has kept tuition hikes in check.

      Ranking online schools

      So which online college is best? There are any number of ratings services but BestCollegeReviews.com has just reviewed 400 online colleges and picked its top 25.

      It used three criteria to measure the colleges and universities – criteria that consumers might also use in selecting a school.

      First, the reviewers looked at affordability, measuring the average cost of attending one semester, taking 15 credit hours.

      Second, they assessed flexibility, counting the number of bachelor's degree-granting programs students may enter. A secondary consideration – the flexibility with which students may obtain a degree.

      Finally, the reviewers measured academic rigor and support, looking at the strength and reputation of the online program’s parent institution as well as the range of support services for online college students.

      $2,500 per semester

      When all was said in done, Northern Arizona University topped the list. It won praise for its 45 bachelor’s level degrees that can be completed entirely online.

      It was also one of the most affordable schools on the list with an estimated per-semester cost of only $2,500. Students may take an unlimited number of courses online for a six month period. There are no lab or course fees, and all materials required by the courses are available online.

      Arizona State University was second on the list. It's far from the least expensive school, but won praise for its 47 bachelor’s degree programs that are fully online. There are 80-plus programs when specializations and non-bachelor’s level programs are included.

      Value for the money

      Degree offerings are comprehensive, ranging from art, business, communications, culture, education, engineering, health, language, to STEM. There are 6 start dates available per year, allowing students to start on their degree when it works best for them. The $7672 per semester tuition is considered a good value for the education and flexibility it provides.

      Granite State College places third on the list, with 29 fully online bachelor’s level degrees that may be completed at full-time, part-time, or accelerated rates. Program offerings are comprehensive, ranging from digital and social media, to nursing, to education. Its tuition is the 10th most affordable, coming in at $4,675 per semester.

      Rounding out the top 10 are:

      4. University of Central Florida

      5. State University of New York

      6. Oregon State University

      7. American Public University System

      8. Ft. Hayes State University

      9. Pennsylvania State World Campus

      10. Grand Canyon University

      Once almost exclusively a feature of for-profit colleges, online degree programs have since flourished at non-profit private and public universities. As a ...
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      Almost half of all Android OS devices vulnerable to “Android Installer Hijacking”

      Major malware threat when downloading third-party apps

      Bad news for Android phone users: security researchers at Palo Alto Networks have discovered a vulnerability they've dubbed “Android Installer Hijacking” in Google's Android operating systems, and even after the release of a security patch almost half of all Android handsets remain vulnerable to it.

      The vulnerability seems to apply when you either download apps from third-party app stores, or click on ads from a mobile advertisement library. If you have an Android OS but have only ever downloaded apps from the official Google Play store, it appears you have nothing to worry about, at least where this particular threat is concerned.

      According to Palo Alto researcher Zhi Xu, the vulnerability has been patched in Android versions 4.3_r0.9 and later, but devices with Android 4.3 remain vulnerable – which corresponds to roughly 49.9 percent of currently monitored handsets, according to Google estimates.

      Xu wrote that Android Installer Hijacking is essentially a Time-Of-Check To Time-Of-Use vulnerability (TOCTTOU, pronounced “Tock Too”), which “allows an attacker to modify or replace a seemingly benign Android app with malware, without user knowledge.”

      Switcharoo

      TOCTTOU is basically the malware version of what pre-computer con artists might've called “the old switcharoo.” Basically, before an app can be installed, it must pass the permissions process: your phone's security program inspects the file to make sure it's valid. And it is, so the app gets permission to be installed on your device – except that in the nanosecond between “granting permission to the file” and “installing it,” TOCTTOU lets the hacker pull the old switcharoo, replacing the valid permission-granted file for a invalid and malware-riddled one.

      So what happens if your phone falls for this particular TOCTTOU? Your standard malware-infection problems – in this instance, “full access to a compromised device, including usernames, passwords, and sensitive data,” according to Palo Alto.

      If you have a device with an Android OS, and you've downloaded third-party apps (as opposed to apps acquired through the Google Play store), Palo Alto released a vulnerability scanner app in the Google Play store, and posted a tutorial video for it here.

      Bad news for Android phone users: security researchers at Palo Alto Networks have discovered a vulnerability they've dubbed “Android Installer Hijacking” i...
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      A bigger-than-expected drop in jobless claims

      The total is well below the 300k level

      A large decline in initial jobless claims sent the total well below the 300,000 level last week.

      Figures released by the Labor Department (DOL) put the total of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits at a seasonally adjusted 282,000 during the week ending March 21, down 9,000 from the previous week.

      The consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Briefing.com was for a much smaller decline -- to 290,000.

      The government says there were no special factors affecting this week's initial claims.

      Bankrate.com Chief Washington Correspondent Mark Hamrick points out that the level of new claims for unemployment benefits has remained at a level underscoring that layoffs are not the chief irritant for the U.S. economy. “As hiring has accelerated over the past few years, we've seen a steady decline in the unemployment rate.” he said. “Despite some concern about another soft patch in the U.S. economy this winter, the level of jobless claims indicates the job market is remaining in largely the same trajectory as seen before.”

      After 3 weeks above the 300,000 level, the 4-week moving average was down 7,750 -- to 297,000. The measure strips out the volatility found in the initial claims data, and is considered by analysts to be a more accurate gauge of the labor market.

      The full report may be found on the DOL website.

      A large decline in initial jobless claims sent the total well below the 300,000 level last week. Figures released by the Labor Department (DOL) put the to...
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      Proposal would require payday lenders to be sure borrowers could repay their loans

      Feds say their proposal would plug "debt traps" that snare unwary consumers

      Millions of consumers wind up in a cycle of debt when they're unable to repay their payday loans, car title loans nd other high-cost loans. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a proposal that it thinks would improve the situation.

      The bureau is proposing rules that would require lenders to be sure consumers have the ability to repay their loans before loaning them the money. The proposed rule would also ban lenders from trying to raid consumers' bank accounts in ways that tend to rack up excessive fees. 

      The proposed rules would apply to payday loans, vehicle title loans, deposit advance products, and certain high-cost installment loans and open-end loans.

      “Today we are taking an important step toward ending the debt traps that plague millions of consumers across the country,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Too many short-term and longer-term loans are made based on a lender’s ability to collect and not on a borrower’s ability to repay. The proposals we are considering would require lenders to take steps to make sure consumers can pay back their loans. These common sense protections are aimed at ensuring that consumers have access to credit that helps, not harms them.”

      Lenders not thrilled

      Predictably, payday lenders aren't thrilled with the idea.

      "Payday loans represent an important source of credit for millions of Americans who live from paycheck to paycheck," said Dennis Shaul, CEO of the Community Financial Services Association, an industry group, in a prepared statement. "The traditional banking system alone does not adequately serve 24 million underbanked households, according to the FDIC. More than 19 million households choose to use payday loans each year for their credit needs."

      Consumer advocates, on the other hand, praised the proposals.

      “The evidence shows that payday loans are easy to get into and hard to get out of,” said Tom Feltner, director of financial services at the Consumer Federation of America.  “An objective assessment of a borrower’s ability to repay a loan based on their income and expenses promises to end the financial hardship that inevitably follows abusive lending.”

      The CFPB said it is publishing an outline of its proposals today in preparation for convening a Small Business Review Panel to gather feedback from small lenders, which is the next step in the rulemaking process.

      Vulnerable consumers

      The proposals under consideration cover both short-term and longer-term credit products that are often marketed heavily to financially vulnerable consumers.

      The CFPB said it recognizes consumers’ need for affordable credit but is concerned that the practices often associated with these products – such as failure to underwrite for affordable payments, repeatedly rolling over or refinancing loans, holding a security interest in a vehicle as collateral, accessing the consumer’s account for repayment, and performing costly withdrawal attempts – can trap consumers in debt. These debt traps also can leave consumers vulnerable to deposit account fees and closures, vehicle repossession, and other financial difficulties.

      The proposals under consideration provide two different approaches to eliminating debt traps – prevention and protection. Under the prevention requirements, lenders would have to determine at the outset of each loan that the consumer is not taking on unaffordable debt.

      Under the protection requirements, lenders would have to comply with various restrictions designed to ensure that consumers can affordably repay their debt. Lenders could choose which set of requirements to follow. 

      Millions of consumers wind up in a cycle of debt when they're unable to repay their payday loans, car title loans nd other high-cost loans. The Consumer Fi...
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      Twin City Foods recalls various spinach products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Twin City Foods of Stanwood, Wash., is recalling the following spinach products, which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes:

      • Cadia Organic Cut Spinach, 16 oz. frozen packages; UPC 15369 01165; Package code: 23424; Product distributed only in California
      • Meijer Organics Chopped Spinach, 16 oz. frozen packages; UPC 41250 02362; Package code: BEST BY FEB 2017 50415; Distributed to warehouses in Mich., Ohio, and Wis.
      • Wild Harvest Organic Cut Leaf Spinach, 16 oz. frozen packages; UPC 11535 50170; Package code: SELL BY 08.DEC.2016 L084WE, Distributed to warehouses in Ariz., Calif., and Wash. Package code: SELL BY 22.JAN.2017 A225WE, Distributed to warehouses in Pa., and Va. Package code: SELL BY 30.JAN.2017 A305WE, Distributed to warehouses in Del., Maine, Pa., and Va. Package code: SELL BY 04.MAR.2017 C045WE, Distributed to warehouses in Maine and Pa.
      • Wegmans Organic Just Picked Spinach, 12 oz. frozen packages; UPC 77890 32932;Package code: BEST USED BY JAN.26.2017 50265, Distributed to warehouses in N.Y., and Pa. Package code: BEST USED BY FEB.02.2017 50335, Distributed to warehouses in N.Y., and Pa.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      Consumers who purchased the affected products should not consume them and immediately return them to the store where purchased for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Mark Hubbard at (804) 385-3772 Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET, or by email at mhubbard@mwcllc.com.

      Twin City Foods of Stanwood, Wash., is recalling the following spinach products, which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes: Cadia Organic Cut ...
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      General Motors recalls model year 2011-2013 Volts

      There could be a build up of carbon monoxide

      General Motors is recalling 50,236 model year 2011-2013 Volts manufactured August 25, 2010, to June 26, 2013.

      If the driver exits the vehicle without turning off the electrical system, the battery may drain low enough that the gasoline engine will automatically start itself to recharge the electric battery. If the engine runs for an extended period of time in an enclosed space, there may be a build up of carbon monoxide, increasing the risk of personal injury.

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will update the engine management software to limit the time that the stationary vehicle can be left in the ON position, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is 14617.

      General Motors is recalling 50,236 model year 2011-2013 Volts manufactured August 25, 2010, to June 26, 2013. If the driver exits the vehicle without tur...
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      Superior Foods recalls Simply Balanced frozen organic chopped spinach

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Superior Foods of Watsonville, Calif., is recalling 8,475 Cases Of Simply Balanced 10-oz packages of Frozen Organic Chopped Spinach.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The company says it is not aware of any illness complaints to date.

      The following recalled product was sold by Target retail stores nationwide:

      Simply Balanced Organic Chopped Spinach 10-oz steam in bag; DPCI # (Department, Class, Item.) 270-00-0663; UPC Code - 85239 00663;

      Production Date Code and Best By Code:

      • 4360SF3 through 7 J1 Best By 26/06/2016;
      • 4360SF3 through 7 J2 Best By 26/06/2016
      • 5026SF4 through 8 J1 Best By 26/07/2016
      • 5026SF4 through 8 J2 Best By 26/07/2016
      • 5051SF2 through 4 J1 Best By 20/08/2016
      • 5051SF2 through 4 J2 Best By 20/08/2016

      Consumers who have any of the product identified are urged to dispose it, or return it to the store where it was purchased for an exchange or full refund.

      Consumers with questions may call 1-866-672-0811 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

      Superior Foods of Watsonville, Calif., is recalling 8,475 Cases Of Simply Balanced 10-oz packages of Frozen Organic Chopped Spinach. The product may be co...
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      Linon Home Decor Products recalls foldable wood patio chairs

      The chair can unexpectedly tip over when a consumer sits on the edge of the seat

      Linon Home Decor Products of Mineola, N.Y., is recalling about 3,300 foldable outdoor patio chairs.

      The chair can unexpectedly tip over when a consumer sits on the edge of the seat, posing a fall hazard.

      The firm has received reports of 4 consumers who have fallen from tipped-over chairs, including 2 reports of minor injuries.

      This recall involves foldable outdoor patio chairs sold individually and as a table and two chair bistro set. The teak stained wood chairs measure 22 inches wide by 36 inches tall and have spaced wood slats on the back and seat. The foldable table measures 28 inches round by 28 inches tall.

      The chairs, manufactured in Vietnam, were sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, Daily Fair, Home Goods, Marshalls, Old Time Pottery and T.J. Maxx stores nationwide from February 2014, to February 2015, for about $30 for the chair and $150 for the set.

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled folding chairs and return the product to the store where purchased for a full refund.

      Consumers may contact Linon Home Decor Products at (800) 262-1852 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

      Linon Home Decor Products of Mineola, N.Y., is recalling about 3,300 foldable outdoor patio chairs. The chair can unexpectedly tip over when a consumer s...
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