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    Democratic chair co-sponsors bill to hamper CFPB's regulation of payday lenders

    Groups call on Debbie Wasserman Schultz to withdraw her support of the pro-industry bill

    While Republicans work to tighten the purse strings of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a number of Democrats -- including Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- are co-sponsoring a bill that would restrict the CFPB's ability to regulate payday lenders.

    An activist group says it has gathered 40,000 signatures demanding Wasserman Schultz' ouster and today, television viewers in her South Florida district are seeing TV and cable ads that include a recent news clip in which she calls payday lending "unfortunately ... necessary." 

    "What’s truly ‘unfortunate’ is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is still refusing to put her constituents and millions of vulnerable Americans ahead of an industry that has given her more than $68,000 in campaign cash,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, a liberal advocacy group. 

    Opponents of the measure Wasserman Schultz is co-sponsoring say it would encourage states to adopt the "Florida model" of regulating payday lenders, a model consumer groups have called "disastrous."

    “The average borrower in Florida pays more than 300% interest and ends up taking out nine loans each year. They find themselves trapped in a cycle of debt while payday lenders rake in piles of cash they then turn around and donate to powerful politicians like Wasserman Schultz. How anyone could describe this racket as ‘necessary’ – unfortunate or not – is beyond me," Frisch said. 

    New rules 

    The controversy is raging as the CFPB is expected to announce new national rules reigning in some of the worst abuses of the payday lending industry during a field hearing in Kansas City later this week.

    It also coincides with a nasty spat between Wasserman Schultz and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has accused Wasserman Schultz and other party bosses of being openly biased in favor of apparent front-runner Hillary Clinton in the contest for the Democratic Presidential nomination. 

    Sanders has called the fees charged by banks and other lenders "usury" and said he would open bank-like storefronts in post offices if elected. 

    Frisch says Wasserman Schultz should withdraw her support for H.R. 4018, the "Consumer Protection and Choice Act," which would prohibit the CFPB from enforcing its payday rules in any state that had enacted its own regulations. 

    Wasserman Schultz is one of nine Democratic co-sponsors of the bill, which has 15 Republican co-sponsors.  

    Allied Progress said it is making an initial investment of $100,000 to air its ad on network and cable television beginning May 31 and will be running it for at least a week.

    While Republicans work to tighten the purse strings of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a number of Democrats -- including Democratic Natio...
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    Is a new housing bubble forming?

    Median home prices are well beyond pre-housing crash levels in many markets

    The year-long housing market narrative has been one of rising prices, which has been cheered as a good economic sign.

    After all, the housing crash of 2008-09 left millions of homeowners underwater and led to widespread foreclosures.

    But real estate marketplace Zillow reports home prices are now rising faster than anyone expected. And it isn't due to a robust economy – it's because the supply of homes for sale has shrunk, making the homes that are on the market worth more.

    In its existing home sales report for April, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said the median price for all types of homes was $232,500 – a gain of 6.3% year-over-year.

    Zillow uses a different metric to measure home prices, and it places the median home price in the U.S. significantly less, at $187,000. Still, that's a 5% increase over the last 12 months and may be a cause for concern.

    Worries

    "The temporary relief from mortgage rates currently near three-year lows has helped preserve housing affordability this spring, but there's growing concern a number of buyers will be unable to find homes at affordable prices if wages don't rise and price growth doesn't slow," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist.

    The Zillow report shows a wide gap in home prices, depending on the market. While prices seem to be rising in most markets, the median price appears to be reaching bubble proportions in some markets faster than others.

    For example, in Dallas-Fort Worth, the median home price gained 12.6% in the last 12 months, but is only $183,000. San Francisco, meanwhile, saw a 10% appreciation in the median home price, which is now $806,800.

    Wide price variations

    Using Zillow's national median home value of $187,000 as a baseline, the median home in Dallas is 2% below the national average. However, the median home in San Francisco is more than four times the national average.

    Denver, the nation's hottest housing market, saw the median home value rise 15.2% in the last year to $336,600 – nearly twice the national average. The median home price in Los Angeles is $567,700, more than three times the national average.

    But the median home prices in Houston, Detroit, and Atlanta remain well below Zillow's national average, yet values grew in all three metros last year by at least 6%.

    If a housing bubble is forming, it isn't universally recognized. People in Atlanta aren't seeing it. But home buyers in markets where inventory is low and high-income jobs are plentiful certainly are.

    The year-long housing market narrative has been one of rising prices, which has been cheered as a good economic sign.After all, the housing crash of 20...
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      Communication expert sees some simple fixes for airport delays

      TSA urged to communicate better with novice travelers before they get to the gate

      The Memorial Day weekend came and went without headlines or viral videos about excessive waits to get through airport security. There were still extended waits at some airports, but nothing like the breakdowns that occurred the previous week.

      While things may have temporarily improved, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials say there will be no quick and easy fix. TSA, Congress, and the Airlines have blamed one another for the mess and passengers seem to blame all three.

      “Blame is great but it doesn’t solve anything,” said Guy McHendry, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Creighton University.

      A communications expert, McHendry has studied the delays at security checkpoints as a communication issue. He says he's observed several problems.

      Failure to communicate

      McHendry says TSA has very little communication directed at consumers who rarely travel by air. When confronted with security procedures, their lack of understanding of what is expected from them can slow things down.

      He notes that TSA has blamed passengers, in part, for the bottlenecks since they aren't prepared when they reach the checkpoint. But whose fault is that, he asks?

      “Seasoned travelers have it down to a science, they do it so regularly,” McHendry said. “But there’s another segment of travelers, arguably a larger segment, that doesn’t fly very often and, therefore, they see security as an interruption and inconvenience and they don’t always understand what it is they’re supposed to do at a checkpoint.”

      Things that could help

      McHendry says clearer statements of the expectations, better signage, and a cheerful TSA screener walking lines and providing helpful reminders could help move the process along. Better communication, he says, might also reduce the number of prohibited items that show up at checkpoints, contributing to delays.

      Finally, McHendry says better TSA internal communication might help morale and slow the turnover of personnel that has contributed to staff shortages.

      “TSA has to ask itself why people are leaving and what the impact will be,” he said.

      Another possible reason for the security bottlenecks may have its origins in drills conducted late last year. TSA officials carried out a number of operations in which people purposefully tried to get prohibited items through the security lines.

      Officials were chagrined to find that it was relatively easy to do. Early this year TSA screeners expanded their screening duties to ensure no banned items made it onto the aircraft.

      The Memorial Day weekend came and went without headlines or viral videos about excessive waits to get through airport security. There were still extended w...
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      Ad-blockers are now used by 22% of the world's smartphone users, report says

      Marketers continue to scramble for ways to advertise on the 'blocked web'

      According to a new report, 419 million people (22% of the world’s smartphone users) are now using mobile ad-blocking technology.

      PageFair's numbers also indicate that 408 million people are using mobile browsers that block ads by default.

      Smartphone users in China account for 159 million instances of mobile ad-blocking, while India is home to 122 million people using browsers that block ads.

      Mobile ad-blocking isn’t as quite as prevalent in Europe and here in North America, where there were 14 million monthly active users of mobile ad-blocking browsers as of March 2016.

      Finding new approaches

      Nancy Hill, CEO of 4A’s, says these numbers validate a long-standing concern in the digital media industry. The report also highlights a need for advertisers to rethink their marketing strategies.

      “Consumers are pushing back on mobile and online ads,” said Hill in a statement. “Now is the time for advertising professionals and marketers to take a hard look at ourselves to understand why consumers are not responding to these types of ads, and figure out how we can correct the issue to better engage with the consumers we’re trying to reach.”

      An earlier discussion, which sought the opinions of global stakeholders, delved into topic of sustainable advertising on the 'blocked web'. A report on the outcome of the discussion can be viewed here

      According to a new report, 419 million people (22% of the world’s smartphone users) are now using mobile ad-blocking technology.PageFair's numbers also...
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      Consumer confidence down in May for second straight month

      Personal incomes and spending were on the rise

      Another drop -- the second in as many months -- for consumer confidence.

      The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, fell to 92.6 in May from 94.7 a month earlier.

      Both the Present Situation Index and the Expectations Index were lower, dropping from 117.1 to 112.9, and 79.7 to 79.0, respectively.

      A large part of the decline was due to consumers rating current conditions less favorably than in April. In addition, “Expectations declined further,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, “as consumers remain cautious about the outlook for business and labor market conditions. Thus, they continue to expect little change in economic activity in the months ahead.”

      How they see it

      Consumers’ assessment of current conditions weakened in May, with the percentage seeing business conditions as “good” improving from 24.2% to 25.9%, but those saying business conditions are “bad” also increasing -- from 18.2% to 21.6%.

      Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was less favorable. The proportion who think jobs are “plentiful” was virtually unchanged at 24.3%; however, those who say they are “hard to get” rose from 22.8% to 24.4%.

      Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook than last month. Those who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose from 13.8% to 15.1%, while those expecting them to worsen also rose -- from 10.8% to 11.6%.

      The outlook for the labor market also was less favorable. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead was roughly the same at 12.8%; those anticipating fewer jobs jumped from 16.7% to 18.1%.

      The proportion of consumers who see their incomes rising improved from 15.8% to 16.2%, while those expecting a reduction held at 12.4%.

      The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 19.

      Personal income, spending

      The Commerce Department reports that personal income increased $69.8 billion, or 0.4% in April, while disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after personal current taxes -- rose $63.5 billion, or 0.5%.

      Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), meanwhile, increased $119.2 billion, or 1.0%.

      Compensation

      Wages and salaries were up $38.6 billion, after rising $30.7 billion in March. With that, private wages and salaries increased $37.2 billion, and government wages and salaries increased $1.4 billion.

      Personal outlays and saving

      Personal outlays -- PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments -- soared to $121.7 billion in April, compared with an increase of just $1.8 billion in March.

      Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was down to $751.1 billion in April from $809.4  billion the month before. As a result, the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- dropped to 5.4%, from 5.9%.

      The full report is on the Commerce Department website.

      Another drop -- the second in as many months -- for consumer confidence.The Conference Board reports its Consu...
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      Steady gains continue for home prices

      Values were up in March on both an annual and monthly basis

      A leading measure of U.S. home prices shows increases in value continued during March.

      On a year-over-year basis, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, posted a 5.2% gain with the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composites’ year-over-year gains unchanged at 4.7% and 5.4%, respectively, from the previous month.

      The highest gains among the 20 cities with another month of annual price increases came in Portland, Seattle, and Denver. Portland led the way with a 12.3% surge, followed by Seattle at 10.8%, and Denver with an increase of 10.0%. Ten cities reported greater price increases in the year ending March 2016 versus the year ending February 2016.

      “The economy is supporting the price increases with improving labor markets, falling unemployment rates and extremely low mortgage rates,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director & chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

      “Another factor behind rising home prices is the limited supply of homes on the market. The number of homes currently on the market is less than 2% of the number of households in the U.S. -- the lowest percentage seen since the mid-1980s.”

      Month-over-month

      The National Index was up 0.7% in March, with the 10-City Composite recording a 0.8% month-over-month increase while the 20-City Composite rose 0.9%. Six cities saw prices rise, one city was unchanged, and prices dropped in 13 cities.

      A leading measure of U.S. home prices shows increases in value continued during March.On a year-over-year basis, the S&P;/Case-Shiller U.S. National Ho...
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      Noble House recalls counter stools

      The kick plates of the counter stools can have a sharp edge

      Noble House Home Furnishings of Chatsworth, Calif., is recalling about 2,000 counter stools.

      The kick plates of the counter stools can have a sharp edge, posing a laceration hazard to consumers.

      The firm has received six reports of the stools injuring consumers, including scratches and cuts.

      This recall involves Noble House’s Louigi and Tate counter stools with solid wood legs and a metallic kick pate.

      The Louigi black leather counter stool has a backrest and measures about 18 inches wide by 26 inches deep by 41 inches tall. The backless Tate counter stools were sold in white or brown and measure about 16.5 inches wide by 16.5 inches deep by 27 inches tall.

      “MADE BY: PERMAISURI CO., LTD: No. 30 YUANCUO ROAD HONGSHANQIAO, FUZHOU, FUJIAN 350002 CHINA” is stamped on a tag on the underside of the stool’s seat.

      The stools, manufactured in China and Vietnam, were sold online at Amazon.com, ATC.com, eBay.com, Greatdealfurniture.com, Groupon.com, Houzz.com, Overstock.com and Wayfair.com from October 2013, through March 2015, for about $120.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled stools and remove the kick plates from the stools and contact Noble House for free replacement kick plates, including shipping.

      Consumers may contact Noble House toll-free at 888-600-6376 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online at www.noblehousefurniture.com and click on the Safety Recall link at the bottom of the page.

      Noble House Home Furnishings of Chatsworth, Calif., is recalling about 2,000 counter stools. The kick plates of the counter stools can have a sharp...
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      Mitsubishi recalls Lancers and Lancer Evolutions

      Airbag inflators may rupture resulting in serious injury or death to vehicle occupants

      Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) is recalling 38,628 model year 2006-2007 Lancers and Lancer Evolutions manufactured June 29, 2005, to June 19, 2007, equipped with certain airbag inflators.

      In the event of a crash necessitating airbag deployment, these inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to absolute humidity and temperature cycling.

      An inflator rupture may result in metal fragments striking the vehicle occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

      What to do

      MMNA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger front airbag inflator, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact MMNA customer service at 1-888-648-7820. MMNA's number for this recall is SR-16-002.

      Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) is recalling 38,628 model year 2006-2007 Lancers and Lancer Evolutions manufactured June 29, 2005, to June 19, 2007,...
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      Model year 2012-2016 Fiat 500s recalled

      The driver may not be able to shift gears

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 39,217 model year 2012-2016 Fiat 500s equipped with a manual transmission, manufactured June 21, 2010, through January 12, 2016.

      The clutch diaphragm spring may fracture and fail, causing an inability to switch gears and increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      The remedy for this recall will include the installation of a clutch pedal limiter and a clutch pedal switch. Interim notices will be mailed to owners in June 2016. Owners will receive a second notice when remedy parts become available.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is S34.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 39,217 model year 2012-2016 Fiat 500s equipped with a manual transmission, manufactured June 21, 2010, through January 1...
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      New app shows kids how their meal will affect the environment

      Encourages kids to think about the impact of their dietary choices

      Kids rarely regard food as anything more than fuel. And the rare meal that isn’t mom-curated is usually selected by a child’s taste buds.

      Pondering how food choices affect the planet generally isn't on the menu among middle school-aged children -- but soon, a new app may change that.

      The University of Illinois has begun developing a new educational software application that will introduce middle school students to the topic of climate change and show them how the food they eat affects the environment.

      Students who use the Food for Thought computer app can drag food selections to a virtual plate on the screen. The app will then tally the nutritional data and carbon footprint associated with each item and reveal just how much Mother Earth will be sacrificing to produce the meal.

      Curriculum and instruction professor, Emma Mercier, says the app focuses on two main learning goals: to make kids aware of the causes and impacts of climate change and help them become “data literate” -- which is to say, she adds, “knowledgeable consumers of the media.”

      Small choices matter

      At the end of a nine-day curriculum on the topic of climate change, Mercier and her research team gathered together the children in their test group. Then, on a big computer screen, kids could enter the information they recorded in their food diaries over the weekend.

      After kids looked at the carbon footprints associated with their meals, they were challenged to put together a calorie-sufficient meal that had the least impact on the planet.

      The researchers were surprised to discover that children were highly engaged in the activity.

      "The excitement level -- and noise -- in this room was astounding," Mercier said in a statement. "The teachers who observed their students' work in the lab said that even the kids who are usually difficult to engage were very engaged with this activity.”

      One student even said she was inspired to eat something other than a steak while out to dinner with her parents -- a true testament to the idea that kids are very much on board with the idea that small choices do matter.

      Kids rarely regard food as anything more than fuel. And the rare meal that isn’t mom-curated is usually selected by a child’s taste buds.Pondering how ...
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      Americans increasingly pessimistic about retirement

      But despite concerns, survey finds they aren't doing much about it

      Americans are living longer. That's the good news.

      The bad news is, longer life could mean you live your last years in poverty, if you end up outliving your money.

      As you might expect, this is a growing fear among the aging population. Northwestern Mutual has released its 2016 Planning & Progress Study, showing two thirds of Americans think there is some chance that they will outlive their savings.

      Drilling down in the numbers, the survey found that just over one third believe there is a better than 50% chance of that happening. Notably, 14% are convinced that will be their fate.

      Despite this prevailing belief, the survey found that Americans aren't doing much about it. Just 21% reported increasing their savings while more than four in 10 say they have taken no steps at all.

      Social Security skepticism

      Not only are Americans doubtful about their ability to save enough for retirement, they also express strong doubts about the government's minimal safety net – Social Security. Just 25% of those polled are very confident that Social Security will be there when they retire.

      About 28%, in fact, mentioned uncertainty about Social Security as one of the main obstacles to having a financially secure retirement.

      The survey found just 35% of Americans who have yet to retire expect that Social Security will be the major part of their retirement income compared to 49% of current retirees.

      Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning for Northwestern Mutual, says the survey should serve as an incentive for Americans to get serious about their non-working years.

      "The prospect of an extended retirement in an environment of diminishing safety nets makes it even more essential that your financial plan is flexible enough to stretch as long as needed," she said.

      What to do

      While money for retirement doesn't have to be contained in an account designated for that purpose, there are tax advantages to using a retirement account, like a 401(k) offered through your employer or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The advantage is that money grows without being taxed, until it is withdrawn.

      Many people don't have access to retirement plans through their employers. To address that need, the government last year introduce MYra, a basic IRA that has no fees. It carries no risk of loss but returns only a small amount of interest.

      Surveys have shown the biggest impediment to retirement savings is most people think they have enough trouble just paying the bills each month. Talking to a non-profit credit counselor or financial advisor may help you establish a savings plan, even if it is a very small amount each month.

      Personal finance experts say that once a savings plan is in place, it will be easier to build on it over time.

      Americans are living longer. That's the good news.The bad news is, longer life could mean you live your last years in poverty, if you end up outliving ...
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      U.S. economy picks up (a little) steam, but remains sluggish

      Consumer spending was among the factors

      A second look at how the nation's economy was doing in the first quarter shows the growth rate was a bit stronger.

      The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy less the value of the goods and services used up in production, adjusted for price changes -- increased at an annual rate of 0.8%.

      While that's a bit better than the 0.5% reported in the advance estimate released a month ago, it pales in comparison to the 1.4% growth rate chalked up in the final three months of 2015.

      Consumer spending picks up

      The increase in real GDP results from increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE), residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending.

      Those advances were partly offset by declines in nonresidential fixed investment, exports, private inventory investment, and federal government spending. Imports -- a subtraction in the calculation of GDP -- decreased. 

      The overall slowdown from the fourth quarter of last year reflects a larger decrease in nonresidential fixed investment, a deceleration in PCE, and a downturn in federal government spending. Those were offset -- in part -- by an upturn in state and local government spending, and a speedup in residential fixed investment.

      Inflation and corporate profits

      The price index for gross domestic purchases -- GDP inflation -- increased 0.2% in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2016. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” GDP rate increased 1.4%, compared with a 1.0% advance in the final three months of last year.

      Corporate profits were finally in the black. Following a plunge of $159.6 billion in the fourth quarter, they increased $6.5 billion in the first three months of this year.

      The complete report is available on the BEA website.

      A second look at how the nation's economy was doing in the first quarter shows the growth rate was a bit stronger.The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)...
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      Redesigned BMW X1 earns top IIHS award

      The vehicle also offers an optional front crash prevention system

      BMW tweaked its 2016 X1 model and walked away with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) top award for safety.

      The key was earning a good small overlap rating. The driver's space was maintained reasonably well in the test, with maximum intrusion of about 4 inches at the lower door hinge pillar and at the instrument panel.

      In the test of the previous version, intrusion reached 16 inches at the footwell, trapping the dummy's right foot.

      Like its predecessor, the new X1 earns good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests.

      Optional front crash prevention system

      The X1's newly available front crash prevention system earns an advanced rating from IIHS. In track tests at 12 mph, impact speed was reduced by an average of 10 mph.

      In the 25 mph tests, impact speed was reduced by 7 mph. The system includes a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

      To qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must have good ratings in all five crashworthiness tests and an available front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating.

      BMW tweaked its 2016 X1 model and walked away with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) top award for safety.The key was earning a good ...
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      Chrysler recalls aftermarket Mopar Canvas Seat Covers

      The seat covers can impede the deployment of the seat thorax airbags

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 487 aftermarket Mopar Canvas Seat Covers for certain 2012-2016 RAM 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks.

      These seat covers, sold through Chrysler dealerships beginning October 15, 2015, can impede the deployment of the seat thorax airbags.

      If the seat cover impedes the air bag deployment, the seat thorax air bags may not provide adequate protection in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of a injury.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners to remove the front seat covers and return them for a full refund. The recall is expected to begin June 30, 2016.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is S30.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 487 aftermarket Mopar Canvas Seat Covers for certain 2012-2016 RAM 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks. These seat cover...
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      Dakota Style Foods recalls sunflower kernels

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Dakota Style Foods of Clark, S.D., has expanded its product recall to include 15,158 cases of sunflower kernels.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been confirmed to date.

      The sunflower kernels were distributed to 34 customers nation-wide, and are sold through retail outlets.

      The products involved are:

      • Dakota Style 16 ounce;
      • Roasted and Salted Sunflower Kernels, 3.5 ounce;
      • Roasted and Salted Sunflower Kernels, 32 ounce;
      • Roasted and Salted Sunflower Kernels, 4 ounce;
      • Savory Bacon Sunflower Kernels, 8 ounce;
      • Savory Bacon Sunflower Kernels; and
      • 4 ounce Salted Caramel Sunflower Kernels.

      The products were shipped by Dakota Style Foods between February 15, 2016, and May 17, 2016.

      The affected lots are identified by lot codes 8B6M02, 8B6M09, 8B6M17, 8B6M18, 8B6M24, 8B6M25, 8C6M02, 8C6M08, 8C6M10, 8C6M28, 8C6M31 and 8D6M01.

      The product comes in plastic packages bearing the company logo and product name, with the lot code located on the back right hand panel.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-446-2779 between 8:30 am and 5 pm (CST) Monday through Friday.

      Dakota Style Foods of Clark, S.D., has expanded its product recall to include 15,158 cases of sunflower kernels. The product may be contaminated wi...
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      Right Hand Drive Jeep Wranglers recalled

      The driver's front air bag may not deploy in the event of a crash

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 7,180 model year 2011-2016 Right Hand Drive Jeep Wranglers manufactured February 16, 2010, to May 2, 2016.

      The clockspring assembly may become contaminated with dust and cause the air bag circuit to fail.

      Failure of the air bag circuit may prevent the driver's front air bag from deploying in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the clockspring, wheel back cover, and column shroud, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is S40.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 7,180 model year 2011-2016 Right Hand Drive Jeep Wranglers manufactured February 16, 2010, to May 2, 2016. The c...
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      General Motors recalls model year 2016 Chevrolet Malibus

      The vehicles could lose electronically controlled brake systems

      General Motors is recalling 66 model year 2016 Chevrolet Malibus manufactured March 7, 2016, through March 12, 2016.

      The memory chip in the electronic brake control module (EBCM) may fail and cause the loss of electronically controlled brake systems including anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC). As such, these vehicles fail to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 126, "Electronic Stability Control Systems."

      If the EBCM fails the primary braking system will still function, however, the loss of ABS and ESC increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will install a replacement EBCM, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on June 10, 2016.

      Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020). GM's number for this recall is 39440.

      General Motors is recalling 66 model year 2016 Chevrolet Malibus manufactured March 7, 2016, through March 12, 2016. The memory chip in the electro...
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      Hy-Vee recalls six trail mix products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Hy-Vee, Inc., of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling six trail mix products across its eight-state region.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with these products.

      The following products are being recalled:

      • Hy-Vee Caramel Cashew Honey Crunch Trail Mix — sold in 24 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450040586 and with a “best by” date of April 5, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Dark Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix — sold in 24 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450041354 and with a “best by” date of April 14, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Mountain Trail Mix — sold in 26 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450016796 and with a “best by” date of April 5, 2017, and April 15, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Mountain Trail Mix To Go — sold in 1.75 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450040739 and with a “best by” date of March 23, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Berry Trail Mix — sold in 7 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450040593 and with a “best by” date of March 19, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Santa Fe Trail Mix — sold in 6.5 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450041101 and with a “best by” date of March 31, 2017

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should discard or return them to their local Hy-Vee store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Hy-Vee customer care representatives 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-772-4098.

      Hy-Vee, Inc., of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling six trail mix products across its eight-state region. The products may be contaminated with Li...
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      Dodge Journeys recalled

      The power steering return hose may rupture at engine start-up in cold weather

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 10,944 model year 2009-2016 Dodge Journeys manufactured July 31, 2007, to November 12, 2016.

      After exposure to cold temperatures, the power steering return hose may rupture at engine start-up causing a loss of power steering assist.

      A loss of power steering assist may require extra steering effort, especially at lower speeds, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the power steering return hoses, steel tubes, and power steering oil cooler, free of charge. The recall began on May 24, 2016.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is S08.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 10,944 model year 2009-2016 Dodge Journeys manufactured July 31, 2007, to November 12, 2016. After exposure to c...
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      E-cigarettes blamed for blowing up in smokers' faces

      Serious injuries occurred in some cases; one man lost an eye

      Traditional cigarettes are really bad for you, but at least they don't blow up in your face, as e-cigarettes have been doing lately. In one of the most recent cases, an Albany, N.Y., man said his e-cig blew up and knocked him to the ground.

      “Like a M80 bomb went off in my mouth,” Kenneth Barbaro said. “When I hit the button, I saw a huge yellow light. The next thing I know, I’m on the floor and my arms are paralyzed.”

      Barbaro was hospitalized with burns to his hands, knocked-out teeth, and a splt tongue, he said in a televised report.

      “When it blows up in your face, you’re not having a good time,” he said in a televised news report.

      More serious

      In an even more serious case, an e-cig exploded on April 15, tearing through a man's eye, smashing two cheekbones, and starting a fire. Joseph Cavins, now blind in one eye, has filed a lawsuit against vaping retailers and distributors, Courthouse News Service reported.

      He said he was working at his computer when his vaping device exploded, hitting him in the eye, then hitting the ceiling, and finally landing on top of the computer, where it started a fire.

      Cavins, a public school counselor, underwent seven hours of surgery. Doctors removed his left eye and performed surgery to fix broken bones in his face and to repair his sinus cavity.

      The problem, according to Cavins' lawsuit, is that the batteries in vaping devices have "an inherent risk of fire and explosion," exacerbated by what it says is the cheap construction and poor design of many of the devices. 

      If the temperature inside the lithium-ion battery builds up high enough, it can cause an explosion that propels the battery "like a bullet or rocket," Cavins' suit says. 

      Several similar cases have been reported in recent months. 

      Traditional cigarettes are really bad for you, but at least they don't blow up in your face, as e-cigarettes have been doing lately. In one of the most rec...
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      Portion control: is it the key to weight loss?

      California researchers say this simple concept seems to work

      Amid all the fad diets and weight control programs, there is one very simple way to lose weight: eat less.

      Easier said than done, however. Over the years, the portion sizes consumers expect – and get – have gotten significantly larger. That might be fine for a portion of steamed broccoli, less fine for a portion of meatloaf.

      When you look on a food nutrition label, it will tell you how many servings the product contains. But once on a plate, chances are the serving will look pretty small to some consumers who are accustomed to larger portions. Sticking to the serving size, however, could make it easier to lose or maintain weight.

      Prepackaged portions

      New research published in the scientific journal Obesity has confirmed what diet product companies have long known – when you package food in small, controllable portions, it is easier to lose weight.

      “Participants who were prescribed twice-daily prepackaged meals lost about 8% of their initial weight, compared to participants in the control group – who could select their own diets – who only lost about 6%,” said lead researcher Cheryl Rock, of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

      The real key, she says, is removing the guesswork involved in planning and preparing low-calorie meals.

      It all sounds simple enough, but Martin Binks, a spokesperson for The Obesity Society, says it may be hard for someone who is overweight or obese to put it into practice. He notes that it is important to reduce the body's energy intake for weight loss, but a body accustomed to large amounts of energy will crave it when it's denied. Still, he notes this strategy is a step toward reducing obesity.

      Encouraging trend

      According to research published in Food Technologists magazine, consumers may be slowly moving away from giant-sized portions. Among the trends uncovered by the research, there was a conscious shift to smaller portion sizes reported by one-third of the consumers in the survey.

      Many restaurants, however, still serve up huge portions – more than a human being should eat in a day, in some cases. The reason is competition. Restaurants know consumers can choose to dine out anywhere. They conclude that their chances are better of attracting consumers if they provide a generous spread – and in many cases, they are correct.

      Food products that come in prepackaged portions are an easy way to both control portion size and keep track of calories. The downside is these meals often contain large amounts of sodium. A steady diet might expose you to excessive amounts of salt.

      The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers a number of tips for controlling portions when cooking from scratch, including using smaller plates and cups and sticking to suggested serving sizes. If you're still hungry, eat more vegetables but skip dessert.

      Amid all the fad diets and weight control programs, there is one very simple way to lose weight: eat less.Easier said than done, however. Over the year...
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      Pending home sales hit 10-year high

      April's increase is the third in a row

      Pending home sales advanced in April for the third time in as many months and are now at their highest level since February 2006.

      The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), which is based on contract signings, jumped 5.1% last month and is 4.6% higher than it was in April 2015. The PHSI has now increased year-over-year for 20 consecutive months.

      "The ability to sign a contract on a home is slightly exceeding expectations this spring even with the affordability stresses and inventory squeezes affecting buyers in a number of markets," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "The building momentum from the over 14 million jobs created since 2010 and the prospect of facing higher rents and mortgage rates down the road appear to be bringing more interested buyers into the market."

      Regarding mortgage rates, which have been below 4% in 16 of the past 17 months, Yun says it remains to be seen how long they will stay this low. For now, he foresees rates continuing to hover around 4% in coming months, but inflation could potentially surprise the market and cause rates to increase suddenly.

      Even if rates rise soon, added Yun, “sales have legs for further expansion this summer if housing supply increases enough to give buyers an adequate number of affordable choices during their search."

      Regional breakdown

      Gains in the South and West helped fuel the advance.

      • The PHSI in the West soared 11.4% in April to 106.2, and is now 2.8% above a year ago.
      • Pending home sales in the South jumped 6.8% to an index of 133.9 and is up 5.1% from April 2015.
      • The index in the Northeast climbed 1.2% to 98.2, and is now up 10.1% year-over-year.
      • In the Midwest the index dipped 0.6% to 112.9, but is still 2.0% higher than it was at the same time last year.

      Jobless claims

      From the government this morning, we have word of another sizable decline in the number of people filing first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims fell by 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level to a seasonally 268,000 in the week ending May 21. This marks 64 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.

      The four-week moving average, which lacks the weekly tally's volatility and is seen as a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was up 2,750 to 278,500.

      The full report is available on the DOL website.

      Pending home sales advanced in April for the third time in as many months and are now at their highest level since Febr...
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      House prices up for 19th consecutive quarter

      The year-over-year gain was more than 5%

      Prices for houses across the U.S. were up during the first three months of the year, marking the 19th consecutive quarterly increase.

      According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI), prices rose 1.3% in the first quarter of 2016 and were up 5.7% from the period a year earlier.

      The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

      "While the overall appreciation rate was robust in the first quarter, home price appreciation was somewhat less widespread than in recent quarters," said FHFA Supervisory Economist Andrew Leventis. "Twelve states and the District of Columbia saw price declines in the quarter -- the most areas to see price depreciation since the fourth quarter of 2013. Although most declines were modest, such declines are notable given the pervasive and extraordinary appreciation we have been observing for many years."

      Report highlights

      • Home prices rose in every state between the first quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016. The top five states in annual appreciation were Oregon (11.8%), Florida (11.2%), Washington (10.9%), Nevada (9.4%), and Colorado (9.0%).
      • Among the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., annual price increases were greatest in the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, Fla., where prices increased by 16.7%. Prices were weakest in El Paso, Texas, where they fell 2.8%.
      • Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the first quarter, posting a 1.9% quarterly increase and an 8.1% increase since the first quarter of last year. House price appreciation was weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices rose 0.6% from the last quarter.

      The complete report is available on the FHFA website.

      Prices for houses across the U.S. were up during the first three months of the year, marking the 19th consecutive quarterly increase.According to the F...
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      Papa John’s recalls ready-to-eat salad with chicken products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Papa John’s Salads and Produce of Tolleson, Ariz., is recalling approximately 373 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with chicken products.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following item, produced from May 10 – 17, 2016, is being recalled:

      • 7.5-oz. plastic packages of “Signature Café Citrus Kale Salad with Chicken – Dress with Lemon, Salt and Pepper” with “Use By” dates of May 17 through May 24, 2016. The packages will have the following UPC code of 2113008148.

      The recalled products bear establishment number “P-40280” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and were shipped to retail locations in Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but thrown them away or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Brandy Rousselle at (480) 894-6885 ext. 125.

      Papa John’s Salads and Produce of Tolleson, Ariz., is recalling approximately 373 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with chicken products. The products ...
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      TreeHouse Foods expands recall of foods containing sunflower kernels

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      TreeHouse Foods is expanding its earlier recall of products containing sunflower kernels following word that it's supplier has expanded its recall of sunflower kernels.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The following products, distributed nationwide through retail stores, have been added to the recall:

      DescriptionUPCBest by Date
      Southern Grove Adventure Trail Mix0414982001903/28/2017
      Southern Grove Chopped Walnuts0414981315003/22/2017
      Southern Grove Cranberry & Nut Trail Mix0414981609823/24/2017
      Southern Grove Cranberry & Nut Trail Mix0414981609824/15/2017
      Southern Grove Mountain Trail Mix0414981484474/4/2017
      Southern Grove Mountain Trail Mix0414981484474/26/2017
      Southern Grove Nuts, Seeds & Raisins Trail Mix0414981778293/23/2017
      Southern Grove Nuts, Seeds & Raisins Trail Mix0414981778294/13/2017
      Southern Grove Oven Roasted Almonds with Sea Salt0414981322483/16/2017
      Southern Grove PB & Pretzel Trail Mix0414982110043/28/2017
      Southern Grove PB & Pretzel Trail Mix0414982110044/5/2017
      Southern Grove Roasted & Salted Sunflower Kernels0414982066803/2/2017
      Southern Grove Roasted & Salted Sunflower Kernels0414982066803/15/2017
      Southern Grove Roasted & Salted Sunflower Kernels0414982066803/28/2017
      Southern Grove Roasted & Salted Sunflower Kernels0414982066804/29/2017
      Southern Grove Roasted & Salted Sunflower Kernels0414982066804/29/2017
      Southern Grove Roasted & Unsalted Sunflower Kernels0414982067654/28/2016
      Southern Grove Roasted & Unsalted Sunflower Kernels0414982067653/1/2017
      Southern Grove Roasted & Unsalted Sunflower Kernels0414982067653/14/2017
      Southern Grove Roasted & Unsalted Sunflower Kernels0414982067653/28/2017
      Southern Grove Sliced Almonds0414981216863/21/2017
      Southern Grove Sunny Cranberry Trail Mix0414982020573/28/2017
      Southern Grove Tuscan Trail Mix0414982053794/28/2017
      Southern Grove Unwind Trail Mix0414982001833/28/2017
      Amport Foods Cranberry Nut Trail Mix0717257061333/18/2017
      Amport Foods Cranberry Nut Trail Mix0717257061334/14/2017
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted07172524141211/26/2016
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted07172524150412/2/2016
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted07172524150412/25/2016
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted07172524150412/11/2016
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted & Salted07172524135112/3/2016
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted & Salted07172524135112/26/2016
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted & Salted07172524135112/12/2016
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted & Salted07172574801012/26/2016
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted & Salted07172574801012/31/2016
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted & Salted0717257480101/14/2017
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted & Salted0717252414051/7/2017
      Amport Foods Trail Mix Raisin & Nut0717257410424/4/2017
      Amport Foods Chocolatey Nut Trail Mix0717257131241/8/2017
      Amport Foods Dark Chocolate Almond0717257123871/7/2017
      Amport Foods Dark Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix0717257118541/2/2017
      Amport Foods Milk Chocolate Peanuts0717257119391/7/2017
      Amport Foods Raisin & Nut Trail Mix0717257146881/14/2017
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted & Unsalted07172574800312/3/2016
      Amport Foods Sunflower Seeds Roasted & Unsalted0717257480031/6/2017
      Amport Foods Yogurt Almonds0717257480341/8/2017
      Fresh Finds Dried Tropical Mix4110149379073/17/2017
      Gold Emblem Roasted & Salted Sunflower Kernels0504283532401/14/2017
      Naturally Select Chocolate & Nut Trail Mix6392774314173/23/2017
      Naturally Select Fruit & Nut Trail Mix6392774314553/15/2017
      Naturally Select Indulgent Trail Mix6392771875673/24/2017
      Salted Sunflower Seeds in Shell distributed by Greenbrier International, Inc.6392772862082/25/2017
      Salted Sunflower Seeds in Shell distributed by Greenbrier International6392772862082/28/2017
      Salted Sunflower Seeds in Shell distributed by Greenbrier International6392772862083/17/2017
      Salted Sunflower Seeds in Shell distributed by Greenbrier International6392772862083/21/2017
      Salted Sunflower Seeds in Shell distributed by Greenbrier International6392772862084/13/2017
      Family Gourmet Tropical Mix0322510465063/16/2017
      Clover Valley Chocolatey Peanut Butter Trail Mix0717257501673/25/2017
      Hy-Vee Berry Trail Mix0754500405933/19/2017
      Hy-Vee Dark Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix0754500413544/14/2017
      Hy-Vee Mountain Mix Trail Mix0754500167964/5/2017
      Hy-Vee Mountain Mix Trail Mix0754500167964/15/2017
      Hy-Vee Mountain Trail Mix0754500407393/23/2017
      Hy-Vee Santa Fe Trail Mix0754500411013/31/2017
      Hy-Vee Caramel Cashew Honey Crunch Trail Mix0754500405864/5/2017
      K&G; Cranberry Trail Mix70861511048912/3/2016
      Smart Sense Roasted Salted Sunflower Kernels8839673000133/16/2017
      American Importing Company, Inc. Roasted No Salt Seeds0717257480031/6/2017
      Delish Blueberry Nut Blend Premium Trail Mix0490228806413/17/2017
      Delish Tropical Blend Premium Trail Mix0490228806343/17/2017
      Nice! Peanut Lovers Trail Mix0490228465244/19/2017
      Nice! Sunflower Salted in Shell0490228322754/15/2017
      Delish Almond Berry Pistachio Premium Trail Mix0490228806273/18/2017
      Nature's Harvest Dark Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix0717257490623/28/2017
      Nature's Harvest Southwest Trail Mix07172571153312/27/2016
      Nature's Harvest Southwest Trail Mix07172571153312/30/2016
      Nature's Harvest Southwest Trail Mix0717257115331/17/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Honey Roasted07171572751012/20/2016
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Honey Roasted0717157275101/21/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Ranch Flavored0717257280743/31/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Ranch Flavored0717257280744/27/2017
      Nature's Harvest Afternoon Trail Mix0717257281661/14/2017
      Nature's Harvest Almond Dry Roasted Sea Salted0717257287913/16/2017
      Nature's Harvest Dark Chocolate Covered Cashews0717257493141/6/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Salted07172572749712/19/2016
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Salted07172572749712/20/2016
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Salted07172572749712/25/2016
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Salted0717257274971/2/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Salted0717257274971/3/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Salted0717257274971/16/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Salted0717257274971/20/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Unsalted07172572750311/25/2016
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Unsalted07172572750311/26/2016
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Unsalted07172572750312/4/2016
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Unsalted07172572750312/18/2016
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Unsalted07172572750312/23/2016
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Unsalted0717257275031/2/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Unsalted0717257275031/14/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sunflower Kernels Roasted & Unsalted0717257275031/15/2017
      Nature's Harvest Sweet Nut & Berry Munch Trail Mix07172572820312/27/2016

      Consumers can find UPC codes and Best By/Date Codes on each package.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased any of the recalled products should dispose of or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may call 1-800-756-5781, Monday - Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (CST).

      TreeHouse Foods is expanding its earlier recall of products containing sunflower kernels following word that it's supplier has expanded its recall of sunfl...
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      Toyota recalls model year 2015 Yaris vehicles

      A front upper shock assembly bearing could be damaged

      Toyota Motor Sales, USA is recalling approximately 3,100 model year 2015 Yaris hatch back vehicles.

      There is a possibility that a front upper shock assembly bearing could be damaged. If this occurs, the driver may experience an abnormal noises while driving on rough road surfaces or when turning the steering wheel.

      If the vehicle continues to be operated in this condition, a front shock absorber piston rod could separate, causing a loss of vehicle stability and increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Owners of the affected vehicles will be notified by first class mail and Toyota dealers will replace the strut mounting bearings with improved ones. If a strut mounting bearing is found to be damaged, the dealer will replace the strut and front suspension support sub-assembly with a new one.

      Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-800-331-4331 and Lexus customer experience at 1-800-255-3987.  

      Toyota Motor Sales, USA is recalling approximately 3,100 model year 2015 Yaris hatch back vehicles. There is a possibility that a front upper shock...
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      Unlocking the potential of Natural Killer cells could be key to fighting cancer

      Researchers believe they can harness the body's natural defenses to fight the disease

      It’s a fact that not too many people realize, but the ability to fight and beat diseases like cancer is already inside of us. In fact, under normal circumstances, the body is constantly fighting and killing off cells that would form tumors if left to their own devices.

      Cancer develops when the body encounters a problem that inhibits its natural killer (NK) cells from doing their job and killing off these dangerous cells.

      With this framework in mind, researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, with colleagues from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, are conducting a study to see if they can “turn on” these NK cells in order to fight cancer.

      Boosting the immune system

      The study is being led by Dr. Sandra Nicholson and Dr. Nicholas Huntington, who believe that NK cells are a key part of the body’s defenses when it comes to fighting dangerous diseases.

      “Natural Killer cells are a key part of our immune system that locate other cells posing a danger to health either because they are infected or because they are becoming a cancer cell,” said Nicholson.

      The problem is that NK cells can often become immobilized if they are not able to stop cancer from developing in the body. The researchers discovered that the cause of this immobilization is a “protein brake” inside of the NK cells which stop them from being able to respond to a protein that is necessary for destroying cancer cells.

      However, the researchers found that the NK cells were able to resume killing cancer cells when they removed this protein brake. They theorize that providing this boost to the immune system could go a long way towards fighting the disease and giving patients a chance to beat it.

      Providing new drugs and therapies

      In time, the researchers hope that a new class of drugs may be able to be created that would allow NK cells to work efficiently to fight cancer and other diseases. They also posit that their work could lead to new therapies that could be beneficial.

      “We are hopeful our research will lead to new immunotherapies that supercharge the body’s Natural Killer cell, and maintain it in a highly active state to more efficiently and specifically fight cancer,” said Huntington.

      The full study has been published in the journal Nature Immunology.

      It’s a fact that not too many people realize, but the ability to fight and beat diseases like cancer is already inside of us. In fact, under normal circums...
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      Office-sharing company, WeWork, gets in on the co-living trend

      WeLive takes a dorm-style approach to apartment dwelling

      WeWork, an early purveyor of the co-working space movement, is taking the concept of shared office space and applying it to apartments.

      In April, the office-sharing company launched WeLive: an apartment complex with an abundance of shared, open spaces. Renters can have their own private space, as well -- but the draw of WeLive is the sense of community.

      Founding partner, Rebecca Newman, explains that WeLive is centered on community and “the belief that we’re basically as good as the people we surround ourselves with.”

      The fully-furnished apartments are part of a concierge-staffed complex -- one that boasts free coffee and beer, events, and hotel-like bonuses such as free housekeeping. Young urban dwellers might also appreciate the lack of commitment required to set up home base at WeLive.

      Furnished and flexible

      The units aren’t cheap; shared spaces start at $1,375 while private units begin at $2,250. But for those looking to skip the long-term apartment commitment, WeLive may be just right. Renters can live month-to-month in the shared space, which teems with opportunities to be social.

      The dorm-style residences might also appeal to those who lack the time or motivation to go out and decorate their apartment, especially if they will only be there for a short time. Each residence comes decked out in the type of decor you might find at a trendy hostel.

      "Simply show up and begin your life without the hassle,” says a statement from WeLive.

      The first WeLive location was recently unveiled on Wall Street in New York. Others are slated to pop up soon near Washington, D.C., and in Arlington, Va.

      WeWork, an early purveyor of the co-working space movement, is taking the concept of shared office space and applying it to apartments. In April, the o...
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      Study: artificial sweeteners may have negative health effect for obese consumers

      Researchers suggest some can interfere with glucose management

      Artificial sweeteners have come a long way over the years, now closely mimicking natural sweeteners but without the calories.

      The sweeteners are effective tools to help obese consumers reduce calorie consumption, but researchers at York University's Faculty of Health say that weight management may come at a price.

      "Our study shows that individuals with obesity who consume artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, may have worse glucose management than those who don't take sugar substitutes," Professor Jennifer Kuk, obesity researcher in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, said in a release.

      Artificial sweeteners lack caloric content because they are not digested by the body. If they can make food taste better without adding calories, it can help consumers manage their weight. But the York University study found that in some cases, bacteria in the stomach may be able to break down the artificial sweetener. When that happens, researchers say there can be negative effects on health.

      No adverse effect from saccharin

      Kuk said the research team didn't find this adverse effect in people consuming saccharin – an early artificial sweetener – or natural sugars. The findings, however, left them with more questions than answers.

      "We will need to do future studies to determine whether any potentially negative health effects of artificial sweeteners outweigh the benefits for obesity reduction," Luk said.

      This is hardly the first research to suggest there could be some downside to using food and beverage products containing artificial sweeteners. A 2008 study by psychologists at Purdue University found that compared with rats that ate yogurt sweetened with sugar, rats given yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin later consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat, and didn't make up for it by cutting back later.

      Later that same year a Duke University study that focused on the artificial sweetener Splenda concluded the product contributes to obesity, destroys beneficial intestinal bacteria, and could even interfere with absorption of prescription drugs.

      Pepsi dumps aspartame

      Last year Pepsi announced it would remove aspartame from its beverages sold in the U.S., reacting to research that suggests the artificial sweetener – while not imparting calories – might creating sugar cravings among people who consume too much, thus negating the benefits of a no-calorie beverage.

      Today, food manufacturers have many options when it comes to new sugar substitutes. The York researchers says more investigation should be carried out to determine if there are any health effects of using these sweeteners.

      Artificial sweeteners have come a long way over the years, now closely mimicking natural sweeteners but without the calories.The sweeteners are effecti...
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      Memorial Day weekend gas prices well below last year

      AAA reports the national average price is down 44 cents from last Memorial Day

      Gasoline prices are rising and have reached their highest level so far in 2016. But despite that, motorists hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend will encounter pump prices well below last year.

      The national average price of self-serve regular is $2.30 a gallon, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey. But at this time last year, it was 44 cents higher – $2.74 a gallon.

      Gasoline prices have risen over the course of the late winter and early spring as they have each year, as refineries perform routine maintenance and switch over to production of summer gasoline blends. The rise has been slower this year, thanks to soft oil prices.

      Oil prices have spiked a bit in recent weeks, due to production slowdowns in some oil producing nations. But industry analysts say any increase will likely be temporary since the world remains oversupplied with oil.

      Peaking around Memorial Day

      Prices normally peak around Memorial Day, the start of the summer driving season. AAA says drivers are likely to pay the least amount for gasoline since 2005 this year.

      An estimated 38 million Americans will travel over the holiday weekend, which would be an increase of 700,000 compared to a year ago. Even more consumers are likely to travel by car, since long lines at the nation's busiest airports have discouraged air travel.

      Here are the states where motorists will find the cheapest gasoline:

      • Mississippi ($2.06)
      • Texas ($2.07)
      • South Carolina ($2.08)
      • Arkansas ($2.08)
      • Missouri ($2.08)
      • Louisiana ($2.08)
      • Oklahoma ($2.10)
      • Alabama ($2.10)
      • New Jersey ($2.14)
      • Kansas ($2.15)

      Here are the states where motorists will pay the most for gasoline:

      • California ($2.80)
      • Hawaii ($2.66)
      • Washington ($2.59)
      • Alaska ($2.58)
      • Michigan ($2.51)
      • Ohio ($2.51)
      • Nevada ($2.49)
      • Idaho ($2.45)
      • Illinois ($2.44)
      • New York ($2.43)

      AAA reports this is the first time since last August that drivers in every state and Washington, D.C. are paying averages above $2 per gallon.

      Gasoline prices are rising and have reached their highest level so far in 2016. But despite that, motorists hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend will...
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      Mortgage applications reverse course, move higher

      Contract interest rates were on the rise

      Mortgage applications are rising again following a decline the previous week.

      According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications were up 2.6% during the week ending May 20, with the average loan size hitting a survey high of $307,700.

      The Refinance Index inched ahead 0.4%, with the refinance share of mortgage activity slipping to 53.7% of total applications from 54.6% the previous week.

      The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity came in at 5.7% of total applications, the FHA share rose to 12.7% from 12.5%, the VA share slipped to 11.5% from 12.1%, and the USDA share of total applications was unchanged at 0.7%.

      Contract interest rates

      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) rose three basis points -- from 3.82% to 3.85%, with points increasing to 0.37 from 0.34 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) jumped to 3.82% from 3.74%, with points decreasing to 0.27 from 0.29 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs backed by the FHA was up seven basis points to 3.70%, with points decreasing to 0.27 from 0.28 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs inched up to 3.06% from 3.02%, with points increasing to 0.40 from 0.38 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs shot up 15 basis points to 3.09%, with points increasing to 0.31 from 0.30 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

      The survey covers over 75% of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications.

      Mortgage applications are rising again following a decline the previous week.According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications were up 2.6% d...
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      SunOpta expands sunflower kernel products recall

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      SunOpta is expanding its recall sunflower kernel products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been confirmed related to the consumption of this product.

      The initial recall was limited to sunflower kernel products produced at SunOpta’s Crookston, Minn., facility between February 1 – 19, 2016.

      The expanded recall includes products produced February 20 – April 21, 2016, the date on which the facility ceased production of the products.

      The following items, sold in clear printed plastic packages and marked with Best By Dates located on the front or back of the packages, have been added to the recall:

      Product DescriptionSizeUPCLot #Best By Date
      Sunrich Naturals Sunflower Kernel1 oz.810304032122

      37216074
      37216075
      37216076
      37216077
      37216078
      37216081
      37216082
      37216083
      37216084
      37216085
      37216088
      37216090
      37216091
      37216092
      37216095
      37216096
      37216098
      37216099

      14MAR17
      15MAR17
      16MAR17
      17MAR17
      18MAR17
      21MAR17
      22MAR17
      23MAR17
      24MAR17
      25MAR17
      28MAR17
      30MAR17
      31MAR17
      01APR17
      04APR17
      05APR17
      07APR17
      08APR17

      Planters Sunflower Kernels3 oz.0290000127147072A3, 7072B3, 7072C3
      7073A3, 7073B3, 7073C3
      7074A3, 7074B3, 7074C3
      7075A3
      03/13/17
      03/14/17
      03/15/17
      03/16/17

      The recalled products were sent to distribution centers during March and April 2016, in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas, and may have been be redistributed to other states nationwide.

      What to do

      Customers should not consume these products, but return them to the store where purchased for a refund, or simply discard them.

      Consumers with questions may call 1-888-886-4428 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (CDT), or email the firm at contactus@sunopta.com.

      SunOpta is expanding its recall sunflower kernel products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been confirmed re...
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      Ford recalls Flex, Taurus, Taurus X, Mercury Sable and Lincoln MKS vehicles

      The driver front air bag may inflate improperly during second-stage deployment

      Ford Motor Company is recalling certain model year 2009-2012 Flex; 2008 and 2010-2012 Taurus; 2008-2009 Taurus X; 2008 Mercury Sable; and 2009 & 2011 Lincoln MKS vehicles.

      The driver front air bag may inflate improperly during second-stage deployment in the event of a high speed crash. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, "Occupant Crash Protection."

      An improperly inflated air bag increases the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the driver's front air bag module, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on June 13, 2016.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 16C06.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling certain model year 2009-2012 Flex; 2008 and 2010-2012 Taurus; 2008-2009 Taurus X; 2008 Mercury Sable; and 2009 & 2011 Linco...
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      Various Dr. Praeger's and Ungar's products recalled

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods is recalling various not-ready-to-eat frozen food items.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The company says no illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following products, distributed throughout the U.S. in both retail and foodservice packaging, are being recalled:

      Product NameItem NumberCase LotRetail LotBest By DateGTIN/Case UPCRetail Unit UPC
      Dr. Praeger's Black Bean Burger (CN Labeled) Vegetarian 3.3oz (Foodservice)SVB-SWIN33-CNH16AI-06A3/8/2018 0100080868066165
      Dr. Praeger's Black Bean Burger (Vegetarian) 3.3oz (Foodservice)SVB-SWIN33F16AE-03C5/4/20180100080868066172
      N16CI-03A1/28/2018
      Dr. Praeger's Black Bean Burger (Vegetarian) 4.25oz (Foodservice)SVB-SWIN4H16AI-05A3/8/20180100080868066196
      Dr. Praeger's Black Bean Veggie Burger (Retail)SVB-BB12N16CH-04AN16CH1/27/2018080868060194080868060194
      N16CH-04ZN16CH1/27/2018
      Dr. Praeger's Black Bean Slider (Foodservice)VBBBSL165IH16AI-08A3/8/20180100080868066158
      N16CB-05A1/21/2018
      Dr. Praeger's Bombay Veggie Burgers (Retail)VBBY06N16CH-02AN16CH1/27/20180160080868000505080868000505
      N16CH-02BN16CH1/27/2018
      Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Balls (Vegan) 1oz (Foodservice)VBBINH16CB-02B3/21/20180100080868013107
      H16CB-02C3/21/2018
      H16CB-02D3/21/2018
      Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burger Sliders (Vegan) 1.5oz (Foodservice)VBIN-SLR16BJ-03A4/19/20180100080868010151
      R16BJ-03B4/19/2018
      T16AJ-04C2/9/2018
      T16CE-03D2/24/2018
      T16CE-03G2/24/2018
      Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers (Retail)VB12
      VB26
      VBCA06
      H16AI-04AH16AI3/8/2018080868000107
      (VB12 and VB26)

      0160080868000109
      (VBCA06)
      080868000107
      H16AI-04BH16AI3/8/2018
      H16AJ-01AH16AJ3/9/2018
      H16BG-02AH16BG3/16/2018
      H16BG-02NH16BG3/16/2018
      H16CD-02AH16CD3/23/2018
      H16DA-01AH16DA3/30/2018
      N16CH-01AN16CH1/27/2018
      N16CH-01BN16CH1/27/2018
      N16CH-01ZN16CH1/27/2018
      R16AH-01AR16AH4/7/2018
      R16BD-01AR16BD4/13/2018
      R16BD-01BR16BD4/13/2018
      T16AD-01AT16AD2/3/2018
      T16AD-01BT16AD2/3/2018
      T16AD-01ZT16AD2/3/2018
      T16AJ-02AT16AJ2/9/2018
      T16AJ-02BT16AJ2/9/2018
      T16AJ-02CT16AJ2/9/2018
      T16BI-02AT16BI2/18/2018
      T16BI-02BT16BI2/18/2018
      T16BI-02DT16BI2/18/2018
      T16CD-02BT16CD2/23/2018
      T16CD-02AT16CD2/23/2018
      T16CE-03AT16CE2/24/2018
      Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burger (Vegan) 4oz (Foodservice)VBIN4
      VBIN-C
      H16BF-03B3/15/201801000808680100106
      H16BF-03C3/15/2018
      H16BF-03D3/15/2018
      H16CD-02B3/23/2018
      H16CE-01A3/24/2018
      H16CE-01B3/24/2018
      R16AF-03A4/5/2018
      R16AF-03B4/5/2018
      R16AF-03E4/5/2018
      R16CB-01A4/21/2018
      R16CB-01B4/21/2018
      T16AJ-04A2/9/2018
      T16CE-03B2/24/2018
      T16CE-03C2/24/2018
      Dr. Praeger's Chipotle Black Bean Burger 4.25oz (Foodservice)SVB-CBBIN425H16AI-07A3/8/20180100080868066219
      Dr. Praeger's GF California Veggie Burger 4oz (Foodservice)GLVBIN4H16CJ-01A3/29/20180100080868010601
      Dr. Praeger's Jumbo California Veggie Burger (Vegan) 5.5oz (Foodservice)JVBINH16BF-03A3/15/201801000080868010113
      R16AF-03D4/5/2018
      R16AG-02A4/6/2018
      R16AG-02B4/6/2018
      T16CE-03E2/24/2018
      Dr. Praeger's Organic Harvest Veggie Burgers (Retail)LCOVB-R10
      LCOVB-R10-UK
      E15CG-03AE15CG10/26/2016080868301105080868301105
      F15CG-04AF15CG5/26/2016
      F15CG-04BF15CG5/26/2016
      F15CG-04CF15CG5/26/2016
      G15BA-02AG15BA8/10/2016
      H16AI-07BH16AI3/8/2018
      H16CI-02AH16CI3/28/2017
      L14CG-03AL14CG11/26/2015
      L14CG-03BL14CG11/26/2015
      L15AC-03AL15AC11/2/2016
      L15CD-01AL15CD11/23/2016
      L15CD-01BL15CD11/23/2016
      N15CC-03AN15CC1/22/2016
      R15CA-02AR15CA4/20/2016
      V15AG-02AV15AG7/6/2016
      W14BB-01AW14BB12/11/2015
      W14BB-01BW14BB12/11/2015
      Dr. Praeger's Tex Mex Veggie Burgers (Retail)VBTM06H16AI-03AH16AI3/8/2018 0160080868000482080868000480
      Season's Choice Black Bean Chipotle Burger (Retail)AL-47198-R24ALDI-04AH16CE3/24/2018041498209124
      ALDI-04BH16CE3/24/2018
      Season's Choice Veggie Burger (Retail)AL-47198-R24ALDI-04AH16CE3/24/2018041498209261
      ALDI-04BH16CE3/24/2018
      Simply Nature Kale Veggie Burgers (Retail)AL-50206-R30H16AH-02AH16AH3/7/2018041498211080
      H16AH-02BH16AH3/7/2018
      H16CC-01AH16CC3/22/2018
      Trader Joe's Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers (Retail)TJQCB26H16AE-01AH16AE3/4/201800532761
      H16BA-02AH16BA3/10/2018
      H16BA-02CH16BA3/10/2018
      H16BH-01AH16BH3/17/2018
      N16CI-02AN16CI1/28/2018
      N16CI-02BN16CI1/28/2018
      N16CI-02DN16CI1/28/2018
      R16AG-01AR16AG4/6/2018
      R16AG-01BR16AG4/6/2018
      R16CA-06AR16CA4/20/2018
      T16AE-01AT16AE2/4/2018
      T16BB-01AT16BB2/11/2018
      T16CF-01AT16CF2/25/2018
      Ungar's Veggie Balls (Vegan) 1oz (Foodservice)UVBBINH16CB-02A3/21/2018010008086813103

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled items should not eat them , but dispose of them or return them to the place of purchase for a refund or exchange.

      Consumers with questions may call the firm's consumer affairs hotline at (877) 772-3437 from 8 am – 5 pm (ET), Monday through Friday, or email the company at info@drpraegers.com.

      Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods is recalling various not-ready-to-eat frozen food items. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes....
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      Flame retardants may increase thyroid problems in women

      Risk is significantly higher among post-menopausal women, Harvard study finds

      Flame retardant chemicals have penetrated just about every corner of the Earth, and now a Harvard study finds they may be implicated in thyroid diseases in women, with a significantly higher risk among post-menopausal women.

      “These chemicals are just about everywhere, from the blood in polar bears to eagles to humans on every continent,” said Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the study’s lead author. “This near ubiquitous exposure means we are all part of a global experiment on the impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals on our bodies.”

      Common types of thyroid disease include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and Hashimoto’s disease.

      The new paper, published online today in the journal Environmental Healthfound that women with elevated blood levels of certain types of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are at higher risk. It is the first to suggest a link between PBDEs and thyroid disease.

      Used in furniture

      PBDEs have been used as flame retardants for decades, largely in furniture, in quantities up to 20% of the weight of the product. Over time, they migrate out of the furniture into the air, settle into dust in homes, schools, offices, and the outdoors, and accumulate in people’s bodies.

      Previous research has shown that these chemicals accumulate in fatty tissue and interfere with hormonal functions, including interference with thyroid hormones. Because it’s known that estrogen levels regulate thyroid hormones, researchers theorized that post-menopausal women may be particularly vulnerable to PBDE-induced thyroid effects.

      For the study, researchers looked at a nationally representative sample of women and compared the levels of four common PBDEs with their history of thyroid problems. They found that, overall, women were about five times more likely than men to have a thyroid problem. The percentage ranged from 13-16% among women, compared with 2-3% among men.

      Women with the highest flame retardant concentrations in their blood were significantly more likely than those with lower concentrations to have a thyroid problem. The effect size was doubled in post-menopausal women.

      “To our bodies, these flame retardant chemicals look and function exactly like endogenous hormones our bodies produce. Should we be surprised that we see downstream health effects for women with higher body burdens of these chemicals? I think no. This is all too predictable and preventable,” said Allen.

      One limitation of the study is that it couldn’t determine effects from newer flame retardant chemicals because they are not currently reported in medical research databases.

      Flame retardant chemicals have penetrated just about every corner of the Earth, and now a Harvard study finds they may be implicated in thyroid diseases in...
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      E-cigarette advertising linked to use by teens

      Teens who had used the products were more likely to have seen an ad for the products first

      Recent reports have indicated that e-cigarette use amongst teens is rising, but how much of it is attributed to the way these products are advertised? According to a study from The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, quite a lot.

      Researchers have found a significant association between marketing for e-cigarettes and product use among middle and high school students. The teens report seeing advertisements for these products in many different places – a marketing tactic that closely resembles those used by the tobacco industry.

      “E-cigarette companies are following what cigarette companies did. There are no restrictions on the messaging they can use, and health warnings do not appear on e-cigarettes like they do on cigarette packages. Flavored e-cigarettes are widely available and appeal to youth,” said Dr. Maria Cooper, co-author of the study.

      Pervasive advertising

      The study utilized data from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which asked young people about their exposure to tobacco products. The researchers found that out of over 22,000 middle and high school students, 20% had tried e-cigarettes before and 9% were currently using them.

      The researchers found that those who had tried e-cigarettes before were 16% more likely than their peers to have seen an advertisement for the products in print, online, in a retail setting, or in a movie or television show. Current users were 22% more likely to have seen these ads.

      While teens reported seeing ads the most in retail settings or online, the researchers point out that the products are becoming more and more widespread.

      “You go to a convenience store and the entire wall behind the cashier is tobacco advertising. We’re seeing e-cigarettes are following that trend. The internet and social media are also a concern because e-cigarette companies have a big online presence,” said Dale Mantey, lead author of the study.

      Increased spending

      The increase in advertising is no accident either. The researchers state in their paper that marketing for e-cigarette products nearly tripled from 2011 to 2012 – from $6.4 million to $18.3 million.

      That trend would continue into subsequent years; expenditures for e-cigarette ads in the second quarter of 2013 eclipsed all of the spending for 2012. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that spending increased to $115 million in 2014.

      While more research must be done to prove a definitive link between e-cigarette advertising and its use, the researchers believe that their study has laid some of the groundwork for future studies.

      The full study has been published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

      Recent reports have indicated that e-cigarette use amongst teens is rising, but how much of it is attributed to the way these products are advertised? Acco...
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      Study: low salt diets not beneficial

      Salt reduction only important in some people with high blood pressure

      Health activists have waged a decade-long war on sodium, citing its role in high blood pressure and cardiovascular risks. They've urged consumers to avoid foods that have high sodium content.

      International researchers have produced a study that takes a contrary view. Yes, too much sodium is harmful to people with high blood pressure, but they maintain that a low-sodium diet for everyone else is not only not beneficial, but may be harmful, increasing cardiovascular risk and even death.

      The study, which may prove to be controversial, included more than 130,000 people from 49 countries. It was led by researchers at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, in Canada. The researchers focused on the relationship between sodium consumption and death, heart disease, and stroke.

      What made the study different was the separation of the subjects into those with high blood pressure and those with a normal blood pressure reading.

      Surprising result

      The results found that subjects who had a reduced sodium consumption level were more likely to have suffered a heart attack, stroke, or death.

      “These are extremely important findings for those who are suffering from high blood pressure,” said lead author Andrew Mente. “While our data highlights the importance of reducing high salt intake in people with hypertension, it does not support reducing salt intake to low levels.”

      The take-away from the study, Mente says, is a low-sodium diet is best used for people with high blood pressure, but not the public in general. This conflicts with current medical conventional wisdom.

      Current assumptions

      The Mayo Clinic staff notes that Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. But the staff says “less is usually better,” especially for consumers who are have a sodium sensitivity.

      “If you aren't sure how much sodium your diet should include, talk to your doctor or dietitian,” the staff says on the Mayo Clinic website.

      Without mentioning the Canadian study, the American Heart Association (AMA) has underscored its belief that all people should reduce sodium consumption. It says its lifestyle guidelines on sodium reduction were based on more than 30 scientific studies.

      The organization stands behind a 2014 consensus statement among scientists that concluded “population-wide reduction of sodium intake is an integral approach to reducing cardiovascular disease events and mortality in the United States.”

      But the Canadian researchers say their findings are conclusive, showing that risks associated with low-sodium intake, which they define as less than three grams per day, are consistent whether or not someone has high blood pressure.

      They state that there is a limit below which sodium intake may be unsafe and the risk associated with high sodium consumption appears to only affect those with hypertension.

      Health activists have waged a decade-long war on sodium, citing its role in high blood pressure and cardiovascular risks. They've urged consumers to avoid ...
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      Majority of public pools fail at least one safety test, CDC finds

      Some cases warranted immediate closure

      As warmer weather approaches, public swimming pools will inevitably begin to repopulate. But while taking a dip may be a fun way to beat the heat, the activity may not be as sanitary as you might hope.

      A three-year CDC investigation found that 78.9% of swimming pools failed at least one safety test. The study, which began in 2013, inspected swimming pools in five states including Arizona, California, New York, Florida, and Texas.

      pH levels and safety equipment

      The results of 12.3% of these examinations -- which also included spas and hot tubs -- led to the immediate closure of the area.

      Women’s Health reports that in 14.9% of cases, irritating pH levels were cause for concern; another 12.7% of pools had safety equipment violations that could increase the risk of drowning.

      Pool chemical-associated health events land many swimmers in the emergency room each year, while drowning remains the second-leading cause of injury deaths in children aged 1 to 4.

      The CDC notes that approximately half of fatal drownings in this age group happen in swimming pools. Pools with fences can help reduce the risk of a child drowning, as can teaching children how to swim before the age of 5.

      Additionally, there are a few steps adults can take to ensure that the pool water itself is safe. 

      What to do

      The report notes that “only 68% of U.S. local public health agencies regulate, inspect, or license public aquatic facilities,” so consumers may want to take pool safety into their own hands.

      One way to reduce the risk of a pH level-related health issue is to test the water yourself. Bring pH strips to see if the water’s pH is between 6 and 8. Other ways to protect yourself from pool irritants include wearing goggles while swimming, never drinking the water, and showering afterward. 

      Consumers can also ask pool staff when the pool was last inspected.

      As warmer weather approaches, public swimming pools will inevitably begin to repopulate. But while taking a dip may be a fun way to beat the heat, the acti...
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      Study: most retirees falling behind financially

      Seniors in only three states earning 70% of pre-retirement income

      Consumers approaching retirement are no doubt confused at all the conflicting advice they receive about how much income they will need for a “comfortable” retirement.

      Financial advisors generally suggest that most retirees will need at least 70% of the annual income they earned before retirement. By that metric, a new study from personal finance site Bankrate shows seniors in all but three states – Alaska, Hawaii, and South Carolina – are coming up short.

      "Americans are facing a shortfall of retirement income because their saved assets are not enough to fund their desired or even current lifestyle," James Carlson, chief investment officer at Questis, a financial services firm based in Charleston, South Carolina, told Bankrate.

      The study authors looked at the incomes in each state, broken down by age. The median household income in South Carolina for people age 45 to 64 is $52,289. The median income for those 65 and up is $36,694, which is just over 70% of the younger group.

      The biggest shortfall is found in Massachusetts, where those 65 and older earn just 48% of what those age 45 to 64 earn.

      Reasons for discrepancies

      What causes the discrepancies between states? For one thing, Alaska has very generous retirement benefits for state employees who remain in the state after they retire. Hawaii, another state with a high cost of living, is generous to seniors when it comes to tax breaks. Seniors in Hawaii also tend to spend less on health care.

      South Carolina has become a major retirement destination, and many of the people moving to the state have significant investment and pension income, which boosts the average.

      In today's low-interest environment, savings will yield almost no income. Retirees living off savings will need to consider investments that have potential to either grow the value through capital appreciation or generate income through dividends.

      Those who have a defined benefit pension are fortunate, but since pensions have been phased out over the last couple of decades, fewer workers have access to that kind of steady income.

      Social Security is another defined benefit, but in most cases doesn't go far enough to be a sole source of income.

      What to do

      One of the best ways to generate income in retirement is by working. Someone who has worked for nearly 50 years might not want to contemplate that, but a part-time job in retirement that coincides with the retiree's interest or passions might not seem like work at all.

      If you love animals, for example, you can make pretty good money, with flexible hours, as a pet sitter.

      Along with adding to income, look for ways to cut expenses. Relocating to a state with a low cost of living, for example, might allow you to live on less money.  

      Consumers approaching retirement are no doubt confused at all the conflicting advice they receive about how much income they will need for a “comfortable” ...
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      New home sales surge in April

      Sales are at their highest level in eight years

      Sales of new single-family houses have made up for their March decline -- and then some.

      The Commerce Department reports that sales shot up 16.6% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 619,000. That's the highest level since January 2008 and 23.8% higher than they were a year ago. The increase was the sharpest since January 1992.

      The advance came, according to Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza, on “continued positive gains in employment, low energy costs, favorable lending conditions, and a relatively stable confidence level, housing activity accelerated in April.”

      Despite earlier signs of stagnant momentum, she said, “the spring selling season appears to be kicking off with a more than decent level of consumer activity.”

      Pricing and inventory

      The median sales price of new houses was a record $321,100 -- up $28,400 from a year earlier, while the average sales price rose $45,100 to $379,800. The median is the point at which half the house sold for more and half for less.

      The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 243,000, representing a supply of 4.7 months at the current sales rate.

      Sales by region

      • It was a good month for new-home sales in the Northeast, where they soared 323.1% from March and posted a year-over-year gain of 52.8%.
      • Sales in the West jumped 18.8% from the previous month and were up 23.6% from the same month last year.
      • In the South, sales enjoyed a monthly advance of 15.8% and rose 18.1% from April 2015.
      • The only decline came in the Midwest, where sales were down 4.8% from a month earlier and 9.1% from a year ago.

      The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

      Sales of new single-family houses have made up for their March decline -- and then some.The Commerce Department reports that sales shot up 16.6% in Apr...
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      Muscle cars come up short in IIHS safety tests

      None qualify for a TOP SAFETY PICK award

      The term “muscle car” conjures up images of performance, speed, and power. Safety? You would think these behemoths would offer all the protections you need. But, as the song goes, “it ain't necessarily so.”

      The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently ran three top sports coupes through their tests and found that none of them racked up the scores necessary for a TOP SAFETY PICK award.

      The Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang took part in the full battery of crashworthiness evaluations, with the Mustang coming closest to earning TOP SAFETY PICK. The Camaro missed the mark in one category and lacks an available front crash prevention system. The Challenger is most in need of improvement.

      To qualify for the IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK, vehicles must earn good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint evaluations and have a basic-rated front crash prevention system.

      How they stack up

      The Camaro, Challenger and Mustang earn good ratings for occupant protection in a moderate overlap front crash, as well as a side impact.

      In the small overlap front test -- the newest and toughest IIHS crashworthiness evaluation -- the Camaro earns a good rating, the Mustang earns an acceptable rating, and the Challenger is rated as marginal.

      "The Mustang is just one good rating away from earning TOP SAFETY PICK," IIHS President Adrian Lund pointed out. "Its small overlap rating holds it back."

      The small overlap test replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole or clips another vehicle that has crossed the center line. It is an especially challenging test because it involves a vehicle's outer edges, which aren't well-protected by the crush-zone structures.

      The Challenger wasn't up to the challenge of the small overlap test. Extensive intrusion into the lower occupant compartment limited the driver's survival space and resulted in a poor rating for structure and for leg/foot protection. Measures taken from the dummy indicate a high likelihood of serious lower leg injuries.

      In contrast, survival space for the driver in the Camaro was well-maintained, and the risk of injuries to the dummy's legs and feet was low. The Camaro was redesigned for the 2016 model year.

      "The Camaro's safety cage is built to resist intrusion in a small overlap crash, and that's good news for Camaro drivers," Lund says.

      The Camaro and Mustang earn good ratings for head restraints and seats to protect against neck injuries in rear crashes. The Challenger's head restraints are rated as acceptable.

      The Mustang earns a good rating for roof strength, and the Camaro and Challenger earn acceptable ratings.

      Consumer inquiries

      IIHS doesn't typically crash-test sports cars, as they make up a small share of the consumer market. However, IIHS engineers decided to evaluate these models with optional V-8 engines because they are big sellers in their class, and consumers often ask how they would perform in crash tests.

      Insurance data points to high losses for sports cars. As a group, they have the highest losses among passenger vehicles for crash damage repairs under collision coverage, data from the Highway Loss Data Institute shows. Collision coverage insures against physical damage to the at-fault policyholder's vehicle in a crash.

      "Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it's especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash," Lund concluded.

      The term “muscle car” conjures up images of performance, speed, and power. Safety? You would think these behemoths would offer all the protections you need...
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      Pacific Cycle recalls infant bicycle helmets

      The magnetic buckle on the chin strap has small plastic covers and magnets that can come loose

      Pacific Cycle of Madison, Wis., is recalling about 129,000 infant bicycle helmets with magnetic no-pinch buckle chin straps.

      The magnetic buckle on the chin strap contains small plastic covers and magnets that can come loose, posing a risk of choking and magnet ingestion to young children.

      The company has received three reports of the plastic cover coming loose. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves infant bicycle helmets made for infants ranging from one to three years old. The helmet and its straps come in various colors and design patterns. The buckles have small plastic covers and enclosed magnets. “SCHWINN” is printed on the front of the helmets. Only helmets with the magnetic no-pinch chin strap buckles are affected by this recall.

      The helmets, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively at Target stores and online at www.target.com from January 2014, through April 2016, for between $18 and $25.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately take the helmets away from children and contact Pacific Cycle for instructions on how to receive a free replacement helmet.

      Consumers may contact Pacific Cycle toll-free at 877-564-2261 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CST) Monday through Friday, by email at customerservice@pacific-cycle.com or online at www.schwinnbikes.com and click on “Support” then “Safety & Recalls” or www.target.com and click on “Product Recall” for more information.  

      Pacific Cycle of Madison, Wis., is recalling about 129,000 infant bicycle helmets with magnetic no-pinch buckle chin straps. The magnetic buckle on...
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      Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars recalled

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      The Quaker Oats Company is recalling a small quantity of Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no illnesses reported to date.

      The following products, distributed nationwide, are being recalled:

      • 6.1 ounce boxes of Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars Chocolate Nut Medley with UPC code 30000 32241 and Best Before Dates of: 10/16/2016, 10/17/2016
      • 6.1 ounce boxes of Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars Yogurt, Fruit & Nut with UPC 30000 32243 and Best
      • Before Dates of: 10/10/2016, 10/11/2016

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should dispose of or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 800-856-5781, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (EST), or online at www.quakeroats.com.

      The Quaker Oats Company is recalling a small quantity of Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars. The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes....
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      The Farmers Market Chopped Asian Salad Kit recalled

      The product contains soy, almonds and wheat, allergens not listed on the label

      Fresh Express and Giant Eagle are recalling three cases (containing six (6) salads each) of 6.25-oz. The Farmers Market Chopped Asian Salad Kit .

      The product contains soy, almonds and wheat, allergens not listed on the label.

      No illnesses are reported.

      The following product is being recalled:

      • The Farmers Market Chopped Asian Salad Kit, 6.25-oz. Bowl, Product Code G126B22 and Use-By Date of May 20 located on the bottom label of the package

      Giant Eagle has already retrieved all but three individual salad kit bowls and prevented them from being sold.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should discard it, or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Fresh Express toll-free at (800) 242-5472 from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. (E) Time or Giant Eagle at (800) 553-2324 from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

      Fresh Express and Giant Eagle are recalling three cases (containing six (6) salads each) of 6.25-oz. The Farmers Market Chopped Asian Salad Kit . T...
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      Toyota expands Takata airbag recall

      Another 1.5 million vehicles are added to the list

      Toyota Motor Sales, USA is expanding its recalls involving Takata front passenger air bag inflators by approximately 1.584 million vehicles.

      A safety defect may arise in front passenger air bag inflators in the involved vehicles due to inflator propellant degradation occurring after prolonged exposure to high absolute humidity, high temperatures and high temperature cycling.

      This may result in an inflator rupture when the air bag deploys.

      Approximately 1,584,000 additional vehicles in U.S. are being recalled. Among them:

      • 2009 - 2011MY Corolla, Matrix
      • 2006 - 2011MY Yaris
      • 2010 - 2011MY 4Runner
      • 2011MY Sienna
      • 2008 - 2011MY Scion xB
      • 2007 - 2011MY Lexus ES
      • 2010 – 2011MY Lexus GX
      • 2006 – 2011MY Lexus IS

      What to do

      Toyota, Scion and Lexus owners will be notified by first class mail. Depending on the vehicle model, dealers will replace the air bag inflator, or the air bag assembly, at no cost.

      Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-800-331-4331, or Lexus customer service at 1-800-255-3987.  

      Toyota Motor Sales, USA is expanding its recalls involving Takata front passenger air bag inflators by approximately 1.584 million vehicles. A safe...
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      Survival Capsule offers safety from the storm

      Why dig up your yard to build a shelter? This little red ball says it will keep you safe

      Worried about tsunamis? How about earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes? Storm surges? Riots, dam breaks, societal collapse?

      Well, the good news is you don't need to dig up your back yard or construct a full-scale panic room. Instead, you can just get a Survival Capsule or two, depending on the size of your family. (The base model seats two; others go up to ten).

      The Survival Capsule is, as its name implies, a capsule that you can curl up in when times get tough. Actually, you don't curl up, you're seated comfortably in a sort of bucket seat with four-point harness. That way, if the capsule is battered by the forces of destiny, you don't bounce off the walls and hurt yourself.

      It might sound unlikely, but the manufacturer says the little red balls are just the thing to get you through the perils of modern life. They float, can withstand battering, and most models have their own water and air supply.

      We're told the sphere will "withstand the initial impact of a natural disaster, as well as sharp object penetration, heat exposure, blunt object impact, and rapid deceleration."

      The manufacturer says the capsules -- which are patented as a "personal safety system" -- are tailor-made for people who don't want to depend on the government to keep them safe.

      "Using a PSS, as opposed to a municipal safety system like a safe house, allows individual groups and families to be more in control of their survival in an emergency situation," the company's website says. "The capsule is also a variable disaster solution, which means it can vary position according to the water depth, so it will never be inundated by water levels rising too high. It also provides warmth, safety, and shelter during the initial post-disaster period before rescue crews and relief workers have arrived on the scene."

      The units are available for pre-order, but production hasn't quite ramped up yet, so you'll be on your own this tornado season. 

      Worried about tsunamis? How about earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes? Storm surges? Riots, dam breaks, societal collapse?Well, the good news is you...
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      Discover to provide free FICO credit score to everyone

      Has been providing it free to customers since 2013

      For years, consumers had to pay a fee – or apply for a loan – to see their proprietary FICO credit score. Increasingly, however, financial services firms are providing free access to the score as a way to improve their competitive advantage.

      Discover Card is now expanding that concept, launching its Credit Scorecard that allows consumers – even those who aren't discover cardholders – to access their FICO credit scores for free.

      Discover said it is providing the FICO score, as well as a summary of the financial information from credit agency Experian that is used to determine a consumer’s credit score.

      Consumers can sign up here.

      "At Discover, we think it’s important that consumers have the information they need to manage their credit,” said Roger Hochschild, Discover’s president and CEO.

      Important piece of information

      The FICO credit score is important because it is so widely used within business to determine a consumer’s creditworthiness. Subscription services, like cellphone providers, access the credit score before opening an account. Auto lenders look at the credit score to decide whether or not to extend a loan, and at what rate. The better the credit score, the better the rate.

      Since 2013, Discover has provided free access to the FICO score to its customers, as do several credit card issuers. Discover says it is now the only credit card company providing the score, at no charge, to non-customers.

      Information can improve score

      Discover says a recent poll it conducted helped shape its decision to expand the free credit score service. The survey found that consumers believe just checking a credit score will translate into positive financial actions, such as paying bills on time and keeping down credit card balances.

      In addition, 60% of consumers who had checked their credit score within the last year said they were able to raise their score.

      Along with the FICO credit score, the Credit Scorecard includes the information about what's hurting or helping a consumer's credit picture, such as number of open accounts, number of missed payments, and length of credit history.

      In other words, it provides a snapshot of the information a lender sees when making a judgment on a consumer's credit application.

      For years, consumers had to pay a fee – or apply for a loan – to see their proprietary FICO credit score. Increasingly, however, financial services firms a...
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      Celebrating 50 years of U.S. auto recalls

      Washington conference seeks to build on auto safety activism

      In November 1965 an obscure young lawyer named Ralph Nader published a book called “Unsafe At Any Speed.” Specifically, it focused on the Chevrolet Corvair, but in general it was an indictment of the U.S. auto industry.

      At the time, cost was the biggest factor guiding automotive design and production. Safety was not much of a concern. Cars were not even required to be equipped with seat belts.

      But Nader's book struck a nerve with the public, and 10 months later President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act into law. It created an agency that would become the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and not long afterward came the first auto safety recall.

      There were 803 vehicle recalls in 2014, involving 63.9 million vehicles, including two of the largest vehicle recalls in history.

      Mobilizing citizen power

      This week in Washington, consumer advocates will celebrate Nader's book and the safety changes it helped usher in. In addition to Nader, speakers at a four day conference will include Phil Donahue, Patti Smith, Jim Hightower, Chris Hedges, Winona LaDuke, and several other citizen activists.

      “The theme of this citizen mobilization will be discovering ways to break through power to secure long-overdue democratic solutions made possible by a new muscular civic nexus between local communities and Washington, D.C.,” the Center for Study of Responsive Law, a sponsoring organization, said in a press release.

      Over the four days at Constitution Hall, speakers will try to motivate existing civic groups to take steps that will make them more effective, using Nader's campaign for auto safety as inspiration.

      When he signed the auto safety legislation nearly a half century ago, President Johnson noted that over the previous weekend, 29 American servicemen had died in Vietnam, while 614 Americans died on the nation's highways.

      Deadlier than war

      “In this century, more than 1.5 million of our fellow citizens have died on our streets and highways: nearly three times as many Americans as we have lost in all our wars,” Johnson said. “Auto accidents are the biggest cause of death and injury among Americans under 35. And if our accident rate continues, one out of every two Americans can look forward to being injured by a car during his lifetime--one out of every two!”

      The bill Johnson signed into law that day required all vehicles on U.S. roads, starting with 1968 models, to meet improved safety standards. It also improved tire standards and set up research and testing centers to investigate the causes of traffic accidents.

      And what became of the Chevrolet Corvair? The car was in its second generation in 1966 when Johnson signed the traffic safety bill. Plans for a third generation were dropped and the car went out of production in 1969.

      In November 1965 an obscure young lawyer named Ralph Nader published a book called “Unsafe At Any Speed.” Specifically, it focused on the Chevrolet Corvair...
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      HMSHost recalls multiple brands of Cape Cod cranberry trail mix

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      HMSHost of Bethesda, Md., is recalling multiple brands of trail mix that have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There are no known illnesses to date.

      The 7-oz. packages of trail mix were sold under the brand names Fresh Attractions, 1897, Ciao, Farmers Market, Grounded In, La Tapenade, Marche, MKT, Pronto, PZA, The Local, and Urban Market in stores in the following markets: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.

      The recalled products have a UPC code of 2050000142000 and a use by date from 4/5/16 to 9/17/16.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but return it to the store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the firm at 1-877-672-7467 24/7 or by email at customerservice@hmshost.com.

      HMSHost of Bethesda, Md., is recalling multiple brands of trail mix that have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. There a...
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      Hy-Vee recalls frozen Vegetable Fried Rice and Chicken Fried Rice

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Hy-Vee of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling its frozen Hy-Vee Vegetable Fried Rice and frozen Hy-Vee Chicken Fried Rice products across its eight-state region.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this product.

      The Vegetable Fried Rice was sold in 1-lb. bags with the UPC number 000007545012530 and a “use by” date of Nov. 5, 2017, or earlier.

      The Chicken Fried Rice was sold in 20-oz. bags with the UPC number 0075450125290 and a “use by” date of Nov. 5, 2017, or earlier.

      The recalled products were sold at Hy-Vee stores in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin between July 24, 2014, and May 12, 2016.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should discard them or return them to their local Hy-Vee store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Hy-Vee customer care 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-772-4098.

      Hy-Vee of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling its frozen Hy-Vee Vegetable Fried Rice and frozen Hy-Vee Chicken Fried Rice products across its eight-state r...
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      Piggly Wiggly brand Yellow Cut Corn recalled

      The product may contain Listeria monocytogenes

      McCall Farms is recalling Piggly Wiggly brand frozen Yellow Cut Corn that may contain Listeria monocytogenes.

      The following product is being recalled:

      • Piggly Wiggly brand Frozen Yellow Cut Corn in a 2 lb bag, UPC number: 4129075181, Lot Code: CORN0J14FXA

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but dispose of it properly.

      Consumers with questions may contact McCall Farms consumer affairs line at 1-800-277-2012 from 8am – 5pm (ET).

      McCall Farms is recalling Piggly Wiggly brand frozen Yellow Cut Corn that may contain Listeria monocytogenes. The following product is being recall...
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      Nicotine inhaler doubles chances of quitting smoking, study finds

      Using the inhaler with a nicotine patch is optimal, New Zealand researchers say

      A New Zealand study finds that smokers who used a nicotine inhaler were twice as likely to quit smoking as smokers using a placebo inhaler. The study also found that adding a nicotine inhaler to a nicotine patch doubled the chances of quitting over using a nicotine patch alone.

      "There is considerable debate about whether inhaled nicotine is helpful for people who wish to stop smoking," said Julian Crane, a professor at the University of Otago, Wellington. "This is the first study to show that inhaled nicotine from a metered dose inhaler in the context of a smoker wanting to stop doubles their chances of quitting."

      Crane says the findings are the first evidence that inhaled nicotine from a simple inhaler is highly effective and substantially increases a smoker's chances of quitting compared to the best current nicotine replacement treatment.

      "Currently most smokers use nicotine patches to help them stop smoking. This study shows that if you add a nicotine inhaler to a nicotine patch, it doubles the chances of quitting over a nicotine patch alone," Crane said.

      Inappropriate use less likely

      The results of the New Zealand study funded by the Health Research Council appear in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

      Crane said an advantage of the nicotine inhaler is that, unlike electronic cigarettes, it has no physical associations with the act of smoking.

      "It also has benefits in that it is much less likely to be used inappropriately to administer other drugs given that it is a completely sealed unit," notes Crane.

      The researchers are currently looking at how to make the inhaler available to all smokers who would like to use it.

      A New Zealand study finds that smokers who used a nicotine inhaler were twice as likely to quit smoking as smokers using a placebo inhaler. The study also...
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      Zillow survey: Clinton would be better for housing market than Trump

      Real estate experts favor centrist, predictable administration

      Real estate experts surveyed by Zillow believe the real estate market would perform better under Hillary Clinton as President, rather than Donald Trump, even though Trump has spent his career in real estate.

      While the survey covered a wide range of economic topics, the real estate professionals and economists in the survey had fairly uniform views of how each presidential candidate might impact home values.

      "As the presidential election nears, candidates' individual plans for the economy are increasingly under scrutiny," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "Many of the candidates' proposals sounds [sic] appealing to voters, but a closer look through the panelists' economic lens reveals the potential impact of those proposed policies on our economy.”

      Favor predictable, centrist candidate

      Gudell says the results indicate a predictable, centrist candidate would be best for the economy as a whole and for the real estate market in particular. The panelists saw the more polarizing political leanings of Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, should he secure the Democratic nomination, as having a negative effect.

      Should either man become President, the panelists said they would lower their projections for both home value appreciation and economic growth. Clinton, meanwhile, received mostly positive marks from the panelists for the market and the economy.

      While home values have been increasing, at least half the panelists credit the price acceleration to tighter inventories of homes for sale, instead of more people being able to buy homes. While mortgage rates remain low, many people still cannot meet the new tighter mortgage qualification standards.

      Home prices won't keep rising

      As for prices, the experts don't expect the recent increases to continue, and predict they might even slowly start to decline in the years ahead.

      After adjusting for expected inflation, the expert panel's forecast for national home value appreciation averages 1.7 percent annually through 2020.

      Real estate experts surveyed by Zillow believe the real estate market would perform better under Hillary Clinton as President, rather than Donald Trump, ev...
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      Public health officials step up pressure against distracted driving

      Despite awareness campaigns, drivers still texting behind the wheel

      All the public service announcements, all the lectures, and all the traffic tickets don't seem to have made a dent in texting-while-driving cases. At least, not yet.

      The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 3,100 people died in traffic accidents in 2014 as the result of distracted driving, and Beverly Shirk, pediatric trauma coordinator at Penn State Children’s Hospital, says texting behind the wheel was undoubtedly a factor in most of those accidents.

      “People sending or receiving a text have four seconds or more that their eyes are off the road,” Shirk said. “If you’re traveling 55 miles per hour, that’s the length of a football field. Your reaction time might not allow for you to stop.”

      Shirk is well-acquainted with the problem because every year she works closely with teens in workshops on safe driving. She says it's a challenge to make teens understand the many distractions present in the car and why it calls for making good choices.

      Other distractions


      Besides talking or texting, she says teens tell her that today's sophisticated infotainment systems can be a distraction, as well as operating navigation systems. Eating behind the wheel is still a major distraction, she says.

      Shirk says many teens feel compelled to respond to messages from their friends instantly, even if they are in heavy traffic. The way around that, she suggests, is setting a phone to silent and stowing it out of sight while the vehicle is moving.

      To alleviate anxiety over not being able to respond instantly, she recommends downloading an app that automatically responds to incoming contacts with a message that the recipient is driving and will respond shortly.

      More accountability

      With the tools available to reduce cellphone distractions, more and more safety advocates are pushing to hold drivers accountable when they don't take advantage of them and cause accidents. Deborah Becker, co-founder of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs), says accountability works.

      Drunk driving is down, she says, because drunk drivers are facing much stiffer penalties. These days, she says a fatal car crash is most likely to be caused by someone looking at their cellphone.

      "When people were held accountable for drunk driving, that's when positive change occurred,” she said. “It's time to recognize that distracted driving is a similar impairment, and should be dealt with in a similar fashion.”

      Becker's group is backing proposed legislation that would have drivers submit their phone to roadside testing to see if it were in use at the time of an accident or traffic stop.

      Shirk says it all comes down to making good decisions. If you are driving and you need to use your phone, load music into the infotainment system, or pull up a map, simply pull off the road while you are doing it.

      All the public service announcements, all the lectures, and all the traffic tickets don't seem to have made a dent in texting-while-driving cases. At least...
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      Existing-home sales post second straight gain

      Sales soared in the Midwest, but fell in the South

      Inventory shortages and faster price growth notwithstanding, sales of previously-owned homes rose for a second consecutive month in April.

      The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports total existing-home sales -- completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, -- rose 1.7% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million. Sales are now up 6.0% from the same month a year ago.

      “Primarily driven by a convincing jump in the Midwest, where home prices are most affordable, sales activity overall was at a healthy pace last month as very low mortgage rates and modest seasonal inventory gains encouraged more households to search for and close on a home,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Except for in the West -- where supply shortages and stark price growth are hampering buyers the most -- sales are meaningfully higher than a year ago in much of the country.”

      Prices, inventory and mortgage rates

      The median price for all types of existing homes last month was $232,500, up 6.3% from April 2015, marking the 50th consecutive month of year-over-year gains. The median is the point at which half the prices are higher and half are lower.

      Total housing inventory at the end of April was up 9.2% to 2.14 million previously-owned homes available for sale, but it is still 3.6% lower than a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace, versus 4.4 months in March.

      “The temporary relief from mortgage rates currently near three-year lows has helped preserve housing affordability this spring,” Yun noted. However, he stated that “there's growing concern a number of buyers will be unable to find homes at affordable prices if wages don't rise and price growth doesn't slow.”

      According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell from 3.69% in March to 3.61% in April -- the lowest since May 2013, when it was 3.54%.

      Sales by region

      • Existing-home sales in the Northeast climbed 2.8% last month to an annual rate of 740,000, and are now 17.5% above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $263,600, up 4.1% from April 2015.
      • In the Midwest, sales shot up 12.1% to an annual rate of 1.39 million for a year-over-year gain of 12.1%. The median price was up 7.7% to $184,200.
      • Sales in the South fell 2.7% to an annual rate of 2.19 million, but are still 4.3% above a year earlier. The median price was $202,800, up 6.5% from a year ago.
      • Previously-owned home sales dipped 1.7% in the West to an annual rate of 1.13 million and are down 3.4% from a year ago. The median price rose 6.5% to $335,000.
      Inventory shortages and faster price growth notwithstanding, sales of previously-owned homes rose for a second consecutive month in April.The National ...
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      Rocky Mountain recalls bicycles with front disc brakes

      The front wheel could come to a sudden stop or separate from the bicycle

      Rocky Mountain Bicycles of Canada is recalling about 78,000 bicycles in the U.S. and Canada.

      An open quick release lever on the bicycle’s front wheel hub can come into contact with the front disc brake assembly, causing the front wheel to come to a sudden stop or separate from the bicycle, posing a risk of injury to the rider.

      No incidents or injuries are reported.

      This recall involves all 2003 through 2016 models of Rocky Mountain bicycles equipped with front disc brakes and a black or silver quick-release (QR) lever on the front wheel hub. Bicycles that do not have disc brakes are not included in this recall.

      When the front QR is fully opened, if there is less than 6 mm -- or the width of a #2 pencil -- between the QR and disk brake rotor on the wheel, the bicycle is included in this recall.

      The bicycles, manufactured in Canada, China, Taiwan and Vietnam, were sold at Rocky Mountain bicycle dealers nationwide and online at www.Bikes.com (Rocky Mountain Bicycles), www.Ems.com (Eastern Mountain Sports), www.JensonUsa.com, www.MikesBikes.com and www.PerformanceBike.com from May 2002, through April 2016, from between $250 and $15,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should stop using the recalled bicycles immediately and contact an authorized Rocky Mountain retailer for free installation of a new quick release on the front wheel.

      Consumers may contact Rocky Mountain toll-free at 800-663-2512 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at info@bikes.com or online at www.bikes.com and click on Safety/Recall at the bottom of the page.

      Rocky Mountain Bicycles of Canada is recalling about 78,000 bicycles in the U.S. and Canada. An open quick release lever on the bicycle’s front whe...
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      SCOTT recalls bicycles with SYNCROS seat posts

      The seat post can break, posing a fall hazard

      SCOTT USA of Salt Lake City, Utah, is recalling about 1,600 SCOTT bicycles with SYNCROS seat posts in the U.S. and Canada.

      The seat post can break, posing a fall hazard to the rider.

      The firm has received 11 reports of broken seat posts outside of the U.S. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves model year 2016 SCOTT men’s and women’s road bicycles with SYNCROS FL 0.1 seat posts. Bicycle models included in the recall are: Addict CX 10 disc, Addict SL, Addict Team Issue, Addict 10, Addict 15, Addict 20, Addict Gravel disc, Solace Premium disc, Solace 10 disc, Frame set Addict 10 (HMF), Frame set Addict CX 10 disc (HMX) mech / Di2 and Seatpost Syncros FL1.0 Carbon Offset 27.2mm. “SCOTT” is printed on the bicycle down tube and “SYNCROS” is printed on the seat post.

      The bicycles were sold in black, grey and white with yellow, orange, green or blue decals. A complete list of serial numbers included in the recall can be found at http://www.scott-sports.com/global/en/company/safety-and-recalls. The serial number is printed on a white sticker and embossed on the underside of the bicycle frame near the pedals.

      The bicycles, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold at authorized SCOTT dealers nationwide and online from June 2015 through March 2016 for between $3,300 and $9,700.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop riding the recalled bicycles and return them to an authorized SCOTT dealer to have a free replacement seat post installed.

      Consumers may contact Scott USA toll-free at 888-607-8365 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday, by email at recall@scott-sports.com or online at www.SCOTT-Sports.com and click on “Safety” at the bottom of the page, then “Recalls” for more information.

      SCOTT USA of Salt Lake City, Utah, is recalling about 1,600 SCOTT bicycles with SYNCROS seat posts in the U.S. and Canada. The seat post can break,...
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      E-cigarettes permanently banned from airline luggage

      Transportation Department finalizes interim rule issued in October

      The Transportation Department has issued a final rule banning battery-powered electronic smoking devices – primarily e-cigarettes – from checked bags aboard commercial aircraft.

      The government said it is taking the action as a safety precaution.

      “Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous, and a number of recent incidents have shown that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who called the ban a “prudent and important safety measure.”

      The move was not unexpected. Back in October the agency issued an interim rule to the same effect, opening it to an extended comment period.

      The final rule does allow passengers to carry e-cigarettes in the cabin of the aircraft, but it does not allow them to charge the devices during a flight.

      Lithium ion batteries

      Batteries, as a rule, make aviation officials nervous. There have been instances of lithium ion batteries in laptop computers and smartphones overheating, with some catching fire. Officials have long worried what would happen if a computer, packed in a suitcase and stowed in the body of a jetliner, caught fire.

      In 2014 a plane in Tel Aviv had to be evacuated after the lithium-ion battery powering a passenger's iPhone 5 caught on fire, filling the cabin with smoke. A decade earlier a California teenager suffered second-degree burns when her cell phone caught fire without warning, with investigators pinning the blame on the lithium ion battery.

      Granted, the batteries powering e-cigarettes are much smaller, but officials say it only takes a tiny spark to create a catastrophe.

      “This final rule is the next step in hazardous materials safety standards following our interim final rule issued last October,” Marie Therese Dominguez, a Transportation Department officials, said. “The rule addresses the risk of fire brought about by carrying these electronic devices in checked baggage or charging them on board aircraft.”

      The rule, however, does not stop people from carrying other devices powered by lithium ion batteries -- like computers, phones, and cameras -- in checked bags. It also does not stop a passenger from carrying battery-powered devices in carry-on luggage.

      The Transportation Department has issued a final rule banning battery-powered electronic smoking devices – primarily e-cigarettes – from checked bags aboar...
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      LinkedIn hack from 2012 resurfaces

      Thieves offering to sell 117 million LinkedIn passwords on cybercrime forum

      Back in 2012, LinkedIn said a data breach had exposed about 6.5 million users' passwords. Now it says the number is more like 117 million and it's advising users to change their passwords.

      The latest discovery came about when cybersecurity types noticed a posting on a cybercrime forum offering to sell account information on 117 million LinkedIn users, according to the Krebs on Security blog. 

      Shortly after the 2012 breach, LinkedIn forced password resets on 6.5 million accounts, but this time around it's just advising users of the situation and suggesting they change their passwords to ensure they have "the best experience possible."

      Users around the world found emails like this in their in boxes the last few days: 

      The predicament may not be all that dire for most users. LinkedIn is primarily a business-oriented network and users don't generally reveal too much actionable information. There's also the little matter of how many signed-up users ever bother to log in to their accounts.

      LinkedIn claims it has more than 400 million users, but analysts say only about 25 percent of them sign in on a monthly basis.

      Back in 2012, LinkedIn said a data breach had exposed about 6.5 million users' passwords. Now it says the number is more like 117 million and it's advising...
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      Why using your bank's ATM could be dangerous

      Kaspersky Lab says cybercriminals can plant malware in ATMs

      Consumers have been warned that using debit cards is inherently more dangerous than credit cards. If thieves manage to steal your debit card information, they can clean out your bank account.

      There have been numerous accounts of identity thieves planting “skimmer” devices on ATMs and gasoline pumps. These fake keypads usually fit over the real key pad and record PINs as they steal account information.

      But these skimmers are now old fashioned, and consumers have been cautioned to inspect key pads before they punch in their PINs. So some thieves have become more clever and diabolical. They hijack the ATM itself, turning it into one big skimmer.

      Security company Kaspersky Lab says one of its teams recently made the discovery while investigating an incident report at an unnamed bank. The team found traces of Skimer malware on one of the bank's ATMs. The cybercriminals had planted it sometime earlier, but had not activated it.

      Backdoor.Win32.Skimer

      The Kaspersky team believes the thieves gained access to the bank's ATM system, either physically or by hacking into the bank's network. After that, they installed Backdoor.Win32.Skimer, malware that infects the core of the ATM, which controls the ATM's interaction with the banking infrastructure, including cash processing and credit cards.

      Even though the cybercriminals have full control over the compromised ATMs, Kaspersky says they move slowly and deliberately, not wanting to raise suspicions. They no longer need the fake card readers that are getting easier to spot. Instead, when they throw the switch, they turn the entire ATM into a skimmer.

      The malware allows the thieves to withdraw all the money in the ATM, or to intercept data from all debit cards used at the machine, which will continue to work perfectly.

      Obvious problem

      The problem is fairly obvious. There is no way for a consumer to tell whether the machine they're using to withdraw money is stealing their card's data.

      The security firm says most cybercriminals successfully breaching an ATM won't steal money directly. Rather, they'll use the software to steal debit card data, because they can do it for months before their scheme is uncovered.

      They make duplicate cards using the stolen data and use those cards in uninfected ATMs to withdraw large amounts of cash.

      Countering the threat isn't easy, but Kaspersky recommends banks undertake regular AV scans and upgrade security systems and policies. The company said its investigation is ongoing, and that it is sharing intelligence with the banking industry.

      Financial losses due to skimming continue to mount. A year ago FICO Card Alert Service reported a 173% year-over-year increase in card and PIN skimming points at bank-owned ATMs. At the same time, it said compromised merchant debit card transaction points had declined sharply.

      Consumers have been warned that using debit cards is inherently more dangerous than credit cards. If thieves manage to steal your debit card information, t...
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      An improvement in airline service

      The number of consumer complaints was down in March

      Airline passengers didn't have as much to gripe about in March as they did a year earlier or even a month before.

      The  Department of Transportation (DOT) says the number of consumer complaints it received that month was down 17.7% from March 2015 and down 5.0% from February 2016.

      According to DOT's Air Travel Consumer Report, there were 1,429 complaints about service compared with 1,736 the year before and 1,504 in February. However, during the first three months of 2016, complaints are up 1.0% from the same period the previous year.

      On-time performance

      Carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 81.5% in March 2016, up from the 78.7% on-time rate in March 2015 but down from the 83.6% mark in February 2016.

      In addition, airlines reported six tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and one tarmac delay of more than four hours on an international flight. Five of those domestic delays and the international delay were in Denver during a snowstorm on March 23.

      The consumer report also includes data on chronically delayed flights and the causes of flight delays, along with problems regarding baggage, reservation and ticketing, refunds, customer service, disability, and discrimination.

      There's a good chance all of this will change when the report for May is released, given the problems airports have been experiencing lately.

      The complete report is available on the DOT website.

      Airline passengers didn't have as much to gripe about in March as they did a year earlier or even a month before.The  Department of Transportation (DOT...
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      Ajinomoto Windsor recalls meat and poultry products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Ajinomoto Windsor, with facilities in Fort Worth, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; Carthage, Mo.; and Portland, Ore., is recalling approximately 47,112,256 pounds of not-ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of illness or adverse reactions

      The following heat-treated, not fully cooked, not shelf stable meat and poultry items, produced between May 1, 2014, and May 1, 2016, are being recalled:

      • 14.2-oz packages containing “Tai Pei Chicken Fried Rice” with best-by dates ranging from 01/02/2015 to 10/27/2017.
      • 14.2-oz packages containing “Tai Pei Pepper Beef” with best-by dates ranging from 11/02/2015 to 10/19/2017.
      • 12-oz packages containing “Tai Pei Combination Fried Rice” with best-by dates ranging from 11/06/2015 to 10/27/2017.
      • 12-lb cases containing 32-oz packages of “Fred’s Jalapeño, Corn & Bacon Cornbread Pop” with product code 0945137.
      • 2-lb boxes containing “InnovASIAN Cuisine CHICKEN FRIED RICE” with best-by dates ranging from 5/15/2015 to 4/09/2017.
      • 20-oz packages containing “Trader Joe’s Chicken Fried Rice” with case codes ranging from 261231 to 281211.
      • 18-oz. bags containing “InnovASIAN Cuisine CHICKEN FRIED RICE” with best-by dates ranging from 05/01/2015 to 04/29/2017.
      • 18-oz. and 24-oz. packages containing “Simmering Samurai Orange Chicken Fried Rice” with best-by dates ranging from 5/12/2015 to 3/18/2017.
      • 20-oz. packages containing “HyVee chicken fried rice” with best-by dates ranging from 7/11/2015 to 3/03/2017.
      • 20-oz. packages containing “First Street Chicken Fried Rice” with best-by dates ranging from 7/11/2015 to 3/15/2017.
      • 54-oz. packages containing “Yakitori Chicken with Japanese-Style Fried Rice” with best-by dates ranging from 6/28/2015 to 5/2/2017.
      • 18-oz. packages containing “Simmering Samurai Chicken Fried Rice” with best-by dates ranging from 8/11/2015 to 3/18/2017.
      • 18-oz. packages containing “Simmering Samurai Hibachi Seasoned Chicken Fried Rice” with best-by dates ranging from 8/11/2015 to 11/16/2016.
      • 18-oz. packages containing “Simmering Samurai Spicy Hibachi Seasoned Chicken Fried Rice” with best-by dates ranging from 8/13/2015 to 11/16/2016.
      • 18 oz. and 24-oz. packages containing “Simmering Samurai General Tso’s Chicken Fried Rice” with best-by dates ranging from 8/18/2015 to 12/26/2016.
      • 1.53-kg packages containing “Arroz Frito Estilo Japones Con Pollo Yakitori” with best-by dates ranging from 1/22/2016 to 1/03/2017, exported to Mexico.
      • 1.53-kg packages containing “Yakitori Chicken with Japanese-Style Fried Rice (Poulet Yakitori Avec Riz Frit A La Japonaise)” with best-by dates ranging from 1/21/2016 to 3/7/2017, exported to Canada.
      • 30-oz. packages containing “Daily Chef Chicken Poblano Firecrackers” with packaging dates between 8/10/2015 to 1/25/2016.
      • 12.5-lbs packages containing “Golden Tiger SANTA FE BRAND CHICKEN EGG ROLLS” with packaging dates between 8/22/2014 to 11/6/2015.
      • 6.25-lb packages cases containing “Jade Mountain SOUTHWEST CHICKEN EGG ROLL TWISTS” with packaging dates between 6/3/2014 to 3/23/2016.
      • 30-oz packages containing 30 pieces of “Petite Cuisine CHICKEN POBLANO Hand Made Firecrackers” with packaging dates between 7/15/2014 to 1/15/2016.
      • 6.25-lbs. cases containing “Golden Tiger Firecracker Southwest Brand Chicken” with packaging dates between 6/2/2014 to 3/23/2016.
      • 7.5-lbs. packages containing “Posada Southwest Brand CHICKEN EMPANADA” with packaging dates between 5/12/2014 to 3/8/2016.
      • 8-oz packages containing 8 pieces of “The Original Appetizer Company CHICKEN POBLANO Handmade Appetizers (Firecracker) with packaging date of 11/4/2014.
      • 30-oz packages containing 30 pieces of “Petite Cuisine SOUTHWEST CHICKEN Handmade Firecrackers” with packaging dates between 10/9/2014 to 11/6/2014.
      • 8-oz packages containing 8 pieces of “Taste of Inspirations Chicken Poblano Firecrackers” with packaging dates between 8/12/2015 to 2/26/2016.
      • 6.89 kg. cases containing packages of “Golden Tiger SOUTHWEST SPICY CHICKEN SPRING ROLLS” with packaging dates between 5/7/2014 to 3/31/2016.
      • 8-oz. packages containing “archer farms Chicken Poblano Firecrackers” with packaging dates between 7/15/2014 to 3/21/2016.
      • 1.15-kg packages of “Molly's Kitchen Mini Chicken Pot Pie Empanadas” with packaging dates between 6/4/2014 to 1/7/2015.
      • 7.5-lb packages of “CASA SOLANA SOUTHWEST BRAND CHICKEN EMPANADA MADE IN CALIFORNIA” with packaging dates between 11/4/2014 to 2/16/2016.
      • 15-lbs packages of “Perkins SOUTHWEST STYLE CRISPY ROLL” with a packaging date of 3/11/2015 and date code 5255070.

      The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 21225,” “EST. 9281,” “EST. 1623A” or “EST. 18356” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped nationwide and to Canada and Mexico.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not to consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact the firm's consumer affairs office at (855) 742-5011.

      Ajinomoto Windsor, with facilities in Fort Worth, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; Carthage, Mo.; and Portland, Ore., is recalling approximately 47,112,256 poun...
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      phil&teds recalls dash strollers

      The hinge used to fold the stroller can pose a pinch hazard to the consumer

      phil&teds of Fort Collins, Colo., is recalling about 870 phil&teds dash strollers in the U.S. and Canada.

      The hinge used to fold the dash v5 stroller can become damaged while opening and closing the stroller, posing a pinch hazard to the consumer.

      The firm has received one report of the stroller hinge joint separating. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves phil&teds dash v5 buggy-style strollers with serial numbers ranging between PTRV 0715/0746 and PTRV 0815/2525. The serial number is printed on the lower left rear cradle, next to the identification label.

      Colors and models included in the recall are:

      Color

      EAN/UPC Code

      Model

      Black

      9 420015754 155

      DASH_V5_5

      Grey Marl

      9 420015754 179       

      DASH_V5_7

      Blue Marl

      9 420015754 186

      DASH_V5_3

      Red

      9 420015754 162

      DASH_V5_11

      The strollers, manufactured in China, were sold at Baby Street, Dainty Baby, Mega Babies and other baby product and specialty stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, diapers.com and philandteds.com from August 2015, through April 2016, for about $550.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the dash v5 stroller and contact phil&teds to have the stroller frame replaced free of charge.

      Consumers may contact phil&teds toll-free at 855-652-9019 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (MT) Monday through Friday or online at www.philandteds.com and click on “Support,” then “Upgrades” and “Recalls” for more information.

      phil&teds; of Fort Collins, Colo., is recalling about 870 phil&teds; dash strollers in the U.S. and Canada. The hinge used to fold the dash v5 stro...
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      Frontier Co-op recalls Organic Hojicha Tea

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

      Frontier Co-op is recalling its Organic Hojicha Tea which may be contaminated with Salmonella.

      No illnesses have been associated with these products to date.

      The following product, sold nationwide from December 13, 2014 – April 21, 2016, is being recalled:

      BrandItem NumberAffected LotsUPCSizeImage
      Frontier Co-op29204338
      5096
      5191
      5289
      6042
      0-89836-02920-11 lb. (16 oz)

      The four-digit lot code on the foil bulk packages follows the item number (#2920) on the front label directly above the UPC code.

      What to do

      Customers should not consume these products and either throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Frontier Co-op at 1-800-669-3275 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (CT).

      Frontier Co-op is recalling its Organic Hojicha Tea which may be contaminated with Salmonella. No illnesses have been associated with these product...
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      Garland Ventures recalls poultry products

      The products may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Garland Ventures of Garland, Texas, is recalling approximately 114,870 pounds of chicken fried rice products.

      The products may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of illness or adverse reactions.

      The following heat-treated, not fully cooked, not shelf stable chicken fried rice products, produced between September 24, 2015, and March 23, 2016, are being recalled:

      • 20-oz. pail boxes containing AllFresh Foods “ANJOY Chicken Fried Rice.”

      Case Codes associated with the “ANJOY Chicken Fried Rice” product are: 092415, 092915, 100215, 101325, 101615, 102015, 102715, 110315, 110615 and 032316.

      The recalled products bear establishment number “P-31993” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and were shipped to retail distributor locations in Colorado, Georgia, Missouri and Utah.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased these products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact Robert Cocat at (972) 485-8878.

      Garland Ventures of Garland, Texas, is recalling approximately 114,870 pounds of chicken fried rice products. The products may be adulterated with ...
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      Kiddy recalls World Plus combination forward facing child restraints

      The buckle/tongue on the affected booster seats may only partially engage

      Kiddy USA is recalling 1,429 World Plus combination forward facing child restraints that convert to a high back booster seat, model 51 100 WP, manufactured from July 2, 2012, through October 5, 2013.

      The buckle/tongue on the booster seats may only partially engage. As a result, the consumer may have a false impression that the buckle is fully latched when it is not. As such, these seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, "Child Restraint Systems."

      A partially engaged buckle will not adequately restrain the child in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      The remedy for this recall is still under development. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Kiddy customer service at 1-855-92KIDDY (1-855-925-4339).

      Kiddy USA is recalling 1,429 World Plus combination forward facing child restraints that convert to a high back booster seat, model 51 100 WP, manufactured...
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      Kroger recalls Simple Truth Organic Frozen Mixed Vegetables

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      The Kroger Co. is recalling Simple Truth Organic Mixed Vegetables.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No customer illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recall affects stores operating under the following names: Kroger, Jay-C, Dillons, Bakers, Gerbes, King Soopers, City Market, Fry’s, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, QFC and Smith’s.

      The following product, sold in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming, is being recalled:

      ProductUPCCodesSize
      Simple Truth Organic Mixed Vegetables0001111036738Sell By Date: December 2016 and Jan 201710 oz.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the above product should not consume it, but return them to a store for a full refund or replacement.

      Customers with questions may contact Kroger at 1-800-KROGERS, Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 12:00 am (EDT) and Saturday through Sunday 8:00 am to 9:00 pm (EST).

      The Kroger Co. is recalling Simple Truth Organic Mixed Vegetables. The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No customer...
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      Does your doctor know how much those medical tests cost?

      A survey found that little more than a third of physicians knew how much certain medical procedures and tests cost

      Rising drug costs have been a hot topic of debate recently, but a new study suggests that these are not the only medical costs that consumers have to worry about.

      Researchers from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice surveyed a selection of doctors from Atrius Health – the largest ambulatory care provider in Massachusetts. The participants were asked questions related to the cost of medical tests and procedures; they were also asked about how much they believed they were responsible for controlling costs for patients.

      The researchers found that while the vast majority of physicians believed they were responsible for controlling costs for their patients (92.2%), little more than a third of the respondents (36.9%) actually admitted to having an understanding of how much certain procedures and tests actually cost.

      Care vs. costs

      The researchers began their study in an effort to support a new initiative called “Choosing Wisely,” a campaign started in 2012 by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) that seeks to educate doctors on low-value health care services – tests and procedures that may be expensive or take a lot of time but don’t actually give much of a benefit to the patient.

      A good portion of physicians in the study had strong feelings about doing their part to keep costs down. While they recognized that it actually was their responsibility to keep costs down, about one third of the respondents felt that it was unfair for doctors to have to be both concerned about costs and the welfare of their patients.

      Another third of respondents said that they try not to think about costs at all while considering medical decisions, with roughly the same amount saying that they’re simply too busy to worry about costs on top of everything else.

      Different pressures

      However, the study also revealed that different types of doctors face different pressures when it comes to dealing with their patients and costs.

      Primary care physicians, for example, reported feeling much more pressured by patients to order medical tests and screenings than medical or surgical specialists (68.3% vs. 58% and 55.8%, respectively.)

      Despite these patient pressures, many of the participants stated that they were aware of the Choosing Wisely campaign. Nearly half of all physicians stated that they were aware of the program (47.2%), while medical and surgical specialists seemed less informed, with 37.4% and 27% being aware of it, respectively.

      Responsibility for change

      The researchers hope that extra support from the medical community can help keep medical costs low, but they also know that the responsibility for creating a tangible change is up to more than just the doctors.

      “Our analysis points to the fact that there is willingness on the part of physicians to forgo low-value care services, if they have appropriate support that addresses patient demand, malpractice concerns, and other drivers of overuse,” said Dr. Carrier Colla, lead author of the study.

      “But, it’s also clear that to get a meaningful reduction in the use of low-value services, we need to engage more than just physicians. The behavior and attitudes of patients, regulators and other stake holders all play a part in the consumption of these low-value services.”

      The full study has been published in the American Journal of Managed Care

      Rising drug costs have been a hot topic of debate recently, but a new study suggests that these are not the only medical costs that consumers have to worry...
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      Summer air travel projected to reach record level

      Security checkpoints at busiest airports struggle with current traffic

      As the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) struggles to screen passengers at the nation's busiest airports, its job may be about to get a lot harder.

      And for airline passengers passing through those busy airports, the nightmare may only be beginning.

      Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade group for major U.S. airlines, has issued its summer air travel forecast, projecting this summer's passenger traffic to beat last year's by 4%. And last year was an all-time record.

      “We saw airfares fall throughout 2015 and that trend continued in the first three months of 2016,” said John Heimlich, A4A Vice President and Chief Economist. “As airlines compete for passengers across an increasing portfolio of markets, air travel is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible.”

      Not exactly good news

      That might sound like good news, but it probably isn't. Already the bottlenecks at security check points have sent tempers boiling, as passengers can't get through the lines in time to make their flights.

      As Chicago television station WLS reported over the weekend, 450 American Airlines passengers became stranded at O'Hare Airport Sunday when they couldn't get through security in time and the planes left without them.

      Airline personnel rounded up hundreds of cots so the stranded passengers could spend the night in the terminal – a scene usually occurring only during a major weather emergency. It could well become a routine occurrence this summer at other busy airports.

      A4A expects about 2.51 million passengers a day will book passage on U.S. airlines from June 1 through August 31 – 231 million over the course of the summer. To meet the record demand, it says airlines will offer 2.78 million seats per day.

      Quickly optimize staffing

      The airlines may be able to accommodate that number, but the real question is whether the TSA's security system can. A4A says TSA should move to “quickly optimize staffing” to reduce boarding wait times.

      “Research shows that people who get through security more efficiently have a significantly better travel experience,” said Sharon Pinkerton, A4A Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs.

      Pinkerton notes that spring travel has already proven to be a challenge, with some passengers waiting an hour and a half to get through lines. Some passengers at O'Hare told CNBC that they arrived three hours early, as instructed, only to find the security checkpoint was not staffed during the early morning hours.

      TSA says it is working with fewer screeners and has tightened security procedures. Congress last week approved a measure that shifts $34 million in the TSA budget to the hiring and training of additional screeners.  

      As the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) struggles to screen passengers at the nation's busiest airports, its job may be about to get a lot hard...
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      A down week for mortgage applications

      Contract interest rates were little-changed

      After inching higher last week, mortgage applications are headed lower.

      According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications fell 1.6% in the week ending May 13, while refinance applications rose 1%. That pushed the refinance share of mortgage activity to 54.7% of total applications from 52.8% the previous week.

      The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity fell to 5.5% of total applications, the FHA share dipped to 12.6% from 13.0%, the VA share came in at 12.2%, and the USDA share of total applications was unchanged at 0.7%.

      Contract interest rates

      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) was unchanged at 3.82%, with points holding steady at 0.34 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate was unchanged from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) remained at 3.74%, with points decreasing to 0.29 from 0.31 (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 one basis point, to 3.63% from 3.64%, with points increasing to 0.28 from 0.25 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs fell from 3.06% to 3.02%, with points increasing to 0.38 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs inched up one basis point to 2.94%, with points increasing to 0.30 from 0.22 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

      The survey covers over 75% of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications.

      After inching higher last week, mortgage applications are headed lower.According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications fell 1.6% in the wee...
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      Trader Joe’s Kale Kale & Edamame Salad recalled

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

      WCD Kitchen of Fontana, Calif., is recalling Trader Joe’s Kale & Edamame Salad.

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The 3,763 recalled salads (UPC 00967112), with a “USE BY May 05, 2016 through May 14, 2016,” were distributed to Trader Joe’s stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.

      The salad is packaged in a 10-oz. plastic clamshell and the “Use By” Date is stickered on the front of the label.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product may return it to Trader Joe’s for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-909-574-4140, 8 AM – 4:30 PM, (PST), Monday – Friday.

      WCD Kitchen of Fontana, Calif., is recalling Trader Joe’s Kale & Edamame Salad.   The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.   No illness...
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      Ford recalls model year 2016 Fusions

      The driver may not be adequately restrained in a crash

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 39 model year 2016 Ford Fusions manufactured from March 10, 2016, through March 16, 2016Ford Motor Company.

      The front driver seat track assembly's rear riser may have been improperly welded to the seat track rail, and as a result, the driver may not be adequately restrained in a crash. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) numbers 207, "Seating Systems" and 210, "Seat Belt Assembly Anchorages."

      An improperly welded driver seat riser may fail to adequately restrain the driver during crash, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Ford quarantined the affected vehicles at dealerships prior to their sale. Dealers will replace the front driver seat track rail, free of charge.

      The recall began on April 26, 2016. Ford's number for this recall is 16C05.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 39 model year 2016 Ford Fusions manufactured from March 10, 2016, through March 16, 2016Ford Motor Company. The fro...
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      Dollywood Sweet & Salty Trail Mix recalled

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Rucker’s Makin’ Batch Candies of Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling Dollywood Sweet & Salty Trail Mix.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled product is packaged in an 11-oz. clear bag with “Dollywood Theme Park” label, UPC 490000503272, and best by codes 11-22-16 and 1-6-17, and was distributed at Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge, TN.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consumer it.

      Consumers desiring a refund or who have questions may contact Rucker’s at 618-945-7778 or 888-622-2639 Mon – Fri. 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (CST), or by email at

      ericf7@ruckerscandy.com.

      Rucker’s Makin’ Batch Candies of Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling Dollywood Sweet & Salty Trail Mix. The product may be contaminated with Listeria mo...
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      Pirelli recalls P Zero Trofeo tires

      The tires may not be marked with a date code

      Pirelli Tire is recalling 42 P Zero Trofeo tires, size 225/50RR15 91Y, manufactured from April 1, 2015, through April 7, 2015.

      The tires may not be marked with a date code and, as such, fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 139, "New Pneumatic Radial Tires for Light Vehicles."

      A missing date code could render the tire difficult to identify in the event of a safety-related issue, possibly causing them not to be removed from service. This could increase the risk of crash.

      What to do

      Pirelli will notify owners, and dealers will replace the tires missing the date code, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin during May 2016.

      Owners may contact Pirelli customer service at 1-800-747-3554.

      Pirelli Tire is recalling 42 P Zero Trofeo tires, size 225/50RR15 91Y, manufactured from April 1, 2015, through April 7, 2015. The tires may not be...
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      NORPAC Foods recalls Natural Directions organic mixed vegetables and green peas

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      NORPAC Foods of Salem, Ore., is recalling two (2) frozen private label vegetable items -- Natural Directions Organic Mixed Vegetables and Natural Directions Organic Green Peas.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date .

      The following products are being recalled:

      UPCProductNet WeightUSE BY / SELL BY DATECode
      UPC # 0-15400-19672-7Natural Directions Organic Mixed Vegetables12ozUSE BY 06 2017 / MFG 06 16 20155J5 16X8 HH:MM
      USE BY 02 2018 / MFG 02 16 20165F6 16X8 HH:MM
      USE BY 04 2018 / MFG 04 19 20165H6 19X8 HH:MM
      UPC # 0-15400-19670-3Natural Directions Organic Green Peas12ozUSE BY 03 2018 / MFG 03 21 20165G6 21X8 HH:MM
      USE BY 04 2018 / MFG 04 11 20165H6 11X8 HH:MM
      USE BY 04 2018 / MFG 04 12 20165H6 12X8 HH:MM

      The recalled products may have been sold in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Guam.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products may return them to the store where they were purchased for a refund, or discard them.

      Consumers with questions may call the company at 888-641-9349, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (PDT).

      NORPAC Foods of Salem, Ore., is recalling two (2) frozen private label vegetable items -- Natural Directions Organic Mixed Vegetables and Natural Direction...
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      No let up in persistent recession warnings

      Black cloud seems to be hanging over Wall Street

      Since the beginning of the year, the financial community has been in a funk. One bank, analyst, economist, and major Wall Street player after another has worried out loud about a recession.

      These worries are being expressed as the stock market has churned along near recent highs, employment has been rising, and workers' wages have begun to increase.

      One of the latest to warn of a coming recession is hedge fund manager John H. Burbank III, of Passport Capital.

      Yahoo Finance quotes Burbank in an investment letter as saying he believes that within the next year the world will experience a major Chinese currency devaluation and a U.S. recession.

      U.S. election is a wild card

      “It is for certain in seven months we will see a U.S. election whose outcome may provoke or have discounted one or both,” Burbank wrote. “China will enter their liquidity crisis with likely the largest amount of non-performing debt in the world; the U.S. will enter its recession with the smallest rate reduction potential in history. For both it will be a normal ending after decades of extending their booms with the first quarter’s flip-flops possibly being their final policy moves."

      Investment bankers have also been wearing grim expressions lately. JP Morgan is predicting even lower bond rates on the belief that the economy is running out of gas. The New York Post reports that 2016 has so far been one of the most pessimistic on Wall Street since the 2008 financial crisis.

      “We’ve had crises in the past. What’s different about this is there’s not a crisis and we still feel pessimistic,” Paul Mortimer-Lee, chief economist at BNP Paribas, told The Post. “If something nasty comes around the corner, we’re in trouble.”

      Disappearing shoppers

      Then there are the nation's retailers, who have turned in disappointing earnings over the last couple of weeks. Both Kohl's and Macy's reported a drop in same store sales as consumers disappeared from sight.

      If consumers are earning more and have a better chance of being employed, why aren't they spending? While some see that as a sign the economy is slowing, others see it as a sign the economy is shifting. Amazon.com, it turns out, is doing quite well. So are Home Depot and Lowes.

      Where, then, is all the recession worry coming from? Perhaps it is coming from those segments that are losing business in the new environment. After all, when your sales go down and your costs go up, it's a recession for you.

      The question, of course, is will it become a recession for everyone else? A growing number of people think so.

      Since the beginning of the year, the financial community has been in a funk. One bank, analyst, economist, and major Wall Street player after another has w...
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      Hawaii sues Takata and Honda over defective airbags

      The state wants each company to pay $10,000 for each affected vehicle

      Hawaii is suing Takata and Honda, accusing them of covering up defects in Takata's airbags. It's the first state to take Takata to court over the massive recall of airbags, which have been linked to 13 deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide.

      Takata announced today that it is recalling 14 million more airbags, although it doesn't yet know which cars contain the potentially defective units.

      Hawaii is seeking $10,000 for each affected vehicle in the state, estimated to be about 70,000. 

      “Companies that supply and market goods to Hawai’i consumers are obligated to deliver products that are safe and to provide consumers with full, accurate, and timely information when dangers become known," said Stephen Levins, Executive Director of the State Office of Consumer Protection. "Takata and Honda put their own profits and reputations ahead of honesty and their customers’ safety. We intend to hold them accountable for their conduct.”

      Takata is also being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and faces an avalanche of lawsuits. Federal regulators earlier this month said an additional 40 million Takata airbags need to be replaced, in addition to 28.8 million already recalled.

      Hawaii is one of the high-humidity states where the recall was initially focused. In its suit, the state says its tropical climate puts residents at a “significantly greater risk of overly aggressive combustion, rupture, and injury and/or death caused by Takata’s unsafe airbags.”

      Hawaii is suing Takata and Honda, accusing them of covering up defects in Takata's airbags. It's the first state to take Takata to court over the massive r...
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      Allstate moving into auto service and repair

      Insurance company announces partnership with Openbay

      Insurance companies are there to write a check when someone runs into your car. But Allstate is expanding its role, teaming with a company to perform routine maintenance and repairs.

      The insurance giant has announced a partnership with Openbay, an online source for repairs and maintenance unrelated to collisions. The marketplace matches consumers with service providers in their locality.

      This service has been added to Allstate's website, the Allstate mobile app's 'My Rides' section, and the Drivewise app. The tie-up connects drivers to a national network of service centers that take part in the Allstate Dealer Agency program. Consumers can use it to schedule service, from major repairs to an oil change.

      The Allstate Mobile app and Drivewise apps are available as a free download in the iTunes App Store or on Google Play.

      Multiple estimates to choose from

      Once consumers access the app and explain what they need, they receive multiple estimates from local providers. Before making a decision, they can read reviews and look over warranties. A record of any work done through Openbay goes in a digital file, which can be accessed in the future and provided to a buyer when the vehicle is sold.

      Besides the obvious connection with automobiles, Allstate sees the collaboration as helping to fulfill its corporate mission.

       "Well maintained vehicles make the road safer for everyone,” said Gary Hallgren, President of Allstate Connected Car. “Consumers consistently indicate that identifying a quality auto-repair facility is a major pain point, which may serve as a deterrent to regular maintenance and repairs. Integrating with Openbay enables Allstate to ease the burden of comparing and booking vehicle service."

      Rob Infantino, founder and CEO of Openbay, says the U.S. auto fleet continues to age, increasing the need for quality repair services – not just to increase reliability but also safety.

      According to IHS Automotive, the average age of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads hit a record 11.5 years in 2014. Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader at IHS Automotive, says cars and trucks are getting older because their quality has improved in recent years.  

      Insurance companies are there to write a check when someone runs into your car. But Allstate is expanding its role, teaming with a company to perform routi...
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      Survey finds U.S. homes have too many opioid drugs

      Doctors say they should advise parents to dispose of leftover pills

      Doctors are taking a new look at how they prescribe pain medication for children, as rates of opioid drug abuse rise nationwide.

      While it may be helpful that physicians reduce or eliminate these prescriptions for children, it doesn't address the issue of drugs that are still in the medicine cabinet. And a survey suggests there are a lot of them.

      Researchers at the University of Michigan report nearly half of parents whose children received opioids after surgery or illness reported keeping the leftover drugs at home. In many cases, parents who had disposed of the leftover pills had been advised to do so by the child's healthcare provider.

      “We found that the amount of pain medication prescribed for children is frequently greater than the amount used, and too few parents recall clear direction from their provider about what to do with leftover medication,” said Sarah Clark, associate research scientist in the department of pediatrics at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

      Missed opportunity

      Clark calls it a “missed opportunity” to head off prescription drug misuse among children. The leftover pills, she says, provide easy access to narcotics for teens and their friends.

      When parents admitted to keeping the pills, the survey shows about 60% were for narcotics, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone.

      The Michigan doctors say leftover drugs should be returned to a hospital, doctor's office, or pharmacy. A number of counties, responding to what has become an epidemic of opioid abuse, stage periodic “take-back” events to collect unused painkillers.

      Reducing the number of prescriptions

      Many health officials believe one answer is for doctors to prescribe fewer opioid drugs, especially for children. In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines for prescribing opioids, noting that in 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.

      Opioid prescriptions per capita increased 7.3% from 2007 to 2012. Oddly, the CDC found that opioid prescribing rates increased more for family practice, general practice, and internal medicine compared with other specialties.

      The Michigan researchers say healthcare providers should not assume that parents understand the risks of keeping leftover pain medication in the home. They say doctors need to explain the risks to parents, and offer guidance on appropriate options for disposing of the pills.

      Doctors are taking a new look at how they prescribe pain medication for children, as rates of opioid drug abuse rise nationwide.While it may be helpful...
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      Consumer prices surge in April

      The increase was spurred by rising gasoline costs

      A big jump in the cost of gasoline helped send the cost of living up in April at the fastest clip in three years.

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports its Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% last month and is up 1.1% over the last 12 months.

      Energy and food costs on the rise

      An 8.1% increase in the cost of gasoline helped push overall energy prices up 3.4% last month. Also on the rise were the cost of fuel oil (+1.9) and natural gas (+0.6). Electricity prices dipped 0.3%. Despite the big April increase, energy costs are down 8.9% over the past year, led by gasoline which has plunged 13.8%.

      Food prices inched up 0.2% last month with the food at home category, a reflection of grocery store prices, advancing just 0.1%. The cost of dairy and related products rose 0.4%, while cereals & bakery products and nonalcoholic beverages both increased 0.3%. The largest of the increases came in the “other food at home” group, which jumped 0.5 percent. Fruits and vegetables were lower (-0.5%), as were meats, poultry, fish, and eggs (-0.1%). In the past 12 months, food prices are up 0.9%.

      Core inflation

      The core rate of inflation, which excludes the volatile energy and food categories, rose 0.2% in April, with prices for shelter, medical care, motor vehicle insurance, airline fares, recreation, and education up 0.3%. Costs for household furnishings and operations, apparel, new vehicles, used cars and trucks, and communication were lower. Over the last 12 months, the core rate is up 1.1%.

      The complete April CPI report is available on the DOL website.

      A big jump in the cost of gasoline helped send the cost of living up in April at the fastest clip in three years.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports ...
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      Uncle Bucks Sweet & Salty Trail Mix recalled

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Rucker’s Wholesale and Service Co. of Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling Uncle Bucks Sweet & Salty Trail Mix

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses are reported to date.

      The recalled product is packaged in a 3-oz, clear bag with Uncle Buck paper header card, UPC 752545073390, and the best by codes 031417 & 041817. It was distributed in Bass Pro Shops stores nationwide.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it.

      Consumers wishing to receive a refund or who have questions may contact Rucker’s at 618-945-2411, or 800-663-1857 Monday – Friday, 7:30AM - 4:30PM (CST), or by email at customerservice@ruckerscandy.com

      Rucker’s Wholesale and Service Co. of Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling Uncle Bucks Sweet & Salty Trail Mix The product may be contaminated with Liste...
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      Volkswagen recalls model year 2016 Touregs

      The Tire Pressure Monitoring System may be improperly calibrated

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 366 model year 2016 Touregs manufactured July 7, 2015, to March 3, 2016.

      The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) may be improperly calibrated and, as a result, may fail to warn the driver that the tire pressure is low. Additionally, the tire pressures printed on the Safety Certification labels are incorrect. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 138, "Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems."

      If the vehicle is driven on underinflated tires, the tires may fail suddenly, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Volkswagen has notified owners, and dealers will correct the TPMS settings and replace the safety certification label, free of charge. The recall began on May 13, 2016. Volkwagen's number for this recall is 44M9.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 366 model year 2016 Touregs manufactured July 7, 2015, to March 3, 2016. The Tire Pressure Monitoring Syst...
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      Hobby Lobby recalls infant rattles

      The rattle seams can separate, exposing the fiber stuffing and bell rattle

      Hobby Lobby Stores of Oklahoma City, Okla., is recalling about 14,400 Little Wishes Chenille Stuffed Rattles.

      The rattle seams can separate, exposing the fiber stuffing and bell rattle, posing a choking hazard.

      No incidents or injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves Little Wishes Chenille Stuffed Rattles, including the Pink & Green Fish rattles, item number 5141577, and the Blue & Yellow Fish rattles, item number 5127642. The rattles are made of a soft chenille fabric with a fiber stuffing, and are 8.5 inches by 7 inches and have a hole cut out in the middle.

      The item number is printed on the top left corner of the product hang tag. Rattles have a sewn-in label with “Reg. No. PA-15130(CN)” and “Hobby Lobby 9123069” printed on the front of the label.

      The rattles, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively at Hobby Lobby Stores nationwide from January 2016, through April 2016, for about $7.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled rattles and return them to the nearest Hobby Lobby store for a full refund or store credit.

      Consumers may contact Hobby Lobby Stores at 800-326-7931from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, or online at www.hobbylobby.com and click on the “Recall” tab at the bottom of the page for more information.  

      Hobby Lobby Stores of Oklahoma City, Okla., is recalling about 14,400 Little Wishes Chenille Stuffed Rattles. The rattle seams can separate, exposi...
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      Springtime is prime time for car transport companies

      Shipping a car can be easy and convenient, but make sure you have the right carrier

      Spring is prime time for lots of things, including college graduations and snowbirds heading back home from sunny climes -- and both help to make May the second busiest time for car transport companies, second only to  the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

      Let's face it -- shipping your car is a lot easier than driving it, but the auto transport business needs to be approached with caution. There are lots of careful, reliable, and reputable companies, but there are also lots of quick-buck artists who went into business yesterday and may disappear tomorrow.

      Horror stories abound, but there are plenty of other consumers who have shipped cars numerous times with no complications. As with anything, it pays to be realistic; things can go wrong and perfection isn't always possible.

      Scheduling delays

      The most common problem is scheduling delays. Car carriers operate on public highways and are affected by weather and congestion, just like the rest of us. Also, drivers get sick or sometimes are called off the road for family emergencies. Things happen, in other words. If your car shows up a few days late, it may be an inconvenience, but it's not a disaster.

      Also, don't expect your car to arrive in showroom condition. Unless you are willing to pay a premium price for an enclosed carrier, your car will be exposed to the elements while it's being transported. It may get dirty and may even pick up a few new chip marks from flying gravel or other road debris.

      Brokers vs. carriers

      Besides maintaining reasonable expectations, it's vital to pick the right company. There are basically two kinds of car transport companies out there -- brokers and the actual carriers.

      Many of the companies that appear to be carriers are actually brokers. They advertise on the internet and elsewhere, but they don't own any trucks and can't move your car from Point A to Point B themselves. Instead, they line up business and farm it out to carriers, sort of the way Uber finds someone to take you to the airport on a minute's notice.

      This isn't necessarily bad. The brokers make it possible for lots of small, mom-and-pop haulers to stay in business. The problem is that some brokers make promises they can't keep, quoting unrealistically low prices and delivery times. 

      The safest course of action is to avoid brokers and book your job with a carrier. How can you be sure? Ask the company for its seven-digit USDOT number, something that is issued only to carriers, not brokers. 

      Once you get that number, you can go to Protect Your Move, a U.S. Department of Transportation website where you can check out your carrier's record and find some helpful tips.  

      You can also check reviews for major carriers at the ConsumerAffairs Auto Transporters section.

      Spring is prime time for lots of things, including college graduations and snowbirds heading back home from sunny climes -- and both help to make May the s...
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      Amazon launching its own perishable brands, reports say

      Everything from soup to nuts may be included under the new house brands

      It would almost be easier to write a news story about what Amazon is not doing rather than trying to keep up with everything it is doing. In the latest development, the Wall Street Journal says Amazon will soon roll out its own private-label perishable foods under a variety of brands.

      The new house brands include Happy Belly, Wickedly Prime and Mama Bear, according to the Journal. They include everything from nuts to coffee to baby food to vitamins.  

      Private-label brands are nothing new, of course, but they are increasingly popular at supermarkets and specialty outlets. Trader Joe's, in particular, sells almost exclusively its own brands and has succeeded in positioning them as superior, or at least more economical, to competing national brands.

      Houseful of house brands

      Amazon, of course, already has a houseful of house brands, including Pinzon linens and Elements baby wipes. Its AmazonBasics line includes hundreds of gadgets and convenience items, including audio cables, computer mouse units, and even dumbbells. It recently introduced new fashion lines including Lark & Ro and North Eleven.

      Retailers like store brands because they're more profitable. Consumers once regarded what were once called "generic" items as lower quality but now mostly accept the notion that they are backed by the retailer, whose brand is often better etched into customers' consciousness than national brands once were.

      Amazon is itself one of the most powerful brands on earth today, ranking at number twelve on Forbes' listings of the world's most valuable brands. The Kindle line of e-readers and tablets is also a well-established brand these days.

      Maybe someday Amazon will launch its own brand of car. It could call it the Kardle. 

      It would almost be easier to write a news story about what Amazon is not doing rather than trying to keep up with everything it is doing. In the latest dev...
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      Supreme Court casts doubt on privacy class-action cases

      The issue boils down to the "concreteness" of the damage allegedly suffered by consumers

      The U.S. Supreme Court today dealt a blow to privacy class-action cases that do not clearly establish that plaintiffs have been harmed, but it side-stepped setting any major precedents. The case involved information published by Spokeo, a "white pages" website that claims to provide accurate information about individuals.

      Plaintiff Thomas Robins charged in the suit that Spokeo's site contained information about him that was incorrect and said that this had resulted in damage to his reputation and job prospects. He alleged that this constituted a violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) of 1970.

      But in a 7-2 decision written by Justice Samuel Alito, the high court vacated a February 2014 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had held in Robins' favor.  

      The trial court had originally dismissed Robins' case, saying he had not proven injury, but the Ninth Circuit disagreed and reinstated the case. Spokeo subsequently appealed, leading to today's Supreme Court ruling which split various hairs having to do with Robins' injury. It stated that while the harm was "tangible," it may not have been sufficiently "concrete" to warrant a trial.

      Legal experts said the issue remains far from settled. 

      Craig A. Newman, a partner with Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP and chair of its privacy group, called it "a bit of a lateral pass back to the appellate court."

      "Not surprisingly, the Court was focused on whether there was a concrete enough injury to allow standing. It concluded that this issue wasn’t given proper attention by the appellate court, and sent it back on those grounds,” Newman said.

      FCRA requirements

      The suit alleged that by setting itself up as a "people search engine," Spokeo had fallen under the requirements of FCRA, which apply primarily to consumer credit reporting agencies.

      FCRA requires consumer reporting agencies to follow certain procedures to ensure the accuracy of their reports, limits the use of reports for employment purposes, and requires posting a toll-free number for consumers to request reports.

      Robins, 29, alleged that his Spokeo profile "states that he is married, has children, is in his 50’s, has a job, is relatively affluent, and holds a graduate degree" yet, according to Robins’ complaint, all of this information is incorrect. 

      The high court did not definitively rule on whether Robins' injuries were sufficient to warrant legal action, merely returning the case to lower courts for adjudication.

      It also dodged ruling on whether a mere statutory violation is sufficient grounds for consumers to bring suit. 

      Newman noted, however, that both Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonya Sotomayor dissented from the ruling, saying they "concluded that misinformation about a consumer, such as educational information, family circumstances and economic status, was enough to satisfy the concreteness threshold that this sort of information – at the beginning of a lawsuit – could cause the plaintiff actual harm."

      "So there are two votes in favor of allowing the case to move forward,” Newman said.

      The U.S. Supreme Court today dealt a blow to privacy class-action cases that do not clearly establish that plaintiffs have been harmed, but it side-stepped...
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      'Smarter' JoikuSpot WiFi now available for Android

      Enables users to share networks privately

      JoikuSpot, an app that could once magically turn a humble Nokia phone into a free WiFi hotspot, is back with some new features.

      Finnish mobile software company Joiku announced today that Android users can once again download JoikuSpot -- but the app has evolved since we last saw it.

      Now, users will be able to safely share WiFi networks, hunt down places with good WiFi (and connect to networks automatically, without a password), and even sync to WiFi networks of different countries.

      Smart sharing

      Joiku hopes the new and improved version of JoikuSpot -- which features an increased attention to user privacy -- will help bring the concept of sharing WiFi networks into a “new era.”

      Android users will now have the ability to share their WiFi networks safely, without having to reveal or store passwords in other phones. Users’ passwords can be encrypted via Smart QR codes and Access links.

      Thanks to its Smart Sharing functionality, JoikuSpot users can privately share with friends not only their phone’s hotspot, but WiFi networks of their home or office as well.

      Connecting to other networks

      With WiFi Spotting, users can track down strong WiFi signals in the area. A map can guide users to the spot, then automatically (no password required) connect users to the signal.

      Speaking of maps, frequent travelers might enjoy WiFi Globe: a feature that allows users to download and sync to the country WiFi networks of their choice. Those networks can later be easily dumped once they’re no longer needed, should a user need to free up space in their phone.

      Finally, with Joiku’s Mobile HotSpot, users can turn their Android phone or tablet into a WiFi HotSpot simply by adding the hotspot icon to their device’s screen.

      JoikuSpot is available as a free download for Android phones and tablets via Google Play. A version for iOS will be coming soon, according to the company.

      JoikuSpot, an app that could once magically turn a humble Nokia phone into a free WiFi hotspot, is back with some new features.Finnish mobile software ...
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      Warren Buffett among the bidders for Yahoo, reports say

      Verizon's AOL had previously been considered the leading bidder

      Value investor Warren Buffett is said to be among a group of investors making a bid to acquire the core assets of Yahoo, the moribund internet portal that has been slowly sinking into obscurity.

      Press reports, citing unnamed sources, say that Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has teamed with Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and other investors to make the bid. AOL parent Verizon had been seen as the leading contender to acquire Yahoo's assets.

      Buffett is not a fan of high-tech investments and generally sticks to bread-and-butter companies like railroads and food processors, although his group has become a leading investor in community newspapers. 

      Yahoo and other websites are generally regarded as technology companies, as illustrated by the way their managers mangle their media components but underneath all the tech hype, a website like Yahoo is not fundamentally different from a TV network or newspaper.

      All provide content that is primarily ad-supported but most tech ventures for some reason put editorial functions in the hands of engineers, often producing results that are similar to what would happen if newspapers turned over publishing duties to their pressmen.  

      Content still king

      Through his investments in community newspapers, Buffett has been seen as voting for the concept that content is king, especially in smaller communities where a local newspaper has a virtual monopoly on local content. 

      Gilbert built Quicken Loans and went on to become a professional investor, taking chunks of numerous high-tech and traditional ventures. He also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers.

      Verizon's interest in Yahoo is thought to center on the added heft it would bring to AOL, which has emerged as the cornerstone of Verizon's attempt to become a major content player. 

      Others thought to be circling Yahoo include Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's former company, and other private equity firms. 

      Yahoo once ruled the internet roost with an elaborate catalog of online resources but was displaced by Google's keyword-driven cataloging strategy. It has suffered through an endless series of CEOs, including the incumbent, Marissa Mayer, who left Google to attempt a Yahoo turnaround that most analysts agree has fallen flat.

      Value investor Warren Buffett is said to be among a group of investors making a bid to acquire the core assets of Yahoo, the moribund internet portal that ...
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      Renters worry more about housing costs than owners

      Renters see housing costs rising faster than homeowners

      There are many ways to measure whether it makes more sense to rent than own. Many rental advocates correctly point out that you can't just compare mortgage payments to rent. There are other costs associated with owning.

      But it is also true that rents have been steadily rising, while fixed rate mortgage payments stay the same, with small increases in taxes and insurance from time to time.

      Maybe for that reason, renters tend to worry more about housing costs than homeowners do, according to a Gallup Poll. When pollsters asked consumers if they were moderately to very worried about not being able to pay housing costs, 49% of renters admitted to being worried while only 25% of homeowners said the same.

      The pollsters found the same level of worry at all income levels. However, as you might expect, lower-income consumers were more likely than those earning higher incomes to express worry about housing costs.

      Stable payments

      But Gallup also notes that homeowners might be less worried because their payments are more stable. Renters expect their payments to go up each month, and lately they've tended to go up a lot.

      Gallup attributes much of that disparity to the declining percentage of homeowners in the wake of the housing crash. Fewer buyers – including homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure – swelled the ranks of renters. That competition for existing rental property escalated the price of rents.

      “From 2001 through 2007, before the housing market crashed, an average 24% of Americans worried about paying their housing costs,” the pollsters write. “Since then, an average of 35% have. Although Americans' worry about a variety of financial matters is up since 2007, worries about making housing payments are up the most.”

      Rising rents

      The housing story of 2015 was rising rents. It could be much the same in 2016, according to research produced by The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. Apartment construction increased at its fastest rate in decades, but it hardly put a dent in vacancy rates, which were the lowest last year since 1985.

      The Harvard researchers found the number of renters spending more than 30% of their monthly incomes on rent at a record high. There is no evidence that has moderated so far in 2016.

      Part of the problem may be a growing housing shortage. Inventories of homes for both sale and rent have gotten tighter over the last 12 months, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says it may be due, in part, to the fact that not enough new homes are being built.

      There are many ways to measure whether it makes more sense to rent than own. Many rental advocates correctly point out that you can't just compare mortgage...
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      Builder confidence steady for fourth straight month

      Low mortgage interest rates and pent-up demand are big factors

      If you build them, they will come.

      That seems to be the outlook of the nation's home builders, who remain confident in the market for newly-built single-family homes.

      The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) is unchanged in May at a level of 58. A reading above 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

      “Builder confidence has held steady at 58 for four straight months, which indicates that the single-family housing sector remains in positive territory,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady. “However, builders are facing an increasing number of regulations and lot supply constraints.”

      The HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair," or "poor." The survey asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average," or "low to very low." Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index.

      The HMI components measuring sales expectations in the next six months increased three points to 65, while the component charting current sales conditions and the index gauging buyer traffic both held steady at 63 and 44, respectively.

      Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South and Midwest both registered one-point gains to 59 and 58, respectively. The West was unchanged at 67 and the Northeast fell three points to 41.

      “The fact that future sales expectations rose slightly this month shows that builders are confident that the market will continue to strengthen,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Job creation, low mortgage interest rates and pent-up demand will also spur growth in the single-family housing sector moving forward.”   

      If you build them, they will come.That seems to be the outlook of the nation's home builders, who remain confident in the market for newly-built single...
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      Ajinomoto Windsor recalls not-ready-to eat frozen food items

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Ajinomoto Windsor is recalling various not-ready-to eat frozen food items.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The company says no illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following products with a Use-By Date of November 5, 2017 or earlier are being recalled:

      Product #Description:Pack Size
      82071TAI PEI PDQ CHICKEN FRIED RICE9/14.2 oz. pail
      7007700807TAI PEI CHICKEN FRIED RICE8/14.2 oz. pail
      7007700816TAI PEI PEPPER BEEF8/14.2 oz. pail
      7007700859TAI PEI COMBINATION FRIED RICE8/12 oz. pail
      53051DAILY CHEF CHICKEN POBLANO FIRECRACKERS12/30 oz.
      56106GOLDEN TIGER SANTA FE CHICKEN ER 2 OZ100 ct. bulk
      56175JADE MOUNTAIN SW CHICKEN EGGROLL TWISTS100 ct. bulk
      56176PETITE CUISINE CHICKEN POBLANO FIRECRACKER6/30 oz. ctns.
      56181GOLDEN TIGER SW CHICKEN FIRECRACKER 1 OZ100 ct. bulk
      56403POSADA SW CHICKEN EMPANADA 1 OZ120 ct. bulk
      56704ORIGINAL APPETIZER COMPANY POBLANO FIRECRACKER8/8 oz.
      56757PETITE CUISINE SW CHICKEN FIRECRACKRS6/30 oz.
      56762TASTE OF INSPIRATIONS CKN POBLANO FIRECRACKERS6/8 oz.
      56838GOLDEN TIGER SW CHICKEN S/R 1.5 OZ6/27 ct. box
      235050PERKINS SOUTHWEST CRISPY ROLL 3 OZ80 ct. bulk
      564088ARCHER FARMS CHICKEN POBLANO FIRECRACKER6/8 oz.
      953397MOLLY'S KITCHEN CHICKEN POT PIE EMPANADAS4/27 ct.
      8881128CASA SOLANA SW CHICKEN EMPANADA 1 OZ120 ct. bulk
      5620393INNOVASIANS FRD RICE CHICKEN 2 LB12 ct. carton
      5620503TRADER JOE'S CHICKEN FRIED RICE24/20 oz. bags
      5620513INNOVASIANS CHICKEN FRIED RICE25 ct. bags
      5620533SIMMERING SAMURAI ORANGE CHICKEN FRIED RICE4/24 oz. ctns.
      5620543SIMMERING SAMURAI CHICKEN FRIED RICE4/24 oz. ctns.
      5620553HY VEE CHICKEN FRIED RICE12 ct. bags
      5620563FIRST STREET CHICKEN FRIED RICE12 ct. bags
      5620593AJINOMOTO CHICKEN FRIED YAKITORI RICE8/54 oz. ctns.
      5620603SIMMERING SAMURAI GENERAL TSO'S CHICKEN FRIED RICE6/18 oz. ctns.
      5620613SIMMERING SAMURAI HIBACHI CHICKEN FRIED RICE6/18 oz. ctns.
      5620623SIMMERING SAMURAI SPICY HIBACHI CHICKEN FRIED RICE6/18 oz. ctns.
      5620633SIMMERING SAMURAI ORANGE CHICKEN FRIED RICE6/18 oz. ctns.
      5620643SIMMERING SAMURAI GENERAL TSO'S CHICKEN FRIED RICE6/18 oz. ctns
      5620653AJINOMOTO CHICKEN FRIED YAKITORI RICE Mexico8/54 oz. ctns.
      5620663AJINOMOTO CHICKEN FRIED YAKITORI RICE Canada8.54 oz. ctns.
      241920Jalapeno, Corn and Bacon Cornbread Pops6/2 lb. bags
      229650WAHOO-BATTERED VEGGIE FRIES6/2 lb. bags
      241120FRED'S BATTERED CORN NUGGET6/2 lb. bags
      241550PONDEROSA BATTERED SWEET CORN NUGGET6/2 lb. bags
      241620GOLDEN VALUE BATTERED CORN NUGGET4/3 lb. bags
      241720FRED'S SPICY BREADED CORN NUGGET w/JALAPENO6/2 lb. bags
      672685MOLLY'S KITCHEN BATTERED SWEET CORN NUGGETS6/2 lb. bags
      673692MOLLY'S KITCHEN BATTREED VEGETABLE STICKS6/2 lb. bags
      864964MOLLY'S KITCHEN SPICY BREADED CORN NUGT w/JALAPENO6/2 lb. bags
      82070TAI PEI MADE TO ORDER GARDEN VEGETABLE RICE8/18 oz. pails
      82072TAI PEI PDQ SHRIMP FRIED RICE9/12 oz. pails
      7007700806TAI PEI SHRIMP FRIED RICE8/12 oz. pails
      7007701045VIP-QP PETITE WHITE CORN12/16 oz.
      7007701048VIP-CORN CUT12/16 oz.
      7007701064VIP-GREEN PEAS12/16 oz.
      7007701065VIP-QP PETITE PEAS12/16 oz.
      7007701248VIP-CORN CUT12/32 oz.
      7007701264VIP-GREEN PEAS12/32 oz.
      7007706156VIP-STEAMWORKS COB CORN WITH BUTTER SAUCE12 pk./8 ct.
      7007706448VIP-STEAMWORKS ORGANIC SWEET CORN6 pk./24 oz.
      7007706464VIP-STEAMWORKS ORGANIC PEAS6 pk./24 oz.
      7007706476VIP-STEAMWORKS ORGANIC MIXED VEGEGETABLES6 pk./24 oz.
      7007706548VIP-STEAMWORKSSWEET CUT CORN12 pk./12 oz.
      7007706564VIP-STEAMWORKS GREEN PEAS SWEET12 pk./12 oz.
      7007706576VIP-STEAMWORKS MIX VEGETABLES12 pk./12 oz.
      56857OLD PARK SOUTHWEST VEGETABLE SPRINGROLL162 ct./1.5 oz.
      5650053AJINOMOTO VEGETABLE FRIED RICE9 ct./3 lb. bags
      5650203MINH VEGETABLE FRIED RICE4 ct./3 lb. bags
      5650213JADE MOUNTAIN VEGETABLE FRIED RICE4 ct./3 lb. bags
      5650233TRADER JOE'S VEGETABLE FRIED RICE24/1 lb. bags
      5650243FIRST STREET VEGETABLE FRIED RICE12/1 lb. bags
      5650263HY VEE FRIED RICE-VEGETABLE12/1 lb. bags
      5650273AJINOMOTO VEGETABLE FRIED RICE9/3 lb. bags
      275720Fred's Battered Green Beans (limited to date code 0945280 on the master case)6/2 lb. bags
      671850Molly's Kitchen Battered Green Beans (limited to date code 0945280 on the master case)6/2 lb. bags

      The recalled products were distributed in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should discard them or return them to the store where purchased.

      Consumers with questions may call the firm's consumer affairs hotline at (855) 742-5011 Monday through Sunday from 7 am – 5 pm (PDT).

      Ajinomoto Windsor is recalling various not-ready-to eat frozen food items. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Th...
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      Pilgrim's Pride expands recall of poultry products for a third time

      The products may be contaminated with foreign matter

      Pilgrim’s Pride of Waco, Texas, is recalling an additional 376,380 pounds of fully cooked chicken products

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the recalled products.

      The following items, produced on July 11, 2015, September 15-16, 2015, are being added to the recall:

      • 25-lb boxes containing 3 – 8.33-lb clear bags in a box of “Pierce Chicken/ Wing Zings Fully Cooked Hot and Spicy Breaded Chicken Wings 1st and 2nd Sections” with use by/sell by date of 09/15/2016 and a packaging date of 09/15/2015;
      • 15-lb boxes containing 2 – 7.5 clear bags in a box of “Pierce Chicken/ Wing Zings Fully Cooked Hot and Spicy Breaded Chicken Wings” with a use by/sell by date of 07/11/2016 and a packaging date of 07/11/2015;
      • 15-lb boxes containing 2 – 7.5-lb clear bags in a box of “Pierce Chicken/ Wing Zings Fully Cooked Hot And Spicy Breaded Chicken Wings” with a use by/sell by date of 09/16/2016 and a packaging date of 9/16/2015;
      • 10-lb boxes containing 2 – 5-lb clear bags in a box of “Sweet Georgia Brand Fully Cooked Hot and Spicy Breaded Chicken Wings” with a use by/sell by date of 07/11/2016 and a packaging date of 07/11/2015;
      • 10-lb boxes containing 2 – 5-lb clear bags in a box of “Sweet Georgia Brand Fully Cooked Hot and Spicy Breaded Chicken Wings 1st and 2nd Sections” with a use by/sell by date of 09/15/2016 and a packaging date of 09/15/2015;
      • 25-lb boxes containing 3 – 8.33-lb clear bags in a box of “Pierce Chicken/ Wing Zings Fully Cooked Hot and Spicy Chicken Wings 1st and 2nd Sections” with use by/sell by date of 09/15/2016 and a packaging date of 09/15/2015.

      The initial recall was issued in early April, with expansions in late April and mid-May.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact James Brown at (800) 321-1470.  

      Pilgrim’s Pride of Waco, Texas, is recalling an additional 376,380 pounds of fully cooked chicken products The products may be contaminated with ex...
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      Harris Teeter recalls frozen organic corn and mixed vegetables

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Harris Teeter is recalling its brand of frozen organic corn and frozen mixed vegetables.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The following products are being recalled:

      • Harris Teeter Frozen Organic Corn, UPC number 7203676395
      • Harris Teeter Frozen Organic Mixed Vegetables, UPC number 7203676393.

      The recalled products may have been sold in Harris Teeter stores between October 19, 2015, and December 24, 2015.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but return them to Harris Teeter for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may call the CRF recall call center at 844-551-5595.

      Harris Teeter is recalling its brand of frozen organic corn and frozen mixed vegetables. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogen...
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      Graco recalls TurboBooster booster seats

      The instructions for the booster seats are incomplete

      Graco Children's Products is recalling 20,505 Graco TurboBooster booster seats, models 1967886, 1963973, 1963974, 1963975, 1963976, and 1975173, manufactured between December 22, 2015, and April 5, 2016.

      The instructions for the booster seats are missing the information that the seats should be securely belted to the vehicle at all times, even if the seat is unoccupied. As such, these seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, "Child Restraint Systems."

      In the event of a vehicle crash, an unoccupied and unsecured child restraint may strike other occupants and cause injury.

      What to do

      Graco will notify registered owners and provide the missing printed instructions, free of charge.

      Non-registered owners may obtain the missing printed instructions by contacting Graco customer service at 1-800-345-4109. The recall is expected to begin on, or about, June 10, 2016.

      Graco Children's Products is recalling 20,505 Graco TurboBooster booster seats, models 1967886, 1963973, 1963974, 1963975, 1963976, and 1975173, manufactur...
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      Chevrolet Sonic, Trax and Spark vehicles recalled

      The radio may fail to provide an audible warning chime

      General Motors is recalling 317,572 model year 2013-2016 Chevrolet Sonic and Trax vehicles and 2013-2015 Chevrolet Spark vehicles equipped with a Bring Your Own Media radio.

      The radios may fail to provide an audible warning chime when the driver, after turning off the ignition and leaving the key in the cylinder, waits 10 minutes or longer to open the door. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 114 "Theft Protection."

      Without audible indicators, the driver may leave the key in the ignition, increasing the risk of theft.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will update the radio software, 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 17130.

      General Motors is recalling 317,572 model year 2013-2016 Chevrolet Sonic and Trax vehicles and 2013-2015 Chevrolet Spark vehicles equipped with a Bring You...
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      High folate in pregnancy ups autism risk, study finds

      The risk for women with high levels of folate and vitamin B12 were 17.6 times higher than average

      For women looking to become pregnant, there are many nutrients that need to be taken in order to promote the healthy growth of their future baby. One such nutrient, called folate, has long been considered a staple for proper development, but researchers are now questioning whether too much of it may be a bad thing.

      Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study and found that women who had folate levels that were too high right after birth were much more likely to bear children who would later develop an autism disorder. These findings suggest that expecting mothers need to walk a line between having enough folate for development, but not having too much to the point that it may be harmful.

      “Adequate supplementation is protective: That’s still the story with folic acid. . . We have long known that a folate deficiency in pregnant mothers is detrimental to her child’s development. But what this tells us is that excessive amounts may also cause harm. We must aim for optimal levels of this important nutrient,” said Dr. M. Daniele Fallin, one of the senior authors of the study.

      Increased chance of autism

      For the purposes of the study, researchers examined nearly 1,400 mother-child pairs from the Boston Birth Cohort between 1998 and 2013. Researchers measured each mother’s blood folate level within three days after the time of birth, after which each mother and child was tracked over the course of several years.

      The researchers found that mothers who had very high folate levels right after giving birth (more than four times the adequate level) had double the risk of bearing a child that would later develop an autism spectrum disorder; women who had high levels of vitamin B12, another important nutrient for development, had triple the risk of having a child that would develop an autism spectrum disorder.

      If levels of folate and vitamin B12 were both high right after birth, the risk that the child would develop an autism spectrum disorder was 17.6 times higher.

      Diet and genetics

      The researchers note that there could be many possible explanations for the high levels of folate or vitamin B12. Many of the mothers who participated in the study reported that they were taking multivitamins throughout their pregnancy, many of which contain folic acid and vitamin B12.

      Other explanations for the high levels could be tied back to eating habits or genetic predispositions. Many fruits and vegetables naturally contain folic acid, and other products like cereal, bread, rice, and pasta are fortified with it. Consuming too many of these foods during pregnancy could result in high levels, especially if an individual is predisposed to absorbing more of the nutrient or metabolizing it more slowly.

      Too much of a good thing

      The researchers want to stress that pregnant women should not actively avoid consuming food products or supplements containing folate or vitamin B12.

      “This research suggests that this could be the case of too much of a good thing. . . We tell women to be sure to get folate early in pregnancy. What we need to figure out now is whether there should be additional recommendations about just what an optimal dose is throughout pregnancy,” said study lead author Ramkripa Raghavan.

      The findings of this research are due to be presented on May 13 at the 2016 International Meeting for Autism Research in Baltimore, Maryland.

      For women looking to become pregnant, there are many nutrients that need to be taken in order to promote the healthy growth of their future baby. One such ...
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      Grumbling about airport security delays gets louder

      Transportation Security Administration says passengers need to be better prepared

      With an improved economy, more consumers are taking to the skies. Air traffic is up in early 2016 and is expected to break records this summer.

      As we reported this week, J.D. Power's latest survey shows passengers are more satisfied with the nation's airlines than they have been in the last 10 years. But the survey didn't ask about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) check-in system.

      There, complaints have been mounting, and not just from frustrated passengers. Gizmodo reports that even the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has taken TSA to task, where wait times at New York area airports reportedly approached an hour during the spring.

      Viral YouTube video

      Now there's an infamous YouTube Video (below), shot Thursday at Chicago's Midway airport, that purports to show an endless line of passengers waiting to get through the security check point. To say the video has gone viral is something of an understatement – more than a million views in less than 24 hours – so it has apparently touched a nerve.

      Please note that the video does contain strong language.

      Congress gets on board

      If there's one thing that gets Congress' attention and promotes bipartisan action, it's crowded airports and the inability to make a speedy getaway on a Thursday afternoon. This week, lawmakers approved TSA's request to hire more than 700 new screeners and get them in place before the summer.

      TSA, meanwhile, is pushing back against some of the criticism, suggesting at least some of the delays at checkpoints could be alleviated if passengers were better prepared when they show up.

      In a press release directed at passengers traveling through New York area airports, TSA said the reasons for checkpoint delays include a significant increase in passengers, more people with carry-on bags -- many of which have more than the limit of one carry-on bag and one personal item per passenger, and budget cuts that have reduced the ranks of screeners.

      Be prepared

      The agency said the best way for passengers to help speed things along is to show up prepared.

      “Passenger preparedness can have a significant impact on wait times at security checkpoints nationwide,” the agency said in its release. “To facilitate the security screening process, travelers should arrive at the airport two hours in advance of a domestic flight and three hours prior to an international flight to ensure that they have time to park their cars (or return rental cars), check their bags with their airline, get their boarding pass, and make their way through the security screening process.”

      TSA says being prepared means getting there early, having ID handy, knowing what you can and cannot take on board the aircraft, and not packing banned items in bags.

      With an improved economy, more consumers are taking to the skies. Air traffic is up in early 2016 and is expected to break records this summer.As we re...
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      Fruits and vegetables early in life linked to lower risk of breast cancer later

      Findings indicate that high consumption rates can reduce the risk by 25%

      You may have heard of the old adage that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but it may be more true than many of us realized. A new study has linked higher consumption of fruits and vegetables in adolescence with lowered risk of breast cancer later in life.

      Up until this point, some experts had posited that eating fruits and vegetables affected breast cancer risk, but many established studies had only analyzed these eating habits for middle-aged or older individuals.

      In order to rectify this, a team of researchers followed a group of 90,000 nurses in early adulthood over the course of 20 years, asking the participants to report on their diets and recall how they ate when they were younger. They found that those who consumed a high amount of fruits and vegetables (2.9 servings per day versus .5 servings per day) had a 25% lower risk of breast cancer when they reached middle-age.

      The researchers also found that certain fruits and vegetables had particularly strong ties to lower risks of breast cancer. They included foods like apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, and kale.

      Interestingly, consumption of fruit juices in adolescence did not have any tangible effect on breast cancer risk, suggesting that eating the whole versions of these products was more beneficial.

      The full study has been published in The BMJ.

      You may have heard of the old adage that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but it may be more true than many of us realized. A new study has linked h...
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      Retail sales post solid gain in April

      The advance was the strongest in a year

      Retail sales rose in April for the first time in four months.

      According to the Commerce Department, sales totaled $453.4 billion -- up 1.3% from March and are 3.0% ahead of the same time a year ago. At the same time, the government revised its March report to show a sales drop of 0.3% rather than the 0.4% initially reported.

      Eleven of 13 categories posted gains, with most of the strength coming in sales by auto and other motor vehicle dealers, which surged 3.5% followed by gas stations (+2.2%), nonstore retailers (+2.1%), and grocery stores (+1.1%).

      The only category to post a decline was building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers, whose sales dipped 1.0%

      Sales at general merchandise stores were flat.

      The complete April retail sales report is available on the Commerce Department website.

      Retail sales rose in April for the first time in four months.According to the Commerce Department, sales totaled $453.4 billion -- up 1.3% from March a...
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      TwinGo recalls baby carriers

      The waist buckle can break, posing a fall hazard

      TwinGo of Mclean, Va., is recalling about 4,200 baby carriers in the U.S. and Canada.

      The waist buckle can break, posing a fall hazard to children in the carrier.

      The firm has received 13 reports of buckles breaking worldwide, including 10 in the U.S., one in Canada and two in the UK. No injuries have been reported.

      The Twin Go Original Carrier is an infant carrier designed to carry one or two babies against the caregiver’s body at the waist. It is intended for babies that are from 10 to 45 pounds.

      “Twin Go” is printed on a label located on the front of the carrier and an 11-digit batch number is printed on a label sewn to the waistband. Batch numbers included in this recall: 23014024003, 01515026003, and 21615019001.

      They were sold in fabric that is black on the outside and blue or orange on the inside.

      The carriers, manufactured in China, were sold at boutique stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com and TwinGoCarrier.com from December 2014, through May 2016, for about $215.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the infant carrier and contact TwinGo for a free repair kit. A free replacement buckle will be provided with instructions. A repair video is also available at http://twingocarrier.com/pages/repairkit.

      Consumers may contact TwinGo toll-free at 888-288-9342 from 9am-5pm (EST) Monday-Friday, by email at safety@twingocarrier.com or online at www.TwinGoCarrier.com and click on “Product Recall” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      TwinGo of Mclean, Va., is recalling about 4,200 baby carriers in the U.S. and Canada. The waist buckle can break, posing a fall hazard to children ...
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      Twin City Foods recalls frozen organic peas and mixed vegetables

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Twin City Foods of Stanwood, Wash., is recalling items containing organic peas it received from CRF Frozen Foods.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses to date have been reported.

      The following products, shipped to distribution centers in California, Texas and Washington, are being recalled:

      UPCProduct NameNet Wt.Packing Code
      4122010240Central Markets Organics Green Peas16 oz.Best Used By DEC.09.2017
      4122081674Central Markets Organics Green Peas12 oz.Best Used By JAN.08.2018
      4122010249Central Markets Organics Mixed Vegetables16 oz.Best Used By DEC.05.2017
      Best Used By JAN.11.2018
      4122004013HEB Organics Mixed Vegetables16 oz.Best Used By MAR.04.2018
      Best Used By MAR.25.2018
      7307381875Sweetfrost Mixed Vegetables16 oz.20886
      4256300160Woodstock Organic Mixed Vegetables10 oz.Best Used By JAN.11.2018

      The Best Used By date or Package Code is located on the back of the package in black ink.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products are urged not to consume them, but return them immediately to the store where purchased for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Chad Bernard at (804) 775-1939, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (ET) or by email at cbernard@mwcllc.com.

      Twin City Foods of Stanwood, Wash., is recalling items containing organic peas it received from CRF Frozen Foods. The products may be contaminated ...
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      Ford recalls F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 trucks

      The inner sidewall of the trucks' tires may be damaged

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,288 model year 2016 Ford F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 trucks manufactured April 5, 2016, to April 11, 2016.

      The tires installed during assembly of the vehicles may have sustained damage to the inner sidewall, possibly resulting in a loss of air or a tire rupture.

      A rapid loss of air or a tire rupture while the vehicle is being driven may cause a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the tires for damage and replace them as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in May 2016.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 16S17.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,288 model year 2016 Ford F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 trucks manufactured April 5, 2016, to April 11, 2016. The...
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      Stahlbush Island Farms recalls IQF green beans

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Stahlbush Island Farms of Corvallis, Ore., is recalling 10-oz. Stahlbush IQF Green Bean retail packages.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following frozen products, with the UPC code 6 38882 00053 7 and distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada, are being recalled.

      • #16034001, with a “best buy” code date of 02/03/18.
      • #15097001, with a “best buy” code date of 04/07/17.
      • #14328001, with a “best buy” code date of 11/24/16.
      • #15362001, with a “best buy” code date of 12/28/17.
      • #14310002, with a “best buy” code date of 11/06/16.

      The lot numbers are found on the back of the package.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at customerservice@stahlbush.com or call

      (541) 757-1497, Monday through Friday from 9 am – 5 pm (PDT).

      Stahlbush Island Farms of Corvallis, Ore., is recalling 10-oz. Stahlbush IQF Green Bean retail packages. The products may be contaminated with List...
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      Dieselgate may spread to General Motors, European press reports say

      Defeat devices reportedly found on Opel Group cars in Germany

      Sit in any traffic court and you will hear drivers say that everyone else was speeding too. That's a defense that doesn't usually fly, but it may be sounding attractive to Volkswagen now that German press reports say emission defeat devices have been found on GM's Opel cars.

      Germany's Der Spiegel is reporting that the devices cause “the exhaust gas treatment in those cars to be severely limited, allowing the emissions of more poisonous NOx than permissible by law. Experts say this is illegal,” according to a Fortune report.

      The report follows an earlier admission that several European automakers were taking a liberal interpretation of a rule that allows diesel emission control devices to be turned off at temperatures that could damage the catalytic converter.

      Opel issued a statement saying it does not "deploy any software that recognizes whether a car is undergoing an exhaust emissions test.” But Der Spiegel said the effect is the same, “namely that the exhaust treatment only works when the car is being tested.”

      The Der Spiegel report says that Opel's exhaust treatment is switched off when the engine is running about 2400 rpm, at elevations above 2,788 feet and at speeds above 90 miles per hour.

      A German environmental group has scheduled a news conference tomorrow to discuss the allegations against what it calls “Europe’s dirtiest diesel car.” 

      VW closing in

      Volkswagen, meanwhile, is said to be closing in on a solution for its 85,000 U.S. Audi, Porsche, and VW models equipped with 3.0-liter diesel engines. European regulators have already accepted the company's proposal and it is said to be in the final stages of negotiations with federal and state agencies in the United States, Autoweek reports.

      VW is still working on the details of its plan to buy back some of the nearly half-million 2.0-liter diesels, although it may be a hard sell getting consumers to go along.

      VW dealers say many consumers are saying they like the cars and don't want to give them up or accept a technical solution that degrades performance or gas mileage.  

      That feeling is far from universal, however. Consumers like Passat owner Holly of Oak Harbor, Wash., want nothing more than to be rid of their TDIs.

      "It has depreciated so much you can't pay anyone to take it yet. You can't drive it because it is so unreliable. Volkswagen didn't care they already have your money and they continue to lie, cheat and steal as we the consumers are stuck with their crap. Buy back is a must," Holly fumed in a recent ConsumerAffairs review

      Sit in any traffic court and you will hear drivers say that everyone else was speeding too. That's a defense that doesn't usually fly, but it may be soundi...
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      Just how good is “good” cholesterol?

      Study concludes that it's been "hyped-up."

      For years doctors have made a distinction about cholesterol. High levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) was bad, and needed to be controlled through diet, and often medication.

      HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), on the other hand, is often described as “good” cholesterol, and is believed to help guard against heart disease.

      The American Heart Association states the prevailing view on its website, touting HDL's helpful role in removing LDL cholesterol from the arteries.

      “Experts believe HDL acts as a scavenger, carrying LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and passed from the body,” the Heart Association says.

      It says a healthy level of HDL cholesterol may also protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL cholesterol have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

      Second thoughts

      But health researchers conducting a study in Baltimore are expressing second thoughts about that prevailing belief. At least, they think there should be a couple of caveats. They conclude that the protection you get from HDL all depends on the levels in the body of two other blood fats.

      If these fats are not within normal levels, they say HDL loses much of its protective power.

      “There’s no question that HDL does have a protective role, as we also confirm in the study, but HDL has been hyped-up,” said senior author Michael Miller, MD.

      Miller, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine says HDL really should be viewed as a third priority. Reducing LDL should come first, followed by a reduction in triglycerides.

      Questions and answers

      The researchers set out to answer a number of questions; they wanted to know if the level of HDL by itself determined the risk of a person developing heart disease. They also wanted to know how risk factors are affected if LDL and triglyceride levels are abnormal.

      “Nobody has really looked at an isolated low and isolated high HDL, and whether or not other factors, such as triglycerides and LDL, make a difference in the risk of cardiovascular disease,” Miller said.

      The study concluded that “good” cholesterol levels were not always a good predictor of heart disease risk. It also found triglyceride and LDL levels were a bigger influence on heart disease risk, regardless of whether or not the patient had high or low levels of HDL.

      For years doctors have made a distinction about cholesterol. High levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) was bad, and needed to be controlled ...
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      Eating healthy, not just lower calories, a challenge when eating out

      The healthier choice isn't always obvious

      Most restaurant meals are designed to be filling and satisfying. That, after all, is how restaurants fill tables.

      For that reason, restaurant meals tend to be high in calories and filled with good-tasting ingredients that might not be all that healthy.

      For those trying to eat a healthier diet, choosing a restaurant can be a frustrating process. The healthier choice might not be obvious at first glance.

      For example, researchers at the University of South Carolina say the caloric content of fast casual restaurants like Chipotle and Panera Bread is often higher than at fast food outlets like McDonald's and Burger King, even though the latter has a reputation for calorie-laden meals.

      200 more calories

      Their findings, written up in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, reports an average fast casual meal has 200 more calories than a typical fast food meal. When it comes to menus, the study found more high-calorie options at fast casual establishments than the fast food restaurants.

      "We were surprised that there were higher calories at fast casual restaurants, but one of the main takeaways from the paper is that there are a lot of high-calorie options at both kinds of restaurants," said lead researcher Danielle Schoffman.

      The South Carolina study reached much the same conclusion as one at Tufts University in January. That study, which focused on fast casual and independent restaurants, found 92% of the 364 measured restaurant meals from both categories had more calories than the recommended number for a single meal.

      In a third of the restaurants, at least one meal on the menu packed more calories than a person should consume in a single 24-hour period.

      What to do

      If you are maintaining a healthy diet at home, is it possible to eat in a restaurant without packing on the pounds? Most nutritionists will tell you that one restaurant meal will not kill a diet, and a treat every once in a while might not be a bad thing.

      It becomes a problem when restaurant meals are a staple of your weekly diet. For example, traveling for an extended period will require you to exercise some discretion and self-control.

      For starters, choose restaurants that post calorie information on the menu, and use that information when choosing what to order. Some fast casual chains, like Applebees, highlight items on the menu that have fewer calories and less saturated fat.

      Also, use common sense when selecting food. Weigh calories against nutritional content. Researcher Brie Turner-McGrievy says that sometimes the higher calorie meal is the better choice if it is more nutritious.

      "A burger on a white bun may have fewer calories, but when you're talking about cancer prevention or other chronic diseases, you have to look beyond calories," Turner-McGrievy said. "We don't want the message to be, 'Go eat hamburgers and don't eat guacamole and beans and brown rice.' "

      Most restaurant meals are designed to be filling and satisfying. That, after all, is how restaurants fill tables.For that reason, restaurant meals tend...
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      Report finds Android devices have higher failure rate than Apple

      Researchers cite a "glaring disparity in failure rates"

      No doubt many smartphone owners will take issue, but a new report by a technology company maintains that Android devices are no match for Apple's iOS when it comes to technical performance.

      In its Q1 “2016 State of Mobile Device Performance and Health,” Blancco Technology Group, an international data security firm, cites a series of diagnostics tests performed on a wide variety of iOS and Android devices using the SmartChk platform.

      The results, the company says, show a “glaring disparity in failure rates” for Android devices when compared to Apple. It says Android devices failed 44% of the time in the tests, compared to just 25% for Apple's operating system.

      The report said some of the most popular Android devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Lenovo K3 Note, logged the highest failure rates.

      Older iPhones performed better

      Older iPhones performed better than newer ones. The company said the iPhone 6 and 5s had the highest failure rates among iOS devices – 25% and 17%, respectively.

      The tests found crashing apps on 74% of Android devices. Open/cached apps were detected on 44% of the devices. There were many more failures on both platforms in Asia than in North America.

      Android still leads in sales

      The report's authors note that sales figures confirm that consumers buy more Android phones than iPhones. In fact, the latest numbers show Android increased its marketshare in the latest monitoring period, which ended in February. Android enjoyed strong growth in the U.S., Europe, China, Japan, and Australia.

      "Android devices seem to be a contradiction in terms," said Pat Clawson, CEO, Blancco Technology Group. "On the one hand, Android is the number one operating system in terms of global market share. But despite this advantage, Android device performance still lags behind iOS and tends to be plagued by high rates of crashing apps and app cache.”

      Of course, late 2016 could witness a shift, when there may be new products on the market for both platforms. Industry reports suggest Samsung could launch the S7 and LG G5 on the Android platform, while Apple is said to be preparing the launch of the iPhone 7.

      For more information on the best available phones, providers, and consumer reviews, check out ConsumerAffairs cell phone guide.

      No doubt many smartphone owners will take issue, but a new report by a technology company maintains that Android devices are no match for Apple's iOS when...
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      Passengers give airlines higher marks

      J.D. Power's satisfaction index hits highest level in 10 years

      Despite complaints about the unpleasantness of air travel, and the addition of fees in recent years, airline passengers are giving carriers their best ratings in 10 years.

      The J.D. Power and Associates 2016 North America Airline Satisfaction Study credits lower fares, better on-time arrivals, and a reduction in lost luggage for winning over the flying public. It says investments in improved in-flight services, such as Wi-Fi, hasn't hurt either.

      “While the perception of the airline experience still has a lot of room for improvement, there is notable progress in terms of satisfaction among the highest-ranked airlines in the study due to their keen focus on meeting or exceeding passenger needs,” said J.D. Power's Rick Garlick.

      He says airlines are paying attention and taking action when customers complain or make suggestions. He credits that responsiveness for increasing satisfaction across all touch points of the passenger experience.

      Better reviews

      The improvement can even be seen in ConsumerAffairs reviews, which tend to often focus solely on an airline's shortcoming. But Mark, who took a Delta flight from Austin to Atlanta, was mostly complementary.

      “My experience with Delta over the years has been mixed at best,” Mark wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “They did very well this time. The MD-90 outbound to ATL was a bit cramped and noisy, but the flight was on time. No luggage problems. The B757 back to AUS was very comfortable. Ground and cabin crews were friendly and attentive. A good experience, I am pleased today.”

      “Airlines are making positive strides by adding value to its products and services with newer and cleaner planes, better in-flight services, improving on-time arrivals and bumping fewer passengers from their flights,” Garlick said.

      For airlines seeking to improve their standing, he says investing in product and service improvements now may reap big rewards in the future.

      More tolerant of fees

      J.D. Power's metric for measuring air travel satisfaction is an index that improved significantly over 2015, hitting its highest point in a decade. It found passengers were more tolerant of fees, perhaps because fares have moderated a bit in recent months.

      In-flight service is the area where airlines scored lowest, although it was up 12 points over last year. The airlines that invested in in-flight entertainment upgrades, including more screens, Wi-Fi, and power outlets at seats, benefited most in this area.

      Individual winners include Alaska Airlines, which placed first in the traditional carrier segment. Delta was second.

      JetBlue took the honors for the highest rated low-cost carrier, edging out Southwest by a single point.

      Despite complaints about the unpleasantness of air travel, and the addition of fees in recent years, airline passengers are giving carriers their best rati...
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      Housing affordability up for the second straight quarter

      Jobless claims shot higher last week

      Lower mortgage interest rates and favorable prices translated into a slight increase in housing affordability in the first quarter.

      According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), 65% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of January and end of March were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $65,700. In the fourth quarter, 63.3% of homes sold were affordable to median-income earners.

      The national median home price fell from $226,000 in the fourth quarter to $223,000 in the first three months of 2016. The median is the point at which half the prices were higher and half were lower. At the same time, average mortgage rates edged lower -- from 4.09% to 4.05%.

      “With interest rates near historic lows and attractive home prices, this is a great time to buy a home,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady.

      Most affordable

      Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., was rated the nation’s most affordable major housing market for the second consecutive quarter. More than 93% of all new and existing homes sold there in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $53,900.

      Rounding out the top five affordable major housing markets in respective order were Syracuse, N.Y.; Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.; Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, Pa.; and Toledo, Ohio.

      Cumberland, Md.-W.Va., claimed the title of most affordable small housing market in the first quarter of 2016. There, 98% of homes sold during the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $55,100.

      Smaller markets joining Cumberland at the top of the list included Wheeling, W.Va.-Ohio; Fairbanks, Alaska; Binghamton, N.Y.; and Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill.

      Nearly out of reach

      For the 14th consecutive quarter, San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, Calif., was the nation’s least affordable major housing market. There, just 10.4% of homes sold in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $96,800.

      Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were located in California. In descending order, they included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara; and San Diego-Carlsbad.

      Four of the five least affordable small housing markets were also in California. At the very bottom of the affordability chart was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., where 16.1% of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $85,100.

      Other small markets at the lowest end of the affordability scale included Salinas, Calif.; Napa, Calif; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif.; and Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii.

      “This is the second consecutive quarter that we’ve seen a nationwide improvement in affordability due to favorable home prices and mortgage rates,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “These factors, along with rising employment, a growing economy and pent-up demand will provide a boost for home sales in the second half of 2016.”

      Jobless claims

      Initial applications for state unemployment benefits were on the rise last week.

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time jobless claims jumped by 20,000 in the week ending May 7 to a seasonally adjusted 294,000, an increase of 20,000. While that's the highest level since February 28, 2015, the claims level has been under 300,000 for 62 weeks in a row, the longest streak since 1973.

      The four-week moving average, considered a more active gauge of the labor market because of its low volatility, came in at 268,250, up 10,250 from the week before.

      The full report may be found on the DOL website

      Lower mortgage interest rates and favorable prices translated into a slight increase in housing affordability in the firs...
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      Various Millville Protein Chewy Bars recalled

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Schulze and Burch Biscuit Co., of Chicago, Ill., is recalling a variety of Millville Protein Chewy Bars products.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The following products, sold nationally at Aldi stores, are being recalled:

      UPCProduct DescriptionBest By / Code Date
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)DEC 04 16 1T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)DEC 04 16 2T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)DEC 18 16 1T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)DEC 18 16 2T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)DEC 31 16 2T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)JAN 01 17 1T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)JAN 01 17 2T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)JAN 14 17 1T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)JAN 14 17 2T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)JAN 15 17 1T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)JAN 20 17 2T1
      041498195601Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut, Dark Chocolate & Almond)JAN 21 17 1T1
      041498195151Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate)JAN 01 17 2T1
      041498195151Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate)JAN 02 17 1T1
      041498195151Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate)JAN 15 17 1T1
      041498195151Millville Protein Chewy Bars (Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate)JAN 15 17 2T1

      UPC codes and Best By/Date Codes are on each package.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with any questions may call the firm's consumer contact at (888) 886-3879.

      Schulze and Burch Biscuit Co., of Chicago, Ill., is recalling a variety of Millville Protein Chewy Bars products. The products may be contaminated ...
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      Ford recalls model year 2014-2015 Ford Explorers

      Improperly welded rear suspension toe links may fracture

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 75,364 model year 2014-2015 Ford Explorers manufactured January 17, 2014 to May 31, 2014.

      The recalled vehicles may have improperly welded rear suspension toe links that may fracture.

      A fracture of the rear suspension toe link may result in a loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replaced the rear suspension toe links, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in May 2016.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 16S18.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 75,364 model year 2014-2015 Ford Explorers manufactured January 17, 2014 to May 31, 2014. The recalled vehicles may...
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      Google banning ads for payday loans

      The short-term, high-interest loans trap many consumers in a spiral of debt and bank overdraft fees

      Google is banning all ads for payday loans, the short-term high-interest loans that trap many consumers in a cycle of debt they can't escape. Many payday lenders have used the internet to get around state laws restricting the loans.

      “I think this action is as unprecedented as it is significant” said Keith Corbett, Center for Responsible Lending Executive Vice President. “By example, Google is demonstrating how profitable enterprises can also be ethical and supportive of financial fairness. There is nothing fair about triple-digit interest rates being charged on loans to working families. Payday loan stores reap billions of dollars in interest and fees on a product designed to force borrowers into repeat loans.”

      "Our hope is that fewer people will be exposed to misleading or harmful products," Google global product policy director David Graff said in a blog post about the change.

      Graff said the ban will become effective July 13. It specifically affects ads for loans that require repayment within 60 days and ads for loans with an annual percentage rate (APR) of 36% or higher. 

      Facebook already has a ban on payday loan ads, but Yahoo and others still accept them. Consumers will still be able to find payday loans by conducting a Google search.

      It's thought to be the first time Google has banned specific types of financial products. It has previously banned ads for illegal activities and sexually explicit material.

      Praised and pilloried

      Google's action was praised by consumer and civil rights activists but blasted by financial service interests.

      "This new policy addresses many of the longstanding concerns shared by the entire civil rights community about predatory payday lending," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "These companies have long used slick advertising and aggressive marketing to trap consumers into outrageously high interest loans - often those least able to afford it."

      Americans for Financial Reform said the action "closes off an important avenue of customer recruitment for an industry that is doing more and more of its business online."

      "Payday loans, whether made through physical or virtual storefronts, are engineered to suck people into long-term triple-digit-interest debt, making their financial problems worse, not better," the group said.

      “Facebook and others are making a blanket assessment about the payday lending industry rather than discerning the good actors from the bad actors,” the Community Financial Services Association of America said. The trade group said the action was "unfair towards those that are legal, licensed lenders.”

      Google's action is not the only cloud on the horizon for payday lenders, though. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is working on a rule that would rein in some of the worst offenses. That rule is expected to be unveiled later this spring.

      A CFPB analysis earlier found that half of borrowers who took out online payday loans were hit with an average of $185 worth of bank fees and penalities when the lenders submitted automatic repayment vouchers that overdrew consumers' bank accounts.

      Google is banning all ads for payday loans, the short-term high-interest loans that trap many consumers in a cycle of debt they can't escape. Many payday l...
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      Mortgage rates still at rock bottom levels

      Economist says low rates don't help all borrowers

      Back in December, when the Federal Reserve boosted its Federal Funds Rate off 0% for the first time in six years, it was believed to signal the end of cheap money.

      It hasn't quite worked out that way in 2016.

      The Fed has not chosen to raise that interest rate again, but more importantly, the interest rates the Fed doesn't control have been going lower, and that includes mortgage rates.

      The Mortgage Bankers Association reports the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate last week fell to 3.74%. The average 30-year FHA mortgage rate also went down, to 3.64%.

      Not surprisingly, MBA reported mortgage applications increased nearly half a percent from the previous week. The increase for refinancings was slightly less than for purchases.

      Rates at three year low

      By realtor.com's measure, rates were even lower. The real estate marketplace reports the average 30-year conforming rate nationally was 3.60%, a three-year low.

      But realtor.com's chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, predicts mortgage rates will become more volatile as the home buying season picks up its pace. He also says low interest rates can present a downside to some borrowers.

      “One disadvantage is that credit availability declines marginally as the rates decline” Smoke said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “With little margin, lenders become more risk averse, so indicators of credit tightness like the average FICO score have ticked up as rates have gone down.”

      More affordable house payments

      Still, for consumers with a good credit score, a strong employment situation, and a significant down payment, mortgage rates under 4% make for more affordable monthly payments. Smoke sees rates no higher than 4.12% by the end of the year.

      With home prices steadily rising, the interest rate on a mortgage carries added importance. On a $200,000 mortgage, the difference between a rate of 3.62% and 4.62% is $116 a month.

      “In this type of environment, it will be crucial for would-be buyers or refinancers to stay on top of rates, work closely with mortgage brokers or lenders, and learn about options like locks and float-downs,” Smoke said.

      If rates remain volatile, a borrower could see either higher or lower rates while the mortgage process is taking place. Smoke says rate options can be attractive, but can come at a price.

      Back in December, when the Federal Reserve boosted its Federal Funds Rate off 0% for the first time in six years, it was believed to signal the end of chea...
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      Walmart sues Visa to require PIN use with chip credit cards

      Retailers continue to insist the new cards aren't as fraud-proof as they could be

      Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, has filed a lawsuit in New York against Visa, charging that the payments network had blocked implementation of a PIN system, favored by retailers, to make the new chip credit cards more secure.

      The suit, filed in the New York State Supreme Court, alleges the current system, in which a chip card user authenticates the purchase with a signature, is “fraud prone.”

      Fortune quotes a Walmart spokesperson as saying Visa's influence in the adoption of the signature authentication system creates “unacceptable risk.”

      Unhappy retailers

      On October 1, 2015, when the new system took effect, liability for fraudulent credit card purchases flipped from credit card companies to merchants.

      Walmart's position appears to represent that of retailers in general, who have not been happy with the newly implemented chip card system. Many have been slow to install the new readers that extract information from a chip embedded in the plastic, rather than from a magnetic strip on the back.

      Just days after the new chip cards, known as EMV cards, went into use, the National Retail Federation (NRF) took its case to Congress, arguing that the new chip-and-signature credit cards that do not also require a PIN won't stop fraud. It said small businesses should not be pressured to install the new equipment.

      “The new EMV equipment does not stop breaches,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in October 2015 testimony before the House Small Business Subcommittee. “Indeed, in many cases it provides no significant benefits either to the business or to the business’ regular customers. It is merely an additional expense small businesses are being told to bear.”

      FBI also supports a PIN

      The retailers weren't alone in their early concerns about the new cards. The FBI issued a statement within days of the new cards becoming active, warning law enforcement officers, merchants, and consumers to be aware that the EMV cards, while perhaps more secure than the cards they replaced, were still vulnerable to fraud.

      The FBI noted that the chip allows a merchant to verify that the card is authentic and not one made by a fraudster with stolen credit card data. But the agency pointed out that wouldn't stop someone from using a chip card they had stolen. All they had to do was sign the name that was on the card. Requiring the user to provide a PIN, the FBI argued, would be more secure.

      The following month, several state attorneys general echoed the FBI's concerns about the lack of a PIN. Attorneys general of eight states and the District of Columbia signed a letter to the nation’s top credit card companies and banks, calling for the use of PINs rather than signatures to approve purchases made with new chip-based credit cards.

      So why don't the new chip cards require PINs? In its suit, Walmart says credit card companies balked at imposing the requirement, believing consumers would rebel at having to remember another password.

      Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, has filed a lawsuit in New York against Visa, charging that the payments network had blocked implementation of a PI...
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      Mortgage applications inch upward

      Contract interest rates were on the way down

      It wasn't by much, but mortgage applications rose last week.

      The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports mortgage applications were up 0.4% in the week ending May 6 -- the first increase in three weeks.

      Refinance applications rose 0.5% from the previous week, but the refinance share of mortgage activity slipped to 52.8% of total applications from 52.9% a week earlier.

      The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity rose to 5.7% of total applications, the FHA share dropped to 13.0% from 13.5%, the VA share of total applications edged up to 11.7% from 11.5%, and the USDA share of total applications was unchanged at 0.7%.

      Contract interest rates

      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) fell to its lowest level since April 2016 -- 3.82%, from 3.87%, with points decreasing to 0.34 from 0.36 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) was down five basis points -- from 3.79% to 3.74%, with points unchanged at 0.31 (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 dropped to 3.64% from 3.69%, with points decreasing to 0.25 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs fell seven basis points to 3.06%, with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.36 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs inched up from 2.91% to 2.93%, with points decreasing to 0.22 from 0.30 (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.

      It wasn't by much, but mortgage applications rose last week.The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports mortgage applications were up 0.4% in the we...
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      Completed foreclosures decline in March

      The foreclosure inventory was lower as well

      The number of completed foreclosures and the foreclosure inventory were lower in March from the same month in 2015.

      Property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider CoreLogic reports completed foreclosures fell 14.9% from March 2015, and are down 69.7% from the peak in September 2010.

      The foreclosure inventory, which represents the number of homes at some stage of the foreclosure process, dropped 23.2% from the same time a year ago.

      On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures rose 9.3% from February, while inventories were down 2.2%.

      Since the financial meltdown began in September 2008, there have been approximately 6.2 million completed foreclosures nationally; and since home-ownership rates peaked in the second quarter of 2004, there have been approximately 8.2 million homes lost to foreclosure.

      Report highlights

      • The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in March 2016 were Florida (69,000), Michigan (48,000), Texas (28,000), Georgia (23,000), and California (23,000). These five states accounted for about 41% of all completed foreclosures nationally.
      • Four states and the District of Columbia had the lowest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in March 2016: The District of Columbia (114), North Dakota (311), West Virginia (541), Wyoming (634), and Alaska (644).
      • Four states and the District of Columbia had the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes in March 2016: New Jersey (4.0%), New York (3.3%, Hawaii (2.3%), the District of Columbia (2.2%), and Florida (2.1%).
      • The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory rate in March 2016 were Alaska (0.3%), Minnesota (0.4%), Arizona (0.4%), Colorado (0.4%), and Utah (0.4%).
      The number of completed foreclosures and the foreclosure inventory were lower in March from the same month in 2015.Property information, analytics and ...
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      Publix Super Markets recalls Wheatberry Salad

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Publix Super Markets is recalling Wheatberry Salad sold in plastic containers in the Publix Delis.

      The product contains sunflower kernels that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled product was sold in all Publix retail stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product may return it to their local store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may call our the firm's customer care center at 1-800-242-1227 or visit the company's website at www.publix.com.

      Publix Super Markets is recalling Wheatberry Salad sold in plastic containers in the Publix Delis.   The product contains sunflower kernels that may ...
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      Creative Snacks recalls sunflower seeds and trail mixes including sunflower seeds

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Creative Snacks of Greensboro, N.C., is recalling specific lot codes of bulk and packaged sunflower seed products.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following products, distributed to retailers nationwide and sold in a variety of formats including plastic rigid containers, small re-sealable bags and in bulk, are being recalled: