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    Autolist: VW owners getting a sweet deal

    Reparations more than make up for loss of vehicle values

    Suddenly, it's not so bad being the owner of a Volkswagen TDI “clean diesel” car. The settlement announced this week by VW will reward owners handsomely, according to an analysis by Autolist.

    Thousands of U.S. consumers have been stuck with vehicles they assumed were good for the environment. But VW admitted last fall that the onboard computer adjusted the diesel emissions when it sensed an emissions test was taking place.

    During the tests, the emissions were reduced to within standards. The rest of the time, the cars gave off emissions well above legal standards.

    As a result, VW agreed to a more than $14 billion settlement, requiring it to buy back affected vehicles and terminate leases, as well as pay consumers cash reparations.

    After studying the details of the deal, Autolist concludes consumers will come out ahead. The company reports nominal vehicle value has gone down an average of $2,017 because of the diesel emissions cheating scandal.

    250% to 500% bonus

    Owners, meanwhile, are getting $5,100 to $10,000 settlement reparations payments alone. That's 250% to 500% more than the loss.

    At the same time, the anticipated market value of scandal and non-scandal vehicles has recovered to 4.8% and 1.5% below expectations, respectively. That's sharply higher since March.

    Despite the recovery, however, it still takes a long time to sell a Volkswagen. Time on the market is up to all time highs, even for cars not involved in the scandal. Autolist.com says brand perception damage and the lack of a real fix for the scandal-affected cars may hurt sales for months to come.

    According to Edmunds.com's projections for June auto sales, VW sales are expected to be down only 2.1% from June 2015, before the scandal broke. Even more encouraging for the brand, VW sales are expected to rise 0.4% from May.

    Suddenly, it's not so bad being the owner of a Volkswagen TDI “clean diesel” car. The settlement announced this week by VW will reward owners handsomely, a...
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    Amazon promises more TV deals on Prime Day

    Shopping expert expects retailer to correct some mistakes from last year

    Amazon.com is releasing a few details about its second annual Prime Day, a July 12 shopping event that is designed to get consumers doing their Christmas shopping in the middle of the summer.

    The company says the special shopping day will feature over 100,000 items, with new deals announced every five minutes throughout the day. As was the case last year, consumers must be Prime members in order to take advantage of the bargains.

    “Prime Day is a unique opportunity to discover new items and great deals, on top of our already low prices,” said Greg Greeley, Vice President of Amazon Prime. "Following last year’s record sales, we have dramatically increased the inventory behind many deals.”

    Amazon racked up record sales on last year's Prime Day, but Phil Dengler, principal at Jones-Dengler Marketing and operator of the website BestBlackFriday.com, says the retailer has plenty of room for improvement.

    Irrelevant items

    “Shoppers were largely disappointed with Prime Day last year because of the sheer number of irrelevant items — beard growers, toilet paper, lighter sleeves and other items that no one really wanted,” Dengler told ConsumerAffairs. “While there were some great deals, ones that were comparable or even better than Black Friday, they sold out within a matter of minutes.”

    Amazon has already promised the deal inventory of TV sets in the promotion will be nearly twice the number available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Dengler says that means consumers should be able to snag some pretty good deals, if last year's prices are any indication. In fact, he says consumers with TVs on their holiday list might do well to shop in July, rather than November.

    “Last year, they sold a 32" HDTV for $75 and a 40" HDTV for $115,” Dengler said. “Both of those prices were better than the top Black Friday prices at the time.”

    But he says its unlikely TV deals will be available throughout the day, so consumers will have to pay close attention.

    Competitors will probably react

    Dengler says Prime Day looks promising so far, and will even get consumers better deals from Amazon's competitors. He notes that Walmart has announce a 30-day free trial of its free two-day shipping service. He expects Walmart will also roll out some serious deals of its own on July 12 as well.

    But what if you aren't a Prime member? Dengler says it probably pays to take advantage of Amazon's 30-day free trial.

    “If someone signs up for a Prime trial and finds that the service is not what they are looking for, they can simply cancel after 30 days and still be able to take part in Prime Day,” he said.

    The bottom line, Dengler says, is Amazon's Prime Day should serve as a profitable way for consumers to get a head start on holiday shopping.

    Amazon.com is releasing a few details about its second annual Prime Day, a July 12 shopping event that is designed to get consumers doing their Christmas s...
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    The Brexit vote: what's it mean for your money?

    According to many financial experts, the impact will be mostly positive

    Now that British voters have decided to leave the European Union, the shock on the financial markets has begun to wear off. Cooler heads are pondering what it means for the future.

    For U.S. consumers, the implications are mostly positive, according to financial experts who have been offering up opinions over the last few days.

    For the average person with his or her retirement savings in a 401(k) or other retirement account, it was probably unsettling to see the stock market sell off Friday and Monday the way it did. But by Tuesday, stocks were bouncing back and there are plenty of indications stock prices could go even higher from here.

    What about savers with money in Treasury bonds? Actually, those consumers have done okay and are poised to do even better in the future. That's because since the Brexit vote, the yield on newly issued T-bills has plunged, making older bonds paying even the miserly rate of 1.8% more valuable.

    Bond bonanza

    Here's why: appearing on CNBC Thursday, Hilltop Securities' Mark Grant predicted the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond would fall to below 1%. A bond with a 2% yield would be worth a lot more than its face value should the holder want to sell.

    Grant predicts the worst impact of the Brexit vote will be felt in the European Union, which he predicts won't survive. With other central banks around the world now paying no yield, Grant predicts money will pour into the U.S. market, keeping U.S. rates low.

    Low mortgage rates

    For consumers who don't own stocks or bonds but who would like to buy a home, this development would be helpful. Mortgage rates are based on the 30-year Treasury bond – the lower the yield falls the lower mortgage rates go. So already-low mortgage rates should go even lower in the next few weeks, making homes slightly more affordable.

    With international money flowing into the U.S., the dollar will get even stronger.

    That's bad for U.S. businesses that rely on exports because it makes their goods and services more expensive overseas. But for American consumers, a strong dollar means imported goods will be cheaper. Consumers who travel outside the U.S. will also find their money goes farther.

    Additionally, since oil is priced in dollars, a strong U.S. currency will tend to keep oil prices in check.

    Not as bad as it looked

    With the passage of several days, many experts have tempered their original dire outlook. Billionaire investor George Soros, who was among the most alarmed by the Brexit vote, has told the European Parliament he no longer views Brexit as having a “tragic” outcome for Europe.

    While an element of risk and uncertainty remains, the Brexit vote also has short-term positive implications for Wall Street. There is now near-universal agreement among economists that the Federal Reserve will refrain from the previously expected interest rate hike for the next few months. The low interest rate environment has been a major factor in the stock market's long rally.

    Now that British voters have decided to leave the European Union, the shock on the financial markets has begun to wear off. Cooler heads are pondering what...
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      Consumer spending rises in May, outpacing income gains

      Jobless claims were on the rise last week

      Consumers loosened up their purse strings a bit last month.

      The Commerce Department reports personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased by $53.5 billion, or 0.4%. Personal income, by the way, also rose -- $37.1 billion, or 0.2% -- and disposable personal income (DPI), what you have left after the government gets its cut, was up by $33.9 billion, or 0.2%.

      Compensation, spending, and saving

      Most of the income increase came from a rise of $14.7 billion in wages and salaries, well below $40.4 billion advance in April. Private wages and salaries were up $11.8 billion, while government wages and salaries inched up $2.9 billion.

      Personal outlays, which is made up of PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments, rose just $57.0 billion in May, after a surge of $144.6 billion in April.

      Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $730.6 billion last month, pushing the personal saving rate down 0.1% to 5.3%.

      The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.


      After falling sharply in the preceding week, first time applications for state unemployment benefits jumped a bit in the week ending June 25.

      Jobless claims

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless applications rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000.

      It's now 69 consecutive weeks that the initial claims level has been below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1973.

      The four-week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market as it lacks the weekly tally's volatility, was unchanged from the previous week at 266,750.

      The full report may be found on the DOL website.

      Consumers loosened up their purse strings a bit last month.The Commerce Department reports personal consumption expendi...
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      Volkswagen recalls model year 2008-2009 Audi A4, A5, and Q5 vehicles

      The airbag control units may corrode and fail

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling model year 2008-2009 Audi A4, A5, and Q5 vehicles, in which the airbag control units may corrode and fail.

      If the air bag control unit fails, the air bags may not deploy in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of occupant injury.

      What to do

      Audi will notify owners, and dealers will replace the air bag control unit, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 69O1.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling model year 2008-2009 Audi A4, A5, and Q5 vehicles, in which the airbag control units may corrode and fail. ...
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      Eillien's Candies recalls various sizes and brands of snack products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Eillien's Candies of Green Bay, Wis., is recalling various snack products containing Roasted-Salted Sunflower Kernels and Roasted-Unsalted Sunflower Kernels.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reported illnesses to date.

      The following products, sold through retail stores nationwide, are being recalled:

       DescriptionFull UPC 
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET GAME DAY PRTY TRAY B 25OZ034952822434 
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET RNS SUNFLOWER KERNEL 16OZ 034952820881
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET SPORTMAN MIX 1.75OZ 034952818956
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET SPORTSMAN MIX 12OZ 034952814460
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET SPORTSMAN MIX JAR 38OZ 034952820386
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET SUNFLOWER KERNEL 2OZ 034952818949
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET SUNFLOWER KERNELS 16OZ 034952813661
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET TRAIL MIX 12OZ 034952814392
       BULK - R/NS  SUNFLOWER KERNELS 50# 404129
       BULK - R/S SUNFLOWER KERNELS 50#  034952142440
       BULK - SPORTSMAN MIX 25# 413674
       BULK - TRAIL MIX  25# 412965
       EILLIEN'S 10OZ SUNFLOWER KERNELS 034952131581
       EILLIEN'S 12OZ SUNFLOWER KERNELS 034952571103
       EILLIEN'S 14OZ R/NS SUNFLOWER KERNEL 034952563658
       EILLIEN'S 14OZ SUNFLOWER KERNELS 034952563481
       EILLIEN'S CRAN/SESAME/KERNL MIX 14OZ 034952586572
       EILLIEN'S R/N/S SUNFL KERN 12OZ 034952571134
       EILLIEN'S R/N/S SUNFLWR KERN 7OZ 034952575798
       EILLIEN'S R/S SUNFLOWER KERN 7OZ 034952575576
       EILLIEN'S RNS SUNFLOWER KERN TRAY 13OZ 034952572728
       EILLIEN'S SPORTSMAN MIX  22OZ 034952577365
       EILLIEN'S SPORTSMAN MIX 4OZ 034952575705
       EILLIEN'S SPORTSMAN MIX TRAY 15OZ 034952572926
       EILLIEN'S SUNFLOWER KERNEL TRAY 13OZ 034952572711
       EILLIEN'S SUNFLOWER KERNELS 4OZ 034952006094
       EILLIEN'S TRAIL MIX 22OZ 034952562613
       EILLIEN'S TRAIL MIX TRAY 14OZ 034952572902
       FIGI'S HOT & SPICY MIX BAG 16OZ 609883
       FIGI'S NATURES MIX 20# 680223
       HOLIDAY RAISIN & NUT 9OZ 041282995424
       HOLIDAY SNACKTIME SPORTSMAN MIX 11OZ 041282995318
       HOLIDAY SNACKTIME SUNFL KERNEL 12OZ 041282995349
       MAES DLX PARTY TRAY C 24.5OZ 034952415490
       MAES FIJI MIX 14OZ 034952415247
       MAES HOLIDY PARTY TRAY B31.5OZ 034952410549
       MAES SEDONA SNACK MIX 14OZ 034952415230
       MILL'S FLEET FARM RNS SUNFLOWER KERNEL 16OZ 034952363838
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SPORTSMAN MIX 24OZ 034952362763
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SPORTSMAN MIX 32OZ 034952361766
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SPORTSMAN MIX 4.25OZ 034952363692
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SPORTSMANS MIX 1OZ 611179
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SUNFLOWER KERNELS 16OZ 034952363821
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SUNFLOWER KERNELS 6.75OZ 034952365511
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SUNSHINE TRAIL MIX 16OZ 034952363081
       MILL'S FLEET FARM TRAIL MIX 24OZ 034952360752
       PIGGLY WIGGLY R&S SNFLWER KERNELS 13OZ 034952574159
       PIGGLY WIGGLY RNS SNFLWER KERNELS 13OZ 034952574166
       PIGGLY WIGGLY SPORTSMAN MIX 22OZ 034952580990
       PIGGLY WIGGLY SPORTSMAN MIX TRAY 15OZ 034952574210
       PIGGLY WIGGLY SUNFLOWER KERNEL 14OZ 034952580945
       PIGGLY WIGGLY SUNFLOWER KERNELS 4OZ 034952579864
       ROYAL POUCH BAG R/NS SNFL KERN 11OZ 034952571349
       ROYAL POUCH BAG SPORTSMAN MIX 11OZ 034952571288
       ROYAL POUCH BAG SUNFLOWER KERN 11OZ 034952571356
       ROYAL POUCH BAG TRAIL MIX 13OZ 034952571523
       RUNNINGS 32OZ SPORTSMAN MIX 034952581621
       RURAL KING SPORTSMAN MIX 22OZ 034952584813
       SHOPPERS VALU SPORTSMAN MIX 2.25OZ 041130286704
       SUPER AMERICA SPORTSMANS MIX 11OZ 034952585377
       TRIGS 160Z SPORTSMAN MIX 034952583397
       URGE-DISTRIBUTED BY KWIK TRIP SUNFLOWER KERNELS 5OZ 039779010484
       URGE- DISTRIBUTED BY KWIK TRAIL MIX 3.5OZ 039779010538

      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 about the recall may contact Eillien's Candies customer service toll free at 800-448-1556, Monday Through Friday 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM (CT).

      Eillien's Candies of Green Bay, Wis., is recalling various snack products containing Roasted-Salted Sunflower Kernels and Roasted-Unsalted Sunflower Kernel...
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      Fresh Express recalls Caesar Salad Kits

      The product may contain walnuts, an allergen not listed on the label

      Fresh Express Incorporated is recalling 7.6-oz. net weight Fresh Express Caesar Salad Kits.

      The product may contain walnuts, an allergen not listed on the label.

      No illnesses are reported.

      The following product is being recalled:

      BRANDPRODUCT NAMENET WEIGHTUPC CODEPRODUCTION CODEUSE BY DATEPOSSIBLE DISTRIBUTION LOCATIONS
      Fresh ExpressCaesar Salad Kit7.6 oz.0 7127930100 6G163B13A26-JuneAL AR, DE, FL, GA, IL IN, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, WV, VA, DC and Puerto Rico

      The recalled product was distributed to approximately 19 states primarily in the Southeast.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should discard it. A refund is available at the place of purchase or by contacting the Fresh Express consumer response center toll-free at (800) 242-5472 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET).

      Fresh Express Incorporated is recalling 7.6-oz. net weight Fresh Express Caesar Salad Kits. The product may contain walnuts, an allergen not listed...
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      Lawmaker urges elder abuse predator list

      Officials see sharing information as key to reducing scams

      People convicted of sexual predator crimes go on a national list so that others are aware of the potential danger they may pose.

      A member of Congress has proposed a similar list for those convicted of running scams. Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL) says such a list is needed to help protect senior citizens from fraud and abuse.

      “Florida has a reputation as the best place in America to retire,” Graham said. “Unfortunately, that reputation is under threat by an increase in elder abuse and fraud targeting seniors.”

      Graham has introduced legislation to create a national registry of people who have been convicted of abusing or scamming seniors, to make them more easily identified.

      Florida sees rise in activity

      Using state of Florida data, Graham estimates that there were more than 2,500 cases of scams directed against seniors last year in her state alone. She says these crimes have risen by 74% over the last five years.

      Under her proposal, the Justice Department would design a registry that states could use as a guide to develop their own lists of offenders. The lists would be public and searchable, identifying people found guilty of committing both physical and financial crimes against older people.

      She notes that a few states already have such a registry. If the Justice Department created the model, she says, more states would provide the service.

      Once all the states created lists, Graham said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could then compile all the information and make it accessible through a national database.

      Information is key

      Access to warnings and information about scams and scammers could help consumers avoid being victimized, officials say. While technology has made consumers more vulnerable to scams, technology may also hold the key to prevention efforts.

      Last month Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear launched a text messaging service that notifies consumers in his state when a new scam surfaces or an old one picks up intensity.

      Through the program, Beshear has warned consumers in his state of a student loan debt relief scam, a Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes scam, and a scam targeting previous scam victims.

      Beshear notes that seniors are a major target of these schemes, losing nearly $37 billion a year nationwide.

      People convicted of sexual predator crimes go on a national list so that others are aware of the potential danger they may pose.A member of Congress ha...
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      Pending home sales post first decline in four months

      Sales were down in all four major regions

      After three straight months of increases, pending home sales have suffered a decline.

      The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 3.7% in May to 110.8. While the index reading is still the third highest in the past year, it's down year-over-year (-0.2) for the first time since August 2014. I

      “With demand holding firm this spring and homes selling even faster than a year ago1, the notable increase in closings in recent months took a dent out of what was available for sale in May and ultimately dragged down contract activity,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Realtors are acknowledging with increasing frequency lately that buyers continue to be frustrated by the tense competition and lack of affordable homes for sale in their market.”

      Yun said that despite mortgage rates hovering around three-year lows for most of the year, scant supply and swiftly rising home prices -- which surpassed their all-time high last month -- are creating an availability and affordability crunch that’s preventing what should be a more robust pace of sales.

      “Total housing inventory at the end of each month has remarkably decreased year-over-year now for an entire year3,” adds Yun. “There are simply not enough homes coming onto the market to catch up with demand and to keep prices more in line with inflation and wage growth.”

      Regional Breakdown

      • The PHSI in the Northeast dropped 5.3% to 93.0, and is now unchanged from a year ago.
      • In the Midwest the index slipped 4.2% to 108.0, and it is now 1.8% below May 2015.
      • Pending home sales in the South dipped 3.1% to an index reading of 126.6, but that is still up 0.6% from last May.
      • The index in the West was down 3.4% to 102.6, and is now 0.1% below a year ago.

      What lies ahead?

      Regarding the second half of the year, Yun says the fallout from the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union breeds both immediate opportunity as well as potential headwinds for the U.S. housing market.

      “In the short term, volatility in the financial markets could very likely lead to even lower mortgage rates and increased demand from foreign buyers looking for a safer place to invest their cash,” he said. “On the other hand, any prolonged market angst and further economic uncertainty overseas could negatively impact our economy and end up tempering the overall appetite for homebuying.”

      Despite last month's decline in contract signings, existing-home sales are still expected to be around 5.44 million this year -- a 3.7% surge from 2015.

      After accelerating to 6.8% a year ago, national median existing-home price growth is forecast to moderate to between 4 and 5%.

      After three straight months of increases, pending home sales have suffered a decline.The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports its Pending Hom...
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      Mortgage applications continue to see-saw

      Contract interest rates were mixed

      Mortgage applications were lower last week for the second time in three weeks.

      According to the Mortgage Bankers Association,  applications were down 2.6% in the week ending June 24.

      The Refinance Index fell 2%, while the refinance share of mortgage activity inched up to 58.1% of total applications from 57.7% a week earlier. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 5.9%, the FHA dropped to 10.6% from 11.7%, the VA share was 12.2% and the USDA share of total applications rose to 0.7% from 0.6% the week prior.

      Contract interest rates

      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) slipped to its lowest level since May 2013 -- 3.75%, from 3.76% -- with points increasing to 0.36 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) rose four basis points -- from 3.70% to 3.74% -- with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.28 (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 unchanged at 3.61%, with points increasing to 0.37 from 0.24 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs was down two basis points to 3.02%, with points increasing to 0.38 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 fell to 2.88% from 2.92%, with points increasing to 0.30 from 0.21 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.

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

      Mortgage applications were lower last week for the second time in three weeks.According to the Mortgage Bankers Association,  applications were down 2....
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      A strong rebound for consumer confidence

      'Cautious optimism' is the June takeaway

      A nice comeback for consumer confidence in June.

      After falling nearly two points in May -- to 92.4 -- The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index® shot up more than five points this month to 98.0. The Present Situation Index jumped from 113.2 to 118.3, while the Expectations Index rose to 84.5 from 78.5.

      “Consumers were less negative about current business and labor market conditions, but only moderately more positive, suggesting no deterioration in economic conditions, but no strengthening either,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Expectations regarding business and labor market conditions, as well as personal income prospects, improved moderately. Overall, consumers remain cautiously optimistic about economic growth in the short-term.”

      The current situation

      Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved in June. Those who said business conditions are “good” inched up from 26.1% to 26.9%, while those holding the opposing view dropped from 21.4% to 17.7%.

      The assessment of the labor market was mixed. Consumers who think jobs are “plentiful” slipped from 24.5% to 23.4%. At the same time, those who believe jobs are “hard to get” also decreased -- from 24.5% to 23.3%.

      Looking ahead

      Optimism regarding the short-term outlook improved in June. Those who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose from 15.0% to 16.8%, while those looking for conditions to get worse was down to 11.4% from 11.7%.

      Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more favorable than in May. The percentage anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased from 12.5% to 14.2%, while those saying there will be fewer jobs decreased dipped from 18.2% to 17.9%.

      The proportion of consumers who expect their incomes to increase advanced to 18.2% from 16.5%, while the proportion expecting a reduction fell 1.1% -- to 11.5%.

      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 June 16.

      A nice comeback for consumer confidence in June.After falling nearly two points in May -- to 92.4 -- The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index® ...
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      GNP recalls chicken products

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials

      GNP Company of Cold Spring, Minn., is recalling approximately 55,608 pounds of chicken products.

      Sand and black soil were found in some of the products. The source of the contamination is currently under investigation.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

      The following chicken products produced from June 6 to June 9, 2016, are being recalled:

      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN WINGETTES & DRUMMETTES 32900” with a use-by date of 6/18/2016 and 6/20/16.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump Chicken Tenders 34400” with a use-by date of 6/16/2016, 6/18/2016, and 6/19/2016
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST PORTIONS 24700” with a use-by date of 6/29/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS 20500” with a use-by date of 6/20/2016, 6/21/2016 and 6/22/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS 30800” with a use-by date of 6/20/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST PIECES 36400” with a use-by date of 6/22/16.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN THIGHS WITHOUT BACKS 37800” with a use-by date of 6/20/2016, 6/24/2016, and 6/26/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS 20800” with a use-by date of 6/18/2016 and 6/23/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump UNDER GRADE CHICKEN WING SEGMENTS 22900” with a use-by date of 6/17/2016, 6/19/2016, 6/20/2016, and 6/21/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN WINGS 31100” with a use-by date of 6/17/2016, 6/20/2016, and 6/21/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN LIVERS 31300” with a use-by date of 6/18/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Just BARE BONELESS SKINLESS WHOLE CHICKEN LEG 37200” with a use-by date of 6/22/2016, 6/23/2016, 6/24/2016, and 6/25/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN WHOLE LEGS 20700” with a use-by date of 6/20/16.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN GIZZARDS 31200” with a use-by date of 6/20/16 and 6/23/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump Chicken Wingette and Drummettes 33000” with a use-by date of 6/22/2016 and 6/24/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump Chicken Tenders 34900” with a use-by date of 6/23/2016 and 6/25/2016.
      • 24-lb. cases containing “Just BARE WHOLE CHICKEN 59405” with a use-by date of 6/26/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Just BARE CLIPPED CHICKEN BREAST TENDERS 53200” with a use-by date of 6/18/2016 and 6/20/2016.

      The recalled products bear establishment number “P-322” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were shipped for food service and retail distribution nationwide.

      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 Jane Kalthoff at (800) 328-2838.  

      GNP Company of Cold Spring, Minn., is recalling approximately 55,608 pounds of chicken products. Sand and black soil were found in some of the prod...
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      Polaris recalls Ranger ROVs

      The ROVs can overheat during heavy engine loading

      Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 43,000 Polaris Ranger 570 ROVs.

      The ROVs can overheat during heavy engine loading, slow-speed intermittent use and/or high outdoor temperatures and catch fire.

      The company has received seven reports of the recalled ROVs overheating and catching on fire. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves 2015 and 2016 model year Polaris Ranger 570 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs). They have either two or four seats and a rear box. “Ranger” is printed on the rear box and “570” is printed on the hood. “Polaris” is stamped onto the front grill. The ROVs were sold in several colors.

      The following models are included in the recall:

      Model Year

      2015

      Models

      Model Year

      2016

      Models

      Ranger 570

      Ranger 570 2x4

      Ranger 570 EPS

      Ranger 570

      Ranger 570 EPS HD

      Ranger 570 EPS

      Ranger Crew 570

      Ranger 570 EPS HD

      Ranger Crew 570 EPS

      Ranger 570 EPS ZUG

      Ranger Crew 570

      Ranger Crew 570 EPS

      The ROVs, manufactured in Mexico, were sold at Polaris dealers nationwide from August 2014, through June 2016, for between $10,000 and $12,500.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact Polaris to schedule a free repair. Polaris is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Polaris at 800-765-2747 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday, or online at www.polaris.com and click on “Off-Road Safety Recalls” on the main page for more information.

      Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 43,000 Polaris Ranger 570 ROVs. The ROVs can overheat during heavy engine loading, sl...
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      Integrated Food Service recalls ready-to-eat sandwiches

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Integrated Food Service (IFS), is recalling certain ready-to-eat sandwiches because that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled products were distributed nationwide directly to a number of school districts and to foodservice distributors that serve school districts. No retail products are affected by this recall.

      A list of recalled products and districts that received the products being recalled may be found on the IFS website.

      What to do

      Any school district that believes it may have product still in frozen storage that is affected by this recall may contact the IFS recall coordinator at (800) 560-9999 between 8AM and 5PM (PDT) Monday through Friday, or at by email at recall@integratedfoodservice.com for return or disposal instructions.

      Integrated Food Service (IFS), is recalling certain ready-to-eat sandwiches because that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnes...
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      National Frozen Foods recalls frozen green peas and frozen mixed vegetables

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      National Frozen Foods Corporation is voluntarily recalling a limited quantity of Not-Ready-To Eat frozen green peas and frozen mixed vegetables.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reported illnesses attributed to the recalled items to date.

      The following product, distributed in retail stores nationwide between September 2, 2015, and June 23, 2016, are being recalled:

      PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONNet Wt.ITEM # / UPC FOR RETAIL PACKAGESLOT INFORMATION / CODE PRINTED ON PACKAGING
      Bountiful Harvest Green Peas40 oz.22486 119046E11B1N
      Bountiful Harvest Green Peas40 oz.22486 119046E11C1N
      Bountiful Harvest Green Peas40 oz.22486 119046E11D1N
      Bountiful Harvest Green Peas40 oz.22486 119046E11E1N
      First Street Green Peas12 oz.41512 12134BEST BY OCT 28 17      
      First Street Green Peas40 oz.41512 08201BEST BY JUN 02 17 
      First Street Green Peas40 oz.41512 08201BEST BY NOV 11 17      
      Foodtown Green Peas40 oz.11153 3462834124-MAR 26 18 NFF3
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 07 06 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 07 20 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 07 27 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 10 06 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 10 25 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 10 26 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 07 18 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 09 28 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 10 07 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 10 26 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 11 03 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 11 11 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 11 10 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 12 08 17
      Great Value Steamable Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 08026BEST IF USED BY 10 04 17
      Great Value Steamable Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 08026BEST IF USED BY 10 09 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST BY 03 02 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 08 06 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 10 14 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 10 21 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 10 20 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 11 02 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 11 03 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 11 04 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas26 oz.78742 10912BEST IF USED BY 10 14 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas26 oz.78742 10912BEST IF USED BY 11 04 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas26 oz.78742 10912BEST IF USED BY 11 15 17
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076C3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076D3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076E3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076F3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076G3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076H3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076J3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076K3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076L3N    
      Market Pantry  Mixed Vegetables32 oz.85239 00547Best by 03 AUG2017
      Market Pantry  Mixed Vegetables32 oz.85239 00547Best by 04 AUG2017
      Market Pantry  Mixed Vegetables32 oz.85239 00547Best by 04 OCT2017
      Market Pantry Steam-In-Bag Mixed Vegetables12 oz.85239 00494Best by 12 MAR2017
      Market Pantry Sweet Peas32 oz.85239 00549Best by 04 JUL2017
      Market Pantry Sweet Peas32 oz.85239 00549Best by 17 SEP2017
      Sprouts Farmers Market Mixed Vegetables16 oz.74875 00983USE BY 08 02 18 6B08G3N

      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 1-800-253-8269 Monday – Friday 8.am to 5 p.m. (Pacific Time).

      National Frozen Foods Corporation is voluntarily recalling a limited quantity of Not-Ready-To Eat frozen green peas and frozen mixed vegetables. Th...
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      Toyota recalls Prius and Lexus CT vehicles

      The airbag inflators could separate

      Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., is recalling about 482,000 model year 2010 - 2012 Prius; 2010 and 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrids; and 2011 and 2012 Lexus CT 200h vehicles.

      The recalled vehicles are equipped with curtain shield air bags (CSA) in the driver and passenger side roof rails that have air bag inflators composed of two chambers welded together. Some inflators could have a small crack in the weld area joining the chambers, which could grow over time, and lead to the separation of the inflator chambers. This has occurred when the vehicle is parked and unoccupied for a period of time.

      If an inflator separates, the CSA could partially inflate, and, in limited circumstances, one or both sections of the inflator could enter the interior of the vehicle. If an occupant is present in the vehicle, there is an increased risk of injury.

      What to do

      All known owners of the recalled vehicles will be notified by first class mail. Toyota and Lexus dealers will install retention brackets on the curtain shield air bag inflators at no cost. The retention brackets are designed to prevent the inflator chambers from entering the vehicle interior if separation occurs.

      Information about automotive recalls, including but not limited to the list of involved vehicles, is subject to change over time.

      Owners with questions may call Lexus customer service at 1-800-255-3987.  

      Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., is recalling about 482,000 model year 2010 - 2012 Prius; 2010 and 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrids; and 2011 and 2012 Lexus CT 200h v...
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      Details of VW Dieselgate settlements made public

      Owners of affected VW, Audi vehicles eligible for buybacks or lease terminations

      The $14.7 billion settlements agreed to by Volkswagen today provide buyback and lease termination deals for nearly 500,000 consumers who bought the company's TDI "Clean Diesel" cars. However, the deals will not be available until this fall.

      The affected vehicles include 2009 through 2015 Volkswagen TDI diesel models of Jettas, Passats, Golfs, and Beetles, as well as the TDI Audi A3.

      Volkswagen will offer consumers a buyback and lease termination for nearly 500,000 model year 2009-2015 2.0 liter diesel vehicles sold or leased in the U.S., and spend up to $10.03 billion to compensate consumers under the program. 

      In addition, the companies will spend $4.7 billion to mitigate the pollution from these cars and invest in green vehicle technology.

      The settlements require Volkswagen to offer owners of any affected vehicle the option to have the company buy back the car and to offer lessees a lease cancellation at no cost.

      Volkswagen may also propose an emissions modification plan to EPA and CARB, and if that plan is approved, it may also offer owners and lessees the option of having their vehicles modified to reduce emissions instead of taking a buyback.

      Under the U.S./California settlement, Volkswagen must achieve an overall recall rate of at least 85% of affected 2.0 liter vehicles under these programs or pay additional sums into the mitigation trust fund. The FTC order requires Volkswagen to compensate consumers who elect either of these options. 

      Volkswagen must set aside, and could spend up to, $10.03 billion to pay consumers in connection with the buyback, lease termination, and emissions modification compensation program. The program has different potential options and provisions for affected Volkswagen diesel owners depending on their circumstances:

      Buyback option

      Volkswagen must offer to buy back any affected 2.0 liter vehicle at  their retail value as of September 2015 -- just prior to the public disclosure of the emissions issue.

      Consumers who choose the buyback option will receive between $12,500 and $44,000, depending on their car’s model, year, mileage, and trim of the car, as well as the region of the country where it was purchased.

      In addition, because a straight buyback will not fully compensate consumers who owe more than their car is worth due to rapid depreciation, the FTC order provides these consumers with an option to have their loans forgiven by Volkswagen. 

      Consumers who took out third party loans have the option of having Volkswagen pay off those loans, up to 130 percent of the amount a consumer would be entitled to under the buyback (e.g., if the consumer is entitled to a $20,000 buyback, VW would pay off his/her loans up to a cap of $26,000).

      Modifications to emissions system 

      The settlements also allow Volkswagen to apply to EPA and CARB for approval of an emissions modification on the affected vehicles, and, if approved, to offer consumers the option of keeping their cars and having them modified to comply with emissions standards.  

      Under this option, as part of an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers would also receive money from Volkswagen to redress the harm caused by VW’s deceptive advertising. 

      Consumers who sold their TDI vehicles after the VW defeat device issue became public may be eligible for partial compensation, which will be split between them and the consumers who purchased the cars from them as set forth in the FTC order.

      Find your options

      Eligible consumers will receive notice from VW after the orders are entered by the court this fall. Consumers will be able to see if they are eligible for compensation and, if so, what options are available to them, at VWCourtSettlement.com and AudiCourtSettlement.com.

      They will also be able to use these websites to make claims, sign up for appointments at their local Volkswagen or Audi dealers, and receive updates. 

      Consumer payments will not be available until the settlements take effect if and when approved by the court, which may be as early as October 2016.

      Consumers were cheated

      “Today’s announcement shows the high cost of violating our consumer protection and environmental laws,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “Just as importantly, consumers who were cheated by Volkswagen’s deceptive advertising campaign will be able to get full and fair compensation, not only for the lost or diminished value of their car but also for the other harms that VW caused them.”

      The FTC sued Volkswagen in March, charging that the company deceived consumers with the advertising campaign it used to promote its supposedly “clean diesel” VWs and Audis, which falsely claimed that the cars were low-emission, environmentally friendly, met emissions standards, and would maintain a high resale value.

      The settlements use the authorities of both the EPA and the FTC as part of a coordinated plan that gets the high-polluting VW diesels off the road, makes the environment whole, and compensates consumers.

      The $14.7 billion settlements agreed to by Volkswagen today provide buyback and lease termination deals for nearly 500,000 consumers who bought the company...
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      Why seniors should limit alcohol consumption

      Researchers say alcohol damages already dysfunctional immune system

      In recent years there has been plenty of research suggesting that there are health benefits that come with moderate alcohol consumption. Here's a study suggesting older consumers, in particular, should avoid it – or at least limit their consumption.

      Brenda J. Curtis, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at the University of Colorado in Denver, says as people age their immune system becomes less functional and infections are more severe and harder to cure.

      Drinking alcohol, she says, damages the immune system and organs. The effects can be worsened by some prescription and over-the-counter medications, which seniors tend to take. As a result, seniors often are vulnerable to infections like pneumonia much more than their younger peers.

      “Our laboratory has been studying inflammatory and immune responses in the aged for well over a decade,” said Curtis. “We know that even healthy elderly individuals have an elevated basal inflammatory state, known as ‘inflamm-aging.’”

      It's hard enough for the body to recover from inflammation when you are old, she says. Adding alcohol just compounds the problem.

      “Our research suggests that alcohol intoxication perturbs the immune system of the aged both throughout the body and in local regions, like the lung,” said fellow researcher Elizabeth J. Kovacs. “Aged individuals also have decreased lung function and cough strength, which further escalates the risk for developing pneumonia.”

      Seniors are drinking more

      The research may take on added significance in light of recent research which shows that alcohol consumption has increased among the older population. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) produced the video below to highlight the rise in older Americans with alcohol dependency.

      NIH warns that drinking too much alcohol can make some existing health problems worse, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, liver problems, and memory problems.

      Health officials in New York call alcohol abuse among the elderly “a hidden epidemic.” The New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse reports that about 10% of the population abuses alcohol, but that as many as 17% of Americans over 65 have an alcohol problem.

      In recent years there has been plenty of research suggesting that there are health benefits that come with moderate alcohol consumption. Here's a study sug...
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      Home prices up in April -- but at a slower pace

      That marks six straight monthly increases

      House prices rose in value across the U.S. in April, but at a slower pace on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.

      According to the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index (HPI), which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, prices posted a 5.0% annual gain, compared with an advance of 5.1% the previous month. The 10-City Composite was up 4.7%, versus 4.8% in March, and the 20-City Composite reported a year-over-year gain of 5.4% -- from 5.5% from the prior month.

      Portland led the way with a year-over-year price increase of 12.3%, followed by Seattle at 10.7% and Denver with a 9.5% gain. Nine cities reported greater price increases in the year ending April 2016 versus the year ending March 2016.

      The HPI recorded a month-over-month gain of 1.0% in April, with the10-City Composite up 1.0% and the 20-City Composite rising 1.1%.

      Uncertainty ahead

      ”The housing sector continues to turn in a strong price performance with the S&P/Case-Shiller National Index rising at a 5% or greater annual rate for six consecutive months,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The home price increases reflect the low unemployment rate, low mortgage interest rates, and consumers’ generally positive outlook.”

      Blitzer notes, however, that the outlook is not without a lot of uncertainty and some risk. “Last week’s vote by Great Britain to leave the European Union is the most recent political concern while the U.S. elections in the fall raise uncertainty and will distract home buyers and investors in the coming months,” he said.

      In addition, a closer look at home price data also hints at possible softness. According to Blitzer, “Seasonally adjusted figures in the report show that three cities saw lower prices in April compared to only one city in March. Among the 20 cities, 16 saw either declines or smaller increases in monthly prices in the seasonally adjusted numbers.”

      House prices rose in value across the U.S. in April, but at a slower pace on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.According to the S&P;/Cas...
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      First quarter economic growth revised higher

      Still, it's a slowdown from the previous three months

      The third time was the charm when it comes to growth in the economy.

      The Commerce Department has taken its third and final look at how things were going in the first quarter and determined that 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 -- expanded at an annual rate of 1.1%.

      That's somewhat better than the 0.8% rate in the second estimate, but slower than the 1.4% rate chalked up in the final three months of 2015.

      The increase in the first quarter comes from contributions from consumer spending, residential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and exports. Those were offset by declines in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and federal government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were lower.

      The slowdown in real GDP from the fourth quarter reflected a deceleration in consumer spending, a larger drop in nonresidential fixed investment, and a downturn in federal government spending that were partly offset by advances in state and local government spending and exports and an acceleration in residential fixed investment.

      GDP inflation

      The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 0.2% in the first quarter, half the increase seen in the fourth.

      The core rate, which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, was up 1.4%, versus a 1.0% increase in the final quarter of last year.

      Corporate profits

      Profits from current production rose by $34.7 billion in the first quarter, after declining $159.6 billion in the fourth.

      Taxes on corporate income increased $4.4 billion in the first quarter, in contrast to a decrease of $32.2 billion in the fourth.

      The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

      The third time was the charm when it comes to growth in the economy.The Commerce Department has taken its third and final look at how things were going...
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      Earnest Eats Dark Chocolate Almond Chewy Granola Bars recalled

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Earnest Eats is recalling 6.2-oz. cartons of Earnest Eats Dark Chocolate Almond Bars.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The company says it has not received any reports of illness to date.

      The following product, distributed nationwide online and to retail stores between March 1 and June 17, 2016, is being recalled:

      Earnest Eats 6.2-oz. Dark Chocolate Almond Chewy Granola Bars – 5-ct carton with Product UPC Codes:

      • 891048001636 (individual bars sold only in 5-ct carton)
      • 891048001667 (5-ct carton)
      • 891048001674 (12-ct master corrugated case)
      • Best Before Dates 29APR17

      What to do

      Customers who have purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but dispose of it or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with question may contact the company at at 1-888-264-4599 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (PST) Monday through Friday or by email at support@earnesteats.com.

      Earnest Eats is recalling 6.2-oz. cartons of Earnest Eats Dark Chocolate Almond Bars. The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes....
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      Green Cuisine recalls Pesto Pasta Salad with Arugula

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Green Cuisine is recalling Pesto Pasta Salad with Arugula that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reported illnesses attributed to the recalled items to date.

      The recalled product, packaged in 7.4-oz clear plastic containers with the name “Whole Foods Pesto Pasta Salad w/Arugula,” UPC code 857898004333 and “best by” date of 6/20/16, was sold in Whole Foods Markets in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona June 15 – 16, 2016.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should discard it and bring their receipt back into the store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may call Green Cuisine’s customer service line at 818-837-7774 between 8am – 4pm (PST) Monday through Friday.

      Green Cuisine is recalling Pesto Pasta Salad with Arugula that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. There have been no reported illness...
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      HP Recalls Batteries for HP and Compaq notebook computers

      The battery packs can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards

      HP Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., is recalling about 48,100 HP lithium-ion batteries in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

      The battery packs can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards.

      The company has received seven reports of battery packs overheating, melting or charring, including four reports of property damage of about $4,000 total.

      This recall involves lithium-ion batteries containing Panasonic cells that are used in HP notebook computers. The batteries are compatible with HP, Compaq, HP ProBook, HP ENVY, Compaq Presario, and HP Pavilion notebook computers.

      The black batteries measure about 8 inches long, 2 inches wide and about 1 inch high. The battery bar code is printed on the back of the battery. “HP Notebook Battery” and the model number are printed on the battery.

      The batteries included in this recall have the following barcodes: 6BZLU, 6CGFK, 6CGFQ, 6CZMB, 6DEMA, 6DEMH, 6DGAL and 6EBVA.

      The batteries, manufactured in China, were sold at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Costco and authorized dealers nationwide and online at www.hp.com from March 2013, through August 2015. The batteries were sold with notebook computers for between $300 and $1,700. The batteries were also sold separately for between $50 and $90.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled batteries, remove them from the notebook computers and contact HP for a free replacement battery.

      Consumers may contact HP toll-free at 888-202-4320 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or online at the HP Battery Recall website directly at www.HP.com/go/batteryprogram2016 or www.hp.com and click “Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      HP Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., is recalling about 48,100 HP lithium-ion batteries in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The battery packs can overheat, p...
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      Ten expenses you should be budgeting for

      Protect your budget by expecting the unexpected

      Budgets are to money as maps are to roads -- which is to say, they’re an integral part of helping you see where you’re going.

      But while you might think you’ve got your money all mapped out and each area of your life budgeted for appropriately, no one is immune to the possibility of being hit by an unforeseen expense.

      An unexpected expense can leave even the most well thought out budget in shambles. But preparing for the unexpected may help you keep your budget in tact.

      Ten expenses to budget for

      The experts at Quicken Loans suggest setting aside some cash for the following expenses in order to deter their budget-busting effects.

      • Home maintenance. “It’s always something” may as well be the homeowner’s anthem. Repairs and maintenance typically set homeowners back $1,000 each year, according to HSH.com. To err on the side of caution, repairs -- especially big ones, such as water heater, furnace, and roof repairs -- should be planned for in a budget.
      • Weddings. Receiving a wedding invitation often implies that you’ll be forking over a bit of money in the near future. Before witnessing the I do’s, you’ll likely be spending money on travel, food, clothing, and gifts. 
      • Pet bills. Pets come with many expenses, and even more can crop up as they get older. Pet insurance can help with costs, but consumers should also be saving for pet-related expenses such as annual vet visits, vaccinations, and pet food and litter.
      • Charitable contributions. If you regularly donate to charity, be sure a specific amount of donation money is budgeted for. If you’re the type who donates to charities on a whim, it may be wise to add a few extra bucks to that amount.
      • Work clothes. Your work clothes won’t last forever, especially if you tend to wear the same few outfits over and over. In the event that you need to freshen up your workday look, it can be helpful to have money already set aside. 
      • Car repairs. Expensive auto repairs can take an uncomfortably large bite out of your bank account -- but cushioning your account in anticipation of such repairs can help. Even if you don’t end up using it, putting money into a car fund each month can help you save for your next vehicle.
      • Personal care. The cost of beauty products and appointments can really add up month-to-month. But keeping a close eye on how much you spend on personal care items will help you budget accordingly.
      • Snacks. Many of the snacks you bring home probably weren’t on your list of budgeted-for essentials, but they eat up money regardless. Give your grocery budget a little flexibility by working snacks into it.
      • Subscriptions and memberships. Your gym membership might be meager, but it can become less budget-friendly when combined with other subscriptions and memberships. Eradicate subscriptions and memberships you’re not using, even if they’re only setting you back $10 or $20 a month. Budget, instead, for subscriptions and memberships that you get the most use out of.
      • Fun money. Fun money isn’t for planned entertainment or dining out; it’s for those spur-of-the-moment events that you simply don’t want to miss. Setting aside some cash for fun (as little as $40 a month will do) can add a little wiggle room to your entertainment fund.
      Budgets are to money as maps are to roads -- which is to say, they’re an integral part of helping you see where you’re going. But while you might think...
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      New drug has potential to slow down or reverse development of asthma

      Trials with the drug are currently underway

      The number of people in the U.S. who suffer from asthma has held steady after climbing in recent years. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), about 20 million people, or about 7% of the U.S. population, were affected by it in 2001. That number had increased to 25 million people by 2009.

      Now, researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ) are working with a new drug that has the potential to slow or completely reverse the development of asthma. It is able to achieve this by suppressing a protein called IL-33, which many believe is a root cause of asthmatic symptoms.

      “While IL-33 is well known for causing bronchial inflammation in asthmatics, our research demonstrated for the first time that it also weakens the ability of asthmatics to fend off respiratory viral infections, a common trigger for asthma attacks,” said UQ associate professor Simon Phipps.

      Huge potential

      Originally, researchers at UQ conducted a study that attempted to shed some light on how respiratory viruses and allergens were the driving force behind the development of asthma. When they tested these two factors, they found that they caused the release of IL-33, which made health conditions worse.

      “The excess IL-33 protein was found not only to hinder recovery from the virus but also to promote the development of more severe and persistent symptoms of the disease,” said Dr. Jason Lynch, one of the lead authors of the study.

      With this information, the researchers have begun conducting trials with a drug produced by Pfizer, an international pharmaceutical company. This drug is designed to target IL-33 production to see if asthmatic symptoms can be reduced or eliminated.

      “Our aim is to eventually come up with better treatment therapies that will reverse or slow down the progression of asthma rather than just ease the symptoms,” said Rhiannon Werder, a PhD student at UQ.

      The full study has been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

      The number of people in the U.S. who suffer from asthma has steadily been climbing in recent years. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, a...
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      Here are five retirement destinations that can stretch your savings

      What you pay for a house can make a big difference

      Much of the discussion of retirement revolves around how much money you need to save for a successful retirement.

      That number, of course, is different for everyone for a variety of reasons. One of the overriding factors is the cost of living where you happen to live. In some areas, $50,000 a year would mean barely getting by. In others, it could be a comfortable income.

      In recent years retirees have considered more than climate when thinking about relocating. To stretch dollars, they have also looked at housing costs, taxes, and the ease of getting around.

      Bankrate.com reports smaller cities and suburbs rank highest among retirees as places where they retire. In its latest rankings, it picks Arlington, Va., a Washington, DC suburb as number one, followed by Franklin, Tenn., a Nashville suburb, and West Des Moines, Iowa.

      But Arlington is one of the more costly housing markets in the country, suggesting  that unless you already live there, it would cost a lot to relocate there.

      In fact, relative housing costs are a major consideration of whether retirees decide to move, and if so, where. Someone retiring from a major metropolitan area might sell a home and walk away with several hundred thousand dollars in cash. By moving to a low-cost housing market, he or she could purchase a comfortable home with half the cash and bank the rest.

      The south and Midwest probably offer some of the most affordable housing for someone seeking to relocate in retirement. Here are five you might consider:

      Fishers, Ind.

      Fishers, Ind., is a suburb of Indianapolis. According to Zillow, the median home price in Fishers is $207,000.

      Fishers' proximity to Indianapolis, the state capital, provides plenty of entertainment, education, and cultural amenities. The downside, of course, are those chilly Hoosier winters.

      Tuscaloosa, Ala.

      Tuscaloosa, Ala., is a college town, home to the University of Alabama. A charming, tranquil city, Tuscaloosa housing prices are very affordable.

      According to Zillow, the median home value in Tuscaloosa is $142,900. Interestingly, Zillow reports the median price has declined 1.6% in the last year but is projected to rise nearly 4% in the coming year.

      Cumberland, Md.

      Cumberland, Md., is one of the cheapest housing markets in the country. According to Trulia, the median home value in Cumberland is just $65,000.

      Located in the western part of Maryland, Cumberland is a small city in a picturesque spot and about three hours away from both Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.

      Las Vegas, Nev.

      Las Vegas was one of the hardest hit housing markets after the real estate meltdown. As a result, homes there lost much of their value.

      According to Zillow, the median home price in Las Vegas is $196,000, making it affordable for someone retiring from an expensive housing market. Las Vegas, of course, offers a desert climate and doesn't lack for entertainment.

      Pensacola, Fla.

      Pensacola lies in the Florida Panhandle and is often overlooked by retirees who head farther south. It offers white sandy beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and has a metro population of less than half a million.

      According to Zillow, the median home value in the Pensacola metro is $119,600. Because it's a tourist destination, there are always plenty of activities and amenities.

      Much of the discussion of retirement revolves around how much money you need to save for a successful retirement.That number, of course, is different f...
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      Independence Day weekend could bring some traffic jams

      AAA projects record travel over the holiday weekend

      If you are traveling this Independence Day weekend – and the odds say you will be – you can expect some crowded highways.

      According to the latest projections from AAA, some 43 million Americans will travel over the weekend – a record for July 4th – about five million more than traveled over the Memorial Day weekend.

      Marshall Doney, CEO of AAA, credits historically low gasoline prices for the increase in travel. It also helps that Independence Day this year falls on a Monday, making for a natural three-day weekend.

      Doney estimates U.S. drivers have pocketed about $20 billion in savings on gasoline so far this year compared to the same period in 2015. He expects they are now ready to spend some of it.

      “We are well on our way for 2016 to be a record-breaking year for summertime travel,” he said. “This trend is welcome news for the travel industry and a sign that Americans are taking to our nation’s highways and skies like never before.”

      No jump in prices expected

      Despite the expected increase in gasoline demand, consumers may continue to enjoy soft prices at the pump for a while. Gasbuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan Tweeted over the weekend that the Brexit vote last week has already pushed the wholesale gasoline price down six cents a gallon.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average retail price of self-serve regular started the week at $2.30 a gallon and is likely to be even lower by the weekend. Today's price is down three cents from a week ago and is 47 cents lower than this time last year.

      South Carolina has the nation's lowest average gasoline price, right at $2 a gallon. California has the highest, with prices rising in recent days to an average of $2.90 a gallon.

      Most of this coming weekend's travelers will be on the nation's highways. According to AAA, 84% of travelers will drive to their destinations, a 1.2% increase over last year.

      With lower-than-usual airfares, air travel is projected to rise 2.2% over last year's numbers, with 3.3 million people crowding U.S. airports.

      If you are traveling this Independence Day weekend – and the odds say you will be – you can expect some crowded highways.According to the latest projec...
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      Why homeownership is at its lowest level in decades

      Among entry-level homes, prices are surging and inventory is shrinking

      With home prices rising and inventory shrinking, the homeownership rate in the U.S. has hit its lowest point in nearly 50 years.

      That's the conclusion of the 2016 State of Housing Report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, which found that a lack of first-time homebuyers entering the market is the primary reason for the fall in homeownership.

      In the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, lenders significantly tightened lending standards. At the same time, young people launching careers had difficulty finding jobs, while struggling under student loan debt. Faced with rapidly rising rents, they have had trouble in the intervening years saving up for a down payment.

      As a result, homeownership rates for older, wealthier age groups have risen, but those increases have been more than offset by the decline in first-time buyers.

      “The good news for the owner-occupied housing market is that these constraints should ease as the mortgage market continues to wrestle with the fallout from the housing crash and adapts to a new regulatory environment,” the authors write. “There are already indications from the Federal Reserve’s Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey that credit standards may be loosening, particularly for loans backed by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs). The upturn in real income growth among younger households should also help.”

      Additional headwinds

      But these buyers could well face additional headwinds in finding a house that suits their needs and that they can afford. In its most recent market report, Zillow found the prices of entry level homes have been rising faster than other segments of the market.

      While prices for homes near the top of the market appear to have stabilized this year, the prices of the least-expensive homes continue to grow by about 8% per year.

      It's really a tale of two markets. Consumers shopping for homes in the top price ranges will find more homes to choose from and will be able to negotiate down from the listing price. But first-time buyers, looking at entry level homes in the lowest price ranges, will find fewer properties for sale and will have to compete against other buyers. That could mean having to pay the asking price, or in the case of multiple offers, even more than the asking price.

      “The housing market is much more forgiving for current homeowners looking to move into a bigger, more expensive home,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “These buyers can be a bit more selective, and may even get a good deal."

      But there are still fewer homes for sale in all price categories. The Zillow report shows the smallest decline in inventory among the top third of the housing market. In the bottom third of the market, first-time buyers are facing a nearly 9% drop in available homes.

      With home prices rising and inventory shrinking, the homeownership rate in the U.S. has hit its lowest point in nearly 50 years.That's the conclusion o...
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      Volkswagen recalls model year 2016 Golf R vehicles

      The Federal Certification Label may list an incorrect rear axle weight limit

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 11 model year 2016 Golf R vehicles manufactured March 17, 2016 to March 23, 2016.

      The recalled vehicles may be equipped with a Federal Certification Label that lists an incorrect rear axle weight limit. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, "Certification."

      The listed weight limit is low enough that the vehicle owner may ignore the weight limits and overload the vehicle and exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), thereby increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will install a corrected certification label, free of charge. The recall was expected to begin in June 2016. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 01B5.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 11 model year 2016 Golf R vehicles manufactured March 17, 2016 to March 23, 2016. The recalled vehicles ma...
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      Essential Foods recalls four flavors of Globespun Gourmet wraps

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Essential Foods of Seattle, Wash., is recalling four flavors of Globespun Gourmet wraps.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

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

      The recalled Globespun Gourmet wraps were distributed to grocery outlets and corporate cafeterias in Washington and Oregon to grocery outlets and corporate cafeterias.

      The following products, which come in 8-oz, plastic wrapped, ready to eat form, and were distributed to grocery outlets and corporate cafeterias in Washington and Oregon, are being recalled:

      • Globespun Gourmet Thai UPC#3232800405
      • Globespun Gourmet Coconut Curry UPC#3232800210
      • Globespun Gourmet Tandoori- flavors of India UPC#3232800211
      • Globespun Gourmet Dolma La- Tibetan potato UPC#3232800503

      The products have a date stamp of 06 17, 06 20 and 06 24 on the bottom of the wrap.

      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 1-206-545-4194.

      Essential Foods of Seattle, Wash., is recalling four flavors of Globespun Gourmet wraps. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogen...
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      Kroger expands sunflower products recall

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      The Kroger Co. has expanded its earlier recall of several products containing sunflower seeds that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No customer illnesses have been reported to date.

      The expanded recall includes all code dates of Kroger Sunflower Salad Toppers, Kroger Sunflower Kernels, and Kroger Cranberry Delight Trail Mix:

      ProductUPCSize
      Kroger Salad Toppers Sunflower Kernels00011110021273.5 oz
      Kroger Sunflower Kernels00011110618776 oz.
      Kroger Cranberry Delight Trail Mix000111108986914 oz.

      Stores operating under the following names are included in the recall: Kroger, Jay-C, Dillons, Bakers, Gerbes, King Soopers, City Market, Fry's, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Smith's.

      Products can be found in stores in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

      The expanded recall also includes all code dates of Kroger Broccoli Raisin Salads:

      ProductUPCSize
      Kroger Broccoli Raisin Salad0028715820000All sizes

      Stores operating under the following names are included in this recall: Kroger, Jay-C, Dillons, Bakers, Gerbes, and Food 4 Less (Mid-West only).

      Products can be found in stores in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

      Finally, the expanded recall includes Deli Broccoli Cranberry Salads and Deli Superfood Salads:

      ProductUPCSize
      Deli Broccoli Cranberry Salad
      (Smith’s Stores only)
      0024781640000All sizes
      Superfood Salad
      (Smith’s and Fry’s Stores)
      0025414650000
      0004157311528
      All sizes

      Stores operating under the Fry's and Smith's names in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are included in this recall.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased any of the recalled products should not consume them, but return them to a store for a full refund or replacement.

      Consumers 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. has expanded its earlier recall of several products containing sunflower seeds that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. ...
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      Researchers find a new way to boost memory

      Their recent findings explain just how memories can be formed

      They say that memory is one of the first things to go when you get older, but that saying might be going out the window if the scientific community has its way.

      A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Queensland has investigated how memories are formed. They found that adding a certain class of chemicals, called methyl groups, to RNA could potentially strengthen a person’s memory.

      Improving memory

      The process of adding methyl groups to RNA is called methylation, and it affects how the RNA functions within our cells. Normally, enzymes within cells reduce the level of methyl groups. However, after removing these inhibitive enzymes, the researchers found that memory formation in mice was improved.

      For the purposes of the study, Timothy Bredy, an associate professor at UCI, and his colleagues searched the entire genome of mice to see where methylated RNA could be found in the brain tissue. They found extensive changes to one particular epigenetic mark, called N6-methlyadenosine (m6a), when new memories were created.

      Epigenetic marks, or processes, are what link our genetic activity with the world around us, like when we learn something new.

      Deeper understanding

      The discovery of m6a has allowed the researchers to understand something about memory that they did not know before -- namely, that the formation of memories occurs on multiple genetic levels.

      “Our findings show that memory processing is not just influenced by epigenetic control over our DNA but also occur at the level of RNA, variations in which act like a messenger in our cells,” said Bredy. “m6a shows enormous potential because the process can rapidly fine-tune our gene function and expression, which is often impaired in a variety of neurological disorders.”

      While the discoveries are promising, the researchers admit that there is more work to be done before this new information can be validated. They say that their next step will be to test how memories are formed under various learning conditions, and determine how memory-related disorders and trauma affects this process.

      The full study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

      They say that memory is one of the first things to go when you get older, but that saying might be going out the window if the scientific community has its...
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      Six cool tips for pet parents

      How to beat the heat with your pooch

      Summer isn’t an ideal time to be wearing a fur coat. For this reason, a hot summer day can feel even hotter to a dog.

      Overheating and dehydration are just a few of the health scares that could happen if dogs spend too much time in the sun. But there are a few steps that pet owners can take to prevent pets from suffering.

      Protecting your dog from the heat doesn’t have to mean sitting him on the sidelines. Your dog can join the rest of the family for a day at the beach or park. A few thoughtful considerations, however, can help reduce the risk of your pooch becoming overheated, dehydrated, or sunburned.

      Useful tips for summer

      Will your pup be tagging along on your next summer outing? If so, there a few things you can do to make a hot summer day a little more comfortable for your fur-covered friend.

      • Cold treats. Bring along cold treats -- such as ice cubes, watermelon, or frozen chicken stock cubes -- to help make the heat a little more bearable. If you aren’t sure what to toss into Fido’s special ice cubes, check out these recipes from the pet experts at DogVacay.
      • Sun protection. Ninety-five percent of pet owners don’t put sunscreen on their pets despite the fact that they can get sunburn and skin cancer just like humans. White dogs, hairless dogs, and those with light-colored fur are most susceptible to sunburn, but all pet owners should apply sunscreen to a dog’s nose, ear tips, underbelly, eyelids, and around the mouth. Protective clothing can shield pets’ skin from the sun.
      • Well-timed walks. Walk your dog either earlier in the day or later in the evening when the sun is lower, the ground is cooler, and the air is easier to breathe. You can also protect your pup’s heat-sensitive paws by walking on dirt or grass rather than concrete or asphalt.
      • Haircuts. Getting rid of excess fur can help keep pets cooler, but be sure to do your research before trimming hair too short. In some dogs, layers of fur can help protect them from sunburn and overheating.
      • Take breaks. Frequent water breaks and time-outs in shady spots can help prevent dogs from becoming overheated or dehydrated. Also, limit exercise on especially hot days to keep a pup from overdoing it in the exertion department.
      • Water fun. Time spent romping around in cool water can be the perfect way to beat the heat. Take your dog to a pet-friendly water location, such as a dog beach, or set up a sprinkler or kiddie pool in the backyard.
      Summer isn’t an ideal time to be wearing a fur coat. For this reason, a hot summer day can feel even hotter to a dog. Overheating and dehydration are j...
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      Why home prices keep rising, even though the economy isn't

      Shortage of homes may turn off buyers, Trulia warns

      If you have been shopping for a home in recent months, it's likely you've encountered a puzzling situation. Home prices keep going up, yet you and many of your fellow home shoppers haven't seen much in the way of raises.

      The reason is a continuing decline in inventory of available homes over the last four years. With fewer homes on the market, the competition to buy them is greater. Therefore, sellers are asking for, and getting, higher prices.

      Oddly, this situation has not led to an increase in homebuilding, which has remained fairly static since plunging in the wake of the housing crash. Real estate experts are concerned that this situation, if prolonged, will turn off potential buyers.

      Disappearing buyers

      In fact, real estate marketplace Trulia says there are some markets where this is already happening. It points to Columbia and Charleston, S.C., where buyers are disappearing at a faster rate than homes being removed from the inventory.

      Of particular concern, Trulia says the number of available starter homes for first-time buyers is dropping at double digit rates. That means it is harder for renters to get into the housing market.

      At the high end, Trulia reports the decline in inventory is much slower for premium homes. They may be selling at a slower rate because fewer homeowners are selling their starter homes and moving up.

      Here's a major take-away from the Trulia report: national home inventory at the beginning of the summer is down 6% year-over-year, meaning homeowners will have a harder time finding a home and will have to pay more for it.

      Especially for for first-time buyers

      In the starter home segment, the decline is even more pronounced. The number of these homes with for sale signs in the front yard dropped by more than 12%.

      Trulia estimates someone buying a starter home this summer will need to allocate an additional 1.3% of their income toward their purchase.

      Despite this discouraging outlook, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) had some brighter news this week, reporting a big jump in May home sales. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says, ironically, that it may have been rising prices that are responsbile for the jump.

      With more homeowners realizing they now have more equity in their homes, thanks to rising prices, Yun says more of these homeowners may be finally ready to move up. He says May's numbers suggest that's the case. It will take a few more months to determine if this is a real trend.

      If you have been shopping for a home in recent months, it's likely you've encountered a puzzling situation. Home prices keep going up, yet you and many of ...
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      When does cool become creepy?

      In-store technology can be cool but things like facial recognition get creepy quickly

      Getting a coupon on your phone while browsing in a store is one thing. Having a salesperson stroll up and address you by name is quite another, a new study finds.

      The "Creepy or Cool" study, conducted by RichRelevance, found that shoppers, especially Millennials, expect to use their smartphones as part of the shopping experience, but they get a little creeped out by things like facial recognition. 

      “[T]he study finds that shoppers think it is cool to get digital help finding relevant products and information – on their own terms when they choose to engage,” said Diane Kegley, CMO of RichRelevance. “However, they are creeped out by digital capabilities that identify and track without a clear value offered in return.”

      Among the "cool" features identified by the study were:

      • You can scan a product on your mobile device to see product reviews and recommendations for other items you might like. Overall: 79% cool; Millennials: 84% cool
      • Soon after you leave the store, you receive a digital coupon for a product you looked at but didn’t purchase. Overall: 52% cool; Millennials: 60% cool
      • When you check out, your print or email receipt includes product recommendations selected just for you.Overall: 50% cool; Millennials: 59% cool

      Topping the creepy features:

      •  Facial recognition technology identifies you as a high value shopper and relays this information to a salesperson. Overall: 67% creepy; Millennials: 71% creepy.
      • A salesperson greets you by name on the store floor because your mobile phone or app signals your presence. Overall: 64% creepy; Millennials: 64% creepy.

      Millennials generally had stronger opinions both pro and con and were also the most likely to say they use their phones regularly when shopping in stores.

      The survey of 1,018 US consumers was conducted by RichRelevance in May 2016.

      Getting a coupon on your phone while browsing in a store is one thing. Having a salesperson stroll up and address you by name is quite another, a new study...
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      IIHS considers safety test with focus on passenger protection

      As it stands now, there isn't much

      A new safety test may be in the works at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) -- one that would rate passenger-side protection as part of the small overlap crash test.

      While drivers can expect to be protected well in a front crash involving the left corner of the vehicle, a new study shows that good protection doesn't always extend across the front seat to the passengers sitting next to them.

      The Institute conducted 40 mph passenger-side small overlap tests on seven small SUVs with good driver-side small overlap ratings. Only one -- the 2016 Hyundai Tucson -- performed at a level corresponding to a good rating; the others ran the gamut from poor to acceptable.

      "This is an important aspect of occupant protection that needs more attention," said Becky Mueller, an IIHS senior research engineer and the lead author of the study. "More than 1,600 right-front passengers died in frontal crashes in 2014."

      Thus, the IIHS is considering a passenger-side rating as part of its TOP SAFETY PICK criteria.

      Driver-side only

      IIHS currently conducts its tests for front ratings with a driver dummy and with the barrier overlapping the driver side. The reason is simple: every vehicle on the road has a driver, but there isn't always a passenger riding along.

      "It's not surprising that automakers would focus their initial efforts to improve small overlap protection on the side of the vehicle that we conduct the tests on," said David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer. "In fact, we encouraged them to do that in the short term if it meant they could quickly make driver-side improvements to more vehicles. As time goes by, though, we would hope they ensure similar levels of protection on both sides."

      Protection differences

      The recent passenger-side tests show how big the differences can be. In the group of small SUVs that was tested, most didn't perform as well when they were crashed into a barrier on the right side instead of the left. That was even true of models that appeared symmetrical after removing bumper covers and other external components.

      "When structural improvements are visible only on the driver side, there are large differences in performance," Mueller says. "But the inverse is not true. Some vehicle structures look the same on both sides, but they don't perform the same. That's why we can't rely on visual analysis but need to monitor this issue and possibly begin rating vehicles for passenger-side protection."

      The IIHS passenger-side small overlap testing program could start next year and make it a requirement for one of its safety awards as early as 2018.

      A new safety test may be in the works at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) -- one that would rate passenger-side protection as part of the ...
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      HelloFresh recalls frozen peas

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      HelloFresh of New York, N.Y., is recalling frozen peas that have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses or customer complaints have been reported to date.

      The peas were included in HelloFresh recipe kits delivered the week of June 11-15, 2016 and the weeks of March 12-25, 2016.

      The peas were delivered by a third party delivery service in Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia, as part of the meals "Summer Vegetable Salad with Seared Chicken, Garlic Croutons, and Mustard-Chive Vinaigrette" (June 11-15, 2016), "Lemony Pan-Seared Chicken with Pesto Potato Salad and Peas" (March 12-18, 2016), and "Seared Steak with Spring Veggie Succotash and Mint-Chive Pesto" and "Nir's Lamb-Stuffed Zucchini with Spiced Lentil Stew" (March 19-25, 2016).

      The peas would have arrived in a portion cup inside a kit box labeled with the recipe names described above.

      What to do

      Customers should discard the entire kit box, and not eat any of the ingredients from that recipe. Following the cooking preparation instructions printed on each individual case will effectively reduce the risk of exposure to this bacterium.

      Consumers with questions may call HelloFresh 1-800-733-2414 from 6am to 11pm (EST) Monday through Friday and 6am to 7:30pm (EST) Saturday and Sunday.

      HelloFresh of New York, N.Y., is recalling frozen peas that have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses or cust...
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      Kashi amends date codes on recalled items

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Kashi Company is amending the date codes for Kashi GOLEAN® Honey Pecan Baklava Bars and Bear Naked® Soft Baked Granola, Cinnamon + Sunflower Butter that were recalled earlier.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The updated information affects the following products, sold only in the U.S.:

      • Kashi® GOLEAN® Honey Pecan Baklava Bars, 5-count with UPC Code 18627 10474 – "Best If Used Before"dates of Jul21 16; Aug07 16; Sep13 16; Sep22 16; and Oct20 16
      • Bear Naked® Soft Baked Granola, Cinnamon + Sunflower Butter, 11 oz pouch with UPC Code 84623 10163 – "Best if Used By"dates of Aug 13 2016 to Jan 11 2017

      The date codes can be found on the top of the box of the Honey Pecan Baklava Bars, and at the bottom of the pouch of the Bear Naked Granola.

      What to do

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-877-747-2467, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (ET) or online at https://www.kashi.com/contact-us.

      Kashi Company is amending the date codes for Kashi GOLEAN® Honey Pecan Baklava Bars and Bear Naked® Soft Baked Granola, Cinnamon + Sunflower Butter that we...
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      Crescent Specialty Foods recalls raw pistachios

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

      Crescent Specialty Foods of Everett, Wash., is recalling 6-oz. bags of Crescent Pistachio Raw.

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The product, packaged in a 6-oz. clear, plastic bag with Crescent Nuts & Dried Fruits Pistachio Raw label attached and UPC code 8 95296 00103 5, was distributed to retail stores and on-line stores in Oregon and Washington from October 21, 2015 – May 2, 2016.

      What to do

      Customers should not consume the product, but return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the stores where they purchased the product, or email the company at info@csf1.com.

      Crescent Specialty Foods of Everett, Wash., is recalling 6-oz. bags of Crescent Pistachio Raw. The product may be contaminated with Salmonella....
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      The Land of Nod recalls octopus rattles

      The fabric discs on the tentacles of the octopus rattles can detach

      The Land of Nod of Morton Grove, Ill., is recalling about 550 Octo-rattles.

      The fabric discs on the tentacles of the octopus rattles can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children.

      The firm has received five reports of the rattle’s fabric discs detaching. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves The Land of Nod’s Octo-rattles, sold individually or as part of a gift bag set. The knit fabric rattles are yellow and shaped like an octopus with multi-colored felt discs sewn into the tentacles. The rattles measure about 9 inches tall, 4 inches wide and 3 inches deep and can attach to strollers or activity gyms.

      “The Land of Nod,” “Morton Grove, IL 60053,” “951-3072461,” “Made in India” and SKU number 502882 are printed on a label attached to the underside of the rattle.

      The rattles, manufactured in India, were sold exclusively at The Land of Nod stores nationwide and online from September 2015, through April 2016, for about $30 for the individual rattle and for $150 as part of a gift bag set.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately take the recalled rattles away from children and contact The Land of Nod to receive a full refund.

      Consumers may contact The Land of Nod at 800-933-9904 from 8:30 a. m. to 5 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or online at www.landofnod.com and click on Product Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information.

      The Land of Nod of Morton Grove, Ill., is recalling about 550 Octo-rattles. The fabric discs on the tentacles of the octopus rattles can detach, po...
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      Zupan's Markets recalls Macaroni Salad with Cheddar Cheese

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Zupan's Markets is recalling its Macaroni Salad with Cheddar Cheese which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reported illnesses attributed to the recalled items to date.

      The recalled product, packaged in a 5-lb. net weight plastic bag, with listed item #23070 and the UPC 8 87241 80712 0, was distributed to four Zupan's Markets locations in Portland and Lake Oswego, Ore., between April 9 and June 14, 2016.

      It was sold both in Zupan's Markets service deli salad case, sized to order, and available in prepacked round plastic containers (8, 12 & 16-oz.) in its Grab & Go area. Scale label on the bottom of the product container reads Macaroni Salad with Cheddar Cheese with code 394.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may call Duck Delivery Produce at 503-288-9380 Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT).

      Zupan's Markets is recalling its Macaroni Salad with Cheddar Cheese which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. There have been no repor...
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      $6.3 million going to consumers who bought Kevin Trudeau's book

      The perennial pitchman claimed to reveal health secrets 'they don't want you to know about'

      Unfortunately, many people think that big drug companies and the government know how to cure common illnesses but keep the solution secret to protect drug company profits. That makes them perfect foils for pitchmen with a convincing line of patter.

      One such super-salesman is Kevin Trudeau, currently serving a ten-year prison term for making phony claims about his best-selling book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.” 

      The Federal Trade Commission is now mailing checks totaling about $6.3 million to consumers who bought the book. In 2009, a federal judge ordered Trudeau to repay millions of dollars to consumers after he violated a 2004 FTC stipulated order by misrepresenting the book’s content.

      "For years, Trudeau fought the FTC’s efforts to collect the money he owes consumers, including repeatedly denying that he had any money and hindering efforts to find his money," the FTC said in a statement

      During one court proceeding, he “took the Fifth” hundreds of times rather than answer questions about where his money was. At one point, the judge jailed Trudeau for not cooperating. 

      The court appointed a receiver, who eventually tracked down some of Trudeau's money, which the FTC is now using to partially repay consumers.

      What to do

      Consumers should deposit or cash checks within 60 days of the mailing date. Those who deposit or cash their checks may receive future proceeds if funds become available.

      Do not pay money or give personal information to anyone who says you must pay a fee to receive your refund. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or to provide information before refund checks can be cashed.

      Consumers who receive checks and have questions can contact the FTC’s refund administrator, Analytics, at 844-828-4437. Learn more about this refund program at ftc.gov/trudeau.

      Unfortunately, many people think that big drug companies and the government know how to cure common illnesses but keep the solution secret to protect drug...
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      Why health officials are worried about tainted frozen vegetables

      Vegetables reportedly used as ingredients in 350 other products

      In late April, we reported what, at the time, appeared to be a routine recall: CRF Frozen Foods of Washington state was recalling 15 frozen vegetable items. At the time, it was reported that the items might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      Since then, the vegetables have been strongly suspected of causing a multi-state outbreak of the foodbourne illness, underscoring the inter-connectedness of the U.S. food supply.

      The problem is at least 350 products use the vegetables, which are distributed to retailers in all 50 states and four Canadian provinces. When a tainted product is used as an ingredient in other products, the damage is spread across a wide spectrum of the food chain, complicating things for investigators.

      A few years ago there was another ingredient-driven outbreak linked to contaminated pine nuts that were used in pesto, salads, and baked goods, and another more recently associated with sunflower seeds found in a variety of trail mixes.

      In 2009, peanuts contaminated with Salmonella got into the ingredient chain, contaminating everything from peanut butter to ice cream. It sickened more than 700 people and may have led to at least nine deaths. According to the PEW Charitable Trust, that outbreak led to the Food Safety Modernization Act, giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more authority to protect the food supply.

      Strain first appeared in 2013

      In the current frozen vegetable outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the strain of Listeria has been showing up since 2013, and that it has been working with various states to pin down the source since March, a month before the vegetable recall.

      “Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence available at this time indicates that frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington and sold under various brand names are one likely source of illness in this outbreak,” the CDC said in a recent update. “Investigations are ongoing to determine if food sources used to manufacture CRF Frozen Foods products could explain some of the illnesses.”

      The investigation into contaminated frozen vegetables is still underway, with the food company working with regulators, trying to protect consumers from getting sick. Meanwhile, new prevention-based rules for food-processing facilities – part of the Food Safety Modernization Act – begin to go into effect in September.

      In late April, we reported what, at the time, appeared to be a routine recall: CRF Frozen Foods of Washington state was recalling 15 frozen vegetable items...
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      New home sales take a hit in May

      Still, sales are above where they were a year earlier

      May was a tough month for sales of new single-family houses.

      The Commerce Department reports sales dropped 6.0% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 551,000, following April's surge of 16.6%. Even with the decline though, sales are 8.7% higher than they were in May 2015.

      Prices and supply

      The median sales price of new houses sold in May was $290,400, up $3,000 from a year earlier. The average sales price was $358,900, a year-over-year gain of $18,100. The median is the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less.

      The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of May was 244,000, which works out to a supply of 5.3 months at the current sales rate.

      Regional sales

      May's decline was led by the Northeast, where sales were down 33.3% from the month before. Sales in the West were off 15.6%, while the South saw a dip of 0.9%. The only gain -- 12.9% -- was registered in the Midwest.

      The full report is available on the Commerce Department website.

      May was a tough month for sales of new single-family houses.The Commerce Department reports sales dropped 6.0% last month to a seasonally adjusted annu...
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      House prices creep higher in April

      Jobless claims posted a big decline last week

      The latest report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) shows house prices scored a small advance during April.

      The FHFA's monthly House Price Index (HPI) was up 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis. At the same time, March's previously reported 0.7% increase was revised to reflect an increase of 0.8%.

      On a year-over-year basis. house prices were up 5.9%. Since last October, the national HPI level has surpassed the prior peak reached in March 2007.

      For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes ranged from -0.7% in the Middle Atlantic division to +1.4% in the New England division.

      The 12-month changes were all positive, ranging from +1.7% in the Middle Atlantic division to +8.6% in the Pacific division.

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

      The full report may be found on the FHFA website.

      Initial claims

      First-time applications for state unemployment benefits were down sharply last week.

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims plunged by 18,000 in the week ending June 18, to a seasonally adjusted 259,000. This makes 68 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1973.

      The four-week moving average, which is less volatile and seen as a more accurate gauge of the job market, was down 2,250 from the previous week to 267,000.

      The complete report is available on the DOL website.

      The latest report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) shows house prices scored a small advance during April....
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      G & M Co. recalls beef products

      The products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7

      G & M Co., of Newark, N.J., is recalling approximately 3,586 pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

      The following bulk beef cuts and trimmings items, produced on June 8, 9, and 10, 2016, are being recalled:

      3,586-lbs. - Various box sizes ranging from 30-195 lb. containing plastic wrapped bulk beef cuts and trimmings marked only with plant identifier “M5476.”

      The recalled products bear establishment number “M5476” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and were shipped to retail locations in New Jersey and New York.

      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 regarding the recall may contact Jose Morales at (973) 621-7444.

      G & M Co., of Newark, N.J., is recalling approximately 3,586 pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. There have been...
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      Which credit cards provide the best travel insurance protection?

      According to a study, the Chase Sapphine Preferred comes out on top

      There are many things that can derail a vacation, leading to some hefty expense for those with non-refundable reservations. That's why many consumers choose to purchase travel insurance.

      But a new report from CardHub, a credit card comparison site, finds a handful of credit cards provide pretty good insurance coverage, if used to purchase the trip. They don't cover all contingencies, but some you might not expect.

      The CardHub study found that travel insurance perks by credit card companies can reimburse customers when a trip gets cancelled, when a connecting flight is missed, when damage is lost or delayed, and even in the event of death.

      The coverage varies from card to card, so the study compared 57 personal and 23 business credit cards to evaluate the coverage.

      Nearly 93% of the cards in the study offer travel accident insurance, providing an average of $352,000 in coverage. Chase Sapphire Preferred was judged to be the best, providing $500,000 in coverage.

      43% insure lost luggage

      Almost 43% of cards will compensate travelers when luggage is lost, with an average of $2,500 included in the coverage. The Sapphire Preferred and Citi Prestige Card tied for best, with $3,000 in coverage. They both also pay up to $500 per trip for delayed bags.

      The Chase Sapphire Preferred also wins in the category of best trip delay/cancellation coverage, paying $10,000 per trip. That beats the card average of $3,300, offered by 33% of cards in the study.

      Not surprisingly, the Chase Sapphire Preferred also wins in the category of best overall card for travel insurance.

      Among business credit cards, the Chase Ink Plus swept all categories as the best card to protect business trips. It achieved an overall score of 93%, compared to its nearest competitor, the Chase Ink Cash, at 84%.

      Consumers using these cards do not have to register or sign up to receive the coverage. They simply have to contact their credit card company if they want to file a claim.

      There are many things that can derail a vacation, leading to some hefty expense for those with non-refundable reservations. That's why many consumers choos...
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      Previously-owned homes sell at fastest clip in more than nine years

      Median sales prices were at an all-time high

      You have to go back nearly a decade to find a time when previously-owned owned homes were selling at a faster pace than they did in May.

      According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total existing-home sales -- completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops -- rose 1.8% last month a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million.

      Sales are now up 4.5% from the same period last year and are at their highest level since February 2007.

      May marks the third consecutive month of rising sales. "This spring's sustained period of ultra-low mortgage rates has certainly been a worthy incentive to buy a home, but the primary driver in the increase in sales is more homeowners realizing the equity they've accumulated in recent years and finally deciding to trade-up or downsize," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

      "With first-time buyers still struggling to enter the market, repeat buyers using the proceeds from the sale of their previous home as their down payment are making up the bulk of home purchases right now."

      Prices and inventory

      The median existing-home price for all housing types in May was $239,700, up 4.7% from May 2015, surpassing the peak median sales price of $236,300 set last June. May also marked the 51st consecutive month of year-over-year gains. The median is the point at which half the homes cost more and half cost less.

      Total housing inventory was up 1.4% to 2.15 million existing homes available for sale at the end of May, but is still 5.7% lower than a year ago (2.28 million). That translates to a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace.

      "Existing inventory remains subdued throughout much of the country and continues to lag even last year's deficient amount," noted Yun. "While new home construction has thankfully crept higher so far this year, there's still a glaring need for even more, to help alleviate the supply pressures that are severely limiting choices and pushing prices out of reach for plenty of prospective first-time buyers."

      Sales regionally

      • Existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 4.1% in May to an annual rate of 770,000, and are now 11.6% above a year ago. The median price was $268,600, down 0.1% from May 2015.
      • In the Midwest, sales dropped 6.5% to an annual rate of 1.30 million in May, but are still up 3.2% year-over-year. The median price was up 4.8% to $190,000.
      • The South saw a sales gain of 4.6% to an annual rate of 2.28 million, and are now 6.5% above May of last year. The median price was $211,500, a gain of 5.9% from a year ago.
      • Sales in the West advanced 5.4% to an annual rate of 1.18 million, but are still down 1.7% from May 2015. The median price was $346,900 -- 7.7% above the year before.
      You have to go back nearly a decade to find a time when previously-owned owned homes were selling at a faster pace than they did in May.According to th...
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      Mortgage applications turn higher

      Contract interest rates were mostly lower

      Mortgage applications last week have rebounded from the previous week's decline.

      Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey show applications were up 2.9% for the week ending June 17.

      The Refinance Index shot up 7%, pushing the refinance share of mortgage activity to 57.7% of total applications from 55.3% a week earlier.

      The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 5.7% of total applications, the FHA share dipped to 11.7% from 11.8% the week prior, the VA share was unchanged at 11.1%, and the USDA share of total applications held steady at 0.6%.

      Contract interest rates

      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) fell three basis points -- from 3.79% to 3.76% -- its lowest level since May 2013, with points increasing to 0.33 from 0.32 (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) dropped to its lowest level since January 2011 -- 3.70%, from 3.75% -- with points increasing to 0.28 from 0.26 (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 was unchanged at 3.61%, with points decreasing to 0.24 from 0.27 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs slipped two basis points to 3.04%, with points increasing to 0.36 from 0.34 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs rose to 2.92% from 2.87%, with points decreasing to 0.21 from 0.26 (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 last week have rebounded from the previous week's decline.Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applicatio...
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      Sony recalls VAIO laptop computer battery packs

      The lithium-ion battery packs can overheat

      Sony Electronics of San Diego, Calif., is recalling about 1,700 Panasonic battery packs used in Sony Electronics laptop computers in the U.S. and Canada.

      The lithium-ion battery packs can overheat, posing burn and fire hazards.

      No incidents or injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves Panasonic lithium-ion battery packs installed in 18 models of Sony’s VAIO Series laptop computers. The Panasonic battery packs were also sold separately and installed by Sony as part of repairs.

      Panasonic battery packs included in this recall have model number VGP-BPS26 and part numbers 1-853-237-11 and 1-853-237-21. Panasonic battery pack model and part numbers are printed on the back of the battery pack.

      Recalled model numbers for the Sony VAIO Series laptop computers are:

             Sony VAIO Series laptop computer model numbers

      SVE15132CXW

      SVE1513KCXS

      SVE15134CXP

      SVE1513MCXB

      SVE15134CXS

      SVE1513MCXW

      SVE15134CXW

      SVE1513MPXS

      SVE15135CXW

      SVE1513RCXB

      SVE151390X

      SVE1513RCXS

      SVE1513APXS

      SVE1513RCXW

      SVE1513BCXS

      SVE1513TCXW

      SVE1513JCXW

      SVE171390X

      The battery packs, manufactured in China, were sold at Best Buy, Sony retail stores, other consumer electronic stores nationwide and online at www.store.sony.com and other websites from February 2013, through October 2013, for between $550 and $1,000 as part of Sony VAIO laptops and for about $170 for battery packs sold separately.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled battery packs, power off the laptop, remove the battery and follow instructions to obtain a free replacement. Until a replacement battery pack is received, consumers can use the laptop by plugging in the AC power only.

      Consumers may contact Sony Electronics toll-free at 888-476-6988 from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET) Saturday and Sunday or online at www.sony.com, click on “Support” and then “Support Alerts” for more information.

      Sony Electronics of San Diego, Calif., is recalling about 1,700 Panasonic battery packs used in Sony Electronics laptop computers in the U.S. and Canada....
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      Infiniti Q50s and Q50 Hybrids recalled

      The Direct Adaptive Steering system may malfunction

      Nissan North America is recalling 28,182 model year 2014-2016 Infiniti Q50s manufactured December 26, 2012, to December 11, 2015, and Infiniti Q50 Hybrids manufactured December 10, 2012, to December 17, 2015.

      The Direct Adaptive Steering system may experience an error at vehicle start up altering the steering responsiveness and turning radius.

      If the vehicle does not steer as the driver anticipates, there is an increased the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the Direct Adaptive Steering ECU software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin by August 9, 2016.

      Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-647-7261.

      Nissan North America is recalling 28,182 model year 2014-2016 Infiniti Q50s manufactured December 26, 2012, to December 11, 2015, and Infiniti Q50 Hybrids ...
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      FAA gives commercial drones takeoff clearance

      But the agency failed to implement any privacy restrictions despite protests

      Commercial drones can get ready to line up on the taxiways. The Federal Aviation Administration today released its final rule on drones, cheering business backers but outraging privacy advocates.

      “We are part of a new era in aviation, and the potential for unmanned aircraft will make it safer and easier to do certain jobs, gather information, and deploy disaster relief,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We look forward to working with the aviation community to support innovation, while maintaining our standards as the safest and most complex airspace in the world.”

      The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which had earlier sued the agency, said the FAA had ignored nearly 180 comments submitted during the rulemaking process which addressed the privacy risks posed by commercial drones. 

      "The FAA has repeatedly acknowledged the privacy risks of drone deployment, but has so far refused to adopt any privacy safeguards," EPIC said

      The new rule, which takes effect in late August, offers safety regulations for unmanned aircraft drones weighing less than 55 pounds that are conducting non-hobbyist operations.

      $82 billion

      According to industry backers, the rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said.

      “Unmanned aerial systems have the potential to totally revolutionize our economy and way of life, on a scale similar to that of the invention of the wireless cell phone," Warner said. "We need to be looking at how we can safely integrate drones into American airspace, both right now and for the future, and I applaud the FAA for moving the ball forward today."

      Far from endorsing EPIC's position, Warner said the U.S. lags behind many other countries in adopting drone technology.

      "I encourage the FAA to continue to work with stakeholders and industry to ensure that the United States stays globally competitive in fully embracing the potential of new innovation in unmanned technology,” Warner said.

      Warner has been pushing for a drone test range in the Mid-Atlantic region. 

      Today's rule, however, will not let Amazon drop packages at your door. Although companies will not need to have a licensed pilot to operate drones, they must still maintain a visual line of sight with the drone at all times and can only fly one mission at a time. 

      So don't count out the UPS trucks just yet. 

      Surveillance capabilities

      EPIC filed suit against the FAA after more than 100 groups and experts petitioned the agency to conduct a rulemaking on drone privacy. EPIC also recommended the FAA implement a national database detailing the surveillance capabilities of commercial drones.

      In its earlier filings with the FAA, EPIC argued that drones "are capable of conducting persistent surveillance at a distance, collecting a great deal of detailed and sensitive personal data."

      “With special capabilities and enhanced equipment, drones are able to conduct far more detailed surveillance, obtaining high resolution picture and video, peering inside high level windows, and through solid barriers, such as fences, trees, and even walls,” all without being detected, EPIC said.

      Commercial drones can get ready to line up on the taxiways. The Federal Aviation Administration today released its final rule on drones, cheering business ...
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      New asthma app offers a handheld way to manage symptoms

      AsthmaCare tracks symptoms and triggers, helping to keep kids out of the emergency room

      Hot and humid summer weather can trigger asthma symptoms, which can quickly turn an afternoon on the playground into an evening in the emergency room.

      About every 20 seconds, someone is rushed to an emergency room in the U.S. to be treated for asthma. And half the time, it’s a child.

      Managing asthma effectively is possible, but it requires some level of organization. In addition to remembering to take medications, asthma sufferers must follow a schedule and plan for emergencies.

      Now, a new doctor-developed app called AsthmaCare is helping pediatric patients track and manage their asthma symptoms.

      Sends reminders

      “It's hard for anybody to remember to take medications every day, especially when they're feeling well which is often the case with asthma, so we wanted to create something to help people better self-manage their condition,” said David Stukus, MD in a statement

      Stukus, who developed the app with colleagues at Nationwide Children's Hospital, adds that the app is designed to help children stay on a schedule with their medicines and follow a plan if symptoms occur.

      AsthmaCare can send reminders to take medication, track symptoms in a symptom diary, and even help users stay one step ahead of allergens. 

      Tracks environmental triggers

      The app is also connected to pollen stations via Wi-Fi, which enables it to give users data on allergen levels. It can even notify users of nearby triggers such as dander, dust, and cigarette smoke.

      And while an app isn’t the only way to manage asthma, it seems to have an edge over traditional, written care plans -- especially in the eyes of teens.

      In a study, teens used the easy-to-use app every day. Eighty-one percent of the time, they used it more than once a day.

      The app can also help make life easier for parents. Joyce Kelso, mother of a 3-year-old with asthma, says the app has helped her and her child manage the condition.

      “It’s changed our lives in the fact that my child’s not going to the ER constantly, she’s not having as severe of asthma attacks, and it’s kind of keeping me on top of medicine.”

      The free app is available on iPhone and most Android devices.

      Hot and humid summer weather can trigger asthma symptoms, which can quickly turn an afternoon on the playground into an evening in the emergency room. ...
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      The decline in foreclosures continues

      The foreclosure inventory was down sharply

      Global property information provider CoreLogic reports completed foreclosures across the country fell 15.8% in April -- to 37,000 from 43,000 a year earlier. Since the peak of 117,813 in September 2010, completed foreclosures are down 68.9%.

      In addition, the foreclosure inventory was down 23.4% from April 2015. Completed foreclosures reflect the total number of homes lost to foreclosure, while the foreclosure inventory represents the number of homes at some stage of the foreclosure process.

      Since the financial meltdown began in September 2008, there have been approximately 6.2 million completed foreclosures nationally, and since homeownership rates peaked in the second quarter of 2004, there have been approximately 8.3 million homes lost to foreclosure.

      As of this past April, the national foreclosure inventory included approximately 406,000, or 1.1% percent, of all homes with a mortgage. A year earlier, it was 530,000 homes, or 1.4%. The April 2016 foreclosure inventory rate is the lowest for any month since September 2007.

      Serious deliquencies

      The number of mortgages in serious delinquency -- 90 days or more past due including loans in foreclosure or Real Estate Owned -- dropped 21.6% from April 2015 to April 2016, with 1.1 million mortgages, or 3%, in this category. The April 2016 serious delinquency rate is the lowest since October 2007.

      “The recovery in home prices and improved labor market have contributed to the drop in seriously delinquent rates,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Over the 12 months through April, the CoreLogic Home Price Index for the U.S. rose 6.2 % and the labor market gained 2.6 million jobs. We also found that the seriously delinquent rate fell by about three-quarters of a percentage point.”

      Report highlights

      • On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures rose 0.3% to 37,000 in April. As a basis of comparison, before the decline in the housing market in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006.
      • On a month-over-month basis, the foreclosure inventory was down 3% compared with March 2016.
      • 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 accounted for about 41% of all completed foreclosures nationally.
      • Four states and the District of Columbia had the lowest number of completed foreclosures: The District of Columbia (128), North Dakota (317), West Virginia (482), Alaska (653), and Montana (695).
      • Four states and the District of Columbia had the highest foreclosure inventory rate: New Jersey (3.7%), New York (3.2%), Hawaii (2.2%), the District of Columbia (2.1%), and Florida (2%).
      • The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory rate were Alaska (0.3%), Minnesota (0.3%), Utah (0.4%, Arizona (0.4%), and Colorado (0.4%).
      Global property information provider CoreLogic reports completed foreclosures across the country fell 15.8% in April -- to 37,000 from 43,000 a year earlie...
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      Honey Bunchie recalls Gourmet Honey Bars

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogene

      Honey Bunchie is recalling a limited number of Honey Bunchies Gourmet Honey Bars

      The product contains sunflower kernels that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogene.

      The company says it has received no reports of illnesses.

      The following product, distributed directly to distributors, retailers and online consumers between August 05, 2015, and March 15, 2016, is being recalled:

      Product Name: Honey Bunchies Gourmet Honey Bar

      DescriptionUPC CodeSizeBest By Date
      Individual Bar8 66192 00010 11.9 oz12/27/2015 – 10/28/2016
      Box of 20 Bars8 66192 00011 820 bars, 1.9 oz each12/27/2015 – 10/28/2016

      What to do

      Customers who purchased recalled products are urged not to consume them, but and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at (303) 808-3351 or by email at customercare@honeybunchies.com.

      Honey Bunchie is recalling a limited number of Honey Bunchies Gourmet Honey Bars The product contains sunflower kernels that may be contaminated wi...
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      Asian Jade Customs Brokerage recalls sausage products

      The product did not undergo import inspection

      Asian Jade Customs Brokerage of Springfield Gardens, N.Y., is recalling approximately 762 pounds of imported sausage products that were not presented at the U.S. point of entry for inspection.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

      The following heat-treated, shelf-stable, ready-to-eat dried pork sausage items, imported on June 3, 2016, are being recalled:

      • 5.29-lb. cases containing 4.23-oz. plastic wrapped packages of “SOKOLOW PORK KABANOS/ KABANOSY FRANCUSKLE.”

      The recalled products bear the Polish establishment number PL 30090201 WE, and lists the use by date “18/08/2016” and lot numbers “61391 61411 13,” “61391 61451 29,” or “61391 61411 22” on the back of the package.

      The products were produced between May 18 and 20, 2016, in Poland and shipped to a distributor and retail locations in New Jersey and New York.

      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 about the recall may contact Cathy Chiu Lam of Asian Jade Customs Brokerage at (718) 995-5030.

      Asian Jade Customs Brokerage of Springfield Gardens, N.Y., is recalling approximately 762 pounds of imported sausage products that were not presented at th...
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      Hershey recalls SoFit products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      The Hershey Company is recalling three products sold under the SoFit brand.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reports of illness to date.

      The following products are being recalled:

      • SoFit Protein Plus Sunflower Seeds Sea Salt with the following date codes: 72H, 72J, 79P, 82F, 82G, 82K, 82L
      • SoFit Protein Plus Pumpkin Seeds Sesame Garlic with the following date codes: 73B, 73C, 81P, 81R
      • SoFit Protein Plus Almonds Jalapeno Garlic with the following date codes: 72R, 73A, 79R, 82C, 82D

      What to do

      Customers who purchased any of the recalled products should not consume them, but destroy them.

      Consumers with questions may contact Hershey at 1-800-468-1714 or online at www.askhershey.com.

      The Hershey Company is recalling three products sold under the SoFit brand. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. T...
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      BMW is recalling vehicles with a front driveshaft universal joint issue

      The universal joint could fail, increasing the risk of a crash

      BMW of North America is recalling 21,493 model year 2011 X5 xDrive 35i, xDrive50i, X5 M, X6 xDrive35i, X6 xDrive50i, and X6 M vehicles manufactured April 5, 2010, to November 20, 2010; 2011 X5 xDrive35d diesel vehicles manufactured April 7, 2010, to November 20, 2010; and 2011 X6 Active Hybrid vehicles manufactured April 15, 2010, to November 17, 2010.

      The recalled vehicles have a front driveshaft universal joint that may not seal out water and debris from getting in and damaging the joint, which could lead to its failure.

      If the front universal joint fails, the front wheels would not be driven, affecting vehicle traction. Additionally, continued driving of the vehicle with a broken front universal joint may damage other components. Either condition may increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front driveshaft, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on July 1, 2016.

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

      BMW of North America is recalling 21,493 model year 2011 X5 xDrive 35i, xDrive50i, X5 M, X6 xDrive35i, X6 xDrive50i, and X6 M vehicles manufactured April 5...
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      Consumer groups say payday lending rule should have no loopholes

      Proposed exemptions would continue "business as usual" they charge

      A group of public interest groups, while generally applauding proposed federal rules to rein in payday lending, say the proposed rules should not be watered down.

      After analyzing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) proposed rule to limit payday and car title lending, the groups have issued a detailed critique, saying there are loopholes that would allow some lenders to continue making harmful loans with business as usual.

      The groups include the Center for Responsible Lending, the National Consumer Law Center, U.S. PIRG, and others.

      Common sense principal

      The groups say they are in favor of what they call the CFPB's “common sense principle” that lenders must determine whether a potential borrower has the ability to pay back the loan before agreeing to lend any money.

      The purpose is to make sure that once the loan becomes due in two weeks, the borrower doesn't have to take another loan to pay it back.

      The groups say that significant change would do three things:

      • It will make sure loans are affordable at the outset and do not set borrowers up for failure.
      • It will protect consumers in states without payday lending from industry efforts to roll back important interest rate caps.
      • It will create a level playing field for payday lenders, online lenders, and banks alike.

      Problem with exemptions

      So far, so good the groups say. But they have a problem with some exemptions that have been proposed to this standard. They say those exemptions would allow payday and car title lenders to continue making predatory loans that trap consumers in a a cycle of debt.

      The groups also cite new CFPB data that they say shows borrowers who get payday loans without proving they have the ability to repay default at high rates. In some cases, they say the default rates were as high as 40%.

      “A 40% failure rate for products such as cars, electronics, or others would not be considered safe, and the same is true here,” the groups said in a statement emailed to ConsumerAffairs. “And the default rate is only the tip of the iceberg, leaving out loans that trigger overdraft fees and difficulty meeting other expenses.”

      The groups also worry that exemptions approved by a federal agency would undermine the efforts of several states to crack down on predatory lending. There are 14 states, as well as the District of Columbia, where a cap on interest makes payday lending unprofitable.

      In short, the groups say there would be no exemptions to the “ability to repay” standard in the final rule. The public can comment on the proposed rule before September 14.

      A group of public interest groups, while generally applauding proposed federal rules to rein in payday lending, say the proposed rules should not be watere...
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      Adobe's economic measure differs from the government's

      The Digital Price Index show signs of deflation

      In the same week the U.S. Labor Department released its May Consumer Price Index (CPI), showing a slight rise in prices, Adobe issued its Digital Price Index (DPI) showing prices are continuing to fall.

      Can both be right? They can, because it appears that in this economy there are always some things that cost people more, while some things cost less. Depending on what it is you are buying, you could encounter inflation or deflation.

      Adobe's DPI tracks billions of actual online transactions to gather its data. The government's CPI is based on consumer surveys that are designed to approximate sales in each product category.

      Adobe says its DPI reveals deflation – prices that are going down, not up – in most of the tracked consumer goods. In May, Adobe found prices for appliances, computers, flights, furniture, sporting goods, TVs, and toys went down in price by as little as 2.8% or as much as 19.7%.

      The government's official statistics, the CPI, reported year-over-year deflation between 0.3% and 16.1% for these categories. It also found airfares went up 0.4%.

      Tablet prices are falling

      Consumer electronics prices went down 1.4%, led by a 3.7% price decline for tablets. Sporting goods prices fell by 0.4%. But it you travel a lot, you likely encountered higher prices. Air travel cost 4.1% more in May than in April and hotel rooms cost 0.7% more.

      Adobe looks at other digital data to draw conclusions on other aspects of the economy, and its picture is somewhat different than the one drawn by the government.

      For example, the DPI suggests more people are looking for jobs. It draws that conclusion from counting visits to employment search sites. The latest analysis shows an increase from April to May in those job site visits and points to potentially higher unemployment rates than reported.

      Housing weakness

      It also measures the housing market. By tracking two billion visits to real estate marketplace sites in the last year, the DPI found that online searches for housing purchases and rentals have slowed.

      The DPI also tracks price movements within categories, breaking it down between high priced items and low priced items. In May, Adobe said most consumer categories saw the biggest price declines among lower priced models.

      “This tremendous amount of data reveals further deflation, higher unemployment, and more weakness in the housing market than current reports suggest,” said Adobe VP Mickey Mericle.

      That's not necessarily good news. While consumers like low prices, economists worry that deflation shows a lack of demand in the economy, which can signal the onset of a recession.

      In the same week the U.S. Labor Department released its May Consumer Price Index (CPI), showing a slight rise in prices, Adobe issued its Digital Price Ind...
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      Gas prices headed lower

      The biggest declines are occurring in the Midwest

      Just in time for the official start of summer, gasoline prices are headed lower again. After steadily rising since March, the national average of self-serve regular appears to have peaked.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey reports that the national average price is $2.33 a gallon, down about four cents from a week ago. Prices are falling even faster in parts of the Midwest.

      In fact, the dramatic price declines in Michigan and Ohio may be mostly responsible for pulling the national average price lower. The statewide average price of gasoline in Ohio is down 18 cents in the last seven days. It's 14 cents lower in Michigan.

      And prices in the region may go even lower. Over the weekend, Gasbuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaaan Tweeted advice to motorists not to fill their tanks just yet.

      “ALERT: Motorists in Great Lakes should AVOID filling their tanks completely as #gasprices in MI/IN/OH/WI should fall 10-30c over next 2 wks,” DeHaan wrote.

      In truth, prices in the Midwest had raced far ahead of the national average after there were reports of refinery issues in Michigan. Whatever problems there were got quickly resolved, so supply issues did not materialize.

      However, AAA notes that before they began their dramatic decline, gasoline prices in the Midwest were rivaling averages typically experienced by drivers on the West Coast.

      Oil prices may have peaked, for now

      Also putting downward pressure on prices at the pump is a recent decline in crude oil prices. After nudging past $50 a barrel, oil prices were down about 2% last week.

      Demand has risen steadily and the huge glut of both oil and gasoline has gotten smaller, but supplies are still plentiful and U.S. production, which has been suspended amid falling prices, can quickly resume.

      Gasoline prices are following recent seasonal patterns. After rising at the end of the winter, as refineries perform maintenance and switch over to summer gasoline blends, prices usually begin falling again as the Independence Day holiday approaches. That appears to be what is happening this year as well.

      According to the latest from AAA, the cheapest gasoline in the nation can be found in South Carolina, where the statewide average is $2.03 a gallon. The most expensive fuel is still found in California, where the statewide average is $2.85 a gallon.

      Just in time for the official start of summer, gasoline prices are headed lower again. After steadily rising since March, the national average of self-serv...
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      Great Grains Protein Blend – Honey, Oats & Seeds cereal recalled

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Post Consumer Brands is recalling a limited quantity of its Great Grains Protein Blend – Honey, Oats & Seeds cereal.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date

      The following items, identified by a “Best when used by” code printed on the top of the box, are being recalled:

      • AUG1416
      • NOV1016
      • AUG1516
      • NOV1116
      • AUG1616
      • NOV1216
      • AUG1716
      • FEB1817
      • NOV0916
      • FEB1917

      The recalled products were sold through retail stores nationwide.

      What to do

      Customers should not consume these products, but return them to the place of purchase for a refund, or discarded.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-431-7678, Monday through Friday, 9:00AM – 5:00 PM (ET) or online at www.postconsumerbrands.com/greatgrains

      Post Consumer Brands is recalling a limited quantity of its Great Grains Protein Blend – Honey, Oats & Seeds cereal. The products may be contaminat...
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      Creative Snacks expands recall of sunflower seed products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Creative Snacks of Greensboro, N.C., is expanding its earlier recall of 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:

      Item DescriptionUPCLot NumberBest Before Date
      Creative Snacks Co. Brain Food – 3.5 oz Snack Bag8165120151246496010816
      6487010416
      6457121015
      6640120315
      6634120115
      6604111215
      6584110215
      6516011516
      6564102215
      6531011916
      6535100515
      6523093015
      6520092915
      6601092515
      6563090415
      6555012816
      6515081015
      6569020816
      6504080415
      6576021116
      6504080315
      6500073015
      6598022316
      6454070715
      6467071515
      6483072415
      6487072715
      6625030816
      6641031516
      6659032416
      6680033116
      6698040516
      61316
      61352
      11/3/2016
      10/30/2016
      10/5/2016
      9/28/2016
      9/26/2016
      9/7/2016
      8/28/2016
      11/10/2016
      8/17/2016
      11/14/2016
      7/31/2016
      7/26/2016
      7/25/2016
      7/21/2016
      6/30/2016
      11/23/2016
      6/5/2016
      12/4/2016
      5/30/2016
      12/7/2016
      5/29/2016
      5/25/2016
      12/19/2016
      5/2/2016
      5/10/2016
      5/19/2016
      5/22/2016
      1/2/2017
      1/9/2017
      1/18/2017
      1/25/2017
      1/30/2017
      3/6/2017
      3/10/2017
      Creative Snacks Co. Brain Food – Virgin Air – 3.5 oz Snack Bag8165120151246493010616
      6497010816
      6478122315
      6619111915
      6612111815
      6613111815
      6500011116
      6532012016
      11/1/2016
      11/3/2016
      10/18/2016
      9/14/2016
      9/13/2016
      9/13/2016
      11/6/2016
      11/15/2016
      Creative Snacks Co. Brain Food - 10 lb. Bulk8165120130214632112015
      4554101215
      4403080615
      1362070615
      1404072015
      1441073015
      4403080615
      1473081015
      1614082415
      1642090315
      1664091015
      1706092315
      1752100715
      4554101215
      1797102215
      4632112015
      1911120315
      1987010516
      1072020416
      1098021716
      1180031016
      4870032116
      4895033016
      4910040416
      1285041316
      61331
      The Fresh Market Brain Food – 25 lb bulkn/a1404072015
      1072020416
      1180031016
      1285041316
      1180031016
      1205032216
      1242033116
      1285041316
      61240
      The Fresh Market Brain Food – 9.5 oz cup737094218270306703091611/4/2016
      Creative Snacks Co. Brain Food – 9.5 oz cup8559830020732430010716
      2417122915
      2414122815
      2361121015
      2359120915
      2331120715
      2494112515
      2468111615
      2426102815
      2466011416
      2396102015
      2379101515
      2481012016
      2348100815
      2293092315
      2273091415
      2251090815
      2241090315
      2213082715
      2184081915
      2519012816
      2145080415
      2556021016
      2584021916
      2602022416
      2139073015
      2050070715
      2063071015
      2080071415
      2099072115
      2125072715
      2675030316
      2704031016
      2711031416
      2766032416
      2816040416
      2912041716
      61313
      61247
      9/3/2016
      8/25/2016
      8/24/2016
      8/6/2016
      8/5/2016
      8/3/2016
      7/22/2016
      7/13/2016
      6/24/2016
      9/10/2016
      6/16/2016
      6/11/2016
      9/16/2016
      6/4/2016
      5/20/2016
      5/11/2016
      5/5/2016
      4/30/2016
      4/23/2016
      4/15/2016
      9/24/2016
      3/31/2016
      10/7/2016
      10/16/2016
      10/21/2016
      3/26/2016
      3/3/2016
      3/6/2016
      3/10/2016
      3/17/2016
      3/23/2016
      10/29/2016
      11/5/2016
      11/9/2016
      11/19/2016
      11/30/2016
      12/13/2016
      1/5/2017
      12/29/2016
      Publishers Clearing House – Brain Food – 8 oz bagn/a6525093015
      6475072115
      5/27/2016
      3/17/2016
      The Fresh Market Healthy Snackin' – 25 lb bulkn/a1368070715
      1150080315
      1594081715
      1629090115
      1733100215
      1787102015
      1839110915
      4655120215
      1905120215
      4674120915
      1932120915
      1968121815
      1003011116
      1077020816
      1096021716
      1142022616
      1167030816
      1203032216
      1224032916
      Plentiful Planet Heart Smart Mix – 25 lb bulk0306847102851440073015
      1641090315
      1796102215
      1861111815
      1900120115
      1224032916
      1156030316
      1204032216
      Publishers Clearing House - Heart Smart Mix – 8 oz bagn/a6451070715
      6572021016
      6710041216
      61185
      3/3/2016
      10/7/2016
      12/8/2016
      12/23/2016
      Creative Snacks Co. Heart Smart – 3.5 oz Snack Bags8165120121306453070715
      6470071615
      6481072215
      6514081015
      6535082015
      6553083115
      6576090915
      6588091815
      6519092915
      6522093015
      6555102015
      6576102815
      6607111615
      6628112415
      6486010416
      6511011316
      6530011916
      6552012816
      6587021816
      6620030316
      6627030916
      6640031516
      6656032416
      6673033016
      6697040516
      6733041816
      61313
      61201
      61357
      5/2/2016
      5/11/2016
      5/17/2016
      6/5/2016
      6/15/2016
      6/26/2016
      7/5/2016
      7/14/2016
      7/25/2016
      7/26/2016
      8/15/2016
      8/23/2016
      9/11/2016
      9/19/2016
      10/30/2016
      11/8/2016
      11/14/2016
      11/23/2016
      12/14/2016
      12/28/2016
      1/3/2017
      1/9/2017
      1/18/2017
      1/24/2017
      1/30/2017
      2/12/2017
      3/6/2017
      2/23/2017
      3/10/2017
      Creative Snacks Co. Heart Smart – 9.5 oz cup8559830020662049070715
      2079071415
      2096072115
      2124072715
      2137073015
      2155080615
      2165081015
      2193082415
      2250090815
      2292092315
      2328100115
      2346100815
      2385101615
      2399102115
      2424102815
      2478111915
      2493112515
      2508120115
      2447011216
      2480012016
      2516012816
      2526020316
      2555021016
      2583021916
      2612022616
      2674030316
      2764032416
      2819040516
      2886041516
      61188
      61162
      61242
      61324
      3/3/2016
      3/10/2016
      3/17/2016
      3/23/2016
      3/26/2016
      4/2/2016
      4/6/2016
      4/20/2016
      5/5/2016
      5/20/2016
      5/28/2016
      6/4/2016
      6/12/2016
      6/17/2016
      6/24/2016
      7/16/2016
      7/22/2016
      7/28/2016
      9/8/2016
      9/16/2016
      9/24/2016
      9/30/2016
      10/7/2016
      10/16/2016
      10/23/2016
      10/29/2016
      11/19/2016
      12/1/2016
      12/11/2016
      12/23/2016
      12/21/2016
      12/29/2016
      1/6/2017
      Creative Snacks Co. Heart Smart Mix – 10 lb bulk8165120130144337070915
      1395071615
      1440073015
      1486081215
      4437082815
      1641090315
      1668091515
      1684091715
      1725093015
      4552101215
      1796102215
      1861111815
      1900120115
      1990010616
      1052020116
      1073020516
      1097021716
      1183031416
      4869032116
      4894033016
      61181
      Creative Snacks Co. Roasted, No Salt Sunflower Seeds – 9 oz cup8165120112942741032216
      2818040516
      2855041116
      2884041516
      11/17/2016
      12/1/2016
      12/7/2016
      12/11/2016
      Creative Snacks Co. Roasted, No Salt Sunflower Seeds – 10 lb bulk8165120114234900033116
      Plentiful Planet Roasted, No Salt Sunflower Seeds – 25 lb bulk0774204177944420081715
      4469090915
      4510092515
      4594110415
      4820022416
      4679121015
      4891032916
      4926041116
      Plentiful Planet Roasted, No Salt Sunflower Seeds – 10 lb bulk0774200008804410081015
      4399080315
      4638113015
      4708010716
      4773020916
      4963041916
      61268
      Creative Snacks Co. Sunny Day Splendor – 10 lb bulk8165120146531406072115
      1142073115
      1808102915
      1851111615
      1927120815
      1000011116
      1192031716
      Creative Snacks Co. Sunny Day Splendor – 10 oz cup8165120109832524120415
      2930041916
      7/31/2016
      12/15/2016
      Creative Snacks Co. Hold the Salt! – 10 lb bulk8165120112011296041516
      Creative Snacks Co. Hold the Salt! – 8.5 oz cup8165120110342348120815
      2934041916
      8/4/2016
      12/15/2016
      Creative Snacks Co. Roasted, Salted Sunflower Seeds – 10 lb bulk8165120138924745012616
      4764012816
      4817022416
      4590103015
      4540100615
      4567102315
      4476090915
      4506092515
      4432082715
      4379072915
      4370072415
      4861031816
      4881032916
      4903033116
      4936041316
      Plentiful Planet Roasted, Salted Sunflower Seeds – 10 lb bulk0774200008734797021116
      4774020916
      4797021116
      4834030216
      4683121515
      4634112015
      4595110415
      4639113015
      4680121015
      4709010716
      4564101515
      4539100615
      4511092515
      4378072915
      4411081015
      4419081715
      4470090915
      4399080315
      4340071315
      4367072315
      4869031816
      4927041116
      4964041916
      61268
      Creative Snacks Co. Roasted, Salted Sunflower Seeds – 9 oz cup8165120112182468011916
      2513012816
      2525020316
      2554021016
      2459011416
      2594022316
      2610022616
      2386121715
      2398102115
      2384101615
      2335100615
      2335100615
      2306092815
      2262091115
      2244090715
      2200082515
      2174081315
      2048070715
      2101072215
      2684030716
      2742032216
      2801033116
      2885041516
      2857041216
      61247
      9/15/2016
      9/24/2016
      9/30/2016
      10/7/2016
      9/10/2016
      10/20/2016
      10/23/2016
      8/13/2016
      6/17/2016
      6/12/2016
      6/2/2016
      6/2/2016
      5/25/2016
      5/8/2016
      5/4/2016
      4/21/2016
      4/9/2016
      3/3/2016
      3/18/2016
      11/2/2016
      11/17/2016
      11/26/2016
      12/11/2016
      12/8/2016
      12/29/2016

      Best before dates can be found on bottom lower right corner of rigid containers and the back lower right corner of re-sealable snack bags.

      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 336-668-4151 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (EST).

      Creative Snacks of Greensboro, N.C., is expanding its earlier recall of specific lot codes of bulk and packaged sunflower seed products. The produc...
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      Southeast Toyota Distributors recalls Camry, Highlander, Tundra, Scion FR-S, and tC vehicles

      The vehicles may have an incorrect Load Carrying Capacity Modification Label

      Southeast Toyota Distributors (SET) is recalling 2,520 model year 2016 Toyota Camry and Highlander, 2015-2016 Toyota Tundra, Scion FR-S, and tC vehicles.

      The Load Carrying Capacity Modification Label may not reflect the correct added weight of the installed accessories. As a result, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 110, "Tire Selection and Rims for Passenger Cars."

      An incorrect label may lead an owner to overload the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      SET will notify owners, and provide a corrected label for placement over the inaccurate label, free of charge. The recall will begin on July 14, 2016.

      Owners may contact SET customer service at 1-866-405-4226.

      Southeast Toyota Distributors (SET) is recalling 2,520 model year 2016 Toyota Camry and Highlander, 2015-2016 Toyota Tundra, Scion FR-S, and tC vehicles....
      Read lessRead more

      NoGii recalls Nuts About Berries Paleo Bars

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      NoGii is recalling its Nuts About Berries Paleo Bars.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      The company says it has received no reports of illness to date.

      The recalled product may have been sold as a single 1.4-oz. (42-g) bar UPC # 856513002259 or in a pack of 9 UPC #856513002273 nationwide through retail stores and numerous online websites. The lot number B.B 03APR17 F3 3375 is located on the back side of the package flap above the nutritional facts.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased this product should not eat it, but return it to the store where purchased for an exchange or full refund.

      Consumers may can contact NoGii at 704-995-4541 between 9 am and 5 pm (EST) for by emailing the company at info@nogii.com

      NoGii is recalling its Nuts About Berries Paleo Bars. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes The company says it has ...
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      Chevrolet Sonic, Trax and Spark vehicles recalled

      The seatbelt and ignition warning chime may not function properly

      General Motors is recalling 18,780 model year 2015-2016 Chevrolet Sonic and Trax, and 2013-2015 Spark vehicles equipped with a Bring Your Own Media radio.

      The radios may fail to provide an audible warning chime when the driver fails to fasten the seatbelt or leaves the key in the ignition. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) numbers 208 "Occupant Crash Protection" and 114 "Theft Protection."

      Without audible indicators, the driver may not fasten the seatbelt, increasing the risk of injury during a crash.

      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 45340.

      General Motors is recalling 18,780 model year 2015-2016 Chevrolet Sonic and Trax, and 2013-2015 Spark vehicles equipped with a Bring Your Own Media radio....
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      Bounce USA recalls Apple Cinnamon Protein Punch Energy Balls

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Bounce USA of Bend, Ore., is recalling Bounce Apple Cinnamon Protein Punch Energy Balls (newly named Apple Cinnamon Protein Energy Balls).

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The company says there are no reports of illnesses to date.

      The following products, distributed nationwide through retail stores and on-line through Amazon.com between November 4, 2015, and June 6, 2016, are being recalled:. No other Bounce products are affected:

      • Bounce 1.48 oz. (42g) Apple Cinnamon Protein Punch Energy Balls, Product UPC Codes are 852949003723 (individual packs) and 852949003730 (12-unit boxes)  Best Before Dates 04SEP16 and 12NOV16
      • Bounce 42g Apple Cinnamon Protein Energy Balls Best Before Dates: 23 DEC16, 10 JAN17, 22 FEB17, 31MAR17

      Product UPC codes are 852949003723 (individual packs) and 852949003730 (12-unit boxes).

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but dispose of them.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 855-441-8966 Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm (PST) or by email at feedbackusa@bouncelifestyle.com.

      Bounce USA of Bend, Ore., is recalling Bounce Apple Cinnamon Protein Punch Energy Balls (newly named Apple Cinnamon Protein Energy Balls). The prod...
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      Travel insurance provides some security in a risky world

      Illness, accidents and other emergencies can cost you bigtime if you don't insure properly

      Two weeks before our cruise to Australia and New Zealand, my husband realized we forgot to purchase travel insurance. We had booked through a new travel agent and she had not reminded us. We kept our fingers crossed we would not need to cancel and were relieved to arrive safely in New Zealand.

      On the third day of our cruise, a fellow traveler shared that he was frantically packing to leave the ship. On their way to breakfast that morning his wife missed a step, fell, and broke her hip. She would be in a hospital in Tauranga, New Zealand for at least one week. Belatedly we realized we were not safe; we could have a mishap at any time during the trip and all we had was our medical insurance.

      We were lucky and so was a friend. She purchased travel insurance for the very first time prior to a vacation in India. She got sick; the hotel called a doctor who accompanied her to the hospital for a CT scan which revealed a life-threatening intestinal blockage. The hospital was in such bad condition my friend chose to fly home to seek emergency surgery.

      Her travel insurance paid her medical bills and trip interruption, but would not reimburse the change in airfare. The fine print of the policy stated they would only cover medivac transportation.

      Should you buy travel insurance?

      Travel agents, tour companies, and cruise-line agents all sell insurance and they will suggest it. Travel insurance is a billion-dollar industry and travel agents and other tour companies get a commission for selling policies. Here are some things to consider:

      No matter what you are booking, get a copy of the cancellation policy and read it carefully.  Ask questions, ensuring that you fully understand the restrictions.

      Do you already have insurance? Check to see if your health, auto, or life insurance or homeowner’s policy gives you coverage. Credit cards are another source of protection. Review and document all your actual coverage.

      Evaluate the airfare and the restrictions. Some will allow you to cancel and re-book for a small fee or even refund your miles if you are using your frequent flyer program. If you choose a nonrefundable airfare, accept the risks.  

      If booking a hotel, check to see how far in advance you can cancel and whether there is a penalty.

      When booking a total package, for example -- a guided tour or a river cruise, consider cancellation policies carefully. The trips can be expensive and depending on the cancellation and emergency, you may risk losing a lot of money.

      If purchasing travel insurance, consider building in extra days for departure and return; schedules may change and you want to make sure the coverage is in effect for your total trip.

      How to purchase insurance

      Evaluate all the risk factors when considering travel insurance, including pre-existing conditions. Feel free to get a quote from your travel agent or tour provider and then do some homework.  

      The website www.travel-insurance-review.toptenreviews.com compares travel insurance carriers for you. Another site, InsureMyTrip.com, provides coverage comparisons based on your trip specifics for over 20 major carriers. You can then choose a carrier and speak directly to a sales agent. With information in hand, you are in a position to make an informed decision.

      Traveling these days is loaded with risk. Whether you are willing to forfeit your deposits and payments may well determine whether travel insurance is right for you.

      Two weeks before our cruise to Australia and New Zealand, my husband realized we forgot to purchase travel insurance. We had booked through a new travel ag...
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      Philadelphia votes to tax most sweetened beverages

      Beverage makers say they'll challenge the tax in court

      Philadelphia has become the first major city to impose a tax on beverages, a measure aimed at raising revenue as much as it is at resolving health issues.

      The council voted 13-4 to impose a 1.5 cents per ounce tax on any sweetened beverage, including diet sodas using no-calorie artificial sweeteners, according to Philly.com. That means a diet drink with no calories would be taxed but a container of milk or 50% fruit juice, which contain calories but no added sweetener, would not be taxed.

      The tax also excludes alcoholic beverages, which have their own set of taxes.

      The American Beverage Association fought the proposed ordinance and said it unfairly singles out beverages, including those that don't contain calories.

      “But most importantly, it is against the law, the association said in a statement. “So we will side with the majority of the people of Philadelphia who oppose this tax and take legal action to stop it.”

      $91 million in revenue

      Philadelphia's mayor projects the tax will raise about $91 million per year in revenue, which would be used to fund a number of anti-poverty and education programs. The tax goes into effect January 1.

      The American Beverage Association said it believes it will prevail in court, and in the court of public opinion.

      “The fact remains that these taxes are discriminatory and highly unpopular - not only with Philadelphians, but with all Americans,” the association said. “Similar tax proposals have been rejected 43 times across the country in the past eight years, including twice in Philadelphia.”

      Other cities

      It may not have passed a tax, but the San Francisco City Council passed an ordinance requiring warnings on sugary beverages last month. The warning states that “drinking beverages with added sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”

      Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg famously imposed a ban on the sale of super-size soft drinks in 2012, only to have a judge overturn his edict a year later.

      According to the judge, the regulations were "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences," partly because they would have barred restaurants, food carts, delis, theaters and stadiums from selling sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces while supermarkets and convenience stores would not have been affected.  

      Philadelphia has become the first major city to impose a tax on beverages, a measure aimed at raising revenue as much as it is at resolving health issues....
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      Poor sleep at night leads to worsened moods in teens

      One study shows that restricted sleep can lead to increased feelings of nervousness, sadness, and anger in adolescents

      Parents with teenagers know very well that they can be moody at times, but is that grumpy attitude being caused by lack of sleep? Researchers from the American Academy of Sleep think this might be the case.

      In a new study, the researchers found that adolescents who don’t get enough sleep are more susceptible to sudden changes in mood and energy. Specifically, they say that feelings of sadness and anger, along with low energy and sleepiness, are increased when sleep is restricted.

      Emotional and mental fatigue

      The researchers examined 97 health adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 for the study. Participants were put on two different sleep cycles in a randomized, counterbalanced order. Five nights of this schedule included restricted sleep of 6.5 hours in bed, while the other five nights included extended sleep, or 10 hours in bed. A two-night “wash-out” period was placed in between each sleeping condition.

      Each participant was asked to report on their feelings throughout the study to see what impact sleep had on their mental and emotional state. Specifically, they asked about factors like sadness, anger, nervousness, energy, fatigue, ability to concentrate, and sleepiness each day.

      Of these factors, the researchers found that restricted sleep led to more variability in sadness, anger, and sleepiness compared to periods of extended sleep. They also found that a worsened mood due to restricted sleep had a negative impact on the following night’s sleep.

      Promoting healthy sleep habits

      The researchers believe that these results might explain some of the real problems that adolescents face on a day-to-day basis.

      “These results are important because variability in mood and emotional dysregulation can interfere with social, school, and behavioral functioning, and may contribute to the development of more severe psychopathology,” said Dr. Dean Beebe, senior author of the study.

      “The promising aspect of this finding is that sleep can be modified and by promoting healthy sleep we could potentially prevent the development and/or maintenance of more serious mental health problems for some teens.”

      The study’s abstract has been published in the journal Sleep, but the researchers will be presenting the full study at SLEEP 2016, an annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS).

      Parents with teenagers know very well that they can be moody at times, but is that grumpy attitude being caused by lack of sleep? Researchers from the Amer...
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      Teen summer employment gains on the decline

      May saw a slow start to the traditional hiring season

      Teenagers are finding jobs this summer, but not as many as they used to.

      According to an analysis of the latest government data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, employment among 16- to 19-year-olds increased by 156,000 in May -- a drop of 14% from last year.

      Over the previous five years an average of 1,259,200 teens were added to the workforce between May 1 and July 31. While May typically experiences the smallest hiring gains of the three-month period, this was the slowest start to the summer hiring season since 2011, when just 71,000 teenagers found jobs in May.

      “Low hiring in May does not necessarily portend an overall drop in summer hiring,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “In 2007, just 62,000 teenagers found employment in May, but total job gains for the summer exceeded 1.6 million. However, the general trend in summer employment among teens has been downward and that trend has been going on since the late 1970s,” .

      Challenger said numerous factors have contributed to the decline of teen employment. “Economic downturns certainly played a role in accelerating the trend,” he noted, adding, “it is hardly the only factor. Even the relatively high-flying 1990s saw the number of working teens fall.”

      A worrisome trend

      Since the 1970s, the number of manufacturing and other skilled blue-collar jobs have disappeared, along with other semi-skilled jobs that could be shipped overseas, such as call center jobs. Americans who might have gravitated toward these opportunities were pushed down the ladder into lower-skilled, lower-paying service jobs that were once dominated by teenagers.

      “Teens were basically pushed out of the market,” said Challenger. “They continue to have opportunities in the classic summer job settings, such as summer camps, neighborhood pools, amusement parks, etc. However, the number of these jobs is not really growing. We don’t see a dozen new amusement parks or summer camps start up every year. Meanwhile, restaurants and retail outlets are still hiring teens, but not as many as in the past, because they simply don’t need as many workers to meet seasonal demand.”

      Challenger said there is mounting evidence that teens are not pursuing traditional summer jobs like they used to. “Many are enrolled in summer educational programs. More are volunteering. And, others are pursuing money-making opportunities that fall below the radar of standard employment measures, such as unpaid internships or entrepreneurial ventures.”  

      Teenagers are finding jobs this summer, but not as many as they used to. According to an analysis of the latest government data by outplacement firm Cha...
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      Mortgage rates at three year low

      Despite that, mortgage applications dipped last week

      From a financial standpoint, this is not a bad time to be taking out a mortgage. Home loan rates have fallen once again and haven't been this low in three years.

      Bankrate.com's weekly national survey found the 30-year fixed rate mortgage at an average 3.69%, the lowest point since May 2013.

      The 30-year fixed on a jumbo is even lower – 3.67%. The average 15-year fixed mortgage is now below 3%, at 2.94%. That's lower than the five and seven year ARMs, which are 3.05% and 3.23% respectively.

      Borrowers can thank the bond market for their good fortune. Mortgage rates are keyed to bond yields, and with money from overseas pouring into the U.S. Treasury market lately, bond yields have fallen below 1.6%.

      Uncertainty rattles the markets

      Bankrate attributes falling yields to investor uncertainty over next week's vote in the UK on whether or not to exit the European Union, the so-called Brexit vote. Yields on long-term German government bonds actually fell into negative territory this week and worldwide, there is now more than $10 trillion in debt with a negative yield.

      Thats why so many international investors are moving money into U.S. bonds – the yield may be tiny, but at least they're earning something. The more demand there is for U.S. government bonds, the less interest the Treasury Department has to pay investors.

      Mortgage applications dip

      Despite the near record low mortgage rates, fewer consumers are taking advantage of them. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported this week that applications fell 2.4% from the previous week, which included an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.

      MBA separates refinance from purchase loan applications. In the latest week it found purchase applications fell more than those from current homeowners who are refinancing.

      At the current average 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 3.69 percent, the monthly principal and interest payment for a $200,000 loan is $919.44.

      From a financial standpoint, this is not a bad time to be taking out a mortgage. Home loan rates have fallen once again and haven't been this low in three...
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      New home construction dips in May

      Plans for building in the months ahead edged higher

      A bit of a slowdown last month for the home construction industry.

      The Commerce Department reports ground-breaking for privately-owned housing dipped 0.3% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,164,000. Even with the decline though, the pace of construction is 9.5% ahead of the same month last year.

      Housing starts for single-family homes were up 0.3% from April and 10.1% from a year ago to a rate of 764,000. The rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 396,000, up 1.3% from the month before and 10.0% from May 2015.

      Building permits

      Looking ahead, building permits for privately-owned housing units rose 0.7% from April but plunged 10.1% from the same month the year before to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,138,000.

      Single-family authorizations posted a 2.0% month-over-month decline in May to a rate of 726,000, while permits for units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 381,000 -- up 5.7% from April.

      The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

      A bit of a slowdown last month for the home construction industry.The Commerce Department reports ground-breaking for privately-owned housing dipped 0....
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      Taylors Candy recalls Stuckey’s Sunflower Kernels

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Taylors Candy of Alsip, Ill., is recalling Stuckey’s bags of Sunflower Kernels.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled product comes in a 5.5-oz., peg bag package with a code date of 1 1036 stamped on the front of the bag. It was distributed to retail stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it but and either return it to the place of purchase or discard it.

      Consumers seeking information may contact the company call at 708- 371-6144 between 8 A.M. and 4 P.M. (CST) Monday through Friday or by email at info@taylorscandy.com.

      Taylors Candy of Alsip, Ill., is recalling Stuckey’s bags of Sunflower Kernels. The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. ...
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      Grand Rapids Chair recalls chairs and barstools

      The back leg of the chairs can bend and the seat tabs or screws on the seat can loosen

      Grand Rapids Chair Company of Byron Center, Mich., is recalling about 2,300 Sadie Chairs and barstools.

      The back leg of the chairs can bend and the seat tabs or screws on the seat can loosen. When loose, pinch points between the seat and steel frame are created, posing a risk of injury.

      The firm has received three reports of finger injuries including a finger laceration, bruise and fracture.

      This recall involves Grand Rapids Chair Company Sadie chairs (model 837) and barstools (model 837S). The model number is printed on the underside of the chair, on the care and use instruction label.

      The chairs have a seat height of 18.5” and overall width of 22.5”, and the barstools have a seat height of 30” and overall width of 22.5”. The Sadie chairs have a steel frame of various colors with a wood seat base and seatback. The Sadie barstools have a steel frame of various colors, with a footrest and a wood seat base and seatback.

      The chairs and barstools, manufactured in the U.S., were sold exclusively by Grand Rapids Chair sales representatives and distributors, both directly to end users and in the company’s commercial showrooms in Byron Center, Mich., and Chicago, Ill., from June 2014, through January 2016, for between $150 and $200.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled chairs and barstools and contact Grand Rapids Chair Company to schedule a free repair.

      Consumers may contact Grand Rapids Chair Company toll-free at (866) 453-4748 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at quality@grandrapidschair.com or online at http://grandrapidschair.com/ for more information.

      Grand Rapids Chair Company of Byron Center, Mich., is recalling about 2,300 Sadie Chairs and barstools. The back leg of the chairs can bend and the...
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      Ford recalls model year 2016 Lincoln MKX vehicles

      The child seat tether anchors in the second row center seating position are blocked

      Ford Motor Company is recalling five model year 2016 Lincoln MKX vehicles manufactured September 24, 2015.

      An incorrect seat back trim cover was installed on the affected vehicles, blocking the child seat tether anchors in the second row center seating position. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 225, "Child restraint anchorage systems."

      An improperly anchored child seat can increase the risk of injury in a crash.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the seat back trim cover and tether cover bezel on the second row, 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 16C09.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling five model year 2016 Lincoln MKX vehicles manufactured September 24, 2015. An incorrect seat back trim cover was in...
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      Fed once again keeps interest rates where they are

      Seven years of easy money still hasn't sufficiently stoked the economy

      What are we to take away from the Federal Reserve's unsurprising decision this week not to raise interest rates?

      That seven years of easy money at historically low interest rates has done little to spur economic growth.

      Interest rate hikes are usually initiated to slow inflation, but inflation has barely moved for years. Falling prices have been a greater fear.

      So why did the Fed raise its key interest rate a quarter point back in December and suggest that there could be several more increases this year? That now appears to have been based largely on hope. Policymakers dearly want to “normalize” rates so they will be able to lower them again in case of a financial crisis.

      The very real problem, however, is that raising rates amid economic weakness threatens to make the economy even weaker. In its statement, the Fed said it sees signs of strength as well as things that give it pause.

      Pluses and minuses

      On the plus side, household spending has increased slightly; the housing sector has improved, and exports have made gains. On the minus side, improvement in the job market has slowed; inflation is less than 2%, and low energy prices, while helpful to consumers, have created severe recessionary conditions in parts of the U.S.

      “Against this backdrop, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1/4 to 1/2%, the Fed statement said. “The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting further improvement in labor market conditions and a return to 2% inflation.”

      Brexit worries

      Though the statement didn't mention it, Britain's vote next week on whether to leave the European Union – the so-called Brexit vote – was likely another big concern. Should Britain vote to leave, as current polls suggest it will, it could lead to economic uncertainty in Europe and possibly a recession.

      The Fed left the door open to rate hikes later this year, but made clear it needs to see more evidence of economic strength – notably, improvement in the job market and inflation of at least 2%.

      What are we to take away from the Federal Reserve's unsurprising decision this week not to raise interest rates?That seven years of easy money at histo...
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      For-profit schools' accrediting body may lose federal accreditation

      The agency that accredited defunct Corinthian Colleges ignored warning flags, report finds

      The end may be near for the organization that issues accreditations to for-profit universities. Department of Education staff members who have been investigating the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) have recommended cutting ACICS' federal recognition. 

      “The staff recommendation is to withdraw recognition, which would mean the agency could not remedy its compliance issues,” the staff report said, charging that the ACICS had ignored warning flags at Corinthian Colleges, allowing billions of dollars of federal aid to flow to the now-defunct schools.

      The report follows calls for action from consumer advocates, educators, and state attorneys general, including California's Kamala Harris who earlier this month said the accrediting group's actions hurt thousands of students. 

      "The predatory scheme devised by executives at Corinthian Colleges, Inc. was unconscionable. And despite enforcement actions by the California Department of Justice and the federal government against Corinthian, ACICS continued to accredit Corinthian, hurting thousands of students in the process,” Harris said. “Students relied on Corinthian’s accreditation status, believing they were obtaining a high quality-education with real job prospects."

      The staff report found “extensive and pervasive deficiencies” at ACICS and recommended to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) that it terminate the organization’s federal recognition.

      But the wheels grind slowly in federal agencies, and final action is still likely to be at least 18 months away, a DOE official said. A federal advisory body will discuss the staff report next week and additional reviews will follow.

      What happens to students?

      ACICS currently accredits 243 institutions, most of them for-profit schools. If the Education Department finally denies recognition to ACICS, those schools will be unaccredited and ineligible for federal aid.

      In a blog posting, Matt Lehrich, communications director at DOE, said students at ACICS-accredited schools shouldn't panic.

      "The chain of events that plays out next will take – at minimum – more than 18 months. That means that many of the students who already have started at one of these schools will be able to complete their certificates or degrees before there is a chance of anything changing," Lehrich wrote.

      "Generally speaking, if you’re near the end of your program or you’re preparing to transfer to another college or university, this news probably won’t interrupt your program."

      Lehrich has other advice for students in his blog posting, which you can read here

      The end may be near for the organization that issues accreditations to for-profit universities. Department of Education staff members who have been investi...
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      Volkswagen announces major shift to electric vehicles

      Company plans 30 electric vehicle models within 10 years

      Still coping with the aftermath of its diesel emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen has announced a major shift in direction – away from diesel and gasoline powered vehicles and toward what it calls “sustainable mobility,” another way of saying electric vehicles.

      The company calls the initiative “Together – Strategy 2025.” It has announced plans to introduce more than 30 purely battery-powered electric vehicles over the next 10 years. Eventually, it expects electric vehicles to account for around 25% of its global market.

      VW is projecting electric vehicle sales of two to three million units by 2025.

      While such a major push into electric vehicles would be a major gamble for most automotive companies firmly tied to the internal combustion engine, VW may see it as less risky. It was badly tarnished by revelations that its on-board software on clean diesel models was programmed to fool emissions test equipment.

      Image transformation

      One way to recover and improve its image is to transform VW from a company closely associated with diesel power to one more aligned with battery propulsion.

      Beyond that, VW CEO Matthias Müller said the company is convinced shifting to electric cars will align Volkswagen with the future of automotive technology. In other words, its just good business.

      “This will require us – following the serious setback as a result of the diesel issue – to learn from mistakes made, rectify shortcomings and establish a corporate culture that is open, value-driven and rooted in integrity," Müller said.

      Part of the strategic shift also includes development of a mobility solutions business that will develop and acquire new businesses in transportation. Specifically, that initiative is looking at ride sharing and car sharing.

      Self-driving car by end of the decade

      To achieve goals in that area, Volkswagen said it plans to provide the necessary resources to experiment with autonomous driving and artificial intelligence. The objective to have a competitive self-driving car by the end of the decade.

      While other traditional automotive manufacturers have made investments in electric propulsion, perhaps none has done so to the extent VW has laid out. The Volkswagon program will put it in direct competition with the much smaller Tesla, which has a several year head start and produces only battery powered vehicles.

      Volkswagen, meanwhile, is still trying to put the diesel emissions cheating scandal behind it. In April the company announced it would fix or buy back up to a half million cars involved in the scandal.

      VW has also agreed to establish a fund to address environmental damage caused by the excess emissions emitted by its clean diesel cars.  

      Still coping with the aftermath of its diesel emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen has announced a major shift in direction – away from diesel and gasoli...
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      Builder confidence on the rise again

      The outlook is strong for the second half of 2016

      Builder confidence is rising again after holding steady for the past four months.

      The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which measures confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes, rose two points in June to a level of 60. That's the highest reading since January.

      “Builders in many markets across the nation are reporting higher traffic and more committed buyers at their job sites,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady. “However, our members are also relating ongoing concerns regarding the shortage of buildable lots and labor and noting pockets of softness in scattered markets.”

      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 monthly 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 where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

      All three HMI components posted gains in June. The component gauging current sales conditions rose one point to 64, the index charting sales expectations in the next six months increased five points to 70, and the component measuring buyer traffic climbed three points to 47.

      Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South rose two points to 61 and the West rose one point to 68. The Northeast dropped two points to 39 and the Midwest fell one point to 57.

      “Rising home sales, an improving economy and the fact that the HMI gauge measuring future sales expectations is running at an eight-month high are all positive factors indicating that the housing market should continue to move forward in the second half of 2016,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz

      Builder confidence is rising again after holding steady for the past four months.The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing M...
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      Auldey Toys recalls Sky Rover toys

      The USB charging cords sold with the toy can overheat

      Auldey Toys North America of Quincy, Mass., is recalling about 325,000 Sky Rover toys.

      The USB charging cords sold with the toy can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers.

      The firm has received 35 reports of charging cords overheating. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves yellow USB charging cords sold with Aero Spin and Aero Cruz Sky Rover remote-controlled flying toys. The toy is shaped like ball with two blades on top, wings on the side and measures about 3 ½ inches tall by 5 inches wide. They are operated by a small one-channel remote control unit.

      The following item numbers are included in the recall: YW859110-2, YW859110-3, YW859110-5, YW859110-6 or TTYW859110-5. The item number is printed on a white sticker on the toy’s packaging. They were sold in red, orange and citron green. Only yellow USB charging cords are included in this recall.

      The toys, manufactured in China, were sold at Walmart and other mass merchandisers and independent toy stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com from January 2015, through January 2016, for between $11 and $15.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the USB cords and contact the firm for instructions on obtaining a free replacement charge cord.

      Consumers may contact Auldey Toys toll-free at 844-303-8936 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at aeroproducts@auldey.us or online at http://www.AuldeyToys.us and click on “Safety Recall” at the bottom of the page banner for more information.

      Auldey Toys North America of Quincy, Mass., is recalling about 325,000 Sky Rover toys. The USB charging cords sold with the toy can overheat, posin...
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      Rucker's Makin' Batch Candies recalls Dollywood Cajun Mix

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Rucker’s Makin’ Batch Candies Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling specific batches of Dollywood Cajun Mix.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled product is packaged in 9-oz. clear bag with Dollywood Theme Park label, and the UPC code 4900005033302. The packages with best by codes ranging from January 23 – November 11, 2016 were distributed at Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

      What to do

      Customers should not consume this product.

      Consumers who wish to receive a refund or 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 Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling specific batches of Dollywood Cajun Mix. The product may be contaminated with Listeria...
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      Credit scores: what you don't know could hurt you

      Difference in car insurance rate just one area where a bad score can hurt

      First, the good news. Most consumers understand the basics of credit scores and how they work.

      An annual survey by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) shows about 80% of Americans know that credit scores are important and are a major factor in whether people get a mortgage or a credit card.

      But the survey also reveals some significant knowledge gaps. For one thing, consumers very often underestimate the cost of having a low credit score. Just 22% of respondents knew that a low score could increase the cost of a 60 month auto loan of $20,000 by up to $5,000.

      More than half were unaware that credit scores are also used by businesses and organizations that are not in the business of extending credit. Businesses like insurance companies.

      Effect on car insurance rates

      In an independent study, the personal finance site WalletHub found that consumers with absolutely no credit rating paid 53% more on average for car insurance than someone with an excellent credit score. In some states the rate spread was as high as 122%.

      The study found that Farmers Insurance relies on credit scores the most in setting auto insurance rates. Geico relies the least on credit data.

      WalletHub said it obtained quotes for two hypothetical consumers who were identical, expect for credit score. One had no credit score while the other possessed an excellent credit profile.

      While it is important for a consumer with a poor credit history to know which companies place the most importance on credit scores, WalletHub said that information is more accessible from some companies more than others. It found Travelers to be the most transparent about its use of credit information when setting rates. It said State Farm is the least transparent.

      Other uses of credit scores

      In addition to insurance rates, CFA says credit scores are often used by utility companies to determine whether a new customer is required to place a deposit for service. Cellphone providers and landlords also consider credit information when evaluating a potential customer or tenant.

      Here are some other key facts about credit scores:

      • Credit scores are negatively affected by missed or late payments
      • Carrying a balance that approaches your credit card's limit will reduce your credit score
      • Cancelling a credit card will lower your credit score
      • Paying every bill on time, every time is the fastest way to raise a credit score
      • Paying off your credit card balance each month helps raise your credit score

      “The good news is that consumers understand the basics of credit scores, such as the importance of making loan payments on time,” said Stephen Brobeck, CFA’s executive director. “The bad news is that this knowledge is limited and, each year, can cost them hundreds of dollars in fees on services and additional interest on consumer loans.”  

      First, the good news. Most consumers understand the basics of credit scores and how they work.An annual survey by the Consumer Federation of America (C...
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      Wholesale inflation up for a second straight month

      Energy prices led the advance

      The cost of living one step shy of the retail level rose in May for the second straight month.

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand jumped 0.4% last month on top of April's increase of 0.2%. For the 12 months ended in May, the PPI is down 0.1%.

      Over 60% of the May advance is due to an increase of 0.7% in prices for final demand goods. The cost of final demand services inched up 0.2%.

      The cost of goods and services

      A large chunk of the increase in good prices came from the cost of energy, which surged 2.8%, thanks to a 6.6% jump in the cost of gasoline. Prices for diesel fuel, iron and steel scrap, fresh and dry vegetables, jet fuel, and oilseeds were higher as well. The cost of beef and veal fell 5.2%, and prices for electric power and for carpets and rugs also decreased.

      The rise in prices for services was due largely to the 3.6% rise in the cost for machinery and equipment wholesaling. Apparel, jewelry, footwear, and accessories retailing; inpatient care; residential property brokerage fees and commissions; flooring and floor coverings retailing; and legal services costs also increased. Prices for loan services (partial) declined 3.0%, and the costs for food retailing and airline passenger services also moved lower.

      Core inflation

      Prices for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services – the “core rate” of inflation -- dipped 0.1% in May, but it is up 0.8% for the 12 months last month.

      The complete report is available on the DOL website.

      The cost of living one step shy of the retail level rose in May for the second straight month.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports the Producer Price ...
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      Mortgage applications head downward

      Contract interest rates were uniformly lower

      Mortgage applications moved lower in the week that included an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.

      According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, applications dropped 2.4% for the week ending June 10.

      The Refinance Index was down 1%, although the refinance share of mortgage activity rose to 55.3% of total applications from 53.8% the week before. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 5.3% of total applications.

      The FHA share of total applications fell to 11.8% from 13.0% the prior week, the VA share slipped to 11.1% from 11.5%, and the USDA share of total applications was down to 0.6% from 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 four basis points -- from 3.83% to 3.79% -- its lowest level since January 2015, with points decreasing to 0.32 from 0.33 (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) dropped to its lowest level since last month -- to 3.75%, from 3.81% -- with points increasing to 0.26 from 0.25 (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 plunged 10 basis points to 3.61%, its lowest level since May 2013, with points increasing to 0.27 from 0.23 (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 to 3.06%, its lowest level since May 2016, from 3.11%, with points decreasing to 0.34 from 0.35 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased nine basis points to 2.87% -- its lowest level since May 2015 -- with points decreasing to 0.26 from 0.29 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

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

      Mortgage applications moved lower in the week that included an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s ...
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      Hy-Vee recalls salad topping and trail mix products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Hy-Vee, Inc. of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling one of its salad toppings and additional trail mix products across its eight-state region.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      Mo illnesses have been reported to date in connection with these products.

      The following products are being recalled:

      • Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping — sold in 6.75 oz. containers with the UPC number 7545004755 and with the following lot codes: 232A5B; 238A5B; 239A5C; 279A5C; 327A5B; 327A5C; 041A6C; 042A6B; and 111A6B.
      • Hy-Vee Trail Mix Bars — sold in 12-pack boxes with the UPC number 7545008401 and with “best by” dates between April 23, 2016, and Oct. 30, 2016
      • Hy-Vee Peanut Almond Dark Chocolate Protein Bars — sold in 8-pack boxes with the UPC number 7545010885 and with “best by” dates between April 2, 2016, and Nov. 21, 2016
      • Hy-Vee Caramel Cashew Honey Crunch Trail Mix — sold in 24 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450040586 and with “best by” dates between July 10, 2016, and April 22, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Dark Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix — sold in 24 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450041354 and with “best by” dates between Aug. 5, 2016, and March 14, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Dark Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix — sold in 8 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450041378 and with “best by” dates between Oct. 4, 2016, and April 11, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Raisin and Nut Trail Mix — sold in 9 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450040746 and with “best by” dates between Aug. 10, 2016, and March 14, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Raisin and Nut Trail Mix — sold in 26 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450016802 and with “best by” dates between April 26, 2016, and March 18, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Santa Fe Trail Mix — sold in 26 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450016826 and with a “best by” date of Feb. 16, 2017

      What to do

      Customers who purchased any of these 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 representatives 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-772-4098.

      Hy-Vee, Inc. of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling one of its salad toppings and additional trail mix products across its eight-state region. The ...
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      Subaru recalls model year 2003-2004 vehicles with airbag inflator issue

      The inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation

      Subaru of America is recalling 88,131 model year 2003-2004 Legacy, Outback, and Baja vehicles originally sold or that have ever been registered in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or "Zone C."

      These vehicles may be equipped with certain air bag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules, and used as original equipment or replacement equipment. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the front airbags, 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

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

      Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-856-488-8500. Subaru's number for this recall is TKC-16. 

      Subaru of America is recalling 88,131 model year 2003-2004 Legacy, Outback, and Baja vehicles originally sold or that have ever been registered in Alaska, ...
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      Hyundai recalls model year 2016 Tucsons

      The secondary hood latch may not adequately secure the hood to prevent it from opening

      Hyundai Motor Company is recalling 81,000 model year 2016 Tucsons manufactured May 19, 2015 to March 14, 2016.

      If the primary hood latch has been released, and the vehicle is driven, the secondary hood latch may not hold adequately secure the hood to prevent it from opening while the vehicle is in motion.

      If the primary hood latch is inadvertently released and the secondary latch cannot secure the hood, the hood may unexpectedly open while driving, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will replace the secondary hood latch, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 15, 2016.

      Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-855-371-9460. Hyundai's number for this recall is 145.

      Hyundai Motor Company is recalling 81,000 model year 2016 Tucsons manufactured May 19, 2015 to March 14, 2016. If the primary hood latch has been r...
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      Publix recalls nut, seed and raisin mix

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Publix Super Markets is recalling nut, seed and raisin mix that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reported cases of illness.

      The containers of prepackaged nut, seed and raisin mix were sold at Publix retail produce departments in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina with a UPC of 000-41415-08886, 002-25143-00000, 004-00002-10396, and include all date lots.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products may return them to their local store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company's consumer relations department at 1-800-242-1227 or online at www.publix.com.  

      Publix Super Markets is recalling nut, seed and raisin mix that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes. There have been no reported cases o...
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      Mazda recalls vehicles with airbag inflator issue

      The inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation

      Mazda North America Operations is recalling 236,280 vehicles in two zones.

      The first is “Zone A” and includes model year 2009-2011 Mazda6, 2007-2011 CX-7 and CX-9 vehicles, originally sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

      Additionally, unless included in "Zone A" above, Mazda is recalling model year 2007-2008 CX-7 and CX-9 vehicles, originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

      These vehicles are equipped with certain airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules, and used as original equipment or replacement equipment. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the front airbags, 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

      Mazda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger frontal air bag inflator, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 15, 2016.

      Owners may contact Mazda customer service at 1-800-222-5500. Mazda's number for this recall is 9516E.

      Mazda North America Operations is recalling 236,280 vehicles in two zones. The first is “Zone A” and includes model year 2009-2011 Mazda6, 2007-201...
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      Atkins Nutritionals recalls numerous bar products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Atkins Nutritionals is recalling limited lot codes of certain bar products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reports of illness associated with the consumption of these products.

      The following products are being recalled:

      Item NumberCarton UPC NumberProductLot CodeBest By Date
      505687637480055062Day Break 5pk Cranberry Almond BarK527029/27/2016
      K527129/28/2016
      K527229/29/2016
      K5292410/19/2016
      K5293410/20/2016
      K5294410/21/2016
      K5343212/9/2016
      K5344212/10/2016
      K5345212/11/2016
      K605622/25/2017
      K608823/28/2017
      K608923/29/2017
      K609023/30/2017
      K611624/25/2017
      K611724/26/2017
      205900637480025904Meal 5pk Strawberry Almond BarK5310211/6/2016
      K5313211/9/2016
      205925637480059251Meal 5pk Cinnamon Bun BarK5348412/14/2016
      305400637480035408Snack 5pk Triple Chocolate BarK611824/27/2017
      406659637480046060Meal 6pk Chocolate Chip Granola Bar BONUSK5315211/11/2016
      K5316211/12/2016
      K5317211/13/2016
      205600637480025669Meal 5pk Blueberry Greek YogurtK5294410/21/2016
      K5295410/22/2016
      K5314211/10/2016
      K609023/30/2017
      K609123/31/2017
      K609224/1/2017
      505320637480055321Day Break 5pk Chocolate Hazelnut BarK5296410/23/2016
      K5350412/16/2016
      K5351412/17/2016
      K5352412/18/2016
      305211637480035057Snack 5pk Caramel Double Chocolate Crunch BarK5349412/15/2016
      K5350412/16/2016
      205850637480025850Snack 5pk Cashew Trail Mix BarK5352412/18/2016
      505221637480055024Day Break 5pk Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp BarK527329/30/2016
      K5274210/1/2016
      K611924/29/2017
      K612024/30/2017
      205700
      *Target Corporation Only
      637480022774Meal 5pk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel BarK612335/2/2017

      What to do

      Consumers should destroy the recalled products and contact Atkins Nutritionals e at 855-201-4611 or by email atkins@inmar.com Monday through Friday during the hours of 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. EST to request a coupon towards a free replacement product.  

      Atkins Nutritionals is recalling limited lot codes of certain bar products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. There have been no...
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      BMW recalls vehicles with child restraint seats anchor issue

      Child restraint seats may not be anchored properly

      BMW of North America is recalling 188,668 model year 2011-2017, X3 sDrive28i, X3 xDrive28i and X3 xDrive35i, vehicles manufactured July 2, 2010 to April 14, 2016; 2015-2017 X3 xDrive28d vehicles manufactured March 10, 2014 to March 31, 2016; and 2015-2017 x4 xDrive28i, X4 xDrive35i and X4 xDriveM40i vehicles manufactured March3, 2014 to April 15, 2016.

      The affected vehicles have lower anchor bars for securing child restraint seats that may become damaged when using the European-ISOFIX-type, rigid-style connector, child restraint system.

      Damaged lower anchor bars may increase the child's risk of injury in the event of a crash.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will weld a reinforcing bracket to the lower anchor bars and the vehicle body, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on July 12, 2016.

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

      BMW of North America is recalling 188,668 model year 2011-2017, X3 sDrive28i, X3 xDrive28i and X3 xDrive35i, vehicles manufactured July 2, 2010 to April 14...
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      Credit or debit? When to choose one or the other

      There are pros and cons to both

      Many consumers carry both a debit card and one or more credit cards. They are both plastic and they both can be used to make purchases.

      But when should you use one but not the other? Some might use them interchangeably, but they shouldn't.

      First, an important distinction: a debit card debits money directly from a bank account. It's similar to writing a check. The money for the purchase comes out of the account almost immediately.

      When using a credit card, you are actually borrowing the money from a bank to make the purchase. You don't withdraw the money from your bank account to pay for the purchase until the monthly credit card bill arrives.

      Free use of money

      If you pay the entire balance that's due, it has cost you nothing to borrow the money. For that reason, credit card companies often refer to customers who pay their bill in full each month as “deadbeats.”

      The credit card companies hope you'll accumulate a balance, since they can then charge interest. And credit card interest, outside of loan sharks and payday lenders, is about the highest there is.

      The danger of accumulating a large credit card balance is the primary reason to avoid using a credit card. Using a debit card is a pay-as-you-go system, and for that reason many people prefer it.

      But by exercising strict discipline, and paying the balance in full each month, there are financial benefits to using a credit card instead of a debit card. However, it requires having a credit card that offers a generous cash back or rewards system. We've profiled some of these kinds of cards here and here.

      The important thing, of course, is to make sure you can pay for everything you've charged when the bill arrives. Otherwise, interest charges will eat away at any rewards.

      At the same time, some bank accounts will offer depositors rewards and incentives for using debit cards to make purchases. These incentives may include interest on the money in the account and reimbursement of ATM fees, but they require that you make a certain number of debit card purchases each billing cycle.

      In the end, a consumer needs to carefully analyze which set of rewards makes the most sense.

      Security issue

      That said, the issue of security should always remain a consideration. With a fraudulent credit card purchase, the consumer's liability is limited to $50 or less, if the fraud is promptly reported.

      But if a criminal gets access to your debit card information, he can clean out your bank account. While some banks have fraud protection, not all do.

      For that reason, consumers should be careful where they use a debit card. A good rule of thumb is to never let a debit card out of your sight. If the waiter is taking your check and payment from the table, best to use a credit card.

      Purchasing gas at a pump with an odd-looking card reader, better not to use a debit card, since card “skimmers” have become a more common threat.

      Many consumers carry both a debit card and one or more credit cards. They are both plastic and they both can be used to make purchases.But when should...
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      Caffeine can't make up for continued lack of sleep

      Researchers find that the benefits of caffeine only last for two days after repeated loss of sleep

      Most everyone knows how important sleep is to infants and children, but there are still many adults out there who only get a few hours of sleep per night. While these same people might reach for coffee in the morning to counteract a poor night’s sleep, a new study shows that caffeine can only help so much.

      In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers found that caffeine was only able to help improve alertness and performance in adults for two consecutive days before lack of sleep took over.

      Temporary benefits

      The researchers utilized 48 individuals who were restricted to five hours of sleep per 24-hour period over the course of five days. Participants were split into two groups for the study – one group received 200 mg of caffeine twice daily while the other received a placebo.

      Over the five-day period, all participants also took part in a range of tests to measure their alertness and overall cognitive performance. The researchers found that while the group receiving caffeine did better on these tests over the first two days of the trial period, the lack of sleep eventually caught up with them and their scores suffered over the final three days.

      “We were particularly surprised that the performance advantage conferred by the two daily 200 mg doses of caffeine was lost after three nights of sleep restriction,” said Dr. Tracy Jill Doty, lead author of the study.

      Prioritizing sleep

      The results indicate that caffeine may not suffice if a person is repeatedly not getting enough sleep at night. For consumers who need to stay alert during their waking hours, which pretty much includes everyone for one reason or another, this could mean prioritizing sleep in the future.

      “These results are important, because caffeine is a stimulant widely used to counteract performance decline following periods of restricted sleep. The data from this study suggests that the same effective daily dose of caffeine is not sufficient to prevent performance decline over multiple days or restricted sleep,” said Doty.

      The abstract for this study has been published in the journal Sleep, but the research team plans to present their full findings on June 14 at SLEEP 2016, an annual meeting of members of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS).

      Most everyone knows how important sleep is to infants and children, but there are still many adults out there who only get a few hours of sleep per night. ...
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      Millennial dads are more involved than dads of older generations, research shows

      Studies show that an involved dad can be good for kids' health

      Today’s fathers seem to be taking on a bigger role in the household. More dads than ever are handling the child care, tackling the grocery runs, and taking on the role of stay-at-home dad.

      According to a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. dads are more involved in child care than ever, which could be a boon for kids’ health.

      Studies have found that an involved dad can make all the difference. In fact, older kids with involved fathers tend to have fewer behavioral problems, symptoms of depression, and lower rates of teen pregnancy.

      So how are dads of this generation stepping up to the plate when it comes to household responsibilities and caring for kids?

      “Bro-cery shopping”

      Millennial dads are spending more time in the grocery aisles compared to previous generations. In fact, a new survey by Ibotta finds that today's dads have increased the number of grocery purchases by 62% since 2013.

      Younger fathers (ages 18 to 24) are purchasing 25% more groceries than dads in older generations. The numbers also show that men are making more trips to the grocery store each month (up 5% since 2013).

      And it seems as though dads’ upped grocery game is taking some of the burden off of mom; the share of groceries purchased by millennial mothers has decreased by nearly 2.5% in the same time span.

      Increase in stay-at-home dads

      Today, there are roughly two million dads who do not work outside the home, according to Pew Research. While this number represents only 7% of fathers in the U.S., it’s an increase from 1989 when just 4% of dads stayed home.

      Pew researchers note that the reasons more dads are staying home are changing, too. In 2012, nearly a quarter of dads said caring for home or family was their main reason for staying home -- four times as many as in 1989.

      But not everyone is on board with these changes. A majority (62%) of those surveyed say an ideal marriage is one in which the husband and wife both have jobs and both take care of the house and children. However, 74% also say that having women in the workplace makes it more difficult for parents to raise children.

      Today’s fathers seem to be taking on a bigger role in the household. More dads than ever are handling the child care, tackling the grocery runs, and taking...
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      Apple unveils system upgrades at developers conference

      In new operating system, Siri is being assigned more tasks

      It was show and tell day for Apple, as the company previewed the latest wrinkles in iOS 10 for developers attending the annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.

      In years past, the WWDC witnessed the dramatic unveiling of new products like the iPod and iPhone. This year, the emphasis was on system enhancements to existing hardware.

      Apple says it has made major upgrades to Messages, redesigned a number of apps, and expands what Siri can do.

      “iOS 10 is our biggest release ever, with delightful new ways to express yourself in Messages, a native app for Home automation, and beautifully redesigned apps for Music, Maps, and News that are more intuitive and more powerful, making everything you love about your iPhone and iPad even better,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.

      More jobs for Siri

      In iOS 10, Apple has extended Siri into new areas to work with existing apps. For example, developers will now be able to use Siri to interact with apps using just voice commands. New areas of interaction include photo search, ride booking, personal payments, and workouts.

      The Maps app in iOS 10 has also gotten a makeover. Apps like OpenTable will be able to book reservations into Maps, and ride-sharing apps can be accessed through Maps as well.

      Apple says Maps has even been upgraded with intelligence to figure out where you might want to go next, based on the appointments in your calendar and where you have gone in the past – a feature some might find a little creepy.

      Siri has also been given new capabilities to help you watch TV. Teamed with Apple TV, users will be able to use Siri to search for video content by topic or theme. Later this month Siri will start searching YouTube for specific types of content.

      Siri and Apple TV

      “The future of TV is apps, and Siri on Apple TV has changed the way we interact with our television and these expanded features will continue to deliver viewers what they want to watch even faster,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “There are over 6,000 apps to enjoy on your Apple TV including over 1,300 video channels, which are even more fun to watch with the new Siri features combined with single sign-on.”

      Apple also announced upgrades for Apple Watch, the company's offering in the increasingly crowded wearable tech field. It said WatchOS 3 will be able to instantly launch favorite apps and will have enhanced health and fitness capabilities.

      Among the new Apple Watch apps is Breathe, which will encourage users to take periodic breaks throughout the day for breathing exercises.

      It was show and tell day for Apple, as the company previewed the latest wrinkles in iOS 10 for developers attending the annual World Wide Developers Confer...
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      Retail sales up again in May

      It's the second gain in a row

      Consumers continued to spend in May, sending retail sales up for a second consecutive month.

      The Census Bureau reports sales were up 0.5% last month totaling $455.6 billion. That's a gain of 2.4% from the same month a year ago.

      May's month-over-month advance was led by sales at gas stations (+2.1%), nonstore retailers and sporting goods (+1.3%), hobby, book, & music stores (+1.3%), and food services and drinking places (+0.8%). On a year-over-year basis, sales soared at nonstore retailers (+12.2) and health & personal care stores (+8.3).

      Last month's losers include building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers, with a sales decline of 1.8% from April, and miscellaneous store retailers, where sales were down 1.2%.

      The complete May retail sales report is available on the Census Bureau website.

      Consumers continued to spend in May, sending retail sales up for a second consecutive month.The Census Bureau reports sales were up 0.5% last month tot...
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      Honda recalls motorcycles with airbag inflator issue

      The inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation

      The American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 2,701 motorcycles in two zones.

      The first is “Zone A” and includes model year 2006-2010 Honda GL1800 (Gold Wing) motorcycles manufactured February 8, 2006, to May 14, 2009, originally sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

      Unless included in "Zone A" above, Honda is recalling model year 2006-2008 Honda GL 1800 (Gold Wing) motorcycles manufactured May 10, 2007, to May 14, 2009, originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

      Motorcycles not originally sold or ever registered in either Zones A or B are not subject to this safety recall.

      These motorcycles are equipped with an air bag inflator assembled as part of the air bag module, used as original equipment or replacement equipment. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the air bag, 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 rider resulting in serious injury or death.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the air bag module containing the inflator, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-866-784-1870. Honda's number for this recall is KA8.

      The American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 2,701 motorcycles in two zones. The first is “Zone A” and includes model year 2006-2010 Honda GL1800 (Gol...
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      Butterfield Foods recalls broccoli salad kit products

      The products may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Butterfield Foods of Noblesville, Ind., is recalling approximately 15,966 pounds of broccoli salad dressing products

      The products may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The the following items, produced between November 10, 2015, and May 25, 2016, are being recalled:

      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 11/10/2015, bearing lot number 5314129,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 11/17/2015, bearing lot number 5321221,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 11/25/2015, bearing lot number 5328328,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 12/8/2015, bearing lot number 5342116,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 12/15/2015, bearing lot number 534921
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 12/23/2015, bearing lot number 5356297,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 12/31/2015, bearing lot number 5363410,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 2/2/2016, bearing lot number 6033071,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 2/9/2016, bearing lot number 6040142,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 2/16/2016, bearing lot number 6047305,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 2/25/2016, bearing lot number 6054450,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 3/2/2016, bearing lot number 6061048,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 3/9/2016, bearing lot number 6068141,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 3/16/2016, bearing lot number 6075273,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 3/30/2016, bearing lot number 6089507,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 4/12/2016, bearing lot number 6103161,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 4/19/2016, bearing lot number 6110244,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 4/26/2016, bearing lot number 6117342,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 5/5/2016, bearing lot number 6124070,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 5/12/2016, bearing lot number 6131130,
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 5/18/2016, bearing lot number 6138250
      • 6-lb. cases containing two 3-lb packages of product labeled “Butterfield Foods Custom Food Production Broccoli Salad Kit” with a packaging date of 5/25/2016, bearing lot number 6145367.

      The recalled products bear establishment number EST. 6945 inside the USDA mark of inspection and sell-by dates from December 10, 2015, through June 23, 2016. They were shipped to retail locations in Indiana and Ohio and used to make prepared salad products further distributed to consumers at grocery delicatessens.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased prepared salad products containing the recalled product from grocery delicatessens should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase. If you are unsure whether or not the recalled product was used in your prepared salads, consult store management.

      Consumers with questions may contact Keith Fields at (317) 776-4775, extension 27.

      Butterfield Foods of Noblesville, Ind., is recalling approximately 15,966 pounds of broccoli salad dressing products The products may be adulterate...
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      Walgreens ends relationship with Theranos

      Drug retailer concerned about ongoing government investigations into testing firm

      Walgreens has dropped the curtain on its alliance with Theranos, a Silicon Valley start-up company that once promised to be a major disruptor in the medical lab business.

      The drug store chain said it is closing down operations at all 40 Theranos Wellness Centers at its Walgreen stores in Arizona, effective immediately. In January, Walgreens stopped Theranos laboratory testing services at its Palo Alto, Calif., location.

      Theranos developed a blood test device it named Edison. It uses a few drops of blood from a finger stick to run a number of blood panels, instead of drawing vials of blood from the patient.

      Wall Street darling

      The company was a Wall Street darling until last year, when The Wall Street Journal published articles questioning the accuracy of Edison's results. It wasn't long before the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors launched investigations.

      “In light of the voiding of a number of test results, and as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has rejected Theranos’ plan of correction and considers sanctions, we have carefully considered our relationship with Theranos and believe it is in our customers’ best interests to terminate our partnership,” said Brad Fluegel, Walgreens Senior Vice President and Chief Health Care Commercial Market Development Officer.

      Walgreens officials say they told Theranos at the beginning of the year it must stop sending clinical laboratory tests provided through its Wellness Centers at Walgreens to its lab in Newark, Calif., because the lab is under review by CMS.

      Disappointed

      In a statement, Theranos spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said the company is working closely with government officials to make sure it complies with and exceeds all regulations.

      “We are disappointed that Walgreens has chosen to terminate our relationship and remain fully committed to our mission to provide patients access to affordable health information and look forward to continuing to serve customers in Arizona and California through our independent retail locations,” she said.

      Meanwhile, the drama surrounding Theranos' rapid rise and sudden problems apparently is headed to the screen. According to Venture Beat, Hollywood is making a movie about Theranos, with Jennifer Lawrence in the role of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.

      Walgreens has dropped the curtain on its alliance with Theranos, a Silicon Valley start-up company that once promised to be a major disruptor in the medica...
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      Brown & Haley expands recall of Mountain Thins “Trail Mix”

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Brown & Haley of Tacoma, Wash., is expanding its earlier recall to include one additional lot of Mountain Thins “Trail Mix” flavor.

      The product contains sunflower seeds that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following product, distributed to select retail stores nationwide between March 4, 2016, and April 25, 2016, is being recalled:

      Product NameSizeUPC CodeLot CodeBest By Date
      Mountain Thins
      “Trail Mix” flavor
      5.3 oz. 
      stand-up film pouch (resealable)
      0 41770 33370 7O03O61003MAR17 (3/3/2017)

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but take it back to the store where purchased for a refund, or simply discard it.

      Consumers seeking information may contact the company at 1-800-426-8400 ext. 3085, Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM (PT) or by email at sweets@brown-haley.com.

      Brown & Haley of Tacoma, Wash., is expanding its earlier recall to include one additional lot of Mountain Thins “Trail Mix” flavor. The product con...
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      Police can now strip the money right off your card

      Civil asset forfeiture takes a big leap forward, thanks to technology

      Carrying a lot of cash is dangerous. Criminals may take it and so may the cops, who increasingly view having a lot of cash as evidence of wrongdoing. But now, police have added a new twist -- they've started using a scanner that lets them swipe the money right off prepaid cards.  

      The device is called an ERAD -- Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and Oklahoma's state police began using 16 of them last month. Hundreds of other police departments around the country are also using the device but haven't fessed up to it. 

      It's all pretty simple. If a state trooper or other police officer suspects you are tied to some type of crime, he can scan your prepaid cards and seize the money on them. No formal charges, no trial, no due process.

      It's an extension of a long-standing practice of shaking down anyone police think is suspicious. All too often, as the Washington Post demonstrated in a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation a few years ago, all you need to do to look suspicious is have a lot of money.

      "Different factors"

      The police, of course, say the process is completely straightforward.

      "We're gonna look for different factors in the way that you're acting,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. John Vincent said, according to a Washington Post report. “We're gonna look for if there's a difference in your story. If there's some way that we can prove that you're falsifying information to us about your business."

      Of course, when Lt. Vincent says police will "prove" you're falsifying information it doesn't mean they'll prove it in court, where you can confront the witnesses and challenge the evidence. And that's what has critics upset.

      State Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) said he will introduce legislation in the next session of the state legislature that will require a conviction in a court of law before anyone's assets are seized.

      "If I had to err on the side of one side versus the other, I would err on the side of the Constitution,” Loveless said. “And I think that's what we need to do."

      Loveless said there have been too many documented cases of abuse in Oklahoma to allow police to continue treating citizens as criminals without benefit of trial.

      "We've seen single mom's stuff be taken, a cancer survivor his drugs taken, we saw a Christian band being taken. We've seen innocent people's stuff being taken. We've seen where the money goes and how it's been misspent," Loveless told a local television station.

      Where it goes

      As for what happens to the money seized with ERAD, 7.7% of it goes to the ERAD Group, a Texas-based company. The rest? Oklahoma Watch, an investigative journalism organization, says records show that in one recent year, 70% of all forfeiture amounts were used to fund salaries for law enforcement. 

      Oklahoma law currently allows police and prosecutors to keep the money they take from citizens, even those who are never convicted or indicted, so those victimized by modern-day highway robbers basically have no recourse.

      The Post's series caused a stir when it was published, but progress in cleaning up the practice has been slow. New Mexico, Montana and New Hampshire recently passed laws requiring a conviction before property can be forfeited, although the Post says New Mexico police routinely ignore the law.

      The ERAD devices, by the way, can strip money off prepaid cards, but they can also decipher quite a bit of information from the magnetic strips on credit and debit cards, information police could conceivably use to track down and swipe additional assets.

      ERAD claims its devices are an invaluable tool in fighting money laundering. 

      "Each year, there are about $120 billion dollars moved to Mexico, Iran, Colombia, China as well as others as a result of illicit activity in the US," ERAD says on its website. "Prepaid debit cards are becoming the preferred process to move funds for pick up in these countries."

      No right to privacy

      ERAD CEO T. Jack Williams claimed recently at a conference that American citizens have no right to privacy when it comes to magnetic encoding on their cards, Oklahoma Watch reported.

      “Prepaid cards are cash, they are not bank accounts,” Williams said. He claimed that prepaid cards are not protected by the Bank Secrecy Act and are not protected by the Constitution's Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

      Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma, says that's debatable and predicted Oklahoma's Department of Public Safety will find itself facing legal challenges to warrantless search and seizures using ERAD.

      The situation is not unique to Oklahoma. The ERAD devices are in use around the country by "hundreds" of police agencies, Williams said, although he refused to give an exact number or name any of the police departments using the devices. 

      Carrying a lot of cash is dangerous. Criminals may take it and so may the cops, who increasingly view having a lot of cash ...
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      PetSmart partners with 'The Secret Life of Pets' for new ad campaign

      Two new TV spots will show animated pets shopping solo at PetSmart

      Universal Pictures’ “The Secret Life of Pets,” a comedy about the lives our pets lead when we’re not home, is poised for big success at the box office this summer. And PetSmart is getting in on the hype.

      On June 13, the pet product chain will begin airing two 30-second animated commercials that will tell the story of what happens when pets visit a PetSmart store without human supervision.

      During the two-month long marketing campaign, the chain will also be the exclusive seller of “The Secret Life of Pets” products, which will include toys, pet apparel, custom packaging, and discounts on doggy day camp sessions.

      The campaign is the result of a collaboration with Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures. And just like the upcoming film, it is an effort to speak to pet owners’ desire to see their pets humanized.

      Pets as people

      Last year, Americans spent more than $60 billion on pets and pet products, according to the American Pet Products Association. That number is expected to be even higher this year.

      Customers' willingness to spend more on their pets could be due to the growing trend of treating pets as people, experts say.

      "The humanization of pets is a tremendous trend and much of what we do is based on that," Eran Cohen, chief customer experience officer at PetSmart, told Ad Age.

      Indeed, more retailers are jumping in on the pets-as-children trend by embellishing grooming menus and expanding day care options. PetSmart's "Secret Life of Pets" deal will also be aligned with the trend.

      “Our exclusive partnership with PetSmart is a critical component of our strategy to engage more directly with consumers whose pets are an enormous part of their families,” said Jamie Stevens, executive vice president of global retail development for NBCUniversal Brand Development Group in a statement. “We are excited to collaborate with PetSmart to expand our reach and bring The Secret Life of Pets to life.”

      Universal Pictures’ “The Secret Life of Pets,” a comedy about the lives our pets lead when we’re not home, is poised for big success at the box office this...
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      Some contrarian advice on retirement saving

      Financial adviser disputes appeal of tax-deferred accounts

      There is a lot of worry among financial planners about Americans' lack of retirement saving.

      The advice is usually straightforward: take advantage of tax-deferred savings accounts, especially if your employer will contribute to it.

      No one is suggesting you shouldn't be socking money away for retirement, but writing in Kiplinger, Michael Reese, with Centennial Wealth Advisory, makes a case against deferring taxes on retirement savings.

      With a traditional IRA or employer-sponsored 401(k) account, contributions to the account are tax deductible. So are any capital gains or income the account produces.

      However, at age 70 and a half, the account holder must begin withdrawing the funds and paying taxes on the money as ordinary income. If the account holder dies before the funds are withdrawn, his or her heirs must withdraw all the money and pay taxes on it.

      Pay now, not later

      Reese argues savers would be better off socking the money away in a regular investment account, forgoing any tax deduction and then paying taxes on any gains or income at the end of each year.

      “Think about it this way,” he writes. “Let’s say you are saving $18,000 per year in your 401(k) or 403(b). You are deferring income tax on $18,000 each year you deposit the money. But when you retire, you may have built up an account worth $1 or $2 million. That is $1 or $2 million that has never been taxed! And you, or your heirs, will pay tax on every penny of it.”

      Reece says you might have avoided paying some tax on the seed, but you will owe quite a bit on the harvest.

      Conventional wisdom

      The conventional thinking about tax deferred retirement accounts stems from the idea that people will be in a higher tax bracket during their working years and in a lower bracket during retirement, so the tax bite won't be as big when they withdraw the funds.

      Reece says that isn't usually the case. Retirees have not lowered their living standard after their working years, and if they've saved and invested wisely, they haven't lowered their income.

      If your employer will contribute to your IRA, Reece says you should take advantage of it, but only contribute the minimum. Don't make it your primary source of retirement savings.

      A Roth IRA might be an attractive option. Contributions are not tax deductible, so withdrawals aren't taxed.

      The important thing is that you are putting money away for retirement. How you do it is something you should discuss with your accountant or financial adviser.

      There is a lot of worry among financial planners about Americans' lack of retirement saving.The advice is usually straightforward: take advantage of ta...
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      ACH Food Companies recalls of salad toppings

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      ACH Food Companies of Memphis, Tenn., is recalling Durkee® Salad Topping, Food Club® branded Salad Topping and Hy-Vee® Garden Style Salad Topping.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The company says it has received no reports of illness to date.

      The Durkee® Salad Topping and the Food Club Salad Topping can be identified by the “Best By” date and the Hy-Vee product can be identified by its lot code -- information is printed in black ink on the bottom of the plastic product container.

      The following products are being recalled:

      DESCRIPTIONUPC CODESIZEBEST BY
      Durkee Salad Topping47600091366.75 ozJUL 20 17
      Durkee Salad Topping47600091366.75 ozJUL 21 17
      Durkee Salad Topping47600091366.75 ozAUG 18 17
      Durkee Salad Topping47600091366.75 ozAUG 19 17
      Durkee Salad Topping47600091366.75 ozOCT 05 17
      Durkee Salad Topping47600091366.75 ozNOV 17 17
      Durkee Salad Topping47600091366.75 ozNOV 22 17
      Durkee Salad Topping47600091366.75 ozFEB 09 18
      DESCRIPTIONUPC CODESIZEBEST BY
      Food Club Salad Topping36800173226.75 ozJUL 21 17
      Food Club Salad Topping36800173226.75 ozOCT 05 17
      Food Club Salad Topping36800173226.75 ozNOV 17 17
      Food Club Salad Topping36800173226.75 ozAPR 20 18
      DESCRIPTIONUPC CODESIZELOT CODE
      Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping75450047556.75 oz232A5 B
      Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping75450047556.75 oz238A5 B
      Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping75450047556.75 oz239A5 C
      Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping75450047556.75 oz279A5 C
      Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping75450047556.75 oz327A5 B
      Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping75450047556.75 oz327A5 C
      Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping75450047556.75 oz041A6 C
      Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping75450047556.75 oz042A6 B
      Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping75450047556.75 oz111A6 B

      The products were sold in retail stores throughout the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but discard them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may ACH at 1-800-328-6013 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (CST) Monday through Friday.

      ACH Food Companies of Memphis, Tenn., is recalling Durkee® Salad Topping, Food Club® branded Salad Topping and Hy-Vee® Garden Style Salad Topping. ...
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      Far East Brokers recalls children’s chairs and swings

      The screen-printing on the fabric of the chairs and swings contains excessive levels of lead

      Far East Brokers and Consultants of Jacksonville, Fla., is recalling about 6,000 children's chairs and swings.

      The screen-printing on the fabric of the chairs and swings contains excessive levels of lead, which is a violation of the federal lead paint standard.

      No incidents or injuries are reported.

      This recall involves Leisure Ways® pink butterfly themed children’s camp chairs, moon chairs, and swings. The chair and swings have a metal frame with large red butterfly images and other colorful images on the pink polyester fabric.

      “Distributed by: Far East Brokers and Consultants, Inc.” and “Tracking # November/2015” are printed on the tracking label sewn into the seat of each chair.

      The chairs and swings, manufactured in China, were sold at Weis Markets, wholesale distributors, grocery and drug stores nationwide from January 2016, through April 2016, for between $10 and $50.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled chairs and swings, take them away from children and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers may contact Far East Brokers toll-free at 888-753-9040 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or online at www.fareastbrokers.com and click on “Product Recalls” at the right of the page for more information.

      Far East Brokers and Consultants of Jacksonville, Fla., is recalling about 6,000 children's chairs and swings. The screen-printing on the fabric of...
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      Another recall expansion from Hickory Harvest

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Hickory Harvest Foods is again expanding its recall of products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The additional products were packaged at, or distributed from Hickory Harvest between June 22, 2015, and May 31, 2016, and were shipped to Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Sought Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

      The following items, sold in packaged bags and deli tubs and marked with Best By Dates located on the front or back of the packages, are being added to the recall:

      Product DescriptionSizeUPCBest By Date
      Hickory Harvest Sweet and Salty Trail Mix4.5oz.0-36232-06075-5010216
      042916
      050516
      052716
      071416
      071516
      080416
      101516
      111616
      Hickory Harvest Foods Roasted and Salted Sunflower Kernels5 oz.0-36232-07704-6030316
      040916
      042316
      043016
      052716
      071216
      080316
      081316
      101216
      Hickory Harvest Foods Roasted and Salted Sunflower Kernels10oz.0-36232-07703-9013016
      030906
      030916
      031016
      032516
      035216
      042216
      042916
      050416
      053116
      060216
      062216
      062316
      062516
      070816
      081216
      081816
      092816
      101916
      122516
      122816
      Hickory Harvest Foods Roasted and Salted Sunflower Kernels11 oz.0-36232-07702-2011117
      012916
      031816
      053116
      061816
      081816
      081916
      102716
      Hickory Harvest Roasted Salted Sunflower Kernel Car Cup7 oz.0-36232-07716-9102816
      110116
      111616
      111716
      Heinens Roasted Salted Sunflower Kernel10 oz.0-36232-07703-9022516
      030916
      032416
      032516
      032916
      041416
      052416
      052516
      052916
      070816
      081816
      101916
      122816
      Heinens Roasted NoSalt Sunflower Kernel10oz.0-36232-07707-7020416
      021316
      022116
      032415
      032416
      052516
      062416
      070816
      081816
      100816
      101416
      Hickory Harvest Roasted NoSalt Sunflower Kernel10oz.0-36232-07707-7022116
      030916
      032116
      032416
      032516
      042616
      042916
      060216
      061516
      070816
      071916
      091416
      101416
      IM Good Roasted Salted Sunflower Kernel1.6oz.7-93724-80218-9022617
      050316
      061116
      070716
      071716
      080716
      081316
      082716
      110816
      Amish Farms Roasted Salted Sunflower Kernel5.5oz.8-55993-20018-6070916
      081216
      100716
      112516
      Raylicious Roasted Salted Sunflower Kernel1.5oz.8-55291-00192-8041417
      041517
      041617
      070216
      081416
      110816
      121216
      Liberty Roasted Salted Sunflower Kernel3oz.6-08819-35672-3011517
      021217
      030817
      030917
      041617
      071616
      071716
      081316
      091116
      102916
      120516
      120715
      Sheetz Roasted Salted Sunflower Kernel3.5oz.7-59465-00784-9012617
      012717
      030117
      031917
      061816
      070916
      071316
      083116
      091516
      101416
      110316
      110516
      112016
      120116
      121816
      Superior Brokerage Roasted Salted Sunflower Kernel Car Cup7 oz.8-10222-02129-1Pack Date:
      16046
      16048
      16049
      16075
      Superior Brokerage Roasted Salted Sunflower Kernels9oz.8-10222-02022-5Pack Date:
      15224
      15237
      15243
      15272
      15280
      15285
      15313
      15314
      15324
      Superior Brokerage No Salt Sunflower Kernels9oz.8-10222-02140-6Pack Date:
      15246
      15265
      15281
      15295
      15315
      15317
      15320
      15322

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but take them back to the store where purchased for a refund, or simply discard them.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-877-237-4374 Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm (ET) or by email at askus2@hickoryharvest.com.

      Hickory Harvest Foods is again expanding its recall of products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been report...
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      Kwik Tek recalls sleds

      The front handle bar assembly can break

      Kwik Tek of Denver, Colo., is recalling about 4,200 Hammerhead sleds.

      The front handle bar assembly can break, posing a crash hazard.

      No incidents or injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves Hammerhead sleds, which were sold in blue, green, orange and yellow. The front handle bars have a steering system with polycarbonate skis. The rear HDPE skis are attached to the main aluminum frame.

      The units measure 23 inches wide by 9 inches high by 51 inches deep and weigh about 10 pounds. “Hammerhead Pro” is written on the top of the sled.

      The sleds, manufactured in China, were sold at LL Bean, Yukon Charlie’s nationwide and online at Amazon.com, EMS.com, LLBean.com, SharperImage.com and YukonCharlies.com from June 2014, to June 2016, for about $180.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled sleds and contact Kwik Tek for a free replacement front end.

      Consumers may contact Kwik Tek at 800-624-1297 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT Monday through Friday or online at yukoncharlies.com and click on “Warranty” in the upper right-hand corner for more information.  

      Kwik Tek of Denver, Colo., is recalling about 4,200 Hammerhead sleds. The front handle bar assembly can break, posing a crash hazard. No in...
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      Southeast Toyota Distributors recalls vehicles with seat heater wiring issue

      The wiring in the seat heaters may be damaged when the seat cushion is compressed.

      Southeast Toyota Distributors (SET) is recalling 7,749 2005-2011 4Runner, Highlander, Sequoia, and Sienna, 2005-2010 Avalon and Tundra; 2006-2008 Camry Solara, 2006-2011 Rav4 and Tacoma; 2007-2010 FJ Cruiser; 2009-2010 Venza; 2010-2012 Prius; 1988-1990 and 2005-2010 Camry; and 1989 and 2009-2010 Corolla vehicles equipped with aftermarket accessory seat heaters with a copper strand heating element.

      The electrical wiring in the seat heaters may be damaged when the seat cushion is compressed. If damaged, the copper strand heating element may short circuit, increasing the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      SET will notify owners, and dealers will disconnect the seat heaters, free of charge, and refund the purchase price of the seat heater accessory. The recall is expected to begin on July 14, 2016.

      Owners may contact SET customer service at 1-866-405-4226. SET number for this recall is SET16B.

      Southeast Toyota Distributors (SET) is recalling 7,749 2005-2011 4Runner, Highlander, Sequoia, and Sienna, 2005-2010 Avalon and Tundra; 2006-2008 Camry Sol...
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      Quaker Oats expands recall of Quinoa Granola Bars

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      The Quaker Oats Company has expanded its earlier recall of all Quaker® Quinoa Granola Bars..

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The decision to expand the recall comes as a result of further sunflower kernel contamination found by ingredient supplier SunOpta.

      The the following products, distributed nationwide, are being recalled:

      • 6.1-oz. boxes of Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars Chocolate Nut Medley with UPC code 30000 32241 and Best Before Dates before 11/15/16.
      • 6.1-oz. boxes of Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars Yogurt, Fruit & Nut with UPC 30000 32243 and Best Before Dates before 11/15/16.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may call 800-856-5781, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (EST), or find more information at www.quakeroats.com.

      The Quaker Oats Company has expanded its earlier recall of all Quaker® Quinoa Granola Bars.. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocyt...
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      Best credit cards for rental car coverage

      Nearly all cards provide some coverage, but there can be plenty of exclusions

      Your credit card can get you more than cash back on purchases and points toward perks. Most provide some basic rental car insurance. Some coverage is better than others.

      But to make it pay, a cardholder first needs to know it exists, and then what it covers. Progressive Insurance has found that about 20% of rental car customers always pay for the damage waiver, with another 20% doing so occasionally. But since all rental car payments are made with credit cards, it is very likely most of those purchases are unnecessary.

      The credit card review site CardHub has analyzed credit cards, choosing the ones that provide the most coverage for rental cars. Among individual cards, it found the cards issued by CitiGroup provide the most extensive rental car coverage.

      Citi cards achieved a score of 95.5%, with American Express' 89.5% being the closest competitor. Chase cards are third, with a score of 87.5%.

      MasterCard is best

      Cards in the MasterCard network provide the best coverage, but all four networks are ranked fairly close together in their coverage.

      The top ranked cards don't require you to sign up for the coverage. It is activated when you decline the rental car company's damage loss waiver. The best cards cover costs stemming from damage to or theft of rental vehicles, up to $100,000.

      Like any insurance policy, there are some exclusions. Here's where it pays to have one of the higher-rated cards, because they have fewer exceptions to their coverage.

      The average card won't cover a truck, open-bed vehicle, exotic or antique car, or even a large van or full-size SUV. The best cards do cover those vehicles, but draw the line at off-road vehicles. Another common exclusion is tire and rim damage. CardHub found that more than 60% of cards don't cover it.

      Almost 40% of cards only cover domestic rentals for up to 15 days, but the best cards will extend coverage up to 31 days.

      Fewer global options

      You're safe with just about any card if you are renting in the U.S., but only Citi and Discover cards provide global coverage. Ireland, Israel and Jamaica are the most common exclusions among other issuers.

      There is something else to understand about rental car coverage. Neither the company's damage loss waiver nor your credit card's coverage will protect you from liability in the case of an accident. You'll need to buy a liability supplement or rely instead on your personal auto insurance policy.

      It should cover you but not all policies do. It is a good idea to call your insurance provider before renting a car and asking.

      Your credit card can get you more than cash back on purchases and points toward perks. Most provide some basic rental car insurance. Some coverage is bette...
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      Renters face obstacles to becoming homeowners

      California Realtors' survey shows most renters would like to buy, but can't right now

      Since the housing bubble popped, it has become more of a challenge to buy a home. For that reason, home sales plunged in 2009 and 2010.

      But the market has recovered. Sales are up and so are prices. But not all renters think they are able to make the leap to homeownership, even though a California Association of Realtors (CAR) survey shows they would like to.

      The results may not be all that surprising, given that California has some of the hottest real estate markets in the nation. The median home price in San Jose is approaching $1 million.

      The survey shows the desire is there. Nearly half of renters in the survey said they plan to buy a home at some point. Most, however, admit they aren't quite ready financially.

      Financial obstacles

      First, they need to save for a down payment, find an affordable house they like, and improve their overall financial picture.

      Of the 28% of renters who don't plan to buy in the future, half of them said affordability is the main issue. Only 20% said they would rather rent a home than buy one.

      In the wake of the housing meltdown, there was some speculation that a large portion of the population – primarily Millennials – would become permanent renters. The survey – along with more recent housing data – suggests that isn't the case.

      Nearly four in 10 renters said they expect to purchase a home in the same county where they are renting. Twenty-three percent said they would look for a home in the same neighborhood. Most who said they would buy elsewhere said they would leave the area because homes are too expensive.

      What to do

      According to Freddie Mac, there are certain important steps a consumer can take to prepare for buying a home. The first is the simplest – improve your credit score. You can do that by paying all your bills on time, and by establishing credit and using it wisely.

      Next, decide how much you can afford to spend on a house. Remember that you will be required to put at least 3% down and have the resulting monthly payments be affordable. And it's not just principal and interest you have to consider, but taxes and insurance as well.

      Begin saving money for a down payment. Make sure you save enough to cover moving expenses and any deposits required for services.

      Before beginning your search, get pre-qualified for a mortgage. A mortgage loan officer will review your income, expenses, and credit score, and make an estimate of the amount of money you might be able to borrow.

      This is not a guarantee you will get the loan, but a pre-qualification letter will tell sellers and their agents that you are a serious buyer.

      Since the housing bubble popped, it has become more of a challenge to buy a home. For that reason, home sales plunged in 2009 and 2010.But the market h...
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      Dads likely to get their due this year

      Father’s Day spending is projected to hit a record high

      Finally -- some respect!

      According to the annual National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, consumers plan to spend more than ever on Father’s Day this year.

      The survey conducted by Prosper Insight and Analytics, shows shoppers will spend an average of $125.92 for the holiday -- up more than $10 from last year, with total spending expected to reach $14.3 billion.

      While that's the most in the survey’s 13-year history, it's a far cry from the Mother’s Day total of $21.4 billion.

      What they'll buy

      The survey finds consumers plan to spend $3.1 billion on special outings such as dinner, brunch, or other types of a “fun activity/experience” (given by 47%). Clothing (43%) and gift cards (41%) are tied at just under $2 billion each, while consumer electronics (20%) follow at $1.7 billion.

      As with Mother’s Day, greeting cards are the most commonly purchased gift at 65% but account for only $833 million of projected spending. Other popular gifts include personal care, automotive accessories, books, music, home improvement/gardening supplies and sporting goods.

      In addition, 22% of shoppers say they'll opt for a “gift of experience” such as tickets to a concert or a sporting event. Two in five millennials are planning to give an experience, significantly higher than older generations.

      Where they shop

      Thirty-eight percent of consumers will head to department stores in search of the perfect gift, 32% will shop online, and 27% will check out a discount store. Another 24% will go to a specialty store and 17% will do their shopping at a local small business.

      Among smartphone owners, 30% will use them to research gift ideas, but only 16% will actually buy something. Tablets are used more frequently both to research (32%) and buy (19%).

      More than half of those surveyed plan to buy for their father or stepfather (53%), while others will shop for their husband (28%) or son (9%).

      The survey of 7,200 consumers, conducted May 2-10, has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

      Finally -- some respect!According to the annual National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, consumers plan to spend more than ever on Father’s Day this ye...
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      Job openings hold steady in April, as new hires edged lower

      Initial jobless claims remained below 300,00 last week

      There wasn't a lot of change in the labor market during April.

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of job openings was fairly steady during the month at 5.8 million. At the same time, the number of hires edged down to 5.1 million while separations were little changed at 5.0 million.

      Job openings

      The job openings rate was 3.9% as the number of openings showed little change for total private and for government. Large increases occurred in wholesale trade (+65,000), transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+58,000), durable goods manufacturing (+46,000), and real estate and rental and leasing (+41,000). Openings in the professional and business services sector were down by 274,000. The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions.

      Hires

      With a hires rate of 3.5%, the number of hires for total private and for government edged down 31,000. Hires were little changed in all industries in April and decreased in the Midwest region.

      Separations

      Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. The category is referred to as turnover. The total separations rate in April was 3.5%. The number of total separations was little changed for total private and for government, and all industries experienced little change in total separations over the month.

      Net change in employment

      Over the 12 months ending in April, hires totaled 62.4 million and separations totaled 59.7 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.7 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

      The full report is available on the BLS website

      Initial claims

      Separately, the  Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time jobless claims came in below 300,000 last week for the 66th consecutive week -- the longest streak since 1973.

      In the week ending June 4, initial applications for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 264,000, down from the previous week's revised level of 268,000.

      The four-week moving average, seen as a more active gauge of the labor market because it's not as volatile as the weekly compilation, fell 7,500 from the previous week's revised total -- to 269,500.

      The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

      There wasn't a lot of change in the labor market during April.The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of jo...
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      SunOpta further expands its recall sunflower kernel products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      SunOpta is expanding for a second time its recall of certain sunflower kernel products.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses related to the consumption of these products have been have been confirmed.

      This expanded recall includes certain sunflower kernel products originating from SunOpta’s facility in Crookston, Minn., between May 31, 2015, and January 31, 2016.

      The recalled retail sunflower kernel items were sold in clear printed plastic packages and are marked with Best By Dates located on the front or back of the packages. Recalled snack bars were sold in boxes of 12 units.

      The following items are being recalled:

      Product DescriptionSizeUPCLot #Best By Date
      Sunrich Naturals Sunflower Kernels-Roasted and Salted1 oz.81030403212234215231-34215233
      34215236-34215240
      34215295-34215296
      34215299-34215303
      34215306
      34215355-34215356
      34215362-34215365
      34216004-34216007
      34216011-34216015
      37215324
      37215327-37215329
      37215334-37215338
      37216020-37216022
      37216025-37216027
      19AUG16-21AUG16
      24AUG16-28AUG16
      22OCT16-23OCT16
      26OCT16-30OCT16
      02NOV16
      13DEC16-14DEC16
      28DEC16-31DEC16
      04JAN17-07JAN17
      11JAN17-15JAN17
      20NOV16
      23NOV16-25NOV16
      30NOV16-04DEC16
      20JAN17-22JAN17
      25JAN17-27JAN17
      Sunrich Naturals Sunflower Kernels-Chili Lime1 oz.81030401214834215155-34215156
      34215159-34215160
      34215166-34215167
      04JUN16-05JUN16
      08JUN16-09JUN16
      15JUN16-16JUN16
      1.2 oz8103040321463421516817JUN16
      Sunrich Naturals Sunflower Kernels-Blazin’ Hot1.2 oz.81030403213934215159-34215161
      34215170
      34215173-34215177
      34215180-34215181
      08JUN16-10JUN16
      19JUN16
      22JUN16-26JUN16
      29JUN16-30JUN16
      Spitz Salted Sunflower Kernels (Only Available In Canada)3.53 oz.
      100 g
      06957921000507-09-16A2
      09-10-16C
      11-09-16C
      11-09-16B
      01-06-17C
      01-07-17B
      07-09-16
      09-10-16
      11-09-16
      11-09-16
      01-06-17
      01-07-17
      Spitz Dill Pickle Sunflower Kernels (Only Available In Canada)3.53 oz.
      100 g
      06957921001207-09-16C2
      09-10-16B
      09-11-16A
      11-10-16C
      11-10-16B
      01-07-17A
      07-09-16
      09-10-16
      09-11-16
      11-10-16
      11-10-16
      01-07-17
      Kar’s Sunflower Kernel Roasted and Salted2 oz.07703400989708/31/15-09/03/15
      09/09/15-09/11/15
      09/14/15-09/15/15
      08/31/16-09/03/16
      09/09/16-09/11/16
      09/14/16-09/15/16
      Planters Sunflower Kernels3 oz.0290000127146291B3, 6291C3, 6292A3, 6292B3, 6292C3, 6293A2, 6293A3, 6293C3, 6293C2, 6293B2, 6294A2, 6294A3, 6294C3, 6294C2, 6305A3, 6305C3, 6306B3, 6306A3, 6306C3, 6307B3, 6307A3, 6307C3, 6308B3, 6319C3, 6319B3, 6319A3, 6320C3, 6320B3, 6320A3, 6321C3, 6321B3, 6321A3, 6326B3, 6326A3, 6326C3, 6327B3, 6327A3, 6327C3, 6328B3, 6328A3, 6328C3, 6340C3, 6340B3, 6340A3, 6341C3, 6341B3, 6341A3, 6342C3, 6342B3, 6361C3, 6361B3, 6361A3, 6362C3, 6362B3, 6362A3, 6363C3, 6363B310/17/16-12/28/16
      7023A3, 7023B3, 7023C3, 7024A3, 7024B3, 7024C3, 7025A3, 7025B3, 7030A3, 7030B3, 7030C3, 7031A3, 7031B3, 7031C3, 7032A3, 7032C3, 7037A3, 7037B3, 7037C3, 7038A3, 7038B3, 7038C3, 7039A3, 7039B3, 7039C301/23/17-02/08/17
      Navitas Naturals Superfood+ snack bars: Cacao Cranberry, Goji Acai, Hemp Peanut, Maca MapleCacao Cranberry - 8119610202620476MAR2017
      Goji Acai - 8119610202860476MAR2017
      Hemp Peanut - 8119610203090466MAR2017
      Maca Maple - 8119610202480466MAR2017

      The recalled products were distributed to distribution centers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Canada, and may have been redistributed elsewhere.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased these products should not consume them, but take them back to the store where they were purchased for a refund, or simply discard them.

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

      SunOpta is expanding for a second time its recall of certain sunflower kernel products. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogene...
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