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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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