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    Advanced Sports International recalls bicycles

    The top clamp of the seat post can crack

    Advanced Sports International of Philadelphia, Pa., is recalling about 3,000 Breezer and Fuji bicycles.

    The top clamp of the seat post can crack, posing a fall hazard to the user.

    No incidents or injuries have been reported.

    This recall involves Advanced Sports International’s 2017 model year Breezer and Fuji bicycles. The aluminum bicycles come in a variety of colors. The seatposts are silver or black. The model name is printed on the frame of the bicycle.

    Recalled models include:

    Fuji Bicycles

    Breezer Bicycles

    Absolute 1.3 Disc

    Absolute 1.7 Disc

    Absolute 1.7 Disc ST

    Absolute 2.1

    Addy 27.5 1.3

    Addy 27.5 1.5

    Addy 27.5 1.7

    Nevada 27.5 1.5

    Nevada 27.5 1.7

    Nevada 27.5 1.9

    Traverse 1.9 ST

    Police Special 29

    Downtown 3 ST

    Downtown 7+

    Downtown 7+ ST

    Downtown 8

    Downtown 8 ST

    What to do

    Consumers should immediately stop riding the bicycles and take them to a local Breezer or Fuji Bicycles Dealer or contact Advanced Sports International for a free replacement top seat clamp.

    Consumers may contact Advanced Sports International toll‐free at 888-286‐6263 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or online at www.fujibikes.com or www.breezerbikes.com and click on “Recall Notice” at the bottom of the page for more information.

    Advanced Sports International of Philadelphia, Pa., is recalling about 3,000 Breezer and Fuji bicycles.The top clamp of the seat post can crack, posing...
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    BMW recalls M2 Coupes, M3 Sedans, and M4 Coupes and Convertibles

    Some parts may have been reused instead of replaced during servicing

    BMW North America is recalling 72 model year 2016 BMW M2 Coupes, 2015-2017 M3 Sedans and 2015-2016 M4 Coupes and M4 Convertibles.

    During servicing of the rear differential for a prior service action, the rear sub-frame bolts may have been reused instead of being replaced. Reuse of the existing bolts may cause the bolts to loosen.

    Loose rear sub-frame bolts may adversely affect vehicle handling and control, increasing the risk of a crash.

    What to do

    BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the rear sub-frame bolts with new bolts, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 24, 2016.

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

    BMW North America is recalling 72 model year 2016 BMW M2 Coupes, 2015-2017 M3 Sedans and 2015-2016 M4 Coupes and M4 Convertibles.During servicing of th...
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    Chrysler recalls model year 2016 Fiat 500s

    Tire inflation pressure for the spare tire is listed incorrectly

    Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 32 model year 2016 Fiat 500 vehicles manufactured June 11, 2015, to July 27, 2016.

    The Vehicle's tire placard lists an inflation pressure for the spare tire that exceeds the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, "Tire Selection and Rims."

    If the spare tire is used while overinflated, the tire may suddenly fail, increasing the risk of a crash.

    What to do

    Fiat will notify owners, and dealers will add an overlay on the tire placard to the correct tire inflation information, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 28, 2016.

    Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-888-242-6342. Chrysler's number for this recall is S69.

    Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 32 model year 2016 Fiat 500 vehicles manufactured June 11, 2015, to July 27, 2016.The Vehicle's tire placard lists a...
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      Wells Fargo CEO to forfeit $41 million and forgo salary during company investigation

      While it's a step in the right direction, lawmakers are still not satisfied

      It hasn’t been a good month for Wells Fargo. The company found itself in the middle of a scandal after reports revealed that its employees engaged in fraudulent behavior by opening customer accounts without consent.

      The actions resulted in multiple lawsuits, including $185 million in fines from federal regulators, the Office of the Comptroller, and the City and County of Los Angeles. It is also likely that the company will face a probe from the FBI and federal prosecutors.

      Now, the company’s board has decided to penalize CEO John Stumpf by forcing him to forfeit $41 million from his compensation package. He will also not receive any bonuses for 2016 and will forgo his salary while the company performs its own internal investigation into the company’s banking sales practices. Carrie Tolstedt, the former head of retail banking, will also be denied $19 million.

      “We are deeply concerned by these matters, and we are committed to ensuring that all aspects of the company’s business are conducted with integrity, transparency, and oversight,” said Stephen Sanger, lead independent director for the board, in a statement. “We will conduct this investigation with the diligence it deserves — and will follow the facts wherever they lead.”

      The Wells Fargo board could potentially take further action against Stumpf, Tolstedt, and other executives depending on what they find. The members have stated that Stumpf will recuse himself of all board-related deliberations related to the investigation.

      “We will proceed with a sense of urgency but will take the time we need to conduct a thorough investigation,” Sanger said. “We will then take all appropriate actions to reinforce the right culture and ensure that lessons are learned, misconduct is addressed, and systems and processes are improved so there can be no repetition of similar conduct.”

      Lawmakers remain unsatisfied

      While the actions taken by the company may seem to be a start in the right direction, lawmakers say that there is much that should be done. They point out that while 5,300 employees were fired as a result of the scandal, company executives seem to have come out pretty well.

      Earlier this month, CNN reported that after Tolstedt retires at the end of the year, she will be able to rake in $124 million in shares, options, and restricted stock. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has stated her disgust that low-level employees are the ones taking the blame for the scandal.

      “You haven’t resigned, you haven’t returned a single nickel of personal earnings, you haven’t fired a single senior executive,” Warren said during the Senate hearing. “Your definition of accountable is to push the blame to your low level employees… it’s gutless leadership.”

      “[Wells Fargo’s] announcement is a step in the right direction but there are still dozens of unanswered questions,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown in a statement.

      It hasn’t been a good month for Wells Fargo. The company found itself in the middle of a scandal after reports revealed that its employees engaged in fraud...
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      LendUp promises better credit, cheaper loans but feds say it doesn't deliver

      The company has been ordered to pay more than $3.6 million in penalties

      LendUp bills itself as an alternative to payday lenders by claiming it can help you build up your credit rating and make it possible for you to get cheaper loans. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says the company doesn't deliver on its promises.

      The bureau yesterday ordered the company to provide more than 50,000 consumers with approximately $1.83 million in refunds. The company will also pay a civil penalty of $1.8 million.

      “LendUp pitched itself as a consumer-friendly, tech-savvy alternative to traditional payday loans, but it did not pay enough attention to the consumer financial laws,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The CFPB supports innovation in the fintech space, but start-ups are just like established companies in that they must treat consumers fairly and comply with the law.”

      Flurish, Inc., doing business as LendUp, is an online lending company based in San Francisco that offers single-payment loans and installment loans in 24 states. It offers customers the ability to progress to loans with more favorable terms, including lower rates and longer repayment periods, over time. The company advertised this opportunity as the ability to move up the “LendUp Ladder.”

      Doesn't deliver

      But according to the CFPB's enforcement action, LendUp did not deliver on its promises. Some of its product offerings weren’t available to consumers where they were advertised. In addition, for a time, the company did not properly furnish information to the credit reporting companies, denying consumers the promised opportunity to improve their creditworthiness.

      LendUp’s conduct violated multiple federal consumer financial protection laws, including the Truth in Lending Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFPB said.

      Besides the financial penalties, the CFPB said the company must stop misrepresenting the benefits of borrowing from LendUp, mispresenting what fees are charged, and must include the correct finance charge and annual percentage rate in its disclosures.

      LendUp must also end misleading advertisments and regularly test annual percentage rate calculations and disclosures to ensure it complies with the Truth in Lending Act.

      LendUp bills itself as an alternative to payday lenders by claiming it can help you build up your credit rating and make it possible for you to get cheaper...
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      Researchers discover possible cause of Crohn's disease

      Their study reveals that a fungus may play a key role

      Earlier this month, we reported that scientists were making strides towards treating Crohn’s disease. That research, from the University of British Columbia, revealed the genetic cause of fibrosis, one of the disease’s primary symptoms.

      Now, researchers from Case Western Reserve University may have discovered the key factor behind the development of the disease as a whole. They found that a fungus present in the intestines plays a major role in whether or not a person develops Crohn’s – proving the association by connecting it to bacteria that have already been associated with the disease.

      "We already know that bacteria, in addition to genetic and dietary factors, play a major role in causing Crohn's disease," said Dr. Mahmoud A Ghannoum, senior author of the study. “Essentially, patients with Crohn's have abnormal immune responses to these bacteria, which inhabit the intestines of all people. While most researchers focus their investigations on these bacteria, few have examined the role of fungi, which are also present in everyone's intestines.”

      The finding is potentially groundbreaking and could lead to new treatments for the inflammatory bowel disease. In a best-case scenario, researchers could eventually develop a cure for Crohn’s using the information that was gathered.

      Cause of inflammation

      The researchers came to their conclusions after studying the fungal and bacteria cultures in Crohn’s patients and their first-degree relatives in northern France and Belgium. They found that the relationship between two bacteria and one fungus was very close and prominent in Crohn’s patients, whereas the interaction and number of them in healthy family members was much lower.

      After further testing, Ghannoum and his colleagues discovered that the three microorganisms actually worked together to create a biofilm that coated part of the intestines. This biofilm was found to prompt inflammation, which is a primary symptom of Crohn’s disease.

      "Among hundreds of bacterial and fungal species inhabiting the intestines, it is telling that the three we identified were so highly correlated in Crohn's patients. Furthermore, we found strong similarities in what may be called the 'gut profiles' of the Crohn's-affected families, which were strikingly different from the Crohn's-free families,” said Ghannoum.

      Promising future treatments

      The discovery is remarkable because it is the first time that a fungus has been linked to Crohn’s disease in humans. However, at this point, the researchers are not saying that the microorganisms are the definitive cause of the disease. Going forward, they say that they will be keeping an open mind about “identifying precipitators and contributors of Crohn’s.”

      Still, the team does have some optimism that their findings will be put to good use in the future.

      “Our study adds significant new information to understanding why some people develop Crohn's disease. Equally important, it can result in a new generation of treatments, including medications and probiotics, which hold the potential for making qualitative and quantitative differences in the lives of people suffering from Crohn's."

      The full study has been published in mBio.

      Earlier this month, we reported that scientists were making strides towards treating Crohn’s disease. That research, from the University of British Columbi...
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      Payday lenders, critics, wage fierce battle over proposed regulation

      Consumer Fiancial Protection Bureau's proposed rule drawing record comments

      The contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not the only political battle being waged in Washington these days.

      The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) proposed rule covering payday lenders has sparked an escalating stand-off between the industry and consumer advocates who want to change it or put it out of business.

      The rule, proposed in June, is currently in its public comment period, which closes October 7. CFPB will review those comments before acting to make the rule final. A lot is at stake.

      The proposed rule is fairly simple. It would require payday lenders to make a determination that someone taking out a short term loan has the means to pay it back. Mortgage lenders are currently required to do that for people taking out loans to purchase homes.

      Critics have long contended that most people taking out payday loans can't pay it back when the loan is due in two weeks, and therefore have to take out another, and another – becoming trapped in a cycle of debt.

      Industry says it provides a valuable service

      The industry, meanwhile, says it is providing a service to consumers who have little or no access to credit, and appears to believe the new rule to be an existential threat.

      Dennis Shaul, CEO of the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA), a payday lender trade group, said this week that CFPB had received a record number of comments so far. He says that's a good sign for his industry.

      “This record-breaking number of comments highlights the grave concerns consumers have about the Bureau’s rule and the disastrous repercussions it will have on their ability to access to [sic] credit,” Shaul said in a statement.

      Warren leads the critics

      Critics of the payday lending industry are also trying to mobilize comments in support of the rule. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) addressed a group of supporters from around the country this week, calling payday loans among the most deceptive and predatory forms of credit on the market.

      “Payday lending is an enormous problem for far too many people,” Warren said. “Billions of dollars are flowing out of communities that can least afford it and directly into the pockets of some of the sleaziest lenders in America.”

      Warren said the CFPB's proposed rule is based on extensive research to understand how the industry operates and how customers are affected.

      Consumers who would like to read the proposed rule and make a comment, one way or the other, may do so here.

      The contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not the only political battle being waged in Washington these days.The Consumer Financial Prote...
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      New Buick SUV takes top IIHS safety award

      It's the first Chinese-built vehicle that IIHS has tested

      A new midsize SUV from Buick has qualified for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) TOP SAFETY PICK+ award.

      The Envision -- the first Chinese-built vehicle that IIHS has tested as part of its consumer ratings -- earned good ratings across the board for crashworthiness.

      Two braking systems offered

      The vehicle is available with Front Automatic Braking, an advanced-rated front crash prevention system that's optional for both 2016 and 2017 models.

      A different system -- Forward Collision Alert -- earns a basic rating. Forward Collision Alert is standard on all 2016 Envisions not equipped with autobrake but is optional on 2017 models.

      In the IIHS 12-mph track test, the Envision with the autobrake system avoided a collision. In the 25-mph test, its impact speed was reduced by 9 mph.

      The system also includes a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

      To qualify for 2016 TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests.

      It also must earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

      A new midsize SUV from Buick has qualified for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) TOP SAFETY PICK+ award.The Envision -- the first Chine...
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      Mortgage applications post second consecutive decline

      Contract interest rates were lower as well

      Mortgage applications ticked lower in the week ending September 23, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, with a decline of 0.7%.

      The Refinance Index was down 2% from the previous week, pushing the refinance share of mortgage activity down to 62.7% of total applications from 63.1% a week earlier.

      The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity was unchanged at 4.4% of total applications, the FHA share held steady at 10.2%, the VA share rose 11.9% from 11.6% the week be fore, and the USDA share of total applications slipped to 0.6% from 0.7% the prior week.

      Contract interest rates

      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) dropped three basis points -- from 3.70% to 3.66% -- with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.38 (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) fell to 3.64% from 3.69%, with points decreasing to 0.28 from 0.29 (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 dipped four basis points to 3.52%, with points decreasing to 0.21 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 went from 2.99% to 2.95%, with points increasing to 0.38 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 was down four basis points to 2.92%, with points increasing to 0.40 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 ticked lower in the week ending September 23, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, with a decline of 0.7%.The Refinance...
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      Actors' ages become protected information in California

      A new state law requires content providers to take down age information in some circumstances

      Maybe you occasionally find yourself wondering how old your favorite actor is. It's pretty easy to find out. A quick visit to IMDb.com will tell you, though maybe not for much longer.

      A new California law that takes effect in January will require IMDb and other entertainment industry websites to remove birthdates when a subscriber requests it.

      Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure, AB 1687, Saturday. It was backed by the Screen Actors Guild and SAG-AFTRA as a way to combat age discrimination in Hollywood.

      “Gov. Jerry Brown today stood with thousands of film and television professionals and concerned Californians who urged him to sign AB 1687, a California law that will help prevent age discrimination in film and television casting and hiring," said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris in a statement issued after the bill was signed. 

      The measure was authored by Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier), who said revealing actors' ages online could lock them out of roles before they even had a chance to audition.

      “Even though it is against both federal and state law, age discrimination persists in the entertainment industry,” Calderon said. “AB 1687 provides the necessary tools to remove age information from online profiles on employment referral websites to help prevent this type of discrimination.”

      Privacy groups unhappy

      Privacy groups argued against the measure, saying it was unnecessary and unconstitutional. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which normally takes a pro-privacy stance, said the law infringes on companies' First Amendment right to publish truthful information.  

      Among the sites most obviously affected is Amazon's IMDb, a vast database that contains just about everything anyone could want to know about movies, actors, and the producers, directors, and screenwriters who form the core of the entertainment industry.

      The measure got its start several years ago when actress Junie Hoang sued Amazon for revealing her true age on IMDb.

      Hoang alleged that Amazon violated her privacy by accessing credit card data to learn that she was 40 and then added that information to her professional profile. 

      Hoang said she looked younger than 40 but couldn't get as much work after her true age became known.

      A jury ruled against Hoang, however, and an appeals court declined to reinstate her suit.

      Maybe you occasionally find yourself wondering how old your favorite actor is. It's pretty easy to find out. A quick visit to IMDb.com will tell you, thoug...
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      Combating fall allergy symptoms in kids

      What parents can do to keep sniffles and sneezes at bay

      As the leaves swirl and weed pollen proliferates, fall allergies may begin to surface. Fall is prime allergy season for kids as well as adults, and mold and ragweed are the most common culprits.

      If you’re an adult who suffers from allergies, you know just how bothersome the symptoms can be. Chances are you don’t want your kids to have to suffer the same symptoms.

      So how can you tell if your child is suffering from fall allergies? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, symptoms to watch for include cold-like symptoms that linger for a week or longer, nose rubbing, sniffling, and itchy, runny eyes.

      Additionally, keep in mind that allergies may run in families. If you or your partner have an allergy, the odds are greater that your child will also have an allergy.

      Easing allergy symptoms

      Reducing your child’s exposure to allergens is often the first step toward helping children feel better, but parents don’t need to keep children strictly indoors for the duration of the season. 

      Allergy symptoms can be squashed in a number of other ways. Here are a few things parents can do to ease allergy symptoms:

      • Clean air vents throughout your home. Vents may be home to particles that can trigger or make allergy symptoms worse. Keep these particles from building up by cleaning them thoroughly.
      • Keep windows and outside doors shut. Prevent allergens from creeping in by sealing off your home during pollen season. 
      • Keep the house clean and dry. This can help reduce mold and dust mites.
      • Encourage your child to drink warm liquids. Warm liquids, such as tea and soup, can help loosen nasal congestion.
      • Wash clothes thoroughly after kids play outside. This can include backpacks, shoes, and even hats.
      • Give kids an over-the-counter allergy relief. For stubborn allergy symptoms, find an OTC treatment that can combat congestion as well as itchy, watery eyes.
      • Plan outdoor activities for the morning. Weed pollen is most abundant in the middle of the day, so plan activities accordingly.
      • Don't let kids play in dead or wet leaves. The moisture on fallen leaves can be a breeding ground for mold.
      • Stay current on pollen and mold counts. Watch the news for updates, and consider keeping kids indoors during peak hours.
      Home remedies may be helpful, but parents should speak with their child's pediatrician if allergies are severe. A doctor may prescribe an antihistimine or nasal corticosteroid or refer kids to an allergy specialist.
      As the leaves swirl and weed pollen proliferates, fall allergies may begin to surface. Fall is prime allergy season for kids as well as adults, and mold an...
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      Why your diet usually fails

      Nutrition author says eating healthy food is key to battling obesity

      There all kinds of diets and weight loss programs, and while some undoubtedly achieve results for some people, it's also clear that the majority of people who start a diet soon give up.

      Nutrition author Phoenix Gilman says the main reason diets fail is carbohydrate craving, leading to an overwhelming appetite.

      "Millions of people still tragically believe in the low fat myth,” she said. “That alone has perpetuated our obesity epidemic, among numerous other diseases.”

      Gilman says the simple answer to losing or controlling weight is learning what is healthy to eat and consuming reasonable portions of it. She says it's also important to understand the role of chemicals produced by the brain.

      Gilman works with individual clients to help them lose weight, specializing in women over 40.

      "As a woman myself, and one who's 57, this is a major turning point for women who are now looking in the mirror and asking, 'What happened?' Most have devoted their life to husbands, careers and raising children. Their health wasn't often a priority,” she said.

      Laundry list of problems

      Gilman attributes a laundry list of problems to poor nutrition -- from obesity, diabetes, and addictions, to depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Highly processed foods, she maintains, adjust brain chemicals that often send people running to the refrigerator.

      Academic researchers have been onto this for some time. Back in 2007, researchers at UCLA conducted a study that concluded diets lead to temporary weight loss, at best.

      "You can initially lose 5% to 10% of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back," Traci Mann, UCLA associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study, said at the time. "We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more.”

      It's true, Mann said, that a small minority of dieters were able to sustain their weight loss. It is also true, she said, that the majority regained all their weight.

      Mann went so far as to contend that most dieters would have been better off not even trying to lose weight.

      Gilman obviously disagrees, with the caveat that sensible portions of healthy, nutritious food is one diet that can work.

      There all kinds of diets and weight loss programs, and while some undoubtedly achieve results for some people, it's also clear that the majority of people...
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      U.S. weighs how big a fine Volkswagen can stand

      The automaker's Audi brand may be dragged into the diesel scandal, reports say

      The death penalty is rarely used these days because it is seen as inhumane and also because it shuts down any opportunity for rehabilitation, which is supposed to be the goal of the criminal justice system.

      The U.S. Justice Department is now wrestling with a similar dilemma in the case of Volkswagen AG, caught cheating on the emissions produced by its "clean" TDI diesels.

      VW has already agreed to pay more than $16 billion in civil penalties but still faces criminal charges that could be so severe they would put the company out of business. In a Bloomberg report, U.S. Justice Department officials are said to be considering taking the automakers' survival into consideration when settling on a recommended penalty.

      It's not just Volkswagen that is in trouble. Deutsche Bank is also negotating to settle charges growing out of its mortgage securities business. Together the two companies account for more than 320,000 German jobs. Putting them both out of business would be harmful to U.S.-German relations and would affect thousands of American jobs as well.

      No one is speaking on the record, but it is known that the Justice Department is hoping to settle the matter by January 2017. Assuming VW's business holds up over the next few months, it's possible it could be hit with a whopping fine and survive the blow. The company currently has about $32 billion in net liquidity, according to Bloomberg

      Audi feeling the heat

      While VW waits for the Justice Department's hammer to fall, it's also facing the specter that the fall-out from the diesel scandal is beginning to affect Audi, VW's cash cow.

      Audi's development chief, Stefan Knirsch, resigned earlier this week after an investigation found he knew about the emissions deception when he took the job. 

      Audi has been largely spared so far, and its sales remain robust in the United States and elsewhere. However, critics are raising questions about the luxury brand's potential role in the scandal. It is usually seen as playing an important role in developing technology that filters down to VW's mass-market brands, and the last two VW CEOs -- Martin Winterkorn and Ferdinand Piech -- both ran Audi before taking over the parent company.

      German newspaper reports last week said that some Audi executives knew about the emissions cheating for nearly a decade. The engine control software at the heart of the scandal was developed at Audi in the 1990s as a way to reduce diesel engine noise. 

      The death penalty is rarely used these days because it is seen as inhumane and also because it shuts down any opportunity for rehabilitation, which is supp...
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      The question you didn't hear asked at last night's debate

      AARP pushes candidates to talk about Social Security

      When Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump squared off in Monday night's first presidential debate, there was no shortage of fireworks.

      But while the 90 minutes was long on entertainment value, some commentators observed that it was short on substance. In particular, AARP Senior Vice President John Hishta said there was one issue, affecting just about everyone in the country, that was not raised.

      "In this issueless campaign, the debate was the best chance for voters to get real answers on how the presidential candidates would keep Social Security strong for future generations,” Hishta said. “If our leaders don't commit to act, future retirees could lose up to $10,000 per year.”

      Hishta says Social Security faces a big revenue shortfall in the future. Under current law, if nothing is done, there will be cuts across the board for Social Security in 2034.

      If the political climate does not change, it's hard to see how anything gets done. Congress can simply let the cuts go into effect and individual members don't have to take any action that would be unpopular among one constituency or another.

      Trying to raise the issue

      For its part, AARP is trying to get the issue on the political radar screen. In spite of recent polling, which shows support for more focus on the issue, AARP complains that Social Security has been largely ignored in the election.

      It points to an AARP survey of Baby Boomer women that found 71% want the government to address Social Security immediately and more than two-thirds say have heard nothing about the candidates' plans.

      "Americans who are working hard and paying into Social Security were the real losers at tonight's debate," Hishta said.

      Hishta said AARP will step up pressure to have moderators in the remaining two debates at least bring up the issue.

      Both presidential candidates have, in fact, addressed Social Security on their campaigns. On her website, Clinton says the biggest threat to Social Security is from Republicans. She supports an expansion of benefits, to be paid for by increasing contributions from upper income recipients.

      Trump has said in speeches that he does not support any cuts to Social Security or Medicare. In a statement to AARP, Trump said the best way to preserve those benefits is to grow the economy.

      When Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump squared off in Monday night's first presidential debate, there was no shortage of fireworks.B...
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      Gasoline prices hold at $2.21 a gallon

      Prices at the pump are showing remarkable stability

      The pipeline leak in Alabama has been repaired and gasoline is flowing again, but some states in the Southeast are still feeling the effects of reduced supplies and higher prices.

      Those rising prices have more or less offset the seasonal drop in prices elsewhere in the U.S., and the result is a remarkable stability in gasoline prices.

      According to AAA, the national average price of regular gasoline is about $2.21 a gallon, within a penny of where it was the day before, a week ago, and even a month ago. A year ago, it was only seven cents a gallon more.

      Prices are higher in the normally rock-bottom-priced Southeast, thanks to the leak in the Colonial pipeline in Alabama two weeks ago. Operations were restored last week. Analysts at AAA say it may take another week before prices return to normal.

      But while prices are still higher than normal in Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, drivers in 25 states are paying less at the pump week-over-week.

      Below $2 a gallon

      In fact, the average price is below $2 a gallon in five states; Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Jersey.

      Meanwhile, the most expensive gasoline is found in states clustered in the West; Hawaii, California, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Nevada.

      Drivers in four states are seeing gasoline prices go down from last week. They are paying three cents a gallon less in Wyoming, two cents less in Idaho and Utah, and a penny less in North Dakota.

      Great Lakes volatility

      The Great Lakes region remains the most volatile part of the country for fuel prices. Refinery issues can spike prices overnight and, as an added issue, the region is somewhat dependent on gasoline moved through the Colonial pipeline.

      While gasoline prices have remained fairly stable over the last couple of weeks, the seasonal pattern is for gasoline costs to steadily decline into the end of the year. Despite the recent pipeline problems, AAA expects that pattern to hold.

      The X-factor continues to be the price of crude oil, which has also remained steady lately, between $45 and $50. Analysts will be keeping an eye on OPEC's next meeting, where Saudi Arabia may finally agree to a production freeze, which would likely boost the cost of crude oil.

      The pipeline leak in Alabama has been repaired and gasoline is flowing again, but some states in the Southeast are still feeling the effects of reduced sup...
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      Another month of rising consumer confidence

      Consumers seem bullish on the present and the future

      Consumers' views on the economy improved in September for a second straight month.

      The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index was up 2.3 points from August for a reading of 104.1. Within that, the Present Situation Index rose from 125.3 to 128.5, while the Expectations Index improved from 86.1 last month to 87.8.

      “Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved, primarily the result of a more positive view of the labor market, said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco.

      “Looking ahead, consumers are more upbeat about the short-term employment outlook, but somewhat neutral about business conditions and income prospects. Overall, consumers continue to rate current conditions favorably and foresee moderate economic expansion in the months ahead.”

      Here and now

      Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in September. While those who say business conditions are “good” decreased from 30.3% to 27.4%, those who think conditions are “bad” fell from 18.2% to 16.2%.

      Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was more positive than last month. Those who believe jobs are “plentiful” inched up from 26.8% to 27.9%, and those who said jobs are “hard to get” dipped to 21.6% from 22.8%.

      Looking ahead

      There was an increase in optimism regarding the short-term outlook in September. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months slipped from 17.6% to 16.5%. However, those expecting business conditions to worsen also declined -- from 11.4% to 10.2%.

      Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 14.4% to 15.1%, while those who think there will be fewer jobs was down 0.5% to 17.0%.

      The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell from 18.5% to 17.1%. At the same time, the proportion anticipating a decline dropped to 10.3% from 11.0%.

      The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 15.

      Consumers' views on the economy improved in September for a second straight month.The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index was up 2.3...
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      A slowdown in home price gains

      The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Index is close to a record high

      July was another month of solid gains in home prices, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, with the index covering all nine U.S. census divisions showing a 5.1% annual gain.

      The 10-City Composite was up 4.2%, down from the 4.3% annual gain posted in June, while the 20-City Composite rise of 5.0% was down 0.1% from June.

      The highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities over each of the last six months came in Portland, Seattle, and Denver. Portland led the way in July with a year-over-year price increase of 12.4%, followed by Seattle at 11.2%, and Denver with a 9.4% advance. Nine cities reported greater price increases in the year ending July 2016 versus the year ending June 2016.

      “The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Index is within 0.6% of the record high set in July 2006, said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Seven of the 20 cities have already set new record highs. The 10-year, 20-year, and National indices have been rising at about 5% per year over the last 24 months. Eight of the cities are seeing prices up 6% or more in the last year.”

      Month-over-month

      Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index was up 0.7% from June. The 10-City Composite recorded a month-over-month increase of 0.5%, while the 20-City Composite was up 0.6%.

      After seasonal adjustment, the National Index recorded a 0.4% month-over-month increase, the 10-City Composite was down 0.1%, and the 20-City Composite was unchanged.

      After seasonal adjustment, 12 cities saw prices rise, two were unchanged, and six cities reported declines.

      July was another month of solid gains in home prices, according to the S&P; CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, with the index covering all nine U.S. census di...
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      Lenny Lamb infant carriers recalled

      The internal stitching on the infant carrier is missing

      Lenny Lamb of Poland is recalling about 1,500 Buckle Onbu infant carriers sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      The internal stitching on the infant carrier is missing, posing a fall hazard to children.

      No incidents or injuries have been reported.

      The Lenny Lamb Buckle Onbu is an infant carrier designed to strap the baby against the caregiver’s body at the hip. It is intended for children who can already sit unassisted. It is most commonly used for back carry.

      The woven 100% cotton carrier was sold in 83 different styles and in one standard size. It has an interior panel to adjust the width, padded shoulder straps and an adjustable hood.

      A label with the manufacture date between 05.2016 and 06.2016 is located on the back side of the shoulder area of the carrier.

      The carriers. Manufactured in Poland, were sold online at 5 Minute Recess, Ashley Hesch Bibetts, Lenny Lamb, Savanna Brown and other online retailers from May 2016, through June 2016, for about $90.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled carrier and contact Lenny Lamb to receive a full refund or a free replacement carrier.

      Consumers may contact Lenny Lamb toll-free at 877-487-1416 from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at service@lennylamb.com, or online at https://us.lennylamb.com/ and click on Recalls for more information.

      Lenny Lamb of Poland is recalling about 1,500 Buckle Onbu infant carriers sold in the U.S. and Canada.The internal stitching on the infant carrier is m...
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      How having a happy spouse can lead to greater health benefits

      Researchers cite reduced stress as a primary factor

      Many new husbands out there may have heard the old saying “Happy wife, happy life,” but a new study lends the old axiom some extra legitimacy.

      Researchers with the American Psychological Association (APA) have found that having a happy spouse can actually lead to health benefits in middle-aged and older couples. The study used a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,000 heterosexual couples and found a link between happiness in marriage and better health outcomes.

      "This finding significantly broadens assumptions about the relationship between happiness and health, suggesting a unique social link," said William Chopik, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University and principal investigator of the study. "Simply having a happy partner may enhance health as much as striving to be happy oneself."

      Happiness and health

      While previous research had been conducted on how happiness affected health for individuals, the APA study sought to dig deeper and see how interpersonal relationships factored in. Chopik and his colleagues cited three potential reasons why happy couples enjoy greater health benefits. They found that:

      • Happy partners likely provide stronger social support, such as caretaking, as compared to unhappy partners who are more likely to be focused on their own stressors.
      • Happy partners may get unhappy people involved with activities and environments that promote good health, such as maintaining regular sleep cycles, eating nutritious food, and exercising.
      • Being with a happy partner should make a person's life easier even if not explicitly happier.

      The researchers also found that happiness had a large influence on whether or not a person engaged in unhealthy activities or habits. By foregoing certain vices, like smoking or drinking, due to stress and unhappiness, happy couples are able to stave off medical problems that they may otherwise need to address.

      "Simply knowing that one's partner is satisfied with his or her individual circumstances may temper a person's need to seek self-destructive outlets, such as drinking or drugs, and may more generally offer contentment in ways that afford health benefits down the road," Chopik said.

      The full study has been published in the journal Health Psychology

      Many new husbands out there may have heard the old saying “Happy wife, happy life,” but a new study lends the old axiom some extra legitimacy.Researche...
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