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    Various BMW vehicles with possible airbag, seat belt issue recalled

    Passenger airbags, safety belt pre-tensioners may not activate properly

    BMW of North America is recalling 91 model year 2011 BMW 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and 550xi vehicles manufactured March 1, 2010, through August 31, 2011.

    The vehicles may have received a replacement Sensor Cluster Unit (SCU) during a service visit with an acceleration sensor that may have been incorrectly programmed. As a result, the SCU may not accurately determine if activation and deployment of the airbags, safety belt pre-tensioners and head restraints is necessary in the event of a crash.

    Depending on the severity of the crash, inadequate activation of the driver and/or passenger airbags, safety belt pre-tensioners and active head restraints may increase the risk of injury.

    What to do

    BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the SCU, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in December 2016.

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

    BMW of North America is recalling 91 model year 2011 BMW 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and 550xi vehicles manufactured March 1, 2010, through August 31, 2...

    Surgeon General warns that teens face serious health risks from e-cigs

    With 1 in 6 teens saying they have used e-cigs, it's time for action, new report argues

    Back in 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Luther Terry, released a report that documented in exhaustive detail the health risks of cigarette smoking, something that had been considered benign and even healthy just a few years before.

    Now another report from the U.S. Surgeon General is raising concerns about e-cigarette use among U.S. youth and young adults, now estimated to amount to 1 in 6 high school students.

    “All Americans need to know that e-cigarettes are dangerous to youth and young adults,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, in releasing the report. “Any tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, is a health threat, particularly to young people.”

    The report finds that, while nicotine is a highly addictive drug at any age, youth and young adults are uniquely vulnerable to the long-term consequences of exposing the brain to nicotine, and concludes that using nicotine in any form is dangerous to young people.

    The report also finds that secondhand aerosol that is exhaled into the air by e-cigarette users can expose others to potentially harmful chemicals.

    "First comprehensive review"

    Today’s report, which was written and reviewed by more than 150 experts, is the first comprehensive federal review of the public health impact of e-cigarettes on U.S. youth and young adults. After years of study, the Food and Drug Administration in May set the legal age for using tobacco and e-cigarettes at 18 after finding that the rate of teen "vaping" was increasing markedly. 

    “We have more to do to help protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco and nicotine, especially our youth. As cigarette smoking among those under 18 has fallen, the use of other nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, has taken a drastic leap. All of this is creating a new generation of Americans who are at risk of addiction,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell at the time the age limit was announced. 

    There have been numerous, conflicting studies about the health effects of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems. Some countries, most notably Britain, have concluded that e-cigs are less harmful than regular tobacco products. In 1995, Public Health England (PHE) -- roughly equivalent to the U.S. FDA -- said it had found e-cigs about 95% less harmful than smoking.

    "My reading of the evidence is that smokers who switch to vaping remove almost all the risks smoking poses to their health," said Professor Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University. Hajek co-authored the report with Professor Ann McNeill of King's College London

    Perhaps, but in November, a University of Southern California study suggested that the health of young users may be at serious risk in the short- and long-term. The reason, the authors say, is that e-cigarette use and vaping can be associated with an increased frequency of smoking and heavier smoking habits overall.

    Recommendations

    The latest Surgeon General's report includes a series of recommendations to reduce vaping and smoking by young people, including:

    • continuing to regulate e-cigarettes at the federal level;
    • raising and strongly enforcing minimum age-of-sale laws for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes;
    • incorporating e-cigarettes into smoke-free policies;
    • regulating e-cigarette marketing;
    • sponsoring high-impact media campaigns to educate the public on the harms of e-cigarettes among young people; and
    • expanding research efforts related to e-cigarettes.

    “Protecting our nation’s youth from the harms of tobacco and nicotine is a top priority for HHS and this Administration. And this report, outlining the harms of e-cigs and providing clear steps to reduce their impact on our kids, is an important step in our fight,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell. “We cannot let the enormous progress we’ve made toward a tobacco-free generation be undermined by e-cigarettes and other emerging tobacco products.”

    “We need parents, teachers, health care providers, and other influencers to help make it clear that e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals and are not okay for kids to use” Dr. Murthy said. “Today’s report gives them the facts about how these products can be harmful to young people’s health.”

    A new interactive website containing key information from the report, written especially for parents and adult influencers of youth, is available at E-cigarettes.SurgeonGeneral.gov.

    Back in 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Luther Terry, released a report that documented in exhaustive detail the health risks...

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      Plant-based diets are healthy for kids and pregnant women, nutritionists say

      Vegan and vegetarian diets are healthy for people of all ages as long as they're balanced, new guidelines say

      Adhering to a vegan or vegetarian diet during pregnancy isn’t harmful to a developing baby as long as an expectant mother’s meals are well-balanced.

      That’s the key takeaway from new guidelines served up by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which affirmed that meals don’t have to include meat in order to be nutritionally adequate -- even for children and moms-to-be.

      In a statement, the Academy described vegan and vegetarian diets as “healthful” and noted that plant-based eating habits may even “provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of some chronic diseases.”

      Plant-based diets have been shown to provide health benefits to people of all age groups, the authors say, likely because vegans and vegetarians tend to “consume more fruits and vegetables, fewer sweets and salty snacks, and smaller amounts of total and saturated fats.”

      But as with anything, balance is key. The group of nutritionists stipulated that these diets must be monitored and carefully planned out in order to ensure that proper amounts of important nutrients are obtained.

      Appropriately planned meals

      Children and developing babies aren’t at risk of becoming malnourished if flesh foods aren’t included in their diet. In fact, plant-based diets “typically meet or exceed protein intakes, when caloric intakes are adequate," the authors wrote.

      But parents and caretakers should make sure that vegan or vegetarian children are getting key nutrients such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B-12. One way to do this is through planned, well-balanced meals, says Vandana Sheth, a member of the Academy.

      “Any diet that is not well planned and balanced can have negative side effects,” Sheth told Reuters. "Just because foods are plant based doesn't automatically make them healthy. For instance, pastries, cookies, fried and salty foods may be vegan but don't really provide much in terms of nutritional value."
      Vegan diets can reduce the risk of diabetes by 62%, heart-attack by 33%, heart disease by 29%, and cancer by 18%. During pregnancy, vegan or vegetarian diets can lower a woman's risk of excessive gestational weight gain and reduce the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes.
      What's more, “people who adopt vegetarian diets have a lower body mass index, better control of blood pressure and blood glucose, less inflammation and lower cholesterol levels compared with non-vegetarians," Sheth added.

      But to see these health benefits, and to make sure children are receiving important nutrients, meals should be well-balanced and care should be taken to ensure that diets are low in processed foods.

      Adhering to a vegan or vegetarian diet during pregnancy isn’t harmful to a developing baby as long as an expectant mother’s meals are well-balanced.Tha...

      Millions of AT&T customers getting refunds for mobile cramming violations

      The 2.7 million refunds average $31 for customers who were falsely billed

      The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is providing over $88 million in refunds to more than 2.7 million AT&T customers who had third-party charges added to their mobile bills without their consent, a tactic known as “mobile cramming.” It's the most money ever awarded to customers in a mobile cramming case.

      The refunds will be going to AT&T customers who were wrongfully billed by Tatto and Acquinity.

      Through the FTC’s refund program, nearly 2.5 million current AT&T customers will receive a credit on their bill within the next 75 days, and more than 300,000 former customers will receive a check. The average refund amount is $31.

      “AT&T received a high volume of complaints related to mobile cramming prior to the FTC and other federal and state agencies stepping in on consumers’ behalf,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “I am pleased that consumers are now being refunded their money and that AT&T has changed its mobile billing practices.”

      $9.99 ringtones

      According to the FTC’s complaint, AT&T placed unauthorized third-party charges on its customers’ phone bills, usually in amounts of $9.99 per month, for ringtones and text message subscriptions containing love tips, horoscopes, and “fun facts.” The FTC alleged that AT&T kept at least 35 percent of the charges it imposed on its customers.

      As part of the settlement, AT&T agreed to pay $80 million for refunds and notify current customers who were billed for unauthorized third-party charges of the refund program. 

      Epiq Systems, the administrator for the refund program, will begin mailing refund checks and applying credits to AT&T phone bills starting today. Refunds are being issued in the wake of consumers filing their claims for redress with the FTC, and following a claim registration confirmation and audit process. The checks must be cashed within 60 days or they will become void.

      The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide account information to cash refund checks. The FTC consumer redress hotline for consumers that have questions about the process is: 1-877-819-9692.

      The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is providing over $88 million in refunds to more than 2.7 million AT&T; customers who had third-party charges added to t...

      Delta begins tests to provide complimentary meals to coach passengers

      Travelers taking a transcontinental flight may be treated to a free meal on an upcoming trip

      At the beginning of the month, we reported the results of a study by New York’s Hunter College that assessed which airlines had the best food. While Virgin America took top honors, Delta Airlines came in a close second for its low-calorie and vegan options.

      While having high marks on food quality is nice, many fliers today must pay extra for an in-flight meal if they’re flying coach and going on a long flight. However, Delta has recently said that it will be testing complimentary meals for coach passengers on some transcontinental flights.

      “Delta is currently testing complimentary meals in the Main Cabin on Transcon flights between New York-JFK and Los Angeles International Airport/San Francisco International Airport as part of the airline’s focus on continually looking at ways to enhance the on-board experience for customers,” the company said in an announcement.

      Depending on what time travelers are flying, they could be treated to one of a few meal options. For those flying in the morning, the company says that participating flights will be offering a Maple Breakfast Sandwich or the Luvo Breakfast Medley. Those flying in the afternoon can choose from a Mesquite-Smoked Turkey Combo with chips and a brownie bite or the Luvo Mediterranean Whole Grain Veggie wrap, which comes with grapes and a cookie.

      While many airlines have begun restricting certain free amenities on flights in order to charge a premium, Delta’s possible inclusion of a free meal could mark a reversal. Delta Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service Allison Ausband says that the company is trying to improve the flight experience to meet consumer demand.

      “We are constantly actively listening to our customers and employees, gathering their feedback and testing new products on board to continuously improve the overall experience. Testing meals on Transcon flights is part of our commitment to be thoughtful about our offerings and make decisions based on customers’ needs,” she said.

      At the beginning of the month, we reported the results of a study by New York’s Hunter College that assessed which airlines had the best food. While Virgin...

      U.S. Steel CEO says company may rehire 10,000 workers

      Expects more infrastructure spending and business-friendly tax rates

      While the unemployment rate has plunged over the last few years and the economy appears to be at full employment, the labor participation rate is still very low.

      Workers have also complained about the type of jobs the economy has produced since the Great Recession. They say many of the higher paying positions wiped out in the financial crisis have not come back.

      Could that be about to change? It might at one U.S. company.

      In an interview with CNBC, United States Steel CEO Mario Longhi held out the possibility that his firm would rehire up to 10,000 employees laid off in recent years. The reason? Longhi expects a more business-friendly tax policy.

      Anticipating lower tax rates

      "We already structured to do some things, but when you see in the near future improvement to the tax laws, improvements to regulation, those two things by themselves may be a significant driver to what we're going to do," he told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

      Longhi also noted that increased infrastructure spending and rising economic growth would allow the company to expand at a faster rate than projected.

      In a CNBC interview Thursday, economist Larry Lindsey predicted wage stagnation would end. In discussing the the stock market's surge to record highs, Lindsey cautioned investors that not all of the economy's gains are going to companies' bottom lines. He said interest rates, wages, and the dollar will all go higher in the months ahead.

      “The key here is that we are really going to see a gain in wages because we are throwing fuel on a fully-employed economy,” Lindsey said on “Squawk Box.”

      It may already be happening. ADP's third quarter report on the workforce shows the tight labor market is forcing employers to pay higher wages to attract and retain talent. The report shows the highest wage gains are being obtained by the youngest workers.

      While the unemployment rate has plunged over the last few years and the economy appears to be at full employment, the labor participation rate is still ver...

      How positive thinking could help you live longer

      Study finds that optimistic women have a lower risk of dying from certain diseases

      Are you a ‘glass-half-full’ kind of person? If so, a new study suggests that you could have many healthy years ahead of you.

      Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that having an optimistic outlook lowered a woman’s risk of dying from several major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory disease.

      Findings from the study, published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggest that optimism is linked to better health. In breaking down the potential reason for the association, Eric Kim, co-lead author of the investigation, explained that optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles compared to those with bleaker outlooks.

      “Studies show that optimistic people exercise more, eat healthier diets and have higher quality sleep," said Kim, a researcher in the department of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

      But the tendency of cheerier individuals to live healthier lifestyles may only partially explain the association between optimism and a longer life.

      Impacts biological systems

      Whether or not a person prefers to look on the bright side may also have an impact on their biological functions. Kim pointed out that previous research has shown that higher levels of optimism is linked with lower inflammation, healthier lipid levels, and higher amounts of antioxidants.

      Optimism may also have an impact on the way a person copes with life's curveballs. "Optimistic people also use healthier coping styles," Kim told HealthDay.

      "A summary of over 50 studies showed that when confronted with life challenges, optimists use healthier coping methods like acceptance of circumstances that cannot be changed, planning for further challenges, creating contingency plans, and seeking support from others when needed," he said.

      30% lower risk

      To measure optimism and examine its impact on a person's lifespan, investigators analyzed data from 70,000 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study. Participants were asked to either agree or disagree with statements such as, “In uncertain times, I usually expect the best.” Women could express their level of agreement on a five-point scale.

      The researchers found that the most optimistic women had nearly a 30% lower risk of dying from the diseases analyzed in the study. Those in the top 25% had: 
      • a 16% lower risk of dying from cancer
      • a 38% lower risk of dying from heart disease
      • a 39% lower risk of dying from stroke 
      • a 38% lower risk of dying from respiratory disease
      • a 52% lower risk of dying from infection

      Doesn't prove cause and effect

      "While most medical and public health efforts today focus on reducing risk factors for diseases, evidence has been mounting that enhancing psychological resilience may also make a difference," Kim said.

      "Our new findings suggest that we should make efforts to boost optimism, which has been shown to be associated with healthier behaviors and healthier ways of coping with life challenges," he added.

      But findings from the observational study, which was only done on women, may reflect “reverse causation," the researchers noted; women’s health conditions could influence how optimistic they are. The authors also wrote that the links between optimism, infection, and respiratory disease "should be interpreted cautiously because of the novelty of the findings."

      Are you a ‘glass-half-full’ kind of person? If so, a new study suggests that you could have many healthy years ahead of you.Researchers from the Harvar...

      Job market holds steady in October

      The year-over-year gain in employment was about 2.5 million

      The number of job openings was little changed at 5.5 million on the last business day of October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

      Openings were up in health care and social assistance, but down in professional and business services, federal government, and mining and logging. The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions of the country.

      Hires

      There wasn't much change in the number of hires in October -- 5.1 million -- about the same as the month before for a hires rate of 3.5%.

      The number of hires was little changed for total private and for government, with hires down by 26,000 in state and local government education and little change in all other industries. The number of hires also was little changed in all four regions.

      Separations

      Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations and is referred to as turnover.

      There were 4.9 million total separations in October, comprised of 3.0 million quits, 1.5 million layoffs and discharges other separations that was little changed from September.

      Net employment change

      Over the 12 months ending in October, hires totaled 62.6 million and separations totaled 60.1 million, for a net employment gain of 2.5 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

      The complete report is available on the DOL website.

      Jobless claims

      A big drop last week in the number of initial jobless claims.

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports there were 258,000 first-time applications for state unemployment benefits filed in the week ending December 3, down 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

      Initial claims have now been below 300,000 for 92 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1970.

      The four-week moving average inched up 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised average to 252,500.

      The latter measurement is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market due to its lack of volatility.

      The full report may be found on the DOL website.

      The number of job openings was little changed at 5.5 million on the last business day of October, according to the Bureau...

      Model year 2007-2008 Hyundai Entourage vehicles recalled

      The secondary hood latch may remain unlatched when the hood is closed.

      Hyundai Motor America is recalling 41,264 model year 2007-2008 Entourage vehicles manufactured February 16, 2006, to June 30, 2008.

      The vehicle's the secondary hood latch may corrode and bind and remain in the unlatched position when the hood is closed.

      If the primary latch is inadvertently released and the secondary latch is not engaged, the hood could unexpectedly open while driving, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash.

      What to do

      Hyundai will notify all owners.

      For vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, dealers will replace the secondary latch.

      For vehicles in any other state, dealers will inspect and either lubricate or replace the secondary latch, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin December 9, 2016.

      Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-800-633-5151. Hyundai's number for this recall is 154.

      Hyundai Motor America is recalling 41,264 model year 2007-2008 Entourage vehicles manufactured February 16, 2006, to June 30, 2008.The vehicle's the se...

      Mercedes-Benz recalls vehicles with clearance issue

      The vehicle's composite underbody panel may melt, increasing the risk of a fire.

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 799 model year 2017 E400 4Matic Coupes, E400 Convertibles, E550 Coupes and E550 Convertibles manufactured June 7, 2016, to September 8, 2016.

      There may be insufficient clearance between the vehicle's left catalytic converter and the composite underbody panel causing the panel to melt, increasing the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the underbody panel, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in December 2016.

      Owners may contact Mercedes customer service at 1-800-367-6372.

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 799 model year 2017 E400 4Matic Coupes, E400 Convertibles, E550 Coupes and E550 Convertibles manufactured June 7, 20...

      Baby teethers labeled 'BPA-free' often contain BPA, study finds

      Researchers say even low levels of BPA can be harmful

      To soothe teething pain, parents often hand their little one a colorful teether to sink their sprouting teeth into. But despite being labeled “BPA-free” and “non-toxic,” many baby teethers may contain low levels of BPA.

      This is according to new research, published Wednesday in the Environmental Science and Technology Journal. After testing 59 plastic baby teethers, researchers from the American Chemical Society (ACS) found that all 59 released low levels of BPA and other endocrine-disruptors (EDCs).

      Studies have shown that EDCs can interfere with hormones and have harmful developmental, reproductive, and neurological effects. The U.S. and other governments have banned or restricted the use of some BPA, parabens, and antimicrobials in certain baby products, such as bottles.

      In the study, some teethers leached triclosan, an antimicrobial linked to liver cancer, while others contained parabens, a type of preservative linked to thyroid problems.

      Current regulations

      The plastics industry claims the amount of BPA used in products intended for babies and kids does not pose a health risk, but study author Kurunthachalam Kannan says recent studies have suggested that even at a nanogram or microgram level, BPA can be harmful.

      “Regulation is hazy because the levels are still being debated and standards are not clearly described,” Kannan told FoxNews.com.

      After estimating the average use time and body weight of a 12-month-old baby, ACS researchers found that a child’s exposure to BPA and other EDCs in teethers would be lower than the European standards for temporary tolerable daily intake levels.

      But these regulations do not account for the accumulation of multiple EDCs, the researchers noted. Additionally, not all of the chemicals measured in the study are regulated.

      The researchers say these findings could be used to develop appropriate policies to protect infants from exposure to potentially toxic chemicals found in teethers.
      To soothe teething pain without teething rings, experts recommend using natural remedies for easing the pain of aching gums. Parents can give their child a frozen washcloth, a frozen carrot, or a frozen bagel or waffle to chew on. Parents can also find teethers made of wood or natural, organic cotton to use in place of plastic teethers. 

      To soothe teething pain, parents often hand their little one a colorful teether to sink their sprouting teeth into. But despite being labeled “BPA-free” an...

      How eating a handful of nuts every day can cut health risks

      Researchers say eating up to 20 grams of nuts per day can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other ailments

      Whether you prefer walnuts, pecans, or hazel nuts, eating a handful of nuts every day can cut your risk of heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. That’s the conclusion that researchers from Imperial College London and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have come to.

      The team recently took a look at 29 separate studies from around the world, comprising over 800,000 participants and thousands of cases of coronary heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. And in all those cases, they found that consumption of at least 20 grams of nuts per day reduced health risks.

      "We found a consistent reduction in risk across many different diseases, which is a strong indication that there is a real underlying relationship between nut consumption and different health outcomes. It's quite a substantial effect for such a small amount of food,” said Dagfinn Aune, co-author of the study.

      Reducing health risks

      But why exactly do nuts seem to have such a profound effect on health? The researchers think it has to do with the nutrients found in these foods. They point out that the benefits of some nuts override their fat content and might even lead to reduced weight in the long-run.

      "Some nuts, particularly walnuts and pecan nuts are also high in antioxidants, which can fight oxidative stress and possibly reduce cancer risk. Even though nuts are quite high in fat, they are also high in fibre and protein, and there is some evidence that suggests nuts might actually reduce your risk of obesity over time," said Aune.

      When it comes to reducing other health risks, Aune says that even peanuts (which are technically a legume) have some benefits. "Nuts and peanuts are high in fibre, magnesium, and polyunsaturated fats -- nutrients that are beneficial for cutting cardiovascular disease risk and which can reduce cholesterol levels,” he said.

      With these findings under their belts, the researchers are hoping to continue their work to see if other food groups, like fruits and vegetables, can reduce the risk of other diseases.

      The full study has been published in BMC Medicine.

      Whether you prefer walnuts, pecans, or hazel nuts, eating a handful of nuts every day can cut your risk of heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases....

      FAA proposes civil penalty against Resorts World companies

      The firm is accused of running unauthorized flights

      The next time you decide to fly to the islands for some sun and fun, you might want to take a close look at the airline you've chosen.

      The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a civil penalty of $218,700 civil against Resorts World Aviation and Resorts World Bimini.

      The companies are accused of flying passengers without an FAA air carrier certificate or with pilots who had not been trained and checked for commercial operations.

      The charges

      According to the agency, Resorts World Aviation provided Resorts World Bimini casino players and other guests with nine for-hire flights between July 10 and July 19, 2015. The flights were between the Miami area and Bimini in the Bahamas.

      The companies operated the flights when they did not hold the required FAA certificate to carry passengers for hire, according to the FAA, or the economic authorization from the Transportation Department to operate as an air carrier.

      Additionally, the FAA claims pilots flying the planes did not have the required training and proficiency checks to conduct the operations involved. The agency also says the companies advertised to perform the operations despite not having FAA authorization.

      The companies have asked to meet with the FAA to discuss the case.

      The next time you decide to fly to the islands for some sun and fun, you might want to take a close look at the airline you've chosen.The Federal Aviat...