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    Amazon begins paying refunds for in-app charges made by children

    More than $70 million in charges are eligible for refunds

    Amazon.com has started processing refunds to consumers whose children ran up in-app charges between November 2011 and May 2016. More than $70 million is at stake.

    Eligible consumers should have received a letter in the mail. Those who didn't can go to https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/refund-orders/in-apprefund/ (link is external) or log into their Amazon.com accounts and go to the Message Center to find information about requesting a refund under Important Messages.

    Refund requests can be completed entirely online. Consumers do not need to call Amazon or send anything by mail to receive a refund. The deadline for submitting refund requests is May 28, 2018. Any questions about individual refunds should be directed to Amazon at 866-216-1072.

    Last month, the FTC and Amazon agreed to end their litigation related to the FTC’s case, which paved the way for the refund program to begin.

    A contract requires consent

    In April 2016, a federal court ruled that Amazon had wrongfully charged consumers for in-app purchases made by children who were using mobile apps like online games, downloaded from Amazon's app store.

    The court found that Amazon received many complaints from parents about surprise in-app charges incurred by children. The judge in the case said what Amazon disclosed about the possibility of in-app charges within otherwise “free” apps was not sufficient to inform consumers – especially children – about the charges. Minors cannot enter into legally binding contracts.

    “This case demonstrates what should be a bedrock principle for all companies — you must get customers’ consent before you charge them,” said Thomas B. Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Consumers affected by Amazon’s practices can now be compensated for charges they didn’t expect or authorize.”

    The FTC previously took action against Google and Apple in relation to unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children. Those companies ended up making refunds.

    Amazon.com has started processing refunds to consumers whose children ran up in-app charges between November 2011 and May 2016. More than $70 million is at...

    U.S home prices up again in March

    Rising mortgage rates could put pressure on prices

    Home prices were on the rise again throughout the country in March on both an annual and month-to month basis.

    The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, which covers all nine census divisions in the U.S., reported a 5.8% annual gain -- setting a 33-month high.

    Both the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite indices rose, posting gains of 5.2% and 5.9% annual increases, respectively.

    “While there is some regional variation,” noted David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, “prices are rising across the U.S. Half of the 20 cities tracked by the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller indices rose more than 6% from March 2016 to March 2017. The smallest gain of 4.1%, in New York, was roughly double the rate of inflation.

    March's highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities came in Seattle (+12.3%), Portland (+9.2%) and Dallas (+8.6%).

    Ten cities reported higher price increases in the year ending March 2017 than in the year ending February 2017.

    Month-over-month

    Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index was up 0.8% in March. The 10-City Composite rose 0.9% and the 20-City Composite posted a gain of 1.0%. After seasonal adjustment, the National Index recorded a 0.3% month-over-month increase.

    Both the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite indices rose 0.9% from February to March after seasonal adjustment. Eighteen of the 20 cities reported increases in March before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, 17 cities saw prices rise.

    “Over the last year, analysts suggested that one factor pushing prices higher was the unusually low inventory of homes for sale,” said Blitzer. “If mortgage rates -- currently near 4% -- rise further, this could deter more people from selling and keep pressure on inventories and prices. While prices cannot rise indefinitely, there is no way to tell when rising prices and mortgage rates will force a slowdown in housing.”

     

     

    Home prices were on the rise again throughout the country in March on both an annual and month-to month basis.The S&P; CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. Nati...

    Pending home sales down in April

    It's the second decline in as many months

    For a second consecutive month, pending home sales have posted a decline with only the West showing positive movement.

    The National Association of Realtors reports its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), which is based on contract signings, fell 1.3% in April to 109.8 from March's downwardly revised 111.3.

    That puts the PHSI 3.3% below a year ago -- the first year-over-year decline since last December and the largest since June 2014.

    Weak supply levels and the resulting deterioration of affordability are blamed for the decline.

    “Much of the country for the second straight month saw a pullback in pending sales as the rate of new listings continues to lag the quicker pace of homes coming off the market,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Realtors are indicating that foot traffic is higher than a year ago, but it's obviously not translating to more sales.”

    Regional breakdown

    • The PHSI in the Northeast decreased 1.7% to 97.2 in April, and now stands 0.6% below a year ago.
    • In the Midwest the index plunged 4.7% to 104.4, and is now 6.1% lower than than it was in April 2016.
    • Pending home sales in the South were off 2.7% for a reading of 125.9 are now 2.3% below the same period a year earlier.
    • In the one positive report, the index in the West jumped 5.8% to 100.0% but is still down 4.2% from a year ago.

    Looking ahead

    Yun doesn't have much faith that the low supply levels will go away anytime soon as home building activity has not picked up enough this year and too few homeowners are listing their home for sale.

    He projects existing-home sales to be around 5.64 million this year -- up 3.5% from 2016, with the national median existing-home price increasing around 5%.

    In 2016, existing sales were up 3.8% and prices rose 5.1%.

     

     

    For a second consecutive month, pending home sales have posted a decline with only the West showing positive movement.The National Association of Realt...

    Mortgage applications head lower

    Contract interest rates were mixed

    Declines in purchases and refinancings drove mortgage applications lower last week.

    The Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association shows overall applications dipped 3.4% in the week ending May 26.

    The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index fell 1%, with the unadjusted Purchase Index down 3% from a week earlier, but up 7% from the same week a year ago.

    The Refinance Index plunged 6%, taking the refinance share of mortgage activity to 43.2% of total applications from 43.9% the previous week.

    The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share totaled 7.7% of total applications, the FHA share slipped to 10.5% from 10.8% the week before, the VA share of total applications rose to 10.8% from 10.5%, and the USDA share was unchanged at 0.8%.

    Contract interest rates

    • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($424,100 or less) was unchanged at 4.17%, with points decreasing to 0.32 from 0.39 (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 $424,100) held steady at 4.11%, with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.31 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs backed by the FHA fell to 4.03% from 4.07%, with points decreasing to 0.32 from 0.34 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs was down to 3.42% from 3.45, with points increasing to 0.39 from 0.38 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs dropped from 3.27% to 3.22%, with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.35 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

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

     

     

    Declines in purchases and refinancings drove mortgage applications lower last week.The Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey conducted by the Mortgage Ba...

    Hongkong Sun Rise Trading recalls cordless electric lawn mowers

    The mower's circuit board can short circuit and catch fire

    Hongkong Sun Rise Trading is recalling about 28,000 cordless electric lawn mowers.

    The mower's circuit board can short circuit and catch fire, posing a fire hazard to users.

    The firm has received reports of 12 incidents with the recalled lawn mowers including five reports of fires. No injuries have been reported.

    This recall involves Kobalt and Greenworks brands of cordless electric walk-behind lawn mowers.

    The recalled lawn mowers have four wheels (two smaller ones in the front and two larger ones in the back), a 40-volt max lithium ion battery and a deck width of 20 inches. Both have a large label on the rear bag door area with a serial number, model number and date code.

    The Kobalt brand mowers also have an item number on the label. “Kobalt” or “Greenworks” is printed on the side of the bag.

    The following models are included in the recall:

    Brand

    Product

    Colors

    Model Number

    Item Number

    Date Codes

    Kobalt

    40-volt max cordless dual-blade push lawn mower

    Blue and black

    KM2040X-06

    506586

    04/14/14 to 05/14/15

    Greenworks G-MAX

    40-volt twin force cordless electric push lawn mower

    Green and black

    25302

    N/A

    04/10/14 to 07/17/15

     

    The mowers, manufactured in China, were sold at Lowe’s and other retailers nationwide and online at Amazon.com, Lowes.com and other websites from May 2014, through July 2016, for about $350.

    What to do

    Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled lawn mowers, remove the battery and contact Hongkong Sun Rise Trading for a free repair.

    Consumers may contact Hongkong Sun Rise Trading toll-free at 888-266-7096 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) any day or online at www.greenworkstools.com and click on “Important Safety Notice” at the bottom of the page for more information.

     

     

    Hongkong Sun Rise Trading is recalling about 28,000 cordless electric lawn mowers.The mower's circuit board can short circuit and catch fire, posing a...

    United accused of flying plane 'not in airworthy condition'

    FAA charges jet made 23 flights in 2014 without a repair inspection

    United Airlines faces a $435,000 civil penalty from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for allegedly flying a plane "that was not in airworthy condition."

    The agency said the incident occurred three years ago.

    According to the FAA, United mechanics replaced a fuel pump pressure switch on one of the new Boeing 787 jets in response to a problem highlighted by the flight crew two days earlier. The FAA charges United failed to perform an inspection of the repair before the plane was put back in service.

    The FAA complaint alleges the airline used the plane on 23 flights before it inspected the work 19 days later. It further maintains United used the plane on two flights after being notified by the FAA that the inspection had not been completed. Under FAA rules, the plane did not meet the technical requirements of being airworthy on all 23 flights.

    “Maintaining the highest levels of safety depends on operators closely following all applicable rules and regulations,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Failing to do so can create unsafe conditions.”

    United has not commented publicly but the FAA says the airline has requested a meeting with the agency to discuss the case.

    United Airlines faces a $435,000 civil penalty from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for allegedly flying a plane "that was not in airworthy condi...

    Armour Eckrich Meats recalls breakfast sausages

    The products may contain pieces of metal

    Armour Eckrich Meats of Junction City, Kan., is recalling approximately 90,978 pounds of ready-to-eat breakfast sausages.

    The products may be contaminated with pieces of metal.

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

    The following fully-cooked pork, turkey and beef breakfast sausage items, produced and packaged from April 26 – 28, 2017, are being recalled:

    • 8,769 cases of 16.6 oz. vacuumed packages containing “ECKRICH SMOK-Y CHEDDAR BREAKFAST SAUSAGE, NATURALLY HARDWOOD SMOKED” on the label, case code/ UPC number “27815 17984,” and a Use By date of “08/17/17.”

    The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 3JC” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to distribution centers in Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

    What to do

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

    Consumers with questions about the recall may call 1 (877) 933-4625.

     

     

     

    Armour Eckrich Meats of Junction City, Kan., is recalling approximately 90,978 pounds of ready-to-eat breakfast sausages.The products may be contaminat...

    L.A. Lucky brand basil seed recalled

    The product is contaminated with Salmonella

    L.A. Lucky Import & Export is recalling L.A. Lucky brand basil due to the presence of Salmonella in the packet.

    No illnesses have been reported to date.

    The recalled product, which comes in a 2.1-oz., clear plastic package marked with UPC # 820678201697, was sold in retail stores nationwide from October 1, 2015, to May 15, 2017.

    What to do

    Customers who purchased the recalled product should dispose of it.

    To receive a full refund or replacement product of their choice, consumers may email the company at sales@lalucky.com or call 323-224-0211, Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (PST). 

     

     

    L.A. Lucky Import & Export is recalling L.A. Lucky brand basil due to the presence of Salmonella in the packet.No illnesses have been reported to date....

    Chipotle identifies locations hit by data breach

    Customers paying with plastic between March 24 and April 18 could be affected

    If you ate at a Chipotle Mexican Grill or Pizzeria Locale restaurant and paid with plastic between March 24 and April 18 this year, there's a chance hackers have your credit or debit card data.

    The company reports the completion of an investigation into the incident, in which hackers breached its payment card network at some, but not all, locations. To find out if a location you visited was affected, go to the bottom of this page for Chipotle Mexican Grills and the top of this page for Pizzeria Locale.

    The data breach was first reported April 25, and since then investigators have been trying to learn more about it. They conclude that malware designed to access payment card data from cards used at point-of-sale (POS) locations infiltrated the company's payment networks.

    The software looked for track data containing vital information about the cardholder, including card number, expiration data, and internal verification code. It also sometimes included the customer's name.

    Customers should remain vigilant

    "Customers that used a payment card at an affected location during its at-risk time frame should remain vigilant to the possibility of fraud by reviewing their payment card statements for any unauthorized activity," Chipotle said in a press release.

    It's important to report any unauthorized charges to the card issuer quickly, since cardholders are protected from liability if they report the fraud in a timely manner. Consumers should contact their bank or credit card card company by using the phone number on the back of the card.

    Consumers who used a credit or debit card at one of the affected locations should also contact the card issuer's customer service department and report that fact. The company likely will issue a replacement card and cancel the old one.

    During its investigation, Chipotle said it removed the malware from its systems and is working on ways to improve its network security.

    The data breach is just the latest setback for the popular fast casual restaurant chain. Last year it was hit with an outbreak of E. coli that forced the temporary closing of several of its locations around the country.

    If you ate at a Chipotle Mexican Grill or Pizzeria Locale restaurant and paid with plastic between March 24 and April 18 this year, there's a chance hacker...

    Consumer confidence slips in May

    The decline is the second in a row

    There was a bit of softness in the attitude of consumers in May, with The Conference Board report that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 117.9 from downwardly revised 119.4 in April.

    While the Present Situation Index inched up from 140.3 to 140.7, the Expectations Index dropped to 102.6 from 105.4 last month.

    “Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting little change in overall economic conditions,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco, but noted that, “Consumers were somewhat less upbeat than in April, but overall remain optimistic that the economy will continue expanding into the summer months.”

    The view from consumers

    Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions held steady in May, with those saying business conditions are “good” edging down from 30.8% to 29.4%, and those saying business conditions are “bad” unchanged at 13.7%.

    Consumers’ also had a positive assessment of the labor market. Those who think are “plentiful” dipped slightly from 30.3% to 29.9%; however, those believe jobs are “hard to get” slipped to 18.2% from 19.4%.

    Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook. The percentage expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months fell from 25.1% to 21.3%t, as those expecting conditions to worsen also declined from 10.4% to 10.1%.

    The outlook for the labor market was mixed. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead was down to 18.6% from 21.9%, but those who think there will be fewer jobs dropped from 13.8% to 12.0%.

    The percentage of consumers who look for their incomes to rise edged up from 18.7% to 19.2%, although the proportion expecting a drop also rose -- from 7.6% to 8.7%.

    The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 18.

     

     

    There was a bit of softness in the attitude of consumers in May, with The Conference Board report that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 117.9 from...

    Incomes and spending on the rise in April

    The savings rate, however, took a hit

    You had a little more money in your pocket during April.

    The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports personal income rose by $58.4 billion, or 0.4%, last month with disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after taxes are deducted -- also up 0.4%, or $56.5 billion.

    The advance in personal income was due mostly to increasing private wages and salaries.

    Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, jumped $53.2 billion or 0.4%, led by increases in outlays for recreational goods and vehicles & gasoline.

    The PCE price index -- an inflation measure tied to spending -- rose 0.2%, while the “core” PCE price index, which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, also was up 0.2%.

    Personal saving in April totaled $759.1 billion in April, which dropped the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- to 5.3% from 5.9% the month before.

    The complete report is available on the BEA website.

     

     

    You had a little more money in your pocket during April.The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports personal income rose by $58.4 billion, or 0.4%, last mo...

    Leggett & Platt Office Components recalls office chairs

    The seat could detach from the chair, posing a fall hazard

    Leggett & Platt Office Components of Carthage, Mo., is recalling about 49,000 office chairs sold in the U.S. and Canada.

    Seat slider bolts and push nuts can disconnect and fall from the chair, which could cause the seat to detach from the chair, posing a fall hazard.

    No incidents or injuries are reported.

    This recall involves office chairs with a Leggett & Platt Office Components LP01 synchro slider mechanism. The slider mechanism allows the user to adjust the seat depth. The sliders were sold on five brands of office chairs: Hon, Hugg, JSI, Sitmatic and Via Seating.

    Brand

    Model Name

    Model Numbers

    Via Seating

     

    Proform

    Brisbane

    Genie

    Riva Act II

    1303-62C, 1305-62C, 1503-62C, 1505-62C, 151-62C, 152-62C, 1603-62C, 1605-62C, 1605-MPC, 161-62C, 162-62C, 1703-62C, 1705-62C, 171-62C, 172-62C, 172-MPC, 1PTG-401-62C, 1PTG-402-62C, 1PTG-421-62C, 2R12-62C, 2R22-62C, 2R32-62C, 2V24-62C, 2V34-62C, 3403-62C, 3405-62C, 3603-62C, 3605-62C, 3803-62C, 3805-62C, 401-62C, 402-62C, 404-62C, 405-62C, 408-62C, 409-62C, 421-62C, 425-62C, 4M12-62C, 4M14-62C, 4M22-62C, 4M24-62C, 4M32-62C, 4M34-62C, 4R12-62C, 4R22-62C, 961-62C.

     

    The model number, “Via Seating,” and the date of manufacture is located on a white sticker on the underside of the seat mechanism.

    Hugg

     

    Jaguar

    JA1-21-12-15-12

    A white label beneath the seat reads “Hickory Leather Co. Hugg Seating” along with the date (e.g., 09/01/16), “Jaguar Series” and model number JA1. “Syncro w/ St Slide” is also on the label.

    Lido

    LI1-21-12-11-12

    A white label beneath the seat reads “Hickory Leather Co. Hugg Seating” along with the date (e.g., 09/01/16), “Lido Series” and model number LI1. “Syncro w/ St Slide” is also on the label.

    Verona

    VR1-21-12-12-11

    A white label beneath the seat reads “Hickory Leather Co. Hugg Seating” along with the date (e.g., 09/01/16), “Verona Series” and model number VR1. “Syncro w/ St Slide” is also on the label.

    Tigre

    TI1-21-12-15-15

    A white label beneath the seat reads “Hickory Leather Co. Hugg Seating” along with the date (e.g., 09/01/16), “Tigre Series” and model number TI1. “Syncro w/ St Slide” is also on the label.

    Leon

    LE1-21-12-11-11

    A white label beneath the seat reads “Hickory Leather Co. Hugg Seating” along with the date (e.g., 09/01/16), “Leon Series” and model number LE1. “Syncro w/ St Slide” is also on the label.

    Opus

    OP2-31-12-51-11

    A white label beneath the seat reads “Hickory Leather Co. Hugg Seating” along with the date (e.g., 09/01/16), “Opus Series” and model number OP2. “Syncro w/ St Slide” is also on the label.

    Regis

    RE3-31-12-32-12

    A white label beneath the seat reads “Hickory Leather Co. Hugg Seating” along with the date (e.g., 09/01/16), “Regis Series” and model number RE3. “Syncro w/ St Slide” is also on the label.

    Sitmatic

     

    Beta2

    053SN, 057SN, 061SN, 063SE, 063SN, 064SE, 064SN, 065SE, 073SE and 073SN

    A white label on the chair reads “SITMATIC” and lists the serial and model numbers.

     

    Hon

     

    Nucleus

    HN1-

    The model number, “The HON Company,” a barcode and the date of manufacture (e.g., 9/15) is located on a white label attached to the underside of the seat.

    JSI/Jasper Seating

     

    Protocol

    PT5610, PT5605T, PT5660U, PT5600  PT5615U PT5650U, PT5610T, PT5605U, PT5665T, PT5600T, PT5660,  PT5655T, PT5610U,  PT5650, PT5665U, PT5600U, PT5660T,  PT5655U, PT5615T, PT5650T

    A white label stapled beneath the seat reads “Protocol Series,” lists the model number and “Syncro tilt w/slider.”

    Proxy

    PX800, PX810L, PX810, PX800T, PX800L, PX810T

    A white label stapled beneath the seat reads “Proxy Series,” has the model number and Syncro tilt w/slider.”

    The chairs, manufactured in China, were sold at Costco, OfficeMax, Office Depot, Staples and other furniture stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, Costco.com, OfficeDepot.com, Staples.com, Walmart.com and other online stores from July 2015, through February 2017, for between $300 and $3,500.

    What to do

    Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled chairs and inspect the seat for looseness or a wobble and contact the firm for a free repair.

    Consumers may contact Leggett & Platt toll-free at 844-516-3615 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at LP01service@leggett.com or online at www.lpworkfurniture.com and click on “Product Recall” at the top of the page for more information.

     

     

    Leggett & Platt Office Components of Carthage, Mo., is recalling about 49,000 office chairs sold in the U.S. and Canada.Seat slider bolts and push nuts...

    Ford recalls vehicles with seat back recliner issue

    The seat back frame may not restrain the occupant in the event of a crash

    Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,204 model year 2017 Ford Explorer, F-150, F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 vehicles equipped with a manual driver's seat back recliner mechanism.

    The seat back frame may not restrain the occupant in the event of a crash due to having inadequate welds.

    As such, these vehicles may not meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) numbers 202a, "Head Restraints" and 207, "Seating Systems."

    Occupants who are not restrained adequately have an increased risk of injury.

    What to do

    Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the seat back frame, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on June 5, 2017.

    Owners may contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 17C08.

     

     

    Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,204 model year 2017 Ford Explorer, F-150, F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 vehicles equipped with a manual driver's seat bac...

    Brightfarms recalls produce sold at Giant Food stores

    The products may contain pieces of metal

    BrightFarms is recalling packaged produce sold in Giant Food stores due to the potential presence of metal as a result of construction at its Elkwood, Virginia, (Culpeper County) greenhouse farm.

    The recalled BrightFarms branded products are sold at the Giant Landover, Giant Carlisle, Peapod and Martin’s Food Markets in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

    The produce may also have been distributed via the Capital Area Food Bank.

    The following salad products, packaged in clear, plastic clamshells with best by date of 5/22/17, 5/23/17, 5/24/17, 5/25/17, 5/26/17, are being recalled: 

    • BrightFarms Baby Spinach (4 oz. package)
    • BrightFarms Spring Mix (4 oz. and 8 oz. package)
    • BrightFarms Spinach Blend (4 oz. package)
    • BrightFarms Baby Kale (3 oz. package)
    • BrightFarms Arugula (4 oz. and 8 oz. package)
    • BrightFarms Mixed Greens (4 oz. package)
    • BrightFarms Baby Romaine (4 oz. and 8 oz. Package)

    The following basil products, packaged in clear plastic clamshells with best by dates 5/18/17, 5/19/17, 5/20/17, 5/21/17, 5/22/17, 5/23/17, are being recalled:

    • BrightFarms Basil (.75 oz. package)
    • BrightFarms Thai Basil (.75 oz. package)
    • BrightFarms Lemon Basil (.75 oz. Package)

    Best by dates are located on the package label.

    What to do

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

    Consumers with questions may contact the company at l (646) 480-5262 between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST) Monday through Friday, or by email info@brightfarms.com with the subject line: Recall.

     

     

    BrightFarms is recalling packaged produce sold in Giant Food stores due to the potential presence of metal as a result of construction at its Elkwood, Virg...

    Congressman wants action on battery fires, explosions

    Wants to know what the CPSC and FDA are doing about the problem

    A New Jersey Congressman would like to energize the federal agencies he thinks should be doing more about the problem of fires and explosions caused by lithium-ion batteries.

    The problem is not exactly new. The batteries have been causing problems for years, in hoverboards, laptops, smartphones, e-cigarettes and other gadgets, and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) says the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should do something about it.

    In a letter to the heads of each agency, Pallone is asking for a briefing to find out what, if anything, is being done. He notes that both agencies made an initial effort but that not much appears to have happened since then. 

    Known fire risks

    “For at least a decade, the known fire risks associated with lithium-ion batteries has resulted in countless Americans suffering from burns and disfigurements,” Pallone wrote. “It is a welcome start that CPSC has directed staff to address battery hazards, and that FDA has conducted a public workshop to explore the dangers of e-cigarette batteries. But work at both of your agencies has only just begun to address known battery safety problems that have harmed consumers. The federal government – through CPSC, FDA, and other agencies – must take even more decisive action with regard to the batteries themselves.”

    Specifically, Pallone asked:

    • What are CPSC and FDA doing to collect data on the number of incidences of dangerous battery safety failures, such as fires or explosions?
    • What research has staff at CPSC and FDA done to inform policy actions, such as a consumer product safety rule or other safety standards?
    • What are CPSC and FDA doing to coordinate with each other and with other federal agencies?
    • Do CPSC and FDA have adequate resources to address battery safety problems in consumer devices?

    Pallone is the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. His letter went to CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle and FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

    A New Jersey Congressman would like to energize the federal agencies he thinks should be doing more about the problem of fires and explosions caused by lit...

    BMW recalls vehicles equipped with Comfort Access and Soft Close Automatic options

    The doors may appear to be closed and latched, but may inadvertently open

    BMW of North America is recalling 45,484 model year 2005-2008 745i, 745Li, 750i, 750Li, 760i, 760Li, and B7 Alpina vehicles equipped with both the Comfort Access and Soft Close Automatic options.
     
    The doors may appear to be closed and latched, but, in fact, may inadvertently open.
     
    BMW of North America is recalling 45,484 model year 2005-2008 745i, 745Li, 750i, 750Li, 760i, 760Li, and B7 Alpina vehicles equipped with both the Comfort...

    Economic growth picks up -- a little bit

    The second of three GDP estimates shows a smidge of improvement

    The government’s second look at the state of the economy during the first quarter is a little better than the first -- but not by much. 

    The Commerce Department reports real gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at an annual rate of 1.2%. The advance look a month earlier pegged growth at a 0.7% rate. In the previous three months, real GDP increased 2.1 percent.

    This latest estimate is based on more complete source data. Nonetheless, the general picture of economic growth remains the same.  

    The difference in the number comes from increases in nonresidential fixed investment and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) -- consumer spending -- that were larger and a decrease in state and local government spending was smaller than previously estimated.

    The PCE price index, an inflation gauge tied to GDP, rose 2.4%, compared with an increase of 2.0%. The “core rate,” which excludes the volatile food and energy category, was up 2.1% versus a 1.3% advance.


    Corporate profits

    Corporate profits took a hit in this second estimate of economic performance. Profits with inventory valuation adjustment and capital consumption adjustment plunged $40.3 billion in the first quarter, after rising $11.2 billion in the fourth quarter. 

    The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

     
    The government’s second look at the state of the economy during the first quarter is a little better than the first -- but not by much. The Commerce De...

    Early-stage breast cancer patients may get too much treatment

    Cancer researchers say medical guidelines aren't being followed

    Besides the physical and emotional toll a disease like cancer takes, there is also the financial toll. For example, some drugs used to treat cancer are extremely expensive. For patients, there is definitely a financial aspect to managing their disease.

    Now, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are producing evidence that many women with early-stage breast cancer are getting treatment that may be a waste of money.

    Specifically, they say patients often receive advanced imaging and other tests that provide little, if any medical benefit. In fact, they say these procedures could have harmful effects, and it's likely they will make the treatment more expensive.

    Guidelines not being followed

    Study leader Dr. Gary Lyman, a breast cancer oncologist, says current guidelines recommend against routine surveillance testing for patients in the early stage of breast cancer, but they're frequently performed anyway.

    Lyman says the guidelines were drawn up to help patients and doctors make the best decisions, based on the best medical evidence. The guidelines specifically recommend against the routine use of advanced imaging scans and costly blood tests to track tumor markers.

    That's because there have been several studies that have shown the patient gets no benefit, and there's a strong likelihood of false-positive results that can lead to unnecessary procedures, such as radiation treatment.

    Message not getting through

    But the Hutchinson researchers say the message isn't getting through. Their review of records in more than 2,000 early-stage breast cancer cases found that 37% percent received tumor-marker tests during the post-treatment surveillance period. On average, there were 2.8 tests per patient.

    While there are obvious health concerns, Lyman said these patients faced costs higher than the patients who didn't get the extra tests and procedures.

    "We believe one of the best ways we can help patients reduce their financial burden is for us to reinforce the message with oncologists that these tests have been shown to provide no benefit for this particular group of patients,” said Lyman.

    Lyman and the research team will present the findings early next month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.

    The cost of treating breast cancer varies by the stage, with the lowest costs during early stages. An analysis of treatment costs by the National Institutes of Health placed average costs, in the first 24 months after diagnosis, at $72,000 for early-stage breast cancer.

    Besides the physical and emotional toll a disease like cancer takes, there is also the financial toll. For example, some drugs used to treat cancer are ext...

    Early 2017 sees rising house prices

    Forty-eight states and DC experienced increases

    The price of houses was on the rise in the first quarter of the year.

    The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports its House Price Index (HPI) was up 1.4% from the final three months of 2016 and 6.0% from the same period a year earlier. The seasonally adjusted monthly index for March was up 0.6% from February.

    "The steep, multi-year rise in U.S. home prices continued in the first quarter," said FHFA Deputy Chief Economist Andrew Leventis. "Mortgage rates during the quarter remained slightly elevated relative to most of last year, but demand for homes remained very strong. With housing inventories still languishing at extremely low levels, the strong demand led to another exceptionally large quarterly price increase."

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

    Report highlights

    • Home prices rose in 48 states and the District of Columbia between the first quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. The top five areas in annual appreciation were: 1) District of Columbia 13.9%; 2) Colorado 10.7%; 3) Idaho 10.3% 4) Washington 10.2%; and 5) New Hampshire 9.5%.
    • Among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., annual price increases were greatest in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI, where they shot up 13.7%. Prices were weakest in San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA (MSAD), where they lost 2.5%.
    • Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the first quarter, posting a 2.0% quarter-to-quarter gain and a 7.7% increase from the first quarter of last year. House price appreciation was weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices were up just 1.0% from the previous three-month period quarter.

    The complete report is available on the FHFA website.

    Zillow checks in

    Meanwhile, Zillow reports that prices as measured by its Home Value Index are finally back.

    The online real estate marketplace says the national median home value climbed 7.3% last month from April 2016 -- to $198,000. That surpassed the pre-recession peak of $196,600 set in April 2007.

    Jobless claims

    From the Labor Department (DOL), word that initial jobless claims inched higher last week.

    First-time applications for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 234,000 in the week ending May 20. That's a gain of 1,000 from the previous week's level, which was revised upward to by 1,000.

    The 4-week moving average, considered by many economists to give a more accurate picture of the labor market because of its low volatility level, was down 5,750 to was 235,250 -- the lowest level for since April 14, 1973.

    The full report may be found on the DOL website.

     

     

    The price of houses was on the rise in the first quarter of the year.The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports its House Price Index (HPI) was...

    Hobby Lobby recalls Easter and July 4th light-up spinner toys

    The battery cover can detach and expose the small coin cell batteries

    Hobby Lobby Stores of Oklahoma City, Okla., is recalling about 43,400 Easter and July 4th-themed light-up spinner toys.

    The battery cover can detach and expose the small coin cell batteries, posing choking and ingestion hazards to young children.

    The company has received one report of a 14-month-old child who ingested the battery. An x-ray was conducted and the battery passed through.

    This recall involves children’s battery-powered, light-up spinner toys sold in two themes: Easter and July 4th.

    The Easter-themed toys were sold in blue with a pink bunny on the dome and yellow with a yellow and orange chicken on the dome.

    The July 4th spinners are red with white stars painted on the blue dome. “Hobby Lobby” and item number 9130033 or 9130082 is printed on the spinner handle.

    The spinners are powered by three LR44 coin cell batteries.

    The spinner toys, manufactured in China, were sold at Hobby Lobby and Mardel stores nationwide from February 2017, to April 2017, for about $5.

    What to do

    Consumers should immediately take the recalled spinners away from children and return them to the nearest Hobby Lobby or Mardel store. Consumers with a receipt will receive a full refund and consumers without a receipt will receive a store credit.

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

     

     

    Hobby Lobby Stores of Oklahoma City, Okla., is recalling about 43,400 Easter and July 4th-themed light-up spinner toys.The battery cover can detach and...

    Global Garlic recalls Queso Fresco/ Whole Milk Cheese

    The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

    Global Garlic of Miami, Fla., is recalling 227 units of Queso Fresco/ Whole Milk Cheese that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

    No illnesses have been reported to date.

    The recalled product, which comes in a 16-oz. plastic bag labeled, “DE MI PAIS” with September 19, 2017, expiration date, was sold in retail stores in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Miami, Fla., and Fairdale, Ky.

    What to do

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

    Consumers with questions may contact the company at (305)545-6305 Monday – Friday, from 8:00AM – 5:30PM.

     

     

    Global Garlic of Miami, Fla., is recalling 227 units of Queso Fresco/ Whole Milk Cheese that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.No illness...

    Memorial Day weekend gas prices slightly higher than last year

    Prices highest in the West, cheapest in the Southeast

    Millions of consumers will hit the road for the long Memorial Day weekend and will find gasoline just a little more expensive than it was last year.

    According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey, the national average price of self-serve regular is around $2.36 a gallon, up seven cents from last Memorial Day weekend. The national average price of premium gas is $2.88 a gallon, 13 cents a gallon more than last year.

    The national average price of diesel fuel is $2.50 a gallon, nearly 22 cents a gallon more than last year.

    Fuel prices have been relatively stable in the last few weeks, with fewer refinery issues to create supply bottlenecks. The main factor in this year's higher prices is the price of oil, which is trading higher than at this time last year.

    34 million hitting the road

    Demand for motor fuel is also rising. AAA estimates some 34 million people will take a road trip over the weekend, nearly a million more than last year. That could speed up the draw-down in fuel supplies, keeping prices at the pump a little higher over the course of the summer.

    While the national average price of gas has been relatively stable in recent weeks, a few states saw significant price hikes in the last seven days. AAA reports the statewide average price in Ohio jumped 10 cents a gallon, rose nine cents in Michigan, gained eight cents in California, and added six cents in Indiana.

    Supplies are falling in the West

    The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports gasoline supplies fell in the West Coast region last week, resulting in upward pressure on prices. The price increases in California has pushed the statewide average over $3 a gallon for the first time in weeks. Supply is being held in check by routine maintenance at Phillips 66’s Carson refinery, Valero’s Benicia refinery and Tesoro’s Golden Eagle and Carson refineries.

    Drivers in the Southeast continue to enjoy the lowest gasoline prices in the nation. The statewide average for regular is $2.05 in South Carolina, $2.09 in Alabama and Mississippi, and $2.10 in Tennessee.

    Millions of consumers will hit the road for the long Memorial Day weekend and will find gasoline just a little more expensive than it was last year.Acc...

    An April pullback for sales of previously-owned homes

    But when they went, they went fast

    Sales of existing homes fell last month, due party to low supply.

    The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports previously-owned home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million.

    That's a drop of 2.3% from March's downwardly revised level 5.70 million. Even with the drop, sales were up 1.6% from the same time a year ago -- the fourth highest pace over the past year.

    "Last month's dip in closings was somewhat expected given that there was such a strong sales increase in March at 4.2%, and new and existing inventory is not keeping up with the fast pace homes are coming off the market," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "Demand is easily outstripping supply in most of the country and it's stymieing many prospective buyers from finding a home to purchase."

    Price and supply

    The median existing-home price for all housing types in April was $244,800 -- up 6.0% from April 2016 and the 62nd straight month of year-over-year gains.

    The median is the point at which half the house sold for more and half for less.

    Total housing inventory at the end of April climbed 7.2% to 1.93 million existing homes available for sale. That's 9.0% lower than a year ago (2.12 million), has fallen year-over-year for 23 consecutive. Unsold inventory is at a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with 4.6 months a year ago.

    Properties typically stayed on the market for 29 days in April, which is down five days from March and 39 days a year ago. It also surpasses last May (32 days) as the shortest timeframe since NAR began tracking in May 2011.

    Sales regionally

    Every major region except for the Midwest saw a decline last month.

    • Sales in the Northeast were off 2.7% to an annual rate of 730,000, and are now 2.7% below a year ago. The median price, though, was up 1.6% from April 2016 to $267,700.
    • In the South, sales fell 5.0% to an annual rate of 2.30 million, but are still 3.6% the same period a year earlier. The median price was $217,700, a year-over-year gain of 7.9%.
    • Existing-home sales in the West dipped 3.3% to an annual rate of 1.18 million in April, but are up 3.5% from a year ago. The median price jumped 6.8% to $358,600.
    • Sales rose 3.8% in the Midwest to an annual rate of 1.36 million, but are off 0.7% from April 2016. The median price was $194,500 -- a gain of 7.8%.

     

     

    Sales of existing homes fell last month, due party to low supply.The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports previously-owned home sales, includ...

    Strong refinance demand pushes mortgage applications higher

    Contract interest rates moved lower

    Mortgage applications rose last week, despite a decline in purchase applications.

    According to the weekly survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association, overall applications were up 4.4% in the week ending May 19.

    While the unadjusted Purchase Index was down 2%, the Refinance Index shot up 11% to its highest level since March 2017. That pushed the refinance share of mortgage activity to 43.9% of total applications from 41.1% the week before.

    The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity rose to 8.2% of total applications, the FHA share inched up to 10.8% from 10.6% a week earlier, the VA share dipped to 10.5% from 10.7%, and the USDA share of total applications was unchanged at 0.8%.

    Contract interest rates

    • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($424,100 or less) fell six basis points -- from 4.23% to 4.17% -- its lowest level since November 2016, with points increasing to 0.39 from 0.37 (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 $424,100) fell to its lowest level since last November 2016 to 4.11%, from 4.23%, with points increasing to 0.31 from 0.30 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs backed by the FHA slipped four basis points to 4.07%, with points decreasing to 0.34 from 0.37 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs dropped from 3.51% to 3.45%, its lowest level since November 2016, with points increasing to 0.38 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs was down three basis points to 3.27%, with points increasing to 0.35 from 0.21 (including the origination fee) for 80%t LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
    • The survey covers over 75% of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications.
    Mortgage applications rose last week, despite a decline in purchase applications.According to the weekly survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Assoc...

    Henning’s recalls Colby Jack cheese

    The product may not have been pasteurized properly

    Henning’s Cheese of Kiel, Wis., is recalling about 1,000 pounds its Colby Jack cheese.

    Due to an equipment malfunction, verification of proper pasteurization was not possible.

    No illnesses have been reported related to consumption of this product.

    The recalled product, sold throughout Wisconsin in one and two pound blocks on or after April 10, 2017, in one and two pound blocks, contains the date code of 1007 on a small label on the bottom of the cheese block.

    What to do

    Customers who purchased the recalled product should return it to the place of purchase or to Henning’s Cheese store for a full refund.

    Consumers with questions may contact Henning’s Cheese, Monday through Friday from 7am – 3 pm (CST), at 920-894-3032.

     

     

    Henning’s Cheese of Kiel, Wis., is recalling about 1,000 pounds its Colby Jack cheese.Due to an equipment malfunction, verification of proper pasteuriz...

    Dynacraft recalls battery operated ride-on toys

    The acceleration pedal can stick, posing fall and crash hazards

    Dynacraft BSC of American Canyon, Calif., is recalling about 20,000 Surge and Tonka battery-operated ride-on toys.

    The acceleration pedal can stick, posing fall and crash hazards.

    The company has received 19 reports of pedals sticking, including seven reports of minor injuries; abrasions, cuts and bruises.

    This recall involves three models of 12V battery-operated ride-on toys, including Surge 12V Camo 4X4, Surge 12V XL Quad and Tonka 12V Mighty Dump trucks.

    The recalled ride-on toys have model numbers and date codes listed in the table below. The model number, batch number, serial number and date code, formatted as “MMDDYYYY,” are printed on a label on the bottom of the ride-on toy.

    Product Name and Color

    Model Number

     

    Date Codes

    Batch

    Number

    Serial Numbers

    Surge 12V Camo 4X4

     

    Color: Camouflage and black with orange Surge graphic and accents

    8803-31

    06082016 06152016 06302016 07142016 07192016 07202016 07262016 07282016 08032016 08092016   08162016

     

    302119 302247 302248 302249 302255 302256 302257 302292 302296 302298 302299

    DA0331IF00001-DA0331IF01650

    DA0331IG00001-DA0331IG03450

    DA0331IH01201-DA0331IH02200

    DA0331IH05001-DA0331IH05200

    DA0331IH05501-DA0331IH06200

     

    Surge 12V XL Quad

     

    Color: Camouflage and black with neon green Surge graphic and accents

    8803-38

    07222016 08192016 08242016

    3101735 3101741 3101743 3101748 3101749 3101750

     

    DA0338IG00001-DA0338IG01250

    DA0338IH00001-DA0338IH02200

     

    Tonka 12V Mighty Dump Truck

     

    Color: yellow and black with red and white Tonka graphic

     

    8801-96U

    05182016 06022016 06162016 06302016 07132016

    302203 302205 302207 302209 302211

    DA0196IE00141-DA0196IE05500

    DA0196IF00001-DA0196IF07400

    DA0196IG00001-DA0196IG02500

     

    The toys, manufactured in China, were sold as follows:

    The Surge 12V Camo 4X4 was sold at Walmart nationwide between June 2016, and March, 2017 for about $300.

    The Surge 12V XL Quad sold at Academy Sports + Outdoors stores nationwide from September 2016, through March 2017, for between $150 and $200.

    The Tonka 12V Might Dump Truck was sold at Toys R Us stores nationwide and online at ToysRUs.com from July 2016, through November 2016, for about $350.

    What to do

    Consumers should immediately take the recalled ride-on toys away from children and contact Dynacraft to receive a free replacement foot pedal with installation instructions. Consumers in need of assistance with the repair, can bring the ride-on toy to an authorized service center for a free repair.

    Consumers may contact Dynacraft at 800-551-0032 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.dynacraftwheels.com and click on “Product Recalls” for more information.

     

     

    Dynacraft BSC of American Canyon, Calif., is recalling about 20,000 Surge and Tonka battery-operated ride-on toys.The acceleration pedal can stick, pos...

    Feds sue Fiat Chrysler over diesel emissions

    The automaker is accused of using a defeat devices to cheat on emission inspections

    As expected, the federal government has filed suit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), accusing it of using software -- so-called "defeat devices" -- to cheat emissions inspections of its diesel vehicles.

    It's reminiscent of the recently concluded $25 billion settlement with Volkswagen, which admitted to using illicit software to reduce emissions when its VW, Audi, and Porsche diesels were being tested but then allowed them to emit up to 40 times the lawful limit once the test was over.

    Vehicles involved in the case are diesel models of the 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500.

    "Vigorously" denies it

    Although it said it "vigorously" denies the allegations, FCA has been meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of California for several months, and today's lawsuit filing is seen as a tactic to put pressure on FCA to settle. The company said it is "disappointed" that the government chose to file suit, Automotive News reported

    ​"The company intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the Company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests," FCA said in a statement.

    FCA said last week that it planned to update the software on affected vehicles and said the update would resolve the issue. The update, which FCA says will not affect fuel economy or performance, must first be approved by federal and California state officials. 

    EPA has said the maximum fine in the case would be about $4.6 billion. The company also faces a separate criminal investigation. 

    As expected, the federal government has filed suit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), accusing it of using software -- so-called "defeat devices" --...

    Target to pay $18.5 million in latest settlement of its 2013 data breach

    The settlement covers 47 states and the District of Columbia

    No one ever said that legal settlements were a quick process, but after more than three years, 47 states and the District of Columbia will be compensated for Target’s infamous 2013 data breach.

    Target will pay a record $18.5 million in penalties for a data breach that compromised millions of customer credit and debit card accounts. California will get the largest part of that settlement at $1.4 million. Alabama, Wisconsin, and Wyoming did not paticipate in the action and are not included. 

    “Families should be able to shop without worrying that their financial information is going to get stolen, and Target failed to provide this security," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement. "This should send a strong message to other companies: you are responsible for protecting your customers’ personal information. Not just sometimes – always."

    Infamous data breach

    Consumers may remember back in 2013 when news broke about a data breach that affected holiday shoppers who had made purchases at Target.

    At the time, officials said that Target had done several things wrong, including granting access to a third-party vendor who had weak security protocols, not segregating customer data from less sensitive parts of its network, and ignoring multiple warnings from its security software which indicated that hackers had breached its system.

    As part of the settlement, Target will be required to adopt advanced security measures to protect customer information in the future and must hire an executive to oversee a “comprehensive information security program.” The company must also encrypt and protect payment card information it receives so that it is not useable if stolen.

    Target responded to the announcement by saying it was “pleased to bring this issue to a resolution for everyone involved,” according to a Los Angeles Times report. However, the company still faces a $10 million class action settlement that was approved in 2015.

    No one ever said that legal settlements were a quick process, but after more than three years, 47 states and the District of Columbia will be compensated f...

    Is your train spying on you?

    BART Watch app claims to be anonymous but suit says it isn't

    Is your train spying on you? It might be if you live in the San Francisco area, where a consumer has sued the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, claiming it provides a smartphone app that tracks passengers' identities and movements.

    Pamela Moreno alleges that the BART Watch app collects users' personal information from their smartphones and then tracks their location and movements, all without user consent, Courthouse News Service reported.

    BART encourages passengers to download the app and use it to anonymously report crimes in progress, but Moreno's suit claims it does much more than that. 

    “Defendants have amassed a trove of data through the app,” Moreno says in the complaint. “BART, or any of the agencies it shares resources with, now have the ability to match previous nondescript numerical identifiers with personally identifying information.”

    Similar to Stingray

    Moreno's suit says the app, manufactured by Elerts Corp., is similar to the Stingray cell phone tracker, widely used by police agencies. The Stingray mimics cell towers and forces cellphones within range to disclose their numeric identifiers. 

    The Stingray doesn't capture any personal information, but Moreno claims that the BART app captures the cell phone numeric identifier and the users' personal information, then links them together, allowing BART to identify passengers and track their movements.

    BART denies Moreno's allegations and says the app reveals a passenger's location only when the passenger is using it to report a crime in progress.  

    “The safety and privacy of our riders are a priority and we want to make clear we are not using ELERTS system for any other purpose than responding to security and safety reports made by our riders,” a spokeswoman told Courthouse News. 

    But BART does not tell users that it has their cyber "fingerprint" and misleads them into thinking they can report a crime anonymously, Moreno's suit argues. 

    “[S]hould a transit user submit an ‘anonymous’ tip, defendants still collect and transmit to their servers identifying information. As such, these reports are not anonymous at all,” the complaint states.

    Is your train spying on you? It might be if you live in the San Francisco area, where a consumer has sued the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, claiming it...

    La Nica Products recalls Queso Duro Blando cheese

    The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

    La Nica Products of Miami, Fla., is recalling six thousand pounds of Queso Duro Blando / Hard White Cheese (Morolique) that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

    No illnesses have been reported to date.

    The recalled product, lot number 254 with an expiration date of August 31, 2017, and a UPC code of 8 52304 74023 2, was sold in supermarkets and other retail stores only in California.

    What to do

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

    Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-305-621-8810 Monday through Sunday between 9AM and 5PM (EST).

     

     

    La Nica Products of Miami, Fla., is recalling six thousand pounds of Queso Duro Blando / Hard White Cheese (Morolique) that may be contaminated with Lister...

    Horton Fruit recalls fresh spinach

    The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

    The Horton Fruit Co. of Louisville, Ky., is recalling select bags and containers of fresh spinach that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

    There have been no reports of illness related to the recalled product.

    The following products, distributed through retail stores, wholesale and foodservice distributors in North Carolina, Illinois, Kentucky and West Virginia, are being recalled: 

    10oz. Bag PEAK brand Fresh Curly Leaf spinach
    “Best If Used By 05/11/17”                          
    UPC 0-78951-50002-3

    10oz. Bag HARRIS TEETER FARMER’S MARKET brand Ready-To-Eat Leaf spinach
    “Best If Used By 05/11/17”
    UPC 0-72036-88023-9

    2.5 lb. Bag PEAK brand fresh spinach       
    Orange sticker dated “05/13/17”               
    Case label pack date of 05/01/17

     

     

    What to do

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

    Consumers with questions may contact the company at 502-969-1371, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (EDT).

     

     

    The Horton Fruit Co. of Louisville, Ky., is recalling select bags and containers of fresh spinach that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes....

    Fall hazard prompts recalls of Krusher scooters

    The down tube can break, posing a fall hazard to the rider

    Pulse Performance Products of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., is recalling about 18,700 Krusher Push scooters.

    The down tube can break, posing a fall hazard to the rider.

    The firm has received 15 reports of the down tube breaking, including two reports of scrapes from falls.

    This recall involves Pulse Krusher Pro Freestyle scooters with factory code 083WY, item number 164257 and date code 10-8-2016 or earlier. The factory code, item number and date code can be found on a label printed on the underside of the scooter deck.

    The 30-inch high scooters were sold in blue and have the words “PULSE PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS” printed on the down tube.

    The scooters, manufactured in China, were sold at Walmart and Westminster Trading stores nationwide and online at Walmart.com from June 2016, through May 2017, for about $40.

    What to do

    Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled scooters and contact Pulse Performance Products for a full refund.

    Consumers may contact Pulse Performance Products toll-free at 844-728-9957 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday, or online at www.pulsescooters.com and click on “CPSC Safety Recall” for more information.

     

     

    Pulse Performance Products of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., is recalling about 18,700 Krusher Push scooters. The down tube can break, posing a fall hazard t...

    Model year 2016-2017 Chevrolet Sparks recalled

    Deployment of the front passenger airbag may injure a child occupant's neck

    General Motors is recalling 55,068 model year 2016-2017 Chevrolet Sparks.

    In the event of a crash, if a young child is seated improperly and not wearing a seat belt while in the front passenger seat, deployment of the front passenger airbag may injure the occupant's neck.

    As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, "Occupant Crash Protection."

    What to do

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

    Owners may contact GM customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is 17199.

     

     

    General Motors is recalling 55,068 model year 2016-2017 Chevrolet Sparks.In the event of a crash, if a young child is seated improperly and not wearing...

    Model year 2017 Jeep Compasses recalled

    The vehicle may suffer a loss of drive

    Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 1,178 model year 2017 Jeep Compasses equipped with a 6-speed transmission.

    The left front halfshaft may not be properly seated, and may disengage from the transmission and/or break. If the left front halfshaft disengages or breaks, the vehicle will have a loss of drive.

    Additionally, if the vehicle is parked without using the parking brake, the vehicle may roll, despite being in 'Park.' Either condition may increase the risk of a crash.

    What to do

    Chrysler will notify owners, dealers will inspect the left front halfshaft for engagement and replace any that are not properly engaged in the transmission, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on June 23, 2017.

    Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is T26.

     

     

    Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 1,178 model year 2017 Jeep Compasses equipped with a 6-speed transmission.The left front halfshaft may not be proper...

    Green Chile Food recalls meat and poultry burritos

    The products may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes

    Green Chile Food Company of Las Cruces, N.M., is recalling approximately 252,854 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry frozen burritos that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes.

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

    The following items, produced and packaged between March 8, 2017, and May 10, 2017, are being recalled:

    • 8-oz paper wrap packages containing “am pm & Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, EGG & BACON BURRITO with Cheddar Cheese, Potato, Green Chile, Salsa & Jalapeños” with case code of 833425000900.
    • 8-oz paper wrap packages containing “am pm & Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, POBLANO CHICKEN BURRITO with Monterrey Jack Cheese, Salsa, Rice, Onion, Green Chile and Green & Red Bell Peppers” with case code of 833425000931.
    • 8-oz paper wrap packages containing “am pm & Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, BEEF & POTATO BURRITO with Cheddar Cheese, Green Chile & Salsa” with case code of 833425000887.
    • 7-oz paper wrap packages containing “Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, Chipotle Chicken Burrito with Salsa & Monterey Jack” with case code of 833425001426.
    • 7-oz paper wrap packages containing “Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, CARNITAS Burrito with Salsa, Monterey Jack & Cilantro Lime Rice” with case code of 833425001488.
    • 7-oz paper wrap packages containing “Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, EGG & SAUSAGE Breakfast Burrito with HASHBROWNS, Salsa, & Cheddar” with case code of 833425000382.
    • 7-oz paper wrap packages containing “Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, EGG & BACON Breakfast Burrito with HASHBROWNS, Salsa, Green Chile & Cheddar” with case code of 833425000368.
    • 7-oz paper wrap packages containing “Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, BEEF Burrito with POTATO, GREEN CHILE, Salsa & Cheddar” with case code of 833425000320.
    • 7-oz paper wrap packages containing “Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, CHICKEN FAJITA Burrito with Salsa & Cheddar” with case code of 833425000429.
    • 7-oz paper wrap packages containing “Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, SHREDDED STEAK Burrito with Salsa, Monterey Jack, Green Chile, Onion, Rice & Jalapeño Peppers” with case code of 10833425008941.
    • 7-oz paper wrap packages containing “Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, BEEF & BEAN Burrito with Green Chile, Salsa & Cheddar” with case code of 833425000344.
    • 7-oz paper wrap packages containing “Green Chile FOOD COMPANY, FIESTA Breakfast Burrito with Beef, Egg, HASHBROWNS, GREEN CHILE, Cheddar & Sausage” with case code of 833425000405.

    The recalled products, bearing establishment number “M-21740 or P-21740” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to institutions, retail stores and distribution centers in California, Illinois, Oregon and South Dakota.

    What to do

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

    Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Green Chile Concepts at (800) 695-0843.

     

     

     

    Green Chile Food Company of Las Cruces, N.M., is recalling approximately 252,854 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry frozen burritos that may be...

    Mercedes-Benz recalls SLK and SLC class vehicles

    The ESC system software may incorrectly keep the brakes slightly applied

    Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 5,818 model year 2015 SLK 250, 2016 SLK 350, 2016-2017 SLC 300, and 2017 SLC 43 AMG vehicles.

    The vehicle's electronic stability control (ESC) system software may incorrectly keep the brakes slightly applied.

    If brake pads are constantly applied over long periods of driving, the brake components may heat up, affecting braking performance and increasing the risk of a crash. Additionally, the dragging brakes may overheat, increasing the risk of a fire.

    What to do

    MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will update the software for the ESC system, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in late June 2017.

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

     

     

     

    Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 5,818 model year 2015 SLK 250, 2016 SLK 350, 2016-2017 SLC 300, and 2017 SLC 43 AMG vehicles.The vehicle's elect...

    Valley Innovative Services recalls Traditions frozen entrées

    The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

    Valley Innovative Services of Pearl, Miss., is recalling approximately 130,071 pounds of Traditions frozen entrées.

    The products include a non-meat ingredient (waffles) contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

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

    The following heat-treated, not fully cooked, not shelf stable chicken and waffle, turkey ham & waffle, and oatmeal with waffle and sausage patty frozen entrée items, produced and packaged from May 2016 through May 2017, are being recalled:

    • 11.40-oz three compartment tray packages containing “Traditions Creamy Chicken Patty & Waffle with Four Seasons Vegetables and Cabbage” with the following production dates: 6/6/2016, 7/13/2016, 8/15/2016, 10/12/2016, 12/21/2016 and 4/11/2017; and the following sell-by dates: 6/6/2017, 7/13/2017, 8/15/2017, 10/12/2017, 12/21/2017 and 4/11/2018.
    • 11.35-oz three compartment tray packages containing “Traditions Creamy Chicken Patty & Waffle with Rib Meat with Cinnamon Flavored Sweet Potatoes and Seasoned Green Beans” with the following production dates: 10/12/2016, 11/18/2016, 12/21/2016, 1/26/2017, 1/30/2017 and 3/1/2017; and the following sell-by dates: 10/12/2017, 11/18/2017, 12/21/2017, 1/26/2018, 1/30/2018 and 3/1/2018.
    • 12-oz three compartment tray packages containing “Traditions Creamy Chicken Patty & Waffle with Cinnamon Flavored Sweet Potatoes and Four Seasons Vegetables” with the following production dates: 12/9/2016, 12/21/2016, 1/26/2017 and 1/30/2017; and the following sell-by dates: 12/9/2017, 12/21/2017, 1/26/2018 and 1/30/2018.
    • 9.20-oz three compartment tray packages containing “Traditions Turkey Ham & Waffle Cured Turkey Thigh meat Chunked and Formed with Fruit Cocktail and Hash Brown” with the following production dates: 12/12/2016, 1/21/2017, 1/30/2017, 3/16/2017, 3/21/2017, 4/3/2017, 4/5/2017, 4/18/2017, 4/26/2017; and the following sell-by dates: 12/12/2017, 1/21/2018, 1/30/2018, 3/16/2018, 3/21/2018, 4/3/2018, 4/5/2018, 4/18/2018, 4/26/2018.
    • 7.40-oz three compartment tray packages containing “Traditions Oatmeal with Waffle and Sausage Patty” with a production date of 10/14/2016 and a sell-by date of 10/14/2017.

    The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 18350” on the label, were shipped to institutions nationwide.

    What to do

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

    Consumers with questions may contact Jonathan Palmer at (601) 420-8847. 

     

     

    Valley Innovative Services of Pearl, Miss., is recalling approximately 130,071 pounds of Traditions frozen entrées.The products include a non-meat ingr...

    Walmart reports 63% jump in online sales

    Expanded offerings and aggressive online strategies are credited for the bump

    Retail companies, many facing declining sales at brick and mortar locations, have been clambering to claim their piece of the online retail space, and now it seems that Walmart is gaining some ground.

    The New York Times reports that the company saw a 63% jump in online sales during the past quarter, a possible sign that it is making progress towards sustainable growth that could make it a better competitor against online giant Amazon.com.

    “This is extraordinary growth, and we’re pleased with the traction we’re generating across our e-commerce offerings,” said Walmart executive vice president and chief financial officer Brett Biggs.

    Expanding offerings and deals

    So, what is it that fueled Walmart’s online surge? Chief Executive Doug McMillon explains that the company’s strategy revolves around expanded offerings and deals, taking advantage of its network of warehouses and distribution centers, and pursuing deals for other online stores.

    This year alone, Walmart has already taken steps to increase the number of products and deals that are available to online shoppers. Earlier this year, reports detailed how the company would be introducing free two-day shipping on over two million items if orders totaled $35 or more. Customers may also be taking advantage of a recent change that provides shoppers with incentives to order products online and then pick them up at store locations.

    To fuel these offers, Walmart has taken an aggressive approach at acquiring other online retailers. Its biggest acquisition was Jet.com, which cost $3.3 billion. It was specifically intended to build the company’s e-commerce presence and give it a better competitive advantage.

    These efforts, along with an increased focus on its physical stores and employee training, have started to pay off. Walmart reported a 1.4% year-over-year increase in overall sales, to $117.5 billion. While it stopped short of providing specific numbers for its online growth, officials say the expanded offerings have encouraged consumers to be a little looser with their wallets.

    Playing catch-up

    However, the real question is whether this bump in sales will truly put Walmart in a position to compete with Amazon, which dominates online sales. Experts say that while the company’s progress is encouraging, it has a long way to go before it can get to that point.

    “I think it’s fair to say that Walmart is coming from behind online. It has underperformed in that area, so what we’re seeing now is really a catch-up to where it needs to be in order to more seriously compete with the likes of Amazon,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of the research firm GlobalData Retail.

    The full earnings report for the previous quarter can be viewed here.

    Retail companies, many facing declining sales at brick and mortar locations, have been clambering to claim their piece of the online retail space, and now...

    Volkswagen recalls certain 2012-2014 Passats

    The vehicle could leak grease

    Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 84,262 model year certain 2012-2014 Passats, equipped with diesel engines and Direct-Shift Transmissions.

    The vehicle's underbody heat shield may not be long enough to protect the right half-shaft grease boot from heat, potentially resulting in a grease leak.

    If the leaking grease contacts a heated surface, such as the exhaust system and/or the diesel particulate filter, it could increase the risk of fire.

    What to do

    Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driveshaft heat shield, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in July 2017.

    Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 23W5.

     

     

    Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 84,262 model year certain 2012-2014 Passats, equipped with diesel engines and Direct-Shift Transmissions.The v...

    Leading Economic post sixth consecutive gain

    Another drop in the filing of jobless claims

    The latest reading of The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) suggesting the economy will continue to grow -- maybe at an even faster clip.

    According to the board, the LEI was up 0.3% in April to 126.9. The advance, the sixth straight, follows a gain of 0.3% in March and a 0.5 percent increase in February.

    Ataman Ozyildirim, The Conference Board's director of Business Cycles and Growth Research, says the recent trend in the LEI, which was led by the positive outlook of consumers and financial markets, “continues to point to a growing economy, perhaps even a cyclical pickup.”

    He calls the first quarter’s weak GDP growth “a temporary hiccup as the economy returns to its long-term trend of about 2%.”

    While the majority of leading indicators have been contributing positively in recent months, housing permits followed by average workweek in manufacturing have been the sources of weakness among the U.S. LEI components.

    The LEI, a closely watched forecaster of economic activity, is a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

    The LEI contains the following 10 components:

    • Average weekly hours, manufacturing
    • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
    • Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials
    • ISM® Index of New Orders
    • Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
    • Building permits, new private housing units
    • Stock prices, 500 common stocks
    • Leading Credit Index™
    • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
    • Average consumer expectations for business conditions
     

    Jobless claims

    The filing of initial jobless claims continues to trend downward.

    The Labor Department (DOL) reports initial applications for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 232,000 in the week ending May 13 -- down 4,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

    The 4-week moving average, considered by economists to give a more accurate picture of the labor market fell 2,750 during the same week to 240,750.

    The complete report is on the DOL website.

     

     

    The latest reading of The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) suggesting the economy will continue to grow -- maybe at an even faster clip....

    Douglas Company recalls plush toys

    The toys' plastic eyes can detach

    The Douglas Company of Keene, N.H., is recalling about 25,000 plush toys.

    The toys' plastic eyes can detach, posing a choking hazard.

    The company has received two reports of the plastic eyes detaching or loosening. No injuries have been reported.

    This recall involves the Oliver the Bear, Chewie the English Bulldog, and Charlotte the Fox model plush toys.

    Oliver the Bear is a brown and tan stuffed bear, with a blue t-shirt that reads “Oliver the Bear” and a red, removable cape.

    Chewie is a stuffed, brown and white English Bulldog with a blue patch sewn on the chest that reads “Chewie.”

    Charlotte is a stuffed, brown, black and white Fox with removable blue cape.

    Each has a sewn-in label with the words “DOUGLAS the cuddle toy.”

    The toys, manufactured in China, were sold at specialty toy and gift stores nationwide from July 2014, to April 2017, for about $20. They also were distributed by UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) to various individuals and organizations.

    What to do

    Consumers should immediately take the recalled plush toys away from young children and contact the firm to receive a free replacement product or a full refund.

    Consumers may contact Douglas at 800-276-4029 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or online at www.douglastoys.com and click on Product Recall for more information.

     

     

    The Douglas Company of Keene, N.H., is recalling about 25,000 plush toys.The toys' plastic eyes can detach, posing a choking hazard.The company has...

    NY Livestock Market recalls whole young chickens

    The chickens may be contaminated with the antibiotic nitrofurazone

    NY Livestock Market of Brooklyn, N.Y., is recalling approximately 1,495 pounds of whole young chickens that may be contaminated with the antibiotic nitrofurazon.

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

    The following item, produced and packaged on April 10, 2017, is being recalled:

    • Brown shipping bags containing various quantities of 4.9-lb. young whole chickens, with head and feet intact, with “NY LIVESTOCK MARKET, INC. BUDDHIST RELIGIOUS EXEMPT (Eviscerated Poultry)” printed on the label.

    The recalled products, bearing establishment number “P-45068” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to restaurants and retail locations in New York state.

    What to do

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

    Consumers questions about the recall may contact Winnie Wu at (718) 386-8181.

     

     

    NY Livestock Market of Brooklyn, N.Y., is recalling approximately 1,495 pounds of whole young chickens that may be contaminated with the antibiotic nitrofu...

    Volkswagen recalls model year 2015-2017 Audi A7s

    The head curtain airbags may not deploy properly

    Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 17,694 model year 2015-2017 Audi A7s.

    The vehicles head curtain airbags may not deploy properly in the event of a crash.

    As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 226, "Ejection Mitigation."

    If the head curtain airbag does not deploy properly in the event of a crash, an unbelted passenger has an increased risk of injury.

    What to do

    Audi will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected head curtain air bags, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin June 29, 2017.

    Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen's number for the recall is 69R2.

     

     

    Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 17,694 model year 2015-2017 Audi A7s.The vehicles head curtain airbags may not deploy properly in the event of...

    Are you ready for a ransomware attack? Most consumers aren't

    There are steps you can take to be more secure

    Last week's massive ransomware attack that seized an estimated 200,000 computer systems in 150 countries demonstrated one thing very clearly -- most of us aren't prepared for something like this.

    Ransomware, which appeared on the scene a few years ago, is a very different animal than the typical malware that is spread through phishing scams. It's simple extortion.

    If the hacker is able to persuade you or someone on your network to click on a link in an email or pop-up, every file on your computer or network is encrypted. 

    Encryption is a security measure designed to make information more secure, but in this case it's being turned completely upside down. Only the hacker has the key to undo the encryption. To unlock your files, you must pay a ransom in untraceable Bitcoin.

    Targeting institutions

    So far, this scheme has mostly targeted large institutions with computer networks. In this latest attack, hospitals were a major target.

    First, they have the money to pay the ransom. Second, they are served by computer networks with many users. All it takes is for one user to click on a link in a phishing email to launch the attack on all connected devices.

    An international survey funded in part by the Internet Society finds people are largely unprepared to deal with a ransomware attack. Twenty-four percent had no idea what to do if their computer were taken hostage. Many said they would probably pay up.

    “Ransomware attackers have discovered that they don't have to steal or destroy your data to enrich themselves, they just have to hold it hostage," said Fen Osler Hampson, director of global security at CIGI, a think tank. "Our survey data shows that many people are willing to pay to get their data back, which makes such attacks highly profitable."

    One organization not willing to pay is Disney. Deadline.com reports hackers used ransomware to seize control of the final cut of the upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. The report says Disney has refused to pay the demanded ransom and is working with the FBI.

    Getting prepared

    While most of the attacks are carried out against large organizations, individual computer users can also fall victim. While you should make sure your operating system has all the latest security updates, there are other steps you can take to prepare for a ransomware attack.

    First, don't click on links in an email without checking it out first. The phishing emails are disguised to look like they are from legitimate organizations, such as a bank. Call the bank's fraud detection service and ask them if the email is legitimate.

    Second, back up your important files -- the stuff you really don't want to lose -- to the cloud. A flash drive or external hard drive would also work, but you would need to disconnect the drive between back-ups. If a drive is connected to your computer during a ransomware attack, all the files on it will be encrypted.

    The survey, conducted by research company Ipsos before last week's attack, found 6% of internet uses around the world had personally experienced a ransomware attack. Those numbers are expected to climb, so organizations -- as well as individual consumers -- had better get prepared now.

    Last week's massive ransomware attack that seized an estimated 200,000 computer systems in 150 countries demonstrated one thing very clearly -- most of us...

    Is retirement an outdated concept?

    Surveys show increasing number of people aren't planning for it

    Here's yet another study underlining the problems facing retirees, and as a result, how retirement itself may be fundamentally changing.

    Changing as in, maybe we aren't going to retire anymore, or not until we are too weak and infirm to be productive.

    The study comes from Country Financial, which reports consumers are worried about being able to afford retirement. But despite that concern, it also finds over half the people in the survey said they aren't saving money for retirement.

    What that suggests is people really aren't that concerned, or they have so much trouble meeting day-to-day expenses they don't think they have any money to put away. Either way, the notion of 21st century retirement is probably changing.

    Constant leisure

    For some, retirement holds out the promise of constant leisure, or the freedom to do whatever they want, without having to earn a living. To do this, however, requires a pretty significant income stream. And other studies have clearly indicated that most people approaching retirement don't have the assets for that. So there is a wide swath of the population that isn't going to achieve this kind of retirement.

    The Country Financial survey suggests that more and more people now plan to keep working and not retire until the very end of their lifespan. Over half of those in the study -- 51% -- do not include retirement in their long-term financial goals.

    The Economic Policy Institute came up with similar findings; nearly half of families have no retirement savings.

    Finding people in the workforce at age 70 or more is no longer uncommon, and may in fact become more common. The Pew Research Center reports only about 13% of Americans 65 and older were still working in 2000. Last year, more than 18% were.

    Working retirement

    Some people, in fact, enjoy what they do and don't want to quit. Others might want to leave their current job but try something else, even if it is part-time.

    Financial advisors, of course, point out that someone transitioning to part-time employment in their later years had better have some financial resources to supplement their reduced income.

    "Many Americans are outliving their assets because they did not include retirement in their long-term financial goals," said Doyle Williams, an executive vice president at Country Financial. "We strongly encourage people to develop a long-term plan so they can eliminate the fear of never being able to retire. By taking some simple steps almost everyone can have a plan in place to secure their financial future."

    Because people are now routinely living well into their 80s and beyond, the notion of walking away from income-producing work at 65 may be a quaint notion. Still, even if you aren't saving for retirement, you should be saving for something. Chances are, you're going to need it.

    Here's yet another study underlining the problems facing retirees, and as a result, how retirement itself may be fundamentally changing.Changing as in,...

    Kabob's Acquisition recalls turkey and ham sandwiches

    The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

    Kabob’s Acquisition of Lake City, Ga., is recalling approximately 5,946 pounds of turkey and ham sandwiches.

    The products include a non-meat ingredient that was recalled due to Listeria monocytogenes.

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

    The following Monte Cristo (turkey, ham, cheese, on French toast) sandwiches, produced from May 1, 2014, through February 1, 2017, are being recalled:

    • 13.125-lb. bulk cases containing 200 “Kabobs MONTE CRISTO TURKEY BREAST, HAM AND CHEESE SANDWICH” in shrink wrapped plastic trays and bearing case codes: PM14E27, PM14H14, PM14J10, PM14E01, PM14E12, PM14E13, PM15C26, PM15E06, PM15G23, PM14L18, PM15A08, PM15C26, PM15K20, PM16B08, PM16B09, PM16F22, PM16F24, and PM17B21.

    The recalled products, bearing establishment number “P-6640” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to institutional locations in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas.

    What to do

    Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Jonathan Herrera at (678) 553-1245.

     

     

    Kabob’s Acquisition of Lake City, Ga., is recalling approximately 5,946 pounds of turkey and ham sandwiches. The products include a non-meat ingredient ...

    Using mass transit leads to drop in obesity rates, study finds

    Researchers say taking the bus or train increases physical activity

    The daily commute to work can often be the low point of many consumers’ day, but a new study suggests that taking advantage of certain modes of transportation can help fight obesity.

    Researchers from the University of Illinois have found that counties that rely more on their mass transit systems produce residents that have lower obesity rates. They say that putting more funds into these systems could promote better overall wellbeing.

    "As local communities seek to allocate public funds to projects that will provide the most benefit to their residents, our research suggests that investing in convenient and affordable public transit systems may improve public health by reducing obesity, thereby providing more value than had been previously thought," said researcher Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of computer science at Illinois.

    Cutting obesity rates

    Jacobson, along with graduate student Zhaowei She and lecturer Douglas M. King, came to their conclusions after analyzing public county health and transportation data.

    After controlling for factors like household income, poverty rate, education level, access to health care, and leisure physical activity, they found that a 1% increase in a county’s population that frequently used mass transit systems correlated to a 0.2% drop in obesity rates.

    "By viewing this link at the county level, we provide a national perspective by considering data from counties throughout the United States. Our research suggests that, in addition to benefits to the environment and greater access to transportation for residents, community-level investments into public transit systems may also benefit public health by reducing obesity rates," said King.

    Increases physical activity

    The researchers explain that the health benefits of using mass transit come from the increased level of physical activity that travelers need to engage in, something that is lost when simply driving directly to their final destination.

    "For example, when someone rides a bus, they may begin their trip by walking from their home to a bus stop before boarding the bus. Then, once they get off of the bus, they may still need to walk from a bus stop to their destination. Alternatively, if they had driven a car, they might simply drive directly from their home to their destination and eliminate the walking portion of the trip," said Jacobson.

    The full study has been published in Preventive Medicine.

    The daily commute to work can often be the low point of many consumers’ day, but a new study suggests that taking advantage of certain modes of transportat...

    Millennials are harsher on themselves than some previous generations

    A survey shows that they believe they should be footing their bills earlier

    One of the stigmas that has attached itself to Millennials is that they tend to rely too much on their parents for financial support. But a new study shows that many members of this generation actually have stricter standards for themselves in this regard than those who judge them.

    Sarah Berger, billed as Bankrate.com’s "Cashlorette," says that many Millennials actively seek financial freedom and have higher aspirations for themselves than they’re given credit for.

    “Millennials are often stereotyped as being entitled. It’s refreshing to see that Millennials really do have high expectations of gaining financial independence and getting off their parents’ payroll,” she said.

    Stricter standards

    In a recent survey, Bankrate.com found that Millennials tended to think that they should be able to pay their cell phone bill, car payment, and housing costs at an earlier age than Gen X’ers, Baby Boomers, or members of the Silent Generation.

    Millennials said that they should be able to pay their cell phone bill at age 18 ½, while Gen X’ers said age 19 was appropriate and Baby Boomers and Silent Generationers said age 20 was right. Similarly, Millennials said they should be able to pay for their car payment at age 20 (compared to ages 20 ¾, 22, and 22 ½ according to the other generations), and for their housing at age 22 (compared to ages 23, 23 ½, and 25).

    Check your pride

    Although the findings suggest that Millennials seem determined to rush towards financial independence, Berger emphasizes the importance of being smart about the decision. She says that Millennials should check their pride and take all aspects of their financial situation into account before taking the plunge.

    “Getting off our parents’ payrolls is obviously based on a slew of factors, like income, student debt load, parents’ willingness to pay, your parents’ income…the list goes on. Don’t feel down on yourself if you’re not quite there yet, but keep striving!” she said.

    Don't be complacent

    Berger goes on to say that those who still do live with their parents shouldn’t get too comfortable with the relaxed financial situation, since that will make it harder to adjust when they finally do move out. Instead, she suggests paying parents monthly rent and then using that saved money as a first apartment fund.

    “There are lots of costs associated with moving, so this will allow you to build a solid savings stash so you’re prepared and not financially overwhelmed when you finally leave the nest,” she said. “Develop a modest budget that you can realistically maintain. Figure out how much you would typically be spending on rent, utilities, your car – or whatever it might be – and instead use that money to pay off your student debt or build your emergency savings account. Being on your parents’ payroll shouldn’t be used as an excuse to spend your money on vacations or shopping sprees.”

    Berger’s full report, including Bankrate’s survey data, can be found here.

    One of the stigmas that has attached itself to Millennials is that they tend to rely too much on their parents for financial support. But a new study shows...

    Delta expands miles program to include Lyft rides

    Members will get a mile for every dollar spent on the ridesharing app

    From now on, Delta Airlines SkyMiles members will be able to rack up additional miles when they use the ride-sharing app Lyft. For a limited time, they can receive bonus miles when they summon a ride from Lyft to and from the airport.

    It comes on the heels of a similar arrangement Delta worked out with Airbnb. That link-up, announced late last year, awards miles for either hosting of being a guest.

    "We're thinking about our customers' whole travel experience and it's important that Delta customers are taken care of not just in the air, but on the ground," said Sandeep Dube, a Delta vice president.

    Delta says the system is simple. A consumer need only link their SkyMiles and Lyft accounts, then request a ride. Credit is automatically added to the SkyMile member's account. Delta says there are no restrictions, every SkyMiles member is eligible.

    Members will get one mile per dollar spent on all Lyft rides. During an introductory period, members will get two bonus miles -- for a total of three -- for each dollar spent with Lyft on trips too and from an airport.

    All Lyft rides will earn Delta miles, including Lyft Line, Classic, Plus and Premier.

    From now on, Delta Airlines SkyMiles members will be able to rack up additional miles when they use the ride-sharing app Lyft. For a limited time, they can...

    Builder confidence in the housing market continues to grow

    The confidence level is the second highest since the crash

    Another indication that the housing market is continuing to strengthen.

    The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which measures builder confidence, rose two points in May to a level of 70 -- the second highest reading since the housing downturn.

    “This report,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, “shows that builders’ optimism in the housing market is solidifying, even as they deal with higher building material costs and shortages of lots and labor.”

    The HMI is derived from a monthly survey gauging builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.”

    Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

    Gauging the market

    Two of the three HMI components registered gains in May. The index charting sales expectations in the next six months jumped four points to 79 while the index measuring current sales conditions increased two points to 76. The component appraising buyer traffic, however, edged one point down to 51.

    The three-month moving averages for HMI scores posted gains in three out of the four regions. The Northeast and South each registered three-point gains to 49 and 71, respectively, while the West rose one point to 78. The Midwest was unchanged at 68.

    “The HMI measure of future sales conditions reached its highest level since June 2005, a sign of growing consumer confidence in the new home market,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Especially as existing home inventory remains tight, we can expect increased demand for new construction moving forward.” 

    Another indication that the housing market is continuing to strengthen.The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index...

    Mortgage applications head downward

    Contract interest rates were mostly higher

    Mortgage applications have given back all of last week's advance -- and then some.

    A week after reporting a 2.4% gain, the Mortgage Bankers Association says applications were down 4.1% in the week ending May 12.

    The Refinance Index was off 6% from the week before, which took the refinance share of mortgage activity from 41.9% of total applications to 41.1% -- the lowest level since September 2008.

    The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity fell to 8.1% of total applications., the FHA share rose to 10.6% from 10.5% the prior week, the VA share slipped to 10.7% from 10.8%, and the USDA share was unchanged at 0.8%.

    Contract interest rates

    • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($424,100 or less) was unchanged at 4.23%, with points increasing to 0.37 from 0.31 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $424,100) inched up to 4.23% from 4.22%, with points increasing to 0.30 from 0.28 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs backed by the FHA was up two basis points -- to 4.11% from 4.09%, with points increasing to 0.37 from 0.28 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs went from 3.50% to 3.51%, with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.40 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs dropped six basis points to 3.30%, with points increasing to 0.21 from 0.15 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

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

    Mortgage applications have given back all of last week's advance -- and then some.A week after reporting a 2.4% gain, the Mortgage Bankers Association...

    Model year 2017 Toyotas with spare tire air pressure issue recalled

    The spare tire air pressure was not adjusted properly

    Gulf States Toyota is recalling 409 model year 2017 4Runner, 86, Avalon, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Highlander Hybrid, Prius, Prius C, RAV4, RAV4 Hybrid, Sienna and Yaris vehicles.

    The spare tire air pressure was not adjusted to the proper pressure as stated on the tire pressure label.

    An improperly inflated spare tire may not perform as intended, increasing the risk of a crash.

    What to do

    Gulf States will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the spare tires, adjusting their pressure as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin June 1, 2017.

    Owners may contact Gulf States customer service at 1-800-444-1074. Toyota's number for this recall is 17R2.

     

     

    Gulf States Toyota is recalling 409 model year 2017 4Runner, 86, Avalon, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Highlander Hybrid, Prius, Pr...

    VanMoof recalls B and S series bicycles

    The fender bolts don't break when something gets in between the wheel and the fender

    VanMoof is recalling about 375 B and S series bicycles.

    The front fender bolts do not break when an object gets stuck between the front tire and the front fender/mud guard, posing fall and impact hazards.

    The firm has received two reports of riders injured when road objects created an obstruction between the bike fender and the front wheel.

    In both instances, the fender remained intact, because the stainless steel fender bolts did not break off.

    One instance resulted in bruises, scratches and a broken arm. In the second instance, the rider suffered a concussion.

    The following bicycle models are being recalled:

    Description:

    M15C000707

    M15E002665

    M15E002684

    M15C000727

    M15C000746

    M15C000708

    M15E002666

    M15E002685

    M15C000728

    M15C000747

    M15C000709

    M15E002667

    M15E002686

    M15C000729

    M15C000748

    M15C000710

    M15E002668

    M15E002687

    M15C000730

    M15C000749

    M15C000711

    M15E002669

    M15E002688

    M15C000731

    M15C000750

    M15C000712

    M15E002670

    M15E002689

    M15C000732

    M15C000751

    M15C000713

    M15E002671

    M15E002690

    M15C000733

    M15C000752

    M15C000714

    M15E002672

    M15E002691

    M15C000734

    M15C000753

    M15C000715

    M15E002673

    M15E002692

    M15C000735

    M15C000754

    M15C000716

    M15E002674

    M15E002693

    M15C000736

    M15C000755

    M15C000717

    M15E002675

    M15E002694

    M15C000737

    M15C000756

    M15C000718

    M15E002676

    M15E002695

    M15C000738

    M15C000757

    M15C000719

    M15E002677

    M15E002696

    M15C000739

    M15C000758

    M15C000720

    M15E002678

    M15E002697

    M15C000740

    M15C000759

    M15C000721

    M15E002679

    M15C000722

    M15C000741

    M15C000760

    M15E002661

    M15E002680

    M15C000723

    M15C000742

    M15C000761

    M15E002662

    M15E002681

    M15C000724

    M15C000743

    M15C000762

    M15E002663

    M15E002682

    M15C000725

    M15C000744

    M15C000763

    M15E002664

    M15E002683

    M15C000726

    M15C000745

    M15C000764

     

     

    M15C000765

    M15C000804

    M15C000843

    M15E002678

    M15C000766

    M15C000805

    M15C000844

    M15E002679

    M15C000767

    M15C000806

    M15C000845

    M15E002680

    M15C000768

    M15C000807

    M15C000846

    M15E002681

    M15C000769

    M15C000808

    M15C000847

    M15E002682

    M15C000770

    M15C000809

    M15C000848

    M15E002683

    M15C000771

    M15C000810

    M15C000849

    M15E002684

    M15C000772

    M15C000811

    M15C000850

    M15E002685

    M15C000773

    M15C000812

    M15C000851

    M15E002686

    M15C000774

    M15C000813

    M15C000852

    M15E002687

    M15C000775

    M15C000814

    M15C000853

    M15E002688

    M15C000776

    M15C000815

    M15C000854

    M15E002689

    M15C000777

    M15C000816

    M15C000855

    M15E002690

    M15C000778

    M15C000817

    M15C000856

    M15E002691

    M15C000779

    M15C000818

    M15C000857

    M15E002692

    M15C000780

    M15C000819

    M15C000858

    M15E002693

    M15C000781

    M15C000820

    M15C000859

    M15E002694

    M15C000782

    M15C000821

    M15C000860

    M15E002695

    M15C000783

    M15C000822

    M15C000861

    M15E002696

    M15C000784

    M15C000823

    M15C000862

    M15E002697

    M15C000785

    M15C000824

    M15C000863

    M15E002698

    M15C000786

    M15C000825

    M15C000864

    M15E002699

    M15C000787

    M15C000826

    M15C000865

    M15E002700

    M15C000788

    M15C000827

    M15C000866

    M15E002701

    M15C000789

    M15C000828

    M15C000867

    M15E002702

    M15C000790

    M15C000829

    M15C000868

    M15E002703

    M15C000791

    M15C000830

    M15C000869

    M15E002704

    M15C000792

    M15C000831

    M15C000870

    M15E002705

    M15C000793

    M15C000832

    M15C000871

    M15E002706

    M15C000794

    M15C000833

    M15C000872

    M15E002707

    M15C000795

    M15C000834

    M15C000873

    M15E002708

    M15C000796

    M15C000835

    M15C000874

    M15E002709

    M15C000797

    M15C000836

    M15C000875

    M15E002710

    M15C000798

    M15C000837

    M15C000876

    M15E002711

    M15C000799

    M15C000838

    M15C000877

    M15E002712

    M15C000800

    M15C000839

    M15C000878

    M15E002713

    M15C000801

    M15C000840

    M15C000879

    M15E002714

    M15C000802

    M15C000841

    M15E002676

    M15E002715

    M15C000803

    M15C000842

    M15E002677

    M15E002716

     

     

     

     

    M15E002717

    M15E002755

    M15E002793

    M16C002341

    M15E002718

    M15E002756

    M15E002794

    M16C002342

    M15E002719

    M15E002757

    M15E002795

    M16C002343

    M15E002720

    M15E002758

    M15E002796

    M16C002344

    M15E002721

    M15E002759

    M15E002797

    M16C002345

    M15E002722

    M15E002760

    M15E002798

    M16C002346

    M15E002723

    M15E002761

    M15E002799

    M16C002347

    M15E002724

    M15E002762

    M15E002800

    M16C002348

    M15E002725

    M15E002763

    M15E002801

    M16C002349

    M15E002726

    M15E002764

    M15E002802

    M16C002350

    M15E002727

    M15E002765

    M15E002803

     

    M15E002728

    M15E002766

    M15E002804

     

    M15E002729

    M15E002767

    M15E002805

     

    M15E002730

    M15E002768

    M15E002806

     

    M15E002731

    M15E002769

    M15E002807

     

    M15E002732

    M15E002770

    M15E002808

     

    M15E002733

    M15E002771

    M15E002809

     

    M15E002734

    M15E002772

    M15E002810

     

    M15E002735

    M15E002773

    M16C002321

     

    M15E002736

    M15E002774

    M16C002322

     

    M15E002737

    M15E002775

    M16C002323

     

    M15E002738

    M15E002776

    M16C002324

     

    M15E002739

    M15E002777

    M16C002325

     

    M15E002740

    M15E002778

    M16C002326

     

    M15E002741

    M15E002779

    M16C002327

     

    M15E002742

    M15E002780

    M16C002328

     

    M15E002743

    M15E002781

    M16C002329

     

    M15E002744

    M15E002782

    M16C002330

     

    M15E002745

    M15E002783

    M16C002331

     

    M15E002746

    M15E002784

    M16C002332

     

    M15E002747

    M15E002785

    M16C002333

     

    M15E002748

    M15E002786

    M16C002334

     

    M15E002749

    M15E002787

    M16C002335

     

    M15E002750

    M15E002788

    M16C002336

     

    M15E002751

    M15E002789

    M16C002337

     

    M15E002752

    M15E002790

    M16C002338

     

    M15E002753

    M15E002791

    M16C002339

     

    M15E002754

    M15E002792

    M16C002340

     

    The bicycle, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold at Aika Trading, Calhoun Cycle, Orange Pedal, The Garage OTR, Seattle E-bike and other bicycle stores nationwide and online from January 2014, through December 2016, for about $800.

    What to do

    Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycles and contact VanMoof to receive free replacement nylon bolts for the front fender and installation instruction The repair can be completed by the consumer without assistance.

    Consumers may contact VanMoof toll-free at 855-623-6673.from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at fenderbolt@vanmoof.com, or online at www.vanmoof.com and click "Support" on the top-right next to the language menu.

     

     

    VanMoof is recalling about 375 B and S series bicycles.The front fender bolts do not break when an object gets stuck between the front tire and the fro...

    Model year 2015-2016 Honda CR-Vs with replacement engines recalled

    The replacement engine may have been built with the wrong pistons

    American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 16 model year 2015-2016 Honda CR-Vs that recently received a replacement engine.

    The replacement engine may have been built with the wrong pistons, potentially affecting the engine's performance.

    The reduced performance may result in an engine stall, increasing the risk of a crash.

    What to do

    Honda will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the engines and replace the incorrect components, as necessary, free of charge.

    The recall is expected to begin June 5, 2017. Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's number for this recall is KF6.

     

     

    American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 16 model year 2015-2016 Honda CR-Vs that recently received a replacement engine.The replacement engine may have b...

    Mikawaya Chocolate Chocolate Mochi Ice Cream recalled

    The product may contain peanuts, an allergen not declared on the label

    Mikawaya is recalling a limited amount of Mikawaya Brand Chocolate Chocolate Mochi Ice Cream.

    The product may contain peanuts, an allergen not declared on the label.

    There have been no reports of illness or allergic reactions associated with this product.

    The recalled product is sold in a paperboard box, containing 9.1-oz (258g) of 6-1.5-oz (43g) pieces with UPC code of 070934990609 and lot number LOT 090-17. The UPC code can be found on the back of the box and the lot number is printed on the top enclosure.

    It was distributed to all Trader Joe’s stores nationwide.

    What to do

    Customers who purchased the recalled product and have an allergy or sensitivity to peanuts, should not consume it, but return it to any Trader Joe’s for a full refund.

    Customers with questions may contact Mikawaya at (323) 587-5504 Monday – Friday, between 9:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. (PT).

     

     

    Mikawaya is recalling a limited amount of Mikawaya Brand Chocolate Chocolate Mochi Ice Cream.The product may contain peanuts, an allergen not declared...

    How paper waste could lead to a boom in the U.S. economy

    Researchers say turning lignin into carbon fiber could create jobs in rural America

    Companies often talk about reducing their carbon footprint by cutting down on waste, but could all that extra carbon that’s out there actually fuel American industry?

    Researchers from Texas A&M seem to think so. Dr. Joshua Yuan and his colleagues say that waste material from the paper and pulp industry could be repurposed to make all sorts of products, from tennis rackets to entire cars. The secret, they say, is collecting and repurposing a substance called lignin that is found in all that waste.

    "People have been thinking about using lignin to make carbon fiber for many years, but achieving good quality has been an issue,” said Yuan. “We have overcome one of the industry’s most challenging issues by discovering how to make good quality carbon fiber from waste.”

    Carbon fiber production

    In basic terms, lignin is a class of organic materials that helps form the tissues and structural walls in certain plants and algae. The researchers say that about 50 million tons of lignin is thrown away each year in products disposed of by the paper and pulp industry.

    Initially, the research team found some initial success in making fuel and bioproducts from lignin, but the processes involved still led to a lot of waste. That’s when they started thinking outside the box and considered making other products.

    “We separated lignin into different parts, and then we found that certain parts of lignin are very good for high quality carbon fiber manufacturing,” explains Yuan. “We are still improving and fine-tuning the quality, but eventually this carbon fiber could be used for windmills, sport materials, and even bicycles and cars…Carbon Fiber is much lighter but has the same mechanical strength as other materials used for those products now. This material can be used for a lot of different applications.

    Creating U.S. jobs

    The researchers believe that the process they’re developing makes complete use of lignin and dramatically cuts down on waste. They say that certain parts of the substance could be used to make anything from bioplastics to asphalt binder modifiers that are used to make roads.

    Perhaps best of all, Yuan points out that the sustainable nature of lignin allows for an economic return that would create jobs and fuel economic growth in rural areas of the U.S. where production would most likely take place.

    “The entire supply chain is in the United States, which means the jobs would be here. The biomass is grown, harvested and transported here. It would be difficult to ever ship that much waste to another country for production. It all stays here…It would put agriculture production and industry together in a bioeconomy making renewable products,” he said.

    The full study has been published in Green Chem.

    Companies often talk about reducing their carbon footprint by cutting down on waste, but could all that extra carbon that’s out there actually fuel America...

    Delta airlines testing facial recognition technology

    Will be used at automated bag drop for international travelers

    Airlines are under increasing pressure to do something -- anything -- to improve the customer experience. Delta says it may have a way to do that.

    The airline said it will test facial recognition technology at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this summer. The technology will be employed at four self-serve bag drops, allowing passengers to check their bags themselves.

    One of the stations, for international travelers, will be equipped with the facial recognition technology, matching passengers with their passport photos.

    "We expect this investment and new process to save customers time," said Gareth Joyce, a senior vice president at Delta. "And, since customers can operate the biometric-based bag drop machine independently, we see a future where Delta agents will be freed up to seek out travelers and deliver more proactive and thoughtful customer service."

    Increasingly automated

    Airports are becoming increasingly automated, and Delta sees this as just the next, natural step in that process. Previously, the airline began attaching radio frequency identification technology (RFID)tags to luggage, to keep better track of it.

    "We're making travel easier than ever for our customers and continuing to deliver a leading customer experience," Joyce said.

    The effort comes at a time when airlines are under pressure from passengers and policymakers. After the forcible removal of a passenger from a United Airlines flight April 9, almost every instance of passenger angst aboard a commercial aircraft is recorded and spread across social media.

    For its part, Delta said it will collect passenger feedback during the Minnesota trial and run process analyses to make sure this addition of technology not only saves the airline money, but improves the overall customer experience.

    Delta says it believes it will. It cites studies it says show that self-service bag drops have the potential to process twice as many customers per hour.

    Airlines are under increasing pressure to do something -- anything -- to improve the customer experience. Delta says it may have a way to do that.The a...

    Senate urged to 'start over' on health care

    'Deeply flawed' bill can't be salvaged, AARP tells lawmakers

    During the 2016 political campaign, the idea seemed simple. Republicans up and down the ticket generally supported "repealing and replacing" the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

    But in practice, the process has been far from simple. Democrats, of course, are unified in their opposition to any of the Republican proposals so far. It's the GOP that is divided.

    In its second attempt, the GOP-controlled House has passed a measure to replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act, which keeps some of the ACA's components but has changed other parts, which a large number of health organizations have said would reduce or eliminate coverage for millions.

    The measure now resides in the U.S. Senate, where the outcome is far from certain. Instead of tweaking the House-passed bill, AARP, which has announced its opposition to the replacement legislation, is urging the Senate to simply toss the House's work and start over.

    'Age tax'

    “The deeply flawed House bill would add an age tax, increasing health care costs by thousands of dollars each year we grow older, and put millions of American families at risk of finding health care unaffordable or unavailable,” said AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond.

    In a letter to members of the Senate, LeaMond urged lawmakers to start from scratch. The goal, she said, should be health care legislation that "ensures robust insurance market protections, controls costs, improves quality, and provides affordable coverage to all Americans.”

    AARP contends that under the House bill, insurance providers could jack up rates on older Americans five times or more for their coverage. The group notes that the median annual income for people 50 to 64 years-old is less than $25,000.

    The group representing seniors also says the pending legislation would in essence remove protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions because it would allow insurance companies to charge a lot more for that coverage.

    Compensating for risk

    Supporters of the House legislation point out their bill simply returns health coverage to an insurance-based footing. When there is an element of higher risk -- and policyholders with pre-existing conditions increase the risk to the insurance provider -- the insurance company is compensated for that risk in the form of higher rates. That's the way it works for auto and homeowner's insurance. The more claims there are, the higher the rates go.

    Critics, however, say no one is required to have a car or to own a home. It's different, they say, when it comes to healthcare.

    So that may be one reason Washington is having such a hard time with this issue. One side sees health care as an insurance product, the other views it as an entitlement. A law that straddles those two diverging outlooks is indeed a challenge.

    During the 2016 political campaign, the idea seemed simple. Republicans up and down the ticket generally supported "repealing and replacing" the Affordable...

    Orlando has best home prices for first-time buyers

    Zillow finds most affordable homes are in the Southeast and Midwest

    Affordability has always been one of the biggest challenges to homeownership, but is especially the case these days, as home prices keep rising.

    And while affordability factors vary city to city and state to state, that doesn't help a prospective buyer whose job and family connections require him or her to remain in the same city.

    But what about those who can live pretty much anywhere -- retirees, young people just starting out, and people who are simply "starting over," taking the lemons life has dealt them and trying to make lemonade?

    For them, they might consider living somewhere else. And living someplace where homes are more affordable, as opposed to very expensive, might be a very smart move.

    Affordabilty is key

    Real estate marketplace Zillow is offering some help, breaking down the most attractive housing markets for first-time buyers and those that are the hardest to get into.

    The Southeast U.S. offers the most attractive entry-level housing, with Orlando right at the top of Zillow's list, followed by another Florida city, Tampa.

    Among the criteria to make the most affordable list, a city most have median home prices that correlate to median wages and have a significant inventory of available property.

    By that measure, Atlanta, San Antonio and Dallas are also prime housing markets for first-time buyers.

    Lower price, lower down payment

    Zillow says saving for a down payment has become the primary stumbling block for first-time buyers, so the lower the price of the home, the small the minimum required down payment.

    Assuming a 3.5% down payment on an FHA loan, the down payment for a house costing $120,000 is $4,200, while it would be $7,700 for a home costing $220,000.

    Trying to buy any kind of home for $220,000 in any of the nation's hottest housing markets could be a major challenge. Cities that offer plenty of high-paying jobs have seen a huge run-up in home prices.

    The San Francisco metro, for example, has some of the highest salaries in the country, but also some of the highest home prices.

    Zillow notes that a typical 5% down payment for a home in the San Francisco Bay Area will be more than a 20% down payment in one of the nation's most affordable housing markets.

    The top 10 markets

    Zillow's top 10 housing markets for first-time buyers is below:

    1. Orlando, Fla.
    2. Tampa, Fla.
    3. Indianapolis, Ind.
    4. Las Vegas, Nev.
    5. San Antonio, Texas
    6. Pittsburgh, Pa.
    7. Atlanta, Ga.
    8. Detroit, Mich.
    9. Dallas, Texas
    10. Cleveland, Ohio
    Affordability has always been one of the biggest challenges to homeownership, but is especially the case these days, as home prices keep rising.And whi...

    New home construction disappoints in April

    Building permits suffered a decline as well

    Ground-breakings for privately-owned houses came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.172 million, in April, according to the Commerce Department, a drop of 2.6% from March, which was revised down to 1.203 million from 1.215 million.

    Economists at Briefing.com were calling for an increase – to 1.255 million.

    While starts for single-family homes were up 0.4% in April at a rate of 835,000, they were overwhelmed by the decline of of 9.2% in construction of apartment buildings to 328,000.

    The decline in single-family housing starts was led by a plunge of 29.2% in the Northeast and a 3.4% fall in the South. Construction rose in the Midwest (+19.4%) and the West (+9.1%).

    Building permits

    The issuing of building permits, an indicator of developers' plans in the months ahead, were down 2.5% at a rate of 1.229 million.

    Authorizations for single-family construction dropped 4.5% to a rate of 789,000, while multi-unit dwellings were authorized at a rate of 403,000 in April, up 1.5%

    Permits for single-family homes were down everywhere except the West.

    The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

     

     

    Ground-breakings for privately-owned houses came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.172 million, in April, according to the Commerce Department,...

    Gulf States Toyota recalls model year 2016-2017 4Runners

    The roof rack may detach from the vehicle

    Gulf States Toyota is recalling 1,019 model year 2016-2017 4Runners equipped with the TFORCE accessory package.

    The fasteners for the aftermarket roof rack may have been improperly tightened.

    If the roof rack fasteners loosen, the roof rack may detach from the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash.

    What to do

    Gulf States will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and, as necessary, tighten the roof rack fasteners, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin June 1, 2017.

    Owners may contact Gulf States customer service at 1-800-444-1074. Gulf States' number for this recall is 17R1.

     

     

    Gulf States Toyota is recalling 1,019 model year 2016-2017 4Runners equipped with the TFORCE accessory package.The fasteners for the aftermarket roof r...

    Little Passports recalls science kits

    The battery packs included in the kits can overheat

    Little Passports of San Francisco, Calif., is recalling about 7,700 Science Expeditions Northern Lights science kits sold in the U.S. and Canada.

    The battery packs included in the kits can overheat, posing a burn hazard.

    The firm has received seven reports of the battery packs overheating. No injuries have been reported.

    This recall involves the Science Expeditions Northern Lights science kits with “Make an Electromagnet” and “Aurora in a Box” experiments that use battery packs.

    The kits were sent to Little Passports subscribers in February 2017.

    The “Magnet Lab” experiment and comic book included in the Science Expeditions Northern Lights kit do not use battery packs and can still be used.

    The kits, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively online at www.littlepassports.com to Little Passports subscribers in February 2017 for between $18 and $21.

    What to do

    Consumers should immediately stop using the battery packs included in the kits and contact Little Passports for a Crystal Growing Kit replacement product or coupon for $12 off any kit in Little Passports’ online store. The firm is contacting all known purchasers directly.

    Consumers may contact Little Passports toll-free at 866-991-4547 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or online at www.littlepassports.com and click on “Product Safety” for more information.

     

     

    Little Passports of San Francisco, Calif., is recalling about 7,700 Science Expeditions Northern Lights science kits sold in the U.S. and Canada.The ba...

    Houses more affordable in early 2017

    The least affordable are found in California

    If you're trying to buy a home, your dollars may go a bit further now.

    The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) finds housing affordability got a slight boost in the first quarter, thanks to rising wages and moderating home prices that offset a rise in mortgage interest rates.

    In all, 60.3% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of January and end of March were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $68,000. In previous three months, it was 59.9%.

    "Ongoing job growth continues to fuel demand for housing, while wage growth is helping to offset the effects of rising mortgage rates and keep home prices affordable," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "NAHB anticipates that housing will continue on a gradual, upward path throughout the year."

    The national median home price fell to $245,000 in the first quarter from $250,000 in the final quarter of 2016. the median is the point at which half the house cost more and half less.

    Meanwhile, average mortgage rates were up nearly half a percent -- from 3.84% in the fourth quarter to 4.33% in the first quarter.

    Most affordable

    Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., was rated the nation's most affordable major housing market for the second straight quarter with 92.7% of all new and existing homes sold in the first quarter affordable to families earning the area's median income of $54,600.

    Kokomo, Ind., was rated the nation's most affordable smaller market, with 96.3% affordability to families earning the median income of $62,500.

    Rounding out the top five affordable major housing markets in respective order were Elgin, Ill.; Scranton-Wilkes Barre-Hazleton, Pa.; Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; and Syracuse, N.Y.

    Smaller markets joining Kokomo at the top of the list included Glen Falls, N.Y.; East Stroudsburg, Pa.; Binghamton, N.Y.; and Lansing-East Lansing, Mich.

    Least affordable

    For the 18th consecutive quarter, San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, Calif., was the nation's least affordable major housing market. Just 11.8% of homes sold in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area's median income of $108,400.

    Other major metros at the bottom of the chart are in California: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine; San Diego-Carlsbad; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (tied with San Diego).

    All five least affordable small housing markets were also in the Golden State. At the very bottom was Salinas, where 13.8% of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area's median income of $63,100.

    Others at the lowest end included Santa Cruz-Watsonville; Napa; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande; and San Rafael.

     

     

    If you're trying to buy a home, your dollars may go a bit further now.The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity...

    Model year 2017 Honda CR-Vs and Acura RDXs recalled

    Information on the vehicle's certification label may have been wiped away

    American Honda Motor Co. is recalling certain model year 2017 CR-Vs and Acura RDXs.

    The certification labels on the vehicles were printed with ink that may be inadvertently wiped away with an alcohol solvent.

    As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, "Certification."

    If the label information can be wiped away, the operator may not be able to refer to the information, possibly resulting in the vehicle being overloaded, which can increase the risk of a crash.

    What to do

    Honda and Acura will notify owners, and dealers will replace the certification label, free of charge. The recall is planned to begin May 22, 2017.

    Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's numbers for this recall are KF3 (CR-V)and KF4 (RDX)

     

     

    American Honda Motor Co. is recalling certain model year 2017 CR-Vs and Acura RDXs.The certification labels on the vehicles were printed with ink that...

    U.S. may impose laptop ban on flights from Europe

    Business travelers would be likely to rebel at having to check their laptops

    Airlines are bracing for the impact of a potential ban on laptops, smartphones, and other electronic devices on all airline flights from Europe to the U.S., similar to the one imposed in March on flights from 10 Middle Eastern airports.

    Tourists might be able to endure an eight-hour flight without access to their laptops, but business travelers, who are the bread and butter of the airline industry, are another matter.

    Not only would business travelers rebel at not being able to use their laptops, but the notion of having to check them as baggage raises even more hackles, for fear they might be stolen, putting valuable and proprietary data at risk.

    It may happen though. The Department of Homeland Security said last week that it might extend the laptop ban from the Middle East to Europe, likely leading to chaos at European airports and scenes that make recent dust-ups at U.S. airports look like a Sunday School picnic.

     “High-level” meetings are scheduled in Brussels Wednesday, as European airport officials worry about disrupting the travel plans of the 30 million people who fly from European airports to the U.S. each year.

    "Significant deterioration"

    The laptop ban on flights from the Middle East created mass confusion and led many travelers to drop plans for non-stop flights from Dubai and other popular airports in favor of connecting through Europe. Emirates cut its schedule to five American cities because of "significant deterioration" in bookings. The Emirates cutbacks affect flights to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Boston, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

    Corporations and travel managers are already speaking out about the proposal, saying it would hamper the conduct of business and sharply reduce international travel. Many companies would be likely to turn to Skype and other video-conferencing solutions rather than require their engineers and executives to give up their laptops and iPads.

    “I think business travelers would be far more willing to accept a far more rigorous screening at the airport, rather than having to part with their tools when they travel,” said Michael McCormick, executive director of the Global Business Travel Association, in a Bloomberg report.

    Canada, it might be noted, does not impose similar bans, which could lead U.S. travelers to book their flights through Canada. 

    Airlines are bracing for the impact of a potential ban on laptops, smartphones, and other electronic devices on all airline flights from Europe to the U.S....

    Volkswagen recalls nearly a quarter-million Audis

    The fuel pump flange may crack, allowing fuel to leak

    Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 240,487 model year 2013-2017 Audi Q5s and 2013-2017 Q7s.

    The gasoline-powered vehicles have a fuel pump flange that may crack, allowing fuel to leak.

    A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source increases the risk of a fire.

    What to do

    Audi will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel pump flange if cracks are present. Flanges that do not have cracks will have a protective film applied. These repairs will be performed free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 2, 2017.

    Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 20Z8.

     

     

    Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 240,487 model year 2013-2017 Audi Q5s and 2013-2017 Q7s.The gasoline-powered vehicles have a fuel pump flange...

    Design improvements win BMW 5 series top IIHS award

    Across-the-board good crashworthiness made the difference

    A revamped BMW 5 series offering good protection in a small overlap front crash helped the series capture the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) top award for safety.

    The previous generation of the large luxury car failed to hold up well during that test.

    Across-the-board good crashworthiness, an optional front crash prevention system with a superior rating, and available good-rated headlights made the difference for the 2017 5 series, qualifying it for the IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ award.

    In order to earn that award, a vehicle must have good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests, as well as an available front crash prevention system with an advanced or superior rating and headlights that earn an acceptable or good rating.

    Small overlap improvements

    In the small overlap test of the 2017 model, the driver space was maintained well, with maximum intrusion of five inches at the footrest. The airbags and safety belt worked well together to control the dummy's movement, and measures taken from the dummy indicated a low risk of any significant injuries in a real-world crash of the same severity.

    In contrast, when the earlier model was tested, maximum intrusion reached 12 inches at the footrest, and the steering column was pushed back three inches toward the driver. Measures taken from the dummy indicated that injuries to the left lower leg would be likely in a real-world crash, with possible injuries to the left foot as well.

    The 2017 5 series has two different optional front crash prevention systems -- both earning a superior rating. In IIHS track tests, cars equipped with each system avoided collisions at 12 mph and 25 mph.

    The 5 series also has two different headlight systems available. Those that come with the optional lighting or premium package earn a good rating, while the standard ones are rated marginal.

    A revamped BMW 5 series offering good protection in a small overlap front crash helped the series capture the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIH...

    Six companies fined $4.19 million for using bots to buy tickets to New York shows

    New York AG Eric Schneiderman vows to continue fighting the 'rigged' ticketing system

    There’s nothing quite like a good Broadway show or tickets to a live concert, but consumers have found it difficult to secure online tickets recently because of ticket bots – software used by scalpers and resellers to grab large numbers of available tickets as quickly as possible.

    The problem became so bad that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law last November that increased the penalty for knowingly reselling tickets obtained by a ticket bot to a class A misdemeanor. The change guaranteed harsher penalties than the previously mandated civil penalties, something that six companies now know full well.

    Yesterday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that Renaissance Ventures LLC (d/b/a Prestige Entertainment), Ebrani Corp. (d/b/a Presidential Tickets), Concert Specials Inc., Fanfetch Inc., BMC Capital Partners, and JAL Enterprises (d/b/a Top Star Tickets) had been fined a total of $4.19 million for using ticket bots to procure and resell tickets in the state.

    “Unscrupulous ticket resellers who break the rules and take advantage of ordinary consumers are one of the major reasons why ticketing remains a rigged system,” Schneiderman said.

    Snatching up tickets

    The Attorney General’s office found that one of the ticket brokers, Prestige Entertainment, had used two different bots and thousands of credit cards and Ticketmaster accounts to buy tickets for many New York shows. The investigators allege that the company used IP proxy services to hide its use of bots from retail ticket marketplaces. In one specific case, the company allegedly used its bots to purchase over 1,000 tickets to a 2014 U2 concert at Madison Square Garden in just one minute.

    Because of its pervasive use of ticket bots, Prestige will be paying the highest fine at $3.35 million. Concert Specials will pay $480,000; Presidential Tickets will pay $125,000; BMC Capital will pay $95,000; Top Star Tickets will pay $85,000; and Fanfetch will pay $55,000.

    In addition to paying the fines, each company is required under the settlement to maintain proper ticket reseller licenses and abstain from using ticket bots in the future.

    “We will continue to fight to make ticketing a more fair and transparent marketplace, so fans have the opportunity to enjoy their favorite shows and events. Anybody who breaks the law will pay a steep price,” said Schneiderman.

    There’s nothing quite like a good Broadway show or tickets to a live concert, but consumers have found it difficult to secure online tickets recently becau...

    Public Health Alert issued for fried chicken and pork sausage products

    The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

    The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a Public Health Alert for frozen ready-to-eat fried chicken and pork sausage products produced by Pinnacle Foods of Jackson, Tenn.

    The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

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

    While Pinnacle has already recalled these products, FSIS is issuing the Public Health Alert to ensure consumers are aware that the products are subject to the recall.
     

    The following items, produced from February 4, 2016, to May 4, 2017, are subject to the Public Health Alert:

    • 5.5-oz. individual frozen microwavable dinners containing French toast and a pork sausage patty with “Aunt Jemima FRENCH TOAST AND SAUSAGE” printed on the label and bearing UPC code 051000063915.
    • 16-oz. individual frozen microwavable dinners containing a waffle and a fried chicken piece with “HUNGRY-MAN Selects BONELESS FRIED CHICKEN & WAFFLES” printed on the label and bearing UPC code 658276202903.

    The products, bearing establishment number “EST. 9132” or “P-138” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

    What to do

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

    Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Pinnacle Foods consumer care at 1-888-299-7646 daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (ET).

     

     

    The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a Public Health Alert for frozen ready-to-eat fried chicken and pork saus...

    Retail sales post second monthly gain in a row

    A revision for March shows and increase, not a decline

    Retail sales got a nice bump last month.

    The Commerce Department reports a solid gain by nonstore retailers pushed overall sales to $474.9 billion in April, up 0.4% from the month before and 4.5% above the same month a year earlier.

    In addition, the government Revised its report on March sales to show a gain of 0.1% instead of its earlier estimate of a 0,2% decline.

    The 1.4% advance enjoyed by nonstore retailers led the way followed by electronics & appliance stores (+1.3%), building material and garden equipment supplies dealers (+1.2%) and auto dealers (+0.8%).

    Declines in sales of 0.5% were experienced by furniture & home furnishings stores, clothing & clothing accessories stores and general merchandise stores, while grocery stores sales slumped 0.4%.

    The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

     

     

    Retail sales got a nice bump last month.The Commerce Department reports a solid gain by nonstore retailers pushed overall sales to $474.9 billion in Ap...

    Consumer prices edge higher in April

    Energy costs were a major contributor

    A smidgeon of inflation in April.

    The Labor Department (DOL) reports its Consumer Price Index rose a slight 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis in April, and is up 2.2% over the last 12 months.

    Energy and Food costs rise

    The price of energy shot up 1.1% last month after falling in March and February. Gasoline which was down 6.2% in March, jumped 1.2%, while natural gas was up 2.2% and electricity rose 0.6%.

    Over the past 12 months, gasoline is up 14.3%, natural gas has surged 12.0%, while electricity posted a more modest advance of 2.4%.

    The cost of food was up just 0.2%, but it was the fourth increase in a row.

    The grocery prices component was up 0.2%, with fruits and vegetables costs up 2.2%, thanks to a 5.1% surge for fresh vegetables -- the largest increase since February 2011.

    Four of the five remaining major grocery store food groups fell including meats, poultry, fish, & eggs (-0.6%), cereals & bakery products (- 0.3%), nonalcoholic beverages (-0.3) and dairy (-0.2%). The “other groceries” category increased 0.1%.

    Grocery prices have fallen 0.8% over the past year, while the cost of restaurant meals, which was up 0.2% in April, posted a year-over year gain of 2.3%.

    Core inflation

    The cost of all items excluding the volatile food and energy categories -- the “core” rate of inflation -- rose 0.1% in April after

    declining in March. Increased costs were registered for housing (+0.3%) and tobacco (+4.2), along with alcoholic beverages, education and personal care.

    Areas that saw declines included communication, with prices for wireless phone service down 1.7%, along with medical care (-0.2%), used cars and trucks (-0.5) and clothing (-0.3%).

    The core rate of inflation rose 1.9% over the last 12 months compared with an average annual increase 1.8% over the past decade.

    The full report may be found on the DOL website.

     

     

    A smidgeon of inflation in April.The Labor Department (DOL) reports its Consumer Price Index rose a slight 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis in April...

    Save-A-Lot Pick 5 Mix & Match Chicken & Waffle Sandwich recalled

    The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

    Fourth Street Barbecue Inc./ Packing Division is recalling all lot numbers of the Save-A-Lot Pick 5 Chicken Waffle Sandwich.

    The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

    No illnesses have been reported to date.

    The following product, sold frozen and distributed nationwide to Save-A-Lot stores, is being recalled::

    ItemUPCProduct size/Box
    Save-A-Lot  Pick 5 Mix & Match Chicken & Waffle Sandwich05193335366414.4 oz /box

    What to do

    Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it.

    Consumers seeking a replacement or refund may call the customer hotline at 724-483-2056 Monday – Friday from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm (EST).

     

     

    Fourth Street Barbecue Inc./ Packing Division is recalling all lot numbers of the Save-A-Lot Pick 5 Chicken Waffle Sandwich.The product may be contamin...

    New York getting in on self-driving experiments

    The state is accepting applications for companies that want to test their systems in the state

    Add New York to the list of states that are allowing testing of self-driving cars on its roads. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is now accepting applications from companie wanting to mix it up with human drivers on New York streets and roadways, some of the most congested in the nation.

    "New York has emerged as one of the nation's leading hubs for innovation, and as we invite companies and entrepreneurs to reimagine transportation technology, we will encourage the development of new, safe travel options for New Yorkers," Cuomo said."With this action, we are taking a careful yet balanced approach to incorporating autonomous vehicles on our roads to reduce dangerous driving habits, decrease the number of accidents and save lives on New York roadways."

    The state legislature recently authorized a one-year pilot program, joining 13 states and the District of Columbia in trying to get in on the development of autonomous vehicles.

    Tighter controls

    New York is accepting applications from companies interested in testing the vehicles through a year-long pilot program. But it's not giving companies quite as much of a free hand as some other states. For examples, each company will need to have a $5 million insurance policy, will have to submit regular reports to the state and will have to pay the state police for supervising each test.

    The locations of tests will also be tightly regulated. Testing also cannot take place in construction or school zones  and must adhere to a predesignated route shared in advance with the state.

    "While we all are familiar with the idea that self-driving cars will one day likely be commonplace, the reality is that there is a long road ahead before we get there," said state DMV Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. "We need to make sure these vehicles are safely tested on our roads, while providing opportunities for the public to become familiar with this technology. This is a balanced approach consistent with New York’s long track record of highway safety as well as innovation."

    Besides the state action, New York City is participating in a federal program to design "connected car" technology, which many analysts think will be supplanted by the more independent systems being developed by Google, Apple, Tesla, Uber, and other technology companies. 

    The NYC program includes special traffic lights that can connect to vehicles wirelessly.

    Add New York to the list of states that are allowing testing of self-driving cars on its roads. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is now accepting applicati...

    Barclays to repay $97 million of fees and charges to clients

    The firm didn't have procedures in place to ensure accurate billing, the SEC charged

    Barclays Capital will be shelling out quite a bit of its own capital -- some $97 million in fees and mutual fund sales charges to about 25,000 of its advisory clients. The Securities and Exchange Commission said the bank overcharged clients by about $50 million because it lacked procedures to validate whether clients were properly billed.

    "Barclays failed to ensure that clients were receiving the services they were paying for,” said C. Dabney O’Riordan, Co-Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit. “Each set of clients who were harmed are being refunded through the settlement.”

    The SEC’s order finds that two Barclays advisory programs charged fees to more than 2,000 clients for due diligence and monitoring of certain third-party investment managers and investment strategies when in fact these services weren’t being performed as represented. 

    Excess charges

    The SEC also said that Barclays collected excess mutual fund sales charges or fees from 63 brokerage clients by recommending more expensive share classes when less expensive share classes were available. Another 22,138 accounts paid excess fees to Barclays due to miscalculations and billing errors by the firm.

    Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Barclays agreed to create a "Fair Fund" to refund advisory fees to harmed clients. The Fair Fund will consist of $49,785,417 in disgorgement plus $13,752,242 in interest and a $30 million penalty. Barclays will directly refund an additional $3.5 million to advisory clients who invested in third-party investment managers and investment strategies that underperformed while going unmonitored. Those funds also will go to brokerage clients who were steered into more expensive mutual fund share classes.

    Barclays Capital will be shelling quite a bit of its own capital -- some $97 million in fees and mutual fund sales charges to about 25,000 of its advisory...

    Wholesale prices shoot higher in April

    Weekly jobless claims were on the decline

    Wholesale prices, or what the government calls the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand, headed higher last month as the cost of services rose.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the PPI was up a seasonally adjusted 0.5% in April after dipping 0.1%. For the 12 months ending in April, the PPI is up 2.5%, the largest increase since a 2.8% gain in the year ended February 2012.

    Almost two-thirds of April's can be attributed to prices for services, which were up 0.4%. Goods prices climbed 0.5%.

    The breakdown

    More than a quarter of the advance services came from prices for securities brokerage, dealing, investment advice and related services, which shot up 6.6%. Costs of guestroom rental; loan services (partial); machinery, equipment, parts, and supplies wholesaling; portfolio management; and airline passenger services were also on the rise.

    On the other hand, prices for fuels and lubricants retailing plunged 14.6%, with food & alcohol retailing and deposit services (partial) costs also declining.

    The increase in the cost of goods came as food and energy prices climbed 0.9% and 0.8%, respectively. Cigarette prices were up 2.2%, while the costs of gasoline, fresh & dry vegetables, fresh fruits & melons, residential natural gas and pharmaceutical preparations were higher as well.

    Conversely, the price of jet fuel fell 6.1%, and costs for carbon steel scrap and oilseeds also declined.

    The “core” rate of inflation on the wholesale level, which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, was 0.4%. On a year-over-year basis, the core rate is up 1.9%

    The full report may be found on the BLS website.

    Jobless claims

    Another decline in weekly applications for state unemployment benefits.

    The Labor Department reports in initial jobless claims were down by 2,000 in the week ending May 6 to a seasonally adjusted 236,000 after plunging 19,000 a week earlier.

    The 4-week moving average considered a more accurate barometer of the job market due to its lack of volatility inched up 500 to 243,500.

    The complete report is available on the DOL website.

     

     

    Wholesale prices, or what the government calls the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand, headed higher last month as the cost of services rose.A...

    Ford Brothers Wholesale Meats recalls beef patties

    The patties contain soy, an allergen not declared on the label

    Ford Brothers Wholesale Meats of West Valley, N.Y., is recalling approximately 4,015 pounds of beef patties.

    The patties contain soy, an allergen not declared on the label.

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

    The following items, produced on August 26, 2016, through May 4, 2017, are being recalled:

    • 5-lb. boxes containing four patties per pound of “MINEO & SAPIO BEEF PATTIES.”
    • 5-lb. boxes containing six patties per pound of “MINEO & SAPIO BEEF PATTIES.”
    • 5-lb. boxes containing eight patties per pound of “MINEO & SAPIO BEEF PATTIES.”
    • 5-lb. boxes containing ten patties per pound of “MINEO & SAPIO BEEF PATTIES.”

    The recalled product, bearing establishment number “EST. 4625” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to wholesale locations in New York.

    What to do

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

    Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Mark Strub at (716) 942-3000.

     

     

    Ford Brothers Wholesale Meats of West Valley, N.Y., is recalling approximately 4,015 pounds of beef patties.The patties contain soy, an allergen not de...

    Model year 2015 Audi tronics recalled

    The safety certification label has an incorrect vehicle production date

    Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 2,091 model year 2015 Audi A3 1.8T FWD S tronics and 2.0T Quattro S tronics.

    The safety certification label has an incorrect vehicle production date. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, "Certification."

    In the event of a vehicle safety recall, an incorrect production date may prevent owners from determining if the recall affects them, increasing their risk of injury or a crash.

    What to do

    Audi will notify owners, and dealers will install an overlay label containing the correct vehicle production date, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

    Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 51F5.

     

     

    Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 2,091 model year 2015 Audi A3 1.8T FWD S tronics and 2.0T Quattro S tronics.The safety certification label has...

    Aunt Jemima frozen pancakes, waffles & french toast slices recalled

    The products may be contamination with Listeria monocytogenes

    Pinnacle Foods is recalling all “Best By” dates of Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancakes, Frozen Waffles & Frozen French Toast Slices.

    The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

    No illnesses have been reported.

    The following products, distributed nationally in the U.S. and Mexico, are being recalled:

    17 Retail Products PKG UPC 
    AUNT JEMIMA LIL GRIDDLERS BLUEBERRY 14.5oz019600054603
    AUNT JEMIMA MINI PANCAKES 14.5oz019600054801
    AUNT JEMIMA FRENCH TOAST 12.5oz019600057703
    AUNT JEMIMA CINNAMON FRENCH TOAST 12.5oz019600058908
    AUNT JEMIMA WHOLE GRAIN FRENCH TOAST 12.5oz019600059684
    AUNT JEMIMA BUTTERMILK PANCAKE LOW FAT 14.5oz019600061007
    AUNT JEMIMA HOMESTYLE WAFFLE 17.18oz019600062004
    AUNT JEMIMA BUTTERMILK WAFFLE 17.18oz019600062103
    AUNT JEMIMA BLUEBERRY WAFFLE 17.18oz019600062202
    AUNT JEMIMA LOW FAT WAFFLE 17.18oz019600062301
    AUNT JEMIMA BLUEBERRY PANCAKE 14.8oz019600064701
    AUNT JEMIMA OATMEAL PANCAKE 14.8oz019600064909
    AUNT JEMIMA WHOLE GRAIN PANCAKE 14.5oz019600066408
    AUNT JEMIMA BUTTERMILK PANCAKE 14.8oz019600068204
    AUNT JEMIMA HOMESTYLE PANCAKE 14.8oz019600069102
    AUNT JEMIMA 60CT CLUB PANCAKES PREMIUM019600435907
    AUNT JEMIMA PANCAKE MEXICO 60CT019600435921

    Two additional items are being recalled in conjunction with the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    Product PKG UPC 
    AUNT JEMIMA FRENCH TOAST & SAUSAGE 5.5oz051000063915
    HUNGRY MAN SELECTS CHICKEN & WAFFLES 8/16oz658276202903

    What to do

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

    Consumers with questions may contact Pinnacle Foods at 1-888-299-7646.

     

     

    Pinnacle Foods is recalling all “Best By” dates of Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancakes, Frozen Waffles & Frozen French Toast Slices.The products may be contami...

    American Honda recalls recreational off-highway vehicles

    The front passenger seat belt buckle can fail

    American Honda Motor Company of Torrance, Calif., is recalling about 2,200 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).

    The front passenger seat belt buckle can fail due to a manufacturing defect, posing a risk of injury.

    No incidents or injuries have been reported.

    This recall involves model year 2017 Honda Pioneer 700 side-by-side recreational off-highway vehicles.

    The ROVs are motorized with a steering wheel, a gas pedal, a brake pedal, bucket or bench seats, seat belts and an occupant protection structure.

    The recalled ROVs were sold in two-seat and four-seat models in blue, red, silver or camouflage colors. “HONDA” is printed on the front grill and rear tailgate. “Pioneer 700” is printed on the sides of the vehicle.

    The model and serial numbers are printed on a certification label located at the top rear of the left front wheel well.

    The following model numbers and serial number ranges are being recalled:

    Model

    Type

    Serial Number Range

    Seats

    SXS700M4H

    AC

    1HFVE0201H4301181 -- 1HFVE0207H4302237

    4

    SXS700M4DH

    AC

    1HFVE02H5H4301268 -- 1HFVE02H6H4301697

    4

    SXS700M4DH

    2AC

    1HFVE02R1H4300241 -- 1HFVE02R3H4300600

    4

    SXS700M2H

    AC

    1HFVE0220H4301142 -- 1HFVE0223H4301801

    2

    SXS700M2DH

    AC

    1HFVE02NXH4301031 -- 1HFVE02NXH4301742

    2

    SXS700M2DH

    2AC

    1HFVE02T6H4300361 -- 1HFVE02T9H4300600

    2

    The ROVs, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at authorized Honda Powersports dealers nationwide from December 2016, through April 2017, for between $10,500 and $13,500.

    What to do

    Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact their local authorized Honda Powersports dealer to schedule an appointment for a free inspection and repair. Honda is contacting all known purchasers directly.

    Consumers may contact American Honda toll-free at 866-784-1870 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.powersports.honda.com and click on “Recall Information” at the bottom of the page for more information.

     

     

    American Honda Motor Company of Torrance, Calif., is recalling about 2,200 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).The front passenger seat belt buckl...

    2017 grads still face some challenges

    In addition to finding a job, they also need money skills

    People graduating from college this month face a pretty good job market. The 4.4% unemployment rate is the best in years.

    But even if they quickly slide into a job, 2017 grads may face other financial challenges. A large number are still leaving school with hefty student loan debt. They have to start their professional life juggling those loans.

    In fact, new research from Experian found 69% of the graduating students in its survey are leaving school with student loan debt. Meanwhile, 70% of those students said their schools didn't do enough to prepare them for real-world personal finance.

    KeyBank research reached a similar result – nearly 20% of grads know their financial goals, but are not sure they know how to get there. Experts at KeyBank offer grads three pieces of advice.

    Financial advice for grads

    Build a budget. Parcel out that full-time job paycheck to adequately cover anticipated expenses, including rent, transportation, student loans, food and insurance.

    "At this stage in life, budgeting really begins with knowing your take-home income, your student loan debt and then making lifestyle choices that keep expenses within 90 percent of that income," said Stephen D. Fournier, KeyBank Central New York market president and regional network deposits sponsor.

    At the same time, new graduates are urged to develop a savings strategy and carefully monitor their credit report and score.

    Landing a job

    Meanwhile, grads who have yet to nail down a job after graduation are getting some advice from staffing firm Robert Half. Among its advice:

    • Apply for a job, even if you don't meet all the requirements. First have a wish list, but don't expect to get everything
    • To turn an internship into a full-time job, take the initiative, don't want for the firm to make an offer. The sooner you can make your pitch, the better.
    • If you don't have the job experience a job posting requires, highlight the experience you do have, and explain how it's relevant. Don't forget to highlight your soft skills and customer service abilities.
    • If you don't get a job you've applied for, it doesn't mean you have to give up. Asking the hiring manager if the door will remain open for future positions. He or she will respect that. Then, move on to look for other job opportunities.

    Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, says soft skills are more important than ever. Stress your communication and collaboration skills to show you're a good fit with the organization.

    People graduating from college this month face a pretty good job market. The 4.4% unemployment rate is the best in years.But even if they quickly slide...

    Spirit Airlines pilots face federal court order to go back to work

    The decision bars pilots from participating in any slowdown efforts

    Yesterday, we reported that Spirit Airlines had taken legal action against its pilots for an alleged slowdown that resulted from a contract dispute. The airliner said that the pilots’ actions put the safety of customers and staff members at risk after a brawl ensued at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a flight cancellation.

    “These pilots have put their quest for a new contract ahead of getting customers to their destinations and the safety of their fellow Spirit Team Members,” company spokesperson Paul Berry said.

    Now, it looks like that legal action is producing results. The Washington Post reports that a federal court granted Spirit Airlines a temporary restraining order on Tuesday, which is meant to put an end to a “pervasive illegal work slowdown.” Spirit says that the pilots’ actions have resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations that have affected thousands of travelers.

    Court order

    The court decision, which was issued on Tuesday morning, found that the pilots’ actions violated the Railway Labor Act because it interrupted normal flight operations. The order mandates that the pilots and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) cease “from calling, permitting, instigating authorizing, encouraging, participating in, approving, or continuing any form of interference” with Spirit’s airline operations until further hearings are conducted.

    The order is pretty broad and bars the defendants from any concerted effort to refuse their normal pilot operations, including refusal of voluntary or overtime flight assignments and any slowdown efforts.

    The court said that issuing the restraining order was necessary to help Spirit avoid suffering “immediate and irreparable damage in the form of damage to its business reputation and customer goodwill, increased costs for measures designed to avoid flight delays and cancellations, and loss of revenue and associated costs caused by flight delays and cancellations.”

    Restoring normal operations

    In response to the decision, the ALPA said that it would continue its efforts to return Spirit to normal operations.

    “The court has spoken and Spirit pilots will fully comply with the order handed down, which is completely in line with our overriding goal: the resumption of normal operations. We call on the company to join forces with ALPA and the Spirit pilots to do just that,” the union said in a statement.

    “We are hopeful that we can put this moment behind us and get back to serving our customers,” added Berry. “We sincerely apologize to our customers for the disruption and inconveniences they have suffered. . . We believe this is the result of intimidation tactics by a limited number of our pilots affecting the behavior of the larger group.”

    As of Wednesday morning, Spirit still led all airlines in flight cancellations by a large margin with 61, approximately 13% of its flights, according to FlightAware.

    Yesterday, we reported that Spirit Airlines had taken legal action against its pilots for an alleged slowdown that resulted from a contract dispute. The ai...

    Entire nation enjoying a drop in gasoline prices

    With no refinery issues and falling oil prices, everyone is getting a break

    With the near collapse of crude oil prices, nearly all motorists are getting a break at the gas pump, which is unusual.

    Generally, gasoline prices fluctuate by region. They might go down in Louisiana and Texas but go up in Michigan and Indiana. That's because refinery issues can affect prices in regions, sending them higher or lower.

    But as the U.S. approaches Memorial Day and the start of the summer driving season, Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy, is seeing something interesting. Gasoline prices are dropping just about everywhere.

    "Forty-nine of 50 states are seeing gasoline prices lower than a week ago, but the average drop is four cents a gallon, so there is more room for prices to fall this week," DeHaan told ConsumerAffairs.

    The refineries have switched over to producing summer grade gasoline, which is more costly to make. But now the oil they use to make it costs less, with the price of crude tumbling from the mid $50 range to the mid forties. An upcoming decision by OPEC to extend its production cuts could push prices back up, but it's worth noting that oil prices have fallen dramatically, even with OPEC producing less.

    Four cents cheaper than last week

    The national average price of self-serve regular is around $2.33 a gallon, down four cents from a week ago, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey. The average price of premium gas is $2.86, three cents lower than seven days ago.

    The most expensive gasoline in the nation today is in Hawaii, the only state where the average price is over $3 a gallon, at $3.06. The cheapest gasoline can be found in South Carolina, more than a dollar cheaper, at $2.04 a gallon.

    While prices are falling, they are still higher than they were at this time a year ago. But that gap is narrowing. DeHaan says prices may continue to fall, but only to the point that they match the 13% drop in oil prices.

    "I’d expect prices this summer to be very close to last summer, perhaps slightly more expensive, so long as there aren’t any unpredictable outside interference like hurricanes, OPEC cuts, or wars."

    With the near collapse of crude oil prices, nearly all motorists are getting a break at the gas pump, which is unusual.Generally, gasoline prices fluct...

    Volkswagen recalls model year 2016-2017 CCs

    Incorrect front seat head restraints may have been installed

    Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 23 model year 2016-2017 CCs.

    Incorrect front seat head restraints (rests) may have been installed, possibly resulting in the seat occupant's head being inadequately restrained in the event of a crash.

    As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 202a, "Head Restraints."

    If the seat occupant's head is inadequately restrained in the event of a crash, there is an increased risk of injury.

    What to do

    Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front seat head restraints, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in June 2017.

    Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 72G5.

     

     

    Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 23 model year 2016-2017 CCs.Incorrect front seat head restraints (rests) may have been installed, possibly res...

    Smallbatch Pets recalls frozen chicken blend for dogs and cats

    The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

    Smallbatch Pets of Portland, Ore., is voluntarily recalling two lots of Smallbatch frozen chicken blend for dogs and cats.

    The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

    No pet or consumer illnesses from this product have been reported to date.

    The potentially affected lots of 2lbs. chicken blend were distributed to retail pet food stores in States CA, CO, OR, WA through pet food retailers/distributors. Two hundred and eighty-two cases of this product were sold between the dates of 2/1/17 – 5/5/17.

    The recalled items, sold frozen in 2-lb. bags in stores in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington between February 1, 2017 and May 5, 2017, are identified with the following manufacturing codes: 

    LOTUPCBest By Date
    D0327051059709742/1/2018
    E0587051059709742/27/2018

    The “Best By” date is located on the back of the package.

    What to do

    Customers who purchased the recalled products should stop feeding them to their dogs or cats and dispose of them immediately, or return product to place of purchase for a full refund.

    Consumers with questions may contact the company at 888-507 2712, Monday – Friday, 9:00AM - 4:00PM (PST) or by email at info@smallbatchpets.com.

     

     

    Smallbatch Pets of Portland, Ore., is voluntarily recalling two lots of Smallbatch frozen chicken blend for dogs and cats.The product may be contaminat...

    A rebound in mortgage applications

    Contract interest rates were mixed

    Mortgage applications bounced back during the week ending May 5, rising during the week ending May 5.2.4% after declining a week earlier.

    The Mortgage Bankers Association also reports the Refinance Index was up 3% from the previous week, taking the refinance share of mortgage activity up to 41.9% of total applications from 41.6% a week earlier.

    The FHA share of total applications inched up 0.1% to 10.5%, the VA share held steady at 10.8% and the USDA share of total applications was unchanged at 0.8%.

    Contract interest rates

    • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($424,100 or less) was unchanged at 4.23%, with points decreasing to 0.31 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater