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    Websites plan to go 'red' to bring back net neutrality

    Lawmakers have a chance to undo an FCC vote that gutted net neutrality laws last year

    Thousands of websites on May 9 will go “red” in an effort to reinstate net neutrality laws. Etsy, Tumblr, NetFlix, and OkCupid are among the sites that have joined the “go red” campaign sponsored by BattleForTheNet.

    Organizers behind the campaign say that on May 9, a “red alert” or a red plug-in will appear before users can access a participating site’s homepage. The notice will urge users to contact their lawmaker on the day that Congress is scheduled to vote on a measure that could bring back net neutrality.

    The Federal Communications Commission last year voted 3-2 to gut net neutrality rules that digital rights and consumer advocates said had allowed for a free and open internet. The effects of the reversal have not yet been implemented or seen because the FCC is still rewriting the regulations.

    Lawmakers and advocates are now racing against the FCC to undo last year’s vote. Under The Congressional Review Act, Congress can strike down any new rule with a majority vote, and some lawmakers are hoping that they can use that authority on May 9 to reinstate net neutrality.

    “The FCC voted to kill net neutrality and let ISPs like Comcast and Verizon ruin the Internet with throttling, censorship, and new fees,” BattleForTheNet says.

    Thousands of websites on May 9 will go “red” in an effort to reinstate net neutrality laws. Etsy, Tumblr, NetFlix, and OkCupid are among the sites that hav...
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      Richard Branson says hyperloop travel could soon become a reality

      Hyperloop would allow humans and cargo to be transported significantly faster

      Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson says he hopes to see hyperloop travel become a reality within three years. 
      Branson, who chairs Virgin Hyperloop One, said he finds the prospect of hyperloop travel -- or the concept of transporting people and goods via pods -- “ridiculously exciting.” He believes it won’t be long before humans are traveling by hyperloop.
      “We’re talking about two to three years away, not many years away,” Branson told CNBC from Dubai on Sunday. “My children and grandchildren are going to want the same things as I’m going to want—they’re going to want to get to places quicker.”
      "I think if we can build Virgin Hyperloops in a number of different countries, connecting countries, that will bring the world much closer,” he said. 
      On Sunday, Virgin Hyperloop One and Dubai port operator DP World announced a new joint venture called DP World Cargospeed. The goal of the partnership is to build high-speed delivery systems for cargo using hyperloop technology.

      What is hyperloop? 

      The idea of a hyperloop was introduced in 2013 by Tesla founder Elon Musk. Hyperloop transport would allow humans and cargo to travel in pods through a large underground system at speeds of 750 mph using magnets. 
      "When you're talking about the pods going at 6, 7, 800 miles an hour, both with people and cargo, that's tremendously exciting," Branson said. 
      Hyperloop technology could be used to transport passengers between two airports in minutes, Branson said, adding that the concept would allow people to avoid traffic jams simply by "jumping into a pod.” 
      “Suddenly, those two airports effectively become one airport,” Branson said. “All the misery of travel can be taken away.”

      Faster and cheaper

      Hyperloop travel would drastically cut down on travel time while also costing less. Virgin Hyperloop One CTO Josh Giegel said that passenger ticket prices on a hyperloop will be comparable to existing methods of transport, such as air or rail travel. Transporting cargo would be less expensive because hyperloop travel is “less energy intensive than a plane.” 
      “This is going to be a system for everybody, not just the super-rich,” Giegel said. However, he noted that “there will be a little bit of a premium that you pay because it’s so fast.”
      Virgin Hyperloop One is one of a few other companies pouring millions of dollars into designing the systems. Hyperloop One has planned routes in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also intends to build a route between Mumbai and Pune in India, with the goal of eventually implementing the technology around the world.
      Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson says he hopes to see hyperloop travel become a reality within three years.  Branson, who chairs Virgin Hyperloop O...
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      Bitcoin investors cry foul and seek to file suit against Bitcoin.com

      Buyers accuse the site of purposely misleading them about the products they purchase

      Fervent Bitcoin supporters are banding together in a fight against Bitcoin.com and alleging that the site is misleading buyers into purchasing Bitcoin Cash (BCH) instead of Bitcoin (BTC).

      The protesters have threatened to file a lawsuit against Bitcoin.com and are using the website bitcoincomlawsuit.info as a rallying point to bring together disturbed claimants.

      In the crosshairs of the nearly-thousand strong group is Bitcoin Cash promoter and Bitcoin.com domain owner Roger Ver, who Bitcoin supporters feel is misleading investors and losing them money.

      “Have you lost money because of bitcoin.com's fraudulent practices? We can help you,” is the site’s rallying cry. The site’s endgame is to finance legal action against Bitcoin.com and its movement is led by real estate entrepreneur Ragnar Lifthrasir, founder of a blockchain real estate advocacy group, IBREA.

      “Dishonest and misleading actions”

      Lifthrasir is reaching out to anyone who has “suffered ANY financial loss due to dishonest or misleading actions by Roger Ver, from ANY website, wallet, ICO, or other crypto activity” to report their claims on the website.

      The Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash communities have been at it like the Hatfields and McCoys since day one. The name alone of Ver’s Bitcoin.com carries the perception that it and the “real” Bitcoin are in bed together -- going as far as using the same color in their respective logos -- and undoing that perception may be a long, hard road.

      “It is clear to anyone who knows the history and technology that Bitcoin BTC is inaccurately using the Bitcoin name ... and is no longer bitcoin or even a cryptocurrency,” said Calvin Ayre, CoinGeek.com Founder, in a statement.

      Where will all of this end up?

      Eleven years after Bitcoin’s birth, the circus swirling around it is still alive and well. Take for instance when hackers tried to hold up the city of Atlanta last month, demanding the ransom be paid in Bitcoin.

      The U.S. government is doing all it can to bring some normalcy to the digital currency world by trying to make anyone and everyone that qualifies as a cryptocurrency exchange be registered, a move that Congress wholeheartedly backs.

      The feds also have to be concerned that with Bitcoin, as well as other cryptocurrencies, transactions are tax-free. It’s unclear how legitimate or shady the cryptocurrency game is once the curtain is pulled back. Whether it’s illicit commerce, tax avoidance, fraud, or deception, getting Bitcoin and its blood relatives under some sort of control tops the government’s to-do list.

      As an investment, Bitcoin’s wild ride seems far from over. In mid-December 2017, it hit a record high of $19,850 and then went on a pinball-like spree before rebounding some 20 percent last week to above $9,000.

      Fervent Bitcoin supporters are banding together in a fight against Bitcoin.com and alleging that the site is misleading buyers into purchasing Bitcoin Cash...
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      Greenbelt Microgreens recalled

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Greenbelt Greenhouse of British Columbia, Canada, is recalling all Greenbelt Microgreen products with the best before dates from 4/24/18 and 4/30/18.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following products, distributed to Whole Foods stores in Washington from April 4 – 24/2018, are being recalled:

      BrandProductSizeUPCCodes
      Greenbelt MicrogreensArugula Microgreens75 g8 90082 00012 4Best Before:
      4/24/18
      4/30/18
      Greenbelt MicrogreensBroccoli Microgreens75 g8 90082 00016 2Best Before:
      4/24/18
      4/30/18
      Greenbelt MicrogreensFresh Microgreen Mix75 g8 90082 00041 4Best Before:
      4/24/18
      4/30/18
      Greenbelt MicrogreensSweet & Crunchy Microgreen Mix75 g8 90082 00006 3Best Before:
      4/24/18
      4/30/18
      Greenbelt MicrogreensSpicy Microgreen Mix75 g8 90082 00000 1Best Before:
      4/24/18
      4/30/18
      Greenbelt MicrogreensPea Shoots Microgreens100 g8 90082 00023 0Best Before:
      4/24/18
      4/30/18
      Greenbelt MicrogreensSunflower Microgreens100 g8 90082 00030 8Best Before:
      4/24/18
      4/30/18

      The recalled products can be identified by the Greenbelt Microgreen label (which is purple & Green) on the clear lid of the plastic clamshells. The best before date is on the bottom left corner of the label above the UPC barcode.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should dispose of them return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact Greenbelt Greenhouse at 519-647-1112 from Monday – Friday, 8am – 4pm (EST) or by email at info@greenbeltmicrogreens.ca

      Greenbelt Greenhouse of British Columbia, Canada, is recalling all Greenbelt Microgreen products with the best before dates from 4/24/18 and 4/30/18.Th...
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      Hit-and-run fatalities have hit a record high

      Cyclists and pedestrians are most vulnerable to these types of accidents, a new report says

      The number of fatal hit-and-run motor vehicle fatalities has risen significantly as more Americans choose to bike or walk to work.

      Hit-and-run fatalities saw a 62 percent increase from 2009 to 2016, according to a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for almost 70 percent of the victims.  

      “Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

      Highest number on record

      The number of cyclists commuting to work rose 40 percent from 2006 to 2016, according to Census records. As the number of cyclists and pedestrians on the streets grows, so has the number of fatal motor vehicle collisions.

      Almost 2,000 fatal hit-and-run crashes occured in 2016, making it the “deadliest” year since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began collecting data on fatal motor vehicle crashes in 1975.

      The analysis revealed that a majority of fatal hit-and-run collisions were pedestrians or cyclists. Almost 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths over the last decade were caused by hit-and-run crashes, compared to 1 percent of driver fatalities.

      Avoiding crashes

      The study’s authors said they hope these new statistics serve as a wake-up call for drivers and that they underscore the importance of being alert on the road.

      To avoid being involved in a crash with a pedestrian or cyclist, AAA recommends that drivers be aware of their surroundings, yield to pedestrians even if they’re not crossing at a designated crosswalk, and give cyclists plenty of space when passing them on the road.

      Drivers should also look out for small children and be especially alert in areas such as school zones, playgrounds, bus stops, and intersections.

      If a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist does occur, drivers are advised to stay on the scene because the penalties for fleeing are “significantly” more severe, regardless of who caused the crash.

      The number of fatal hit-and-run motor vehicle fatalities has risen significantly as more Americans choose to bike or walk to work. Hit-and-run fataliti...
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      The Weekly Hack: Thieves steal Ether coins and phone numbers

      If it connects to the internet, it’s vulnerable to hacks. Cryptocurrency traders are learning this again and again.

      Tens of thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrency have been stolen by hackers, once again raising concerns about the security of blockchain technology.

      MyEtherWallet.com is a free site that allows consumers to trade Ethereum, or Ether, a cryptocurrency currently valued in the ballpark of $650. The site warns all visitors that it doesn't consider itself responsible should hackers access users’ Ether accounts.  

      “We cannot recover your funds or freeze your account if you visit a phishing site or lose your private key,” a notice on the site says. “You and only you are responsible for your security.”

      That’s bad news for MyEtherWallet users who recently fell victim to a DNS hijacking scam. Hackers apparently redirected people who visited MyEtherWallet.com to a fake look-alike site. When users logged into the spoof site, the hackers were able to access their passwords and subsequently empty their accounts.

      In all, the hackers reportedly made off with 215 Ether -- or the equivalent of $160,000.

      According to a statement that MyEtherWallet published on Reddit, the hack was no fault of their own. Instead, the site blames vulnerabilities in Google’s DNS servers for the theft.

      “This redirecting of DNS servers is a decade-old hacking technique that aims to undermine the Internet’s routing system,” MyEtherWallet  said. “It can happen to any organization, including large banks. This is not due to a lack of security on the @myetherwallet platform. It is due to hackers finding vulnerabilities in public facing DNS servers.”

      It’s unclear if affected traders will get their funds back. MyEtherWallet adds in its statement that “we are currently in the process of verifying which servers were targeted to help resolve this issue as soon possible.”

      Uber’s Dubai competitor

      Careem, a Dubai-based ride-hailing app that is Uber’s largest competitor in the Middle East, admitted that it discovered a security breach that exposed consumer data back in January.

      The company did not disclose the breach until Monday because “Cybercrime investigations are immensely complicated and take time.”

      “We wanted to make sure we had the most accurate information before notifying people,” a statement published by Careem added. Now that the breach has been disclosed, Careem is advising users to change their passwords and to monitor their bank accounts for any suspicious activity.

      Phone numbers

      Law enforcement in Colorado are asking for the public's help in finding suspects accused of taking part in a popular and relatively easy phone hijacking scam.

      Using online services that identify the carriers of any phone number, identify thieves took information to a mobile phone store, where they impersonated the carrier to get a new phone without paying for it. Instead the cost of the phone showed up as an unpleasant surprise on consumers’ monthly bill.

      According to the Federal Trade Commission, reports of this crime doubled since 2013, with 2,658 complaints submitted in 2016.

      Yahoo rises from the grave

      The company Yahoo may be no more after getting sold to Verizon in 2016, but it still owes the government some money -- $35 million to be exact. The SEC is fining Yahoo for failing to alert investors and consumers about a massive security breach that happened back in 2014.

      The SEC alleges that Yahoo’s information security team learned that “Rusian hackers had stolen what the security team referred to internally as the company’s ‘crown jewels’” several days after the attack took place in 2014.

      To be more specific, the security team that stolen information included “usernames, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, encrypted passwords, and security questions and answers for hundreds of millions of user accounts.”

      Yahoo eventually did disclose the breach two years later, shortly before it closed the deal with Verizon. Altaba, the company behind the Yahoo brand, has now agreed to pay a  $35 million penalty for the cover-up.

      Shipping companies

      Forget pirates. A group of hackers based in Nigeria have figured out how to steal money from shipping companies via the internet, according to a report by a cybersecurity firm.  

      The hacking group, which goes by the name Gold Galleon, attempted to steal at least $3.9 million from maritime shipping businesses and their customers, the researchers said.

      Tens of thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrency have been stolen by hackers, once again raising concerns about the security of blockchain technology....
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      T-Mobile and Sprint reportedly joining forces

      Reports suggest that a merger announcement could come within a week

      T-Mobile and Sprint, the smallest of the big four wireless providers, reportedly plan to merge, creating a bigger rival to AT&T; and Verizon.

      In an exclusive report, Reuters says the two telecom companies have been quietly negotiating details of their union and could be ready to announce a deal as early as next week. Neither company has publicly commented on the report.

      A combination of Sprint and T-Mobile would create a wireless company with more than 127 million customers and reduce the number of competitors in a nearly saturated wireless market. For mobile communications companies to grow, they usually have to take customers away from their rivals.

      Would require regulatory approval

      Since a merger would reduce the number of companies offering wireless services, the deal would have to win approval from federal regulators, including the antitrust division of the U.S. Justice Department.

      This would not be the first attempt to shrink the number of telecom competitors through merger. AT&T; attempted to merge with T-Mobile back in 2011, a deal that encountered so much opposition from the Justice Department that AT&T; eventually backed away.

      Consumer advocates were vocal opponents of the deal as well, with an official at Consumers Union warning that the merger would have “dangerous consequences” for mobile customers.

      But the Communications Workers of America backed the proposed deal, saying it would create 96,000 new positions while protecting existing jobs.

      Changes in the industry

      The wireless landscape has changed significantly since 2011, with the smaller players increasing the size of their networks and independent providers like Cricket Wireless and Boost Mobile providing consumers with more low-cost options.

      Regulators might see the merger as reducing the number of providers, but they might also view the deal as creating a more powerful competitor for AT&T; and Verizon, the two dominant companies.

      For their part, Verizon and AT&T; have moved toward becoming content providers. Verizon offers a TV programming service and recently acquired Yahoo. AT&T; owns DIRECTV and is currently defending its deal to acquire Time Warner in court after being challenged by the Trump administration.

      Reuters reports its sources agree that a successful agreement to merge T-Mobile and Sprint is not a certainty. The two companies' main shareholders are trying to agree on a corporate structure that protects their interests.

      T-Mobile and Sprint, the smallest of the big four wireless providers, reportedly plan to merge, creating a bigger rival to AT&T; and Verizon.In an excl...
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      Windows to release April 2018 Update on Monday

      Microsoft is focusing on keeping users productive with its latest patch

      Microsoft has announced that it will be rolling out its April 2018 Update for its Windows operating system worldwide on Monday.

      Users will be able to download the upgrade for the for free on April 30 by using the Windows Update tool; those who delay installation will receive notifications for the patch starting on May 8.

      Aaron Woodman, general manager of Microsoft’s Windows product, tells TechCrunch that the update will add a few new features that should help users be more productive and manage their time wisely.

      “When you think about the release, there is a theme being pulled through,” he said in an interview. “How do we help customers really get things complete and save time and be more efficient on Windows than on any other operating system?”

      Keeping users productive

      The answer to that question comes in the form of a couple of new features called Timeline and Focus Assist.

      Timeline allows users to track their most recent activity with the files that they open and work on across all of their devices. The feature allows consumers to sync their progress on any given document or file to mitigate any problems of figuring out where they last left off. A search function also allows users to filter their files, so they can find what they’re looking for quickly.

      While Timeline should help consumers track their progress and easily access files, Focus Assist basically acts as a mute button for notifications. Users can set the feature to automatically mute notifications during a certain time of day, or it can be turned on whenever a user needs to bear down and focus on their work.

      Users can choose exactly which types of notifications are muted within the feature, so there’s no need to worry if you’re awaiting an important call or email when you’re trying to be productive. Users will receive all of their notifications promptly after turning the feature off.

      For more information on patches and features included in the April 2018 Update, such as changes to Microsoft Edge and dictation, consumers can visit Microsoft's site here.

      Windows has announced that it will be rolling out its April 2018 Update worldwide on Monday.Users will be able to download the upgrade for the Windows...
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      Wells Fargo may be under investigation again

      The Labor Department is said to be examining the bank's 401(k) practices

      Wells Fargo may be the subject of a government probe of how the bank handles 401(k) retirement accounts.

      If so, it would follow revelations that the bank signed up millions of customers to accounts without their permission and sold unneeded car insurance to auto loan customers.

      The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. Labor Department is investigating Wells Fargo to determine whether it pushed retirement plan enrollees into more expensive plans. The article maintains that Wells Fargo guided enrollees into funds that the bank managed in a bid to increase its profits.

      10-k filing

      When asked for comment, Wells Fargo referred the media to its last quarterly Securities and Exchanges Commission 10-k filing, in which it is required to disclose all material factors, including any federal investigations. In a statement to the media, the bank said the 10-k statement reflects its commitment to transparency, even when all details are not yet known.

      “We are making significant progress in our work to identify and fix any issues, make things right, and build a better, stronger company," the bank said in a statement.

      The 10-k filing does, in fact, make references to a review of its wealth and management business – a response to government inquiries.

      Previous issues

      In 2016, Wells Fargo faced a tempest when it revealed that employees had opened millions of checking and credit card accounts for customers without their knowledge or consent. The bank made a number of policy changes, including the way it provided performance incentives to employees.

      A year later, the bank revealed that it had sold insurance to some auto loan customers without their knowledge. The action reportedly pushed some borrowers into default. The banks also admitted to charging some improper mortgage fees.

      Wells Fargo paid a $110 million fine to settle the unauthorized accounts scandal. Published reports suggest it could face a much bigger fine for alleged auto loan and mortgage improprieties.

      Wells Fargo may be the subject of a government probe of how the bank handles 401(k) retirement accounts.If so, it would follow revelations that the ban...
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      Study finds bank technology often frustrates consumers

      Digital-only bank customers are the least-satisfied

      Banks that have embraced technology have gained digital-only customers in recent years, but new research suggests the move has been costly in terms of customer satisfaction.

      The J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study found that 28 percent of bank customers are now digital-only, yet they are the least satisfied among the banks' overall customer base.

      Paul McAdam, senior director of the Banking Practice at J.D. Power, says investing in technology helps banks reduce their costs. But technology can also provide a barrier to customer engagement, a key element of the banking industry's traditional business model.

      'Growing digital divide'

      Three decades ago bank customers visited a branch to cash a check, where they might know the tellers. They might even get a toaster if they opened a new account. McAdam says there is a sizable segment of consumers that like that approach.

      "Right now, retail banks need to address the growing digital divide that is emerging within customer segments,” he said. “Successfully navigating that transition will require banks to provide better, more personalized advice that is consistent across both digital and branch interactions and to ensure that customer needs are met, regardless of channel."

      The study found that bank customers who only used online or mobile banking were the least satisfied among all bank patrons. Customers who only did their banking at a branch were slightly more satisfied. Consumers who used both branches and online banking were actually the most satisfied bank customers.

      Communication issues

      Drilling deeper into the data, the study authors found that communication appears to be the weakest link in digital banking's relationship with customers. Digital-only customers said the main source of their frustration with their bank came in the areas of communication and advice; products and fees; and opening a new account.

      Communication has long been an issue for bank customers. In a recent post at ConsumerAffairs, James, of Alpharetta, Ga., voiced his frustration about dealing with his bank when it froze his accounts.

      “Unable to pay bills, process checks, take out cash that is legally ours,” James wrote. “We have over $100K in checking and deposit and they put a freeze on us. Something about our mother-in-law who was on the account many years ago had to contact the bank. She is 80 years of age and in poor health and did not know what she was calling about. I could not tell her either as the bank would not tell me.”

      It's not just aging Baby Boomers who are frustrated with their banks' technology. The study found the biggest satisfaction gap between digital and branch-dependent customers is among millennials, followed by Gen X. But McAdam says the satisfaction problem is fixable.

      "Some of the best practices being pioneered today by digital leaders include highly personalized digital interactions along with branch transformation efforts that serve the needs of both digital-centric and branch-dependent customers."

      Banks that have embraced technology have gained digital-only customers in recent years, but new research suggests the move has been costly in terms of cust...
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      Ziegenfelder recalls ice pops

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      The Ziegenfelder Company of Wheeling, W.Va., is recalling approximately 3,000 cases of Budget $aver Cherry Pineapple Monster Pops and Sugar Free Twin Pops.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses or incidents involving have been reported to date.

      The recalled frozen products were sold 12 to a package under the brand names Budget $aver Cherry Pineapple Monster Pops and Sugar Free Twin Pops.

      • The Cherry Pineapple Monster Pops carry the UPC code 0-74534-84200-9, and have lot codes D09418A through D10018B.
      • The Sugar Free Pops carry the UPC code 0-74534-75642-9, and have lot codes D09318A through D10018B.

      They were shipped from April 5 – 19, 2018, to retail grocers and distributors in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 888-683-0379, Monday – Friday, 8am – 8pm (EST).

      The Ziegenfelder Company of Wheeling, W.Va., is recalling approximately 3,000 cases of Budget $aver Cherry Pineapple Monster Pops and Sugar Free Twin Pops....
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      Delta Air Lines staff accused of tying disabled woman to a wheelchair

      Passengers who use wheelchairs have long described intolerable conditions on flights

      Delta Air Lines, facing accusations that employees tied a woman with multiple sclerosis (MS) to a wheelchair, is apologizing for the “perception” that customers have of its service.

      Maria Saliagas and her husband travel from their home in Atlanta to Europe every year and had no plans of stopping, even after she was diagnosed with MS five years ago.

      When they arrived in Amsterdam for this year’s trip on April 1 , Delta employees could not find a wheelchair equipped with straps to support her back.  So the employees instead placed her in chair with inadequate back support and used a dirty blanket to secure her, according to an account her son gave.

      “The Delta employee thought it would be appropriate to tie my mother with someone else's dirty blanket, in such a way it has left bruise marks on her arms,” Nathan Saliagas wrote in a Facebook post. “When she started crying, she was told to 'shut the [expletive] up' or she will be 'left there.'”

      After his account was reported by the local news. Delta issued a statement that hedged somewhere between an apology and a defense.

      “We regret the perception our service has left on these customers. We have reached out to them, not only to resolve their concerns, but also ensure that their return flight exceeds expectations,” says a statement that a Delta representative sent WSB-TV.

      The couple is scheduled to return to Atlanta on April 30.

      “Intolerable conditions”

      People who use wheelchairs have long described intolerable conditions while flying, and they say that the situation has worsened as seating gets tighter than ever. Reporting from the Government Accountability Office has found that complaints from disabled air travelers more than doubled between 2005 and 2015.

      Airlines are exempt from the American Disabilities Act and have resisted calls to make planes more friendly for the disabled, claiming such upgrades could cost billions of dollars.  

      Passengers are typically barred from bringing their own wheelchairs on airplanes. Instead they must depend on temporary wheelchairs issued by airline staff for help boarding and getting off the flight.

      During the flight, passengers’ motorized wheelchairs are often stored in the cargo hold. In numerous cases, motorized wheelchairs have been returned to their owners in pieces, leaving travelers stranded once they arrive at their destinations. Disabled people have called on airlines to better train staff about how to properly handle motorized wheelchairs.

      While airlines are required to publicly report lost luggage, delayed flights, or animals that were killed or injured in their care, the same does not apply to wheelchairs. That was scheduled to change this year, until Trump took office.

      After five years of public debate, the Obama administration finalized a rule that would have required airlines to publicly report damaged or lost wheelchairs. But several months before the rule was scheduled to go in effect in January 2018, the Trump administration delayed its implementation for another year, sparking a lawsuit from the  Paralyzed Veterans of America.

      Delta Air Lines, facing accusations that employees tied a woman with multiple sclerosis (MS) to a wheelchair, is apologizing for the “perception” that cust...
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      Ford to phase out sedans in North America

      The move reflects a market shift to trucks and SUVs

      Ford, which made its name on the Model T, will phase out production of sedans for the North American market and will instead focus its efforts on building trucks and SUVs.

      The announcement, made during Ford's first quarter earnings report, reflects the new reality among today's automotive consumers. With relatively low gas prices over the last two years, and with improved mileage efficiency, consumers have shunned sedans in favor of sexier and more functional utility vehicles.

      “By 2020, almost 90 percent of the Ford portfolio in North America will be trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles,” Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement. “Given declining consumer demand and product profitability, the company will not invest in next generations of traditional Ford sedans for North America.”

      So long Taurus and Fusion

      That means the venerable Taurus, introduced in 1986, will disappear from Ford's line-up, along with the Ford Fusion. Hackett says the multi-year transition will leave the iconic Mustang and a redesigned Focus crossover as Ford's remaining cars.

      The company said it is also exploring new “white space” vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space, and versatility.

      New car sales data tells the story. In March, light truck sales surged 16 percent, posting a 9.5 percent increase for the first quarter. At the same time, car demand was down 8.9 percent in March and down 11 percent for the quarter, according to Autoweek.

      Ford did not give a timetable for the transition, saying only that it would take place “over the next few years.” The move not only reflects a change in consumer taste, it could make the automaker more profitable, since margins are higher on SUVs than sedans.

      Wall Street applauded the move, sending Ford shares 2.5 percent higher in early Thursday trading.

      Ford, which made its name on the Model T, will phase out production of sedans for the North American market and will instead focus its efforts on building...
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