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    United Airlines nearly contaminated travelers’ food with Listeria, lawsuit claims

    The United Airlines catering facility in Newark posed a ‘major public health risk,’ according to whistle-blowing employees

    Several months ago, on August 31, United Airlines had a seemingly innocuous announcement. Listeria, a nasty food-borne pathogen, was found in a kitchen cooler at a United Airlines catering facility in Newark, New Jersey. It never touched food and the bacteria was quickly contained, the airline added.

    A new lawsuit filed by a group of employees now alleges that there was much more to that story. The employees at the United Airlines catering facility in Newark say that the kitchen cooler tested positive for Listeria on numerous occasions, dating back to September 2017. The plaintiffs say that United refused to stop distributing the food due to “business concerns.”

    Some strains of Listeria are worse than others. The monocytogene strain of Listeria, or L. mono, can cause stillbirths and other serious health complications for vulnerable people. An estimated 260 people in the United States die each year from exposure to the strain.

    Evidence of L. Mono contamination was found at the United Newark catering operation in February 2018, according to internal documents that employees shared with CNBC. A cooler tested positive for the strain again in August.

    United Airlines’ press team responded to the allegations, telling CNBC that the Listeria strain found in September 2017 wasn't a dangerous variation. As for the evidence of L. Mono, United told CNBC that it took “appropriate actions” to contain the dangerous pathogen. Those actions included cleaning the area more thoroughly and retesting the facility, according to United.

    But food safety experts told CNBC that when dangerous strains of Listeria are found, the best course of action is to shut down a kitchen completely.  They were not impressed with United’s professed response.

    Meanwhile, the employee lawsuit says that when one manager finally shut down the troubled cooler himself, he was reassigned to a different city and forced to do "make-work assignments" to keep him busy. Another employee says that she were forced to resign over the conditions.

    The Newark catering facility is the airline’s largest, serving 45,000 meals a day on domestic and international flights.

    In a statement to ConsumerAffairs, United Airlines spokesman Frank Benenati says that the claims made in the lawsuit and in the CNBC report are "misleading, inaccurate and in many cases, outright false."

    "We look forward to defending ourselves in a court of law and will be filing substantive responses soon," he says.  

    Several months ago, on August 31, United Airlines had a seemingly innocuous announcement. Listeria, a nasty food-borne pathogen, was found in a kitchen coo...
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      FDA announces lead will no longer be used in hair dyes

      The decision was made with consumers’ safety in mind

      Many consumers, and even legislators making important decisions, are unaware of exactly what’s in the products they use every day. But as technology advances, it becomes clear what chemicals and additives -- oftentimes hidden in household products -- pose a danger to consumers.

      For decades, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed the use of lead acetate in many popular hair dyes that work to color hair over a gradual period of time. However, in a recent announcement, the agency reported that even though in the past the chemical appeared to not pose a threat to consumers, recent findings are actually showing the opposite.

      In an effort to keep consumers’ safe from the potential dangers of the lead acetate, the FDA has finalized its ruling on a color additive petition, effectively putting a stop to the use of the chemical in hair dye moving forward. All manufacturers have one year to update their products and ensure they are lead-free.

      “Today’s action is part of our commitment to protect Americans by reducing exposure to toxic elements and builds upon federal efforts to reduce exposure to lead,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “In the nearly 40 years since lead acetate was initially approved as a color additive, our understanding of the hazards of lead exposure has evolved significantly. We now know that the approved use of lead acetate in adult hair dyes no longer meets our safety standard.”

      A number of manufacturers have already started switching from lead acetate to bismuth citrate -- an ingredient that doesn’t contain lead. The FDA also encourages consumers to keep an eye on labels if they wish to steer clear of potentially contaminated products before they’re off store shelves for good.

      Staying safe

      According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead exposure is dangerous to both adults and children, but perhaps more so for children due to their tendency to put their hands in their mouths after touching things on the floor. Additionally, their developing brains and bodies are affected more severely than adults and can experience developmental delays, brain damage, and damage to the kidneys and nervous system.

      For adults, lead exposure can lead to organ damage and raise blood pressure. Pregnant women should also be particularly cautious, as the effects of lead exposure can cause birth defects in an unborn baby.

      In addition to hair dye, lead can be found in:

      • Paints and ceramic products

      • Gasoline

      • The production of metals, ammunition, and batteries

      • Burning fossil fuels

      • Drinking contaminated water

      • Household dusts

      • Pottery

      • Cosmetics

      • Toys

      To prevent exposure to lead, the CDC suggests keeping the house -- including floors, counters, toys, etc. -- as clean as possible. Additionally, ensure that children’s hands are clean and that any repainting in the home is done with lead-free paint.

      Both the CDC and FDA warn that no amount of lead in the blood is safe, and consumers should be informed and stay cautious.

      Many consumers, and even legislators making important decisions, are unaware of exactly what’s in the products they use every day. But as technology advanc...
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      Model year 2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 and E300 vehicles recalled

      The vehicle's battery may short circuit in a crash

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 4,073 model year 2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Coupes, C300 4Matic Cabrios, E300s, E300 4Matics, C300s, C300 4Matics, C300 Coupes and C300 Cabrios.

      The cover for the starter battery may not cover the live positive electrical wire, and in certain crashes, the vehicle's strut brace may deform and short circuit the battery.

      If the battery is shorted, the emergency door unlocking would be deactivated for an outside responder and the short circuit could increase the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the positive pole cover, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 23, 2018.

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

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 4,073 model year 2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Coupes, C300 4Matic Cabrios, E300s, E300 4Matics, C300s, C300 4Matic...
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      All People’s Food recalls smoked whole chicken

      The product contains monosodium glutamate, which is not declared on the label

      All People’s Food of New Castle, Del., is recalling approximately 3,904 pounds of smoked whole chicken.

      The product contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is not declared on the label.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following cooked, frozen item, produced from September 4 – 25, 2018, is being recalled:

      • 32-lb. bulk boxes with plastic lining containing 155 pieces of “ALL PEOPLES FOOD SMOKED WHOLE CHICKEN.”

      The recalled product bears establishment number “P- 46803” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

      What to do

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Frederick Ebede at (302) 690-4881.

      All People’s Food of New Castle, Del., is recalling approximately 3,904 pounds of smoked whole chicken.The product contains monosodium glutamate (MSG),...
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      Hyundai recalls Ioniq Hybrids and Ioniq Plug-In Hybrids

      The vehicles may experience increased electrical resistance

      Hyundai Motor America is recalling 10,575 model year 2017-2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrids and model year 2018 Ioniq Plug-In Hybrids.

      The Main Relay within the Power Relay Assembly (PRA) may have inadequate connections between its contacts, causing increased electrical resistance.

      The increased electrical resistance can overheat the rear seat which is above the PRA, increasing the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the PRA for damage.

      If no damage is found, the main relay will be replaced. If damage is found, the PRA will be replaced. These repairs will be performed free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 30, 2018.

      Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-855-371-9460. Hyundai's number for this recall is 178.

      Hyundai Motor America is recalling 10,575 model year 2017-2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrids and model year 2018 Ioniq Plug-In Hybrids.The Main Relay within th...
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      Hundreds of organizations pledge to eliminate plastic waste

      A new campaign aims to eliminate plastic pollution at its source

      This week, 250 major organizations -- including Coca-Cola, Unilever, Colgate, SC Johnson, and H&M -- pledged to eliminate plastic waste from their operations by 2025 as part of a global campaign led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

      The pledge is part of a larger goal to curb plastic waste pollution, which has become a dangerous concern. Researchers calculate that if current trends continue, there could be more plastic than fish in the world’s seas by 2050.

      The 250 companies, businesses, and governments that signed on to the "New Plastics Economy Global Commitment" pledged to eliminate plastic when it’s problematic or unnecessary, and in some cases, switch to reusable packaging.

      Eradicating plastic pollution

      All of the organizations plan to make 100 percent of their plastic packaging either reusable, recyclable, or compostable within seven years. Individual targets within the commitment were set, and the collective ambition among signatories will grow with time.

      "We will continue to review the ambition level of the commitment and, over time, raise it, and we also call for many more businesses and governments around the world to join this effort so that we also continue to scale up in numbers of companies and governments involved," said Sander Defruyt, who leads the New Plastics Economy Initiative at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

      Plastic entering the oceans “is one of the most visible and disturbing examples of a plastic pollution crisis,” Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment, said in a statement. “The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is the most ambitious set of targets we have seen yet in the fight to beat plastics pollution.”

      Ellen MacArthur, the record-breaking British sailor who is behind the campaign, said cleaning up plastics from oceans and beaches is vital, “but this does not stop the tide of plastic entering the oceans each year. We need to move upstream to the source of the flow.”

      PepsiCo announced this week that it’s aiming to reduce its use of plastic packaging and increase its use of recycled plastic. The company said it’s heading toward the goal of using 25 percent recycled content in its plastic packaging by 2025.

      This week, 250 major organizations -- including Coca-Cola, Unilever, Colgate, SC Johnson, and H&M; -- pledged to eliminate plastic waste from their operati...
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      JetBlue’s founder crafts new, tech-centric airline

      ‘We’ll get you there twice as fast and for half the price’ is the promise

      Come 2021, fliers will have a new, low-cost, tech-oriented airline pioneered by JetBlue’s founder David Neeleman.

      His angle?

      Flying “hundreds of routes” that the airline will likely have all to itself, according to a recent interview Neeleman did with Skift.

      Most, if not all, of those routes will be U.S.to Europe and South America, concentrating on origination cities that are competition-free and leisure destinations, or where there’s an abundance of flier friends or family.

      As examples, he used Scranton, Pennsylvania -- a market with a metro population of 570,000 and flights that are mostly connectors to Chicago, Washington D.C., Charlotte, Chicago, and Philadelphia -- and Florida, where there’s an abundance of potential fliers who have friends or family in Brazil.

      Using the 130- to 160-seat Airbus A220-300, Neeleman’s brainchild will have the ability to take off from “really short runways, and can fly for 11 hours (and) we’ll get you there twice as fast and for half the price,” he told Skift.

      The Airbus plays right into Neeleman’s plans as a differentiator. Compared to how most of the low-cost carriers are configured, the A220 has large, rotating overhead storage bins, a wider aisle that allows for faster passenger boarding and disembarking, and the ability to have first class, lie-flat business class, and extra legroom seats if that’s something Neeleman wants to make happen.

      “I’ll just do stuff they can’t do,” Neeleman said, throwing down the gauntlet to the other carriers.

      “You don’t have to speak to us”

      Neeleman’s current plans have Salt Lake City, Utah as the technical and customer service hub for the airline, but if you’re a flier who depends on the human touch, you should call someone else.

      “You don’t have to speak to us. You won’t be able to speak to us,” Neeleman said. “You won’t be able to call us because everything will be functional.”

      His reasoning? Neeleman makes a good point that, in today’s world, a lot of consumer-to-company connecting is done via an app or a computer. He figures consumers are content with that setup since relatively few people ever call, say, Amazon or Uber.

      If a customer has an issue they can’t work out on their own, they’ll have to use the online chat, but agents can always call the customer in a pinch. However, fliers should expect everything else -- from booking, changing, and cancelling flights to check-in to ordering meals -- to be done through the airline’s app.

      “I don’t think people want to stand in line to talk to someone,” said Neeleman when asked if he feared the human element of customer service would be weakened by technology.

      Are you sure you can pull this off, David?

      While there’s no substantiation that Neeleman can pull off all of his promises, his track record shows he has the ability to make it happen.

      In 1984, he co-founded Morris Air, a low-fare charter airline, then sold it to Southwest Airlines for $130 million. He then turned Open Skies, a touch screen airline reservation and check-in systems company, into a winner acquired by Hewlett-Packard.

      Next on his checklist was WestJet, now Canada’s second largest airline; then he moved on to JetBlue, where he scored major customer-sensitive kudos. Most recently, Neeleman’s domestic carrier Azul (Portuguese for "blue") became the fourth largest airline in South America.

      Come 2021, fliers will have a new, low-cost, tech-oriented airline pioneered by JetBlue’s founder David Neeleman.His angle?Flying “hundreds of rout...
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      Fewer homes are being sold to first-time buyers

      A National Association of Realtors report shows student loans are a major drag

      Single women continue to make up a significant segment of home buyers, but lately there have been fewer consumers buying their first home.

      Those are two major housing trends that emerged in the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

      Single women made up 18 percent of home buyers during the study period, the same as last year. That group was the second-largest segment of the market, right behind married couples.

      But the percentage of homes purchased by first-time buyers fell from 34 percent last year to 33 percent. Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, says rising home prices and mortgage rates have combined to reduce affordability at a time when inventory levels are extremely low.

      Fewer entry-level homes for sale

      "With the lower end of the housing market – smaller, moderately priced homes – seeing the worst of the inventory shortage, first-time home buyers who want to enter the market are having difficulty finding a home they can afford," Yun said.

      Yun says available homes still sell very quickly, and there are still bidding wars among competing buyers in some markets.

      "These factors contributed to the low number of first-time buyers and the struggles of would-be buyers dreaming of joining the ranks of home ownership," he said.

      Though still low, housing inventory has been slowly climbing in recent months, due in large part to a slowdown in sales in some of the nation's hottest housing markets. But Yun says young buyers, who make up a significant portion of first-time home buyers, are also struggling with student loan debt, limiting what they can afford to pay.

      Thirteen percent of buyers said saving for a down payment was the most difficult part of the buying process, and 50 percent of them said their student loan debt was a major obstacle. Forty percent of first-time buyers said they had student loans, with a median balance of $30,000.

      "Even with a thriving economy and an abundance of job opportunities in many markets, monthly student loan payments coupled with sky-high rents and rising home prices make it exceedingly difficult for potential buyers to put aside savings for a down payment," said Yun.

      Bigger down payments

      The report also shows down payments are getting larger. Buyers made a median down payment of 13 percent of the purchase price, up from 10 percent last year and the highest since 2005, just before the housing bubble burst.

      Even first-time buyers put more money down, at a median of 7 percent -- up from 5 percent in the previous report.

      The report also suggests baby boomers have become more active in the housing market, either by downsizing or relocating. The median age of repeat home buyers increased to 55, an all-time high.

      Single women continue to make up a significant segment of home buyers, but lately there have been fewer consumers buying their first home.Those are two...
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      BMW recalls M3 and M4 sedans, coupes and convertibles

      The vehicles may lose propulsion

      BMW of North America is recalling 2,661 model year 2016-2017 M3 Sedans, M4 and M4 GTS Coupes, and model year 2017 M4 Convertibles.

      The connection between the driveshaft and the flange may fail resulting in a loss of propulsion, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      BMW will notify vehicle owners, and dealers will replace the driveshaft, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 3, 2018.

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

      BMW of North America is recalling 2,661 model year 2016-2017 M3 Sedans, M4 and M4 GTS Coupes, and model year 2017 M4 Convertibles.The connection betwee...
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      Multistrada recalls Achilles Desert Hawk tires

      The lower sidewall of the tires may separate

      Pt.Multistrada Arah Sarana, TBK is recalling 6,318 Achilles Desert Hawk A/P LT tires, size LT215/85 R16 115/112R 10PR, with DOT date code 1915 through date code 3618.

      The lower sidewall of the tires may separate, which can cause loss of air pressure, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Multistrada will notify owners, and dealers will replace the tires, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 9, 2018.

      Owners may contact Multistrada customer service at achillescare@multistrada.co.id or at corsec@multistrada.co.id, or at (800) 944-8414.

      Pt.Multistrada Arah Sarana, TBK is recalling 6,318 Achilles Desert Hawk A/P LT tires, size LT215/85 R16 115/112R 10PR, with DOT date code 1915 through date...
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      The T-Mobile/Sprint merger catches the ire of New York’s Attorney General

      Critics claim that customers who depend on prepaid services will take the biggest hit if the merger goes through

      T-Mobile’s proposed merger with Sprint has come under scrutiny at New York’s Attorney General’s (AG) office. According to the New York Post, at issue are concerns that the two companies could jack up prices on less expensive prepaid services if their packages are combined.

      This isn’t the first red flag that’s been waved. It was only last month that the FCC pressed the pause button on the merger after the two mobile giants determined that the engineering model was more complex than thought and the companies needed more time to review it as well as respond to the “various economic analyses” in the FCC’s Petitions to Deny.

      The Post reports that New York AG Barbara Underwood began examining the arrangement soon after Sprint and T-Mobile announced their $26 billion merger. According to sources, Underwood’s staff already views T-Mobile’s MetroPCS service and Sprint’s Boost and Virgin Mobile services as aggressive and has asked executives at both companies for clarification on how pricing would be postured.

      President Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has just begun a review of the prepaid markets and has yet to make any conclusions, a source familiar with its thinking told the Post.

      In discussions with federal regulators, T-Mobile’s brass tried to angle that the two services serve different types of customers and, because of that, T-Mobile told the FCC that it didn’t plan to dispose of or consolidate any of the lower-priced, prepaid services if its merger with Sprint gets approval.

      “The business plan calls for aggressive pricing from day one,” said T-Mobile executives according to the Post’s report.

      Would the merger “cut the cord” for people of color?

      Naysayers aren’t biting, however, and say that the companies need to promise the customers who depend on prepaid wireless services that they won’t see their costs go up.

      In reality, this merger would make life harder for everyone — especially low-income communities and people of color, who disproportionately rely on T-Mobile and Sprint for more affordable plans and prepaid services,” wrote Collette Watson of media watcher Free Press.

      “If the merger goes through, the new gigantic T-Mobile will have no reason to compete for low-income customers and others on the margins of society. Three companies -- T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon -- will control the market and call the shots.”

      “The new T-Mobile won’t be the ‘Un-Carrier’ we grew to love. It will be a corporate behemoth like Verizon, with the power to set prices as it sees fit and no pressure to make services affordable,” wrote Watson.

      It’s this or nothing at all for Sprint

      All of this is making Sprint, for one, nervous. The company says it can't promise it’ll make it as a solo act if the merger isn’t approved.

      According to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing, Sprint said it is losing customers at a meteoric rate and has had to cut $10 billion from its budget to make ends meet.

      Sprint claims there’s no fat left to trim which, in turn, puts it in a losing position to try and be competitive as technology advances. Its only saving grace appears to be the T-Mobile merger.

      T-Mobile’s proposed merger with Sprint has come under scrutiny at New York’s Attorney General’s (AG) office. According to the New York Post, at issue are c...
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      California net neutrality law put on hold

      The state has delayed its implementation of the law pending the outcome of a lawsuit

      The January 1, 2019 start date for California's net neutrality law has been put on hold. The state has agreed to delay its implementation until a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is settled.

      The law, passed by the California legislature in September, requires internet service providers (ISP) to abide by rules codified by the FCC during the Obama administration. Those rules required all internet traffic to be treated the same.

      The FCC under the Trump administration overturned those rules last December, essentially allowing providers to favor their own content over the content of their competitors. California and a handful of other states took steps to restore net neutrality within their borders, meaning large ISPs like Comcast and Verizon would have to observe net neutrality or lose their customers in those states.

      Multiple lawsuits

      The whole issue has resulted in multiple lawsuits. The Justice Department is suing to block states from implementing their own net neutrality laws, arguing states lack the authority to countermand federal policy.

      But the lawsuit delaying California's net neutrality law is one filed by net neutrality supporters. Technology companies and attorneys general from 22 states are suing the FCC, arguing the agency lacked the authority when it voted to overturn net neutrality.

      The crux of their argument is this: internet traffic travels over a "common carrier," and under law, a common carrier must treat all traffic the same. The FCC counters that, today, broadband traffic travels over networks built by the ISPs. It is an argument that has largely broken down along partisan lines, with Democrats favoring net neutrality and Republicans opposing it.

      No firm timetable

      The lawsuit challenging the FCC is now in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC but there is no firm timetable for rendering a decision. A ruling against the FCC would eliminate the need for the California law but the Trump administration could always appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, delaying the law even more.

      California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says every step his office is taking has one aim -- the restoration of net neutrality in California.

      California state Senator Scott Wiener, who authored the legislation, expresses confidence the court will uphold the state's right to establish net neutrality within its borders, calling the policy vital to protecting access to the internet.

      The January 1, 2019 start date for California's net neutrality law has been put on hold. The state has agreed to delay its implementation until a lawsuit a...
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      Pepsi parent company pledges to increase use of recycled plastic

      The goal calls for 25 percent recycled plastic in packaging by 2025

      PepsiCo has announced a new goal to reduce its use of plastic packaging and increase its use of recycled plastic.

      The food and beverage manufacturer said it aims to use 25 percent recycled content in its plastic packaging by 2025. The pledge comes at a time when businesses are under increasing pressure to curb the use of plastic, which often ends up in the world's oceans.

      The company said it will collaborate with suppliers and partners and try to increase consumer education about curbing plastic pollution. It also said improved recycling infrastructure and regulatory reform are needed to achieve its goal.

      Specifically, PepsiCo has a goal of using 33 percent recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) content in beverage bottles by 2025.

      'Where plastics never become waste'

      "PepsiCo's sustainable plastics vision is to build a PepsiCo where plastics need never become waste," said Dr. Mehmood Khan, PepsiCo's vice chairman and chief scientific officer. "We intend to achieve that vision by reducing, recycling and reusing, and reinventing our plastic packaging."

      But to help reduce plastic pollution, Khan said improvements in global waste collection and investments in recycling infrastructure are needed.

      As we reported in May, the recycling industry is going through some tough times. China, which has been a major importer of U.S. recyclables, has significantly reduced its purchases because it says there's always too much trash mixed in with the products to be recycled. Ongoing trade tensions aren’t helping matters either.

      With the collapse of the market for recyclable bottles and cans, jurisdictions have begun to charge consumers more to recycle. In some cases, The Wall Street Journal reports these recyclables end-up in a landfill anyway.

      “Recycling as we know it isn’t working,” James Warner, chief executive of the Solid Waste Management Authority in Lancaster County, Pa., told The Journal back in May. “There’s always been ups and downs in the market, but this is the biggest disruption that I can recall.”

      Banning plastic straws

      The latest front in the corporate effort to curb plastic pollution is to not use it at all. Many restaurants have begun to phase out plastic straws in favor of paper ones, although straws make up a small part of plastic pollution. In a fast food restaurant that has banned plastic straws, consumers who order salads will still discard containers, utensils, and other packaging made of plastic.

      PepsiCo, meanwhile, says it has already begun to rely more on recycled plastic. Earlier this month, it said it had signed a supply agreement with Loop Industries to incorporate Loop PET plastic, which is 100 percent recycled material, into its product packaging by mid-2020.

      PepsiCo has announced a new goal to reduce its use of plastic packaging and increase its use of recycled plastic.The food and beverage manufacturer sai...
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      Electric grid could increase pollution without appropriate policies, study suggests

      Researchers say the grid will need to be transitioned to clean energy

      The electric grid will need to be changed in order to keep self-driving cars from having a negative impact on society’s sustainability goals, a new study suggests.

      Researchers Peter Fox-Penner, Will Gorman, and Jennifer Hatch analyzed a large body of academic and industry research on autonomous vehicles and found that they will likely greatly increase overall transportation demand.

      “With more options available, more people will take advantage of these autonomous vehicles and ride services,” the researchers noted. The authors say autonomous vehicles could exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions if appropriate policies aren’t put in place before this technology starts taking over.

      Transportation shift

      By 2050, the net increase in electricity demand from converting the light duty vehicle fleet (which currently accounts for 90 percent of motor vehicle travel in the U.S.) to electric, autonomous vehicles will be between 13 percent and 26 percent more than today's total electricity demand, according to the study’s estimates.

      “In the best case, where 95 percent of the electric sector decarbonizes by that time, this scenario would result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of up to 80 percent from 2015 light duty vehicle greenhouse gas emissions,” the researchers said.

      In their paper, Penner-Fox and his colleagues assert that society “can only achieve dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by making the electric grid dramatically less polluting.”

      Carbon-free grid

      The researchers conceded that transitioning the grid to 95 percent to 100 percent clean energy won’t be easy.

      “Currently only 37 percent is from wind, solar, hydropower and nuclear. Nor will ensuring that almost all of our light duty vehicles are electric. That’s partly because EVs are not yet cost-competitive with internal combustion engine vehicles,” the authors wrote. “Also, there are a number of infrastructure challenges to updating the grid for a major shift to electric transportation.”

      However, the study suggests that “rapid and complete transport electrification and a carbon-free grid should remain the cornerstones of transport decarbonization policy” in the near-term, while a long-term policy should aim to ensure that autonomous vehicles are electric and “mitigate autonomous vehicles’ potential to increase driving mileage, urban and suburban sprawl, and traffic congestion.”

      And policymakers should not delay. The rise of Uber and Lyft have already dramatically upended business models that have existed for decades, and autonomous vehicle technology, which still has a few years to go before replacing human drivers, is already impacting cities around the country. The question now is whether these trends will reduce or increase our country’s emissions.

      The electric grid will need to be changed in order to keep self-driving cars from having a negative impact on society’s sustainability goals, a new study s...
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      GHSW recalls salads with chicken

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      GHSW, LLC of Houston, Texas, is recalling approximately 1,786 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with chicken.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following ready-to-eat items, produced from October 1 – 18, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 10-oz. plastic tray packages containing “365 BY WHOLE FOODS MARKET BBQ STYLE CHOPPED SALAD WITH CHICKEN” with “Best if Sold By” dates of 10/18/18 through 10/21/18 (inclusive).
      • 8-oz. plastic tray packages containing “365 BY WHOLE FOODS MARKET CHICKEN FAJITA SALAD” with “Best if Sold By” dates of 10/18/18 through 10/21/18 (inclusive).
      • 13-oz. plastic tray packages containing “TRADER JOE’S BBQ SEASONED WHITE CHICKEN SALAD” with “Best By” dates of 10/18/18, 10/19/18 and 10/20/18.
      • 10.7-oz. plastic tray packages containing “TRADER JOE’S FIELD FRESH CHOPPED SALAD WITH GRILLED WHITE CHICKEN” with “Best By” dates of 10/18/18, 10/19/18 and 10/20/18.
      • 10.7-oz. plastic tray packages containing “TRADER JOSÉ’S MEXICALI INSPIRED SALAD WITH CHILI SEASONED CHICKEN” with “Best By” dates of 10/18/18, 10/19/18 and 10/20/18.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “P-44056” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may can Shelby Chih at (916) 638-8825.

      GHSW, LLC of Houston, Texas, is recalling approximately 1,786 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with chicken.The products may be contaminated with Salmonell...
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      American Airlines on course to raise revenue from passenger perks

      Officials say the best way to avoid paying extra is to sign up for an airline-branded credit card

      Would you like some legroom with that seat? Perhaps a glass of wine?

      Anyone who’s flown in the last few years knows that airlines are upselling anything they can get their hands on. And the airlines are seeing green as a result of those monetized perks.

      American Airlines, the U.S.’ largest passenger carrier, just released it third quarter 2018 earnings report, showing a net profit of $341 million. However, the price of oil puts a hurt on all airlines and American, for one, felt it.

      American sees the way to boost its profit margin is through branded fare products like seat upgrades. The company is seeing a 50 percent upsell rate to more expensive branded fare products and has decided to see if fliers are willing to up that profit margin even more.

      “We've actually done a pretty good job of growing our ancillary revenue stream,” American’s SVP of Revenue Donald Casey said in a third quarter earnings call.

      “In the third quarter, ancillary revenues are up 18%. We re-launched our Main Cabin Extra product in June. And since we've done that we've seen unit revenues for Main Cabin Extra grow at 24%, but we see that we actually have more opportunity beyond that.”

      Airlines continue to ask for more

      American is not the only airline trying to leverage added passenger revenue. Almost all airlines have gone to upselling more comfortable seats and extra legroom, a particular painful point with passengers given the fact that the average distance between rows has shrunk from 35 to 31 inches over the last two decades.

      But analysts say that asking passengers to pay for perks helps the larger carriers -- like Delta, American, and United -- to keep fares competitive, and ancillary revenue is becoming the go-to rather than charging more for tickets.

      “I think that's a big window where we can put and show many offers in front of our customers to increase our ancillary revenue stream even more than we've been able to go do it,” American’s Casey went on to say.

      The best way for fliers to get free perks?  

      So, what is the best way for fliers to avoid all of these extra charges? According to airline officials, it’s by signing up for airline-branded credit cards.

      “There remains strong competition among the 3 (United, American, Delta) for co-branded credit card accounts, which is always a good thing for consumers,” Jay Sorensen, President of Product, Partnership and Marketing Practice for IdeaWorksCompany told ConsumerAffairs.

      “These remain the singular best method for travelers to insulate themselves from a la carte fees,” said Sorensen.

      Would you like some legroom with that seat? Perhaps a glass of wine?Anyone who’s flown in the last few years knows that airlines are upselling anything...
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      Sears’ Eddie Lampert asks for improved loan terms to keep retailer alive

      The former CEO has asked to be paid back before the banks

      Eddie Lampert, former CEO and current chairman of Sears, reportedly has a plan to support the retailer through bankruptcy through his hedge fund, ESL Investments. However, he’s now saying that he will only put in more money under certain conditions.

      Sears -- which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 15 and is also trying to secure financing in bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid liquidation -- had about 700 stores left when it filed for bankruptcy, with plans to close 142 of them by year’s end.

      In a public filing late last month, ESL said that the retailer "must act immediately to have sufficient runway to continue its transformation."

      "We continue to believe that it is in the best interests of all stakeholders to accomplish this as a going concern, rather than alternatives that would substantially reduce, if not completely eliminate, value for stakeholders," ESL said.

      Asking for improved terms

      Earlier this month, Sears Holdings secured the first $300 million loan from a group of lenders that included Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, which would help to support the retailer through bankruptcy.

      “It was junior to the investment banks' loan, meaning ESL would get paid back after the banks,” CNBC noted. This week, however, Lampert went back to the investment banks asking to improve the terms of his loan.

      Lampert has specifically asked to have the “first lien,” meaning he would get paid back before the lenders. Sources also told CNBC that he’s only interested in buying Sears at a roughly 400-store footprint.

      Lampert, who is also the company’s largest shareholder, is currently the only known person who is planning to bid for the 400 of the company’s best-performing stores that will go up for sale at an auction in January. If the retailer can’t find a buyer, then liquidation will be the likely next step.

      Sears -- which has more than 68,000 employees -- expects to use up $220 million in the first month of its bankruptcy, according to court documents.

      Eddie Lampert, former CEO and current chairman of Sears, reportedly has a plan to support the retailer through bankruptcy through his hedge fund, ESL Inves...
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      Gas prices fall further as oil stockpiles grow

      Motorists may benefit from slowing global demand

      Motorists on the West Coast have experienced generally higher gasoline prices this week while prices have fallen all across the Southeast.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular is $2.83 a gallon, down three cents from last week. It's just a penny cheaper than a month ago.

      The average price of premium gas is $3.39 a gallon, down three cents from last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.29, the same as last week.

      While scattered refinery and delivery issues have caused prices to rise in some western states, the overall trend is falling fuel prices. On Thursday, the Energy Information Administration reported another increase in U.S. oil stockpiles, the fifth straight week supplies have risen.

      "Continued growth in domestic crude bbl held in storage will likely cause prices to decline temporarily," AAA reported in its market update. "However, with pending U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran’s crude exports set to go into effect on November 4, lower crude prices may be short-lived as global supply tightens – amid robust global crude demand – later this fall."

      The only thing that might keep oil prices low is a prolonged drop in demand. Crude oil prices are down sharply from the start of the week to $66 a barrel after Saudi Arabia warned traders that an oil glut may be reforming. Meanwhile, U.S. motorists are benefiting.

      The states with the most expensive regular gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • Hawaii ($3.90)
      • California ($3.81)
      • Washington ($3.53)
      • Alaska ($3.39)
      • Oregon ($3.37)
      • Idaho ($3.13)
      • Nevada ($3.29)
      • Pennsylvania ($3.02)
      • Utah ($3.01)
      • Montana ($3.00)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      These states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas, the survey found:

      • South Carolina ($2.55)
      • Mississippi ($2.56)
      • Missouri ($2.56)
      • Alabama ($2.58)
      • Louisiana ($2.58)
      • Texas ($2.58)
      • Arkansas ($2.59)
      • Ohio ($2.60)
      • Oklahoma ($2.60)
      • Virginia ($2.60)
      Motorists on the West Coast have experienced generally higher gasoline prices this week while prices have fallen all across the Southeast.The AAA Fuel...
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      i play recalls infant rattles

      Pieces of the rattle can detach, posing a choking hazard

      i play. inc., of Asheville, N.C., is recalling about 6,100 infant rattles sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      Pieces of the rattle can detach, posing a choking hazard to infants.

      The company has received three reports of pieces detaching from the rattle. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves the multi-colored Green Sprouts brand flower rattle made made from natural wood and measuring 2.5 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 4 inches high.

      Attached to the circular handle are three round wooden balls shaped like flowers, including one that contains a silver metal bell, all attached with an elastic cord.

      “Green Sprouts,” “Made in Taiwan” and a date code number (14714 or 21815) are printed on the circular rattle handle.

      The rattles were sold at Whole Foods Market stores and other stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com and other websites from December 2014, through October 2018, for about $15.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately take the recalled rattles away from children, stop using them and contact i play for instructions on how to receive a $50.00 coupon code to redeem towards the purchase of new products and shipping costs.

      Consumers may contact i play at (800) 876-1574 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at contactus@iplaybaby.com or online at www.iplaybaby.com and click on “ Health & Safety ” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      i play. inc., of Asheville, N.C., is recalling about 6,100 infant rattles sold in the U.S. and Canada.Pieces of the rattle can detach, posing a choking...
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      Hy-Vee recalls meat and potato products

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      Hy-Vee of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling six of its meat and potato products across its eight-state region.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with these products.

      The following products "Best If Used By" date of October 22, 2018, or sooner are included in the call:

      • Hy-Vee Bacon Wrapped Cowgirl Chicken Grillers – 8 ounce each UPC Code 023092600000
      • Hy-Vee Fire Roasted Tomato, Spinach, Mozzarella Twice Baked Potato – 5 ounce each UPC Code 023755400000
      • Hy-Vee Cowgirl Chicken Griller Patty – 6 ounce each UPC Code 023100200000
      • Hy-Vee Gourmet Steakhouse Mushroom & Swiss Burger – 6 ounce each
      • UPC Code 023168400000
      • Hy-Vee Ground Beef Sliders Mushroom & Swiss – 2 ounce each UPC Code 023164300000
      • Hy-Vee Ground Beef Sliders Mushroom & Swiss – 12 count, 30 ounces UPC Code 023266600000

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but discard them or return them to their local Hy-Vee store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Hy-Vee 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 772-4098.

      Hy-Vee of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling six of its meat and potato products across its eight-state region.The products may be contaminated with S...
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      Brookstone wireless speakers recalled

      The lithium ion batteries in the wireless speakers can overheat

      Brookstone Purchasing of Merrimack, N.H., is recalling about 164,000 wireless speakers.

      The lithium ion batteries in the wireless speakers can overheat and catch fire, posing a fire hazard.

      The firm has received 12 reports of the speakers overheating and catching fire, resulting in five reports of property damage totaling about $2,000.

      This recall involves Brookstone Big Blue Party indoor/outdoor wireless speakers.

      The recalled speakers are silver or gray colored and measure about 6 inches wide by 6 inches deep by 16 inches tall. The SKU is printed on the bottom underside of the speaker.

      The speaker may also have “Brookstone” printed at the bottom on one side of the speaker, as well as on the label on the underside of the speaker.

      SKU

      Description/Color

      849504

      Graphite

      318417

      360 with Chromecast

      952645

      light gray

      The speakers, manufactured in China, were sold at Ace Hardware, Bloomingdale's, Bon-Ton, Brookstone, Macy’s, Patriot stores and other stores nationwide, on the Home Shopping Network and online at Amazon.com, Brookstone.com, RueLaLa.com, Wayfair.com, Zulily.com and other websites from December 2013, through August 2018, for about $200.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled speakers and properly dispose of the lithium-ion battery packs according to state and local regulations.

      Consumers may contact Brookstone toll-free at (866) 576-7337 any time or online at www.omnimgt.com/BrookstonerecallFAQ/ for more information.

      Brookstone Purchasing of Merrimack, N.H., is recalling about 164,000 wireless speakers.The lithium ion batteries in the wireless speakers can overheat...
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      United Kingdom fines Facebook for violating data privacy laws

      Regulators say the company ‘did not do enough’ to protect users’ sensitive information

      The United Kingdom’s (UK) Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has slapped Facebook with a 500,000-British pound fine ($641,517.50 U.S.) for what it calls “serious breaches of the data protection law.”

      Topping the list of Facebook’s infractions are charges that the company “unfairly processed personal data” and “failed to take appropriate technical and organisational measures against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data.”

      The ICO determined the nucleus of the social media’s missteps came in permitting third parties to obtain personal data through Facebook-associated apps -- a runamok data misuse that Facebook estimated to include 87 million users. The most celebrated of those privacy invasions was tied to the "thisisyourdigitallife" app, which led to the Cambridge Analytica privacy raid.

      “Facebook systematically went from interconnecting people to essentially having a surveillance system of their whole lives,” Roger McNamee, venture capitalist and an early Facebook investor told FRONTLINE in the forthcoming PBS special ‘The Facebook Dilemma.’

      Coulda, shoulda, woulda

      In the ICO’s eyes, Facebook "did not do enough" after the data breach was discovered in 2015.

      "Facebook failed to sufficiently protect the privacy of its users before, during and after the unlawful processing of this data," said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham. "A company of its size and expertise should have known better and it should have done better."

      Facebook may have gotten off easy with the half-million pound fine. The monetary penalty is the most the ICO could hand down, but “for the statutory limitation on the amount of the monetary penalty, it would have been reasonable and proportionate to impose a higher penalty,” wrote the Commission in its notice.

      The hits just keep on coming

      Facebook’s uncovered tracks keep coming back to haunt the platform. The ‘Got another friend request from you’ scam hit Facebook users earlier this month. More recently, the company was threatened with a lawsuit from advertisers on the truth behind its video ad metrics.

      And, there’s still more around the corner. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hasn’t issued its findings on whether Facebook properly warned investors of data issues.

      The United Kingdom’s (UK) Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has slapped Facebook with a 500,000-British pound fine ($641,517.50 U.S.) for what it cal...
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      Ford recalls nearly 1.3 million Ford Focus vehicles

      The engine may stall without warning while the vehicle is being driven

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 1,282,596 model year 2012-2018 Ford Focus vehicles with a 2.0L GDI or 2.0L GTDI engine.

      The Canister Purge Valve (CPV) may malfunction, possibly causing excessive vacuum in fuel vapor management system.

      This could result in an engine stall during driving, without warning and without the ability to restart the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the Powertrain Control Module and check for fault codes and replace the CPV as needed.

      If the CPV is replaced, dealers will inspect and replace the carbon canister, fuel tank and fuel delivery module as necessary.

      Owners are advised to keep the fuel tank at least halfway full until the vehicle is serviced for this concern.

      The recall is expected to begin December 10, 2018.

      Owners may contact Ford Customer service at (866) 436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 18S32.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 1,282,596 model year 2012-2018 Ford Focus vehicles with a 2.0L GDI or 2.0L GTDI engine.The Canister Purge Valve (CPV) m...
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      GHSE recalls salad with meat

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      GHSE of Green Cove Springs, Fla., is recalling approximately 738 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with meat.

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following ready-to-eat item, produced from October 11 – 14, 2018, is being recalled:

      • 15.25-oz. clear plastic clamshell packages containing “Marketside™ FIESTA SALAD WITH STEAK” and use by date from 10/17/2018 through 10/20/2018.

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “EST. 45781” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to retail locations in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but discard it or return it to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions regarding may contact Shelby Chih at (916) 638-8825.

      GHSE of Green Cove Springs, Fla., is recalling approximately 738 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with meat.The product may be contaminated with Salmonella...
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      Taylor Farms Northwest recalls pork carnitas bowls

      The products may be adulterated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      Taylor Farms Northwest of Kent, Wash., is recalling approximately 276 pounds of ready-to-eat pork carnitas bowls.

      The products may be adulterated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following item, produced from October 10 – 14, 2018, is being recalled:

      • 11-oz. clear plastic wrapped bowls of “PORK CARNITAS BOWL” packages with a sell by dates of 10/15/18 through 10/19/18.

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “EST. 34834” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to retail locations in Oregon and Washington.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but discard it or return it to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact the Taylor Farms Northwest consumer and media hotline at (855) 455-0098.

      Taylor Farms Northwest of Kent, Wash., is recalling approximately 276 pounds of ready-to-eat pork carnitas bowls.The products may be adulterated with S...
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      BMW recalls model year 2019 X6 vehicles

      The rear upper control arm may break, affecting handling

      BMW of North America is recalling 108 model year 2019 BMW X6 sDrive35i, X6 xDrive35i, X6 xDrive50i and X6M vehicles.

      The rear upper control arm pivot bolts may have been improperly hardened, possibly causing the rear upper control arms to break.

      If a rear upper control arm breaks, it can affect vehicle handling and control, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace both rear upper control arms, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 12, 2018.

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

      BMW of North America is recalling 108 model year 2019 BMW X6 sDrive35i, X6 xDrive35i, X6 xDrive50i and X6M vehicles.The rear upper control arm pivot bo...
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      Tim Cook calls for stricter digital privacy regulations

      Apple’s CEO says the crisis of data collection is real and ‘should unsettle us’

      During a speech given at a privacy conference in Brussels on Wednesday, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook called for stricter digital privacy laws, saying consumers’ personal information is being "weaponized against us with military efficiency."

      Cook, who didn’t specifically call out any major tech companies, said technology and the business of selling ads targeting to users has created a "data industrial complex” that is affecting individuals and entire societies.

      "We shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance,” Cook said in an impassioned keynote address at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC). “And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them. This should make us very uncomfortable. It should unsettle us."

      Companies hoarding personal data

      Although Cook didn’t mention Facebook or Google by name, his comments come on the heels of several massive data breaches like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the information of 87 million users was “improperly shared” to profile voters.

      "Every day, billions of dollars change hands, and countless decisions are made, on the basis of our likes and dislikes, our friends and families, our relationships and conversations. Our wishes and fears, our hopes and dreams," Cook said. "These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded, and sold."

      "Your profile is then run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions," Cook said.

      Called for new privacy laws

      Apple’s CEO praised the "successful implementation" of the EU’s new data privacy law, GDPR. He said U.S.-based companies should consider implementing similarly stringent privacy regulation laws.

      “This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or crazy,” he said during the keynote, which can be viewed below. “And those of us who believe in technology's potential for good must not shrink from this moment.”

      He said Apple would fully support the introduction of a “comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States.”

      “There, and everywhere, it should be rooted in four essential rights," Cook added. Consumers should have the right to have personal data minimized, the right to knowledge, the right to access, and the right to security, he said.

      During a speech given at a privacy conference in Brussels on Wednesday, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook called for stricter digital privacy laws, saying c...
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      The best and worst states for millennial homebuyers

      The cost of buying a home is rising, so location is even more important

      Millennials continue to make up the bulk of first-time homebuyers, but their activity has slowed in recent months as both prices and interest rates have risen.

      Affordability has become a bigger issue, but not everywhere. Some states offer young buyers more advantages than others.

      In an analysis of all 50 states, GoBankingRates has identified the best and worst states for millennials who want to purchase a home. According to the analysis, millennials should avoid Hawaii, California, and Colorado.

      The down payment for the median mortgage is a staggering $123,000 in Hawaii. California isn't much better, coming in at $108,000. The down payment on the average Colorado mortgage is $84,000.

      The heartland still offers bargains

      But for millennials willing to relocate to America's heartland, the entry into the housing market is much lower. It's lowest in West Virginia, where the median home sells for $159,000 and the average mortgage payment is $847 a month.

      Iowa is another good choice, reflected in the recent activity in the Des Moines market. In that state, the median home lists for $179,000 with an average mortgage payment of $995. Iowa has the additional appeal of higher wages for the average millennial, making it easier to save for a down payment.

      Ohio, Missouri, and Indiana are other attractive states for millennial homebuyers, with average mortgage payments of $1,000 or less.

      Impact of mortgage rates

      The financial strain on millennials and all other homebuyers has increased with rising mortgage rates, which are now hovering around 5 percent. Real estate brokerage firm Redfin reports a consumer with $2,500 a month to spend on housing and a 20 percent down payment could afford to purchase a home for as much as $473,750 at the beginning of the year. At that time, 30-year mortgage rates were averaging around 4 percent.

      Now that rates have climbed above 4.75 percent, that same buyer must lower their sights a bit, ruling out anything priced above $444,000. The only bright spot in the Redfin report is that prices in the red-hot coastal markets have finally started to drop, but many of those homes remain out of reach for the average homebuyer.

      Meanwhile, mortgage rates are expected to continue rising through into next year, which will have a direct effect on the number of homes that are affordable to buyers.

      Millennials continue to make up the bulk of first-time homebuyers, but their activity has slowed in recent months as both prices and interest rates have ri...
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      MoviePass takes another shot at staying alive

      The spin-off might save the parent company, but can it save the service?

      On the business scale ranging from brilliant down to laughable, MoviePass is pushing its luck.

      Again.

      Tuesday, MoviePass’s parent company Helios and Matheson (HMNY) announced that its board of directors has preliminarily approved a plan to spin off the gasping movie subscription service into its own company.

      To pull this off -- considering the company gets regulatory approval -- HMNY would create a new subsidiary named MoviePass Entertainment Holdings Inc. which would assume the shares of MoviePass Inc. as well as the company’s other movie-related assets. The proposition calls for a stock dividend of a minority of the holding company's stock which would permit Helios and Matheson to hang on to a controlling interest.

      HMNY’s maneuver is a bit maze-like, but essentially the spun-off entity would include the production unit MoviePass Films, the movie listing and information service Moviefone, and the film acquisition division MoviePass Ventures which produced ‘The Row,’ ‘American Animals,’ and ‘Gotti’ featuring John Travolta.

      “For many years, HMNY has been focused on data analytics, and in that capacity we own assets like Zone Technologies which provides a safety and navigation app for iOS and Android users and a global security concierge service,” said Ted Farnsworth, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of HMNY, in the company’s announcement.

      “Since we acquired control of MoviePass in December 2017, HMNY largely has become synonymous with MoviePass in the public’s eye, leading us to believe that our shareholders and the market perception of HMNY might benefit from separating our movie-related assets from the rest of our company.”

      On the news of MoviePass’ move, its stock held at 2 cents a share, but it fell below that mark after the market opened on Wednesday.

      Try as it might...

      The once golden child of subscription models has fallen on its sword time after time, and many are surprised that the company keeps rolling the dice when it should probably be working on its last will and testament. Only last week, the New York Attorney General launched an investigation of possible fraud by MoviePass’ parent company.

      Over the last decade, the HMNY story has become a business version of Twister -- one so convoluted that a biopic of its twists and turns, questions of pump-and-dump, and an accusation of its technology sibling HMIT (Helios and Matheson Information Technology) defrauding thousands in the company’s home country of India -- may have been a box office smash.

      “I do not expect HMNY to survive this year, although I hope it does, as I'll hate to see MoviePass die along with it,” wrote a blogger on crowd-sourced Financial commentary and analysis site SeekingAlpha.

      “I believe the MoviePass business model, although faced with nearly insurmountable challenges, has a real chance at survival, especially under the leadership of Mitch Lowe. But given the kind of folks running HMNY, I think anyone that wants to touch it, should not throw any serious money at it.”

      On the business scale ranging from brilliant down to laughable, MoviePass is pushing its luck.Again.Tuesday, MoviePass’s parent company Helios and...
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      FCC leaders say a ‘national mission’ is needed to bring broadband to every American

      The agency’s commissioners say the initiative is facing several challenges

      Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, aren’t on the same side regarding the net neutrality debate. However, they both agree that the lack of high-speed internet access in many rural areas is something that needs to be changed.

      More than a third of the U.S. population lags behind in connectivity, putting residents in many rural areas at a disadvantage when it comes to job creation, economic opportunity, and being connected to others in their community.

      “It really would be a game-changer for rural America if every town in this country were connected,” Pai said in an interview with CNET. “And that idea is bipartisan in nature.”

      But Pai and Rosenworcel acknowledge that financial hurdles must be overcome in order to deploy broadband in many parts of the country.

      "In big cities and urban areas where you have dense populations, the cost of deployment is lower," Rosenworcel said. "When you get to rural locations it's harder because financing those networks, deploying them and operating them is just more expensive."

      Closing the digital divide

      Rosenworcel added that the issue of financing shouldn’t prevent the dream of bringing broadband to every American from becoming a reality.

      "That's not a reason not to do it. We're just going to have to get creative and find ways to connect everyone everywhere,” she said.

      In order to achieve the goal, Pai says it might take a "national mission when it comes to broadband.” That mission would be similar in scale to what the government did when it brought electricity to rural America in the 1930s, Pai and Rosenworcel said.

      "We were able to get electrification to happen in rural, hard-to-reach parts of this nation," Rosenworcel said. "We need to be able to do the same with broadband."

      Fixing map inaccuracies

      Rosenworcel said another challenge currently being reckoned with is the issue of inaccuracies on the FCC’s current broadband map.

      "Our broadband maps are terrible," she said. "If we're going to solve this nation's broadband problems, then the first thing we have to do is fix those maps. We need to know where broadband is and is not in every corner of this country."

      To help the agency get a better idea of where broadband is needed, Pai and his administration have come up with a new process of requesting input from the public.

      "We've asked the American public, state and local officials, and carriers, consumer groups, farm groups in rural states to challenge those maps and tell us where they're inaccurate," he said. The goal, said Pai, is “to make sure with respect to wireless connectivity that we have a clear-cut idea about where those connections are and where they aren't."

      Rosenworcel wants to take the plan a step further by dispatching FCC staff from field offices to go out and check the maps. She also believes the FCC needs to go to the public for this information.

      "Every one of us knows where we get bars on our phone," she said. "We need to figure out how to crowdsource all that energy out there in the public and develop a map that isn't just made here in Washington but is made by all of us."

      Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, aren’t on the same side regardin...
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      Target unveils holiday shopping perks

      The retailer is expanding its same day delivery and Drive Up services

      Target is upping the ante as retailers get into position to kick off the holiday shopping season. The company says it is offering same-day delivery through Shipt in hundreds of markets in 46 states while expanding its Drive Up service to nearly 1,000 stores.

      Starting Nov. 1, all Target customers can get free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items, with no minimum purchase. Target CEO Brian Cornell says the aim is to take the stress out of holiday shopping. But there is no doubt that the move is being made to also increase Target's competitive advantage.

      “From same-day delivery with Shipt, Drive Up, free two-day shipping and more, no other retailer can match the convenient delivery options that Target will offer this season," Cornell said.

      The announcement follows Walmart's move on Tuesday to extend its free two-day shipping to items purchased on Walmart.com from third-party marketplace sellers. That program goes into effect in mid-November.

      Same day delivery expanding to hundreds of markets

      Target says its same-day delivery option will be available in hundreds of communities. The company will use Shipt, the delivery business it acquired in 2017, to deliver products, including groceries, in as little as one hour.

      Consumers who want to use that service will use the Shipt app or go to Shipt.com and select from more than 55,000 Target products. The products are then delivered to the customer's location.

      Drive Up will be offered at nearly 1,000 Target stores during the holiday shopping season. Customers place an order using the Target app and drive to the store at the appointed time. Purchases are then brought to their vehicle by a Target employee.

      Target promises orders are ready within an hour of receiving the order and are delivered to the customer's car within two minutes of their arrival in the parking lot. More than 250,000 items are available for the Drive Up service.

      Other retailers are preparing for Black Friday and ad slicks for Best Buy, Rite Aid, and Costco leaked this week, published at BestBlackFriday.com.

      Target is upping the ante as retailers get into position to kick off the holiday shopping season. The company says it is offering same-day delivery through...
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      Mary’s Harvest Fresh Foods recalls wraps and salads

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      Mary’s Harvest Fresh Foods of Portland, Ore., is recalling approximately 916 pounds of ready-to-eat wraps and salads.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following ready-to-eat items, produced from October 5 – 13, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 7-oz. clear plastic wrapped packages containing “MARY’S HARVEST Southwest Chicken Wrap w/ Rib Meat” and “Use By” dates from 10/15/18 through 10/23/18.
      • 11-oz. clear plastic clamshell packages containing “TRADER JOSE’S MEXICALI INSPIRED SALAD WITH CHILI SEASONED CHICKEN” and “BEST BY” dates from 10/15/18 through 10/19/18.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “P-39928” or “40310-M” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may contact Tim Kraus at (503) 808-9444.

      Mary’s Harvest Fresh Foods of Portland, Ore., is recalling approximately 916 pounds of ready-to-eat wraps and salads.The products may be contaminated w...
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      Mercedes-Benz vehicles with seat belt issue recalled

      Rear seat passengers may not be able to fasten their seat belt

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 4,702 model year 2016-2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC300s and GLC300 4Matics, model year 2018 GLC350e and GLC63 AMG 4Matic and model year 2017-2018 GLC43 AMG 4Matic vehicles.

      The seat belt latch plates (the parts that insert into the buckles) for the outboard rear seats may retract into the interior paneling, preventing the occupants from being able to use the seat belts.

      If the rear seat passengers cannot fasten their seat belts, they have an increased risk of injury in the event of a crash.

      What to do

      MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will install felt strips between the C-pillar and rear side paneling, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin October 31, 2018.

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

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 4,702 model year 2016-2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC300s and GLC300 4Matics, model year 2018 GLC350e and GLC63 AMG 4Matic an...
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      Prime Deli recalls salads with bacon

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      Prime Deli Corporation of Lewisville, Texas, is recalling approximately 217 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with bacon products.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following ready-to-eat items, produced on October 13, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 11.2-oz. clear plastic clamshell packages containing “7-ELEVEN™ BISTRO SOUTHWEST STYLE SALAD WITH BACON” and best by date of “Tuesday 1016”.
      • 9.6-oz. clear plastic clamshell packages containing “7-ELEVEN™ BISTRO SOUTHWEST STYLE SALAD WITH BACON” and best by date of “Tuesday 1016”.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 13553” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations in Texas.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may contact Luis Aguilar at (817) 360-8483.

      Prime Deli Corporation of Lewisville, Texas, is recalling approximately 217 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with bacon products.The products may be contam...
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      Mazda recalls various model year RX-8s with airbag inflator issue

      The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

      Mazda North American Operations is recalling a total of 394 vehicles.

      The include model year 2011 Mazda RX-8s sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

      Also included are model year 2010-2011 RX-8s registered in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

      These vehicles are equipped with certain airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger frontal air bag modules used as original equipment or replacement equipment.

      In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger front airbag, these inflators may explode due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to absolute humidity and temperature cycling.

      An inflator explosion may result in sharp metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

      What to do

      Mazda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front passenger air bag inflator with an alternate one, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 12, 2018.

      Owners may contact Mazda customer service at 1-800-222-5500, Option 4. Mazda's number for this recall is 2918J.

      Mazda North American Operations is recalling a total of 394 vehicles.The include model year 2011 Mazda RX-8s sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arka...
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      Rants on social media never really go away, new study finds

      Negative messages have a way of lingering far longer than positive ones

      As social media continues to dominate the technological landscape, there has been no shortage of news coverage on users’ controversial posts. Social media has become an indelible part of background checks for new jobs, and the effects of a simple post are more wide-reaching than ever.

      Researchers at the University of California-Davis recently conducted a study that explores the longstanding effects of negative social media comments.

      “It’s not just that negative chat has a long life,” said lead author Seth Frey. “But it has a longer effect on the original speaker. Negative people are really hurting themselves.”

      More than just words

      To see the ways comments on social media are affecting users, the researchers analyzed over 600,000 conversations from a popular online social game. Though the average age of those involved in the study was between eight and 12 years old, there were millions of users involved in the conversations that were happening in the game.

      To gauge the positivity or negativity of the statements in the chats, the researchers utilized a toolkit typically used for Twitter posts that measures feelings and attitudes.

      Perhaps the most significant finding from this study was that positive messages resonate for a far shorter period of time than negative messages. Moreover, negative messages have the power to affect everyone -- including the sender -- and typically tend to incite more negativity.

      The researchers found that negative messages can linger throughout the chat for an average of eight minutes, while positive messages linger for just one minute.

      Frey and the researchers believe social media users should take heed when posting online, as this study shows that what you write online is far more powerful than many users think when mindlessly chatting. It also shows that the words used online affect everyone -- including the person that sends them.

      Frey also pointed out that the way we communicate online is often very different than how we communicate in face-to-face settings, and the findings from this study show how powerful our words online can really be.

      “It’s really about isolating the effects that your angry and distasteful actions have on you in the future,” said Frey.

      Wide-reaching effects of social media

      While this study showed the power behind what we post on social media, there are many other ways social media affects our day-to-day lives.

      Over the summer, CareerBuilder released results from a survey which found that 70 percent of employers use social media sites as part of the applicant screening process, while another seven percent were in the process of implementing it.

      The findings from that survey also showed that nearly 60 percent of employers rejected candidates based on what they posted on social media, while 22 percent said they looked on candidates’ social media with the sole intention of finding a reason not to hire them.

      From an interpersonal standpoint, a recent study found that many people feel excluded by their friends on social -- though it isn’t intentional.

      The study found that social media can have an exclusionary effect on users based on the way they are basically forced to watch their friends (unintentionally) exclude them in certain online interactions.

      “We’re using these technologies daily, and they’re pushing information to users about their networks, which is what the sites are designed to do, but in the end, there’s negative effects on people’s well-being,” said researcher Michael Stefanone.

      As social media continues to dominate the technological landscape, there has been no shortage of news coverage on users’ controversial posts. Social media...
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      Walmart extends free shipping to third-party sellers' products

      The retailer says it is also simplifying the return process

      In a bid for more online holiday shoppers, Walmart is extending free two-day shipping to millions of items sold by third-party marketplace sellers.

      The eligible products will be shipped to customers under the same terms as those sold directly by Walmart if the order is for at least $35.

      Starting in mid-November, customers purchasing from Walmart.com won't have to check to see if the items they are buying are coming directly from Walmart or from a third-party seller. If the items in a customer's cart are eligible for free two-day shipping and the total order is more than $35, Walmart pays for the shipping.

      In early 2017, Walmart launched its free two-day shipping program to counter Amazon's growing Prime membership, which costs more than $100 a year. Walmart took every opportunity in its marketing materials to point out free shipping is available to all customers, just so long as their order totals at least $35.

      Simplified return process

      Now, that program is being extended to many of the items third-party marketplace sellers  market through Walmart.com. As part of the program's expansion, Walmart says it's also simplifying the process for returns.

      "All a customer has to do is log in to his or her Walmart account, print out a return label and ship back to the seller," the company said in a blog post. "This experience is beginning to roll out now."

      Customers who purchase products from third-party marketplace sellers will also have the option of returning the items to most Walmart stores. Customers will be required to package the items for shipping before taking them to the nearest Walmart store.

      Walmart will then ship the item back to the seller, and the customer will receive a refund directly from the seller.

      The move comes just before the start of the holiday shopping season in which the stakes for retailers have never been higher. Both Walmart and Target have taken steps in the last 12 months to improve their competitive position against Amazon.

      In a bid for more online holiday shoppers, Walmart is extending free two-day shipping to millions of items sold by third-party marketplace sellers.The...
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      Eddie Bauer infant carriers recalled

      The buckles on the infant carriers can break

      Gold Inc., doing business as Goldbug, of Denver, Colo., is recalling about 22,000 Eddie Bauer fabric infant carriers.

      The buckles on the infant carriers can break, posing a fall hazard to children.

      The firm is aware of eight reported incidents of broken buckles. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves Eddie Bauer fabric infant carriers that are worn by the parent or caregiver with the baby strapped into the front.

      The recalled carriers are black with “Eddie Bauer” and “First Adventure” printed in gray lettering on the front, outside of the carrier.

      The infant carriers, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively at Target stores nationwide and online between December 2017, and August 2018, for about $70.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled carriers and contact Gold Inc. to verify that the product is subject to this recall. Once the product is verified, consumers will receive replacement products of comparable value or a full refund.

      Consumers who purchased this recalled product must cut off and return both straps and tag with their name, address, and phone number to receive selected replacement products, free of charge, or a full refund.

      Consumers may contact Gold Inc. toll free at (866) 600-7205 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (MT) or by email customerservice@goldbuginc.com or online at www.goldbuginc.com and click on Recalls for more information.

      Gold Inc., doing business as Goldbug, of Denver, Colo., is recalling about 22,000 Eddie Bauer fabric infant carriers.The buckles on the infant carriers...
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      GH Foods CA recalls salads with chicken

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      GH Foods CA of Sacramento, Calif., is recalling approximately 987 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with chicken.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following ready-to-eat items, produced from October 9 – 13, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 9.75-oz. clear plastic clamshell packages containing “Santa Fe Style Salad with Chicken” and Best If Sold By dates from 10/17/18 to 10/18/18.
      • 10-oz. clear plastic clamshell packages containing “365 BY WHOLE FOODS MARKET BBQ STYLE CHOPPED SALAD WITH CHICKEN" and Best If Sold By dates from 10/17/18 to 10/20/18.
      • 6-lbs. bagged kit containing “BBQ Style Salad Kit with White Chicken" and Use By dates from 10/17/18 to 10/22/18.
      • 8-oz. clear plastic clamshell packages containing “365 BY WHOLE FOODS MARKET CHICKEN FAJITA SALAD" and Best If Sold By dates from 10/17/18 to 10/20/18.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. P-39994” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations in California.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may contact Nelia Alamo at (916) 638-8825.

      GH Foods CA of Sacramento, Calif., is recalling approximately 987 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with chicken.The products may be contaminated with Salmo...
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      Caito Foods recalls chicken salad and bowl products

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      Caito Foods of Indianapolis, Ind., is recalling approximately 1,532 pounds of ready-to-eat salad and bowl products made with chicken.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following ready-to-eat items, produced from October 6 – 14, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 11.5-oz. plastic clamshell packages containing “good & deLISH sante fe style salad with chicken,” with “ENJOY BY” dates of 10/13/18 through 10/21/18 (inclusive).
      • 8.75-oz. plastic clamshell packages containing “Santa Fe Style Salad with Chicken,” with “Sell By” date of 10/13/18 through 10/21/18 (inclusive).
      • 11.25-oz. plastic clamshell packages containing “FRESH Garden HIGHWAY SALADS SANTA FE STYLE SALAD WITH CHICKEN,” with “Best If Sold By” dates of 10/12/18 through 10/20/18 (inclusive).
      • 12-oz. plastic bowl packages containing “good to go! Chipotle Chicken Bowl,” with “Sell By” dates of 10/11/18 through 10/19/18 (inclusive).
      • 8.75-oz. plastic clamshell packages containing “FRESH Garden HIGHWAY Santa Fe Style Salad with Chicken,” with “Best if Sold By” dates of 10/13/18 through 10/21/18 (inclusive).

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “P-39985” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact the Caito Foods consumer feedback line at (844) 467-7278.

      Caito Foods of Indianapolis, Ind., is recalling approximately 1,532 pounds of ready-to-eat salad and bowl products made with chicken.The products may b...
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      Buddy’s Kitchen recalls pork and chicken products

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      Buddy’s Kitchen of Burnsville, Minn., is recalling approximately 212,746 pounds of ready-to-eat pork and chicken products.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following ready-to-eat pork and chicken items produced on from October 19, 2017, through October 9, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 7.95-lb. bulk cases containing 16 pieces of “Provolone and Roasted Peppers Omelet with Sicilian Potatoes & Italian Chicken Sausage (Bulk Pack),” with lot codes 01/02/18, 01/15/18 and 05/09/18, and case code 70578.
      • 11.02-lb. bulk cases containing 24 pieces of “Chicken Chorizo & Montamore Scramble,” with lot codes 04/30/18 and 07/09/18, and case code 70658.
      • 9.52-lb. bulk cases containing 24 pieces of “Chicken Chorizo & Montamore Scramble,” with lot codes 10/30/17, 11/04/17, 12/05/17, 12/19/17, 01/16/18, 02/22/18 and 04/24/18, and case code 70630.
      • 9.75-lb. bulk cases containing 24 pieces of “PANCETTA STYLE CRUMBLE & SMOKED FONTINA SCRAMBLE,” with lot codes 10/19/17, 10/31/17, 11/20/17, 12/04/17, 01/03/18, 01/10/18, 02/12/18, 02/27/18, 03/30/18, 04/09/18, 05/07/18, 05/29/18, 06/13/18, 07/09/18, 08/06/18 and 09/07/18, and case code 70620.
      • 11.93-lb. bulk cases containing 24 pieces of “Provolone and Roasted Peppers Omelet with Sicilian Potatoes & Italian Chicken Sausage (Pop-Put),” with lot codes 01/02/18, 01/05/18, 01/15/18, 01/25/18, 04/30/18, 05/08/18, 05/09/18, 05/16/18, 05/17/18, 05/24/18, 05/31/18, 07/24/18, 08/01/18, 08/06/18, 08/27/18, 09/05/18, 09/18/18 and 10/09/18, and case code 70577.

      The recalled products bearing establishment number “P-4226” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to institutional locations in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and New Jersey.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may contact Dave Smith, at (952) 894-2540.

      Buddy’s Kitchen of Burnsville, Minn., is recalling approximately 212,746 pounds of ready-to-eat pork and chicken products.The products may be contamina...
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      Facebook may acquire a ‘major’ cybersecurity firm

      Sources familiar with the company’s plan say the acquisition could happen by the end of the year

      In the wake of a series of highly publicized data breaches, Facebook is reportedly looking to beef up its security defenses by acquiring a major cybersecurity firm.

      Sources with knowledge of the matter told The Information that the company has already offered deals to “several” security firms, but the sources stopped short of naming which companies Facebook has expressed an interest in acquiring.

      Facebook wants to close the deal by the end of this year, according to the report.

      Preventing another hack

      The purchase would enable the company to buy software that could be integrated with Facebook’s existing services. The software could give it access to security tools, such as tools for automatically detecting hacking attempts or securing users’ accounts.

      A large acquisition like this would also help increase the company’s trustworthiness in the eyes of consumers, investors, and government regulators by showing that it’s taking the issue of data security seriously.

      Word of Facebook’s goal of acquiring a cybersecurity firm comes nearly a month after the company announced that hackers had stolen access tokens for 30 million accounts.

      Earlier this year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called upon to testify before Congress following the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the information of 87 million users was “improperly shared” to profile voters. At the hearing, Zuckerberg answered questions related to the privacy policies of the social networking platform.

      “We were too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference, and we’re working hard to get better,” Zuckerberg said in a statement at the time.

      “Our sophistication in handling these threats is growing and improving quickly. We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference, and we will do our part not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, but also to give everyone a voice and to be a force for good in democracy everywhere.”

      In the wake of a series of highly publicized data breaches, Facebook is reportedly looking to beef up its security defenses by acquiring a major cybersecur...
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      eBay launches service to instantly sell old smartphones

      But payments come in the form of eBay vouchers

      How many old smartphones do you have taking up space in a desk drawer? According to a recent study by eBay, 40 percent of consumers have two or more unused devices.

      There are a number of ways to get rid of these unwanted and largely outdated phones, but eBay has launched a program called eBay Instant Selling that allows consumers to sell unwanted devices and get paid instantly in the form of an eBay voucher.

      While consumers have to spend the money they get on eBay, the company says they'll typically get more for their old phones than if they use traditional trade-in programs. On average, eBay says it will get the seller as much as 40 percent more than a phone retailer would pay.

      "Millions of Americans have unused phones in their homes and simply don't realize how much their devices are worth, probably because trade-in values are typically so low," said Alyssa Steele, vice president of Hard Goods at eBay. "With Instant Selling, people can find out exactly how much their phone is worth, and sell their phone within a matter of minutes to immediately help fund the holidays, or maybe something off their personal wish list."

      Getting started

      To get started, go to eBay.com/s/phone. Enter information about the device you're selling and you'll be told if it is eligible for Instant Selling. Significantly older devices probably aren't.

      Next, add some images of the device, click the list button, and accept the terms. You'll then receive an instant voucher that can be used toward the purchase of a new device on eBay. Ship your phone using an eBay shipping label you can print.

      There are other methods of disposing of your unwanted device. When the new iPhones came out last month, ConsumerAffairs researched the values a consumer could expect to get from selling or trading in their old models.

      We found that if you traded in your device to Apple, the values ran from $70 for an iPhone 6 to $525 for the most recent iPhone X. But consumers should definitely shop around since other online tech buyers might offer more.

      When ConsumerAffairs checked prices for that same iPhone 6 on certain exchange sites, we found better prices than those that Apple offered, but lower values than Apple was allowing for factory unlocked iPhone 7 models.

      Other options

      Other companies, such as Gazelle, offer a way to sell both Apple and newer Android devices. The amount consumers receive largely depends on the type of device and its age.

      Meanwhile, to protect your privacy and sensitive information, our friends at Techlicious point out there are six things you should do before handing over your old device to a stranger.

      • Back up data and settings

      • Back up photos and videos

      • Back up texts and call logs

      • Encrypt your data

      • Disable factory reset protection

      • Perform a factory reset

      How many old smartphones do you have taking up space in a desk drawer? According to a recent study by eBay, 40 percent of consumers have two or more unused...
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      New device seeks to bolster consumers’ cybersecurity with personal web domains

      The Helm Personal Server was designed to help consumers ‘take control of their online lives’

      A Seattle-based startup called Privacy Labs recently unveiled a device that allows everyday consumers to send and receive email, as well as utilize contacts and calendar services, from their own personal web domain.

      The device, dubbed “Helm,” was born out of the belief that “everyone should have the right to their online lives,” according to co-founder and CEO Giri Sreenivas. Instead of storing information in the cloud, information is stored and encrypted in the device.

      “Right now, nearly all of the data that comprises your online life is stored in a massive data center,” Sreenivas wrote in a blog post. “You don’t own it. You can’t see it, you can’t touch it — and you don’t know who can. That dream of a device that would make data ‘ownable’ to the individual — not a stranger — is what led to Helm.”

      Personal computer server

      In terms of size, the Helm Personal Server isn’t very large; it’s about as big as an upside-down book. It sits on a table or desk, connects to a home network, and pairs with an app that lets users create their own domain name, passwords, and recovery keys.

      It costs $499, which includes 128 gigabytes of local storage and a year of email, calendar, contacts, and a web domain for multiple users. After the first year, owners pay an annual subscription fee of $99.

      Privacy Labs says it plans to add services other than email, contacts, and calendar. Future services will include photo storage, password management, and virtual private networking.

      Although personal email servers already exist, Helm was created with the aim of being easy to configure and maintain for the average user. It takes just three minutes to set up.

      “With Helm, you can be safe, secure, and in control, knowing your data is right where it should be: with you, so you can live online on your own terms,” Sreenivas wrote. “It all starts with email, and over the coming months and years, our team will be working on a number of additional services, each bringing you one step closer to total autonomy online.”

      Future aspirations

      Privacy Labs eventually wants to become a “digital-identity hub” for everything consumers do on the internet, according to Bloomberg. In an age where digital security is at the forefront of many consumers’ minds, Privacy Labs wants to give consumers total control of their data and make it so that companies have to ask for access.

      “We want to help people break through the way the internet works today and not engage with Google and other big tech companies,” Sreenivas told Bloomberg, adding that he sees the iPhone as Helm’s only major competitor.

      “Apple Inc. has been putting more data and computing processes on the device, and it increasingly stresses privacy benefits. Still, iPhones continue to rely on cloud-based services like iCloud and the devices regularly ping data centers run by internet giants like Google, he said,” according to Bloomberg.

      A Seattle-based startup called Privacy Labs recently unveiled a device that allows everyday consumers to send and receive email, as well as utilize contact...
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      New study suggests a strong connection between herpes and Alzheimer's

      One researcher says herpes could account for '50 percent or more' of Alzheimer's cases

      While researchers continue to look for the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience explores the connection between the development of the condition and the herpes virus.

      Researcher Ruth Itzhaki has spent over two decades studying the relationship between herpes and Alzheimer’s, and in this most recent study she studied the effects that herpes flare ups have on neurons in the brain.

      Exploring the connection  

      Herpes never goes away entirely, with the condition often flaring up during times of stress or illness. The most severe form of herpes is Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1), and according to Itzhaki, this strand of the infection could account for “50 percent or more of Alzheimer’s disease cases.”

      A key component of Itzhaki’s theory was testing an antiviral drug that could alleviate the risk of senile dementia in people that had herpes.

      To get an accurate population sampling to test this theory, Itzhaki utilized data taken from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database, which documents information on disease and infections.

      As nearly all of Taiwan’s population is enrolled in the Database, Itzhaki was able to evaluate three studies published between 2017 and 2018 that described the ways patients with HSV1 were treated by healthcare professionals; the data showed the evolution of those with senile dementia.

      Itzhaki found that the antiviral drug was an effective course of treatment for those who were infected with HSV1 and then developed dementia. She also found that those who already have HSV1 areat a much greater risk of later developing senile dementia.

      Itzhaki noted that this study focuses on those with the most severe cases of the infection, and future research would have to focus on dementia rates in those with more mild forms of herpes.

      Despite this, Itzhaki was confident in the study’s results.

      “Considering that over 150 publications strongly support an HSV1 role in Alzheimer’s, these Taiwan findings greatly justify usage of anti-herpes antivirals -- which are safe and well tolerated -- to treat Alzheimer’s disease,” said Itzhaki. “They also incentivize development of an HSV1 vaccine, which would likely be the most effective treatment.”

      Recent Alzheimer’s breakthroughs

      Alzheimer’s research continues to be a point of emphasis for the medical community, and researchers have made considerable contributions to the field in recent months.

      Back in July, a major drug company reported positive results from a clinical trial for a new Alzheimer’s drug. The study involved nearly 900 participants in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and after 18 months, the drug was found to be successful in slowing the progress of the disease.

      Later in the summer, researchers at the University of Adelaide found a link between iron in our cells and a rare genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s.

      Most recently, researchers from the Clinical Memory Research Unit at Lund University found a new brain imaging technique that would help doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s more accurately. The PET scan involved in the study proved to be more successful than traditional treatments that are currently used to diagnose Alzheimer’s, and the researchers are confident the method will gain popularity worldwide.

      While researchers continue to look for the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience explores the connection b...
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      Ruiz Food Products recalls nearly 2.5 million pounds of taquitos

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      Ruiz Food Products of Denison, Texas, is recalling approximately 2.491 million pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry taquitos.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following ready-to-eat meat and poultry taquitos, produced from July 1 – October 10, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 4.5-lbs. cardboard cases containing 24-count Go-Go Taquitos “Beef Taco & Cheese Taquitos” with a case code 86183 printed on the label.
      • 4.5-lbs. cardboard cases containing 24-count Go-Go Taquitos “Buffalo Style Cooked Glazed Chicken Taquitos” with a case code 86006 printed on the label.
      • 4.5-lbs. cardboard cases containing 24-count Go-Go Taquitos “Chipotle Chicken Wrapped in A Battered Flour Tortilla” with a case code 86019 printed on the label.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment numbers “17523A or P-17523A” and “45694 or P-45694” in the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to distributors nationwide.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may may contact the Ruiz Food Products consumer hotline at (800) 772-6474.

      Ruiz Food Products of Denison, Texas, is recalling approximately 2.491 million pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry taquitos.The products may be con...
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      Harris Teeter and Trader Joe's meat and poultry products recalled

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      Bakkavor Foods USA located in Carson, Calif., Charlotte, N.C., and Jessup, Penn., is recalling approximately 795,261 pounds of ready-to-eat Harris Teeter and Trader Joe's meat and poultry products.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following ready-to-eat items, produced from September 27, 2017, through October 15, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 16-oz. plastic-wrapped with paperboard sleeve packages containing HARRIS TEETER FRESH FOODS MARKET DELI-BAKERY brand “BBQ STYLE CHICKEN ARTISAN PIZZA,” with “Use By” dates from 01/07/19 through 04/11/19 (inclusive) printed on the case packaging.

      • 8-oz. butcher-paper wrapped packages containing HARRIS TEETER FRESH FOODS MARKET DELI-BAKERY brand “CHICKEN SAUSAGE, EGG WHITE and CHEESE BREAKFAST BURRITO,” with “Use By” dates from 01/24/18 through 10/25/18 (inclusive) printed on the case packaging.

      • 8-oz. butcher-paper wrapped packages containing HARRIS TEETER FRESH FOODS MARKET DELI-BAKERY brand “BACON, EGG and CHEESE BURRITO,” with “Use By” dates from 01/24/18 through 10/25/18 (inclusive) printed on the case packaging.

      • 10-oz. butcher-paper wrapped packages containing “TRADER JOE’S CARNITAS WITH SALSA VERDE Burrito,” with “Use By” dates from 10/08/17 through 10/24/18 (inclusive) printed on the retail packaging.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment numbers “EST. 19198,” “P-19198,” “EST. 46937” or “EST. 45335,” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may contact the Bakkavor Foods USA corporate recall line at (855) 312-7504.

      Bakkavor Foods USA located in Carson, Calif., Charlotte, N.C., and Jessup, Penn., is recalling approximately 795,261 pounds of ready-to-eat Harris Teeter a...
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      Envolve Foods Recalls chicken and beef products

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      Envolve Foods of Corona, Calif., is recalling approximately 292,764 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken and beef products.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following ready-to-eat items, produced and packaged from February 2, 2017, through October 12, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 22-oz. plastic bags containing “simple truth, Chicken Bibimbap” and a case code number of 011110890108 on the label and use by/sell by dates of 11/2/18 through 3/12/20.

      • 22-oz. plastic bags containing “simple truth, Thai Style Green Curry” and a case code number of 011110816382 on the label and use by/sell by dates of 3/13/19 through 1/24/20.

      • 22-oz. plastic bags containing “simple truth, Chicken Tikka Masala” and a case code of 011110890092 on the label and use by/sell by dates of 3/22/19 through 4/12/19.

      • 10-lb. cases containing “CADENCE GOURMET, Steak Fajitas,” with an item number of SS00024, and an expiration dates of 11/1/2018 through 01/18/19, on the label.

      • 10-lb. cases containing “CADENCE GOURMET, Tuscan Tomato Basil Chicken & Sausage,” with an item number of SS00032, and an expiration dates of 10/20/18 through 01/09/19 on the label.

      • 10-lb. cases containing “CADENCE GOURMET, Rustic Toasted Tomato Basil Chicken & Vegetables,” with an item number of SS00047, and an expiration dates of 2/05/19 through 10/12/19 on the label.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 44857” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to distribution warehouses nationwide.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may call the company’s customer service hotline at (877)-244-0947.

      Envolve Foods of Corona, Calif., is recalling approximately 292,764 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken and beef products.The products may be contaminated w...
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      jenny Craig chicken wraps recalled

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

      SK Food Group of Groveport, Ohio, and Reno, Nev., is recalling approximately 174,207 pounds of jenny Craig chicken wraps.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

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

      The following, frozen, fully cooked items, produced from October 15, 2017, through October 15, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 4.5-oz. plastic packages containing “jenny CRAIG CHICKEN WRAP WITH BBQ SAUCE,” with lot codes WO0096753S10, WO0097880S10, WO0098216S10, WO0098565S10, WO0098923S10, WO0100691S10, WO0100692S10, WO0101746S10, WO0101861S10, WO0102176S10, WO0102469S10, WO0102758S10, WO0103920S10, WO0104247S10, WO0104353S10, WO0104615S10, WO0104995S10, WO0106312, WO0106312S10, WO0106945S10, WO0107556S10, WO0108694S10, WO0108695S10, WO0096753S02, WO0097880S02, WO0098216S02, WO00982416S02, WO0098565S02, WO0098923S02, WO0100691S02, WO0100692S02 and WO0101746S02.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 45367” or “EST. 20552” stamped on the product centerfold, were shipped directly to consumers through catalog sales in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Steve Sposari at (206) 957-6225.

      SK Food Group of Groveport, Ohio, and Reno, Nev., is recalling approximately 174,207 pounds of jenny Craig chicken wraps.The products may be contaminat...
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      The Weekly Hack: Avoid fake emails from Apple and Spotify

      Most Facebook hackers want to sell stuff, not hack elections, a new report claims

      If you were one of the 30 million Facebook users whose data was accessed by unauthorized third parties, then Facebook has its own version of encouraging news. The hackers were spammers who wanted your money, not foreign agents trying to influence your vote. Congratulations?

      A new report by the Wall Street Journal says that, according to Facebook, the hackers were linked to a digital marketing company that specializes in deceptive advertising. People familiar with Facebook’s internal investigation assured the paper that the hackers didn't have ties to a nation-state.

      Apple scam

      A Reddit user reportedly caught a new, realistic phishing email scam that could trick iPhone users into handing over the usernames and passwords to their Apple accounts. The email appears to be from Apple and lets a user know that they have completed a purchase through Spotify. Once the confused recipient clicks to review the purchase, they are directed to a site that is a realistic imitation of an Apple login page.

      But a look at the web address, according to a screenshot captured, shows that the address does not correspond to Apple. It’s all part of what security expert Tim Sadler says is a classic phishing scam.

      "Phishing emails, like spam, are bulk in nature, but are often farming for a user's credentials by mimicking the identity of a trusted website or service – in this case, Apple and Spotify,” he told the Sun.

      Minnesota private records

      Government employees, it’s time to do a better job of screening suspicious emails. A phishing email scam targeting state email accounts in Minnesota may have revealed the social security numbers, medical records, employment information, and financial records for 21,000 residents.

      “Because the Minnesota Department of Human Services respects and values the privacy of your personal information, we want you to know about two recent data security incidents that may have resulted in someone accessing your personal information without permission,” the state wrote in a recent letter to potential victims of the hack.

      Victims are urged to keep an eye on their credit card records.

      If you were one of the 30 million Facebook users whose data was accessed by unauthorized third parties, then Facebook has its own version of encouraging ne...
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      Trump wants Supreme Court’s help from kids suing to stop climate change

      Brett Kavanaugh may help decide whether kids and young adults demanding government action on global warming can get a trial

      For the second time in four months, the federal government is asking the Supreme Court to toss a lawsuit demanding it act on climate change for the sake of younger generations.

      The youth climate change lawsuit, as it is known, was originally filed by a group of 21 children and teenagers in Oregon in 2015. The group alleged that the United States government and state agencies were knowingly doing nothing to stop global warming. The suit says that such inaction is in violation of the constitutional rights of younger generations, specifically “their right to 'life, liberty, and property' as enshrined in the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment."

      While former President Barack Obama has long said man-made climate change is a real phenomenon, numerous oil and gas projects requiring federal permits continued under his watch, and climate scientists and activists said he was not doing enough to curb emissions.

      Sure enough, his administration filed a motion trying to toss the kids’ case in 2016, only for a U.S. District Justice in Oregon to side with the kids and send the case to the Supreme Court.

      Despite President Donald Trump’s tendency to undo any action put in place by his predecessor, the youth climate change lawsuit appears to be the one of the few areas where the two administrations are in agreement.

      After the Supreme Court decided on July 30 that the case "presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion” and refused to toss it, the Trump administration on Thursday once again filed a motion requesting a stay.

      The decision is now up to Chief Justice John Roberts of the Ninth Circuit, and he can either rule on his own or send the case to the Supreme Court, potentially kicking Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court career off with one of the country’s most high-profile environmental lawsuits.

      Kavanaugh has previously said that “humans are contributing” to the earth’s warming temperatures, but he has also argued that it should be up to Congress, not the Environmental Protection Agency, to do something about the problem.

      The plaintiffs, now ranging in age from 11 to 22, could see the case go to trial on October 29 if the courts do not intervene before then.

      For the second time in four months, the federal government is asking the Supreme Court to toss a lawsuit demanding it act on climate change for the sake of...
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      Mastercard cardholder signatures now optional on cards and receipts

      Fewer steps and added security are promised for the consumer

      The lightning-fast pace of technology has dug deeper into consumers’ billfolds. Mastercard announced on Friday that signatures will soon be optional for all cardholders, not only on the card but on receipts, as well. Mastercard issuers will start distributing the signature panel-less cards in April, 2019.

      Having the luxury of get-it-and-go without having to sign anything offers consumers the ability to save time and deal with a little less hassle at the tail end of a transaction for those who “tap-and-pay.”

      Mastercard didn’t come to this change quickly. In a study of 1,200+ credit card users, only 40 percent said they had put their John Hancock on the back of their cards, and one-third of those who haven’t signed said they didn’t really see any value in doing it anyway.

      “With modern, advanced forms of authentication now available, removing the requirement for signature capture at the point of sale and now signature panels on Mastercard cards is an important step in support of our digital evolution,” said Linda Kirkpatrick, executive vice president, U.S. Merchants and Acceptance, Mastercard. “Issuers, merchants and cardholders will benefit from this change as faster, safer options improve satisfaction and increase sales.”

      Mastercard said the move to signature-less was also delayed until cards embedded with chips became common.

      Any security risk?

      In Mastercard’s research, most of the survey takers didn’t believe that leaving their signature off posed a risk, and two-thirds of the respondents said they preferred biometrics over the standard signatures, PIN numbers, and passwords when paying with their card.

      “We see this as a win for all. The investments we’ve made in technology like artificial intelligence and biometrics are what’s powering this next step,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of Mastercard’s cyber and intelligence solutions.

      “We believe our merchant and issuing partners everywhere will embrace the ability to deliver a simpler checkout experience while maintaining the highest levels of security.”

      To give consumers an extra ounce of confidence in Mastercard’s technology move, the company says that users will remain protected against fraud via Mastercard Zero Liability coverage. However, knowing the caveats of the policy will be important to ensure that there are no gaps.

      If a consumer’s card ever gets compromised, the company’s Zero Liability policy states that the card user will not be held responsible for unauthorized transactions only if:

      • The user has used reasonable care in protecting their card from loss or theft; and

      • The user promptly reports loss or theft to their financial institution.

      Verifi, an ecommerce solution provider, tells ConsumerAffairs that adding three-factor authentication through biometrics will help ensure that consumers’ identities are protected. However, there are drawbacks to consider.

      “The plus for biometrics is that they cannot easily be counterfeited as they are unique to the customer and they are easily accessible for the user,” a company representative said. “On the flip side, this type of authentication is less convenient for consumers and usually requires a longer time commitment for the checkout process as the merchant is requiring an additional factor of authentication.”

      The lightning-fast pace of technology has dug deeper into consumers’ billfolds. Mastercard announced on Friday that signatures will soon be optional for al...
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      T-Mobile launches 36-month extended payment option

      Qualified customers can upgrade to a new smartphone for as little as $10 a month

      On Friday, T-Mobile officially launched a new program that gives consumers three years to pay off certain smartphones, rather than the usual two years.

      The following phones will be eligible for the 36-month extended payment plan: the Samsung Galaxy S8, S9; the LG G7 ThinQ; and the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. Those who qualify for the plan could pay “as little as $10 a month for your new smartphone” when they trade in an eligible device, according to T-Mobile.

      The devices that are eligible for trade-in include:

      • Apple iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus; Samsung Galaxy S8 series, Note8; Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel, Pixel XL; LG V30, G7

      • iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6, iPhone 6+; Samsung: GS7 series, Note 5, GS6 series; LG: V20, G6; Motorola: Z2 Force; One Plus: 5, 5T, 6.

      • iPhone 5C, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone SE; Samsung: GS4 series, GS5 series, Note 4; HTC: 10; LG: G5, G4, V10; Motorola Nexus 6; One Plus: 3, 3T, X, 2, 1

      Depending on the condition and model of the device being traded in, customers could get up to $360 in bill credits toward the purchase of a new phone.

      New deals

      In a press release about the new extended payment option, T-Mobile's CEO John Legere pointed out that a family of four can sign up for the T-Mobile Essentials plan and get a new device for $50 per month per line with autopay.

      “T-Mobile ONE includes all the extras — the industry’s best travel benefits, a personal Team of Experts for all your customer care needs, Netflix included for families, unlimited mobile hotspot and so much more. Starting Friday, well-qualified customers with trade-in and T-Mobile’s new 36-month EIP can get 4 lines of T-Mobile ONE and four new phones for as little as $50 a month per line with autopay,” the CEO said.

      Legere also made sure he didn’t miss an opportunity to take a shot at the competition.

      "Everyone knows we’ve got America’s fastest 4G LTE network and now we’ve got some of the best deals of the year on new smartphones. We’re not messing around," Legere said. "Forty dollars a month will only get you data on Dumb and Dumber’s congested networks. At T-Mobile, $40 a month will get you a hot new smartphone AND unlimited, so you can unleash everything that new phone is capable of doing!"

      On Friday, T-Mobile officially launched a new program that gives consumers three years to pay off certain smartphones, rather than the usual two years....
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      Uber testing an on-demand staffing service

      Uber Works lets companies recruit short-term workers

      Uber is testing an on-demand staffing service called Uber Works, which would let companies recruit temporary workers for events or corporate functions, the Financial Times reports.

      The new program -- which is currently being tested in Chicago, following a pilot in Los Angeles earlier this year -- would be the company’s first effort to tap into an industry other than transportation.

      Although Uber hasn’t made any official statements about Uber Works, advertisements for the program suggest that the company is seeking candidates with a “strong interest in the on-demand labor space” able to be “on call when the product is busiest (often nights, weekends, and holidays)”.

      Diversifying its offerings

      In addition to ride-hailing, Uber currently offers freight hauling, food delivery, and electric scooters. The company’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, has said Uber plans to go public next year. The effort to expand beyond transportation is likely part of a larger goal to attract investors as the company prepares for its initial public offering.

      "Uber Works could help to persuade potential investors in next year's IPO that Uber is more than just a transportation service, instead pitching it as a broader platform for all kinds of flexible work and on-demand services,” the Financial Times said.

      If launched in markets beyond Chicago, Uber Works could also help Uber’s current employees make money when demand for rides is lower than usual. However, sources say the new program is primarily aimed at people who aren't currently drivers with Uber.

      Uber is testing an on-demand staffing service called Uber Works, which would let companies recruit temporary workers for events or corporate functions, the...
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      Ebay suing Amazon for allegedly poaching ‘high-value’ sellers

      The lawsuit follows a cease and desist letter sent to Amazon earlier this month

      Ebay has filed a lawsuit against Amazon accusing the e-commerce giant of illegally poaching its third-party sellers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

      The lawsuit, filed in California on Wednesday, seeks to block Amazon sales representatives from using eBay’s messaging system to hire sellers for its Marketplace. Ebay is also seeking unspecified damages as monetary relief for sales lost due to the alleged seller-poaching.

      The lawsuit follows a cease and desist letter that eBay sent to Amazon on October 1.

      “We can confirm that we have uncovered an unlawful and troubling scheme on the part of Amazon to solicit eBay sellers to move to Amazon’s platform,” eBay told the WSJ earlier this month. “We have demanded that Amazon end its unlawful activity and will take the appropriate steps, as needed, to protect eBay.”

      Amazon said at the time that it was conducting a thorough investigation of the allegations.

      ‘Startling in breadth’

      In an earlier report, the WSJ said eBay had discovered that roughly 50 Amazon employees in various parts of the world had sent more than 1,000 messages to sellers on its platform. The company said it became aware of the issue after being alerted by a seller.

      The suit alleges that Amazon employees, "perpetrated a scheme to infiltrate and exploit eBay's internal member email system.” Ebay accuses its competitor of using special tactics to avoid being detected, such as putting dashes in between each letter of the word “Amazon” and spelling out email addresses when trying to lure “high-value” eBay sellers away from Amazon.

      "The scheme is startling in breadth - involving large numbers of Amazon representatives ("Amazon reps"), targeting many hundreds of eBay sellers, and spanning several countries overseas and many states in the United States (including California)," the lawsuit said.

      The lawsuit alleges that these practices violated a California computer crime law, as well as its own user agreement.

      Ebay has filed a lawsuit against Amazon accusing the e-commerce giant of illegally poaching its third-party sellers, The Wall Street Journal reports.Th...
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      Gas prices finally begin to fall

      Midwestern states are seeing the biggest drop

      After an unusual post-summer surge over the last few weeks, gasoline prices have finally begun to back off to normal levels.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gasoline is $2.86 a gallon, down four cents from a week ago. It's still three cents higher than a month ago. The average price of premium gas is $3.42 a gallon, down three cents from last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.29 a gallon, the same a last week.

      Prices are lower due to falling demand, and the future could see even lower prices, at least in the short run. That's because U.S. oil supplies are increasing. The Energy Information Administration reports U.S. Crude stockpiles grew by 6.5 million barrels last week, hitting 416 million barrels.

      “The larger-than-expected growth in crude levels jolted the market, which had seen prices steadily rising due to concerns about U.S.-Saudi Arabia relations and upcoming U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran’s crude exports,” AAA said in a market update. “With continued worries about global crude supply and demand this fall, more growth in total crude inventories could reduce concerns and push crude prices lower in the coming weeks if the trend continues.”

      The biggest drop in prices at the pump this week occurred in the Midwest. In Ohio, the average price plunged by 15 cents a gallon. It's down by 10 cents in Indiana and is eight cents lower in Kentucky.

      The states with the most expensive regular gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • Hawaii ($3.90)
      • California ($3.81)
      • Washington ($3.54)
      • Alaska ($3.39)
      • Oregon ($3.38)
      • Idaho ($3.11)
      • Nevada ($3.29)
      • Pennsylvania ($3.05)
      • Michigan ($3.02)
      • Montana ($3.01)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      These states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas, the survey found:

      • South Carolina ($2.59)
      • Mississippi ($2.60)
      • Alabama ($2.61)
      • Louisiana ($2.63)
      • Ohio ($2.62)
      • Missouri ($2.62)
      • Arkansas ($2.63)
      • Texas ($2.63)
      • Oklahoma ($2.65)
      • Virginia ($2.65)
      After an unusual post-summer surge over the last few weeks, gasoline prices have finally begun to back off to normal levels.The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey s...
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      Model year 2017-2018 Honda Civics and CR-Vs recalled

      Power steering assist may malfunction

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 54 model year 2017-2018 Honda Civics and CR-Vs.

      The magnet that controls the torque sensor output signal for the electronic power steering system may not be properly secured, allowing the magnet to become dislodged.

      During a full lock turn, the dislodged magnet may cause steering assist to be applied in the opposite direction, reducing vehicle maneuverability and increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the steering gearbox assembly, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 5, 2018.

      Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's numbers for this recall are C2N, P2O.

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 54 model year 2017-2018 Honda Civics and CR-Vs.The magnet that controls the torque sensor output signal for the e...
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      Apple users in U.S. can now download their personal data

      The company has revamped its privacy portal to allow consumers to download data linked to their Apple ID

      Consumers in the U.S. can now download a copy of the data Apple has stored about them.

      The tech giant’s new privacy portal, which was unveiled on Wednesday, follows the May implementation of a European data-privacy law known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

      Under GDPR, consumers in Europe have the right to obtain a copy of data a company holds about them, rescind previously-given consent for a company to collect data about them, and request that data be deleted.

      In an effort to bring the same privacy tools to consumers in the U.S., Apple has now fulfilled an earlier promise to offer a service that allows users to download a copy of all the personal data the company has about them that is linked to an Apple ID.

      How to download your data

      With its new privacy portal, Apple is giving U.S. users the ability to access the information held about them, delete information, pause an Apple.com account, or even shut it down.

      Here’s how to retrieve data associated with a particular Apple ID account:

      • Go to Apple’s Privacy Portal.Sign in with your Apple ID and password and enter your two-factor authentication code if you have it enabled.

      • Request a copy of your data. Click on “Obtain a copy of your data” and select the data that you would like to download, or choose “select all” to download everything.

      • Go through the account verification steps. Apple must confirm that you are the account holder and may ask you a few additional verification questions. Once the data is compiled and ready to download (which can take up to seven days), you will get a notification and be sent a .zip file with the information.

      Consumers in the U.S. can now download a copy of the data Apple has stored about them.The tech giant’s new privacy portal, which was unveiled on Wednes...
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      New York steps up probe into net neutrality comments

      State attorney general issues subpoenas to groups both for and against the rule

      New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood is expanding her investigation into reports that many of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) net neutrality comments – both for and against – were fake.

      The investigation was begun by former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who charged last December that as many as 2 million comments sent to the FCC on the topic were not from individual consumers, but produced in mass by interest groups.

      At the time, Schneiderman said his investigators had found New York, Florida, Texas, and California had each produced more than 100,000 comments purporting to be from real Americans. Since then, the number of allegedly faked comments has skyrocketed.

      This week, Underwood's office sent out subpoenas to nearly a dozen industry and advocacy groups seeking any information they might have about the estimated 22 million letters that hit the FCC's inbox, arguing either for against net neutrality.

      The FCC voted in mid-December to roll back the net neutrality policy, put in place by the Obama administration in 2015.

      Red flags

      The New York investigation determined that many of the net neutrality comments used temporary or duplicate email addresses, an easy red flag to spot. It was also highly suspicious, investigators say, that the text of many of the messages was identical.

      Earlier this month, researchers at Stanford University analyzed all of the comments submitted to the FCC regarding net neutrality and identified 800,000 that were genuine. Of those, the researchers said more than 99 percent advocated keeping the policy in place.

      Congressional Democrats have also pushed for investigations into the large number of comments submitted to the FCC and whether any of them actually mattered. Earlier this year 24 Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asking questions about how the agency dealt with the comments.

      Partisan issue

      Perhaps no issue divides Republicans and Democrats as much as net neutrality. Democrats support the principle the principle that the internet is a "common carrier" and cannot discriminate against content by favoring one type over another through price or speed.

      Though net neutrality was only adopted as a regulation in 2015, they say the standard had been followed from the beginning, since early internet traffic traveled over telephone lines.

      Republicans generally counter that internet traffic today travels over broadband networks created by telecommunications companies that are not public utilities.

      The issue comes to a head in less than three months when California's net neutrality law is scheduled to take effect. The Trump administration is challenging it in court, arguing that it would cause “irreparable harm” to the U.S. if it were allowed to stand.

      New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood is expanding her investigation into reports that many of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) net neutra...
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      MoviePass’ parent company under investigation for fraud

      Fortunately, movie fans have options to replace their subscription with the beleaguered service

      Another week, another MoviePass on-the-ropes story?

      Yep.

      CNBC reports that an investigation into MoviePass’ owners, Helios and Matheson, reportedly deceiving investors is underway.

      The main focus of the New York Attorney General’s office is to ascertain “whether the company misled the investment community regarding the company’s financials.” The attorney general is leveraging New York’s Martin Act, a New York anti-fraud law, widely considered to be the most severe blue sky law in the country.

      The Martin Act has proved to have some mighty teeth; it has served as the basis for a number of high-profile cases, including a 2002 investigation of Merrill-Lynch for alleged conflicts of interest, the 2012 suit against Bank of New York Mellon Corp. for allegedly defrauding customers through foreign currency transactions, and CitiBank’s use of an illegal account sweeping program.

      “We are aware of the New York Attorney General’s inquiry and are fully cooperating,” a Helios and Matheson representative said in emailed statements to members of the press.

      “We believe our public disclosures have been complete, timely and truthful and we have not misled investors. We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate that to the New York Attorney General.”

      MoviePass’ never-ending story

      Waking up and seeing the Attorney General’s folks at your front door is just another day for MoviePass. The movie theater subscription service has been underwater for months, trying everything from modifying its ticketing plans to trying to 'restore' users’ accounts without permission.

      The company seems desperate to find something -- anything -- that will stop the bleeding of quarterly losses that amount to hundreds of millions. It was only a month ago that the company’s proposed one-for-500 reverse stock split sent the shares tumbling out of control to little more than a penny in value.

      MoviePass’ subscribers are jumping ship by the score, too. “UR service now officially sucks. For $9.95/mo U went from unlimited 2 3 movies per month.*NOW* I only have *1* movie that shows up N UR app each day that I can C?! #SinkingShip,” tweeted one unhappy subscriber.

      Don’t forget: movie-loving consumers have other choices

      MoviePass isn’t the only movie rodeo in town. While its subscription service continues to stumble, AMC Theatres’ subscription plan seems to be the king-in-waiting. AMC’s deal continues to pick up steam with more than 400,000 members according to Subscription Insider.

      “While we do not plan to issue A-List enrollment statistics on a weekly basis, our hitting more than 400,000 enrolled members only three months and a week after launching the program is an enormous milestone,” said AMC Theatres’ CEO and president Adam Aron.

      “Those who have been following our progress with A-List are aware that we had originally expected 500,000 enrollments at the one-year mark and 1,000,000 enrollments at the two-year mark. Above our wildest hopes, in just 14 weeks, we have achieved 80 percent of our one-year goal and 40 percent of our two-year goal. This all bodes well for the future of increased moviegoing in America.”

      Consumers have other movie plans to choose from besides AMC’s. There’s Sinemia, which offers 3 Movie Tickets for only $9.99, and Cinemark which offers a single ticket for $8.99 a month. The main draw that Cinemark’s plan offers is a “rollover” trigger for those who don’t use their ticket in a month’s time.

      Another week, another MoviePass on-the-ropes story?Yep.CNBC reports that an investigation into MoviePass’ owners, Helios and Matheson, reportedly d...
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      Feds step up efforts to fight medical device cyber-risks

      Agencies say vulnerabilities in devices can threaten hospital networks

      Hackers not only target healthcare computer networks, they increasingly try to hack into sophisticated medical devices. Just as smart refrigerators and thermostats are often overlooked as cybersecurity vulnerabilities, medical devices don't always get the security attention they need.

      This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to work more closely together to enhance medical device security.

      FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says a growing number of medical devices actually connect to hospital networks, providing a backdoor for hackers if the devices aren't secure.

      "The FDA has been proactive in developing a robust program to address medical device cybersecurity concerns," Gottlieb said. "But we also know that securing medical devices from cybersecurity threats cannot be achieved by one government agency alone.”

      Sharing information on threats

      Gottlieb says that's the reason the two very different agencies, with very different roles, are joining forces. Under the partnership, the two agencies will share information and collaborate on security measures.

      “This agreement demonstrates our commitment to confronting cybersecurity risks and the unscrupulous cybercriminals who may seek to put patient lives at risk," he said.

      Hackers sometimes target hospital and medical office computer networks in order to steal sensitive information about patients. In recent years, however, they've also launched ransomware attacks on these networks, locking up files until the hospital or medical practice pays a ransom in Bitcoin.

      Partnership to protect the public

      Christopher Krebs, Undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS, sees the partnership with the FDA as part of its role in protecting the public.

      "DHS has some of the top experts on control systems technology, and we look forward to continuing to leverage this expertise for the sake of improving the lives and safety of people across the country,” Krebs said.

      This isn't the first time that DHS and FDA have worked together. The two agencies have worked to discover and report vulnerabilities in medical devices. The disclosures are passed along to device manufacturers who can then modify their products to reduce or neutralize the threats.

      Hackers not only target healthcare computer networks, they increasingly try to hack into sophisticated medical devices. Just as smart refrigerators and the...
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      GM recalls model year 2018-2019 Cadillacs Chevys and GMC Yukons

      It may not be possible to secure a child seat properly

      General Motors is recalling 15,800 model year 2018-2019 Cadillac CT6s, Escalade ESVs, Chevrolet Suburbans, Volts, and GMC Yukon XLs.

      Certain second-row or third-row rear seatbelt retractor assemblies may not automatically lock when the seatbelt is fully pulled out of the retractor, possibly preventing a child seat from being properly secured.

      If the child seat is not properly secured in the event of a crash, the child may face an increased risk of injury.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the rear seatbelt retractors and replace them if necessary, free of charge.

      The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Cadillac customer service at 1-800-458-8006, Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020 or GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782. GM's number for this recall is 18315.

      General Motors is recalling 15,800 model year 2018-2019 Cadillac CT6s, Escalade ESVs, Chevrolet Suburbans, Volts, and GMC Yukon XLs.Certain second-row...
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      Spiraledge recalls yoga backless chairs

      The chairs can break at the seat or back welded support rod

      Spiraledge of Campbell, Calif., is recalling about 12,500 Everyday Yoga Backless Yoga Chairs and Everyday Yoga Tall Backless Yoga Chairs sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      The chairs can break at the seat or back welded support rod connecting the back legs of the chair, posing a fall hazard.

      The firm has received three reports of the chairs breaking, including one minor injury reported.

      This recall involves the Everyday Yoga Backless Yoga Chairs and Everyday Yoga Tall Backless Yoga Chairs.

      Both are metal folding chairs primarily used for restorative yoga, with a welded support rod on the rear legs (none in the front) and no back support.

      The Tall Backless Yoga Chair, item number 8162640, is about 44 inches high and 19 inches wide. The Backless Yoga Chair, item number 8132666, is about 37 inches high and 18 inches wide.

      The chairs were sold in the following colors: aqua, black, white, plum, and peacock.

      The chairs were also sold under the brand name Sporti Studio and have the brand’s sticker on the back of the seat.

      Items Number

      Product Name

      8132666-001

      Everyday Yoga Backless Yoga Chair - Aqua

      8132666-002

      Everyday Yoga Backless Yoga Chair – Black

      8132666-003

      Everyday Yoga Backless Yoga Chair – White

      8132666-004

      Everyday Yoga Backless Yoga Chair – Plum

      8132666-005

      Everyday Yoga Backless Yoga Chair - Peacock

      8162640-001

      Everyday Yoga Tall Backless Yoga Chair - Black

      8162640-002

      Everyday Yoga Tall Backless Yoga Chair – Plum

      8162640-003

      Everyday Yoga Tall Backless Yoga Chair – White

      The yoga chairs, manufactured in China, were sold online at www.YogaOutlet.com and www.SwimOutlet.com from August 2015, through July 2018, for about $30 for the Backless Yoga Chair and $40 for the Tall Backless Yoga Chair.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled yoga chairs and contact Spiraledge to receive a full refund of the purchase price in the form of a store gift card. Spiraledge is contacting purchasers of the yoga chairs directly.

      Consumers may contact Spiraledge at (800) 299-8705 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.swimoutlet.com or www.yogaoutlet.com and click on the Product Recall link at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Spiraledge of Campbell, Calif., is recalling about 12,500 Everyday Yoga Backless Yoga Chairs and Everyday Yoga Tall Backless Yoga Chairs sold in the U.S. a...
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      Neglect issues found to be more common among residents at for-profit nursing homes

      A study shows neglect can take many forms

      With nearly 1.5 million Americans residing in nursing homes, residents receiving the proper care should be the primary concern.

      However, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago compared the experiences of residents at for-profit nursing homes compared with those in not-for-profit nursing homes, and according to lead researcher Lee Friedman, the differences were significant.

      The researchers found that those in for-profit nursing homes were twice as likely to experience clinical signs of neglect compared with those in not-for-profit residencies. As nearly 70 percent of nursing homes operate as for-profit businesses, this study proves to be wide-reaching.

      “We saw more -- and more serious -- diagnoses among residents of for-profit facilities that were consistent with severe clinical signs of neglect, including severe dehydration in clients with feeding tubes which should have been managed, clients with stage three and four bed sores, broken catheters and feeding tubes, and clients whose medication for chronic conditions was not being managed properly,” said Friedman.

      A call for better care

      When looking at the ways many residents’ needs aren’t tended to at some for-profit nursing homes, Friedman and his team worked to develop a scale that they could use to put numbers to the various conditions associated with clinical neglect. Using the Clinical Signs of Neglect Scale (CSNS), the researchers were able to quantify over two dozen conditions that range in severity.

      With the scale in place, the researchers evaluated the medical records of over 1,100 patients who had visited one of five major Chicago hospitals between 2007 and 2011. All patients were aged 60 and older and were treated for issues associated with neglectful care.

      The biggest discrepancy between the patients was where they had received the poor quality of care. Friedman and his colleagues found that those in for-profit facilities were more likely to have severe medical issues because of neglect when compared to those in not-for-profit residencies or those living in private homes or with family members.

      Friedman believes this is because of the dynamic between employees in many for-profit institutions. He noted that the residents end up suffering because of the way the money is distributed at many of these institutions -- the higher ups get bigger paychecks, while the staff that cares for the residents are often underpaid. According to Friedman, this can lead to “low morale” among staff members, though the biggest burden ends up on the residents.

      To help correct these issues, Friedman is calling for better care at these facilities, starting with more accountability and higher-quality training.

      “More oversight of these facilities, both for-profit and not-for-profit, needs to occur together with improved screening and reporting of suspected cases of neglect by all parties,” said Friedman. “There needs to be better staffing and training for enforcing these measures.”

      With nearly 1.5 million Americans residing in nursing homes, residents receiving the proper care should be the primary concern.However, a new study con...
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      Housing starts drop in September

      Homebuilders aren't increasing the supply of available homes

      Would-be homebuyers hoping for an increase in housing inventory found little to cheer in the latest Commerce Department report on housing starts.

      The number of new homes that began construction last month fell 5.3 percent from an already low number in September 2017. Housing starts were down 4.1 percent in August.

      The lack of new construction matters to people hoping to buy a home. With fewer current homeowners putting out “for sale” signs, new construction is needed to make up the difference. Instead, the lack of new homes on the market has dragged down inventory levels for the last few years.

      Two results

      This lack of inventory has produced two results. It has increased the price of existing inventory and it has caused some homebuyers to keep renting.

      When the National Association of Realtors reported last month that pending home sales had declined once again, NAR's chief economist Lawrence Yun said the lack of new construction was partly to blame.

      “The greatest decline occurred in the West region where prices have shot up significantly, which clearly indicates that affordability is hindering buyers and those affordability issues come from lack of inventory, particularly in moderate price points,” Yun said at the time.

      Fewer moderately priced new homes

      In fact, new homes that are being built aren't exactly in the moderate price point category. The median price of new homes has been above $300,000 throughout 2018. Homebuilders have produced more expensive homes because they say tight labor and higher material costs make moderately priced homes less profitable.

      With fewer moderately priced homes to choose from, overall home sales have begun to fall. Real estate broker RE/MAX reports there were fewer closings through September, along with an 11.6 percent drop in year-over-year sales.

      But despite that, homes that sold went for a median price of $241,000 – the 30th straight month year-over-year prices have risen.

      "The big drop in September closings catches your attention,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “The market is clearly rebalancing as buyers and sellers continue to process the increasing interest rate environment and what that means to them.".

      But in a hopeful sign for long-term market stability, Cantos said the decline in inventory slowed, a trend he says “signals the ongoing shift toward market equilibrium, and that's healthy in the long-term."

      Would-be homebuyers hoping for an increase in housing inventory found little to cheer in the latest Commerce Department report on housing starts.The nu...
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      Volkswagen recalls model year 2019 Jettas

      The passenger side headlight may be incorrectly positioned

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 28 model year2019 Volkswagen Jettas equipped with LED headlights.

      The passenger side headlight may be incorrectly positioned, reducing the driver's visibility when it is dark.

      A reduction in the driver's visibility can increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger side headlight, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 25, 2018.

      Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 94L1.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 28 model year2019 Volkswagen Jettas equipped with LED headlights.The passenger side headlight may be incorrect...
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      Bazzini LLC recalls Pistachio nuts

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella

      Bazzini LLC of Allentown, Pa., is recalling 4,000 pounds of Roasted and Salted Colossal Natural, Super Colossal Natural and Rams Head Natural In Shell Pistachios.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following products are being recalled:

      Bazzini’s Roasted & Salted In-Shell Pistachios Super Colossal Natural 5 Lbs Bag

      • UPC #0 75062 30701 5

      • Date Code 1J255 Best By 6/12/2019
      • Date Code 1J254 Best By 6/11/2019
      • Date Code 2J269 Best By 6/26/2019
      • Date Code 1J242 Best By 5/30/2019
      • Date Code 1J275 Best By 7/2/2019
      • Date Code 1J255 Best By 6/12/2019
      • Date Code 1J254 Best By 6/11/2019
      • Date Code 2J269 Best By 6/26/2019

      Bazzini’s Roasted & Salted In-Shell Pistachios Colossal Natural. 5 Pound Bag

      • UPC #0 75062 30711 4

      • Date Code 2J241 Best By 5/29/2019
      • Date Code 1J254 Best By 6/11/2019
      • Date Code 2J274 Best By 7/1/2019
      • Date Code 2J249 Best By 6/6/2019
      • Date Code 1J250 Best By 6/7/2019
      • Date Code 1J275 Best By 7/2/2019

      Bazzini’s Roasted & Salted In-Shell Pistachios Super Colossal Pistachios 25 Lb Bulk Box

      • UPC #0 75062 30700 8

      • Date Code 1J268 Best By 6/25/2019
      • Date Code 1J249 Best By 6/6/2019

      Bazzini’s Roasted & Salted In-Shell Pistachios Rams Head Natural 16 Oz Bag

      • UPC #0 75062 00536 2

      • Date Code 1J263 Best By 6/20/2019
      • Date Code 1J254 Best By 6/11/2019
      • Date Code 1J255 Best By 6/12/2019
      • Date Code 2J269 Best by 6/26/2019
      • Date Code 1J242 Best By 5/30/2019
      • Date Code 1J249 Best By 6/6/2019
      • Date Code 1J257 Best By 6/14/2019
      • Date Code 2J249 Best By 6/6/2019
      • Date Code 2J262 Best By 6/19/2019
      • Date Code 2J264 Best By 6/21/2019
      • Date Code 2J243 Best By 5/31/2019
      • Date Code 2J263 Best By 6/20/2019
      • Date Code 2J270 Best By 6/27/2019
      • Date Code 1J275 Best By 7/2/2019

      Bazzini’s Roasted & Salted In-Shell Pistachios Colossal Natural 16 Oz Bag

      • UPC #0 75062 00535 5

      • Date Code 1J242 Best By 5/30/2019
      • Date Code 1J270 Best By 6/27/2019
      • Date Code 2J270 Best By 6/27/2019
      • Date Code 2J256 Best By 6/13/2019
      • Date Code 2J254 Best By 6/11/2019
      • Date Code 2J261 Best By 6/18/2019
      • Date Code 2J268 Best By 6/25/2019
      • Date Code 1J268 Best By 6/25/2019
      • Date Code 1J255 Best By 6/12/2019
      • Date Code 1J275 Best By 7/2/2019

      The recalled products, which come in red, white and blue bags, were distributed through retail sale, direct delivery, and mail order in New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts, Washington DC and Virginia.

      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 (800) 477-3234 from 9AM – 5PM or by email at www.recall@bazzini.com

      Bazzini LLC of Allentown, Pa., is recalling 4,000 pounds of Roasted and Salted Colossal Natural, Super Colossal Natural and Rams Head Natural In Shell Pist...
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      Honda recalls model year 2019 Insights, Odysseys and Ridgelines

      The airbags or seatbelt pretensioners may not deploy properly

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 118 model year 2019 Honda Insights, Odysseys and Ridgelines.

      The Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) control unit may have a manufacturing error, possibly resulting in the airbags or seatbelt pretensioners not deploying in the event of a crash.

      If the airbags or seatbelt pretensioners do not function as intended, there would be an increased risk of injury.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the SRS unit, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 5, 2018.

      Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's numbers for this recall are B2R, C2P, and Z2Q.

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 118 model year 2019 Honda Insights, Odysseys and Ridgelines.The Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) control unit...
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      Facebook provides new details about latest security breach

      Social media giant says fewer users were impacted than first reported

      Facebook now says 30 million users -- not the 50 million, as originally reported -- had their login tokens compromised in a breach discovered last month.

      The tokens for those 50 million users, plus an additional 40 million, were reset as a precaution.

      In a security update, Facebook said its investigation found that unknown hackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s code that existed between July 2017 and September 2018. The flaw that allowed the attackers to get in involved Facebook's "View As" feature, which allows users to see what their profile looks like to other members.

      The interaction of three different software bugs allowed the hackers to steal access tokens, in effect allowing them to access the corresponding accounts. The tokens work like digital keys that keep users logged in to Facebook so they don't have to repeatedly enter their username and passwords.

      Spike in activity

      In the security update, Facebook reported that the attack was revealed when engineers saw an unusual spike in activity that started on September 14.

      "On September 25, we determined this was actually an attack and identified the vulnerability," the company said. "Within two days, we closed the vulnerability, stopped the attack, and secured people’s accounts by resetting the access tokens for people who were potentially exposed."

      As a precaution, Facebook turned off “View As” and said it is working with the FBI to determine the parties that might be responsible for the attack.

      While fewer Facebook users were affected than first reported, Facebook has revealed the extent of compromised information was greater for some than for others.

      Exposed data

      Attackers accessed two sets of information on about 15 million users. It included name and contact details such as email and phone number.

      For another 14 million users, the attackers accessed additional information that was included in their profiles, such as username, gender, locale/language, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, device types used to access Facebook, education, work, the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in.

      For 1 million users, Facebook has determined that the attackers did not access any information. Facebook users concerned about this breach can determine whether they were affected by visiting the Facebook help center.

      Facebook's update follows criticism from Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC), which enforces privacy regulations for the European Union (EU). At the time, the agency complained that Facebook's initial disclosure of the breach was light on details.

      Facebook now says 30 million users -- not the 50 million, as originally reported -- had their login tokens compromised in a breach discovered last month....
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      Stanford researchers say vast majority of FCC comments favored net neutrality

      A report finds that 99.7 percent of unique comments supported the standard

      A new report from Stanford University has found that, after weeding out millions of fake comments, 99.7 percent of unique comments filed on the FCC’s website ahead of the agency’s vote against it in December 2017 were in favor of keeping net neutrality protections.

      Some of the fake comments left amongst the 22 million public comments filed in total were made through “sophisticated campaigns that filed fake comments using the names of real people -- including journalists, Senators, and dead people,” Ryan Singel, a Media and Strategy Fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, wrote in a blog post Monday.

      “With the fog of fraud and spam lifted from the comment corpus, lawmakers and their staff, journalists, interested citizens and policymakers can use these reports to better understand what Americans actually said about the repeal of net neutrality protections and why 800,000 Americans went further than just signing a petition for a redress of grievances by actually putting their concerns in their own words,” Singel said.

      Phony comments

      The report noted that not all non-unique comments filed via organized campaigns were fake, since many commenters used form letters to voice their support for net neutrality. However, Singel and his colleagues said, “due to the large amount of noise created by fake comments, it remains very difficult to locate the real signals in the non-unique comments.”

      For the analysis, the researchers used machine learning models to identify more than 800,000 unique comments filed from April 2017 to October 27. A closer look at these comments showed that these commenters were overwhelmingly against rolling back net neutrality protections.

      The report authors found that 99.7 percent of the sampled comments supported keeping the protections of the 2015 Open Internet Order.

      In terms of political leanings, the report found that “while there were more comments on average from House districts represented by Democrats, a substantial number of unique comments were filed in Republican districts.” The average number of comments in all districts was 1,489, with an average of 1,202 in Republican-held districts

      The report authors also found that unique commenters had a clear understanding of the issue in question, contrary to assertions from lawmakers. Many commenters referenced the issue of whether the FCC classifies broadband providers under Title I or Title II of the Communications Act.

      The report follows an admission from the FCC that it lied about a DDoS attack that temporarily took down its comment section in the lead-up to the historic decision, which prevented some consumers from expressing their support of net neutrality regulations.

      A judge recently ruled that the FCC must publicly release records related to the fake comments.

      A new report from Stanford University has found that, after weeding out millions of fake comments, 99.7 percent of unique comments filed on the FCC’s websi...
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      Audi to pay $926 million for its role in emissions cheating scandal

      The automaker has agreed to settle a probe that took place in Germany

      Volkswagen’s subsidiary Audi has been hit with a fine of nearly $930 million over its role in the diesel emissions cheating scandal that first began unfolding three years ago.

      In a statement on Tuesday, the automaker said it accepted the fine and does not plan to appeal.

      “Audi AG has accepted the fine” imposed by German prosecutors for “deviations from regulatory requirements in certain V6 and V8 diesel aggregates (motors) and diesel vehicles,” the company said in a statement.

      Audi said, "the fine will directly affect Volkswagen AG's financial earnings and, as a negative special item, reduce the group earnings for fiscal year 2018 accordingly."

      Billions in fines

      The diesel emissions scandal first broke in 2015, when VW admitted that it had installed “defeat devices” in 11 million diesel-powered cars worldwide. The software enabled the cars to pass emissions tests even though they emitted up to 40 times the legal amount of pollution the rest of the time.

      The fine levied against Audi is just the latest consequence of the scandal. Volkswagen has already shelled out billions of dollars in fines for its participation in the scandal, and in June, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was arrested for his connection with the scandal.

      Prosecutors said the latest probe concerned V6 and V8 diesel engines manufactured by Audi and installed in Audi, Volkswagen, and Porsche brands, as well as Audi vehicles equipped with EA 189 and EA 288 engines made by Volkswagen.

      By agreeing to pay the latest fine, Audi is helping to bring its parent company Volkswagen “one step closer to putting its ongoing diesel emissions scandal behind it,” CNBC said.

      Volkswagen’s subsidiary Audi has been hit with a fine of nearly $930 million over its role in the diesel emissions cheating scandal that first began unfold...
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      Social media posts could be used to diagnose depression in advance

      Posts made on platforms like Facebook can serve as warning signs

      Social media has evolved tremendously over the years, and its capabilities are ever-growing and changing. While still a way for people to keep in touch and connect with their friends, social media has also grown to do much more than that.

      A new study, conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Stony Brook University and recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, explores a new algorithm that can predict a depression diagnosis based off of language used in people’s Facebook posts.

      “There’s a perception that using social media is not good for one’s mental health, but it may turn out to be an important tool for diagnosing, monitoring, and eventually treating it,” said lead researcher H. Andrew Schwartz. “Here, we’ve shown that it can be used with clinical records, a step toward improving mental health with social media.”

      Words matter

      The University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center and Stony Brook University’s Human Language Analysis Lab have been working on the World Well-Being Project since 2012. The initiative strives to make breakthroughs in psychological wellness based on language used on social media.

      The researchers involved in this study wanted to take the World Well-Being Project to the next level and see if social media could be an effective tool in diagnosing depression. Over 1,000 people joined the study -- 114 of whom had depression diagnoses in their medical records -- and gave the researchers full access to their Facebook statuses and medical records.

      To compare the participants with depression to a control group, the researchers used five participants without depression for every one participant with depression for a total of 683 study participants. The researchers then used the participants’ Facebook statuses -- which totaled over 500,000 posts -- to determine the words and phrases that they deemed “depression-associated language markers.”

      In putting the algorithm to the test, the researchers found that it was successful in predicting depression up to three months before a formal diagnosis, based entirely off of language used in Facebook posts.

      The authors concluded that the users most likely to develop depression were found to use language expressing loneliness, anger, sadness, and self-reflection in their Facebook statuses.

      “The hope is that one day, these screening systems can be integrated into systems of care,” said researcher Johannes Eichstaedt. “This tool raises yellow flags; eventually the hope is that you could directly funnel people it identifies into scalable treatment modalities.”

      Social media has evolved tremendously over the years, and its capabilities are ever-growing and changing. While still a way for people to keep in touch and...
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      GM recalls 2016-2018 Chevrolet Express and GMC Sierra vehicles

      Components within the rear climate control module may overheat

      General Motors is recalling 3,028 model year 2016-2018 Chevrolet Express and GMC Sierra vehicles equipped with a single, manual, rear climate control module (CCM).

      If the temperature is set to maximum heat or the mode knob is set to maximum floor vent and an electrical short occurs, components within the CCM may overheat.

      This could increase the risk of a fire in the vehicle's headliner.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will remove the electrical insulation from a wiring connector within the CCM to remove the fire risk, free of charge.

      The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020 or GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782. GM's number for this recall is 18299.

      General Motors is recalling 3,028 model year 2016-2018 Chevrolet Express and GMC Sierra vehicles equipped with a single, manual, rear climate control modul...
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      Suzuki recalls model year 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitaras

      The vehicle could suffer a sudden loss of power steering assist

      Suzuki Motor of America is recalling 1,107 model year 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitaras.

      The power steering pump belt tension adjuster pulley has an outer portion that is made of plastic. Repeated heat stress can cause the plastic material to deteriorate, causing pieces of the pulley to break off.

      Broken pieces of the pulley can get caught between the pulley and the drive belt, causing the drive belt to come off, resulting in a sudden loss of power steering assist, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Suzuki will notify owners, and dealers will replace the power steering pump drive belt tension adjuster pulley, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin October 26, 2018.

      Owners may contact Suzuki customer service at 1-800-934-0934. Suzuki's number for this recall is 4009.

      Suzuki Motor of America is recalling 1,107 model year 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitaras.The power steering pump belt tension adjuster pulley has an outer porti...
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      Apple to donate Apple Watches to eating disorder study

      A new study will use data from Apple Watches to help predict binge eating incidents

      Apple is donating its Apple Watches to 1,000 participants of a new study called BEGIN, which stands for Binge Eating Genetics Initiative.

      The study, which will be conducted by the the University of North Carolina's medical school, aims to shed light on the underlying biological changes that cause a person to suffer from a binge eating disorder.

      A person may be diagnosed with a binge-eating disorder, such as bulimia nervosa, if they slip into a pattern of binge eating and then purge or exercise to excess in an effort to compensate for the amount of calories they were unable to stop themselves from consuming.

      Monitoring biological changes

      The study will enroll 1,000 participants over the age of 18 who are stuck in this cycle of eating large amounts of food in a short period of time followed by a compensatory behavior.

      Each participant will be given a free Apple Watch. They will also be instructed to sign up with a mobile app called Recovery Record, which will let them keep a digital log of their thoughts and feelings.

      The data logged by the Apple Watch will allow researchers to see each participant’s heart rate, with the goal of spotting any sudden increases prior to binge eating episodes. Participants will also receive tests to analyze their genetics and bodily bacteria, which will be used by researchers to gain further insight into the causes of the disease.

      "We need to collect data from a whole lot of people to see what it looks like," said Cynthia Bulik, founding director of the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and author of Binge Control: A Compact Recovery Guide. "We want to know if it has a biological and behavioral signature."

      Predicting binge eating incidents

      The researchers say the ultimate goal of the study is to observe a particular change that would enable them to predict binge eating episodes before they happen. With this information, a follow-up study could be designed to help set up some kind of alert when a person is at risk of binge eating.

      "We're interested to find out what happens in the time period leading up to the binge and the purge," said Jenna Tregarthen, CEO of Recovery Record. "And we hope we can anticipate and ultimately change the course of that episode."

      At least 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. About 1 in 50 western women between 15 and 24 years old suffers from bulimia.

      Apple is donating its Apple Watches to 1,000 participants of a new study called BEGIN, which stands for Binge Eating Genetics Initiative.The study, whi...
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      Walmart agrees to pay $65 million for cashier class action

      The retailer will settle over its failure to provide seats for its California cashiers

      The end of a long-running class action lawsuit involving the lack of seating for Walmart cashiers could be near now that Walmart has agreed to pay $65 million as part of a proposed settlement.

      The suit, originally filed by former Walmart employee Nisha Brown in 2009, alleges that the retailer has been in violation of a 2001 California wage order that determines employees must be given “suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits.”

      If approved, about 100,000 current and former California Walmart cashiers are eligible to receive a portion of the payout, depending on how long they were employed, The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.

      Walmart’s counterargument

      Walmart doesn’t agree that it’s in the wrong regarding the matter. The retailer has maintained that the nature of work as a cashier doesn’t permit cashiers to sit down.

      The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company has argued that cashiers need to move around to greet customers, stock shelves, and bag items. Among other reasons, the company says cashiers are less efficient when they sit down, customers prefer standing cashiers, and providing seating to cashiers would lead to a loss of revenue, according to the LA Times.

      As part of the settlement, Walmart will commit to beginning a pilot program that would provide stools to cashiers “who express a desire to use them.” The retail giant would also promise not to discriminate or retaliate against workers who choose to sit down.

      “Both sides are pleased to have reached a proposed resolution,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in a statement, noting that a judge still has to approve the settlement amount.

      If approved, any California cashier employed by Walmart between June 11, 2008 and the date the settlement is approved would be eligible to claim part of the settlement money.

      The end of a long-running class action lawsuit involving the lack of seating for Walmart cashiers could be near now that Walmart has agreed to pay $65 mill...
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      Consumers appear less eager to buy homes

      Rising prices and mortgage rates are taking a toll

      If you're putting your home on the market, you may need to adjust your strategy for a quick sale near your asking price.

      A new report from real estate brokerage Redfin documents a slowdown from the spring's red-hot real estate market, especially in cities with homes valued above the median price. The report says buyers are not rushing in to make offers the way they did a few months ago.

      For example, Seattle and San Jose, California -- two of the hottest markets in the nation -- have seen the biggest decline in homes selling within two weeks. Both are down by more than 35 percentage points since spring and over 20 percentage points from a year earlier.

      "Sellers in these markets are learning that they need to adjust their strategy," said Redfin's chief economist Daryl Fairweather. "They aren't seeing the same level of interest from buyers that there was a year ago. As a result, sellers are having to wait longer for offers, and more sellers are dropping their list price to attract buyers."

      Prices and mortgage rates

      Buyers are being squeezed by more expensive home prices and rising interest rates. In early October, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage topped 5 percent. As a result, many are putting off their homebuying plans.

      For first-time buyers, that means remaining renters for a while longer. For current homeowners, that means staying put.

      A study by real estate marketplace Zillow shows that many homeowners are content with their current homes and are planning to make renovations instead of move. The report found 76 percent of Americans would rather spend money to upgrade their home to meet their needs instead of using it as a down payment on a new home.

      Demographically, baby boomers are now the least likely to go home-shopping. Among consumers who are 55 or older, 87 percent would rather update and renovate their current home than move. The numbers are even higher for boomers who are retired.

      The Zillow researchers say rising mortgage rates are a factor. Many older homeowners have owned their homes for years and have a low mortgage rate and manageable house payment. They aren't eager to trade that in for a higher payment.

      Exercise in frustration

      "Even in a seller's market, simultaneously buying and selling is an exercise in frustration," said Skylar Olsen, Zillow's director of economic research and outreach. "Add to that the emotional history between you and your home, and it's no wonder low inventory has been in a self-fulfilling cycle."

      Olsen says some homeowners may also be holding onto their present homes because they don't see anything else they like. And by not putting their homes on the market, they're contributing to the current low inventory of homes for sale.

      If you're putting your home on the market, you may need to adjust your strategy for a quick sale near your asking price.A new report from real estate b...
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      BMW recalls model year 2018-2019 vehicles with electrical issue

      Capacitors within the TurboCord Portable Chargers may fail

      BMW of North America is recalling 3,501 model year 2018 BMW 330e iPerformance, i3 Rex, i3 Sport Rex, X5 xDrive40e, i3 BEV, i3 Sport BEV and MINI Cooper Countryman SE All4 PHEV vehicles, model year 2019 i8 and i8 Roadster vehicles and model year 2018-2019 530e iPerformance, 530e xDrive iPerformance and 740Le xDrive iPerformance vehicles.

      Capacitors within the TurboCord Portable Chargers may fail, possibly resulting in a shock hazard or a fire and increasing the risk of injury or death.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the charging cable, and replace it if necessary, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 12, 2018.

      Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417 or Mini customer service at 1-866-825-1525.

      BMW of North America is recalling 3,501 model year 2018 BMW 330e iPerformance, i3 Rex, i3 Sport Rex, X5 xDrive40e, i3 BEV, i3 Sport BEV and MINI Cooper Cou...
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      Kemps recalls Sweet Me Creamery Brookie Dough ice cream

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

      Kemps of St. Paul, Minn., is recalling individual pints and pint four-packs of Sweet Me Creamery Brookie Dough ice cream.

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

      The recall was prompted by consumer reports of an allergic reaction after consuming the product.

      The recalled product, with best by dates of 12/4/2019, 12/5/2019, 12/13/2019, 2/15/2020, and 2/16/2020, which can be found on the bottom of the pint containers, was initially distributed by Kemps to retailers and retailer distribution centers in Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

      It may have been further distributed by retail customers to additional states and sold through a wholesaler, retail grocery store or convenience store.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product may return it to the store where purchased for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the firms consumer relations line at (800) 726-6455 Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (CST).

      Kemps of St. Paul, Minn., is recalling individual pints and pint four-packs of Sweet Me Creamery Brookie Dough ice cream.The product may contain peanut...
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      Canyon recalls mountain bikes

      The chainstays can crack, which can lead to rear wheel detachment

      Canyon USA of Carlsbad, Calif., is recalling about 820 mountain bikes.

      The chainstays can crack, which can lead to failure of the chainstay, rear wheel detachment and loss of control, posing a crash hazard.

      The firm is aware of 20 chainstays cracking which could lead to failures. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves model year 2018 Canyon Spectral full-suspension mountain bikes with aluminum chainstays that run from the bottom bracket to the axle of the rear wheel.

      They were sold in black/red, black/blue, gray/orange, red, and black. Canyon is printed on the downtube. Spectral is printed on the top tube.

      The recalled women and men’s mountain bikes have the following models numbers: M71 Spectral CF 9.0 PRO, M71 Spectral CF 8.0, M53 Spectral AL 6.0, M74 Spectral WMN CF 7.0, M50 Spectral WMN 6.0.

      The model number is printed in the purchase documents.

      The mountain bikes, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively online at Canyon’s website, www.canyon.com, from December 2017, through June 2018, for between $2,400 and $4,500.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled mountain bikes and contact Canyon to receive free replacement and installation of chainstays. Canyon is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Canyon toll-free at (833) 226-9661 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday, by email at us@canyon.com or online at www.canyon.com and click on “Service & Support” for more information.

      Canyon USA of Carlsbad, Calif., is recalling about 820 mountain bikes.The chainstays can crack, which can lead to failure of the chainstay, rear wheel...
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      Toyota recalls Tundras, Sequoias, Avalons and Avalon Hybrids

      The airbags may not deploy as intended in a crash

      Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 168,187 model year 2018-2019 Toyota Tundras and Sequoias, and model year 2019 Toyota Avalons and Avalon Hybrids.

      The airbag electronic control unit (ECU) may erroneously detect a fault during the vehicle start-up self check. If this occurs, the ECU may not deploy the airbags as intended, in the event of a crash.

      Failure of the air bags to can increase the risk of injury in a crash.

      What to do

      Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will update the software for the air bag ECU, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin October 22, 2018.

      Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-888-270-9371. Toyota's number for this recall is J0X.

      Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 168,187 model year 2018-2019 Toyota Tundras and Sequoias, and model year 2019 Toyota Avalons and Aval...
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      The Weekly Hack: Car thieves hacked a keyless Ford Mustang and stole it from someone’s driveway

      Keyless car thefts are all the rage in the United Kingdom

      A London woman is “distraught and heartbroken” after car thieves broke into her Ford Mustang parked in her own driveway and drove off with it. And no, she didn’t make the classic mistake of leaving her door unlocked with the car keys inside.

      The car thieves, according to the BBC, were captured on surveillance footage waving a device in front of her car that can mimic key fobs and “trick” the vehicle into unlocking. They successfully got the door to open, and then, thanks to the Mustang’s keyless ignition, sped away in the middle of the night.

      They apparently can thank Ford’s “intelligent access system,” as the company calls it. The feature allows consumers to “unlock, lock and start your vehicle without having to reach for your keys.”

      It’s another sign that perhaps reaching for one’s own keys is worth the physical challenge. In March, police warned that the Ford Fiesta, apparently Britain’s most popular car, had been targeted in a string of thefts via the same keyless entry device.

      The car thefts targeting consumers across the United Kingdom come several years after researchers at the University of Birmingham warned that this was bound to happen.

      Goodbye Google+

      Google's attempt to build a social media platform to rival Facebook has predictably ended with the revelation that it also exposed users’ vulnerable personal data to third parties.

      A Wall Street Journal investigation this week revealed that a bug in Google+ gave third party app developers the ability to access the personal data of people who had never even used or granted permission to the apps.

      Google engineers became aware of the bug but opted not to disclose it to the public to avoid bad publicity in the wake of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica fall-out, the WSJ said.

      Shorty after the newspaper report went live, Google announced that it would shutter Google+ for good. At the same time, Google executives claimed that “we found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug” or had abused it.

      Payment platform

      Hackers used stolen Apple IDs to break into one of China’s most popular payment platforms and steal customers’ money. Alipay announced that it has contacted Apple and is telling users to change their passwords.

      Digital wallets on smartphones are increasingly promoted as a new way to pay for everything from a movie download to a Subway sandwich. For people with iPhones, Apple ID is required to purchase anything from the iTunes store.

      A London woman is “distraught and heartbroken” after car thieves broke into her Ford Mustang parked in her own driveway and drove off with it. And no, she...
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      Airline passengers speak up about what they want

      New survey results put simple, efficient, and seamless at the top of passengers’ wish list

      The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released the results from its latest Global Passenger Survey (GPS), and all arrows point to maximizing the ever-changing digital world of the consumer.

      After combing through the 10,000+ responses, the overriding takeaway from the survey was airline customers wanting a “seamless journey” -- and they’d like most of that seamlessness in digital form.

      The flier’s message to the airlines is clear. As one of the survey respondents said, “Let us travel simple and efficient, conscious and paperless.” “Fast, intuitive and self-serviced airports experience is what we want,” said another.

      “Air travel is expected to double by 2036, the industry will not be able to handle the growth or evolving customer expectations with the current processes, installations and ways of doing business,” commented Nick Careen, IATA's Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

      What passengers want from booking to landing

      “The GPS tells us that passengers want a seamless and secure travel experience from booking to arrival. It’s a tall order because airlines have to coordinate with a mix of governments, regulators, airports, and technology companies to get it done,” Careen added.

      Fliers aren’t shy about voicing their concern over the chaos of the boarding process, either. More than 40 percent said that availability of overhead space for carry-on bags would definitely improve the boarding experience.

      Seating has become a thorny issue -- something not lost on the U.S. Congress, which told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in no uncertain terms to set minimum standards for width of seats and legroom.

      But once passengers get buckled in, they want to be able to craft their travel experience from their seat. Common features such as the ability to make changes to their flight, get updates on gate info, choose entertainment and food options, make sure their baggage is going to the same place they are, and complete e-declarations for border processing (if required) are high on travelers’ wish lists.

      And when they’ve landed, they would like personalized destination services, including:

      • Baggage pick up location and delivery time notifications

      • Pre-vetted at security checks based on travel patterns and profile information supplied by entities at the departing airport

      • Notifications will be sent to the passengers to facilitate transportation, accommodation or other services (e.g. the taxi is waiting at designated curb location)

      Interestingly, the IATA survey results regarding seatback vs. personal device entertainment streaming runs counter to what some airlines, like American, have put into play.

      The demographic split

      Results change a bit where demographic preferences are concerned. Millennials want as much information as possible delivered digitally, whereas older ones prefer printed versions. That demographic also wants things done lickety-split: less than 30 seconds to drop off baggage at departure and less than 5 minutes to wait for baggage at arrival.

      Females surveyed showed preferences for making carry-on baggage their own concern, being able to book a hotel together with the purchase of their flight ticket, and for a paper passport over biometric identification.

      The IATA represents 290 airlines which amounts to 82% of total air traffic.

      The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released the results from its latest Global Passenger Survey (GPS), and all arrows point to maximizi...
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      PayPal to let customers withdraw cash at Walmart

      Walmart customers can soon take out cash from their PayPal account in-store

      PayPal has announced that it’s teaming up with Walmart to allow customers to withdraw cash from their PayPal account at any Walmart store across the country.

      The new service will let the companies’ shared customers take out or deposit cash to their PayPal account at Walmart’s service desks, ATMs, or cash registers. Customers will need to have their PayPal app or a PayPal Cash Mastercard to make transactions. Each transaction will come with a service fee of $3.

      The payment giant noted in a statement that this is the first time PayPal app users will be able to take out cash from their account balance in a brick-and-mortar environment.

      “We are committed to working together to make it simple and easy for people to use PayPal cash in and cash out money services at every Walmart location in the U.S. We look forward to working hand-in-hand to help people and families with their financial services needs,” Dan Schulman, PayPal President and CEO, said in a statement.

      Providing “great value”

      For its part, Walmart says it is committed to expanding access to products and services like these.  

      Daniel Eckert, Walmart’s senior vice president, noted that 90 percent of U.S. consumers live within 10 miles of a Walmart store. He said the new service will offer “great value to the many people who rely on Walmart and PayPal to help manage and move their money.”

      The ability to deposit cash through the new system is immediately available, while the ability to take cash out will be available at all Walmart locations across the U.S. by early November.

      Earlier this year, PayPal made another move into the mainstream banking space by partnering with Venmo to launch a MasterCard debit card that allows users to make in-store and online payments with their Venmo balance.

      PayPal has also previously partnered with Apple, Facebook, and Skype with the goal of launching additional offerings to customers.

      PayPal has announced that it’s teaming up with Walmart to allow customers to withdraw cash from their PayPal account at any Walmart store across the countr...
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      Apple files patent to detect spoofed calls on iPhones

      With spam calls on the rise, Apple is seeking to come up with a solution

      Apple has filed a patent called “Detection of spoofed call information,” which would enable iPhones to analyze whether an incoming call is legitimate, AppleInsider reports.

      “A mobile device receives an invitation to commence a media session. The invitation may be from a legitimate caller or from a spoofing caller. The mobile device checks parameters using templates to evaluate a consistency of the invitation with respect to a database in the mobile device,” Apple said in its description of the patent.

      If the system believes anyone has performed call spoofing on the inbound call, it will alert the user before they answer the call.

      Cracking down on nuisance calls

      News of the patent filing, which was initially made on April 5, 2017, comes a month after recent research showed a dramatic uptick in the number scam calls made to mobile phones.

      Last month, a report by First Orion predicted that nearly half of all calls made to mobile phones in the U.S. will be scams by next year. The firm said the only way to curtail these calls is for the industry to come up with effective call protection solutions.

      Phone spoofing is different from phone spam in that it’s considered an offense by the FCC. The practice refers to the manipulation of caller ID in ways that disguise the identity of the caller. Phone spoofing violations are subject to steep fines.

      Nonetheless, Apple’s technology could represent a step in the right direction toward reducing the overall number of unwanted calls consumers receive. It’s worth noting that the company files numerous patents each week, so there’s a chance it may never become available.

      Google has also expressed an interest in curbing spam and nuisance calls. At its “Made By Google” event this week, the tech giant unveiled a Call Screen feature that utilizes Google Assistant to help detect and block spam calls. The company also recently updated its phone app with the ability to send spam calls straight to voicemail.

      Apple has filed a patent called “Detection of spoofed call information,” which would enable iPhones to analyze whether an incoming call is legitimate, Appl...
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      Mortgage rates hit highest level since 2011

      The average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 5 percent last week

      The sudden rise in Treasury bond yields that has roiled the stock market is also proving costly to homebuyers who haven't locked in an interest rate.

      The average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.76 percent this week, according to Bankrate, after hitting 5 percent the week before. That's the highest level in seven years.

      Mortgage rates are linked to the yield on the 10-year government bond which rose this week to 3.25 percent before pulling back slightly in Thursday's Treasury auction. Homeowners who finance with a 4.76 percent interest rate will pay an estimated $522.25 in principal and interest charges each month for every $100,000 they borrow.

      Hitting the 5 percent benchmark

      Earlier in the week, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported the rate on the 30-year mortgage briefly rose above 5 percent at the same time that mortgage applications, not surprisingly, fell.

      MBA said the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances increased to 5.05 percent, rising from 4.96 percent.

      Whether mortgage rates continue to rise is uncertain at this point. The 30-year fixed-rate loan has dropped to below 5 percent while Bankrate notes the rate for the average 15-year mortgage dropped a full basis point this week to 4.02 percent.

      Not a big deal?

      Those with long memories may find a mortgage rate of 5 percent hardly cause for alarm. Back during the housing bubble, homeowners typically paid that or more.

      But in many housing markets, home prices have escalated far above the sale price of a decade ago. Those homes were a lot more affordable with a 3.5 mortgage rate than a 5 percent.

      Some economists speculate the rising bond yields are a result of traders worrying about the Federal Reserve's policy of raising the federal funds rate, fearing it will push the U.S. into recession next year. In a highly unusual move for a U.S. president, Donald Trump has publicly criticized Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, calling the Fed policy “crazy.”

      The sudden rise in Treasury bond yields that has roiled the stock market is also proving costly to homebuyers who haven't locked in an interest rate.Th...
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      Malone's Fine Sausage recalls pork head cheese

      The product may be contaminated with with Listeria monocytogenes

      Malone’s Fine Sausage of Milwaukee, Wis., is recalling approximately 26,323 pounds of ready-to-eat pork head cheese.

      The products may be contaminated with with Listeria monocytogenes.

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

      The following ready-to-eat pork head cheese items, produced from August 27, 2018, through October 5, 2018, are being recalled:

      • Various weights of vacuum-sealed packages containing “Glorious Malone’s Fine Sausage, INC. GOURMET PORK DELICACY HOT SEASONED HEADCHEESE” with a “Sell By” dates from 10/26/2018 through 12/5/2018 and lot codes 3524 through 3540.
      • Various weights of vacuum-sealed packages containing “Glorious Malone’s Fine Sausage, INC. GOURMET PORK DELICACY MILD SEASONED HEADCHEESE” with a “Sell By” dates from 10/26/2018 through 12/5/2018 and lot codes 3524 through 3540.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 15702” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, and also sold via internet catalog sales.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Daphne Jones at (414) 732-1820.

      Malone’s Fine Sausage of Milwaukee, Wis., is recalling approximately 26,323 pounds of ready-to-eat pork head cheese.The products may be contaminated wi...
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      Ukrop's recalls ready-to-eat meat and poultry products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods of Richmond, Va., is recalling approximately 18,296 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry deli-sliced products.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

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

      The following ready-to-eat meat and poultry deli-sliced items, produced and packaged from September 14, 2018, through October 3, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 5.03 lbs. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Roasted Turkey and Bacon Wrap 4CT Tray,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 – 10/06/18.
      • 13.5 oz. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Ukrop's Buffalo-Style Chicken Wrap,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 - 10/06/18.
      • 13.5 oz. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Ukrop's Turkey & Bacon Cobb Wrap,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 - 10/06/18.
      • 42.5 oz. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Ukrop's Meat & Cheese Tray,” with a Sell By date from 9/19/18 – 10/08/18.
      • 9.75 oz. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Ukrop's Roasted Turkey & Colby Jack Pinwheels,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 - 10/06/18.
      • 9.95 oz. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Ukrop's Roasted Turkey and Bacon Wrap,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 - 10/06/18.
      • 9.25 oz. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Ukrop's Angus Roast Beef & Cheddar Pinwheels,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 - 10/06/18.
      • 9.25 oz. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Ukrop's Black Forest Ham & Provolone Pinwheels,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 – 10/06/18.
      • 12.6 oz. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Ukrop’s Chef Salad,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 - 10/07/18.
      • 4.8 lbs. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Combo Wrap Turkey & Bacon, Chicken Ceasar, Buffalo Style Chicken, & Veg,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 - 10/06/18.
      • 43 oz. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Ukrop's Honey Turkey & Honey Ham Pinwheel Tray,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 - 10/06/18.
      • 8.1 oz. in clear plastic rectangular containers of “Ukrop's Italian Style Pinwheels,” with a Sell By date from 9/17/18 - 10/06/18.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST.19979” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Susan Rowe at Ukrop’s, at (804) 340-3104.

      Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods of Richmond, Va., is recalling approximately 18,296 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry deli-sliced products.The products m...
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      Toyota recalls model year 2019 C-HRs

      The rear axle bearing bolts may not have been tightened sufficiently

      Toyota is recalling approximately 700 model year 2019 C-HRs in the U.S.

      One or more rear axle bearing bolts on some vehicles may not have been tightened sufficiently during the manufacturing process.

      If bolts become loose or detach during vehicle operation, they could damage the rear brake components or cause the rear wheels to detach, resulting in reduced brake performance or a potential loss of vehicle stability, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Toyota dealers will notify owners and check the rear axle hub bearing bolts and, if a bolt loose or detached, the dealer will replace the rear axle hub bearing assembly and rear axle carrier sub-assembly with new ones at no cost.

      The recall is scheduled to begin in early November 2018.

      Owners may contact Toyota at (800) 331-4331.

      Toyota is recalling approximately 700 model year 2019 C-HRs in the U.S.One or more rear axle bearing bolts on some vehicles may not have been tightened...
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      AT&T jumps in the streaming pool with both feet and big promises

      Its WarnerMedia subsidiary is set to tangle with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others

      On Tuesday, AT&T's WarnerMedia announced its intent to launch a new streaming service by late 2019.

      The streaming field is crowded with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney's imminent streaming service, but AT&T’s assets catapults the company to the top of the content food chain.

      The stream will be built on the backbone of the company’s successful HBO Now, an app- and smart TV-driven service which streams live and on-demand HBO programming.

      That HBO connection will certainly allow the company to connect a lot of content dots. Besides the flagship service, HBO brings niche channels like HBO Comedy and HBO Family, plus its massive movie library, sports shows like Inside the NFL, and sisterhood with Cinemax and others.

      “This is another benefit of the AT&T/Time Warner merger,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Starkey in announcing the company’s plans. “We are committed to launching a compelling and competitive product that will serve as a complement to our existing businesses and help us to expand our reach by offering a new choice for entertainment with the WarnerMedia collection of films, television series, libraries, documentaries and animation loved by consumers around the world.”

      Warner gears up for skirmish with competitors

      WarnerMedia’s assets include Turner, Boomerang, FilmStruck, and of course, the treasure trove of Warner Brothers with its library of 100,000+ hours of programming.

      According to CNN, WarnerMedia is still mulling over specifics like pricing and a moniker for the new service, as well as how far it will go in tapping its own CNN news programming.

      One thing that’s for certain is that given the number of content barons that have gobbled the others up, WarnerMedia will have to traverse a thick underbrush of existing deals it already has in place with distributors like Comcast and Netflix. Warner appears ready for that possible skirmish.

      "We expect to create such a compelling product that it will help distributors increase consumer penetration of their current packages and help us successfully reach more customers," the company said in its filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

      The cable-cutting continues

      There’s barely a month that goes by without a streaming service trying out a new angle to move consumers from cable to a la carte channels. Netflix always has a new wrinkle it’s testing; Hulu is starting to find its own groove after four years in the game; and upstarts like Sling are doing their best to find a place in the app space of smart TVs.

      Consumers keep cutting the cable cord and putting their satellite dish in the recycling bin. First quarter losses in 2018 amounted to 375,000 satellite subscribers and 285,000 for cable.

      On Tuesday, AT&T's WarnerMedia announced its intent to launch a new streaming service by late 2019.The streaming field is crowded with Netflix, Amazon...
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      There was little sign of inflation in the economy last month

      A government report may settle nervous stock traders

      Despite the stock market's recent hand-wringing over inflation, there was little evidence of it in the U.S. economy last month.

      The government's Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose a modest 0.1 percent in September, a slowdown from August's 0.2 percent rise. For the last 12 months, the nation's inflation rate is 2.3 percent.

      Fears of rising prices have driven stock prices sharply lower this week, mainly because interest rates paid on government bonds have moved significantly higher. Stock traders have worried that rising bond yields – sometimes a sign of inflation – would prompt the Federal Reserve to double-down on its policy of raising the federal funds rate.

      Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, says low inflation and a strong economy should ease fears of an overly-aggressive Fed.

      “Inflation fears right now are based on historical models, not data, and the data says price and wage growth are not in danger of overheating the economy,” Frick told ConsumerAffairs. “This CPI report supports the Fed's plan of gradual rate increases, and Fed Chair Powell's wait-and-see strategy before changing that plan.”

      And even though bond yields have been rising, Frick notes they remain well below historical averages.

      What little inflation there was in the economy last month had mostly to do with housing. The CPI report shows shelter accounted for half of the seasonally adjusted increase.

      Despite the rise in gasoline prices the energy sector was lower in September. Food prices were largely unchanged.

      Despite the stock market's recent hand-wringing over inflation, there was little evidence of it in the U.S. economy last month.The government's Consume...
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      VW recalls model year 2017-2018 Audi R8 Spyders and R8 Coupes

      Transmission fluid may leak from the gearbox ventilation hose

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 1,916 model year 2017-2018 Audi R8 Spyders and R8 Coupes.

      Transmission fluid may leak from the gearbox ventilation hose after certain high speed and maneuvering situations.

      Leaked transmission contacting hot engine parts can increase the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      Audi will notify owners, and dealers will replace the single gearbox ventilation hose with a double ventilation hose, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin October 31, 2018.

      Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 34J1.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 1,916 model year 2017-2018 Audi R8 Spyders and R8 Coupes.Transmission fluid may leak from the gearbox ventilat...
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      Ladyfingers Gourmet to Go recalls Signature Shaved Country Ham Rolls

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Ladyfingers Caterers is recalling its Signature Shaved Country Ham Rolls.

      The products may contain Johnston County Hams, which were recalled in early October due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There has been one reported illness in connection with this recall.

      The recalled product, bearing the UPC: 8 56149 00509 9, was distributed from April 3, 2017 – October 3, 2018 to retail stores in California, the District of Columbia, Delaware, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina and Virginia.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but discard it or return it to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may call Ladyfingers Caterers at (919) 828- 2270 Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm and Saturday 10:00am – 2:00pm (EST).

      Ladyfingers Caterers is recalling its Signature Shaved Country Ham Rolls.The products may contain Johnston County Hams, which were recalled in early Oc...
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      Sensitive Pentagon information may be vulnerable to cyberattack

      A report finds unencrypted communications and poor password management are key security vulnerabilities

      The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on Tuesday highlighting the vulnerabilities in the Department of Defense’s (DOD) major computerized weapons systems.

      The agency revealed that data from cybersecurity tests conducted on the weapons systems between 2012 and 2017 showed that by using “relatively simple tools and techniques, testers were able to take control of systems and largely operate undetected" because of security vulnerabilities.

      "DOD testers routinely found mission critical cyber vulnerabilities in nearly all weapon systems that were under development,” the GAO report said.

      The vulnerabilities were linked to multiple culprits, but the top two factors were unencrypted communications and poor password management. In some cases, testers were able to gain access because the systems were running commercial or open-source software where the operators “did not change the default password when the software was installed.”

      Widespread security issues

      The agency said it hasn’t yet been able to get a clear idea of the scale of vulnerabilities affecting its weapon systems based on the analysis.

      "For example, one assessment found that the weapon system satisfactorily prevented unauthorized access by remote users, but not insiders and near-siders," the report said. “Once they gained initial access, test teams were often able to move throughout a system, escalating their privileges until they had taken full or partial control of a system. In one case, the test team took control of the operators’ terminals."

      The GAO said the problem is rooted in the fact that the DOD has never made security a priority for its weapon systems and hasn’t taken all the measures necessary to secure their systems.

      “Testers playing the role of adversary were able to take control of systems relatively easily and operate largely undetected,” the GOA said in a statement. “DOD’s weapons are more computerized and networked than ever before, so it’s no surprise that there are more opportunities for attacks.”

      The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on Tuesday highlighting the vulnerabilities in the Department of Defense’s (DOD) major c...
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      Sears reportedly preparing a bankruptcy filing

      The retailer faces a massive debt payment on Monday

      Sears Holdings faces a significant debt payment next week, and the struggling retailer is reportedly preparing a bankruptcy filing.

      The Wall Street Journal reports the firm has hired an adviser – M-III Partners – to prepare the paperwork for filing as early as this week.

      Sears Holdings, which operates Sears and Kmart stores, is scheduled to pay $134 million on its debt on Monday. In the past, CEO Eddie Lampert has written the check himself, but he may be less inclined to do so this time.

      In recent weeks, Lampert – the largest shareholder – has pushed for a major corporate restructuring to guide the company back to financial health. Last month, Lampert offered to have ESL, the hedge fund he heads, purchase some of the company's assets. He also urged the board of directors to take steps to structure the company's massive debt, warning that time is running short.

      "We continue to believe that it is in the best interests of all stakeholders to accomplish this as a going concern, rather than alternatives that would substantially reduce, if not completely eliminate, value for stakeholders," ESL said in a public filing.

      Proposal to sell assets

      The proposal from ESL suggests Sears Holdings sell $3.22 billion in assets, including $1.47 billion in real estate. Part of the deal includes ESL buying the real estate if it hasn't sold after 12 months. At the time, the board said it would consider the proposal.

      In the meantime, Sears Holdings has responded to the financial drain by closing stores. In January, the company announced it would close 150 unprofitable stores in 2018, most of which have already been shuttered. The remaining stores on the list will close their doors next month.

      The company supplemented that by closing 50 Sears Auto Center locations and 92 Kmart pharmacies earlier this year.

      The Journal's report of the impending bankruptcy cites employees at M-III Partners, who told the newspaper they have spent the last few weeks preparing the bankruptcy filing. They also say that Sears continues to talk about additional options and might stop short of bankruptcy.

      Sears Holdings faces a significant debt payment next week, and the struggling retailer is reportedly preparing a bankruptcy filing.The Wall Street Jour...
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      Working Cow Homemade recalls vanilla and chocolate ice creams

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Working Cow Homemade Ice Cream of St. Petersburg, Fla., is recalling its No Sugar Added Vanilla and No Sugar Added Chocolate ice cream.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      One consumer illness has been linked to a strain of Listeria monocytogenes found to be present at the Working Cow manufacturing facility during environmental sampling in 2017.

      No other illnesses have been reported.

      The recalled products, manufactured in three-gallon tubs during May 2018, are marked with a label including product name and “born-on” date. The born-on date refers to the manufacturing date.

      What to do

      Customers, including ice cream parlors, independent living facilities and restaurants throughout the state of Florida, who purchased the recalled products should contact Working Cow for proper return and credit.

      Consumers with questions may call Working Cow headquarters at (877) 320-2269, Monday – Friday from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM (EDT).

      Working Cow Homemade Ice Cream of St. Petersburg, Fla., is recalling its No Sugar Added Vanilla and No Sugar Added Chocolate ice cream.The product may...
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      Callie's Charleston Biscuits recalls Country Ham Biscuits and Cocktail Ham Biscuits

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Callie's Charleston Biscuits is recalling Country Ham Biscuits and Cocktail Ham Biscuits.

      The products may contain Johnston County Hams, which were recalled in early October due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the recalled products.

      The following items, produced and shipped nationwide between April 3, 2017, and October 3, 2018, are being recalled:

      • Callie's Charleston Biscuits - Country Ham Biscuits UPC: 897856002001
      • Callie's Charleston Biscuits - Cocktail Ham Biscuits UPC: 897856002049

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Kevin Hackler at (843) 577-1198.

      Callie's Charleston Biscuits is recalling Country Ham Biscuits and Cocktail Ham Biscuits.The products may contain Johnston County Hams, which were reca...
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      As UN warns of climate threat, oil lobby responds that it is already solving the crisis

      The trade group that represents Exxon and others says that pollution in the United States is lower than ever thanks to natural gas

      The oil and gas lobby long ago abandoned its campaign of climate denial and is now promoting the idea that Americans are on their way to solving the global warming crisis thanks to its efforts.   

      “The natural gas and oil industry is actively addressing the complex global challenge of climate change through robust investments in technology innovation, efficiency improvements, and cleaner fuels,” the American Petroleum Institute (API), the trade group that represents Exxon and dozens of other major oil and gas companies, tells ConsumerAffairs in an emailed statement.

      The API issued the statement in response to a dire new warning from the United Nations. The organization says emissions must be cut drastically within twelve years to avoid ecological disaster, according to a report published on Monday.

      While the world governments participating in the Paris climate agreement have set a goal of keeping the earth’s temperature at 2℃,  the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said Monday that 1.5℃ is the better choice. Lowering the limit to 1.5℃ would have “clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems,” the report says.

      Instead, however, the world is going the opposite direction and is on track to reach between 3 and 5 degrees, according to the authors.

      Using the year 2010 as a benchmark, the IPCC says that humanity must cut its emissions 45 percent by 2030 to meet the 1.5℃ goal.

      “Any increase in global warming is projected to affect human health, with primarily negative consequences,” they write.

      Industry points to natural gas as the answer

      The report does not identify the specific industries or countries that have contributed disportionately to the disaster. But research last year by the Carbon Dislcosue Project, a UK-based think tank, identifies 25 corporations or government-backed energy entities as being responsible for 51 percent of the world’s emissions. A total of 100 companies were identified as contributing to 71 percent of the world’s emissions.

      The American Petroleum Institute (API) represents several companies listed in that study, including Exxon (#5), Shell (#9), and Chevron (#12). Asked if the companies would make a stronger effort to reduce emissions in light of that and the UN’s more recent research, the API pointed to its investment in natural gas.

      “While global CO2 emissions have risen 50 percent since 1990, U.S. CO2 emissions are at 25-year lows due in large part to clean and abundant U.S. natural gas powering homes and businesses as the number one source of U.S. electricity generation today,” the API’s statement to ConsumerAffairs continues in response.

      The IPCC, meanwhile, says that just 8 percent of the electricity grid must come from gas by 2050 to meet the 1.5℃ goal. An additional 8 percent can come from coal; the remainder must come from renewables, the report says. Currently, gas and coal each hover around 30 percent of the electricity grid in the U.S..

      U.S. is getting lower -- but compared to what?

      The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the federal agency that tracks energy sources and emissions, has also said that U.S. C02 emissions are at a 25-year-low due to natural gas replacing coal on the grid. But a study published in June in the journal Science claims the EPA has underestimated methane leaks from natural gas operations by 60 percent.

      The API declined to address that specific study in its statement or answer follow-up questions. Instead, spokesman Reid Porter forwarded over links to articles on the API website.

      “There’s talk about reducing greenhouse gas emissions – and then there’s taking steps to produce measurable results,” one such API article says. “The United States is in the second category, with the natural gas and oil industry playing the leading role.”

      The U.S. may be reducing its emissions more than we otherwise would thanks to the industry efforts, but environmental scientists say that much more drastic action is needed.

      China, the United States, and the European Union play an outsize role in contributing to climate change, according to World Bank data. And while the gas industry says that a domestic drilling boom is necessary to achieve energy independence, the oil industry’s own lobby also acknowledges that it is fast becoming one of the world’s leading exporters.

      High-profile industry campaigns

      Exxon several weeks ago agreed to join Shell, Occidental Petroleum, and others in the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative -- an oil industry group devoted specifically to investing in technology to combat climate change.

      The industry coalition says it is focusing its efforts on reducing methane emissions, though it claims that the industry is not responsible for methane leaks in all parts of the production chain.

      “Our target for our own upstream production facilities is important, but our aim is to work towards near zero methane emissions from the full gas value chain, including transport and distribution to final customers (downstream),”  the industry group says on its website, “which in most cases we do not own or control.”

      Exxon, Shell, and BP have also thrown their support behind the Paris accord, despite the United States’ backtracking, and last year joined a dozen major corporations and Republican Senators in proposing $40 tax on each ton of C02 emissions. That industry group said the tax would allow for a “free-market, limited government” response to climate change. And in response to investor pressure, Shell has promised to cut the amount of oil that it will sell in half by 2050.

      Numerous other companies and industry groups are similarly promoting voluntary, market-based measures to reduce emissions, an idea supported by some politicians on both sides of the aisle. But industry critics argue that the only full-proof solution is to make fossil fuels increasingly expensive -- and to effectively discourage companies from drilling, rather than encouraging them to drill more responsibly.  

      Drilling ahead

      Oil and natural gas production continues to break records in the United States, surpassing records set in 1970, and people raising questions about new oil and gas projects say that they have been confronted by an increasingly shadowy regulatory system, even before Trump took office.

      “As long as oil and gas production and output continue to increase, it is very hard to argue that there will be any decline in emissions, because a barrel of oil and gas eventually will turn into an emission at some point,” investment analyst Dr. Henrik Jeppesen told ConsumerAffairs last month.

      It’s for that reason that a leading climate researcher and former NASA scientist has accused world governments and both the Obama and Trump administrations of failing to take any meaningful action to cut emissions and address the crisis.

      “All we’ve done is agree there’s a problem,” he recently told the Guardian.  “We agreed that in 1992 [at the Earth summit in Rio] and re-agreed it again in Paris [at the 2015 climate accord]. We haven’t acknowledged what is required to solve it. Promises like Paris don’t mean much, it’s wishful thinking. It’s a hoax that governments have played on us since the 1990s.”

      The oil and gas lobby long ago abandoned its campaign of climate denial and is now promoting the idea that Americans are on their way to solving the global...
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      Google finds potentially compromising bug in Google+

      The tech giant is pulling the plug on the social media platform, citing low usage

      Google is shutting down Google+ for consumers following reports that a bug in the system could have leaked some personal information users posted to their profiles.

      According to a report by Google, there is no evidence anyone discovered the vulnerability and took advantage of it. After a review, Alphabet -- Google's parent company -- decided it was time to pull the plug.

      "This review crystallized what we’ve known for a while: that while our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps," the company wrote in a blog post. "The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds."

      It was that review that revealed the bug in the system -- specifically in the Google+ People API. In that part of the app users can grant access to their profile data, and the public profile information of their friends, to Google+ apps, via the API. The bug allowed apps, not marked as public, to get access to that data and share it.

      Not known how many users were affected

      It's not known which and how many users were affected. Because of the way the system was set up, the log data is only kept for two weeks. But Google said it ran a detailed analysis over the two weeks before the bug was patched and concluded that the profiles of as many as 500,000 users could have been affected.

      According to Google, the data was limited to optional Google+ profile information that included name, email address, occupation, and age. The company stressed it did not include other data users may have posted to Google+ or any other service.

      The company discovered the bug in March but is only now revealing it.

      "We believe it occurred after launch as a result of the API’s interaction with a subsequent Google+ code change," the company said. "We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any profile data was misused."

      Google is just the latest tech giant to reveal privacy issues. Facebook has been struggling to reassure users since March when it revealed user data was misappropriated and used for political advertising purposes.

      Google is shutting down Google+ for consumers following reports that a bug in the system could have leaked some personal information users posted to their...
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      California rep unveils ‘Internet Bill of Rights’ proposal

      Rep. Ro Khanna has crafted a list of ten principles for protecting consumers’ digital rights

      Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) recently outlined a set of 10 principles that he hopes will one day evolve from its current draft phase to become an actual “Internet Bill of Rights.”

      Each of the principles on the list would be enacted with the goal of protecting consumers’ data in the digital age.

      "There's great concern that Americans have about the protection of their privacy online and about their security online," Khanna told the Los Angeles Times.

      The principles cover a range of topics that have been subjects of criticism and controversy among both consumers and lawmakers -- from net neutrality, to timely notification of hacks or breaches, to the ability to opt-in for data collection.

      Ten principles

      The complete draft, first obtained by The New York Times, states that American consumers should have the right:

      • to have access to and knowledge of all collection and uses of personal data by companies;

      • to opt-in consent to the collection of personal data by any party and to the sharing of personal data with a third party;

      • where context appropriate and with a fair process, to obtain, correct, or delete personal data controlled by any company and to have those requests honored by third parties;

      • to have personal data secured and to be notified in a timely manner when a security breach or unauthorized access of personal data is discovered;

      • to move all personal data from one network to the next;

      • to access and use the internet without internet service providers blocking, throttling, engaging in paid prioritization or otherwise unfairly favoring content, applications, services or devices;

      • to internet service without the collection of data that is unnecessary for providing the requested service absent opt-in consent;

      • to have access to multiple viable, affordable internet platforms, services, and providers with clear and transparent pricing;

      • to not to be unfairly discriminated against or exploited based on your personal data; and

      • to have an entity that collects your personal data have reasonable business practices and accountability to protect your privacy.

      The unveiling of the principles follows a series of privacy scandals, including the massive Equifax data breach disclosed last year and Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal that came to light earlier this year.

      But despite these breaches of privacy, efforts to pass data protection laws have not progressed far enough to benefit consumers. Just this month, the entire broadband industry sued the state of California over its newly enacted net neutrality protections.

      Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) recently outlined a set of 10 principles that he hopes will one day evolve from its current draft phase to...
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      Weight loss could be key to lowering risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women

      The study results prove timely as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

      Breast cancer affects hundreds of thousands of women in the United States each year, and much research has been done on risk factors that influence breast cancer diagnoses.

      While previous studies have shown obesity increases the risk for breast cancer, a new study published in CANCER tested the effects of weight loss on the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. The researchers found that older women who lost weight had less of a risk of developing invasive breast cancer, as opposed to those that either maintained or gained weight.

      “Our study indicates that moderate, relatively short-term weight reduction was associated with a statistically significant reduction in breast cancer risk for postmenopausal women,” said lead author Dr. Rowan Chlebowski.

      Effects of weight loss

      To test their hypothesis, the researchers evaluated information from over 61,000 women who had participated in the World Health Initiative Observational Study.

      At the start of the study, each woman’s body mass index (BMI), height, and weight were recorded. Participants were evaluated again three years into the study as either stable, loss, or gain. The women in the study also all had normal mammogram results and no history of breast cancer.

      The study found that gaining weight wasn’t a direct link to breast cancer. However, participants in the study who did gain weight -- by at least five percent -- were 54 percent more likely to develop triple negative breast cancer -- a strain of the disease that doesn’t respond to hormonal therapy.

      On the other hand, those who experienced a weight loss by at least five percent were 12 percent less likely to develop breast cancer.

      Breast cancer affects hundreds of thousands of women in the United States each year, and much research has been done on risk factors that influence breast...
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      Honda recalls model year 2018 CRF250L motorcycles

      Inappropriate installation of the wiring harness may affect operation of safety components

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 505 model year 2018 Honda CRF250L motorcycles.

      The wiring harness may have been inappropriately installed, potentially resulting in damage to the wiring harness and affecting the operation of safety components such as the exterior lighting, horn, and instrument panel.

      Lack of exterior lights can reduce the visibility of the motorcycle to traffic. A non-functioning horn can cause the inability to alert traffic of an impending crash, and a non-functioning instrument panel will not display the speed or fuel level. A damaged wiring harness can also result in an engine stall, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the wiring harness, replacing it as necessary, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 5, 2018.

      Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-866-784-1870. Honda's number for this recall is KJ7.

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 505 model year 2018 Honda CRF250L motorcycles.The wiring harness may have been inappropriately installed, potenti...
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      Model year 2018-2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglios recalled

      Coolant may leak from the engine cooling hose

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 674 model year 2018-2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglios.

      The engine cooling hose may have inadequate webbing material allowing a coolant leak.

      A loss of coolant can cause the engine to overheat and the vehicle to stall, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the coolant hose, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 3, 2018.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is U99.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 674 model year 2018-2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglios.The engine cooling hose may have inadequate webbing materi...
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      Apple tells Congress there's no evidence its servers were bugged

      The tech company has doubled down on its denial of last week’s Bloomberg story

      Engineers at Apple have told Congress they have found no evidence of tampering with their servers purchased from Super Micro that would allow China to intercept data.

      It follows the company's strong denial last week in response to a Bloomberg BusinessWeek story that circuit boards in the servers, obtained through a Chinese subcontractor, contained a tiny microchip giving the Chinese government access to data residing on the servers.

      Reuters reports it obtained copies of letters Apple Vice President for Information Security George Stathakopoulos wrote to the House and Senate committees on commerce. Both panels have said they planned to investigate the claims in the Bloomberg reports.

      In the letter, Stathakopoulos said the claim had been thoroughly investigated, both before and after the article appeared. Reuters quotes the Apple executive as telling the committees that “Apple’s proprietary security tools are continuously scanning for precisely this kind of outbound traffic, as it indicates the existence of malware or other malicious activity. Nothing was ever found.”

      Offers to brief committees

      Stathakopoulos said he would be in Washington this week and offered to brief the staff of the committees on Apple's findings. At the time Bloomberg published its claims, Apple and Amazon both vigorously denied their servers had been compromised.

      Apple said it was "deeply disappointed" that the Bloomberg reporters working on the story did not appear to consider the possibility their sources were wrong.

      "Our best guess is that they are confusing their story with a previously reported 2016 incident in which we discovered an infected driver on a single Super Micro server in one of our labs," the company said in the statement. "That one-time event was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple."

      Amazon was also adamant in its denial. In a statement, the company said that it had “found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications."

      At the end of last week, Bloomberg said it stood by the substance of its story. It said the claim that a Chinese government entity had inserted a "bug" into a component widely used in servers was based on interviews with 17 anonymous sources.

      Engineers at Apple have told Congress they have found no evidence of tampering with their servers purchased from Super Micro that would allow China to inte...
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      Inventory levels rise in most expensive housing markets

      A report suggests buyers are balking at high prices

      Home buyers haven't had a lot of good news lately, with both home prices and mortgage rates going higher.

      But there is additional evidence that the tight inventory that is largely responsible for escalating home prices is ending. Real estate broker Redfin reports many West Coast housing markets saw a surge in new home listings in the third quarter.

      That comes on the heels of last week's report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) which suggested that nationwide housing inventory flattened in September, decreasing only 0.2 percent.

      The Redfin research suggests this trend may be taking hold first in some of the nation's most expensive housing markets. San Jose, Calif., the nation's most expensive market, saw new listings climb 86.7 percent over the third quarter of 2017.

      Inventory growing mostly in the West

      New listings increased 53.9 percent in Seattle; 28.9 percent in Oakland; 27.5 percent in Portland; 26.8 percent in San Diego; and 22.5 percent in San Francisco. The same research shows the same increase in available homes has yet to spread to the rest of the country.

      But the Redfin researchers caution that their findings aren't exactly good news. It doesn't necessarily mean more people are selling their homes. Rather, inventory is building because people aren't buying the homes that are being listed.

      Twelve months ago, inventory levels in these expensive but red-hot markets were falling because homes were selling faster than new ones were coming on the market. But that trend has reversed since higher mortgage rates have made the most expensive homes less affordable.

      The researchers say this is allowing inventory to finally begin to build again in several markets. They say that should be good for home buyers and should lead to a more balanced market.

      'Flipping' may be a factor

      In the case of expensive markets like San Jose and San Francisco, Redfin has observed an increase in "flipping," which has helped to replenish housing inventories.

      "We are seeing sellers who recently purchased their home putting it back on the market, sometimes without ever moving in," said Tina Mancebo, a Redfin agent who works with sellers in San Jose. "Sellers have not changed their expectations and want similar pricing and competitive offer terms that their neighbors achieved earlier in the year. Still, if a home for sale checks all the boxes it sells quickly."

      While gains in inventory tend to benefit buyers, Redfin concludes that the current market still favors sellers. Still, buyers may find they have a little more room for negotiation when they no longer have to worry about another person outbidding them for their dream home.

      Home buyers haven't had a lot of good news lately, with both home prices and mortgage rates going higher.But there is additional evidence that the tigh...
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      The Weekly Hack: North Korean hacking of financial institutions bigger than previously disclosed

      Facebook admits to a ‘security issue’ while European regulators demand answers

      A state-sponsored hacking group in North Korea is coordinating a massive espionage campaign against banks and other institutions worldwide, according to a detailed report by the cybersecurity firm FireEye.

      North Korean cyber attacks against the United States and elsewhere have been widely reported over the years, but the FireEye report suggests the problem is bigger than authorities previously disclosed and links the attacks to one particular group named APT 38. The attackers have attempted to steal over $1 billion from banks that include Banco de Chile, Bancomext, Bangladesh Bank and Vietnam TP Bank over the past two years, the report says, as well as from cryptocurrency markets in the United States.

      APT 38 has also targeted financial journalism publications and other institutions based in the United States, though the report does not name all of the the specific entities that were targeted

      “We judge that APT38's primary mission is targeting financial institutions and manipulating inter-bank financial systems to raise large sums of money for the North Korean regime,” the report says.

      While the operation may be sophisticated, some of the hacking tactics that the attackers have used sound strikingly similar to everyday hacks. In 2015, an account with the email campbelldavid793@gmail.com sent spear-phishing emails to a U.S. defense contractor -- yet another reminder to be wary of unfamiliar email addresses, particularly if you work in an industry that deals with the federal government or banks.

      The report comes only a month after the Department of Justice charged two North Korean citizens for their alleged role in the 2014 hack on Sony Pictures and the more recent $81 million cyber theft from Bangladesh Bank.

      Facebook faces fines

      European regulators generally take data security much more seriously than regulators do in the United States, and that spells fresh trouble for Facebook.

      The social media giant last Friday said that 50 million user accounts were affected by a “security issue” that allowed hackers to take over people's accounts. Facebook claims that they notified law enforcement immediately and have asked a total of 90 million users to reset their passwords as a “precautionary step.”

      A Facebook executive said there is “no evidence” that third-party apps were accessed in the attack.

      Regulators would prefer not to take Facebook’s word for it. The Irish Data Protection Commission, the lead privacy regulator for all of Europe, said it is investigating whether Facebook has actually followed the EU’s data protection laws. The agency may fine Facebook up to $1.6 billion.

      Olympics revenge

      Speaking of hacks tied to testy international relations, the DOJ on Thursday charged seven Russian intelligence officials with computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. The agency says that the officials targeted 250 athletes and anti-doping agencies across the world as retaliation for Russia's suspension from the International Olympic Committee in December.

      In Pyongyang last year, clean Russian athletes could still compete in the games, but they had to compete as “neutral” athletes who were not officially representing their country.

      Burgerville

      A burger chain with stores across Oregon and Washington admitted Thursday that hackers stole customer credit card data over the course of a year.

      Burgerville says that it initially thought the attack was a “brief intrusion” but only discovered recently that customers’ full credit card information was accessed. The chain says it still does not know how many people are affected.

      "This was a sophisticated attack in which the hackers effectively concealed all digital traces of where they have been," Burgerville said.

      Shortly after the announcement, a consumer filed a class-action lawsuit blaming weak security protections for the attack. As of now, the chain says that anyone who denied at the restaurant from September 2017 through September 2018 could be affected.

      Toyota Industries

      Nearly 19,000 employees of Toyota Industries, the car brand’s parent company, in Indiana were told by the company that an unknown third party accessed the corporate email system and possibly their healthcare information.

      Affected employees are reportedly being offered one year of free credit monitoring in exchange for a breach in which their social security numbers, social security cards, home addresses, and more may have been exposed.

      At the same time, Toyota Industries is also downplaying the threat, telling employees that they are “not aware of any misuse of personal information” and that Toyota Industries has “no evidence that this data was removed from its systems.”

      A state-sponsored hacking group in North Korea is coordinating a massive espionage campaign against banks and other institutions worldwide, according to a...
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      Salmonella outbreak linked to recalled eggs reaches seven states

      Nearly 40 people have reported getting sick since the beginning of the outbreak

      Early last month, Gravel Ridge Farms recalled cage-free large eggs due to a potential Salmonella contamination.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)reported on the outbreak on September 10, and at that time, there had been just 14 illnesses contained to Alabama and Tennessee. In the last few weeks, a total of 38 people have been confirmed with Salmonella diagnoses, and the outbreak has spread to five more states. No deaths have been reported, but 10 people have been hospitalized so far.

      The recalled eggs were sold between June 25, 2018 and September 6, 2018, and were found in grocery stores and restaurants in Alabama, Tennessee, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, and Montana.

      Consumers should steer clear of Gravel Ridge Farms eggs that come in either one-dozen or 2.5-dozen cardboard boxes, and that have the UPC code 7-06970-38444-6.

      Consumers who purchased affected eggs can return them from their place of purchase for a full refund, or they should throw them out immediately. The FDA also suggests consumers get rid of any Gravel Ridge Farm Eggs immediately -- regardless of the date stamped on the box or the UPC code.

      The CDC notes that Salmonella typically occurs 12-72 hours after consuming the contaminated product, and most people experience fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. The virus usually lasts for a week, but severe cases can linger past that.

      The CDC’s investigation is ongoing, and the agency will continue to report when more information becomes available. For the CDC’s complete report of the outbreak, click here.

      Early last month, Gravel Ridge Farms recalled cage-free large eggs due to a potential Salmonella contamination.The Centers for Disease Control and Prev...
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      Increase in JUUL e-cigarette sales could be dangerous for youth, CDC says

      Students have reported using the e-cigarette in school

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study in JAMA earlier this week detailing the sales of JUUL electronic cigarettes from 2013 through 2017, and the findings show a rapid increase in sales in just the last year.

      While all e-cigarettes contain nicotine, JUUL was found to contain the most nicotine of any e-cigarette, though that didn’t stop teens from purchasing them. The USB-shaped e-cigarette was the number one e-cigarette in the United States by December 2017, and sales increased from 2.2 million devices sold in 2016 to 16.2 million devices sold in 2017.

      “There are no redeeming benefits of e-cigarettes for young people,” said Corinne Graffunder, DrPH, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “The use of certain USB-shaped e-cigarettes is especially dangerous among youth because these products contain extremely high levels of nicotine, which can harm the developing adolescent brain.”

      A market geared towards young people

      Many people -- particularly young people -- turn to e-cigarettes because they perceive them to be a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, in addition to the countless chemicals found in e-cigarettes, the CDC warns against several other health risks that are associated with them.

      Additionally, much of the marketing for e-cigarettes seems aimed directly at the younger generation, as the companies look to focus their attention on their prime audience. However, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pushes its Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, the agency is working to change the nature of these ads.

      The FDA has also set its sights on over one thousand stores, as many retailers have been selling JUULs and other e-cigarettes to underage teenagers. The agency is looking for accountability from these establishments, and in addition to sending warning letters to known retailers selling to minors, has demanded answers about how these stores plan to combat this issue in future marketing materials.

      “The popularity of JUUL among kids threatens our progress in reducing e-cigarette use,” said Robert Redfield, M.D., director of the CDC. “We are alarmed that these new high nicotine content e-cigarettes, marketed and sold in kid-friendly flavors, are so appealing to our nation’s young people.”

      Recent concerns

      JUUL hasn’t been able to escape the news cycle as of late.

      Earlier this week, the FDA seized over one thousand pages of documents from the e-cigarette company as part of an unannounced inspection of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco.

      The FDA reported that the investigation was an attempt to seek “further documentation related to Juul’s sales and marketing practices, among other things,” according to a statement. The investigation came shortly after the FDA announced it was looking to ban the sale of e-cigarettes online.

      FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the ease with which teens can access e-cigarettes has caused an “epidemic,” and the agency is working to minimize the use of tobacco by underage teens.

      “E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous ‒ and dangerous ‒ trend among teens," Gottlieb said in a statement. "The FDA won't tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products."

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study in JAMA earlier this week detailing the sales of JUUL electronic cigarettes from 201...
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      Gas prices make a surprising surge

      The national average price jumped four cents a gallon in the last week

      Gasoline prices are at the highest level for the beginning of October since 2014. They’re also higher than during most of the summer driving season.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gasoline is $2.91 a gallon, four cents higher than a week ago. It's eight cents higher than a month ago.

      The average price of premium fuel is $3.44 a gallon, up three cents from last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.24 a gallon, five cents higher than last week.

      Prices are rising while demand is at relatively low levels. The Energy Information Administration says demand posted a modest increase over the unseasonably low of 8.9 million barrels a day for the week ending September 21.

      Rising oil prices

      The culprit appears to be the price of oil. Crude prices dipped Thursday after hitting a four-year high earlier in the week. Traders bid up the price of petroleum ahead of sanctions on Iran that will reduce the flow of that country's oil.

      As a result, prices at the pump rose in nearly every state this week, more in some states than others. In California the statewide average gained a dime a gallon in the last seven days. Motorists in Nevada saw their average price rise a nickel a gallon.

      Gas prices range from $3.82 a gallon in Hawaii