Current Events in October 2018

Browse Current Events by year

2018

Browse Current Events by month

Get trending consumer news and recalls

    By entering your email, you agree to sign up for consumer news, tips and giveaways from ConsumerAffairs. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Thanks for subscribing.

    You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter! Enjoy reading our tips and recommendations.

    Late model Honda CR-Vs reportedly prone to engine trouble

    In turbo engines, gasoline can leak into the oil system

    Honda's popular small SUV, the CR-V, is prone to engine trouble because gasoline sometimes leaks into the oil supply, according to an investigation by Consumer Reports.

    Owners of 2017 and 2018 CR-Vs with turbo engines have reported the same problem. The vehicle stalls, and after restarting will move only at slow speed.

    Consumer Reports cites one of its members who complained of the problem to Honda, as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). ConsumerAffairs has received at least one report of the issue.

    Raul, a ConsumerAffairs reader from Houston, Texas, reported the problem to us in an August 6 post. He said he purchased a 2018 CR-V even though he was aware that the problem sometimes occurred in 2017 models.

    After changing the oil at 7,000 miles, Raul said he began to notice the problem, with leaking gasoline causing the oil crankcase to nearly overflow.

    "Called American Honda and opened a case number and took it to the nearest dealership," Raul wrote in his ConsumerAffairs post. "They tested each individual cylinder, no codes or check engine lights (but they did admit that was indeed gasoline mixing in the oil) changed the oil and filter and sent me on my way. They said that Honda was aware of the issue but currently no fix."

    A recall in China but not the U.S.

    According to Consumer Reports, Honda recalled 380,000 CR-Vs and Civics in China earlier this year due to the same sort of defect. American Honda, however, has not taken a similar step in the U.S. But the carmaker is reportedly working on a fix.

    “Honda has been investigating the situation and developing a remedy, which we hope to make available through authorized Honda dealers by mid-November 2018,” a Honda spokesman told Consumer Reports.

    So far, the problem of gasoline leaking into the oil crankcase has not been reported on any Honda model earlier than 2017. When the problem occurs, changing the oil seems to provide a short-term fix.

    Honda tells Consumer Reports it doesn't believe the problem is widespread. However, there is no way to know that for sure.

    Honda has sold about 500,000 vehicles with that particular 1.5-liter turbo engine over the last two years.

    Honda's popular small SUV, the CR-V, is prone to engine trouble because gasoline sometimes leaks into the oil supply, according to an investigation by Cons...

    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...

    Bipolar disorder symptoms may be affected by weight and diet

    Study findings could offer insight into future treatment options

    Bipolar disorder affects 2.6 percent of the United States population, and many professionals in the mental health field struggle with finding the proper treatment or appropriate medication for their patients.

    Individuals with bipolar disorder experience intense mood swings -- shifting from episodes of mania to episodes of depression -- and it’s this balancing act between the two that often presents difficulties in treatment plans.

    However, based on a new study conducted by researchers from Germany, Australia, and America, individuals’ who have a healthy diet and/or low body mass index (BMI) may be on the right track to a more effective treatment for the condition.

    Finding the right diet

    The study consisted of 133 participants, and before the testing began, the researchers recorded each participant’s BMI and measured their ability to function on a day-to-day basis based on their depression level.

    To get a sense of the participants’ regular diet, they filled out questionnaires based on what they typically eat, and the researchers used that information to calculate a quality diet score for each participant. Those who consumed higher levels of fat, alcohol, or carbs were given lower scores, while those with higher intakes of fruits and vegetables were given higher scores.

    The researchers then had each participant randomly assigned to start taking either:

    • a combination of nutraceuticals -- a vitamin or mineral-based supplement used to treat or prevent disease;

    • n-acetylcysteine -- an anti-inflammatory amino acid, commonly referred to as NAC; or

    • a placebo pill for 16 weeks, in addition to whatever bipolar treatments they were already receiving.

    The researchers then monitored each participant’s progress over the course of the study.

    According to lead researcher Melanie Ashton of Deakin University in Australia, the nutraceutical treatment proved to be more beneficial for the group with the healthier diets.

    “We found that people who had a better-quality diet, a diet with anti-inflammatory properties, or a lower BMI, showed better response to add-on nutraceutical treatment than did those who reported a low-quality diet, or a diet including foods that promote inflammation, or who were overweight,” Ashton said.

    The researchers recently presented their findings at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Conference in Barcelona and noted that should these findings hold up over future tests, diet and weight would need to be factors in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

    “If we can confirm these results, then it’s good news for people with bipolar disorder, as there is great need for better treatments for the depressive phase of bipolar disorder,” Ashton said.

    Bipolar disorder affects 2.6 percent of the United States population, and many professionals in the mental health field struggle with finding the proper tr...

    Get trending consumer news and recalls

      By entering your email, you agree to sign up for consumer news, tips and giveaways from ConsumerAffairs. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Thanks for subscribing.

      You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter! Enjoy reading our tips and recommendations.

      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...

      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...

      Judge demands Musk, SEC justify their settlement agreement

      Judge Alison Nathan has requested a joint letter explaining why the settlement is ‘fair and reasonable’

      Less than a week after Tesla CEO Elon Musk reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over his statements on Twitter, a federal judge has requested that the settlement be justified as “fair and reasonable.”

      Judge Alison Nathan, a U.S. District Court judge in New York, has given the two parties a week to submit a joint letter explaining why she should sign off on the deal.

      Judge Nathan said the court needs to make a "minimal determination of whether the agreement is appropriate,” adding that she is bound by law to determine whether the enforcement action in question is "fair and reasonable, with the additional requirement that the public interest not be disserved."

      Misleading tweet

      The SEC’s fraud charges stem from Musk’s August 7 tweet in which he said he had secured the funding necessary to take Tesla private, even though he had not. The now-infamous tweet caused the company’s stock to rise 11 percent that day to a near all-time high.

      Charging that the tweet misled investors, the SEC reached a decision to require Musk to step down as chairman for at least three years. Under the deal, Musk and Tesla will pay separate $20 million fines. However, it stipulated that Musk will be allowed to remain chief executive.

      Just a few hours after the judge ordered that the fraud settlement be justified, Musk mocked the SEC on Twitter, calling the agency the "Shortseller Enrichment Commission."

      "Just want to [sic] that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work," he said. "And the name change is so on point!"

      Judge Nathan’s request for the settlement to be justified is unusual but not unheard of, experts say. In comments to CNN, Jay Dubow, a partner at Pepper Hamilton and a former branch chief with the SEC's enforcement division explained that executives usually aren’t allowed to remain CEO when they are forced to step down from their role as chairman.

      However, Dubow said he would be surprised if the the judge ultimately rejected the tentative deal. "I think it's the judge being careful," he said. "It's a high-profile case."

      Judge Nathan said it was her regular practice to request letters of this nature, Reuters reports.

      Less than a week after Tesla CEO Elon Musk reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over his statements on Twitter, a federal...

      Uber promoting increased turnout for midterm election

      The company's Drive The Vote campaign will help people register and get to the polls

      Uber has announced an initiative to promote voter turnout for the midterm election on November 6.

      The ride-sharing company is launching its Drive The Vote campaign, helping people register, find their polling places, and in some cases giving free rides to the voting booth.

      “To help the millions of Americans who cite transportation barriers as the reason they don’t vote, we’ll be partnering with #VoteTogether and Democracy Works to provide free rides to the polls,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement.

      Uber would also like paying customers to use its service on election day. As long as you have the most up-to-date version of the app you'll be able to make a few taps to find your polling place and summon a ride.

      In an effort to support voter registration efforts, Uber is partnering with the organization When We All Vote to provide riders with voter registration tools. Earlier this week, Uber began distributing information about registration to riders using the Uber app.

      Voter registration drives

      “We will also be emailing information about how to register to vote to drivers and delivery partners across the United States,” Khosrowshahi said. “Between now and Election Day, we’ll be hosting voter registration drives at more than 125 U.S. Greenlight Hub locations around the country to help register as many eligible voters as possible before their state’s deadline.”

      Uber's driver support centers will have local registration resources to facilitate new voters, whether they are Uber drivers, delivery partners, or riders. These centers can be found here.

      Finally, the ride-sharing company is encouraging campaigns and political organizations to purchase prepaid rides under the Uber For Business service, making sure supporters have a way to get to the polls on election day.

      If you haven't registered to vote there is still time in many states. You'll find a list of the states and their registration deadlines here.

      Uber has announced an initiative to promote voter turnout for the midterm election on November 6.The ride-sharing company is launching its Drive The Vo...

      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...

      DOT releases new guidance for autonomous vehicles

      The Department of Transportation is preparing for the deployment of fully driverless cars

      The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released its latest guidance for automated vehicles.

      This year marks the third year that the DOT has released guidance on automated vehicles. The latest report, dubbed Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0, gives updated safety principles and offers guidance for state and local governments considering automated vehicle testing and operation.

      The agency said in the new report that it, “intends to reconsider the necessity and appropriateness of its current safety standards” as applied to autonomous vehicles.

      Updated guidance

      "The integration of automation across our transportation system has the potential to increase productivity and facilitate freight movement," Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.

      "But most importantly, automation has the potential to impact safety significantly -- by reducing crashes caused by human error, including crashes involving impaired or distracted drivers, and saving lives.”

      The DOT said it plans to support “the safe development of automated vehicle technologies by providing new multi-modal safety guidance; reducing policy uncertainty and clarifying roles, and outlining a process for working with U.S. DOT as technology evolves.”

      For the second consecutive year, the report calls for companies developing automated driving systems to voluntarily share why their vehicles are safe enough to operate on public roads. To date, only four companies have made their Voluntary Safety Self-Assessments public.

      The DOT also said in the 80-page document that it “will modernize or eliminate outdated regulations that unnecessarily impede the development of automated vehicles.” Additionally, the agency is in the process of updating its definitions of “driver” and “operator” to reflect that the terms no longer have to refer to a human.

      The updated guidance also states that the DOT will identify and support development of automation-related voluntary standards developed through organizations and associations, “which can be an effective non-regulatory means to advance the integration of automation technologies.”

      Safety concerns

      The safety of autonomous vehicles has become a chief concern in the industry, as well as among consumers. As Chao noted in the report, "The public has legitimate concerns about the safety, security and privacy of automated technology.”  

      In March, a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. It later came to light that Uber had turned off the vehicle’s automated emergency braking system as part of its testing program. The crash remains under investigation by the NTSB.

      The updated federal guidance comes as Waymo, Google’s self-driving car startup, is working to launch a driverless taxi service in Arizona by the end of the year. It also comes the same week GM and Honda revealed that they are planning to join forces to produce a “purpose-built” autonomous vehicle without traditional controls.

      The DOT’s latest guidance for automated vehicles, which is still technically just a draft, is set to be published in the Federal Register for public review and comment.

      The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released its latest guidance for automated vehicles.This year marks the third year that the DOT has rel...

      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...

      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 to $2.60 in Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

      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 ($3.82)
      • California ($3.78)
      • Washington ($3.41)
      • Alaska ($3.34)
      • Oregon ($3.27)
      • Idaho ($3.14)
      • Nevada ($3.25)
      • Utah ($3.04)
      • Pennsylvania ($3.07)
      • Michigan ($3.03)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

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

      • Alabama ($2.60)
      • Mississippi ($2.60)
      • South Carolina ($2.60)
      • Louisiana ($2.65)
      • Virginia ($2.65)
      • Arkansas ($2.65)
      • Texas ($2.65)
      • Tennessee ($2.67)
      • Missouri ($2.69)
      • North Carolina ($2.73)

      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...

      Unemployment rate falls to 49-year low in September

      The economy added 134,000 jobs last month

      The economy added 134,000 new jobs in September as the unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent, the lowest level since 1969.

      The number of new jobs was below consensus estimates, which had been reined in because Hurricane Florence affected areas of the East Coast during the month. Even so, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said the survey response rate within the affected areas was within the normal range.

      “It is possible that payroll employment in some industries was affected by the hurricane; however, it is not possible to quantify the net effect on employment,” said William Waitrowski, Acting Commissioner of BLS.

      Incomes were slightly higher

      Average hourly income rose last month, but not quite as much as the month before. Wages increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent.

      The number of people out of work but looking for a job fell by 240,000. The number of long-term unemployed – people out of work for 27 weeks or more -- was little changed at 1.4 million over the month. According to BLS, this group makes up 22.9 percent of the unemployed.

      The most jobs added last month were in the professional and businesses services sector, which has been a leader all year. It added 54,000 jobs in September and has created 560,000 new jobs so far this year.

      The health care sector also remained strong last month, increasing its payrolls by 26,000. Hospitals accounted for 12,000 of those new hires. So far the health care sector has hired 302,000 new employees.

      Transportation and warehousing added 24,000 jobs while the construction industry added 23,000 workers. The hospitality, retail, financial, and government sectors showed little change from August to September.

      Upward revisions

      July and August employment numbers were revised significantly higher. BLS revised July's job total from 147,000 to 165,000. In August, the 201,000 jobs number was increased to 270,000 for a total of 87,000 additional jobs over the two month period.

      While economists generally agree the September jobs report points to a healthy economy, it may take some pressure off bond rates, which have risen this week on concerns the economy is heating up.

      The yield on the Treasury Department's 10-year bond, a key benchmark for mortgage rates, has risen to 3.225 percent. That's still low on a historical basis but is near a high point for the last decade.

      The economy added 134,000 new jobs in September as the unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent, the lowest level since 1969.The number of new jobs was be...

      JBS Tolleson recalls nearly 7 million pounds of raw beef

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport

      JBS Tolleson of Tolleson, Ariz., is recalling more than 6.9 million pounds of various raw, non-intact beef products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport.

      An epidemiological investigation by the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has identified 57 case-patients from 16 states with illness onset dates ranging from August 5 to September 6, 2018.

      The list of raw, non-intact beef items, including ground beef, packaged on various dates from July 26, 2018, to Sept. 7, 2018, may be found here https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/6ae70f90-0f59-4006-a665-4d10d05156a0/RC-085-2018-Products-List.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

      The recalled products, bear establishment number “EST. 267” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were were shipped to retail locations and institutions 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 regarding the recall may contact the JBS USA consumer hotline at (800) 727-2333.

      JBS Tolleson of Tolleson, Ariz., is recalling more than 6.9 million pounds of various raw, non-intact beef products that may be contaminated with Salmonell...

      Toyota recalls 800k Prius vehicles

      The vehicle could lose power and stall

      Toyota is recalling approximately 807,000 model year 2010-2014 Toyota Prius and model year 2012-2014 Prius v vehicles in the U.S.

      The recalled vehicles were designed to enter a failsafe driving mode in response to certain hybrid system faults. In rare situations, the vehicle may not enter that mode as intended, posing the possibility that the vehicle could lose power and stall.

      While power steering and braking would remain operational, a vehicle stall while driving at higher speeds could increase the risk of a crash.

      The recall is designed to provide a remedy to address a new condition in the vehicles involved in the previous recalls announced in February 2014 and July 2015.

      The previous recalls did not anticipate this new condition remedied with this recall.

      What to do

      Toyota will notify the involved owners once the software update is available, and dealers will update the software for all involved vehicles at no charge.

      Owners may contact Toyota at (800) 331-4331.

      Toyota is recalling approximately 807,000 model year 2010-2014 Toyota Prius and model year 2012-2014 Prius v vehicles in the U.S.The recalled vehicles...

      Johnston County Hams recalls ready-to-eat hams

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Johnston County Hams of Smithfield, N.C., is recalling approximately 89,096 pounds of ready-to-eat hams.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      An investigation by the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service determined that four people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes in North Carolina and Virginia were linked to ready-to-eat deli ham produced by Johnston County Hams. All ill people were hospitalized. One death has been reported from Virginia.

      The following items, produced from April 3, 2017 to October 2, 2018, are being recalled:

      • Varying weights of 7 to 8-lbs. plastic-wrapped “JOHNSTON COUNTY HAMS, INC. COUNTRY STYLE FULLY COOKED BONELESS DELI HAM.”
      • Varying weights of 7 to 8-lbs. plastic-wrapped “Ole Fashioned Sugar Cured The Old Dominion Brand Hams Premium Fully Cooked Country Ham” with Sell-By dates from 4/10/2018 to 9/27/2019.
      • Varying weights of 7 to 8-lbs. plastic-wrapped “Padow’s Hams & Deli, Inc. FULLY COOKED COUNTRY HAM BONELESS Glazed with Brown Sugar.”
      • Varying weights of 7 to 8-lbs. plastic-wrapped “Premium Fully Cooked Country Ham LESS SALT Distributed By: Valley Country Hams LLC” with Sell-By dates from 4/10/2018 to 9/27/2019.
      • Varying weights of 7 to 8-lbs. plastic-wrapped “GOODNIGHT BROTHERS COUNTRY HAM Boneless Fully Cooked.”

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. M2646” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to distributors in Maryland, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina and 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 Rufus Brown at (919) 934-8054.

      Johnston County Hams of Smithfield, N.C., is recalling approximately 89,096 pounds of ready-to-eat hams.The products may be contaminated with Listeria...

      Bloomberg: China 'bugged' servers used by major U.S. companies

      Both Apple and Amazon say it's not true

      Both Apple and Amazon vigorously deny that their servers were hacked by the surreptitious placement of a tiny chip on the motherboard, a claim leveled in an article by Bloomberg News.

      The Bloomberg report says a Chinese subcontractor added the chip to the motherboards used in servers supporting major companies and government agencies, including the CIA. The article says the chip could allow the Chinese government to steal data and conduct surveillance.

      Bloomberg cites sources who say the problem emerged as early as 2015 when it was confirmed by independent security investigators working for cloud providers. The news agency says the circuit boards, manufactured in China, are widely used in servers produced by Super Micro, a U.S.-based company.

      Strong denial

      Apple denied the report in unusually strong language, saying it is "deeply disappointed" that the Bloomberg team 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 a 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 to Bloomberg, contained in the story, the company said that it had “found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications."

      Not a simple attack

      According to Bloomberg, China manufactures 75 percent of the world's mobile phones and 90 percent of its computers. But the news agency concedes the extreme difficulty China would face in carrying out this kind of attack.

      It would mean "developing a deep understanding of a product’s design, manipulating components at the factory, and ensuring that the doctored devices made it through the global logistics chain to the desired location," the authors write.

      A hacker interviewed by Bloomberg for the story equated that feat to "witnessing a unicorn jumping over a rainbow."

      Yet Bloomberg maintains it happened. It says the chips, no larger than a grain of rice, were inserted during the manufacturing process by Chinese government operatives who targeted a major U.S. server company. In the article, U.S. officials describe it as "the most significant supply chain attack known to be carried out against U.S. companies."

      Both Apple and Amazon vigorously deny that their servers were hacked by the surreptitious placement of a tiny chip on the motherboard, a claim leveled in a...

      Congress approves FAA funding bill

      The agency will be required to set airline seat standards

      The Senate has given final approval to a bill funding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and sent it to the White House, where President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

      The final version of the measure contains some things consumers asked for, but it has failed to provide any relief from airline fees.

      Under the new law, the FAA will be required to establish minimum seat size and leg room standards for airlines. The standard for commercial airline seats will include a minimum pitch, establishing the distance between seats.

      Consumers have complained in recent years as airlines have reconfigured cabins to include more seats. In July, the consumer group Flyers' Rights petitioned the FAA to require airlines to abide by minimum seat standards, but the agency declined to do so.

      The group said tight seating configurations make it difficult for passengers to evacuate an aircraft in the 90 seconds required by FAA regulations. The FAA, however, said its tests -- called questionable by Flyers' Rights -- show that it is possible.

      The new law will require the FAA to mandate minimum seat requirements but does not tell the agency how to determine those standards.

      Limits on bumping

      The new law will also prohibit airlines from bumping a passenger who is already on board the overbooked aircraft. That stems from an incident in 2017 when a passenger who refused to give up his seat was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight, resulting in injuries.

      The new law, however, will not provide relief from the fees that airlines have attached to things that were once provided at no charge.

      As it considered the legislation, a Senate committee added language to limit fees for checked bags and changed flights, requiring them to be "reasonable." After a vigorous lobbying campaign by the airline industry, the language about fees was stripped from the bill.

      'Missed opportunity'

      Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) voted against the measure, saying Congress missed an opportunity to protect consumers from what he called "ridiculous fees."

      “It is Congress’s obligation to protect the public from abusive practices that harm consumers," Markey said. "Instead, after a ferocious lobbying blitz by the airline industry, the airlines won, and passengers lost. The result: airline fees remain sky high and frustration with the modern flying experience continues to grow."

      Airlines began adding fees in 2008 when fuel prices were at an all-time high. It enabled airlines to increase profitability without raising advertised fares.

      The Senate has given final approval to a bill funding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and sent it to the White House, where President Trump is ex...

      Broadband groups sue California over net neutrality

      Industry makes the same argument as the Justice Department suit

      Lobbying organizations for the telecommunications industry and cable TV have joined forces to sue California over its newly enacted net neutrality law.

      The suit follows similar litigation filed by the U.S. Justice Department this week, charging the law runs counter to federal policy. The industry suit filed in the Eastern District of California makes the same argument.

      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reversed an Obama administration policy that required all internet traffic to be treated the same. That meant internet service providers (ISP) could not charge more for websites that used more bandwidth or couldn't favor one company's content over another.

      Under the new federal policy, ISPs are free to impose additional charges on high bandwidth traffic or eliminate data charges when customers view its content. California lawmakers responded by passing a law requiring ISPs serving California consumers to abide by the previous net neutrality rules.

      Joining forces with the feds

      USTelecom, CTIA, NCTA, and ACA -- the industry lobbying groups -- have joined the U.S. government is seeking to block the California law from going into effect January 1.

      “The nation’s broadband providers are the innovation engine of America’s digital economy and remain committed to an open internet for consumers," the groups said in a statement. "We oppose California’s action to regulate internet access because it threatens to negatively affect services for millions of consumers and harm new investment and economic growth."

      The suit makes the same argument as the government litigation. It says Republican and Democratic administrations have embraced the notion that when states make rules that are the opposite of a federal law, they are preempted by federal law.

      Exceptions

      There are exceptions, however. Several states have legalized the possession and use of marijuana, which is still prohibited under federal law. These state laws have not been challenged in court.

      Both the government and industry suits challenge the California law, saying it would be too complicated to offer internet service if providers have to follow different rules in different states.

      Until the early 2000s, the principle of net neutrality prevailed because internet service was provided over telephone lines. Telecom services were determined to be common carriers, who are required to treat all customers the same.

      Once broadband emerged and internet traffic began to move over cable, fiber, and airwaves, ISPs argued the old rules no longer applied. In 2015, the FCC formally declared that the internet was a public utility, requiring equal treatment of all traffic. The FCC reversed that policy in December 2017.

      Lobbying organizations for the telecommunications industry and cable TV have joined forces to sue California over its newly enacted net neutrality law....