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      The Weekly Hack: Massage app accidentally reveals which clients asked for sexual favors

      A hacker impersonated a title company and convinced a house hunter to wire over his money

      Who would have guessed that an app designed to order massages straight to your door had both poor security and customers with perhaps some trouble keeping their hands to themselves?

      Urban, a popular London-based startup selling “wellness that comes to you,” accidentally leaked its entire customer database online, revealing  email addresses, phone numbers, and names of all its 309,000 customers. Included in the database were also complaints from therapists about the specific clients who requested “sexual services.”

      Urban pulled the database offline after the website TechCrunch discovered it and contacted the company for comment. So there’s probably no need to go into hiding if you’re one of the offending customers, unless someone took a screenshot.  

      House hunter

      A dentist in Missouri is out $90,000 after hackers successfully impersonated the real estate companies that he was already doing business with.

      Howard Ritchey Jr. was hunting for a new home last year and working with title, mortgage, and real estate companies to make the purchase happen. In the middle of the deal, he received an email from what looked like his title company which instructed him to wire $88,338 over to secure his desired house.

      But when he followed up in person with his lender, he was told the money didn’t go to the home. The lender said it looked like hackers got into his email and stole his money. Ritchey is now suing the title company and other parties, alleging that hackers actually targeted their emails and failed to warn him about the impersonators.

      Ritchey’s case isn’t unique; the FBI says that similar complaints of real estate business impersonators are on the rise. Yet another reason not to wire money.  

      Dunkin’ Donuts

      Joining a donut loyalty program may have seemed like the ideal way to make your troubles go away, but reality isn’t so sweet. Dunkin’ Donuts recently informed holders of its loyalty Perks accounts that they should change their passwords to all of their other, non-donut-related accounts because their Dunkin’ Donuts passwords may have been stolen.

      Dunkin’ says that thieves tried to break into the loyalty program and may have gained access to consumers’ usernames and passwords in the process. Consumers are instructed to change their passwords to other accounts only if its the same password they used for the Perks program.

      Dell

      Every single person who has shopped for Dell online had their password reset in the online store and wasn’t told why. The computer chain initially discovered it was hacked back on November 9 and changed passwords five days later.  

      A source familiar with the incident says that Dell never informed consumers of the breach before changing their passwords on their behalf, according to a report published Wednesday in Reuters.

      Security experts say it's shameful on Dell’s part that consumers were never told why their passwords were automatically reset, explaining that the move leaves potential victims “abandoned in the darkness and ambiguity.”

      Amazon

      Consumers and researchers are scratching their head about a vague notice that shoppers received from Amazon shortly before Black Friday. The message says that users had their data exposed due to a “technical error,” but it does not specify much else, such as what type of data was exposed or how many people were affected.

      Asked for more details, Amazon has told reporters that there is “nothing to add beyond our statement.” Amazon also told users they already fixed the unspecified issue and that there is no need for consumers to do anything. So, do with that information what you will.

      Health records, again

      Healthcare hackers have struck again, this time targeting more than two million patients covered  by Atrium, a North Carolina-based provider.

      The firm said an “unauthorized third party” accessed patient information between Sept. 22 and 29, but the company told patients that medical records and payment information remains safe.

      Who would have guessed that an app designed to order massages straight to your door had both poor security and customers with perhaps some trouble keeping...
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      AT&T to launch streaming service with three subscription tiers

      The company is aiming to appeal to a wider audience

      AT&T revealed during a presentation in New York to investors that it will use its acquisition of Time Warner to roll out a three-tiered streaming service in late 2019.

      Each level of the upcoming streaming service will offer the following, according to The Hollywood Reporter:

      • First tier. An entry-level option that will be “movie-focused” and include films from WarnerMedia’s catalogue.

      • Second tier. A “premium” level that includes WarnerMedia TV series and “blockbuster movies”

      • Third tier. The top level will be an option that “bundles content from the first two plus an extensive library of WarnerMedia and licensed content,” likely to include shows from HBO.

      John Stankey, chief executive of WarnerMedia, told reporters on Thursday that the ultimate goal is to have subscribers want access to all three tiers.

      "We really want the customer to want all three tiers," he said. "We want the customer to commit all the way."

      The multi-tiered approach lets customers start at a price point that is financially comfortable for them but is intended to sow the desire to shell out more for original TV shows and access to WarnerMedia’s extensive collection of films and television series. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson didn’t say how much each tier would cost.

      Competing with Netflix

      Disney -- which is set to become Hulu’s majority shareholder once its acquisition of 21st Century Fox is finalized -- is also gearing up to launch new streaming video service in 2019. Disney is reportedly looking to offer a digital bundle option for consumers that will include Hulu and ESPN+.

      Companies are rolling out streaming services in an effort to compete with Netflix, which currently has more than 137 million subscribers. AT&T’s DirecTV Now online streaming service is going to lose subscribers this quarter as well as next.

      Stankey said competitors like Netflix "should expect their libraries to get a lot thinner" over the next 18-24 months.

      “We want to broaden the relevant demographic base,” Stankey told investors. “Our goal now is to open the aperture. We want to pick up more content and get more engagement on digital content.”

      "We are well positioned for success as the lines between entertainment and communications continue to blur," Stephenson said. "If you're a media company, you can no longer rely exclusively on wholesale distribution models. You must develop a direct relationship with your viewers. And if you're a communications company, you can no longer rely exclusively on oversized bundles of content."

      AT&T was given the green light to merge with Time Warner in June. The acquisition cost $84.5 billion.

      AT&T; revealed during a presentation in New York to investors that it will use its acquisition of Time Warner to roll out a three-tiered streaming service...
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      Public health is already worsening due to climate change, new report says

      Heat stroke and other related conditions are already on the rise. Researchers say the time to act is now

      At the heart of the U.S. government's two-year National Climate Assessment report, a group of researchers are now warning that climate change is already harming public health.

      A total of 150 experts from 27 different universities and institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO), published their findings in the journal The Lancet on Wednesday.

      Heat strokes, dengue fever, and lack of access to clean drinking water, clean air, and food supplies are likely to become growing problems if no action is taken on climate change, the report says.

      “These are not things happening in 2050 but are things we are already seeing today. We think of these as the canary in, ironically, the coalmine,” Nick Watt, the Executive Director of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change project, told the Guardian.

      Raising awareness, but action still needed

      The only silver lining comes in the form of awareness. The researchers say that reporting on the human health effects of climate change may make people more inclined to act.

      “Individual engagement and action contributes to a growing wave of change,” an introductory paper to the report says. “This does not negate the need for engagement at international policy level and for governments to better use their powers, but this can be accelerated and complemented by harnessing the collective voice of individuals.”

      But action at the policy level still appears to be a hard-fought battle. The United Nations says that governments must triple their current efforts at tackling climate change to prevent catastrophic warming in the near future.

      The researchers at The Lancet note that hospitals may not be prepared to take on a growing amount of heat stroke patients. The team interviewed officials from 500 global cities and found that much of their public health infrastructure, such as hospitals, were vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

      Some lawmakers in the United States are currently drafting a Green New Deal proposal that they hope will aggressively address the problem.

      At the heart of the U.S. government's two-year National Climate Assessment report, a group of researchers are now warning that climate change is already ha...
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      Dunkin’ Donuts discloses security breach affecting rewards program members

      The chain said a third party obtained usernames and passwords of its DD Perks members

      Dunkin’ Donuts has disclosed that it became aware of a possible security breach on October 31.

      The company said an outside source gained access to some of its DD Perks program customers’ usernames and passwords, as well as their DD Perks account number and DD Perks QR codes.

      Hackers likely gained access to its customers’ private information through security breaches of other companies, the coffee and doughnuts chain said.

      "We learned from one of our security vendors that a third-party may have attempted to log in to your DD Perks account," the company said in a notification to its rewards program customers.

      "Our security vendor was successful in stopping most of these attempts, but it is possible that these third-parties may have succeeded in logging in to your DD Perks account if you used your DD Perks username and password for accounts unrelated to Dunkin’," it said.

      After learning of the breach, Dunkin’ said it "forced a password reset that required all of the potentially impacted DD Perks account holders to log out and log back in to their account using a new password." Dunkin’ encouraged customers to use “unique passwords” and not reuse passwords used for their other online accounts.

      Dunkin’ said it launched an internal investigation into the issue, which revealed that its internal system "did not experience a data security breach."

      Dunkin’ Donuts has disclosed that it became aware of a possible security breach on October 31.The company said an outside source gained access to some...
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      Gas prices close to a 2018 low

      Falling oil prices giving motorists a holiday gift

      Motorists will go into December with a little extra Christmas cash in their pockets thanks to still-falling gasoline prices.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gas is $2.51 a gallon, down seven cents from a week ago. It's 29 cents a gallon cheaper than a month ago, saving $4.35 on a 15-gallon fill-up.

      The average price of premium gas is $3.10 a gallon, also seven cents cheaper than last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.21, three cents a gallon cheaper than seven days ago.

      Gas prices are moving lower for one simple reason. The price of oil continues to fall, thanks to rising production and falling demand.

      Building stockpiles

      The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports U.S. oil supplies rose for a 10th straight week, increasing to 450 million barrels. This week's EIA report shows oil stockpiles are about 7 percent higher than the five-year average for this time of year.

      “Growth in global crude production, including in the U.S., combined with weaker than expected global crude demand for the fourth quarter have helped to push crude prices lower,” AAA said in its latest market update.

      At $2.51 a gallon, the average price of gasoline is now just two cents higher than the lowest price of the year, reached back in January. Kentucky and Ohio saw the biggest price drops in the last week. The average price is down 10 cents a gallon in Kentucky and 14 cents lower in Ohio.

      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 ($3.72)
      • California ($3.56)
      • Washington ($3.32)
      • Alaska ($3.26)
      • Nevada ($3.17)
      • Oregon ($3.15)
      • Idaho ($2.95)
      • Utah ($2.89)
      • Wyoming ($2.86)
      • Arizona ($2.82)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

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

      • Missouri ($2.13)
      • Oklahoma ($2.18)
      • South Carolina ($2.18)
      • Texas ($2.19)
      • Ohio ($2.20)
      • Louisiana ($2.21)
      • Alabama ($2.21)
      • Delaware ($2.21)
      • Mississippi ($2.21)
      • Kentucky ($2.22)
      Motorists will go into December with a little extra Christmas cash in their pockets thanks to still-falling gasoline prices.The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey s...
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      Ford recalls model year 2018 Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expeditions

      The second row center seat may move in a crash

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 34,946 model year 2018 Lincoln Navigators, and Ford Expeditions.

      The second row center seat track assemblies may be missing one or both of the J-Channel reinforcement brackets, possibly allowing the seat to move in the event of a crash.

      A seat that moves in a crash may not properly restrain the occupant, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the second row center seat for any missing J-channel reinforcement brackets, replacing the center seat frame assembly as necessary, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 17, 2018.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 18S37

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 34,946 model year 2018 Lincoln Navigators, and Ford Expeditions.The second row center seat track assemblies may be miss...
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      Sunshine Mills recalls dry dog food

      The products may have elevated levels of Vitamin D

      Sunshine Mills is recalling Evolve Puppy, Sportsman’s Pride Large Breed Puppy and Triumph Chicken and Rice Dog Food.

      The products may contain elevated levels of Vitamin D which, when consumed at very high levels, can lead to serious health issues in dogs including renal dysfunction.

      Symptoms include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss.

      The following products with a Best Buy Date Code of November 1, 2018, through November 8, 2019, on the back of each bag, are being recalled:

      • 14 LB Evolve Chicken & Rice Puppy Dry Dog Food Bag UPC: 0-73657-00862-0
      • 28 LB Evolve Chicken & Rice Puppy Dry Dog Food Bag UPC: 0-73657-00863-7
      • 40 LB Sportsman's Pride Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food Bag UPC: 0-70155-10566-0
      • 40 LB Sportsman's Pride Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food Bag UPC: 0-70155-10564-0
      • 3.5 LB Triumph Chicken & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food Bag UPC: 0-73657-00873-6
      • 16 LB Triumph Chicken & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food Bag UPC: 0-73657-00874-3
      • 30 LB Triumph Chicken & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food Bag UPC 0-73657-00875-0

      The recalled products were distributed in retail stores within the U.S., as well as some export distributors in Japan, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Israel, Canada and South Korea.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should dispose of them or return them to the retailer for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Sunshine Mills customer service at (800) 705-2111 from 7AM – 4PM (CT Monday through Friday, or by email at customer.service@sunshinemills.com.

      Sunshine Mills is recalling Evolve Puppy, Sportsman’s Pride Large Breed Puppy and Triumph Chicken and Rice Dog Food.The products may contain elevated l...
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      Chunwei recalls meat and poultry products

      The products may contain a variety of allergens not declared on the label

      Chunwei, Inc., of Huntington Park, Calif., is recalling approximately 65,023 pounds of various ready-to-eat and raw meat A l;and poultry products.

      The products may contain soy, wheat, dairy, egg, and sesame, known allergens, as well as monosodium glutamate (MSG), which are not declared on the finished product label.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      A list of the recalled items, produced from November 16, 2017, through November 19, 2018, may be found here.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. P-8110” or “EST. 8110” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were 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 Yibin Huang at (626) 278-8199, or by email at Yibin.Huang@chunweius.com.

      Chunwei, Inc., of Huntington Park, Calif., is recalling approximately 65,023 pounds of various ready-to-eat and raw meat A l;and poultry products.The p...
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      Dell suffered a ‘cybersecurity incident’ earlier this month

      The company said hackers attempted to extract customer information

      Dell announced on Wednesday that its online marketplace suffered a security breach earlier this month, on November 9.

      The company said it detected an unauthorized attempt to extract customer information from Dell.com. Information that hackers attempted to extract included customer names, email addresses, and hashed passwords. The intruders didn't target payment cards.

      Dell said it has no reason to believe that any information was successfully extracted since it “immediately implemented countermeasures” the same day the attempted extraction happened.

      "Though it is possible some of this information was removed from Dell's network, our investigations found no conclusive evidence that any was extracted," Dell said in a press release disclosing the potential breach.

      Incident still under investigation

      For security purposes, Dell initiated a password reset on November 14 for all customer accounts on Dell.com. The company said it also notified law enforcement and hired a digital forensics team to conduct an independent investigation.

      Dell has not disclosed how many accounts were affected. In a statement to ZDNet, a spokesperson for the company said "it would be imprudent to publish potential numbers when there may be none."

      Dell is urging consumers to review the information they have stored in their Dell.com accounts and monitor the activity on their saved cards.

      “In this age of highly sophisticated information security threats, Dell is committed to doing all it can to protect customers’ information,” the company said. “This includes encouraging customers to change passwords for other accounts if they use the same password for their Dell.com account. Dell will continue to invest in its information technology networks and security to detect and prevent the risk of unauthorized activity.”

      Dell announced on Wednesday that its online marketplace suffered a security breach earlier this month, on November 9.The company said it detected an un...
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      Salmonella outbreak linked to recalled tahini products

      Health officials are urging consumers not to eat tahini sold under 6 brand names

      Fresh on the heels of a salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey and an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, public health officials have announced that a multistate salmonella outbreak linked to recalled tahini products has sickened at least five people.

      The illnesses were reported as early as June and as recently as October 18. Consumers who became ill told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that they had recently consumed hummus or other foods containing tahini.

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has identified salmonella in imported tahini produced by Achdut Ltd, which it said was “highly related” to the strain identified in those who fell ill.

      “[The] CDC identified five ill people in the U.S. infected with Salmonella Concord that had the same genetic fingerprint as the Salmonella Concord found in tahini sampled at the point of import into the United States,” the FDA said.

      “Of the five U.S. cases interviewed, all five reported consuming hummus made with tahini; three people reported eating tahini or hummus made with tahini in a restaurant in the U.S., while the other two people reported consuming tahini or hummus made with tahini during international travel.”

      Six tahini brands

      The FDA is advising consumers not to eat recalled tahini products packaged under the brand names Achva, Achdut, Soom, S&F, Pepperwood, and Baron’s. The products have expiration dates ranging from April 7, 2020 to May 21, 2020 and lot codes ranging from 18-097 to 18-141, the FDA said.

      The FDA cautioned that some Achdut tahini products might not be clearly labeled with specific dates or may have labels that are written in Hebrew.

      “Consumers who have purchased a tahini product and are uncertain of where the product was manufactured or cannot identify the brand by lot codes or expiration dates should use caution and discard the product or return the food to the store for a refund,” the agency said.

      Salmonella cases tied to the outbreak have been reported in Michigan, New York, and Hawaii. The FDA said Achdut, an Israeli-based manufacturer, has removed the source of the contamination.

      Illness caused by Salmonella typically occurs between 12-72 hours after consuming the contaminated product. Most people experience fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. The illness usually lasts for a week, but severe cases can persist for longer.

      Fresh on the heels of a salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey and an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, public health officials have announced...
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      Mylan recalls high blood pressure meds

      The products contain trace amounts of an impurity

      Mylan Pharmaceuticals is recalling select lots of Valsartan-containing products, used in the treatment of high bloodpressure.

      The products contain trace amounts of an impurity, N-nitrosodiethylamine, which has been classified as a probable human carcinogen.

      The following batches of products, distributed in the U.S. between March 2017, and November 2018, are being recalled:

      NDCProduct DescriptionStrengthSizeLot NumberExpiry
      0378-1721-93Amlodipine and Valsartan Tablets, USP5mg / 160mg3030660513/19
      0378-1722-93Amlodipine and Valsartan Tablets, USP10mg / 160mg3030795001/20
      0378-1724-93Amlodipine and Valsartan Tablets, USP10mg / 320mg30306198611/18
      0378-1724-93Amlodipine and Valsartan Tablets, USP10mg / 320mg3030797091/20
      0378-1724-93Amlodipine and Valsartan Tablets, USP10mg / 320mg30307761811/19
      0378-1724-93Amlodipine and Valsartan Tablets, USP10mg / 320mg3030797081/20
      0378-5813-77Valsartan Tablets, USP80mg9030637821/19
      0378-5814-77Valsartan Tablets, USP160mg9030713527/19
      0378-5807-93Valsartan Tablets, USP40mg30306116911/18
      0378-5815-77Valsartan Tablets, USP320mg9030814993/20
      0378-5815-77Valsartan Tablets, USP320mg9030800092/20
      0378-5815-77Valsartan Tablets, USP320mg9030800102/20
      0378-5815-77Valsartan Tablets, USP320mg9030792051/20
      0378-6325-05Valsartan and Hydro chlorothiazide Tablets, USP320mg / 25mg50030848862/19
      0378-6325-05Valsartan and Hydro chlorothiazide Tablets, USP320mg / 25mg500309380412/19

      What to do

      Patients should contact their pharmacist or physician who can advise them about an alternative treatment prior to returning their medication.

      Patients who are on valsartan should continue taking their medication, as the risk of harm to the patient's health may be higher if the treatment is stopped immediately without any alternative treatment.

      Consumers in possession of recalled product should contact Stericycle at (888) 406-9305 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (EST) for the return of the recalled product.

      Mylan Pharmaceuticals is recalling select lots of Valsartan-containing products, used in the treatment of high bloodpressure.The products contain trace...
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      Öhlins recalls bicycle forks

      The air cartridge can abruptly spring out of the stanchion tube

      Öhlins Racing AB of Upplands Väsby, Sweden and Specialized Bicycle Components of Morgan Hill, Calif., are recalling about 6,000 front air suspension bicycle forks sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      The air cartridge can abruptly spring out of the stanchion tube, posing fall and injury risks to the rider.

      The firms have received four reports in the U.S. of the air cartridge abruptly springing out of the fork stanchion tube, including a report of a bruised shoulder and a broken rib.

      This recall involves Öhlins branded RXF36 Air and RXF34 Air suspension forks sold as aftermarket equipment and as original equipment on some Specialized-branded Enduro, Stumpjumper, Fuse, and Levo mountain bicycles. A bicycle fork is the part that holds the front wheel.

      The recalled forks are black with “ÖHLINS” written in gold on each of the fork lowers. They have “RXF36” or “RXF34” printed across the fork arch.

      RXF36 Coil Forks (no air valve on the right-side top cap and “TTX” and “Coil” written on the back of the left fork lowers) are not included in this recall.

      The bicycle forks, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold as aftermarket accessories through authorized Specialized retailers, independent retailers, including Jenson USA, Fanatik Bike Co. and online at www.backcountry.com for between about $1,000 and $1,250.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycles and contact an authorized Öhlins or Specialized retailer for a free repair of the front fork.

      Consumers may contact Öhlins at (877) 922-3877 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or online at www.ohlins.com and click on “Recall” at the bottom of the page for more information, or Specialized Bicycle at (800) 722-4423 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or online at www.specialized.com and click on “SAFETY NOTIFICATIONS” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Öhlins Racing AB of Upplands Väsby, Sweden and Specialized Bicycle Components of Morgan Hill, Calif., are recalling about 6,000 front air suspension bicycl...
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      Record-setting Cyber Monday suggests a strong holiday shopping season

      Amazon reports its best-ever single day

      The record-breaking holiday spending that began on Thanksgiving has spilled into this week.

      Cyber Monday blew the doors off of sales projections as consumers spent $7.9 billion in online transactions, according to Adobe Analytics. That's on top of $6.22 billion spent online on Black Friday and $3.7 billion spent on Thanksgiving Day.

      Amazon said Cyber Monday proved to be the biggest sales day in the company's history with more products purchased globally than any other day. It also said the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday broke sales records in terms of volume.

      “Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to break records on Amazon year-over-year, which tells us that customers love shopping for deals to kick off the holiday shopping season,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer.

      Amazon points out it was not just the only company that benefited from the spending. Sales by small and medium-sized businesses that sell through the Amazon platform grew more than 20 percent on Black Friday year-over-year.

      Among the weekend's best-selling items were Christmas lights -- a favorite of Prime members. The new Echo Dot, the memoir "Becoming" by Michelle Obama, the Amazon Smart Plug, and L.O.L. Surprise Series toys were also top sellers.

      Increasing role of smartphones

      Consumers continued to turn to their mobile devices to make Cyber Monday purchases and stores like Macy's and Target, which have spent heavily to upgrade their mobile apps, benefited in the form of increased sales.

      This year Walmart added store maps to its app in an effort to make in-store shopping easier for consumers. It also deployed roving checkers on Black Friday to make it easier for shoppers to check out with their purchases without standing in the checkout line.

      But mobile shopping appears to be the major story so far this holiday season. Adobe reports transactions made from mobile devices were up 55.6 percent Cyber Monday from last year to reach $2.2 billion in sales.

      Analysts say sales are off to a good start, as expected, this holiday season and point to a still-strong economy and confident consumers.

      The record-breaking holiday spending that began on Thanksgiving has spilled into this week.Cyber Monday blew the doors off of sales projections as cons...
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      Charities concerned about impact of last year’s tax law change

      The increase in the standard deduction has many nonprofits concerned about a drop in year-end donations

      Charities are worried that they may receive fewer donations this holiday season as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress last year.

      The new law, which went into effect in January, nearly doubled the value of the standard deduction for both individuals and married couples, thereby reducing the tax payoff for donations. Under the tax law change, many taxpayers who used to itemize deductions may find it less necessary to include charitable donations.

      The number of people who claim the deduction for charitable giving is expected to fall to 16 million this year from 37 million last year, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center.

      Donor numbers already declining

      Charities have already noticed a drop in the number of donors this year.

      “Compared with last year, the number of donors dropped 4.3% while the value of donations increased 2.6% through Sept. 30, according to a study released Tuesday by the Association of Fundraising Professionals,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

      The American Red Cross is among the nonprofits bracing for the impact of the new tax law. The organization said it’s concerned that fewer taxpayers will be taking advantage of the charitable deduction due to the increase in the standard deduction.

      “The American Red Cross is disappointed that the new tax law did not contain a universal charitable deduction available to all taxpayers, whether they itemize or not,” said Greta Gustafson, a spokesperson for the organization. “At this point, it’s too early to assess the full impact of the law, but it is certainly an issue we will raise next year with the new Congress.”

      It could take several years to see the implications of the new law in regards to the number of charitable donations, since many people make donations for reasons other than financial benefit.

      “It’s a very individual basis, and we’re not going to know the answer to this until 2020 or 2021,” Robert Sharpe, a consultant who works for nonprofits, told the Journal. “Right now, only the most sophisticated people have talked to their advisers about the impact.”

      Charities are worried that they may receive fewer donations this holiday season as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress last year....
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      YouTube launches lower-cost YouTube Music and Premium plans for students

      Eligible students can get a subscription for half the price

      YouTube is now offering lower-cost YouTube Music and YouTube Music Premium subscription plans for full-time students at an accredited college or university in the U.S.

      The new student plans for YouTube Music and YouTube Premium give eligible students “discounted access to a world of music, original series and movies —  all ad-free and at a wallet-friendly price,” YouTube said in a blog post.

      YouTube Music Premium plans cost $5 per month for students instead of the usual $10 per month, while YouTube Premium costs $7 per month instead of $12 per month.

      Students who sign up before January 31, 2019 can take advantage of a special promotion that offers YouTube Premium -- a platform on which consumers can watch ad-free videos and get access to YouTube Originals -- for $5.99 per month instead of $6.99. That rate that will remain in place for the length of their student membership (for up to four years, says YouTube).

      With its new plans for students, YouTube is positioning itself to compete with rival Spotify, which is currently promoting a $4.99 per month student package that includes its music service, as well as Hulu with limited commercials and the TV channel Showtime.

      For now, YouTube’s student plans are only available to full-time college students in the U.S., but YouTube says it will extend the offer to more countries in the future.

      YouTube -- which launched its streaming services last year -- revealed in May that it had 1.8 billion logged-in monthly users. It hasn’t yet released an estimate of how many users are paying subscribers to YouTube Premium or YouTube Music Premium.

      YouTube is now offering lower-cost YouTube Music and YouTube Music Premium subscription plans for full-time students at an accredited college or university...
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      Fannie and Freddie agree to purchase larger mortgages

      Realtors hope the move will prop up expensive home prices

      The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced it is raising the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase in 2019 from $453,100 to $484,350.

      It follows years of rising home prices, which has caused the previous maximum to fall below what many homes sell for in the nation's most expensive housing markets. It's the third increase since 2006.

      In some markets, the cut-off will be even higher. In Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., the maximum loan limit will be $726,525, which is 150 percent of $484,350. Meanwhile, limits will rise in all but 47 counties in the country.

      The loan limits define the maximum one-unit single-family mortgage amounts that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can finance. Real estate professionals say they are also used to define loan limits under FHA programs.

      'Keeping the American Dream within reach'

      The move won praise from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

      "The National Association of Realtors is pleased to see the Federal Housing Finance Agency raise its national conforming loan limits for 2019," said NAR President John Smaby. "Today's decision reflects rising or near record high home prices in many U.S. markets, and the move helps keep the American Dream within reach for countless families working with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

      Smarby says home prices have risen so much in some markets that the higher loan limits are necessary to keep the market from grinding to a halt.

      "Without this assurance that loan limits keep up with home price growth, borrowers across the country risk being pushed out of the market altogether as mortgage rates and rising home prices continue to hold back potential homebuyers," he said.

      Limits will vary depending upon location

      Conforming loan limits will vary based on property values in certain areas. FHFA has produced this website to assist consumers in learning what the loan limits are in their particular county.

      The update is normally an annual affair. FHFA updates the national and high-cost limits based on the FHFA's national price index.

      NAR says the market for private financing has improved in recent years, but it is still limited by the aftermath of the Great Recession when mortgage lenders implemented more stringent lending standards.

      Consumers who hope to purchase homes usually face more onerous standards if they do not possess excellent credit.

      The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced it is raising the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase...
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      Chrysler recalls Jeep Grand Cherokee Street and Racing Technology and Trackhawk vehicles

      The accelerator pedal may be trapped by the floor mat

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 4,822 model year 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Street and Racing Technology (SRT) and Trackhawk vehicles.

      The driver's floor mat may have insufficient clearance between the mat and the accelerator pedal, possibly preventing the pedal from returning to the idle position.

      If the floor mat prevents the accelerator pedal from returning to idle, the risk of a crash increases.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace any of the affected floor mats, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 18, 2018.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is UB3.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 4,822 model year 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Street and Racing Technology (SRT) and Trackhawk vehicles.The driver's flo...
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      USPS site exposed data of 60 million users

      The Postal Service says it has patched the security weakness

      The United States Postal Service (USPS) has fixed a security vulnerability that exposed the data of 60 million people with accounts at usps.com throughout 2017 and 2018. Data exposed included phone numbers, street addresses, usernames, and phone numbers.

      Krebs on Security reported that an independent researcher had informed USPS about the flaw more than a year ago but received no response. The Postal Service didn’t address the issue until this week after it was contacted by cybersecurity specialist Brian Krebs.

      The security vulnerability has now been fixed, and USPS says it will continue to look into the issue “out of an abundance of caution.” The agency has said that it has no reason to believe that any of its users’ account details were accessed by hackers.

      API vulnerability

      The bug stemmed from an authentication weakness in the usps.com API tied to a free USPS program called “Informed Visibility,” which lets users track their mail in “near real-time.” Before the loophole was closed, anyone with a standard usps.com account could view -- and in some cases, even modify -- the account details of other users.

      “No special hacking tools were needed to pull this data, other than knowledge of how to view and modify data elements processed by a regular web browser like Chrome or Firefox,” Krebs said.

      In a statement, USPS officials stressed that they’re taking the issue seriously.

      “Computer networks are constantly under attack from criminals who try to exploit vulnerabilities to illegally obtain information. Similar to other companies, the Postal Service’s Information Security program and the Inspection Service uses industry best practices to constantly monitor our network for suspicious activity,” the agency told Krebs.

      “Any information suggesting criminals have tried to exploit potential vulnerabilities in our network is taken very seriously. Out of an abundance of caution, the Postal Service is further investigating to ensure that anyone who may have sought to access our systems inappropriately is pursued to the fullest extent of the law.”

      The United States Postal Service (USPS) has fixed a security vulnerability that exposed the data of 60 million people with accounts at usps.com throughout...
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      Apple to launch ‘Entrepreneur Camp’ for female app developers

      The company wants to provide mentoring to app-driven businesses owned or led by women

      Apple has announced that, in January, it will launch a free app development program specifically for female entrepreneurs with app-driven businesses.

      The two-week program, called Entrepreneur Camp, will give female app developers the opportunity to attend private coding sessions with Apple engineers, learn more about app design and marketing, and receive ongoing mentoring from an Apple Developer representative.

      Apple says its immersive program was “designed to create new opportunities for app-driven businesses owned or led by women through an intensive technology lab.”

      "Apple is committed to helping more women assume leadership roles across the tech sector and beyond," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "We're proud to help cultivate female leadership in the app development community with the new Entrepreneur Camp, and we're inspired both by the incredible work that's already happening, and what's sure to come."

      Focusing on female iOS developers

      Those eligible to participate in the program must be part of a company that is female-founded, female co-founded, or female-led, and has at least one woman on the development team. The program is inclusive to transgender women. The company must also have a working app or prototype.

      "It's a fact that women are underrepresented in the industry," Esther Hare, Apple senior director of worldwide developer marketing and executive sponsor of Women @ Apple, told CNET. "And there's a huge disparity [in the] entrepreneur world when it comes to access and funding. There's an opportunity to do more and give exposure to women-led businesses."

      Apple is currently accepting applications for its first session, which will take place at the tech giant’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. The pilot camp will be comprised of 10 companies, but a new session will be held each quarter with up to 20 participating companies.

      In addition to receiving training and support, each company will get a free year in the Apple Developer program and two tickets to Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for the following year.

      Apple has announced that, in January, it will launch a free app development program specifically for female entrepreneurs with app-driven businesses.Th...
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      Facebook confirms bug on Messenger

      The bug caused old chat threads to resurface in some users’ inboxes

      Facebook has confirmed that a bug impacted its Messenger platform, which resulted in some users finding that threads of messages from years ago had resurfaced and been marked as unread in their inbox.

      When users first started noticing the bug, Facebook didn’t offer much of an explanation as to why it was happening.

      “Some people are seeing older messages on Facebook.com,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We are aware of the issue and are actively working to resolve it in as soon as possible, we apologize for the inconvenience.”  

      Late in the day on Monday, Facebook said the bug had been “fully resolved” and that it had been caused by software updates. While the glitch was still active, some users stated that it was painful to be reminded of old conversations.

      “Thank you @facebook for sending me notifications of messages sent over a year old. Many were from the day my partner, Dean, passed away & now I've spent my evening in fear of what else I'm going to see,” said one Twitter user.

      Facebook has had to fix several other bugs on its site in recent months. Earlier this month, the company confirmed that it patched a bug that temporarily allowed websites to see users’ likes and interests.

      In September, Facebook confirmed that hackers had obtained access to 50 million login credentials by exploiting a vulnerability in the platform's "View As" code.

      Facebook has confirmed that a bug impacted its Messenger platform, which resulted in some users finding that threads of messages from years ago had resurfa...
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      Long Phung Food Products recalls pork patty rolls

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Long Phung Food Products of Houston, Texas, is recalling an undetermined amount of ready-to-eat pork patty rolls that may be contaminated with 

      Listeria monocytogenes.

      An epidemiologic investigation has identified a total of four listeriosis-confirmed illnesses.

      The following ready-to-eat items, produced from May 21, 2018, through November 16, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 16-oz. plastic vacuum packed packages containing a single marinated roll of “Long Phung 1988 GIO LUA” VIETNAMESE BRAND COOKED PORK PATTY ROLL ANCHOVY FLAVORED FISH SAUCE ADDED.
      • 32-oz. plastic vacuum packed packages containing a single marinated roll of “Long Phung 1988 GIO LUA” VIETNAMESE STYLE COOKED PORK PATTY ROLL ANCHOVY FLAVORED FISH SAUCE ADDED.
      • 14-oz. plastic vacuum packed packages containing a single marinated roll of “Long Phung 1988 CHA QUE” VIETNAMESE STYLE FRIED CINNAMON PORK PATTY ROLL ANCHOVY FLAVORED FISH SAUCE ADDED.
      • 16-oz. plastic vacuum packed packages containing a single marinated roll of “Long Phung 1988 GIO HUE” VIETNAMESE BRAND GARLIC & PEPPER PORK PATTY ROLL ANCHOVY FLAVORED FISH SAUCE ADDED.
      • 32-oz. plastic vacuum packed packages containing a single marinated roll of “Long Phung 1988 GIO HUE” VIETNAMESE COOKED PORK PATTY ROLL WITH GARLIC SEASONING ANCHOVY FLAVORED FISH SAUCE ADDED.
      • 16-oz. plastic vacuum packed packages containing a single marinated roll of “Long Phung 1988 CHA CHIEN” VIETNAMESE STYLE FRIED PORK PATTY ANCHOVY FLAVORED FISH SAUCE ADDED.
      • 16-oz. plastic vacuum packed packages containing a single marinated roll of “Long Phung GIO BI” VIETNAMESE BRAND COOKED PORK & PORK SKIN PATTY ROLL FLAVORED WITH ANCHOVY FLAVORED FISH SAUCE.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 13561” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to distributors and retail locations nationwide.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Monica Nguyen at (713) 263-1944.

      Long Phung Food Products of Houston, Texas, is recalling an undetermined amount of ready-to-eat pork patty rolls that may be contaminated with Listeria...
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      Model year 2019 Lincoln Nautilus vehicles recalled

      The plastic cover on the driver front airbag module may detach during deployment

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 268 model year 2019 Lincoln Nautilus vehicles that are not equipped with Adaptive Front Steering.

      The plastic cover on the driver front airbag module may detach during air bag deployment, increasing increase the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver air bag module, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin in November 2018.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 18S38.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 268 model year 2019 Lincoln Nautilus vehicles that are not equipped with Adaptive Front Steering.The plastic cover on t...
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      Deleite Foods recalls marinated chicken thighs

      The product contains wheat and soy, allergens, not declared on the label

      Deleite Foods Enterprises of Salt Lake City, Utah, is recalling approximately 11,000 pounds of marinated raw chicken thighs.

      The product contains wheat and soy, allergens, not declared on the label.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following item, produced and packaged on October 12, 15 and 16, 2018, is being recalled:

      • 30-lb. cases each containing 3 10-lb. bags of frozen “MARINATED CHICKEN THIGH MEAT DICED – SUPC 7009466” and bearing lot codes 101218, 101518, or 101618.

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “P-46130” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to restaurants in Utah.

      What to do

      Consumers with questions may contact Arnell Lopez at (801) 209-1485.

      Deleite Foods Enterprises of Salt Lake City, Utah, is recalling approximately 11,000 pounds of marinated raw chicken thighs.The product contains wheat...
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      Volvo recalls model year 2017-2019 vehicles with GPS issue

      The GPS may not provide location information to emergency personnel

      Volvo Car USA is recalling 17,548 model year 2017-2019 Volvo XC90s, S90s, V60s, V60 Cross Countrys, V90s, XC40s, XC60s and V90 Cross Country vehicles.

      The software installed in the Vehicle Connectivity Module (VCM) may have an error causing the Telematics and Driver Support Systems to function improperly.

      As a result, the GPS will not provide location information to emergency personnel, inhibiting emergency response in the event of a crash or injury.

      What to do

      Volvo will notify owners, and dealers will correct the software, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin January 7, 2019.

      Owners may contact Volvo customer service at 1-800-458-1552. Volvo's number for this recall is R39917.

      Volvo Car USA is recalling 17,548 model year 2017-2019 Volvo XC90s, S90s, V60s, V60 Cross Countrys, V90s, XC40s, XC60s and V90 Cross Country vehicles.T...
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      Ohio says residents can use Bitcoin to pay their tax bills

      The big question is will businesses take to the notion

      Cryptocurrency regained some of its lustre on Monday, as the state of Ohio announced that it’s permitting businesses to pay their tax bills using the digital currency.

      With that move, Ohio becomes the first U.S. state to accept Bitcoin as payment for taxes and has built a special website -- www.OhioCrypto.com -- to manage the effort.

      Ohio’s state treasurer, Josh Mandel, crafted the blueprint so that it works for everyone -- “from mom and pop coffee shops to Fortune 100 companies.”

      “[I] believe in leveraging cutting-edge technology to provide Ohioans more options and ease while interfacing with state government,” he said.

      Why cryptocurrency?

      While it might take time for the initiative to gain some traction and get businesses comfortable with using cryptocurrency, Mandel’s office sees these advantages for Ohio businesses:

      • Quick and easy – Businesses can pay their taxes in three quick steps using the cryptocurrency tax payment portal.

      • Real-time tracking – Payments on the blockchain can be tracked on an instantaneous basis.

      • Secure payments – Cryptocurrencies cannot be transferred to third parties without user initiation.

      • Low fees – A minimal fee is charged to confirm transactions on the blockchain network.

      • Transparency – Anyone can view all transactions on the blockchain network.

      • Mobile options – Consumers can easily make tax payments on their mobile phone or tablet.

      Who’s eligible?

      Any business operating in Ohio -- whether it’s headquartered in Ohio or not -- is eligible to pay taxes in cryptocurrency via OhioCrypto.com. All told, Ohio’s new system will accept payments for 23 different taxes ranging from Sales Tax to Motor Vehicle Use tax.

      To become eligible, all a business has to do is:

      1. Register online at OhioCrypto.com

      2. Enter in the tax amount due, enter business tax payment amount, and select the tax period date.

      3. Use the business’ cryptocurrency wallet to pay the invoice with Bitcoin. All payments are processed by the Ohio Treasurer’s office third party cryptocurrency payment processor, BitPay.

      While Bitcoin is the only accepted cryptocurrency to start, the Treasurer’s office says it’s looking forward to adding more cryptocurrencies in the future.

      So… good move or bad move?

      Only time and the market will tell if Mandel’s plan will hold water.

      According to various tweets regarding Ohio’s digital move, Mandel has been a fan of Bitcoin for some time and was “initiated in order to draw attention to the state’s tech enthusiasm.” Still others raise the question of the move being “too speculative” and that paying by Bitcoin “does not make the state tech-friendly [but] makes it financially irresponsible.”

      While Ohio is alone in working the pay-taxes-with-crypto angle, other states such as Wyoming and Florida are warming up to digital currencies, with Florida’s focus squarely on the consumer.

      “Other states have identified and are taking action against bad actors in the cryptocurrency industry. Florida must also protect our residents,” remarked Jimmy Patronis, the Sunshine State’s Chief Financial Officer.

      Cryptocurrency regained some of its lustre on Monday, as the state of Ohio announced that it’s permitting businesses to pay their tax bills using the digit...
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      Consumers set Black Friday spending records

      Online sales were up nearly 24 percent over 2017

      Retailers offered attractive doorbuster deals on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and consumers rewarded them with record spending.

      So far only the data on online spending has been tabulated, and those numbers are eye-popping. Adobe Analytics, which monitors traffic for 80 percent of the major online retailers, reports consumers spent $6.22 billion online on Black Friday, an increase of nearly 24 percent over 2017.

      However, Thanksgiving Day sales were even more impressive in terms of their growth. Adobe reports online spending on Thanksgiving totaled $3.7 billion, a 28 percent increase over last year. Adobe also noted that, for the first time, the prices on Thanksgiving Day were as low as those on Black Friday.

      Phil Dengler, a principal at shopping site BestBlackFriday.com, says this year's Black Friday deals compared very favorably to last year.

      "While quantities were limited on the some of the top doorbusters, I would say Black Friday is only improving," Dengler told ConsumerAffairs. "Many more deals are available online now, and more stores are participating."

      Other emerging trends included the increasing use of smartphones to place online orders. Adobe found a third of Black Friday's online sales originated on smartphones for a total of $2 billion. Consumers also made significant use of brick and mortar options to buy online and pick items up at the store. Adobe said "click and collect" orders were up 73 percent over last year.

      Foot traffic was down

      With increasing options to buy without having to actually go inside a store, foot traffic was down on Black Friday. The New York Times found several malls around the country it surveyed were not any more crowded than on a typical Friday.

      In years past, stores usually stocked a limited number of sale items, creating a frenzy among shoppers and sometimes dangerous stampedes. The Times reports that was largely absent this year.

      The Wall Street Journal reports that initial calculations show that Black Friday foot traffic in stores was lower than last year, continuing a trend that began with the surge in online shopping over the last decade.

      That said, brick and mortar stores did very well. According to real-time data supplied by Mastercard, overall sales on Black Friday reached $23 billion, a 9 percent increase over 2017.

      Cyber Monday deals

      Some retailers like Target and Amazon have expanded today's Cyber Monday sales into a week-long event by offering discounted items each day. Amazon's deals today include a wifi-connected smart pressure cooker for $89.95, marked down from $149.95; and an Ancestry DNA testing kit for $49, discounted from $99.

      Among Target's Cyber Monday deals is a Swagtron Metro hoverboard for $150, marked down from $230, and up to 50 percent off on hundreds of toys.

      Retailers offered attractive doorbuster deals on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and consumers rewarded them with record spending.So far only the data o...
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      Following new blood pressure guidelines may help millions with cardiovascular issues

      Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is the key to improved heart health

      As over 100 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure, consumers should be informed of any potential treatment options available to them.

      Recently, researchers from the University of Utah Health found that adhering to the latest blood pressure guidelines from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) may be the key to preventing millions of cardiovascular issues in the coming years.

      “Treating high blood pressure is a major public health opportunity to protect health and quality of life for tens of millions of Americans,” said lead researcher Adam Bress. “Achieving these lower goals will be challenging.”

      Following the guidelines

      The ACC/AHA guidelines lowered the standards for what is considered high blood pressure in an effort to have healthcare professionals try to help patients at earlier stages.

      According to the researchers, most cardiovascular issues occur in patients whose blood pressure is above 140/90 mm Hg -- what was previously considered hypertensive. However, under the new guidelines, patients’ blood pressure would be considered hypertensive at 130/80 mm Hg, while a healthy reading would be 120/80 mm Hg.

      The researchers used information from the ACC/AHA guidelines, the seventh Joint National Committee (JNC7), the eighth Joint National Committee (JNC8), and several population-based databases to predict the ways cardiovascular health can be improved in the coming years.

      They foresee over three million cardiovascular issues could be prevented if patients stick to the ACC/AHA’s 2017 guidelines.

      While adhering to these guidelines could be beneficial to millions of Americans, researchers from the ACC/AHA also suggest that many more people will be classified as having high blood pressure. More young people will now be included in this demographic, and the researchers expect more men to be affected than women.

      Putting patients first

      Though the researchers think these findings could help millions of people prevent future health complications, they are also aware of the risks associated with diagnosing more people with high blood pressure.

      Not only is cost a major factor, but healthcare providers that prescribe high blood pressure medication will need to monitor all patients to ensure that they don’t experience any adverse side effects.

      Overall, Bress and his team believe that medical professionals need to work together with their patients to determine the best course of treatment.

      “A conversation and shared decision making between provider and patient about benefits and risks of increasing the dose of a medication or adding a new medication to achieve a lower target are important,” Bress said. “Benefits to reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure are clear and may often outweigh risk of minor, transient side-effects.”

      Maintaining healthy blood pressure

      Recent studies have explored the countless benefits associated with consumers maintaining healthy blood pressure. For diabetes sufferers, keeping blood pressure under control was found to reduce the number of patients who experience extreme hypertension -- which often leads to organ failure.

      “Given the fact that the presence of severely elevated blood pressure is the strongest driver of damage to vital organs in individuals with diabetes, the most important intervention for preventing hypertensive emergencies would be to better manage patients’ blood pressure,” said lead researcher Irina Benenson.

      A recent study also found that teens with high blood pressure could actually be at risk for organ damage. Researchers determined that testing teenagers’ blood pressure has often provided inconclusive results, as many whose numbers fall within normal levels were found to be suffering from organ damage.

      Changes to diet, exercise, and weight were found to effective for treating teens’ high blood pressure, though medication is sometimes necessary.

      As over 100 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure, consumers should be informed of any potential treatment options available to them.Recent...
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      GM recalls Buick Encore, Chevrolet Spark, Traverse and Trax vehicles

      The airbags may not deploy in the event of a crash

      General Motors is recalling 12 model year 2019 Buick Encore, Chevrolet Spark, Traverse and Trax vehicles.

      The Sensing Diagnostic Module (SDM) on these vehicle may not have been turned off of "manufacturing mode," preventing the airbags from deploying in the event of a crash.

      Failure of the airbags to deploy in the event of a crash can increase the risk of injury.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the SDM module to the correct mode, free of charge.

      The recall began November 6, 2018.

      Owners may contact Buick customer service at 1-800-521-7300 and Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is 18365.

      General Motors is recalling 12 model year 2019 Buick Encore, Chevrolet Spark, Traverse and Trax vehicles.The Sensing Diagnostic Module (SDM) on these v...
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      Model year 2018 Ford Explorers recalled

      The fuel pressure sensor may leak fuel

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 144 model year 2018 Ford Explorers equipped with 2.3L or 3.5L GTDI engine.

      Due to an assembly error, the fuel pressure sensor may leak fuel.

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

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel line assembly, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 3, 2018.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 18S35.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 144 model year 2018 Ford Explorers equipped with 2.3L or 3.5L GTDI engine.Due to an assembly error, the fuel pressure s...
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      After a huge buildup, consumers may be ready to shop this Black Friday

      Retailers are offering better deals and competing to improve the shopping experience

      Americans may pause for a long holiday weekend filled with feasting and football, but for the nation's retailers, it's showtime.

      By now, consumers should be aware of the deals available from all the brick-and-mortar and online stores since the ad slicks have all leaked and are published all over the internet. You can check out some of the best deals here. The next few days will be all about making the sale -- getting consumers into the stores and onto the websites.

      Some stores will be open for at least a few hours on Thanksgiving Day. Nearly all will open at the crack of dawn on Black Friday. Our friends at BestBlackFriday.com have compiled this handy list of store openings.

      Amazon has been rolling out daily deals since the beginning of November, but it’s saving its doorbusters for the big day itself. Target and Walmart have also tried to entice consumers with early online deals. It seems to be working.

      Early online sales are up over last year

      Verizon tracks digital commerce with its Holiday Retail Index and reports that consumers are buying more online at this point than last year. Traffic was up 4.19 percent on Saturday compared to the last Saturday before Thanksgiving 2017. On Sunday, it was up over 14 percent compared to last year.

      "The early engagement from retailers appears to be paying off as traffic this year continues to grow from years past," said Michele Dupré, group vice president of Retail, Hospitality & Distribution, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “A strong trend in consumer confidence is highlighted by shopper’s interest in the early Black Friday deals that we started learning about in early November. The challenge will be to see if this trend can be maintained throughout the season."

      An analysis by Internet Retailer projects consumers will spend nearly 120 billion online in November and December, a 15 percent increase over last year's total. Meanwhile, consumers are being urged not to overlook their local, independent merchants.

      "America's 30 million small businesses reflect the unique character of their communities and Small Business Saturday is a day for consumers to support the local retailers that make their towns and cities special," said U.S. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon. "When Americans shop at small businesses, they are supporting economic activity and job growth in their neighborhoods during this holiday season."

      The deals will continue on Cyber Monday, but most probably won't be announced until the weekend so they don't upstage Black Friday. Retail analysts say Cyber Monday may offer some of the best deals of the long weekend since retailers can make last minute adjustments to compensate for a less-than-stellar Black Friday.

      And if your wallet seems lighter after the long weekend, it probably is. According to a forecast by Salesforce, 40 percent of holiday spending will be done in the first week of the holiday shopping season.

      Americans may pause for a long holiday weekend filled with feasting and football, but for the nation's retailers, it's showtime.By now, consumers shoul...
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      Many former Toys 'R' Us employees to get severance pay after all

      Two hedge funds put up $20 million for severance fund

      The holidays can be a particularly grim time to lose your job and get no severance pay. Just ask the employees of bankrupt toy retailer Toys 'R' Us.

      But now, KKR and Bain Capital, two hedge funds that are liquidating the company, have had a change of mind and are establishing a $20 million fund to pay many of the employees who have lost their jobs.

      Under bankruptcy law, the owners of Toys 'R' Us assets are not required to offer severance packages. Their decision, announced in a joint statement, follows growing public pressure from former employees and members of Congress.

      TRU Financial Assistance Fund

      The two companies are establishing the TRU Financial Assistance Fund they say will pay "certain" former Toys 'R' Us employees who lost their jobs as a result of the liquidation. KKR and Bain Capital are each putting up $10 million.

      They have retained the services of  Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, whose experience in administering these types of payments include the 9/11 Fund, BP Oil Spill Fund, GM Ignition Switch Compensation Fund, OneFund Boston, and the OneOrlando Fund.

      “This is a valuable and important step designed to provide a degree of financial relief to eligible former employees of Toys 'R' Us," Feinberg said. "We are now disseminating a draft of the Protocol outlining the terms and conditions of eligibility so we can gauge employee reaction and comment.”

      Worker input

      Biros said the fund will be governed by a transparent, straightforward and simple process designed to offer financial relief. She said she expects affected Toys R Us employees to have input.

      “KKR and Bain Capital's creation of this fund will bring real support to the thousands of dedicated Toys 'R' Us employees who lost their jobs," said Tracy Forbes, a former Toys 'R' Us manager at the company’s Chandler, Ariz., store. "We hope other firms will follow their lead and contribute.”

      Money will be awarded to eligible employees based on hours worked, historic earnings, and tenure. To become eligible employees must have worked at Toys 'R' Us for at least a year and earned no more than $110,000 and no less than $5,000 per year.

      In their joint statement, the two hedge funds said they had been Toys 'R' Us shareholders for 12 years and had advocated "for a very different outcome than what occurred." They said their voluntary move to establish the severance fund was a reaction to what they called "an extraordinary set of circumstances."

      The holidays can be a particularly grim time to lose your job and get no severance pay. Just ask the employees of bankrupt toy retailer Toys 'R' Us.But...
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      Quaker Oats recalls Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch cereal

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

      The Quaker Oats Company is recalling a small quantity of Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch cereal.

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

      No illnesses related to Salmonella have been confirmed to date.

      The recall includes only 21 17.1-oz., boxes of Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch cereal with UPC code 0 30000 6211 1 and Best Before Dates of JUL 30 19 or JUL 31 19 purchased after November 5, 2018 at the following Target stores:

      StoreAddressCityStateZip
      Super Target4001 N 132nd StOmahaNE68164
      P-Fresh4250 Rusty RdSaint LouisMO63128
      Super Target10800 E 21st St NWichitaKS67206
      Super Target8201 S 40th St.LincolnNE68516
      P-Fresh1040 NE CoronadoBlue SpringsMO64014

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at (800) 234-6281, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (EST) or online at cu.pepsico.com/capncrunch.

      The Quaker Oats Company is recalling a small quantity of Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch cereal.The product may be contaminated with Salmonella....
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      Model year 2018 and 2019 Honda Odysseys recalled

      The power sliding doors may stick and not properly latch to the door strikers

      American Honda Motor Co., is recalling 107,774 model year 2018 and 2019 Honda Odysseys.

      The power sliding door latch assemblies may stick and not properly latch to the door strikers.

      If the power sliding doors fails to latch, the doors may open while the vehicle is moving, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the left and right power sliding door rear latch assemblies, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 20, 2018.

      Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's numbers for this recall are Z33 and O36.

      American Honda Motor Co., is recalling 107,774 model year 2018 and 2019 Honda Odysseys.The power sliding door latch assemblies may stick and not proper...
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      Green Cedar Dairy recalls Ackawi cheese

      The product is contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Green Cedar Dairy of Dearborn, Mich., is recalling Green Cedar Ackawi cheese.

      Samples of the product collected and tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tested positive for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following product, sold at retail stores in East Dearborn and Dearborn Heights Mich., is being recalled:

      • Green Cedar Ackawi cheese in small clear plastic shrink wrapped packaging bearing a “sell by” date of March 26, 2019, or later. The “sell by” date is on a white sticker on the back of the product.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Hussam Harb at (313) 584-4499, Monday – Friday, 8am – 4pm (ET).

      Green Cedar Dairy of Dearborn, Mich., is recalling Green Cedar Ackawi cheese.Samples of the product collected and tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Admi...
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      Car dealers roll out their best deals for Black Friday

      But lack of confidence in the process could keep some consumers away

      The nation's car dealers are making a bid for a bigger slice of Black Friday spending this year by rolling out dozens of deals they hope will entice holiday shoppers into new car showrooms.

      If past years are any indication, the strategy will work. People in search of a good price on a new set of wheels may bypass the mall this year.

      If you're looking for an SUV, your Ford dealer will be offering zero percent financing for 60 months and $1,500 cash back on a 2018 Ford Escape. It comes with Ford's MyKey, a 4.2-inch display screen, Bluetooth, voice recognition, and a USB port. Options like navigation and adaptive cruise control are part of a higher trim level.

      The 2019 Kia Sportage also comes with interest-free financing for 60 months but lacks the cashback offer.  The base model comes with a USB port, satellite radio, and a five-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth. If you upgrade to a higher option package, you get a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

      Acura lease deal

      Kelley Blue Book (KBB) has highlighted a handful of attractive new car deals available in November, all of which will be offered on Black Friday. Acura dealers will be offering the Acura ILX on a 36-month lease for $199 a month. It requires $2,499 down.

      For economy-minded shoppers, your Ford dealer is offering $4,000 cash back on the purchase of a Ford Focus. According to KBB, the car sells for around $18,661, meaning you can drive it away for less than $15,000.

      Ford is offering $5,000 cash back on the purchase of a Ford Explorer, which KBB says you should be able to purchase for just under $32,000. Chrysler is offering $4,500 on the Jeep Cherokee, with a Fair Purchase Price of just under $30,000.

      If you're in the market for an SUV, November is a great time to buy or lease with cash back and lease deals on top models," said Allyson Harwood, associate editor for KBB. "The Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, and Hyundai Tucson offer great value and practicality in a small SUV package. The Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee offer more room at a higher price point, but the savings this month could make them more affordable and worth a closer look."

      Lack of confidence

      Despite the competitive deal-making, new car sales have slowed in recent months -- reportedly because of market saturation. But a survey by Capital One Auto Finance suggests another possible reason. It found consumer concerns over the current car buying process, particularly transparency and the time it takes to make a purchase.

      "The car-buying process does not need to be a source of stress. And this current state of trust and transparency in car-buying needs to be addressed," said Jeff Rabinowitz, managing vice president of Capital One Auto Finance.

      The survey found only 6 percent of buyers think the process is completely transparent. Only 20 percent said they feel "very confident" when shopping for a car.

      The nation's car dealers are making a bid for a bigger slice of Black Friday spending this year by rolling out dozens of deals they hope will entice holida...
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      Tumblr app removed from Apple’s App Store over child pornography concerns

      Inappropriate content in violation of Apple’s guidelines was able to slip through the service’s filters

      Tumblr has confirmed that it pulled its app from the iOS App Store over the discovery of child pornography on the social media network.

      The app was initially removed from the App store on November 16. At the time, Tumblr said it was “working to resolve the issue with the iOS app.” In the last few days, Download.com contacted Tumblr about the issue with sources claiming that the reason the app was removed was related to a matter involving child pornography.

      Tumblr then issued a new statement which explained that content was discovered during a “routine audit” that wasn’t included in the database it was using to filter out child sex abuse material from appearing on its app.

      “Every image uploaded to Tumblr is scanned against an industry database of known child sexual abuse material, and images that are detected never reach the platform. A routine audit discovered content on our platform that had not yet been included in the industry database,” Tumblr said in a statement.

      Immediately removed

      Tumblr said it immediately removed the content, but the app is still unavailable on the App store. However, Android users can still find the app in the Google Play store.

      “We’re committed to helping build a safe online environment for all users, and we have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to media featuring child sexual exploitation and abuse,” Tumblr said. “As this is an industry-wide problem, we work collaboratively with our industry peers and partners like [the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children] (NCMEC) to actively monitor content uploaded to the platform.”

      “Content safeguards are a challenging aspect of operating scaled platforms. We’re continuously assessing further steps we can take to improve and there is no higher priority for our team,” the Yahoo-owned platform added.

      Tumblr hasn’t given a specific time frame for when its app will return to the App Store.

      Tumblr has confirmed that it pulled its app from the iOS App Store over the discovery of child pornography on the social media network. The app was ini...
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      Disney to pour billions into its theme parks

      The company’s parks and resorts are a key part of its overall growth plan

      Disney will be investing around $24 billion to “supercharge its theme park division,” according to a report from the New York Times. The company will spend more money on parks than it did on Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar combined (more than $15 billion).

      Disney’s parks, resorts, and other vacation destinations -- a roster that includes six locations in America, France, China, and Japan, as well as the Disney Cruise Line -- will receive new attractions and immersive upgrades.

      “It can’t just be special — it has to be spectacular,” Bob Chapek, Disney’s theme park chairman, told the Times.

      ‘Enhancement on steroids’

      Chapek, who described the overall expansion plan as “enhancement on steroids,” said a major goal is to add capacity to Disney’s most popular parks (Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea). Other locations will get upgrades that will help spread visitors more evenly throughout the grounds.

      “You can only let so many people in a park before you start to impede on satisfaction level,” Chapek said.

      Several resorts will get “Frozen” and Marvel rides, and a “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” park is headed to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida next year. The latter will feature provide guests with an interactive experience where they can board an Imperial Star Destroyer or “pilot” the Millennium Falcon.

      Star Wars enhancements will also arrive at its hotel, where Disney is expected to unveil an experience of sleeping aboard a luxury Star Wars starship. In place of regular windows, the company will have screens projecting a view of space as the ship travels through the galaxy.

      Disney’s investment in its Cruise Line will also be significant. The company has ordered three new ships costing roughly $1.25 billion each. Disney is also buying 746 acres on a Bahamian island to build a second Caribbean port.

      Parks continue to do well

      The company’s parks and resorts have continued to do well in recent years. They’ve seen a 100 percent increase in profits over the last five years. Disney reported an estimated $4.5 billion for the 2018 fiscal year, according to The Times.

      “It’s the highest return on investment that Disney has,” said bank analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Jessica Reif.

      By contrast, the company’s TV networks, like ESPN and ABC, pulled in a profit of $6.6 billion, a 3 percent decline.

      Disney will be investing around $24 billion to “supercharge its theme park division,” according to a report from the New York Times. The company will spend...
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      Majestic Meat Company recalls ground beef

      The products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7

      Majestic Meat Company of Salt Lake City, Utah, is recalling approximately 532 pounds of ground beef, ground beef patties, and meatballs.

      The products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following items, produced on November 8, 2016, are being recalled:

      • 10 lb. plastic packages “MAJESTIC MEAT” 2/1(patties per pound) Ground Beef Patties 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “MAJESTIC MEAT” 8/1 (patties per pound) Ground Beef Patties 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “MAJESTIC MEAT” 3/1 (patties per pound) Ground Beef Patties 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 5 lb. plastic packages “MAJESTIC MEAT” 4/1 (patties per pound) Ground Beef Patties 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “MAJESTIC MEAT” bulk Ground Beef 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “44 FARMS” 5/1 (patties per pound) Ground Beef Patties 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “44 FARMS” 3/1 (patties per pound) Ground Beef Patties 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “44 FARMS” 2/1 (patties per pound) Ground Beef Patties 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “44 FARMS” 4/1 (patties per pound) Beef Patty Chuck 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “44 FARMS” 7 oz. Ground Beef Patties 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 4.05 lb. plastic shrink wrapped packages “44 FARMS” 7 oz. Ground Beef Patties 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “44 FARMS” 10 oz. Ground Beef Patties 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “44 FARMS” bulk Ground Beef 80/20 with a production date of 11/8/2018
      • 10 lb. plastic packages “Meatball Beef, Pork, Veal Ground” with a production date of 11/8/2018

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 19915” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to restaurants in Utah.

      What to do

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Raymond Zaelit at (801) 486-4904.

      Majestic Meat Company of Salt Lake City, Utah, is recalling approximately 532 pounds of ground beef, ground beef patties, and meatballs.The products ma...
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      Suzuki recalls model year 2010-2013 Kizashis

      The fuel tank may crack

      Suzuki Motor of America is recalling 21,052 model year 2010-2013 Kizashis.

      Dust can enter the vent line that provides fresh air to the carbon canister, restricting its air flow and possibly creating excessive negative pressure in the fuel tank which may result in the fuel tank cracking.

      A cracked tank may leak fuel, increasing the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      The remedy for this recall is still under development.

      The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Suzuki customer service at 1-800-934-0934.

      Suzuki Motor of America is recalling 21,052 model year 2010-2013 Kizashis.Dust can enter the vent line that provides fresh air to the carbon canister,...
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      Swift Beef Company recalls ground beef

      The products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7

      Swift Beef Co., of Hyrum, Utah, is recalling approximately 99,260 pounds of raw non-intact ground beef.

      The products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following bulk ground beef items, produced on Oct. 24, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 2,000 lb. - bulk pallets of Swift Ground Beef 81/19 (81% lean) Fine Grind Combo bearing product code 42982.
      • 8-10 lb. - plastic wrapped chubs of “blue ribbon BEEF” Ground Beef 81/19 (81% lean) Coarse Grind bearing product code 42410.
      • 8-10 lb. - plastic wrapped chubs of “blue ribbon BEEF” Ground Beef 93/07 (93% lean) Coarse Grind bearing product code 42413.
      • 8-10 lb. - plastic wrapped chubs of “blue ribbon BEEF” Ground Beef 85/15 (85% lean) Coarse Grind bearing product code 42415.
      • 8-10 lb. - plastic wrapped chubs of “blue ribbon BEEF” Ground Beef 73/27 (73% lean) Coarse Grind bearing product code 42510.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 628” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail distributors for further processing and food service distributors for institutional use in California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

      What to do

      Consumers with questions may call the JBS USA consumer hotline at (800) 727-2333.

      Swift Beef Co., of Hyrum, Utah, is recalling approximately 99,260 pounds of raw non-intact ground beef.The products may be contaminated with E. coli O1...
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      Retailers make final preparations for Black Friday

      Companies and experts expect another record year of sales

      It's the final days before Black Friday, the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season, and the nation's top retailers are jockeying for position. At stake is potential record holiday spending.

      Among the deals designed to entice consumers is Best Buy's offer of a Toshiba 43-inch 4K smart TV for $129.99. Target plans to offer an Element 55-inch Smart 4K UHD TV for $199.99, available only in Target stores.

      Walmart is offering a $300 Walmart gift card with the qualifying activation of an iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, or iPhone XR. It ups the ante to a $400 Gift Card with qualifying activation of Apple iPhone 8, iPhone 8+, or iPhone X.

      For its part, Amazon has been offering up deals for several days with its "Countdown To Black Friday" sale. According to shopping site BestBlackFriday.com, the online retailer is sitting on its best deals and saving them for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

      Looking ahead

      Meanwhile, Target is looking ahead to next week, kicked off by Cyber Monday. However, the retailer is spreading the deals over the entire week, starting Sunday, Nov. 25. On Cyber Monday, Target will offer online shoppers 15 percent off on hundreds of thousands of items spread across all departments.

      Among the advertised deals is a Swagtron Metro hoverboard with LED lights for $150, regularly selling for $229.99. Deals on vacuums include the iRobot Roomba 960 for $449.99 and Dyson V8 Absolute for $349.99.

      More buying moves to online channels each holiday season, and the same is anticipated this year. An analysis by Internet Retailer projects consumers will spend nearly 120 billion online in November and December, a 15 percent increase over last year's total.

      Total spending could rise 5 percent

      The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts total holiday spending will increase nearly 5 percent over 2017 and reach $720 billion, although other estimates suggest spending could top $1 trillion this holiday season.

      “Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year."

      NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said consumers continue to do the heavy lifting to support the economy and attributes their efforts to robust job creation, higher pay, and tame inflation.

      It's the final days before Black Friday, the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season, and the nation's top retailers are jockeying for position. At...
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      Nespresso aiming to use sustainable aluminum in all of its coffee pods

      A new partnership may help the company reduce the environmental impact of its coffee capsules

      Nespresso is teaming up with mining and metals company Rio Tinto to work toward the goal of using 100 percent “responsibly sourced” aluminum in all of its coffee pods by 2020.

      The companies announced on Monday that Rio Tinto will supply aluminum with renewable power and respect for biodiversity to Nespresso as part of a larger effort to reduce the negative environmental impact of the coffee giant’s coffee pods.

      “This is an important step towards the use of responsibly sourced aluminium across manufacturing industries, which Rio Tinto is the first to supply,” said Alf Barrios, the company’s chief executive of aluminium, in a statement.

      “It’s addressing a preference that consumers and society are clearly articulating … but it’s also good commercial sense,” Barrios added.

      Sustainable aluminum

      Under the partnership, Nespresso will work with its capsule manufacturers to ensure they use exclusively metal certified by the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative.

      “Nespresso is proud to have been a driving force in creating and implementing the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative,” Nespresso chief executive Jean-Marc Duvoisin said. “Together, we have made responsibly sourced aluminium a reality, and the ASI traceability mechanism will enable us to meet our commitment to customers to reduce the impact of their consumption.”

      The partnership will help Nespresso, which currently holds almost a third of the coffee pod market, compete with companies that market themselves as sustainable. Last week, rival Halo claimed to have created the world’s first fully compostable coffee capsule and packaging.

      Nespresso critics have said the company's coffee pods are a waste of resources since they are not biodegradable. Millions of used coffee pods end up in landfills each year.

      The company has tried alternatives to aluminum, but none of them have sufficiently protected the coffee from exposure to the air, nor have they been able to withstand the pressure of the Nespresso machines.

      Nespresso says it’s working with its manufacturers to ensure that all capsules are ASI-certified, a process that will take some time The Nestle-owned company is also aiming to make recycling as easy as possible.

      Nespresso is teaming up with mining and metals company Rio Tinto to work toward the goal of using 100 percent “responsibly sourced” aluminum in all of its...
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      Instagram bug may have exposed some users’ passwords

      The security breach impacted a ‘small number of people’

      Some Instagram users may have had their password information exposed as a result of a security breach tied to the platform’s “download your data” feature, the Information reported on Friday.

      The Facebook-owned company has notified users who may have been affected by the bug. A spokesperson for Instagram said the security flaw was “discovered internally and affected a very small number of people.”

      Instagram’s “download your data” feature, introduced in April, “lets users download all the data that Instagram has on them, both to comply with new European data-privacy regulations and to satisfy increasingly privacy-sensitive users around the world," according to the tech news website.

      Some users who used the tool had their passwords included in a URL in their web browser, meaning others could have seen the password if they had been using the feature on a shared computer or on a compromised network. The passwords were also stored on Facebook’s computers.

      “This is very concerning about other security practices inside of Instagram because that literally should not be possible. If that’s happening, then there are likely much bigger problems than that,” Chet Wisniewski, a principal research scientist at security firm Sophos, told the Information.

      Instagram said it has fixed the bug and deleted the data from Facebook’s servers, but it’s advising users to change their passwords as a precaution.

      The security breach comes on the heels of several others that hit Facebook, including one in September which compromised the information of 50 million users.

      The Information previously reported that Facebook may be looking to purchase a cybersecurity company to boost its defenses against hackers and prevent future security breaches, as well as increase its trustworthiness in the eyes of consumers, investors, and government regulators.

      Some Instagram users may have had their password information exposed as a result of a security breach tied to the platform’s “download your data” feature,...
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      Alebrije Dist Wholesale recalls cheese products

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella

      Alebrije Dist Wholesale is recalling Quesillo “Queseria La Milagrosa” and “Alebrije” cheese.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following items, distributed October 23 – 24, 2018, through retail sale and direct delivery, in Los Angeles, are being recalled:

      Quesillo “Queseria La Milagrosa” wrapped in a basic plastic bag with a yellow label with two presentations ½ kg and 1kg.

      “Alebrije Cheese” wrapped in a basic plastic bag with an orange and blue label with three presentations ½ kg, 1kg and 5kg.

      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 call at (619) 646-5361 from 9 am – 5 pm (PST) Monday through Friday.

      Alebrije Dist Wholesale is recalling Quesillo “Queseria La Milagrosa” and “Alebrije” cheese.The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.No ill...
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      T-Mobile executive says Sprint deal could close in the first quarter of 2019

      The deal is currently being scrutinized by regulators

      At a recent conference in Barcelona, T-Mobile’s Chief Financial Officer said there’s a possibility that the company’s $26 billion acquisition of Sprint will be finalized as early as the first quarter of 2019.

      At the end of April, T-Mobile agreed to buy Sprint, saying the two companies needed to join forces so they could build a robust 5G network that can compete with Verizon and AT&T.

      The deal is currently being scrutinized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The FCC is studying the engineering aspects of combining T-Mobile and Sprint, while the Justice Department is examining the competitive aspects.

      T-Mobile’s CFO J. Braxton Carter said on Friday that the companies have provided 25 million pages worth of documents to the DOJ and filed a 600 page public information statement with the FCC. The companies have also held meetings with other U.S. government departments.

      “The only remaining thing that is happening is depositions with the DOJ, which have started and will be completed in a few weeks,” Carter said at the conference, according to Reuters. “At this point, it’s more pointing to the second quarter as more probable (but) it could still be first quarter.”

      Carter noted that, together, the two smaller telecom companies can create a much faster network.

      "The combined assets of Sprint and T-Mobile can create 8 times the 5G capacity that either of us could do on a standalone basis and 15 times the speed," the executive said.

      Opposition from consumer groups

      Earlier this week, federal regulators kicked off the first auction of 5G spectrum. Germany is expected to start its 5G auctions early next year.

      The merger has been the target of opposition from consumer and labor groups, who have expressed concern that the deal could hurt consumers.

      Back in May, a group of Democratic lawmakers said they worried a merger would result in higher costs for consumers. In August, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) predicted that the merger would result in the loss of 24,000 retail jobs.

      Meanwhile, T-Mobile has said that the merger will be good for consumers.

      “This is another step forward in creating the new T-Mobile, so we can deliver on our promise to bring robust competition to the 5G era, giving consumers more for less and creating jobs,” John Legere, T-Mobile's CEO, said in a statement.

      At a recent conference in Barcelona, T-Mobile’s Chief Financial Officer said there’s a possibility that the company’s $26 billion acquisition of Sprint wil...
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      Bernie Sanders takes aim at Walmart

      Senator introduces bill to force big retailers to raise workers' wages

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced legislation to prevent the nation's largest retailer from buying its own stock until it raises workers' wages.

      The bill, called the Stop Walmart Act, actually targets all large publicly traded corporations. It would prevent companies from buying their shares on Wall Street unless they pay all employees at least $15 an hour.

      Sanders and bill co-sponsor Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) say Walmart plans to use its profits to purchase $20 billion of its own stock over the next two years when it could be using the money to raise the standard of living for its employees.

      Stock buybacks are common among large companies since it generally boosts the companies' stock price. It benefits shareholders, as well as the company, which sees the value of its stock holdings go higher. Stock buybacks usually increase the value of a company's stock while raising workers' wages often reduces profit margins, which sends stock prices lower.

      In recent years, most publicly traded companies, including Apple, have embraced stock buybacks as the preferred method of returning cash to shareholders. Another method is the payment of dividends.

      Takes aim at Walton family

      Sanders made his proposal unusually personal, pointing out the family of Walmart founder Sam Walton owns 50 percent of Walmart stock with a reputed net worth of around $180 billion. Sanders claims 55 percent of Walmart employees are food insecure.

      “While tens of thousands of Walmart workers are struggling to survive, Alice Walton had no problem amassing a private art collection worth half a billion dollars," Sanders said. "Enough is enough. The time is long overdue for the Walton family to pay its workers a living wage. If large, profitable corporations like Amazon and Disney can pay all of their workers a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour, so can Walmart."

      The measure, which has little chance of passage in a Republican-controlled Senate and being signed by a Republican president, also would require Walmart and other large publicly traded companies to allow employees to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave to be used to care for themselves or a family member.

      It would also place controls on executive pay, limiting the CEO's salary to 150 times the median pay of the company's employees.

      At the beginning of this year, Walmart raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour. Since then, however, Amazon has boosted worker pay to at least $15 an hour.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced legislation to prevent the nation's largest retailer from buying its own stock until it raises workers' wages....
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      LÍLLÉbaby recalls baby carriers

      The sliding chest-clip strap can detach from the shoulder strap

      LÍLLÉbaby of Golden, Colo., is recalling about 6,600 Active Series baby carriers.

      The sliding chest-clip strap can detach from the shoulder strap, posing a fall hazard to the child in the carrier.

      The company has received three reports of the chest straps detaching from the carrier, including one child that fell out of the carrier. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves LÍLLÉbaby Active Series baby carriers that can be worn by the caregiver with the baby strapped into the front or back position.

      The recalled carriers are the Active Series-Pro 6 in 1 in Space Dye Cobalt and Space Dye Grey and the Active All Seasons in Slate.

      Each carrier has a yellow colored tag on the front neck support, outside of the carrier and on the back, chest clip pad, both of which have “LÍLLÉ” printed in black lettering and “baby” printed in white lettering on the label.

      The baby carriers, manufactured in China, were sold at LILLEbaby.com and Amazon.com from September 2018 through October 2018, for about $160.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled carriers and contact LÍLLÉbaby to receive a free replacement baby carrier and a full refund. All known purchasers will be notified directly about the recall.

      Consumers may contact LÍLLÉbaby toll-free at (855) 554-5531 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (MT) Monday through Friday, by email at customerservice@lillebaby.com or online at www.lillebaby.com and click on the Safety link at the bottom of the page for more information.

      LÍLLÉbaby of Golden, Colo., is recalling about 6,600 Active Series baby carriers.The sliding chest-clip strap can detach from the shoulder strap, posin...
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      Ron's Home Style Foods recalls ready to eat chicken salad

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Ron’s Home Style Foods of Houston, Texas, is recalling approximately 6,912 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) chicken salad.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following RTE chicken salad items, produced and packaged on October 22, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 5-lb. bulk packages of “Ron’s Home Style Foods CRANBERRY PECAN WHITE MEAT CHICKEN SALAD” with a “Use by” date of 11/25/2018.
      • 5-lb. bulk packages of “Ron’s Home Style Foods CHICKEN SALAD SUPREME” with a “Use by” date of 11/25/2018.
      • 32-lb. bulk packages of “Ron’s Home Style Foods THE SANDWICH FACTORY CHICKEN SALAD” with a “Use by” date of 11/16/2018.
      • 32-lb. bulk packages of “Ron’s Home Style Foods HONEY PECAN WHITE MEAT CHICKEN SALAD” with a “Use by” date of 11/21/2018.
      • 12-oz. plastic container of “Texas Kitchen Salads Cranberry Pecan White Chicken Salad” with a “Use by” date of 11/25/2018.
      • 12-oz. plastic container of “Texas Kitchen Salads Chicken Salad Supreme” with a “Use by” date of 11/25/2018.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “P-32049” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to institutional and 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 Brandon Woodall at (713) 640-2082.

      Ron’s Home Style Foods of Houston, Texas, is recalling approximately 6,912 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) chicken salad.The products may be contaminated...
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      Vaping industry warns it could ‘face dire consequences’ after FDA announces crackdown on teen vaping

      The FDA is going after flavored e-cigarettes that it says are marketed to non-smoking teens

      A popular talking point for the e-cigarette industry is that vaping helps cigarette addicts quit smoking. But that doesn’t appear to be what e-cigarettes are actually designed to do.

      The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that its own research found that vaping has increased by 80 percent in high schoolers and by 50 percent in middle schoolers, suggesting once again that non-smokers are an important target market to the vaping industry.

      Those teens are then more likely to turn to traditional cigarettes -- some of which are sold by the same business interests that have entered the vaping market.

      “The data show that kids using e-cigarettes are going to be more likely to try combustible cigarettes later,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a lengthy statement Thursday about his agency’s plans for an industry-wide crackdown. “This is a large pool of future risk.”

      While some proponents have claimed that cracking down on vaping will be a boon to Big Tobacco, the cigarette industry has actually invested heavily in e-cigarettes. Philip Morris is currently aggressively lobbying Australian regulators to overturn a country-wide ban on vaping.

      The United States approach to regulating vaping would be less stringent.

      Banning flavors

      To combat what they say is an “astonishing” rise in teen vaping, the FDA is pursuing a ban on selling flavored e-cigarettes at any stores where people under the age of 18 are allowed.

      Such a policy would ban flavored products from convenience stores and gas stations, though tobacco and vape shops would still be able to sell flavored pods.

      The FDA will also make an exception to those rules for mint, menthol, and tobacco flavors because they say that people trying to quit traditional cigarettes have found those flavors helpful.

      The agency is, however, following through on plans to crackdown on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

      Juul, a vaping brand that has gained a cult-like following among teens, said it has agreed to stop selling its Mango, Fruit, Cream, and Cucumber flavored pods at 90,000 retail stores, though the company claims it was never trying to get kids hooked.

      “We launched flavors like Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber as effective tools to help adult smokers switch from combustible cigarettes, and we do not sell flavors like Gummy Bear or Cotton Candy, which are clearly targeted to kids,” the company said online.

      Industry panic

      But research has suggested otherwise. In 2016, researchers at the UCSF School of Medicine found that vaping actually made people 28 percent less likely to quit cigarettes. Experts say that cigarette addicts should stick to e-cigarettes with large cartridges if they are vaping to quit.

      The FDA’s announcement appears to be sending chills through the vaping industry.

      The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, one of the vaping industry lobbying groups, is planning a meeting in December with other vaping trade groups to organize against “the many issues facing the vaping industry at the Federal level.”

      “It's time for us all to stop viewing each other as the enemy and start working together -- or we will face dire consequences as an industry,” the group’s Executive Director Mark Anton wrote today on Facebook.

      A popular talking point for the e-cigarette industry is that vaping helps cigarette addicts quit smoking. But that doesn’t appear to be what e-cigarettes a...
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      Ford Fusions, Mercury Milans and Lincoln MKZs recalled

      The gas that inflates the airbag may leak out

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 215 model year 2010 Ford Fusions, Mercury Milans and model year 2010-2012 Lincoln MKZs that previously received a replacement passenger airbag.

      In the event of a crash requiring deployment of the passenger airbag, the bracket that secures the airbag inflator to the module housing may deform, allowing the gas that inflates the airbag to leak out.

      If the airbag does not inflate as intended, there is an increased risk of injury in the event of a crash.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger airbag module, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin in November 2018.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 18S34.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 215 model year 2010 Ford Fusions, Mercury Milans and model year 2010-2012 Lincoln MKZs that previously received a replaceme...
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      Facebook bug allowed websites to see users’ likes and interests

      The company has patched the bug and says it hasn’t seen the bug exploited

      Facebook says it has fixed a privacy bug that allowed websites to read likes and interests on users’ profiles without them knowing about it.

      The bug was first discovered in May by Ron Masas, a security researcher at Imperva. Masas found that Facebook search results were not sufficiently protected from cross-site request forgery attacks, meaning bad actors could have used an iFrame to extract data from a logged-in Facebook profile in another tab.

      “This allowed information to cross over domains — essentially meaning that if a user visits a particular website, an attacker can open Facebook and can collect information about the user and their friends,” Masas told SiliconANGLE.

      Masas said the bug allowed websites to see the user’s interests as well as their friends' interests, even if their privacy settings were set to allow only friends to see their interests.

      One of many security issues

      Facebook said it fixed the bug within days of being alerted to it. The company says it hasn’t seen the vulnerability be exploited for malicious purposes.

      “We appreciate this researcher’s report to our bug bounty program,” said Facebook spokesperson Margarita Zolotova in a statement. “As the underlying behavior is not specific to Facebook, we’ve made recommendations to browser makers and relevant web standards groups to encourage them to take steps to prevent this type of issue from occurring in other web applications.”

      The data vulnerability is among several others to have affected Facebook recently. It follows the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a political data firm improperly harvested information on 87 million users to use for election profiling.

      More recently, Facebook admitted that millions of user account tokens had been stolen by hackers who breached its system.

      Facebook says it has fixed a privacy bug that allowed websites to read likes and interests on users’ profiles without them knowing about it. The bug wa...
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      Postal Service releases holiday mailing schedule

      The delivery service expects a big increase in mail and packages

      The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) says it projects mail delivery demands will go up sharply this holiday season with consumers putting 15 billion pieces of mail and 900 million packages into the system between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

      To help consumers get their cards and packages delivered on time, USPS is expanding its Sunday delivery operations to locations with high package volumes beginning Nov. 25. Sunday package delivery already takes place in most major cities. Select locations will also get Christmas Day delivery.

      Mailing early can also ensure that consumers' packages get delivered on time. USPS has published these mailing and shipping deadlines, though shipping before the deadlines is always a good idea:

      • Dec. 4 – APO/FPO/DPO (ZIP Code 093 only) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail    

      • Dec. 11 – APO/FPO/DPO (all other ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail    

      • Dec. 14 – USPS Retail Ground    

      • Dec. 18 – APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express    

      • Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail     (including greeting cards)    

      • Dec. 20 – First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)    

      • Dec. 20 – Hawaii to mainland Priority Mail and First-Class Mail    

      • Dec. 20 – Priority Mail    

      • Dec. 20 – Alaska to mainland Priority Mail and First-Class Mail    

      • Dec. 22 – Alaska to mainland Priority Mail Express    

      • Dec. 22 – Hawaii to mainland Priority Mail Express    

      • Dec. 22 – Priority Mail Express

      "We have increased our operating capacity to include additional transportation and extended our delivery windows," said Megan J. Brennan, Postmaster General and CEO. "Our dedicated employees are proud to deliver more packages to homes than any other shipper."

      Increase in shipping volume

      Because holiday shopping is now spread over such a wide time frame, USPS no longer designates a “busiest mailing day.” Rather, it identifies the two weeks before Christmas as the time when it expects the heaviest mailing demands.

      In addition to consumers mailing their own packages, online retailers are expected to make use of USPS to ship purchases, along with FedEx and UPS. The Deloitte Holiday Shopping Survey released last month projects online holiday sales will increase 17 percent to 22 percent this year.

      Consumers shipping by FedEx are catching a break. The company has announced across-the-board increases in shipping rates, but they don't take effect until January.

      The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) says it projects mail delivery demands will go up sharply this holiday season with consumers putting 15 billion pieces of ma...
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      Amazon chooses New York, DC for new headquarters

      Both metros expect to see 25,000 new jobs

      After months of putting American cities through an elaborate selection process, Amazon has chosen metro New York and metro Washington to share its second corporate headquarters.

      In the end, the decision seemed to make perfect sense. New York is the financial capital of the world while Washington is the seat of government, which is doing an increasing amount of business with the tech giant.

      The Washington location is Crystal City, Virginia, wedged between Reagan National Airport and the Pentagon. The New York location is in Long Island City, a neighborhood in Queens.

      Both metro areas stand to reap significant economic rewards since Amazon plans to hire roughly 50,000 workers between the two locations. At the same time, the company will situate its East Coast operations hub in Nashville, hiring 5,000 workers there.

      “We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”

      Amazon will be in the center of things

      While Amazon will maintain its current corporate headquarters in Seattle, the new East Coast locations put it close to the source of economic and political power. The New York location is just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan and the Upper East Side. Long Island City is currently a mixed-use community with an industrial base and a Bohemian vibe. It has easy access to Manhattan as well as LaGuardia and JFK airports.

      Crystal City, renamed National Landing, is on the Potomac River in Northern Virginia, just across from the nation's capital. It's a neighborhood of high rise office buildings and condos, whose prices just went up.

      In fact, property values in both New York and Washington, already among the highest in the nation, can be expected to go even higher. Both are high-density population centers with little room for new construction to accommodate the thousands of new people who will be working there.

      Meanwhile, political leaders in both New York and Virginia are celebrating Amazon's decision. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it “a giant step on our path to building an economy in New York City that leaves no one behind.”

      Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam called it “a big win for Virginia.” Both states offered Amazon generous tax breaks in their bids to secure the winning locations.

      After months of putting American cities through an elaborate selection process, Amazon has chosen metro New York and metro Washington to share its second c...
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      Natural Life Pet Products recall dry dog food

      The product contains elevated levels of Vitamin D

      Natural Life Pet Products is recalling Natural Life Chicken & Potato dry dog food.

      The product contains elevated levels of Vitamin D.

      The company has received complaints from three pet owners of vitamin D toxicity.

      The following product, with a Best By Date code of December 4, 2019, through August 10, 2020, on the back or bottom of each bag, is being recalled:

      • 17.5 # Natural Life Chicken & Potato Dry Dog Food Bag UPC: 0-12344-08175-1

      The recalled product was sold in retail stores in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and California.

      What to do

      Consumers should stop feeding the recalled product and dispose of it or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Natural Life Pet Products at (888) 279-9420 from 8 AM to 5 PM (CST) Monday through Friday, or by email at consumerservices@nutrisca.com for more information.

      Natural Life Pet Products is recalling Natural Life Chicken & Potato dry dog food.The product contains elevated levels of Vitamin D.The company has...
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      Robocalls hit an all-time high

      The FCC and a coalition of states have declared war, but patience and good judgement is the mantra for consumers for now

      The number of robocalls for October raised the bar to an all-time high of 5.1 billion across the U.S. This is the first time the scourge has passed the 5 b..

      Millennials more likely to trust brands with personal data

      Younger consumers are also more likely to suffer financial loss in a data breach

      Everyone is vulnerable to a data breach, but a new international survey shows millennial consumers are most likely to suffer a financial loss when their sensitive information is compromised.

      Ping Identity, an identity security firm, surveyed consumers in Europe and the United States about how they interact with brands and how much they trust those companies to safeguard their data. The researchers also investigated how consumers change their behavior following a breach.

      An overwhelming majority -- 78 percent -- said they would end an online relationship with a brand that suffered a data breach. Another 36 percent said they would stop doing business with the company altogether.

      Nearly half of consumers said they have already made changes in how they handle their personal information as a result of a data breach.

      More pressure on brands

      “With the prevalence of data breaches and leaks, enterprises must have the proper controls in place or they become at risk of losing consumer trust and business,” said Sarah Squire, Ping's chief technology officer. “In the same way that brands are expected to provide user-friendly experiences, they also must understand the value and importance of strong identity management strategies.”

      The survey also revealed that consumers under age 35 have a lot more trust in brands than those over 55, and that trust may be costly. Forty-one percent of millennials have reported a financial loss as the result of a data breach. That compares to just 27 percent of consumers age 55 and older.

      The authors say that may result from disparities in the amount of trust the two groups place in the brands with which they do business. Just over half of millennials feel confident or very confident in brands' ability to guard their private information. Only 27 percent of consumers 55 and older have that same level of trust.

      Sharing bank information

      Fifty-four percent of consumers under 35 are willing to put their bank information on a website or app. Only 41 percent of older consumers are willing to do that.

      “The findings from our 2018 survey reveal the extent to which consumers value security and rely on the brands they interact with to provide a layer of protection when it comes to their identity and personal information,” Squire said.

      Data breaches have become all-too-common occurrences in recent years. One of the latest came in August when T-Mobile announced that it was hit with a data breach that may have allowed hackers to gain access to the personal information of around 2 million of its customers.

      Everyone is vulnerable to a data breach, but a new international survey shows millennial consumers are most likely to suffer a financial loss when their se...
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      American Honda recalls ROVs

      An incorrectly installed throttle body can ignite, posing fire and burn hazards

      American Honda Motor Company of Torrance, Calif., is recalling about 56,000 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).

      An incorrectly installed throttle body can ignite, posing fire and burn hazards.

      The firm has received five reports of throttle body igniting. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves all model year 2016 through 2017, and some model year 2018 Honda Pioneer 1000 side-by-side vehicles.

      The recalled vehicles were sold in various colors including: red, blue, green, gray and yellow.

      The name “HONDA” is on the front, sides and the rear of the vehicle. The model name Pioneer 1000 is printed on a label located on both sides of the vehicle, near the rear. The serial number (VIN #) is stamped in the frame at the left rear, below the tilt-up bed/seat.

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

      MY

      Model

      VIN Start

      2016

      Pioneer 1000 3P

      (SXS10M3*)

      1HFVE04**G4000001 --- 1HFVE04**G4008403

      2016

      Pioneer 1000 5P

      (SXS10M5*)

      1HFVE04**G4000001 --- 1HFVE04**G4010507

      2017

      Pioneer 1000 3P

      (SXS10M3*)

      1HFVE04**H4100001 --- 1HFVE04**H4102101

      2017

      Pioneer 1000 5P

      (SXS10M5*)

      1HFVE04**H4100001 --- 1HFVE04**H4103000

      2018

      Pioneer 1000 3P

      (SXS10M3*)

      1HFVE04**J4200001 --- 1HFVE04**J4200720

      2018

      Pioneer 1000 5P

      (SXS10M5*)

      1HFVE04**J4200001 --- 1HFVE04**J4200780

      Variable character

      The ROVs, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at authorized Honda Powersports dealers nationwide from August 2015, through August 2018, for between $14,000 and $22,000.

      What to do

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

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

      American Honda Motor Company of Torrance, Calif., is recalling about 56,000 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).An incorrectly installed throttle...
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      Ganaderos Borges recalls pork patties

      The product may be contaminated with extraneous materials

      Ganaderos Borges of Naguabo, P.R., is recalling approximately 14,760 pounds of pork patties.

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials – specifically metal.

      The firm has received a consumer complaint from a school that received the product.

      The the following raw item, produced on October 26, 2018, is being recalled:

      • 10-lb. cardboard boxes containing 54-3 oz. pieces of “PORK PATTIES FOR INSTITUTIONAL USE ONLY” bearing the Ganaderos Borges, Inc. logo and stamped with a production date of “26 OCT 2018” and an expiration date of “16/11/18.”

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “EST. M32170” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to institutional locations in Puerto Rico.

      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 Sarai Orozco at (787) 354-9777.

      Ganaderos Borges of Naguabo, P.R., is recalling approximately 14,760 pounds of pork patties.The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials...
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      Apple reports a defect affecting some iPhone X devices

      If your phone is affected, Apple will fix it at no charge

      If you seem to be experiencing a lack of response when you touch the screen of your iPhone X, it might not be your imagination.

      Apple says it has determined that the displays on some of the phones may have touch issues because there is a component in the display module that might fail.

      You know your phone is one of those affected if the display, or any part of it, does not respond or responds intermittently when you touch it. Apple says the defect can also cause the display to react at times that it wasn't touched.

      If it's found that your iPhone X has the defect, Apple or an authorized Apple service provider will repair it at no charge. First, the phone will get a thorough inspection to make sure it's one of the affected models.

      Breaking new ground

      Apple introduced the iPhone X in September 2017 and broke new ground, both in regard to design and features as well as price. The iPhone X retailed for $1,000.

      The X is encased in glass with a 5.8 inch Super Retina display with an enhanced camera and a Face ID system that can be used to unlock the phone and make payments. The device, however, was not without a few issues. In July, Alan of Albany, N.Y. contacted ConsumerAffairs to report repeated problems with his X.

      "I have had an iPhone X for three months and am already on my third phone," Alan wrote in his post. "The facial recognition keeps malfunctioning. It also seems to freeze up and needs rebooting often."

      A few months after its release, technology site CNET reported that the iPhone X appeared to be unusually fragile, primarily because of its glass back. It said the amount of surface that can break when subjected to impact is double that of the iPhone X predecessors.

      Unknown number of devices are affected

      Apple hasn't estimated how many iPhone X devices are affected by the faulty display component, but Forbes notes that the company did not say what it usually does when reporting an issue -- that the problem affects only a "small percentage" of devices.

      Before taking your iPhone X in for service, Apple recommends that you back up your device to iTunes or iCloud first. If the device has other damage, such as a cracked screen, Apple says that issue will need to be resolved prior to the service.

      Meanwhile, Apple says consumers who have already paid to replace their display module because of this defect can contact the company about getting a refund. The company provides full details here.

      If you seem to be experiencing a lack of response when you touch the screen of your iPhone X, it might not be your imagination.Apple says it has determ...
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      Google’s next version of Chrome to add heightened security features

      Say goodbye to untrusted sites, devious subscription sign-ups, and abusive ads

      In the last four months alone, Google has released several versions of its Chrome browser. One beefed up security against cyber attacks, one was a major redesign, and another was a security-focused update.

      That particular update came after Google lost trust in cyber-security software company Symantec’s efforts in making sures its subscribers’ website SSL certificates were compliant with industry standards. In layman’s terms, SSL certificates contain information about the identity of the site’s owner and ensure that the site’s contents have been verified as trustworthy.

      Fast forward to December, 2018, and consumers will see Chrome 71, a version ripe with more new privacy and security features.

      "Last year, after hearing from Chrome users, we launched a set of user protections against "abusive experiences" -- experiences designed to intentionally mislead and trick users into taking action on the web," wrote Vivek Sekhar, Google Chrome Product Manager in a blog post. "These protections blocked pop-ups and new window requests from sites with certain abusive experiences like redirecting pages."

      "However, we've learned since then that this approach did not go far enough. In fact, more than half of these abusive experiences are not blocked by our current set of protections, and nearly all involve harmful or misleading ads. These ads trick users into clicking on them by pretending to be system warnings or ‘close’ buttons that do not actually close the ad. Further, some of these abusive ad experiences are used by scammers and phishing schemes to steal personal information."

      Say goodbye to abusive experiences and sneaky subscription sign-ups

      Going straight for the security jugular, Chrome 71 will remove all advertisements that continue to push out "abusive experiences."

      Users also have control over what sites they feel are "abusive" simply by going to their Chrome Settings and noting the abusive sites.

      And, with the internet becoming increasingly accessed via mobile over desktop and sites trying to rope-a-dope consumers into subscribing to content, Google is waiting in the wings when a user lands on a page that contains "insufficient mobile subscription information."

      "Chrome will show a warning before these pages, so that users can make informed decisions when signing up to mobile based subscription services. Users will be offered the choice to proceed to the page or go back if they were unaware that they were entering a billing page. We want to make sure Chrome users understand when they are going through a billing flow and trust that they’ll be able to make informed decisions while browsing the web," the company said.

      Chrome 71 will be released on December 4, 2018 (December 11, 2018 for Chrome OS). If you’re chomping at the bit to try out the new release, a beta version is available, but remember that Google is still working out the kinks for the browser’s final release.

      In the last four months alone, Google has released several versions of its Chrome browser. One beefed up security against cyber attacks, one was a major re...
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      Amazon will be a bigger marketplace for Apple products

      Apple is warming up to its big tech rival

      Amazon and Apple may be competitors in some areas, but the online retailer says it has reached an agreement with the tech giant to increase the amount and range of Apple products it sells on its site.

      Under the agreement, Amazon will sell a wider variety of iPhones, iPads, and other devices with the increase taking place in time for the holidays. In the past, Apple has been slow to embrace Amazon, preferring to sell most of its products through limited channels.

      Undoubtedly a contributing factor to the new alliance is Amazon's decision to stop its third-party merchants not authorized by Apple from offering the companies products on the Amazon site. The change doesn't take place until after the holiday shopping period -- Jan. 4.

      In addition to iPhones and iPads, Amazon shoppers will be able to purchase the Apple Watch, but not the HomePod, a smart speaker that competes head-to-head with the Amazon Echo.

      More ways for consumers to buy

      “We’re working with Amazon to improve the experience for Apple customers on their site and we look forward to those customers having another great way to buy iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac and more,” Apple said in a statement to media outlets.

      An Amazon spokesman said the company is working to enhance the customer experience, and stocking its virtual shelves with products it knows consumers want is a way to do that.

      The deal comes at a good time for Amazon, which is looking for ways to bolster customer experience to stay abreast of developments by two of its chief brick-and-mortar rivals, Walmart and Target.

      Both retailers have recently announced that stock clerks will be able to check out customers' purchases without customers having to stand in line. Both have also shortened delivery times for online orders.

      While industry analysts expect both Amazon and Apple to benefit from the deal, an analysis by CNET suggests some of the little guys may get hurt. It says small operators who buy Apple products right after they go on sale and sell them on Amazon will face new barriers.

      Amazon and Apple may be competitors in some areas, but the online retailer says it has reached an agreement with the tech giant to increase the amount and...
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      Childhood obesity may increase risk for pancreatic cancer in adulthood

      Maintaining a healthy lifestyle continues to be of the utmost importance

      As nearly 20 percent of children in the United States suffer from childhood obesity, researchers continue finding health risks that could prove to be troublesome for both adolescents in the short- and long-term..

      A new study found that childhood obesity could lead to an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer later in life.

      “There is growing concern regarding the impact of adolescent obesity on adult health,” the researchers wrote in their report. “The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between  body mass index (BMI) in late adolescence and the incidence of pancreatic cancer during adulthood.”

      The importance of a healthy childhood

      The researchers, led by Dr. Zohar Levi of Rabin Medical Center and Tel Aviv University, analyzed medical records for over one million men and over 700,000 women from 1967 through 2002. All participants were between the ages of 16 and 19 years old.

      By the time the participants were re-examined -- an average of around 23 years after the first exam -- 551 new cases of pancreatic cancer were identified. One of the biggest findings showed that men were at a greater risk than women of developing pancreatic cancer. Of the 551 new cases, just 128 were women, while 423 were men.

      However, when factoring in weight, obesity affected slightly more women’s diagnoses than men’s. The women in the study characterized as obese were over four times as likely to be diagnosed, whereas men were 3.67 times as likely to be diagnosed.

      “The overall population attributable fraction of pancreatic cancer due to adolescent overweight and obesity was 11 percent among this...population,” Dr. Levi said.

      The researchers also found that overweight men were at a greater overall risk of developing any cancer -- and not just the pancreatic variety. The male participants that were classified as obese had a 97 percent higher risk of developing cancer compared with those of normal weight and BMI.

      Being aware of health risks

      A great deal of research has been done on health risks associated with obesity -- for both children and adults -- in an effort to promote healthier choices and lifestyles among consumers.

      A recent study conducted by Harvard researchers found that a mother’s lifestyle can greatly impact a child’s likelihood of developing obesity.

      Mothers who were found to follow five healthy habits -- eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, drinking alcohol only in moderation, and not smoking -- had children who were 75 percent less likely to develop obesity. When both mother and child practiced the habits, the risk of obesity was 82 percent less.

      A study conducted earlier last month found that asthma is linked to childhood obesity. While countless studies have explored the ways obesity leads to asthma, this was the first to explore the reverse relationship. Overall, the study found that children who have asthma were 66 percent more likely to develop obesity, while children who were on asthma medication were at an even greater risk.

      A group of researchers from the University of Bristol recently found that obesity is tied to a greater risk of mortality, as it can lead to cardiovascular disease and several different kinds of cancer.

      “The findings highlight the need for a global effort to reduce the surging levels of obesity within society and suggest that in most cases, any reduction in body mass index to a normal, healthy level is likely to be beneficial,” said lead researcher Dr. Kaitlin Wade.

      As nearly 20 percent of children in the United States suffer from childhood obesity, researchers continue finding health risks that could prove to be troub...
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      The Weekly Hack: Canada’s postal service says data on cannabis customers was stolen

      A woman saw $1,600 disappear from her bank account after her Facebook profile was hacked

      Canada’s postal service recently admitted that unknown hackers stole information about consumers ordering recreational cannabis.

      The hackers used Canada Post's online delivery tracking tool to steal information on 4,500 people ordering weed from a new legal dispensary in Ontario.

      Such a breach can have serious implications for Canadians. Though cannabis is now legal in Canada, United States officials have indicated that they still refuse to recognize Canada’s marijuana legalization law.

      U.S. Custom and Border Patrol recently threatened to deny entry to Canadians who are found to partake under the new laws. Locals are worried that United States federal authorities may try to access data on Canadian weed consumers.

      “American authorities have an endless appetite for information they deem to be of national security interest and a dubious track record for how that information is used, as plenty of people discovered with the advent of no-fly lists,” says a recent editorial by the board of the Toronto Star newspaper.

      The newspaper is also critical of a stipulation in Canada's pot legalization law that requires all legal users to submit their information into a government database.

      “A data breach of any kind is the last thing legal pot sales in Ontario needs,” the paper adds.

      Facebook and bank hack may be related

      First Rachel Rivera got a call from her friends that her Facebook had been hacked and that someone was using her profile to message strange links to her contacts. Then she received an email from Facebook the next day that her password had been reset, even though she had yet to do so herself.

      When she checked her bank statements, she saw that $1,600 worth of funds had been withdrawn from her account.

      Rivera reported the theft to authorities and her bank, which credited her for the loss, but she told a local news station in Milwaukee that she believes the two hacks are related and is deleting her Facebook account.

      The story may make people wary about Facebook’s feature that allows users to send and request money over messenger. But Rivera insists that she never used that or any feature that would have provided her bank details to Facebook. Or at least she thought she didn’t.

      "People don't realize how much information they have on the internet,” an FBI special agent told WLOX.

      HSBC

      The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) recently admitted to California regulators that unknown hackers accessed detailed personal and financial data on it its customers. HSBC detected the breach October 14 and recently alerted authorities and consumers on November 2; a state law in California requires corporations that do business in the state to notify consumers and authorities of all breaches.

      “We have enhanced our authentication process for HSBC Personal Internet Banking, adding an extra layer of security,” says the HSBC statement to consumers. The bank is also, as has become standard in similar hacks, offering consumers free identity theft monitoring for a year.

      The data accessed includes personal information, as well as account information and account history.

      ATMs

      The North Korean hacking group Lazarus, infamous for its hack on Sony Pictures in the wake of the film The Interview, stole millions of dollars from ATMs across Asia and Africa, according to a new report by cybersecurity firm Symantec.

      The firm speculates that Lazarus is more interested in stealing cold, hard cash than in advancing any government agenda, though Lazarus does have links to the North Korean government.  

      Girl scouts

      The Girl Scouts of Orange county recently notified its troops under California data disclosure laws that attackers accessed its email account on September 30. The email account has information about troop members’ birthdays, emails, home addresses, and health insurance information.

      The chapter told troops that it recommends “that you monitor accounts,” but Girl Scouts apparently won’t be footing the bill. Instead, the Orange County chapter recommends that troops sign on to CreditKarma, the monitoring service that is already free.

      Healthcare, everywhere

      Over a million people across the country had their personal data accessed in healthcare breaches in October, according to a  report by Modern Healthcare.

      The worst breach occurred in Texas, where 1.2 million people who receive benefits under the  Employees Retirement System of Texas had their data accessed.

      Canada’s postal service recently admitted that unknown hackers stole information about consumers ordering recreational cannabis.The hackers used Canada...
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      Facebook to give users 10 minutes to unsend a message

      The feature is ‘coming soon’ in an update to Messenger

      Facebook users will soon have 10 minutes to unsend a message on the social network’s Messenger app.

      In the “coming soon” section of a note detailing its upcoming version of Facebook Messenger, the company said version 191.0 will let users “remove a message from a chat thread after it's been sent.”

      "If you accidentally send the wrong photo, incorrect information, or message the wrong thread, you can easily correct it by removing the message within 10 minutes of sending it,” Facebook said.

      Currently, Facebook only lets users delete messages on their end. Deleting a message doesn’t remove it from the recipient’s inbox. Facebook Messenger’s upcoming "unsend" feature is in addition to its "secret conversations" feature, which was unveiled two years ago and lets users set their messages to expire after a predetermined amount of time.

      In April, reports surfaced that founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was using an early version of the feature that lets users retract messages.

      “After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014, we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications,” Facebook told TechCrunch in April. “These included limiting the retention period for Mark’s messages in Messenger. We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages.”

      More than a billion people worldwide use Messenger monthly, according to Facebook.

      Facebook users will soon have 10 minutes to unsend a message on the social network’s Messenger app. In the “coming soon” section of a note detailing it...
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      FDA to restrict e-cigarette flavors to counter teen use

      The agency will also impose stricter age verification rules for online sales of the products

      To combat the “epidemic” of teen electronic cigarette use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to issue a ban on the sale of fruit and candy flavored e-cigarettes at convenience stores and gas stations, The Washington Post reports.

      The ban -- which is expected to be announced by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb as soon as next week -- could hit Juul Labs the hardest, since it will mean that only tobacco, mint, and menthol flavors will be permitted to be sold at these stores.

      In addition to restricting e-cigarette flavors, the FDA will introduce stricter age-verification requirements for online sales of e-cigarettes. The upcoming restrictions on flavors will not apply to vape shops or other specialty retail stores, officials said.

      Surge in teen use

      “E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous ‒ and dangerous ‒ trend among teens,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in September. “The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable.”

      The agency’s move to restrict e-cigarette flavors follows its warning to Juul and other top e-cigarette manufacturers to disclose their proposed steps to curb use among youth within 60 days.

      Sales of Juul vaping devices surged from 2.2 million in 2016 to 16.2 million last year, according to the CDC. The products are especially attractive to minors because they come in flavors such as mango, mint, and fruit and creme (previously called creme brulee).

      A recent study found that Juul’s Twitter account has amassed a large number of teen followers, many of whom regularly spread the brand’s messages.

      Gottlieb has said that protecting children from tobacco-related disease is his first priority, and addressing the surge in underage e-cigarette use is crucial to achieving that goal. Research has shown that many e-cigarette users go on to become addicted to nicotine and will likely end up using regular cigarettes. Additionally, the health risks of e-cigarettes are still being studied.

      “In order to firmly confront and reverse these trends – and fulfill the central premise of our public health mandate – we may need to take actions that might narrow the off-ramp from smoking for adults in order to close the on-ramp to nicotine addiction to kids,” Gottlieb said last month.

      To combat the “epidemic” of teen electronic cigarette use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to issue a ban on the sale of fruit and candy...
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      MoviePass is going to the… dogs?

      The movie subscription service tries a ‘barketing’ gimmick to soften up its remaining patrons

      It’s not April Fools Day, right?

      Then, why is MoviePass sending out an email to its customers saying that the company’s marketing department is now being run by a… dog?

      MoviePass sent out a note on Thursday to its dwindling email list, saying "Woof! I’m Chloe, the Director of Barketing at MoviePass. I’d like to explain why from time to time you may have had a "ruff" experience with us but it turns out that I’m a dog and I can’t talk."

      "What I do know is that I see these humans working like crazy to make MoviePass better and better for you as fast as possible. They are so grateful for your membership and support while they work it out. We’re listening. We’re learning. We’re changing."

      Well, Chloe, your "humans" need to work a little harder and a lot faster.

      Between jerking customers around with plan changes, trying to 'restore' users’ accounts without permission, an investigation for fraud, borrowing $5 million to keep the company afloat, and racking up hundreds of millions in losses quarter after quarter, 2018 is indeed "the year of the dog" at MoviePass.

      Holding out hope?

      Psychoanalysis aside, MoviePass’ perky "barketing" seems like just another deflection to keep subscribers, investors, and the legal world distracted.

      But, the company may have too much invested in developing and releasing movies to pull down the shade, yet. It could be holding out hope that one of its new releases -- like the sports flick "In Search of Greatness," "The Irishman” with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, or any of the 12-15 movies it wants to produce and/or release every year -- hits big at the box office and reverses the company’s fortunes.

      "We have envisioned owning and developing our own studio content and using the power of our several million subscribers to bolster the success of the box office for our films," MoviePass’ CEO Mitch Lowe told Forbes earlier this year.

      "I believe MoviePass Films will accelerate those efforts and demonstrate the power of MoviePass to drive movie theater attendance and downstream sales, for the benefit of moviegoers, movie theaters, studios and the film entertainment ecosystem as a whole."

      Lowe has the credentials -- as a Netflix co-founder and president at Redbox -- to run the company, but MoviePass’ parent, Helios and Matheson (HMNY), isn’t helping matters.

      HMNY’s track record runs toward deplorable. Accusations of pump-and-dump schemes and claims that its technology division (HMIT) defrauded thousands in the company’s home country of India do little to keep a positive spin on the company’s perception, no matter how many box office smashes MoviePass churns out.

      It’s not April Fools Day, right?Then, why is MoviePass sending out an email to its customers saying that the company’s marketing department is now bein...
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      Sears closing 40 more stores

      The company is reportedly struggling to secure needed financing

      Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart stores, continues to get smaller.

      The company has announced it is closing an additional 40 stores by early 2019. That's in addition to the 142 unprofitable stores it expects to close before the end of this year.

      The venerable retailer filed for bankruptcy protection last month after shrinking its footprint to just 700 stores. The footprint will get smaller, however, as the company desperately seeks additional capital to stay afloat while it shops around for a potential buyer.

      To date, most of the financial support has come from ESL Investments, the hedge fund headed by Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert. ESL has already come through with $300 million in cash infusions and bankruptcy documents show Sears is in talks with ESL to double that.

      According to CNBC, talks with ESL have broken down and the company is now looking for alternative financing. That likely was a contributing factor to closing the 40 additional stores. The liquidation of the additional stores is expected to be completed by the end of February.

      Trouble stems from two factors

      Sears Holdings’ problems have been years in the making and stem from two factors -- declining brick and mortar sales and rising debt. In 2016, Sears Holdings announced it would turn things around by getting smaller, a strategy that has failed to yield results.

      At the same time, Black Friday is approaching so it's still business as usual. The retailer has rolled out plans to compete for what is expected to be record holiday spending. The company has announced Sears and Kmart Thanksgiving/Black Friday doorbuster deals.

      Sears will have special deals on Craftsman Tools -- the brand it sold years ago in an effort to raise cash -- and many of the toys found at Kmart.

      "It has been very humbling to see the outpouring of love and support from across the country and our 'Thanks for the Love' social media campaign reflects that," said Peter Boutros, chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart.

      Despite the continued bad news, Boutros says he remains optimistic about the company's prospects during the upcoming holiday season.

      Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart stores, continues to get smaller.The company has announced it is closing an additional 40 stores...
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      Gas prices fall at a faster rate over the last week

      Falling demand pushed the average price down six cents

      Holiday shoppers should have a little more money in their pockets this month because they're spending less on gasoline. The combination of soft oil prices and week gasoline demand provided some relief at the gas pump this week.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gasoline is $2.72 a gallon, down six cents from last Friday and 18 cents cheaper than a month ago.

      The average price of premium gas is $3.29 a gallon, also down six cents in the last week. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.26, down two cents from seven days ago.

      AAA says the winter lull in gasoline demand appears to be arriving sooner than expected. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that gasoline demand fell to 9.1 million barrels a day last week, down 160,000 from the previous week. It was down 400,000 barrels a day from the same week in 2017.

      Prices could go lower

      "If demand continues to trend at this rate or drops even lower, American motorists will likely see gas prices continue to fall," AAA said in its latest market update.

      Both the high-priced West Coast and low-priced Southeast markets saw declines in gasoline prices, but one of the biggest turnarounds occurred in the Midwest. In Ohio, the statewide average price of regular plunged 11 cents a gallon in the last seven days, making it the eighth-cheapest state for fuel.

      But gasoline prices could be headed higher in neighboring Michigan. GasBuddy's Patrick DeHaan says Michigan Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer has signaled support for raising the state's gasoline tax.

      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 ($3.91)

      • California ($3.73)

      • Washington ($3.49)

      • Alaska ($3.36)

      • Oregon ($3.31)

      • Nevada ($3.26)

      • Idaho ($3.09)

      • Utah ($2.99)

      • Montana ($2.95)

      • Connecticut ($2.94)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

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

      • Missouri ($2.42)

      • South Carolina ($2.43)

      • Oklahoma ($2.44)

      • Texas ($2.44)

      • Louisiana ($2.45)

      • Alabama ($2.46)

      • Mississippi ($2.47)

      • Ohio ($2.47)

      • Arkansas ($2.48)

      • Virginia ($2.49)

      Holiday shoppers should have a little more money in their pockets this month because they're spending less on gasoline. The combination of soft oil prices...
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      Kubota recalls mowers and compact tractors

      Hot coolant can spray out from the overheated and pressurized coolant reservoir tank

      Kubota Tractor Corporation of Grapevine, Texas, is recalling about 121,000 Kubota zero turn mowers, compact tractors, and ride-on mowers.

      Hot coolant can spray out from the overheated and pressurized coolant reservoir tank, posing a burn hazard.

      The firm has received three reports of burn injuries from coolant ejecting.

      This recall involves model year 2014 to 2018 Kubota with model numbers BX, GR, ZD and ZG, diesel and gasoline-powered zero turn mowers, compact tractors, and ride-on mowers.

      The model number is printed on the side of the unit. Kubota is printed on the side of the mowers and tractors. The data plate has the serial number and is also located on the side of the unit.

      Recalled units are orange and black.

      Model

      Serial Number Range

      Production

      Date

      BX1870-1

      BEGIN
      END

      20323
      26954

      7/7/2014
      8/17/2018

      BX1880

      BEGIN
      END

      10002
      14813

      BX23S

      BEGIN
      END

      10007
      25677

      BX25D

      BEGIN
      END

      17263
      17269

      7/7/2014
      8/17/2018

      BX25-1

      BEGIN
      END

      20002
      52688

      BX2370-1

      BEGIN
      END

      20740
      52083

      BX2380

      BEGIN
      END

      10008
      25675

      BX2670

      BEGIN
      END

      13836
      13839

      7/7/2014
      8/17/2018

      BX2670-1

      BEGIN
      END

      20370
      50557

      BX2680

      BEGIN
      END

      10004
      16435

      7/7/2014
      8/17/2018

      GR2120

      BEGIN
      END

      16256
      37133

      7/7/2014
      8/17/2018

      ZD1011

      BEGIN
      END

      10004
      13271

      ZD1021-60

      BEGIN
      END

      10004
      12809

      ZD1211-60

      BEGIN
      END

      10002
      28405

      7/7/2014
      8/17/2018

      ZD1211R-60R

      BEGIN
      END

      10002
      20642

      ZD1211L-72

      BEGIN
      END

      10002
      24621

      ZD1211RL-72R

      BEGIN
      END

      10002
      20457

      ZD221

      BEGIN
      END

      33698
      35861

      ZD323-60

      BEGIN
      END

      35702
      37252

      ZD326HL-72

      BEGIN
      END

      10005
      12054

      7/7/2014
      8/17/2018

      ZD326P-60

      BEGIN
      END

      39440
      44820

      ZD326RP-60R

      BEGIN
      END

      12065
      12786

      ZD326S-60

      BEGIN
      END

      35207
      37450

      ZD331RP-60R

      BEGIN
      END

      11015
      11131

      ZG332LP

      BEGIN
      END

      10672
      10737

      7/7/2014
      8/17/2018

      ZG332P-60

      BEGIN
      END

      10688
      10694

      The mowers and tractors, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at Kubota dealers nationwide from July 2014, through September 2018, for between $5,000 and $35,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled mowers and compact tractors and contact Kubota to receive a free replacement coolant reservoir tank cap. Kubota is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Kubota toll-free at (888) 458-2682 (888-4KUBOTA) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or online at www.kubotausa.com and click on Service & Support at the top of the page, then Safety, then Safety Notices for more information.

      Kubota Tractor Corporation of Grapevine, Texas, is recalling about 121,000 Kubota zero turn mowers, compact tractors, and ride-on mowers.Hot coolant ca...
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      Sprout Creek Farm recalls 'Margie' cheese

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Sprout Creek Farm of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is recalling 132 wheels of "Margie" cheese that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled product, consisting of 132 wheels, was distributed to the following locations, which have all been notified of the recall and instructed to dispose of the cheese:

      Hudson Valley Harvest750 Enterprise Dr, Kingston, NY 12401
      Mohonk Mountain House1000 Mountain Rest Rd, New Paltz, NY 12561
      Olsen and Company81 Partition St, Saugerties, NY 12477
      Gossetts Market1202 Old Post Rd, South Salem, NY 10590
      Tannat Wine and Cheese4736 Broadway, New York, NY 10040
      Sheep and Wool FestRhinebeck, Dutchess County Fair Grounds
      Adams Fairacre Farms765 Dutchess Turnpike, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
      Stinky Brooklyn215 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
      Ocean House Oyster Bar & Grill49 N Riverside Ave, Croton-On-Hudson, NY 10520

      The product being recalled is a soft, white rind, cow's milk cheese packaged with a green round label and wrapped in white milk paper in one pound wheels. It can be identified with the lot number make date of 10-9-18 and best by dates of 12-9-18.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should dispose of it immediately.

      Consumers with questions may call Sister Margo Morris at Sprout Creek Farm at (845) 485-8438 from 9:00am – 5:00pm, Monday - Friday.

      Sprout Creek Farm of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is recalling 132 wheels of "Margie" cheese that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.No illnesses h...
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      Walmart goes public with its Black Friday plans

      Some deals are available today online

      Walmart has taken the wraps off its plans for Black Friday deals, publishing its ad in hopes that shoppers will add those items to their shopping lists.

      The retailer has also introduced 18 Black Friday deals that are available starting today online. Those deals include an RCA 65-inch Class 4K Ultra HD LED TV for $399, marked down from $899. They also include a Lenovo IdeaPad 330s 15.6" Laptop with Windows 10 and an Intel processor, for $349. The regular price is $499.

      The Black Friday Ad slick shows a 65-inch 4K Roku smart TV for $398; a Hisense 40-inch HDTV for $99; an iPhone 6 on the Straight Talk wireless plan for $99; a Sony PlayStation 4 1TB Slim with the Spiderman bundle for $199; and the Google Home Hub for $99, a $50 savings.

      The company has also revealed additional details about how it plans to entice consumers on the big shopping day. Black Friday deals will go live on Walmart.com at 10 p.m. ET on Nov. 21. , two hours earlier than last year.

      In-store parties for customers

      On Nov. 22, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. local time, Walmart stores will throw special Black Friday parties for customers. Once the party ends, in-store events get underway with new tools to make it easier to shop.

      Earlier this month, Walmart announced it would station cashiers throughout the stores who will be able to check out shoppers without them having to stand in line.

      “There really is no bigger or better day of the year than Black Friday; that’s why we are pulling out all the stops to make it a great night for our customers,” said Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S. “We’re more confident than ever that our customers will find incredible prices on everything on their holiday wish list at Walmart."

      Retailers like Walmart are going all-out this year because more may be at stake. With low unemployment and a growing economy, retail analysts expect consumers will significantly move the needle on retail spending. Some estimates suggest spending could reach $1 trillion for the first time.

      Target outlines its plans

      Earlier this month, Target revealed some of its Black Friday promotions, including roving associates with portable checkout scanners who can help customers skip long checkout lines.

      Target has also published its Black Friday ad slick with deals, which include more than 15 TVs under $300 and the lowest price ever on an Element 55” Smart UHD TV -- $199.99. It also promises the lowest price on popular video games such as Madden 19, Destiny 2, NBA 2K19, and FIFA 19.

      Target says its Black Friday deals will go live early in the morning of Thanksgiving on Target.com. For consumers who prefer in-store shopping, stores will be open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 1 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 23. Stores will open again on Friday morning at 7 a.m.

      Walmart has taken the wraps off its plans for Black Friday deals, publishing its ad in hopes that shoppers will add those items to their shopping lists....
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      Comcast reportedly developing set-top box for internet-only customers

      The box is said to unify apps and services including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube

      Comcast is developing a video-streaming set-top box for broadband-only customers that would be available sometime in 2019, CNBC reports.

      The set-top box will have a voice-activated remote control, similar to devices from Apple and Amazon, according to a source familiar with the matter. The box will aggregate offerings from online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Prime and YouTube into a single place.

      Executives haven’t decided on the final number of apps and services that will be made available through the product, nor have they decided on a monthly price for the service. Comcast’s new product won’t have cable TV, but it will give users option to rent movies and shows.

      Comcast also wants the set-top box to serve as a smart home hub for its internet-only customers. The upcoming box would enable users to control things like thermostats, smart-locks, and anything else that is connected to the internet.

      News of the company’s planned hardware follows a recent report showing that more than a million consumers ditched their traditional TV subscription in the third quarter.

      Comcast announced last month that it added 334,000 residential broadband subscribers in third quarter. The company currently has about 25 million home broadband customers.

      Comcast is developing a video-streaming set-top box for broadband-only customers that would be available sometime in 2019, CNBC reports.The set-top box...
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      Cord cutting isn’t showing signs of slowing down

      New research shows consumers are dropping pay TV subscriptions at record rates

      The nine largest traditional TV providers lost about 1.1 million subscribers between July and September 2018, according to research firm MoffetNathanson.

      The latest figure represents another staggering quarterly subscriber loss for cable and satellite TV providers.

      Satellite services DirecTV and Dish Network lost the most subscribers last quarter, accounting for two-thirds of the industry losses. Dish lost 367,000 customers -- its highest quarterly loss ever. DirecTV lost a net 297,000 subscribers during the quarter.

      Cord cutting accelerates

      In August, MoffettNathanson said the rate at which consumers were canceling their pay TV subscriptions appeared to be dropping. The firm found that pay TV subscriptions declined by 3.3 percent in Q2, a one-tenth of a percentage point improvement over the prior year.

      However, the latest tally suggests the trend of cord cutting isn’t slowing down at all. Rich Greenfield, a media and technology analyst with financial services firm BTIG in New York, said the last quarter was TV’s “third-worst quarter in industry history and worst since Q2 2016."

      The 1.1 million figure doesn’t account for live TV streaming services such as Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, and YouTube TV. But streaming alternatives haven’t reported growth high enough to offset subscriber losses to traditional TV, partially due to competition from other digital live TV alternatives such as Google's YouTube TV, Sony's PlayStation Vue and Fubo TV and non-live TV alternatives like Amazon and Netflix.

      Analysts at MoffetNathanson said slowing growth for DirecTV Now and Sling TV could suggest "price sensitivity" of broadband-delivered TV services may be "turning out to be greater than expected" after several of the services raised their prices.

      The nine largest traditional TV providers lost about 1.1 million subscribers between July and September 2018, according to research firm MoffetNathanson....
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      Various Duncan Hines cake mixes recalled

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella

      Conagra is recalling Duncan Hines Classic White, Classic Butter Golden, Signature Confetti and Classic Yellow cake mixes.

      The recall was prompted by a positive finding of Salmonella in a retail sample of Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix.

      Several individuals have reported consuming a cake mix at some point prior to becoming ill, and some may have also consumed it raw and not baked.

      The following products, distributed for retail sale in the U.S. and limited international exports, are being recalled:

      Product Description

      & Brand

      UPCBest If Used By Date
      (located on top of box)

      Duncan Hines Classic

      White Cake 15.25oz.

      644209

      307500

      MAR 7 2019
      MAR 8 2019
      MAR 9 2019
      MAR 10 2019
      MAR 12 2019
      MAR 13 2019

      Duncan Hines Classic

      Yellow Cake 15.25oz.

      644209

      307494

      MAR 9 2019
      MAR 10 2019
      MAR 12 2019
      MAR 13 2019

      Duncan Hines Classic

      Butter Golden Cake 15.25oz.

      644209

      307593

      MAR 7 2019
      MAR 8 2019
      MAR 9 2019

      Duncan Hines Signature

      Cake 15.25oz.

      644209

      414550

      MAR 12 2019
      MAR 13 2019

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but return them to the store where purchased.

      Consumers with questions may call (888) 299-7646, from 9 am through 5 pm (EST) Monday through Friday.

      Conagra is recalling Duncan Hines Classic White, Classic Butter Golden, Signature Confetti and Classic Yellow cake mixes.The recall was prompted by a p...
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      Southeast Toyota Distributors recalls Toyota 4Runners

      The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating on the certification label may be incorrect

      Southeast Toyota Distributors (SET) is recalling 1,295 model year 2017-2019 Toyota 4Runners that it modified to be equipped with a TRD wheel package.

      The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) on the certification label may be incorrect, possibly resulting in the vehicle being overloaded.

      An overloaded vehicle can increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      SET will notify owners and mail them corrected certification labels, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 24, 2018.

      Owners may contact SET customer service at 1-866-405-4226. SET's number for this recall is SET18A.

      Southeast Toyota Distributors (SET) is recalling 1,295 model year 2017-2019 Toyota 4Runners that it modified to be equipped with a TRD wheel package.Th...
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      Many consumers found to be lax when it comes to protecting their data

      It’s important for consumers to take more responsibility for their personal information

      If someone asked you how often you reuse passwords and PINs (personal identification numbers), odds are you might confess to using the same ones whether it’s as a passcode on your computer, phone, or bank account.

      International Fraud Awareness Week begins November 11, and according to results from the just-released Shred-it’s Consumer Fraud Awareness Survey, consumers are putting themselves squarely behind the data security 8-ball.

      The survey results show that more than 50 percent of U.S. consumers admit to using the same security credentials across several platforms, and almost all of those guilty parties admit their security habits make them vulnerable to identity theft, exposure, or worse yet, scams that could sap their bank accounts.

      How secure are you?

      The Shred-It survey ferrets out the fact that consumers lack the confidence necessary to determine if they were a fraud victim and, if they were duped, don’t understand how to report and remediate fraud/identity theft.

      Do your personal security habits put you in the same basket as these findings?

      • More than one-third of consumers have been a victim of fraud or identity theft.

      • Almost three in 10 consumers concede that they don’t know how to find out if they've become a victim of fraud or identity theft.

      • While the majority of consumers think they could determine if an email or phone call they receive is part of a scam, 16 percent say they wouldn’t have a clue.

      • Baby boomers are the least likely to believe they could determine if an email or phone call they receive is part of a fraudulent scam or not, compared to Gen Z’s (72 percent) and Millennials (74 percent).

      • Women are less likely than men to know how to report and remediate fraud or identity theft.

      • When it comes to physical information security, nearly 3 in 10 consumers do not shred paper or physical documents containing sensitive information before throwing them in the trash.

      How well do you know how to protect your identity?

      The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is asking consumers to test how well they know the fraudster’s game. If you don’t know the difference between phishing, shoulder surfing, social engineering, or lapping, it might be a good idea to take the quiz.

      Consumers aren’t in this alone. Credit card companies and financial institutions continue to step up efforts to beef up fraud protection. However, some consumers say their bank doesn't side with them when they're the victims of fraud. Others say their banks go so far to protect against fraud that it becomes an inconvenience.

      "Bank of America's Fraud Department has locked my card at maybe 6 times in my few years of using BofA," wrote one ConsumerAffairs reviewer.

      "They have inconvenienced me with this largely, as I have to sit on hold for up to an hour just to ask them to unlock the card. They lock it for buying things I commonly buy. However they didn't catch the time that someone bought Tacos at a place over 100 miles away from me, in a city I've never visited. The fraud department is useless at best, and an inconvenience at worst.”

      Shred-It’s survey was conducted in October, 2018, researching 1,200 U.S. respondents age 18+, and qualified respondents with containing the following screener question: "Do you understand what information fraud and identity theft is?"

      What can you do to bolster your protection?

      Monu Kalsi, VP of Marketing at Shred-It, says that there are plenty of things that consumers can do to better protect their information. He points out that consumers’ lax security habits can often increase their risk of becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft.

      Kalsi says the top two things you can do today to take control of your information security are:

      1. Be smart with your digital information. “Simply put, don’t reuse passwords across your accounts. Whether it’s social media, email, bank accounts, health apps and more, varying your passwords across all accounts ensures that in the event one account IS breached, the likelihood of bad actors being able to seize more of your information from other accounts will be limited,” Kalsi said.

      2. Secure your physical information. “Whether at home or at work, physical paper documents containing sensitive information should be stored in a locked console or cabinet. From medical records, tax documents, bank/credit card statements, mortgage and insurance information and more, all of these documents contain a trove of information and would be considered a gold mine if they got into the hands of a fraudster.”

      If someone asked you how often you reuse passwords and PINs (personal identification numbers), odds are you might confess to using the same ones whether it...
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      Wells Fargo reveals more erroneous foreclosures

      The bank reports additional mortgage customers were wrongly denied a modification

      Wells Fargo still hasn't completely put its bad news behind it. The bank has acknowledged that it didn't offer mortgage modifications to hundreds more borrowers who could have qualified for them. Many of those customers eventually lost their homes to foreclosure.

      The bank thought it had put the issue to rest in August when it revealed that it miscalculated fees in its formula to determine whether borrowers were eligible for mortgage modifications. At the time, it determined that it wrongly denied modifications to more than 600 mortgage customers and that 400 of them eventually saw their homes go into foreclosure.

      In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week, Wells Fargo admitted that an additional 870 mortgage customers were wrongly denied modifications for the same reason. As a result, it said 545 borrowers eventually lost their homes -- more than the number in the initial revelation.

      Wells Fargo said the discrepancy is due to the fact that it initially reviewed homes in the foreclosure process between April 2010 and October 2015. The higher numbers resulted from extending the review period.

      Affected consumers to be compensated

      The bank has said that it has set aside money to compensate those customers who were wrongly denied mortgage modifications, but it is unclear so far how it will be done.

      “Our plan is to work with each customer to arrive at a resolution that addresses their particular situation,” a Wells Fargo spokesman said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “Every customer situation is different. As a result, we don’t have any details on the amount we expect to pay out in remediation.”

      Wells Fargo's troubles began in late 2016 when it reported that employees had opened millions of checking and credit card accounts for customers without their permission or knowledge. As a result, the CEO took early retirement and 5,000 bank employees were fired. Wells Fargo also paid a large fine.

      Since then Wells Fargo has revealed that it sold thousands of insurance policies to auto loan customers who didn't need the coverage. It also reported that it accessed improper fees on some mortgage loans.

      Wells Fargo still hasn't completely put its bad news behind it. The bank has acknowledged that it didn't offer mortgage modifications to hundreds more borr...
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      Drinking coffee linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

      The popular beverage was found to have some surprising health benefits

      Millions of people reach for the coffee pot first thing in the morning -- and continue to do so throughout the day -- to get a jolt of caffeine. While researchers have gone back and forth on whether the beverage is healthy or unhealthy, a new study could have consumers reaching for another cup.

      Researchers at the Krembil Brain Institute found that drinking coffee could help to protect consumers from developing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

      “Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Donald Weaver. “But we wanted to investigate why that is -- which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline.”

      Beyond caffeine

      Dr. Weaver and his team began by testing the effects different blends of coffee -- dark roast, light roast, and decaffeinated dark roast -- have on the brain.

      The researchers found the strength of the coffee to be the same across all three blends, so they ruled out caffeine as the component behind the health benefits.

      Digging deeper into the chemical makeup of the beverage, the researchers discovered the properties of the compound phenylindane are what could be protecting coffee-drinkers from developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Produced during the roasting process, the compound was found to prevent beta amyloid and tau -- two proteins that are linked to the cognitive diseases -- from spreading.

      “It’s the first time anybody’s investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” said Dr. Ross Mancini. “The next step would be to investigate how beneficial these compounds are, and whether they have the ability to enter the bloodstream, or cross the blood-brain barrier.”

      Though the study’s findings were significant in showing that coffee can do more than just wake consumers up in the morning, the researchers did note that more research is required in this area, and coffee is certainly not a cure for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

      The ongoing coffee conflict

      For years, researchers have been searching for answers as to whether coffee is beneficial or detrimental to consumers’ health. The debate continues on, as the evidence seems to be ever-changing.

      Earlier this year, a consumer group -- the Council for Education and Research on Toxics -- sued the state of California for failing to warn consumers that the chemicals found in coffee should classify the beverage as a carcinogen.

      Though a judge initially ruled in favor of the consumer group in March, officials were changing their tunes by June. California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) ruled that the acrylamide found in coffee -- the carcinogenic chemical -- was not enough to pose any harm to consumers. The agency was petitioning for California to reverse the initial ruling.

      On the opposite end of the spectrum, researchers found that coffee can improve heart health, help consumers live longer, and reduce the risk of death.  

      While keeping up with the risks and benefits associated with drinking coffee can get overwhelming amidst many conflicting reports, ConsumerAffairs has logged findings on the subject here.

      Millions of people reach for the coffee pot first thing in the morning -- and continue to do so throughout the day -- to get a jolt of caffeine. While rese...
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      Barcelona Nut Company recalls pistachios

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

      Barcelona Nut Company of Baltimore, Md., is recalling 239 cases of roasted and salted in-shell pistachios.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following items, packaged in red, white and blue window plastic film are being recalled:

      • 2.75 oz., UPC 030239130001 with expiration date 9/18/2019
      • 2.25 oz., UPC 030239149034 with expiration date 9/17/2019 and 10/9/2019
      • 1.50 oz., UPC 030239591154 with expiration date 10/9/2019 and 9/17/2019
      • 1.25 oz., UPC 030239991060 with expiration date 10/8/2019
      • 1 oz. Green plastic film package pictured UPC 030239510148 with expiration dates 10/4/2019 and 10/10/2019.

      The recalled products were distributed through retail stores and direct delivery in Washington D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, California, Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey and Georgia.

      What to do

      Consumers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but contact Michelle Ocheltree at michelleo@barcelonanut.com or (443) 552-5366 or (443) 552.5364 to receive a paid postage envelope to return the products for a full refund.

      Barcelona Nut Company of Baltimore, Md., is recalling 239 cases of roasted and salted in-shell pistachios.The products may be contaminated with Salmone...
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      CFMOTO recalls ROVs

      The throttle pedal can be pushed past the throttle stop and not return to the idle position

      CFMOTO Powersports of Plymouth, Minn., is recalling about 1,800 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).

      The throttle pedal can be pushed past the throttle stop and not return to the idle position, posing a crash hazard.

      No incidents or injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves model year 2018 ZFORCE 500 Trail, 2018 ZFORCE 800 Trail and ZFORCE 1000 SSV CFMOTO recreational off-highway vehicles with 500cc to 1000cc, 4-cycle engines.

      The recalled ZFORCE vehicles have “CFMOTO” stamped on the front grille, a “CFMOTO” decal on the bottom of the cab frame and a “ZFORCE” decal located on each side of rear box compartment.

      CFMOTO ZFORCE vehicles were sold in orange, blue, red and gray. The vehicle identification number (VIN) is located on the right-side frame rail just forward of the right rear tire.

      The ROVs, manufactured in China, were sold at CFMOTO dealers nationwide from January 2018, through July 2018, for between $9,000 and $14,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact a CFMOTO dealer to schedule a free repair. CFMOTO is contacting all registered owners directly.

      Consumers may contact CFMOTO toll-free at (888) 823-6686 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday, by email at info@cfmotousa.com or online at www.cfmotousa.com and click on “Customer Care” at the top of the page and then “Vehicle Recall” for more information.

      CFMOTO Powersports of Plymouth, Minn., is recalling about 1,800 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).The throttle pedal can be pushed past the thro...
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      Supreme Court declines to consider challenge to decision upholding net neutrality rules

      The ruling allows a previous court decision to stand, which may be used later as a precedent

      The Supreme Court decided on Monday that it will not consider a series of challenges from telecom companies to Obama-era net neutrality rules designed to bar internet service providers from manipulating loading speeds for specific websites or apps.

      The ruling is significant because it allows a previous ruling upholding the constitutionality of the regulations to stand, which may be used as a precedent in the future by another administration.

      For proponents of net neutrality, Monday’s Supreme Court decision represents a victory. It means that the D.C. Circuit court’s 2016 decision to uphold “both the FCC's classification of broadband as a telecommunications service, and its rules prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or degrading Internet content, remains in place," senior counsel John Bergmayer of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge said.

      "Much of the current FCC’s argument [against net neutrality] depends on ignoring or contradicting the DC Circuit’s earlier findings, but now that these are firmly established as binding law, the Pai FCC’s case is on even weaker ground than before," Bergmayer said.

      Two justices recused themselves

      Two conservative justices -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh -- "took no part in the consideration or decision of these petitions," the court announced.

      Amy Howe of SCOTUSBlog explained that Kavanaugh was “expected to recuse himself from voting on the petitions because he had participated in the cases while on the D.C. Circuit, and he did. But Chief Justice John Roberts also recused himself – presumably (although there is no way to know for sure) because he owns stock in one of the companies challenging the rules."

      By a 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Court denied petitions brought by AT&T and broadband lobby groups NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom, and the American Cable Association.

      The Trump administration overturned net neutrality regulations last year. They have not been in effect since June.

      Jessica Rosenworcel, the Federal Communication Commission’s only Democratic Commissioner, noted that the FCC had argued that because the Trump-era FCC had repealed the 2015 rules, the 2016 decision was moot and should be wiped from the books.

      “It wasn't enough for this @FCC to roll back #NetNeutrality. It actually petitioned the Supreme Court to erase history and wipe out an earlier court decision upholding open internet policies. But today the Supreme Court refused to do so,” Rosenworcel tweeted.

      “Let's call this interesting,” she added.

      The Supreme Court decided on Monday that it will not consider a series of challenges from telecom companies to Obama-era net neutrality rules designed to b...
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      Model year 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles recalled

      Mounting bolts may damage the side curtain airbags

      Hyundai Motor America is recalling 8,204 model year 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles.

      The Side Curtain AirBag (SCAB) mounting bolts may interfere with and damage the airbags during deployment.

      If the airbags become damaged during deployment, they may not inflate properly, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will install a protective cover over the SCAB installation bolts, 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 177.

      Hyundai Motor America is recalling 8,204 model year 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles.The Side Curtain AirBag (SCAB) mounting bolts may interfere with and...
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      Chrysler recalls Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicles

      The gas-fueled engine may not restart properly

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 10,021 model year 2017-2018 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicles (PHEV).

      After the vehicle has been operating in PHEV propulsion mode, the gas-fueled engine may not restart properly resulting in unburned fuel entering the exhaust catalyst.

      The improperly started engine could result in a loss of motive power increasing the risk of a crash or the unburned fuel in the catalyst may ignite increasing the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will update the powertrain controller module software, and inspect and replace the catalytic converter as necessary, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 8, 2018.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is U94.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 10,021 model year 2017-2018 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicles (PHEV).After the vehicle has been ope...
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      Fantasia Accessories recalls slap bracelets

      The metal wristband can pierce the protective fabric around it

      Fantasia Accessories Ltd., of New York is recalling about 22,500 slap bracelets.

      The metal wristband can pierce the protective fabric around it and expose sharp edges, posing a laceration hazard to young children.

      The firm has received four reports of the bracelets piercing the fabric cover, resulting in five injuries of minor cuts to consumers’ hands or wrists.

      This recall involves children’s furry critter plush slap bracelets in panda, unicorn and heart designs.

      The recalled bracelets are made of a metal band covered with a protective fabric.

      The bracelets, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively at Target stores nationwide and online at Target.com in July 2018 for about $5.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bracelets, take them away from young children and contact Fantasia Accessories to receive a free replacement product.

      Consumers may contact Fantasia Accessories at (800) 624-4826 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at info@fantasia.com or online at www.fantasia.com and click on “Important Safety Recall Information” for more information.

      Fantasia Accessories Ltd., of New York is recalling about 22,500 slap bracelets.The metal wristband can pierce the protective fabric around it and expo...
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      Nutrisca recalls dry dog food

      The products contain elevated levels of Vitamin D


      Nutrisca of Saint Louis, Mo., is recalling one formula of Nutrisca dry dog food.

      The products contain elevated levels of Vitamin D.

      When consumed at very high levels, Vitamin D can lead to serious health issues in dogs including renal dysfunction.

      The following products, with a Best By Date code of February 25, 2020, through September 13, 2020, on the back or bottom of the bag, are being recalled:

      4 lbs Nutrisca® Chicken and Chickpea Dry Dog FoodBag UPC: 8-84244-12495-7
      15 lbs Nutrisca® Chicken and Chickpea Dry Dog FoodBag UPC: 8-84244-12795-8
      28 lbs Nutrisca® Chicken and Chickpea Dry Dog FoodBag UPC: 8-84244-12895-5

      The recalled products were distributed to retail stores natiowide.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should stop feeding them and dispose of them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Nutrisca at (888) 279-9420 from 8 AM to 5 PM (CST) Monday through Friday, or by email at consumerservices@nutrisca.com for more information.

      Natural Life Pet Products of Saint Louis, Mo., is recalling its Chicken & Potato dry dog food.The product contains elevated levels of Vitamin D.Whe...
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      Realtors see rising home prices in 2019

      But buyers may have increasing leverage in some popular markets

      It's been a mixed year so far for both home buyers and sellers. Prices continue to rise, along with mortgage rates, but homes aren't selling nearly as quickly as they did a year ago.

      So what does 2019 hold in store? More of the same, according to the latest forecast from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

      In a presentation at NAR's 2018 REALTORS Conference and Expo, NAR's chief economist Lawrence Yun said sales have slowed because fewer homes are on the market. But slower sales don't seem to be affecting prices.

      "Ninety percent of markets are experiencing price gains while very few are experiencing consistent price declines," said Yun. "2017 was the best year for home sales in ten years, and 2018 is only down 1.5 percent year-to-date.

      Not so bubbly

      Yun also disputed the suggestion that the current real estate market has entered into bubble territory, with the risk that values could fall significantly, much as they did in 2009.

      “The current market conditions are fundamentally different than what we were experiencing before the recession 10 years ago," said Yun.

      That crash was due to extremely lax underwriting standards and the proliferation of subprime mortgages, which were bundled and sold on Wall Street as securities. When millions of subprime loans went into default, the whole thing came crashing down. After the crash, there was a glut of homes and few buyers.

      “Housing starts are under-producing instead of over-producing and we are seeing historically low foreclosure levels, indicating that people are living within their means and not purchasing homes they cannot afford,” Yun said. “This is a stronger, more stable market compared to the loosely regulated market leading up to the bust."

      Stability ahead

      Looking ahead to next year, Yun thinks the U.S. housing market will remain very stable. He says he expects home sales will increase a modest 1 percent and the median price of a home will rise more than 3 percent to around $267,000.

      But all of that depends on homebuilders increasing the supply of new homes. Yun says builders are not adding to the inventory at the rate required to meet the demand.

      A report from real estate marketplace Zillow suggests buyers are regaining some bargaining power in some markets where they recently had to take part in bidding wars if they wanted to buy a home. That's not the case now, and Zillow said there are a growing number of listings in which the listing price has been reduced.

      The top markets swinging toward buyers include Orlando, Boston, Seattle, Las Vegas, and Charlotte. Zillow's senior economist Aaron Terrazas says buyers will enjoy even more leverage if they buy now instead of waiting until the spring.

      It's been a mixed year so far for both home buyers and sellers. Prices continue to rise, along with mortgage rates, but homes aren't selling n