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    Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan announces retirement from company

    The executive says the company will be more successful moving forward without him

    Following a whirlwind of scandals and regulatory actions, Wells Fargo CEO, president, and board member Tim Sloan has announced that he will be stepping down from his position at the company effective immediately. The executive said he would fully leave the company and enter retirement at the end of June.

    “It has become apparent to me that our ability to successfully move Wells Fargo forward from here will benefit from a new CEO and fresh perspectives. For this reason, I have decided it is best for the Company that I step aside and devote my efforts to supporting an effective transition,” Sloan said.

    In a news release, Wells Fargo said that C. Allen Parker will serve as interim CEO and president until the company can complete an external search for a new candidate to replace Sloan.

    “Tim Sloan has served this Company with pride and dedication for more than 31 years, including in his role as CEO since October 2016. He has worked tirelessly over this period for all of our stakeholders in the best long-term interest of Wells Fargo,” said Wells Fargo Board Chair Betsy Duke. “His decision, and today’s announcement, reflect that commitment and his belief that a new CEO at this time will best position the Company for success.”

    Scandals abound

    Sloan’s departure from the company follows years of hardship at Wells Fargo, which has found itself at the center of several high-profile scandals..

    Back in 2016, the bank admitted that its employees had opened millions of accounts in customer’s names without their knowledge or consent. Over the next two years, the company would also face charges related to wrongful home foreclosures, hidden auto loan insurance policies, and various investigations brought by all 50 U.S. states.

    In response to Sloan’s retirement, consumer watchdog Allied Progress said that the move was a necessary one. However, the group says Wells Fargo has a long way to go to make up for its past transgressions.

    “While this is certainly good news for consumers after so many bad headlines about ongoing abuses at Wells Fargo, let’s be clear: the culture of greed at Wells Fargo and other major banks goes beyond one CEO,” the group said in an emailed statement to ConsumerAffairs.

    “Sloan stepping aside won’t magically solve what are obviously deep, systemic problems within these institutions that continue to test regulators and see what they can get away with.”

    Following a whirlwind of scandals and regulatory actions, Wells Fargo CEO, president, and board member Tim Sloan has announced that he will be stepping dow...
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      Disney bans smoking, vaping, and large strollers from its parks

      The company says that oversize strollers block walkways, but it will offer parents rental strollers for $15 a day

      If you’re the type of parent who likes to block walkways with your child’s massive stroller while smoking a vape pen at Disneyland, get prepared to make some changes.

      Disney announced yesterday that smoking, vaping, and oversized strollers will be banned from its parks in California and Florida starting May 1.

      The parks will no longer have designated smoking areas, meaning that smokers will have to partake outside the gates. As for strollers, Disney says that the devices must be no wider than 31 inches and no longer than 52 inches. Stroller wagons are also prohibited. If a parent’s stroller does not comply, they can rent one from the park for $15.

      Disney enthusiasts say that the new rules seem reasonable.

      "Restricting stroller size and prohibiting wagon strollers will, hopefully, eliminate the traffic problems they can cause -- blocking walkways, bumping into guests (especially the little ones) and taking up space in queues and elsewhere," the editor of one Disney fan site told CNN.

      If you’re the type of parent who likes to block walkways with your child’s massive stroller while smoking a vape pen at Disneyland, get prepared to make so...
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      American Airlines has the worst rate of passenger wheelchair complaints

      Under new reporting requirements, airlines are now disclosing monthly complaints of mishandled wheelchairs

      People flying on major airlines made 681 complaints in January about mishandled wheelchairs or scooters, according to new disclosures that the airline industry made to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

      Federal regulations have long required that airlines publicly disclose lost luggage, injured or killed pets, and on-time performance on a monthly basis. But complaints of lost or damaged custom wheelchairs, which airlines often stow away in the cargo hold of planes, weren’t part of those reporting requirements until recently.

      In December, changes made by the Obama administration to address wheelchair complaints from fliers finally went into effect.

      Newly released figures from the DOT show that passengers made 701 wheelchair complaints in December and 681 complaints in January, the most recent month for which data is available.

      American Airlines receives most complaints

      In January, American Airlines received 167 complaints related to mishandled wheelchairs, out of a total of 2,835 wheelchairs it transported. That represents a complaint rate of 5.89 percent, the highest among major airlines.

      The figure is slightly better than December, when American Airlines reported a complaint rate of 7.22 percent.

      “Our goal is to ensure customers of all abilities have a positive travel experience and we strive to do better every day,” American Airlines spokesman Shannon Gilson tells ConsumerAffairs in a statement. “We’ve taken a number of steps to meet the new reporting requirements and continue to improve our processes to ensure our team members have the tools they need to properly handle and track wheelchairs and assistive devices.”

      Southwest Airlines came in second for wheelchair mishandling complaints in January, with 4.09 percent of fliers who traveled with wheelchairs or scooters reporting a problem.

      Delta had the lowest rate, reporting only 107 complaints out of 12,670 wheelchairs or scooters it transported.

      Wheelchair users say that air travel has become more difficult for the disabled in an era of shrinking seats and overbooking. One recent government audit found that disability-related complaints on airlines doubled between 2005 and 2015.

      People flying on major airlines made 681 complaints in January about mishandled wheelchairs or scooters, according to new disclosures that the airline indu...
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      Gas prices surge in the last week

      But the average price is only slightly higher than at this time last year

      Gasoline prices jumped by 10 cents or more a gallon in several states in the last seven days as rising oil prices and cuts in gasoline production have reduced supplies. But prices are still about the same as they were at this time last year.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gasoline is $2.69 a gallon, up eight cents from a week ago.

      The average price of premium gas is $3.22 a gallon, up a dime from last Friday. The price of diesel fuel is $3.02, only a penny higher than last week.

      The price at the pump went up in nearly every state but the biggest increase was in California, where the statewide average rose 17 cents a gallon, mainly due to refinery issues. The average price is up 12 cents in Ohio and 11 cents in Illinois.

      Despite the higher prices consumers appear undeterred. The latest AAA Gas Price Survey found a third of consumers will probably take a road trip this summer with 27 percent suggesting they would take a longer trip than they did last year.

      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:

      • California ($3.56)

      • Hawaii ($3.42)

      • Washington ($3.12)

      • Oregon ($3.02)

      • Nevada ($2.93)

      • Alaska ($2.90)

      • Pennsylvania ($2.80)

      • Michigan ($2.82)

      • Illinois ($2.83)

      • Florida ($2.76)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Utah ($2.37)

      • Alabama ($2.41)

      • Arkansas ($2.42)

      • Mississippi ($2.43)

      • Virginia ($2.44)

      • Louisiana ($2.45)

      • South Carolina ($2.45)

      • Oklahoma ($2.46)

      • Wyoming ($2.46)

      • Texas ($2.47)

      Gasoline prices jumped by 10 cents or more a gallon in several states in the last seven days as rising oil prices and cuts in gasoline production have redu...
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      GM recalls model year 2019 Cadillac CT6 vehicles

      Turn-signals will not self-cancel after a turn

      General Motors is recalling five model year 2019 Cadillac CT6 vehicles.

      Rotation of the steering wheel does not automatically cancel the turn-signals from flashing.

      If the turn-signals do not automatically deactivate, the driver may fail to turn them off manually. An erroneous active turn-signal may mislead pedestrians and other drivers, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      GM has notified owners, and dealers will replace the turn-signal switch.

      The recall began March 11, 2019.

      Owners may contact Cadillac customer service at 1-800-458-8006. The Cadillac number for this recall is N182207090.

      General Motors is recalling five model year 2019 Cadillac CT6 vehicles.Rotation of the steering wheel does not automatically cancel the turn-signals fr...
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      Boeing reveals fixes for 737 Max planes

      Software updates and additional training for pilots are included

      On Wednesday, Boeing revealed a series of steps it is taking to make its 737 Max airplanes safer. Among the changes are software updates to the aircrafts’ Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), new flight control displays, and additional training for pilots.

      Below is a list of the additional layers of protection that Boeing is rolling out:

      • Flight control systems will now compare inputs from both angle of attack (AOA) sensors on the outside of planes. If the sensors disagree by 5.5 degrees or more with the flaps retracted, MCAS will not activate. An indicator on the flight deck display will alert pilots.

      • If MCAS is activated in non-normal conditions, it will provide one input for each elevated AOA event.

      • MCAS can never command more stabilizer input than can be counteracted by the flight crew pulling back on the column. The pilots will continue to always have the ability to override MCAS and manually control the airplane.

      The software updates are meant to stop planes from unexpectedly nose diving when the AOA sensors detect too steep of an angle of ascent. Experts have speculated that this issue is what led to the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight earlier this month and a Lion Air crash that occurred in October.

      Improving safety

      The new safety updates provide a much-needed reprieve for Boeing, which has faced backlash in recent weeks. In addition to the two fatal crashes, one Boeing 737 Max aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing earlier this week due to an engine problem.

      CNBC reports that news of the updates caused a 1 percent jump in the company’s stock in yesterday’s trading. The company is assuring the public that the steps it has taken are in coordination with airline regulators.

      “The software was put through hundreds of hours of analysis, laboratory testing, verification in a simulator and two test flights, including an in-flight certification test with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) representatives on board as observers,” the company said.

      “These updates reduce the crew’s workload in non-normal flight situations and prevent erroneous data from causing MCAS activation. We continue to work with the FAA and other regulatory agencies on the certification of the software update.”

      On Wednesday, Boeing revealed a series of steps it is taking to make its 737 Max airplanes safer. Among the changes are software updates to the aircrafts’...
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      Facebook facing charges of housing discrimination in ad practices

      HUD has accused the company of violating the Fair Housing Act

      The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Thursday announced that it’s charging Facebook with “discrimination” in its advertising practices for housing.

      In a complaint, HUD accused the company of violating the Fair Housing Act by "encouraging, enabling and causing" discrimination by excluding certain users from viewing housing ads on the platform.

      The group charges that Facebook willfully allowed advertisers to exclude people from seeing housing ads based on their neighborhood, interests, religion, race, and color, including whether they were “classified as parents, non-American-born, non-Christian, interested in accessibility, interested in Hispanic culture, or a wide variety of other interests that closely align with the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes.”

      “The Charge concludes that by grouping users who have similar attributes and behaviors (unrelated to housing) and presuming a shared interest or disinterest in housing-related advertisements, Facebook’s mechanisms function just like an advertiser who intentionally targets or excludes users based on their protected class,” HUD said in a statement.

      Accused of audience-targeting

      Last March, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and three of its member groups sued Facebook over the same issue. The suit alleged that Facebook allowed landlords and real estate brokers to exclude certain groups from viewing advertisements for housing, despite being warned that targeting housing ads in this manner may violate fair housing laws.

      In a statement, Facebook said it was “surprised” by HUD’s decision. A company spokesperson noted that Facebook has been “working with them to address their concerns and have taken significant steps to prevent ads discrimination.”

      “Last year we eliminated thousands of targeting options that could potentially be misused, and just last week we reached historic agreements with the National Fair Housing Alliance, ACLU, and others,” the spokesperson said.

      HUD is seeking unspecified damages for any person who was harmed by Facebook’s advertising policies, as well as “the maximum civil penalty” against the company for each violation of housing laws.

      “Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”

      The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Thursday announced that it’s charging Facebook with “discrimination” in its advertising pract...
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      Budget airline Wow Air ceases operations, cancels all flights

      The carrier has advised passengers to look for ‘rescue fares’ offered by other airlines

      Icelandic airline Wow Air, formerly known for its cheap trans-Atlantic fares, has suddenly shut down. Passengers have been advised to book new flights on other airlines.

      “Wow Air has ceased operation. All Wow Air flights have been canceled,” the airline said in a statement posted to its website on Thursday. Wow Air said affected travelers may be able to get reduced fares from other airlines.

      “Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances. Information on those airlines will be published, when it becomes available,” the carrier said.

      The airline said some passengers may be eligible for compensation.

      “Passengers who may have bought travel protection, or those passengers whose credit card terms may include such protection, may be entitled to claim compensation and assistance due to delays or travel disruption,” the statement continued. The airline added that “such compensation is often limited.”

      Financial struggles

      Wow Air, which began operations in 2012, had for the past six months been in negotiations to be bought by rival Icelandair and later by Indigo Partners. However, both deals fell through.

      Prior to kicking off its effort to find a buyer, the budget airline was struggling financially. In January, the airline announced plans to pare down its number of U.S. destinations to just four in an effort to get “back to the basics” and “grow again as a purebred low-cost airline.”

      The airline’s sudden collapse on Thursday has left thousands of passengers stranded.

      Icelandic airline Wow Air, formerly known for its cheap trans-Atlantic fares, has suddenly shut down. Passengers have been advised to book new flights on o...
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      Model year 2019 Audi Q7s and Q8s recalled

      The shock absorbers may loosen

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 22 model year Audi 2019 Q7s and Q8s.

      The front shock absorber forks may develop cracks allowing the shock absorbers to loosen which may impair vehicle steering and increase the risk of crash.

      What to do

      Audi has notified owners, and dealers will replace the shock absorber forks free of charge.

      The recall began March 18, 2019.

      Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Audi's number for this recall is 40O4.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 22 model year Audi 2019 Q7s and Q8s.The front shock absorber forks may develop cracks allowing the shock absor...
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      Mercedes-Benz recalls vehicles with seat issue

      The front seatbacks may not lock properly

      Mercedes-Benz USA is recalling 22,637 of the following vehicles:

      • model year 2017-2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 Cabriolets, C300 Coupes, AMG C43 Coupes, C300 4MATIC Cabriolets, C300 4MATIC Coupes, AMG C43 Cabriolets, AMG C63 Cabriolets, AMG C63 Coupes, AMG C63 S Cabriolets & AMG C63 S Coupes and
      • model year 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupes, E400 Cabriolets, E400 4MATIC Cabriolets and E400 4MATIC Coupes.

      The seatbacks of the front seats may not lock properly on the right side of the seat.

      If the seatback does not lock properly, the seatbacks may fold forward in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Mercedes will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the locking of the seatback and replace the seatback lock as necessary free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin April 26, 2019.

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

      Mercedes-Benz USA is recalling 22,637 of the following vehicles: model year 2017-2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 Cabriolets, C300 Coupes, AMG C43 Coupes, C30...
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      Apple apologizes to consumers experiencing issues with MacBook keyboards

      Consumers have complained that the company’s butterfly keyboards have unresponsive keys

      On Wednesday, Apple issued its first apology to users who are still experiencing problems with the “butterfly” keyboard on their MacBook.

      “We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.

      Apple added that the “vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard” before stating that consumers who are still experiencing keyboard issues should contact Apple Support.

      Apple’s apology was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which published a story on Wednesday that let readers choose whether to view the story with or without e’s and/or r’s in order to see the impact of a keyboard that isn’t working properly.

      Criticism over keyboards

      Apple unveiled its “butterfly” keyboard in 2015, advertising it as being “refined for greater comfort and responsiveness” compared to its standard “scissor” design. However, users began noticing that the keyboards tended to start malfunctioning after being exposed to dirt or dust.

      A lawsuit filed last May alleged that the company’s “butterfly” keyboards are “prone to fail.”

      “As a result of the defect, consumers who purchased a MacBook face a constant threat of non-responsive keys and accompanying keyboard failure. When one or more of the keys on the keyboard fail, the MacBook can no longer serve its core function: typing,” the suit said.

      Over 35,000 people have also signed a Change.org petition asking for Apple to recall the flawed keyboards.

      In 2018, Apple updated its keyboards to include a new part inside each key designed to keep dust and other particles out. However, the company never confirmed that the improvement was related to keyboard issues.

      On Wednesday, Apple issued its first apology to users who are still experiencing problems with the “butterfly” keyboard on their MacBook. “We are aware...
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      Volkswagen recalls model year 2019 Beetles and Beetle Convertibles

      The instrument cluster may not provide a visual warning when the brake system fails

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 4,064 model year 2019 Beetles and Beetle Convertibles. The instrument cluster may not provide a visual warning when a brake system failure is detected.

      If the driver is not alerted when there is a problem with brakes, he may lose control of the vehicle while attempting to brake, increasing the risk of crash.

      What to do

      Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will update the instrument cluster software free of charge.

      The recall began March 7, 2019.

      Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 90L8.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 4,064 model year 2019 Beetles and Beetle Convertibles. The instrument cluster may not provide a visual warning whe...
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      Apple launches a new, security-driven credit card

      At the end of the day, it’s still a credit card and the consumer has to ask themselves if they really need another one

      Not one to be left out of the all-things-for-all-people game, Apple threw a giant welcoming party on Monday for its new video streaming service -- “TV+” -- and its new credit card, “Apple Card.”

      Apple’s foray into fintech is a giant step for the company, but not a new one. Its “Apple Pay” is in its fourth year as a mobile payment and digital wallet service, and according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple Pay transactions soared to more than 1 billion in 2018. If you’re doing the math, that’s about 11 million per day -- thought to be more than both Square and PayPal’s mobile transactions.

      The big questions

      Just looking at its history, let alone the numbers, it’s tough to call Apple’s move into the credit card world a bad one. However, within hours after the company’s announcement, tech and financial sages came out of the woodwork to weigh in with their own take.

      Here’s what ConsumerAffairs found:

      Apple’s pitch

      As far as the upsides to Apple Card, the company has three points it wants the consumer to take away:

      1. “The card lives on your iPhone, in the Wallet app. And that makes all kinds of new things possible.

      2. When you buy something using Apple Card, you get a percentage of your purchase back in Daily Cash. Not a month from now, but every day. There’s no limit to how much you can get. And it goes right onto your Apple Cash card, so you can use it just like cash.

      3. Apple Card doesn’t have any fees. No annual, cash‑advance, over-the-limit, or late fees.”

      Security

      For one, TechCrunch’s security editor, Zach Whittaker, gave the card a nice fistbump.

      “Chief among the benefits is a range of security and privacy features, which Apple says — unlike traditional credit card providers — the company doesn’t know where a customer shopped, what they bought or how much they paid. But its one feature — a one-time unique dynamic security code — will make it nearly impossible for anyone to use the credit card to make fraudulent purchases,” Whittaker said.

      Charting new waters

      Apple isn’t alone in this venture; it has Mastercard on its side to help guide it through processes that it may be new to.

      In an interview with Mastercard’s Jorn Lambert, EVP of digital solutions, PYMTS learned that “the embrace of the Apple Card may span both the virtual and physical offerings, and...will likely prove useful in restaurants or bars where Apple Pay is not currently a payment option. The move from plastic to ‘digital first’ to ‘digital only’ may take several years.”

      But Apple Card’s joint physical and digital card offerings may be what marks a “turning point.”

      Need or want?

      Credit card companies -- short of MasterCard, which is Apple’s partner in this deal -- won’t be taking this move lying down. It’s a safe bet that credit card companies around the world are getting geared up with similar products that will offer consumers more choices.

      “They [Apple] are really lengthening this gap that other competitors can come into,” said credit card vlogger Brian Jung. “I believe from a business standpoint, credit cards are an excellent move, but as a credit card channel, I can't recommend this credit card to a lot of my people unless you guys are in it for the flex value. The only reason I would say to get this card now, in my opinion, it really is kind of a gimmick card because it is just for the name brand.”

      It’s still a credit card

      Dovetailing Jung’s point-of-view, iMore’s Rene Ritchie weighed in with this slant:

      “It’s still a credit card, and that means the interest is still real, and the business model is still awful. The entire credit card industry is still absolutely and unabashedly evil. Apple's doing some good stuff to mitigate it. They're keeping [interest rates] low. They're suggesting ways to pay debt off faster, including bi-weekly and weekly payments. They're showing you how much interest you'll be paying if you choose different payment options. They're offering payment plan options to help you get debt free.”

      “But the entire credit card system is still absolutely and unabashedly evil. If Apple has to get into bed with it, I'd much rather see something like American Express, the classic version, where you can't carry a balance and so there's no usurious interest rates and no debt-built business. Which, frankly, should be absolutely illegal anyway.”

      The verdict?

      It’s really too early to tell. The features are inviting, but like we said -- other credit card companies are likely to follow suit.

      On the fintech end, it’ll be no stroll in the park for Apple, either. It has Google’s Google Pay service to contend with. Facebook’s WhatsApp is said to be rolling out a payment feature, too. And while Apple has its iPhone to carry some of Apple Card’s load via Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay have a larger footprint around the world.

      Not one to be left out of the all-things-for-all-people game, Apple threw a giant welcoming party on Monday for its new video streaming service -- “TV+” --...
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      Asus computers hit by supply-chain attack

      Asus inadvertently installed a backdoor program estimated to have been distributed to about 1 million people

      Researchers from threat intelligence firm Kaspersky Lab said in a report on Monday that hackers compromised Asus’ Live Update tool to distribute malware to over 1 million Asus device users.

      Motherboard reported that “Operation ShadowHammer,” as the researchers dubbed the attack, allowed Asus machines to accept infected software because the hackers were able to sign it with a legitimate Asus certificate that they had stolen.

      Kaspersky Lab said 57,000 Asus device users were attacked, but the firm estimated the malware was distributed to “about 1 million people total.” The attack took place between June and November 2018.

      Targeting a select few

      Though the hackers cast a wide net, the researchers said the attack’s primarily purpose was to target only around 600 “surgically selected” Asus systems. In systems not specifically targeted by the hackers, the rogue software remained dormant.

      It’s not yet known what type of information the hackers were after.

      “The selected vendors are extremely attractive targets for APT groups that might want to take advantage of their vast customer base. It is not yet very clear what the ultimate goal of the attackers was and we are still researching who was behind the attack," said Vitaly Kamluk, Director of Global Research and Analysis Team, APAC, at Kaspersky Lab.

      The firm said it will “continue to investigate this attack.” In the meantime, Kaspersky Lab has created an online tool that consumers can use to see if their device’s MAC addresses match the ones on the target list.

      Asus responds

      In a statement, Asus said its customer service team has been "reaching out to affected users and providing assistance to ensure that the security risks are removed.”

      The company also said that it has "implemented a fix in the latest version (ver. 3.6.8) of the Live Update software, introduced multiple security verification mechanisms to prevent any malicious manipulation in the form of software updates or other means, and implemented an enhanced end-to-end encryption mechanism."

      "At the same time, we have also updated and strengthened our server-to-end-user software architecture to prevent similar attacks from happening in the future," Asus said.

      Researchers from threat intelligence firm Kaspersky Lab said in a report on Monday that hackers compromised Asus’ Live Update tool to distribute malware to...
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      Climate change could lead to financial crisis, Fed researcher warns

      Environmental changes and the cost of adapting could adversely affect the economy

      A senior policy adviser working with the Federal Reserve says that the negative impact of climate change won’t just stop at the environment; it could also lead us into our next financial crisis.

      In an economic letter published on Monday, Glenn D. Rudebusch explained that environmental changes, as well as the way that society prepares for those changes, could have important consequences for the U.S. economy. He urges policymakers to plan accordingly to avoid the worst possible outcome.

      “Some central banks...recognize that climate change is becoming increasingly relevant for monetary policy,” he said. “For example, climate-related financial risks could affect the economy through elevated credit spreads, greater precautionary saving, and, in the extreme, a financial crisis.”

      The costs of natural disasters

      In his report, Rudebusch says that natural disasters and changing conditions could cause great harm to certain industries. Hurricanes, extensive flooding, or droughts could lead to infrastructure damage, agricultural losses, and price spikes for certain commodities that will hurt consumers and businesses financially.

      Of course, those risks aren’t just present in the U.S. Rudebusch says that disasters in different areas of the world affect everyone because of the connectedness of the global economy.

      “Even weather disasters abroad can disrupt exports, imports, and supply chains close to home,” he said.

      Greener technologies and policies

      While many nations are exploring options when it comes to converting to a low-carbon, environmentally friendly economy, Rudebusch says that the Fed is not able to tailor all of its policies towards these initiatives. However, he does say that certain government actions, such as introducing a carbon tax, could spur industries to adapt to cleaner technologies.  

      “A carbon tax that is set at the proper level can appropriately incentivize innovations in clean technology and the transition from a high- to a low-carbon economy,” he said.

      “A comprehensive set of government policies may be required, including clean-energy and carbon-capture research and development incentives, energy efficiency standards, and low-carbon public investment.”

      Rudebusch’s full report can be viewed here.

      A senior policy adviser working with the Federal Reserve says that the negative impact of climate change won’t just stop at the environment; it could also...
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      McDonald’s to acquire tech company to personalize drive thru menu displays

      Dynamic Yield will help the company increase personalization and improve the customer experience

      As part of a larger effort to modernize its stores and better compete in the fast-food industry, McDonald’s has announced that it plans to purchase a technology company called Dynamic Yield.

      The deal is valued at $300 million, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal, making it the chain’s biggest acquisition since buying Boston Market in 1999 for $173.5 million.

      Dynamic Yield will help the fast-food giant personalize its drive-thru experience through the addition of technology that will enable the menu displays to change based on different factors, such as current weather. On a very hot day, for instance, the display could suggest an ice cream cone.

      The technology can also display additional menu items based on customers’ selections.

      “Technology is a critical element of our Velocity Growth Plan, enhancing the experience for our customers by providing greater convenience on their terms,” McDonald’s President and CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a statement.

      McDonald’s said its purchase of Dynamic Yield will help promote “the continued advancement and elevation of the McDonald’s customer experience with technology and innovation.”

      “With this acquisition, we’re expanding both our ability to increase the role technology and data will play in our future and the speed with which we’ll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalized experiences for our customers,” Easterbrook said.

      Incorporating technology

      The restaurant chain said it tested the technology in several U.S. locations last year and “will begin to roll this technology out in the Drive Thru at restaurants in the United States in 2019,” with plans to expand its use to other top international markets later.

      Last August, the company detailed its plan to incorporate more technology into its locations. To increase customer convenience and boost revenue, McDonald’s said it planned to add self-serve kiosks, digital menu boards, and modernize dining rooms with new furniture.

      The company has also partnered with Uber Eats to add “McDelivery” at thousands of locations. McDonald’s CFO Kevin Ozan said earlier this year that the restaurant chain wants to focus on promoting its delivery service in 2019 as he Easterbrook both view delivery as a clear growth opportunity.

      As part of a larger effort to modernize its stores and better compete in the fast-food industry, McDonald’s has announced that it plans to purchase a techn...
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      Apple TV+ to launch this Fall

      Apple’s new streaming platform will feature exclusive programming

      At a special event on Monday, Apple announced that its new streaming service, called “Apple TV+,” will be launching this Fall in more than 100 countries.

      No pricing details were given, but the company said its forthcoming subscription service “will feature a brand new slate of programming from the world’s most celebrated creative artists, including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, M. Night Shyamalan, Jon M. Chu and more.”

      • Steven Spielberg will be leading a reboot of the sci-fi series Amazing Stories;

      • Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carrell will be in a comedy/drama about a TV morning news show which focuses on male-female dynamics at work;

      • Jason Momoa will star in a drama/horror series called See;

      • Kumail Nanjiani will produce a show about immigrants and children of immigrants;

      • Oprah will be producing two documentaries for the service;

      • Sesame Workshop is teaming up with Apple to develop a new show called Helpsters that helps kids learn computer coding skills.

      Several big-name talents were present at the “It’s Showtime” event to speak about their new projects, but no trailers were shown.

      Apple promised that subscribers to the new platform will “enjoy inspiring and authentic stories with emotional depth and compelling characters from all walks of life, ad-free and on demand.” New programming will be added every month.

      Apple TV+ will work on the TV app for iOS and Apple TV, on the Mac via a TV app to be released later this year, and on smart TVs that can now run Apple's software.

      Additional details to come

      The tech giant provided a few details about projects that are currently in the works but left several questions unanswered. For example, Apple didn’t say which shows will go live at the launch of the service or if its lineup of shows will be distributed all at once or weekly.

      Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, described the initial unveiling as a “sneak peak of Apple TV+” and added that the company “cannot wait” for viewers to tune in starting this fall.

      “Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet,” Cue said in a press release. Apple said pricing and availability for Apple TV+ will be announced later this fall.

      Crowded streaming market

      Apple’s new streaming product will enter into a crowded streaming market -- one that is causing many consumers to experience “subscription fatigue.”

      “Consumers may be entering a time of subscription fatigue,” said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman of the consulting firm Deloitte, which last week released its latest Digital Media Trends survey. The survey found that nearly half of consumers felt there are too many options and too many monthly fees to keep track of.

      Media companies eyeing a piece of the streaming market share need to “keep a close eye on consumer frustrations, including advertising overload and data privacy concerns,” Wescott said.

      At a special event on Monday, Apple announced that its new streaming service, called “Apple TV+,” will be launching this Fall in more than 100 countries....
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      Model year 2019 BMW X5 xDrive40i and xDrive50i vehicles recalled

      The attachment bolts for the driver's seat and/or seat belt may not be properly tightened

      BMW of North America is recalling 68 model year 2019 X5 xDrive40i and xDrive50i vehicles.

      The attachment bolts for the driver's seat and/or seat belt may not have been properly tightened, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the attachment bolts for the driver's seat and seat belt, and torque them to the correct specifications as necessary free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin April 5, 2019.

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

      BMW of North America is recalling 68 model year 2019 X5 xDrive40i and xDrive50i vehicles.The attachment bolts for the driver's seat and/or seat belt ma...
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      Kubota recalls zero turn mower

      The throttle cable can make contact with internal electric wiring

      Kubota Manufacturing of America Corporation of Gainesville, Ga., is recalling about 3,850 Kubota zero turn mowers.

      The throttle cable can make contact with internal electric wiring, posing a fire hazard.

      No incidents or injuries are reported.

      This recall involves model years 2018 and 2019 Kubota ZD100 series gasoline-powered zero turn mowers. The model is printed on the side of the mowers. The data plate is located on the lower frame of the unit and contains the serial number and model number. 

      Model:

      Serial Number Range:

      Z122EBR-48

      BEGIN

      END

      21408

      22007

      Z121SKH-48

      BEGIN

      END

      31302

      32882

      Z125EBR-54

      BEGIN

      END

      16242

      16547

      Z125SKH-54

      BEGIN

      END

      29458

      31138

      Recalled units are orange and black.

      The mowers were sold at authorized Kubota dealers nationwide from July 2018, to January 2019, for between about $5,000 and $6,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled mowers and contact an authorized Kubota dealer to schedule a free inspection and repair. Kubota is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Kubota Tractor Corp. at (800) 752-0290 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.kubotausa.com for more information.

      Kubota Manufacturing of America Corporation of Gainesville, Ga., is recalling about 3,850 Kubota zero turn mowers.The throttle cable can make contact w...
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      Experts recommend Facebook users make changes in light of the social media giant’s latest privacy gaffe

      One change is a snap; the other enhances security but requires caution

      Even though what happened in Facebook’s recent password bungle was likely more an “oversight” than a hacking invasion, experts recommend that consumers double down to protect their accounts and their personal data when using the platform.

      Tech security gurus at the International Institute of Cyber Security told ConsumerAffairs there are two recommended steps to enhance online protection.

      The first recommendation is straightforward enough -- change your Facebook password. The second one will take a little effort but could have a huge payoff on securing your account. It’s called two-factor authentication.

      The process is basically an authentication method where a computer user is allowed access to a site or an app only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence to an authentication widget.

      In Facebook’s case, you can use a text-message code sent to your mobile phone or you can use a login code from a third-party authentication app approved by Facebook.

      The steps to take

      To employ two-step authentication on your Facebook account, here are the steps it recommends:

      1. Go to your Security and Login Settings by clicking the down-arrow in the top-right corner of Facebook and clicking Settings > Security and Login.

      2. Scroll down to Use two-factor authentication and click Edit.

      3. Choose the authentication method you want to add and follow the on-screen instructions.

      4. Click Enable once you've selected and turned on an authentication method.

      The pluses and minuses of two-factor authentication

      Two-factor authentication has grown into a critical-level nudge from both government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and large portals like Yahoo. Given the multitude of devices consumers have, taking the time to put the process into play may be a hassle, but it’s considered a win-win for both the user and the platform.

      “Think of it as an extra layer of security … that keeps your account secure even if somebody gets your password,” commented Apple in a two-step authentication how-to video.

      However, at least one tech researcher says to proceed cautiously.

      “Before you require a second factor to log in to your accounts, you should understand the risks, have a recovery plan for when you lose your second factor(s), and know the tricks attackers may use to defeat two-factor authentication,” wrote authentication technology specialist Stuart Schechter.

      Schechter says there are two predominant risks that might make even the most rational, safety-conscious user proceed with caution before flipping the switch on two-factor authentication.

      1. You could lose access to your account

      “If attackers cannot use a password alone to access your account without your second factor, you won’t be able to either. You may be unable to recover your second factor if your security key, or the phone with your authenticator app, is lost, stolen, or broken. If your phone is out of battery, left at home, or lent to someone else, you may lose access for hours or days,” Schechter said.

      2. Confidence in two-factor authentication could make you careless

      “People behave less safely when they believe they are being kept safe by others: drivers who wouldn’t choose to wear seat-belts drive faster if forced to wear them and computer users who run anti-virus software are more likely to install risky software,” Schechter continued.

      “If you believe that turning on two-factor authentication is a fool-proof way to protect your accounts, you may be more willing to log in from a computer you don’t trust or more likely to risk installing software from an unknown or unfamiliar publisher,”

      Even though what happened in Facebook’s recent password bungle was likely more an “oversight” than a hacking invasion, experts recommend that consumers dou...
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      FEMA wrongly shared personal information of millions of disaster survivors

      The agency has acknowledged the situation as a ‘major privacy incident’

      The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inappropriately shared the personal information of more than 2 million survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the California wildfires in 2017.

      The agency said it “provided more information than was necessary” while transferring survivor information to a third-party contractor that helps provide temporary housing to people affected by disasters under the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program.

      “We believe this oversharing has impacted approximately 2.5 million disaster survivors,” an unnamed Department of Homeland Security official told the Washington Post.

      Vulnerable to identity theft and fraud

      The error was recently discovered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and detailed in a report dated March 15. Individuals who had personal data shared could be vulnerable to identity theft and fraud, the Inspector General report said.

      However, FEMA has said that it’s “found no indicators to suggest survivor data has been compromised” and that it has taken “aggressive measures”  to correct the error.

      “FEMA is no longer sharing unnecessary data with the contractor and has conducted a detailed review of the contractor’s information system,” FEMA Press Secretary Lizzie Litzow said in a statement.

      The name of the contractor who wrongly received the information hasn’t been released, but the agency said it "worked with the contractor to remove the unnecessary data from the system."

      “FEMA’s goal remains protecting and strengthening the integrity, effectiveness, and security of our disaster programs that help people before, during, and after disasters,” Litzow said.

      The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inappropriately shared the personal information of more than 2 million survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma,...
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      Google adds ability to create public events on Google Maps

      The feature is live for Android users

      ​Google appears to be testing a new feature that lets users create public events on Google Maps.

      Android Police reported that the company has rolled out the new functionality to some Android users, though its behavior was “laggy” in initial tests. The tech website said it had issues adding photos and that it had to wait an hour for an event to appear on Google Maps.

      The feature, when it works, “could allow users to submit events akin to the public events being shown in Maps,” Android Police said. “Maps has heavily relied on crowdsourced information for a while, so adding a means for the public to make a note of public events would be consistent with that approach.”

      Users can set an event name, location, date, and time through the app’s existing Contribute tab. The event can also be given a description and an image header.

      After the feature was spotted by Android Police, Google confirmed on its Support page that the feature is currently available to Android users.

      Google said the feature may not be available in some regions, but users can check to see if it’s available to them by opening Google Maps, tapping “Contribute,” tapping “Events,” and tapping “+” to add a public event.

      Google has not provided a timeline for the wider rollout of the feature.

      ​Google appears to be testing a new feature that lets users create public events on Google Maps. Android Police reported that the company has rolled ou...
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      Henry Avocado recalls whole avocados

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Henry Avocado Corporation is recalling California-grown whole avocados that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported.

      The recalled California-grown conventional and organic avocados were packed at Henry Avocado’s packing facility in California and distributed in Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin, and sold in bulk at retail stores.

      The recalled products can be identified by the “Bravocado” stickers. Henry Avocado organic products do not carry the “Bravocado” label on the sticker. Instead those products are labeled “organic” and include “California” on the sticker.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may contact Henry Avocado at (760) 745-6632, Ext 132.

      Henry Avocado Corporation is recalling California-grown whole avocados that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.No illnesses have been repo...
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      Model year 2019 Toyota Camry and Avalon Hybrids recalled

      The vehicles may leak fuel

      Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 205 model year 2019 Camry and Avalon Hybrids.

      The fuel filler pipe may not have been properly reconnected to the fuel tank during an inspection after vehicle assembly

      The improperly connected filler pipe may leak fuel, which, in the presence of an ignition source can increase the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the fuel filler pipe, replacing it if necessary, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin in March 2019.

      Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-888-270-9371. Toyota's number for this recall is K0I.

      Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 205 model year 2019 Camry and Avalon Hybrids.The fuel filler pipe may not have been properly reco...
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      Stromer recalls electric bicycles

      The bicycle stem can break, posing crash and injury hazards

      Stromer of Vista, Calif., is recalling about 195 Stromer ST5 electric bicycles.

      The bicycle stem can break, posing crash and injury hazards to the rider.

      The firm has received one report of a stem breaking. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves all Stromer ST5 pedal-assist electric bicycles sold in a black or gray aluminum frame.

      The e-bikes have hydraulic disc brakes, an integrated lithium battery located inside the down tube, a motor on the rear hub and a three-button switch on the handlebars.

      Stromer is printed on the top tube of the bicycle frame and on the seat and chain guard., with ST5 printed on the downtube.

      Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) TBNST5S700SJA0001 through TBNST5S700SKF0065 is etched on the bottom of the right-side chainstay.

      The bicycles, manufactured in Switzerland, were sold exclusively at Stromer authorized dealers nationwide from April 2018, through February 2019, for about $10,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycle and take it to an authorized Stromer dealer for a free repair. myStromer is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact myStromer at (800) 819-4262 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT) Saturday and Sunday, by email at stem@stromerbike.com or online www.stromerbike.com and click on “Voluntary Product Recall” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Stromer of Vista, Calif., is recalling about 195 Stromer ST5 electric bicycles.The bicycle stem can break, posing crash and injury hazards to the rider...
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      Volkswagen recalls model year 2018 Audi A3 sedans and RS3s

      The latching pins for the center rear seat head restraint may be missing

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 3,326 model year 2018 Audi A3 sedans and RS3s.

      The latching pins for the center rear seat head restraint may be missing.

      In the event of a crash, the head restraint may detach and cause injury to the vehicle occupants.

      What to do

      Audi has notified owners, and dealers will inspect the head restraints, replacing any that are missing pins free of charge.

      The recall began on March 7, 2019.

      Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Audi's number for this recall is 72I8.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 3,326 model year 2018 Audi A3 sedans and RS3s.The latching pins for the center rear seat head restraint may be...
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      Facebook stored millions of passwords in plain text viewable by employees

      The company says there’s no evidence any employee misused that access

      Facebook has another privacy headache to contend with.

      The company reveals that millions of Facebook users had their passwords stored in plain text and searchable by Facebook personnel, going back to 2012. Facebook said the discovery was made in January as part of a routine security review.

      In a statement, Pedro Canahuati, Facebook’s vice president of Engineering, Security and Privacy, said the passwords were not accessible by the general public and there is no evidence that Facebook employees abused their access. He said the issue has been fixed and that affected users will be hearing from Facebook.

      “We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users,” Canahuati said.

      Facebook Lite is a version of Facebook predominantly used by people in regions with lower connectivity.

      The technology blog KrebsOnSecurity cites a source as saying as many as 20,000 Facebook employees may have access to the unencrypted passwords. The company says there is no evidence any employee intentionally searched for a user’s password.

      ‘Security glitches’

      Krebs says Facebook is conducting an internal investigation of “a series of security glitches” in which employees built applications that logged unencrypted password data for Facebook users and stored it in plain text on internal company servers.

      This news comes at a bad time for Facebook. Just last week, the New York Times reported that the Justice Department is looking into data deals Facebook has worked out with some of the world’s largest tech companies.

      Canahuati said the password issue came to light because it ran counter to company policy. He says best security practices require the masking of user passwords when they create an account so that no one at the company can see them.

      “In security terms, we ‘hash’ and ‘salt’ the passwords, including using a function called ‘scrypt’ as well as a cryptographic key that lets us irreversibly replace your actual password with a random set of characters,” Canahuati said. “With this technique, we can validate that a person is logging in with the correct password without actually having to store the password in plain text.”

      While no password reset is required, Canahuati says users may change their passwords by going to “settings” on Facebook and Instagram.

      Facebook has another privacy headache to contend with.The company reveals that millions of Facebook users had their passwords stored in plain text and...
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      T-Mobile testing home internet service for $50 per month

      The company is using the pilot as a way to show that its merger with Sprint is necessary in order to take on big cable

      T-Mobile has started testing an in-home internet service that will cost consumers $50 per month.

      Initially, the service will only be available to “a limited few T-Mobile customers” on an invite-only basis. The company says its goal is to connect up to 50,000 households this year, mainly in rural and underserved markets.

      T-Mobile said its plan to deploy 5G home internet on a larger scale is riding on the approval of its pending merger with Sprint. The service will eventually be supported by the faster 5G network, which the companies have argued can only be deployed if the merger is cleared.

      “If T-Mobile’s pending merger with Sprint is approved, with the added scale and capacity of the New T-Mobile, the Un-carrier plans to cover more than half of U.S. households with 5G broadband service – in excess of 100 Mbps – by 2024,” the company said in a press release.

      In response to concerns that the merger will limit competition and raise costs for consumers, the carrier has repeatedly claimed that the opposite will be true. In its announcement of the pilot, T-Mobile once again highlighted the potential savings for consumers.

      “Today, consumers typically pay around $80 per month for wired in-home broadband service – $960 per year. Thanks to lower prices and more competition, one economist estimates that the New T-Mobile will save customers up to $13.65 billion a year on home broadband by 2024,” the T-Mobile said.

      Aiming to fight ‘Big Cable’

      The company said it has already started sending invitations to customers eligible to participate in the pilot. Customers won’t have to pay for the LTE receiver / router that will be sent to them by T-Mobile. However, they will have to set it up themselves.

      Next week, the FCC will take its final round of comments on the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The pilot appears to be a way of demonstrating how the combined company can eventually use 5G connectivity to provide internet that is capable of competing with cable companies.

      “Two weeks ago, I laid out our plans for home broadband with the New T-Mobile. Now, we’re already hard at work building toward that future,” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile. “We’re walking the walk and laying the foundation for a world where we can take the fight to Big Cable on behalf of consumers and offer real choice, competition and savings to Americans nationwide.”

      T-Mobile has started testing an in-home internet service that will cost consumers $50 per month. Initially, the service will only be available to “a li...
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      Would you be willing to move to buy your first home?

      If so, Tampa and Las Vegas should be high on your list

      Consumers willing to move in order to purchase an affordable entry-level home have two good choices -- Tampa and Las Vegas.

      Young people, especially, know full well the challenges of purchasing that first home. You have to save for a down payment while seeing your rent go up each year. With shrinking home listings, it’s sometimes hard to even find a home in your price range.

      Then, when you do find a house you like and can afford, you face competition from other first-time buyers who might be willing to pay a little more than you are. But if you’re willing to move to another town, the housing experts at Zillow say both Tampa and Las Vegas offer some real opportunities.

      Each year, Zillow ranks the 35 largest housing markets for being friendly to first-time buyers who are willing to pack up and move to get the home of their dreams -- at least the starter home of their dreams. For the second year in a row, Tampa came out on top.

      First-time buyers need a market where there are plenty of smaller, less-expensive homes. These are exactly the types of homes that have been in short supply for the last five years, but Zillow says that trend appears to be reversing a bit. Home sales are down and the inventory of starter homes has finally begun to rise.

      Shortage is easing

      "The shortage of starter homes across the country is finally starting to ease, and that's good news for would-be first-time buyers who have been saving up to make the leap into homeownership," said Skylar Olsen, Zillow's director of economic research. "Unfortunately, prices of homes in the lower third of the market have risen so much in recent years that for many households' budgets they no longer qualify as affordable. But markets like Tampa and Las Vegas still provide plenty of bargains."

      Both of those markets got hit hard during the housing crash a decade ago and prices, while recovering, are still below their housing bubble highs. Tampa has its share of million dollar homes, but it also has a relatively large inventory of smaller homes priced well below $200,000.

      Inventories are up 1 percent

      That trend could spread to other parts of the country in the months ahead. Zillow reports that slowing sales have driven up inventory levels by 1 percent over the last 12 months. According to the real estate marketplace, it’s the first time in five years that the spring home-buying season has begun with rising inventory levels.

      In even better news for first-time buyers -- especially those with no desire to move to another town -- the inventory of less-expensive starter homes is leading the increase, rising 4.1 percent after being down 12.9 percent last year.

      But Zillow cautions that even with this change, there still are not enough homes for sale to meet buyer demand, and the market remains competitive.

      Consumers willing to move in order to purchase an affordable entry-level home have two good choices -- Tampa and Las Vegas.Young people, especially, kn...
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      Gas prices are up again this week

      Consumers are doing more driving now that spring has arrived

      Rising consumer demand and spring refinery maintenance continue to push gasoline prices higher.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gasoline is $2.61 a gallon, up another eight cents since last Friday. It’s running about the same as a year ago.

      The average price of premium is $3.14 a gallon, seven cents higher than a week ago. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.01 a gallon, about the same as last week.

      With the arrival of spring, consumers are driving more. The latest report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows motorists are buying about 9.4 million barrels of fuel a day, up 85,000 barrels a day from last year’s rate.

      That increase in demand is drawing down gasoline stocks, which dipped by 4.6 million barrels last week, according to EIA.

      “Since early February, gasoline demand has been steadily increasing while stocks have been gradually decreasing, causing more expensive pump prices across the country,” said Jeanette Casselano, a AAA spokesperson. “The good news is that most motorists are not paying more than they were a year ago to fill up.”

      Several states saw significant price increases in the last week. Drivers in Michigan saw the average price for regular surge 11 cents a gallon. The average price in Missouri rose a dime a gallon. The average price jumped nine cents in Colorado.

      There’s probably not much relief in sight since most refineries are beginning annual maintenance, which typically reduces output and in some cases causes a supply crunch.

      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:

      • California ($3.39)

      • Hawaii ($3.37)

      • Washington ($3.00)

      • Oregon ($2.89)

      • Nevada ($2.87)

      • Alaska ($2.83)

      • Pennsylvania ($2.77)

      • Michigan ($2.74)

      • Illinois ($2.72)

      • New York ($2.68)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Utah ($2.32)

      • Arkansas ($2.33)

      • Mississippi ($2.33)

      • Alabama ($2.33)

      • Louisiana ($2.35)

      • South Carolina ($2.36)

      • Wyoming ($2.37)

      • Texas ($2.38)

      • Tennessee ($2.38)

      • Missouri ($2.39)

      Rising consumer demand and spring refinery maintenance continue to push gasoline prices higher.The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average pri...
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      Legacy Pharmaceutical recalls Losartan Potassium tablets

      The product contains trace amounts of a potential human carcinogen

      Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging is recalling 40 repackaged lots of Losartan tablets, a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

      The product contains trace amounts of N-Nitroso N-Methyl 4-amino butyric acid (NMBA), a potential human carcinogen.

      Legacy has not received any reports of adverse events to date.

      The following product, packaged in 30-count bottles, is being recalled:

      LEGACY NDC#Name and StrengthCountLegacy Lot #Expiry
      68645-577-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 25 mg3018095210/2019
      68645-577-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 25 mg3018095312/2019
      68645-577-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 25 mg3018108609/2019
      68645-577-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 25 mg3018157201/2020
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018092109/2019
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018092210/2019
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018092311/2019
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018092411/2019
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018111811/2019
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018111910/2019
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018140711/2019
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018140812/2019
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018157302/2020
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018172502/2020
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018172602/2020
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018194803/2020
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018196002/2020
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018238503/2020
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018238603/2020
      68645-578-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 50 mg3018238703/2020
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018088611/2019
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018088712/2019
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018088812/2019
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018090512/2019
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018112309/2019
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018112410/2019
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018112508/2019
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018135111/2019
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018135212/2019
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018155111/2019
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018162806/2020
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018162906/2020
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018172706/2020
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018172806/2020
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018189003/2020
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018189106/2020
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018189706/2020
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018211403/2020
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018211906/2020
      68645-579-54Losartan Potassium Tablets USP 100 mg3018212006/2020

      The recalled product, which can be identified by checking the product name and repackaged lot number on the bottle, was distributed by pharmacies nationwide.

      What to do

      Patients who have the recalled product should return it to the dispensing pharmacy.

      Consumers with questions regarding this recall should contact their dispensing pharmacy during normal business hours or their physician or healthcare provider if they have had any problems related to taking or using the product.

      Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging is recalling 40 repackaged lots of Losartan tablets, a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure and conges...
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      Volkswagen recalls model year 2019 Jettas

      An incorrect driver front airbag may have been installed during a service/repair visit

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling four model year 2019 Jettas.

      An incorrect driver front airbag may have been installed during a service/repair visit.

      In the event of a crash necessitating air bag deployment, the wrong air bag may not work correctly, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver front airbag with the correct part free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin April 19, 2019.

      Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 69Y7.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling four model year 2019 Jettas.An incorrect driver front airbag may have been installed during a service/repair v...
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      FBI reportedly investigating how the FAA certified the Boeing 737 Max 8

      Retired pilot ‘Sully' Sullenberger says the FAA and Boeing are responsible for the fatal crashes

      Various media reports say the FBI has entered the investigation of how the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Two of the new jets crashed within the last five months killing almost 400 people.

      The Transportation Department reportedly opened an investigation into the aircraft’s approval process following last October’s crash of a Lion Air jet. Multiple sources report the U.S. Justice Department has now entered the picture and has issued several subpoenas.

      CNN now reports that federal investigators are focusing on how Boeing marketed the new aircraft and what kind of training and information it provided to pilots. At the heart of the investigation, the government is said to be looking at the process Boeing used to certify the aircraft as safe and how the FAA handled that information.

      The Justice Department does not comment on open investigations, and a spokesman for Boeing said it does not comment on potential legal matters.

      The crashes

      In October, a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed into the Java Sea after the flight crew reportedly struggled in vain to keep the plane from going into a steep drive. In early March, an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff and the initial investigation pointed to “similarities” to the Lion Air crash.

      In the Lion Air crash, the ongoing investigation has focused on a sensor located on the outside of the aircraft that monitors the plane’s angle of attack. If it determines the angle is too steep and could cause the craft to stall, it triggers an automated function that brings down the nose of the plane.

      Investigators have speculated that If the sensor transmitted faulty data during the plane’s takeoff, the automatic software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) could force the nose of the plane down at a critical time when it should be climbing.

      Nearly crashed the day before

      It’s now been reported that the Lion Air jet that crashed in October very nearly crashed the day before. Bloomberg News quotes Indonesian sources as saying an off-duty pilot riding in the jump seat of the Lion Air Max 8 the day before told the flight crew how to disable the MCAS when the aircraft went into a steep dive.

      The next day, the same aircraft with a different crew reportedly experienced the same problem. But without the off-duty pilot to offer advice, the plane crashed, killing 189 people.

      Retired USAir pilot Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger,” who landed his crippled plane on the Hudson River after it was struck by geese, has weighed in on the issue, blasting both Boeing and the FAA in an op-ed.

      “Our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged,” Sullenberger wrote. “Boeing and the FAA have been found wanting in this ugly saga that began years ago but has come home to roost with two terrible fatal crashes, with no survivors, in less than five months, on a new airplane type, the Boeing 737 Max 8, something that is unprecedented in modern aviation history.”

      Sullenberger said the FAA has not been given a budget that allows it appropriate oversight of what he called a rapidly growing global aviation industry.

      Various media reports say the FBI has entered the investigation of how the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)....
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      Survey finds many consumers are experiencing ‘subscription fatigue’

      The crowded streaming market is causing consumers to feel overwhelmed

      At an event on Monday, March 25, Apple is expected to announce the launch of its TV and movie streaming service. However, as the market for streaming services continues to expand, a new survey finds consumers are beginning to suffer from “subscription fatigue.”  

      For its 13th annual Digital Media Trends survey, Deloitte surveyed more than 2,000 digital consumers across the U.S. and found that nearly half (47 percent) said the rapidly growing market for streaming services is causing them to experience subscription fatigue.

      Deloitte’s survey showed strong growth in streaming video subscription services, with 69 percent of households now subscribing to one or more.

      But with more than 300 streaming services now available to choose from -- and in some cases, multiple subscriptions and payments to keep track of -- many consumers are “beginning to feel weighed down” by the number of options and subscriptions to manage.

      Crowded market

      The new findings come ahead of the launch of several new streaming services, including one from Disney (called Disney+) expected to launch later this year, a service from HBO and Time Warner, and a service from NBCUniversial that will launch next year.

      Many upcoming services will focus on offering their own original content, which may translate to the need for many consumers to subscribe to multiple services to ensure they can watch the content they like.

      Deloitte’s survey found that over half of consumers (57) surveyed said they feel frustrated when content they enjoy disappears or is no longer on a particular streaming service.

      Deloitte predicts that these changing consumer attitudes could lead streaming providers to develop “the next generation of the home entertainment platform” by creating a service that would combine video streaming, music, and gaming all under a single umbrella.

      At an event on Monday, March 25, Apple is expected to announce the launch of its TV and movie streaming service. However, as the market for streaming servi...
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      Health apps ‘routinely’ share user data, posing privacy risks

      A new study finds 79 percent of apps share consumer data with third parties

      Among health-related apps, the practice of sharing user data is “routine” and legal -- however, the lack of transparency about the practice puts consumers’ privacy at risk, the authors of a new study claim.

      The study looked at 24 popular, interactive medicine-related apps for Android devices. Of the apps sampled, 19 (or 79 percent) shared user data with third parties, which then shared it with "fourth parties."

      "Most health apps fail to provide privacy assurances or transparency around data sharing practices," said lead author Quinn Grundy.

      Lack of informed consent

      First and third parties shared the most user information with Amazon and Alphabet (the parent company of Google), with 24 unique transmissions.

      “Fourth parties” -- which included multinational technology companies, digital advertising companies, telecommunications corporations, and a consumer credit reporting agency -- received the most unique user data. Only three of the 216 fourth parties were identified as belonging to the health sector.

      The researchers point out that the identify of a user could be uncovered by looking at certain pieces of data, such as their device’s unique address.

      "The semi-persistent Android ID will uniquely identify a user within the Google universe, which has considerable scope and ability to aggregate highly diverse information about the user," the study authors wrote.

      The findings suggest a need on the part of privacy regulators to “consider that loss of privacy is not a fair cost for the use of digital health services," Grundy said.

      Health professionals "should be conscious of privacy risks in their own use of apps and, when recommending apps, explain the potential for loss of privacy as part of informed consent,” the researchers concluded.

      The full study has been published online in the BMJ.

      Among health-related apps, the practice of sharing user data is “routine” and legal -- however, the lack of transparency about the practice puts consumers’...
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      The Federal Reserve forecasts clear skies for the near future

      Inflation for non-food and non-energy items hold steady near 2 percent

      Borrowers and lenders alike breathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s forecast gave two thumbs up. In a nutshell, Powell’s outlook was affirmative.

      “My colleagues and I have one over-arching goal: to sustain the economic expansion with a strong job market and stable prices for the benefit of the American people. The U.S. economy is in a good place, and we will continue to use our monetary policy tools to keep it there,” he said.

      As far as interest rates and inflation go, Powell envisioned that interest rates will be in a holding pattern for a while and confirmed that inflation continues to be in check.

      “We don’t see data coming in that suggests that we should move in either direction,” Powell commented after officials lowered their projected 2019 interest-rate increases this year to zero from two. “They suggest that we should remain patient and let the situation clarify itself over time. It may be some time before the outlook for jobs and inflation calls clearly for a change in policy.”

      The Fed reports that on a 12-month basis, inflation has declined across the board, pegging the shift on lower energy prices. Looking further down the balance sheet, inflation for non-food and non-energy items are holding steady near 2 percent.

      “On balance, market-based measures of inflation compensation have remained low in recent months, and survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed,” wrote the agency in its review of the current financial climate.

      The deeper dive

      While low inflation sounds like a good thing from a consumer angle, Powell called out global price pressures as being weak -- in his words, “one of the major challenges of our time.”

      “I don’t feel that we have kind of convincingly achieved our 2 percent mandate in a symmetrical way,” Powell reflected. “That gives us the ability to be patient, and not move until we see that our target goals are being achieved.”

      The jury might be out for a while trying to decipher Powell’s request for patience. “It was very dovish,’’ Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC, told Bloomberg. “It suggests that the Fed has jumped to the conclusion that the weakening we have seen since the start of the year will be more fundamental and more persistent, rather than being temporary crosscurrents.”

      “Policy makers appear to have cooled on the notion of any meaningful, lasting impact from last year’s tax reforms and instead project a return to trend growth, a stabilization of the unemployment rate and little pickup in price pressures. Amid this backdrop, they do not see much need to further normalize interest rates,” wrote Bloomberg economists Carl Riccadonna, Yelena Shulyatyeva, and Tim Mahedy.

      Borrowers and lenders alike breathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s forecast gave two thumbs up. In a...
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      Most pickup trucks aren’t that good at protecting passengers in a crash

      The latest IIHS crash tests found only two out of 11 earn a ‘good’ rating

      Pickup trucks remain popular with consumers and big sellers for automakers, but new crash tests show most don’t do a good job of protecting front-seat passengers in a crash.

      The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) put 11 current model pickups through front-side impact tests and only two -- the Ford F-150 and Nissan Titan --  earned a good rating.

      The Honda Ridgeline, which was rated “acceptable” in the passenger-side test, was the only pickup to earn a 2019 Top Safety Pick award, bolstered by its good headlights and available front crash prevention.

      The Toyota Tacoma also did well in the passenger-side test, earning an “acceptable” rating. However, the vehicle missed out on the Top Safety Pick award because of its headlights.

      Toyota Tundra rated poor

      In this latest round of tests, IIHS rated 11 crew cab pickups in the passenger-side test — four small and seven large. Among full-size pickups, the Toyota Tundra only managed a poor rating while five of the trucks were rated as marginal.

      "We commend Ford, Nissan and Ram for providing state-of-the-art crash protection for both drivers and front passengers of their large pickup models," says David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer. "As a group, however, the pickup class still has a lot of work to do."

      The video below graphically illustrates the damage that occurs to a pickup when it is struck from the front on the passenger’s side.

      Working to improve

      Automakers whose trucks lagged in the crash tests say they are constantly working to improve safety.

      “We’ll continue to look for ways to improve in an effort to exceed customers’ expectations — particularly in new testing such as IIHS’ passenger-side front small overlap (tests) for pickup trucks,” a spokesman for Toyota told CNBC.

      What IIHS calls a “small overlap crash” occurs when just the front corner of the vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object such as a tree. Two years ago, the organization developed the passenger-side test to ensure that occupants on both sides are protected in one of these crashes.

      IIHS says it took longer for automakers to meet the tough safety guidelines in pickups, so it isn’t surprising that they’re behind on the passenger-side standard. The group says most pickups earn a “good” rating for protecting the driver side.

      Pickup trucks remain popular with consumers and big sellers for automakers, but new crash tests show most don’t do a good job of protecting front-seat pass...
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      Model year 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Hybrids recalled

      The vehicle may not adequately protect from high voltage sources

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,108 model year 2019 Fusion Energi Hybrids.

      The vehicles may not adequately protect against direct and indirect contact of high voltage sources during normal operation, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will install a Bus Electrical Center (BEC) cover over the high voltage fuses free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin April 1,2019.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 19C05.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,108 model year 2019 Fusion Energi Hybrids.The vehicles may not adequately protect against direct and indirect contact...
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      Productos La Aguadillana recalls breaded chicken patties

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials

      Productos La Aguadillana of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, is recalling approximately 35,870 pounds of breaded chicken patties.

      The product may be contaminated with extraneous materials -- specifically pieces of metal.

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

      The following items, produced on February 27 and March 1, 2019, are being recalled:

      • 10-lb. boxes containing 47 portions of “Productos La Aguadillana, Inc. Breaded Chicken Patty,” with a case code of TCE03060A, a packaging date of 03/01/2019, and an expiration date of 02/29/2020 represented on the label.
      • 10-lb. boxes containing 47 portions of “Productos La Aguadillana, Inc. Breaded Chicken Patty,” with a case code of TCE03058A, a packaging date of 02/27/2019, and an expiration date of 02/27/2020 represented on the label.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “P-7360” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to institutions in Puerto Rico.

      While the product was distributed to schools, it resulted from a commercial sale and was not part of food provided by USDA for the National School Lunch Program.

      What to do

      School programs that have purchased these products should not consume them., but discard or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Luis Alvarez at (787) 891-5720.

      Productos La Aguadillana of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, is recalling approximately 35,870 pounds of breaded chicken patties.The product may be contaminated...
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      Monogram recalls pork sausages

      The products may be adulterated due to possible product contamination

      Monogram Meat Snacks of Martinsville, Va., is recalling approximately 191,928 pounds of ready-to-eat pork sausages.

      The products may be adulterated due to possible product contamination.

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

      The following ready-to-eat pork heat-treated shelf-stable items, produced and packaged for Conagra Brand / Duke’s Meats between January 16 and March 7, 2019, are being recalled:

      • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S HICKORY PEACH BBQ SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with A PEACH BBQ RELISH,” that contain a package and case code of 1580002003, and various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 16, 2019 through Jan. 27, 2020.
      • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S HOT & SPICY SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with FRESH-DICED SERRANO PEPPERS,” that contain a package and case code of 1601201052, and various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 16, 2020 through Feb. 3, 2020.
      • 16-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S ORIGINAL RECIPE SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with A CLASSIC BLEND OF SPICES & FRESHLY-CHOPPED HERBS,” that contain a package code of 1601201182, various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 11, 2020 through Feb. 27, 2020, and a case code of 1580002130.
      • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S CAJUN STYLE ANDOUILLE SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with ROASTED RED PEPPERS & CAJUN SPICES,” that contain a package and case code of 1580002073, and various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 10, 2020 through Feb. 13, 2020.
      • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S ORIGINAL RECIPE SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with A CLASSIC BLEND OF SPICES & FRESHLY-CHOPPED HERBS,” that contain a product and case code of 1601201051, and various BEST IF USED BY dates from Feb. 14, 2020 through Feb. 29, 2020.
      • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S HATCH GREEN CHILE SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with ROASTED & DICED HATCH CHILES,” that contain a package and case code of 1580002002, and various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 13, 2020 through Feb. 3, 2020.
      • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S ORIGINAL RECIPE SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with A CLASSIC BLEND OF SPICES & FRESHLY-CHOPPED HERBS,” that contain a package code of 1601201051, various BEST IF USED BY dates from Feb. 17, 2020 through March 1, 2020, and a case code 1601201272.
      • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S HOT & SPICY SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with FRESH-DICED SERRANO PEPPERS,” that contain a package code of 1601201052, various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 16, 2020 through Feb. 24, 2020, and a case code of 1601201274.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 795” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Gary Brooks at (855) 556-1351.

      Monogram Meat Snacks of Martinsville, Va., is recalling approximately 191,928 pounds of ready-to-eat pork sausages.The products may be adulterated due...
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      Fliers weigh in on the best and worst in air travel

      The bottom line is that no airline can deliver everything on a consumers’ wishlist

      American fliers have weighed in on their favorite airlines, and Delta, Alaska, and Southwest Airlines rule the roost, according to a new study by ThePointsGuy (TPG). Bringing up the rear was Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit.

      Taking into account everything from on-time arrivals to the number of cities served, TPG found some benchmarks that consumers might find interesting the next time they book a flight.

      Winners and losers

      Overall:Delta captured first place overall with a remarkable 92.7 percent on-time arrival score, the largest network of lounges, fewest people bumped, and the largest number of cities served.

      On the flip side? Discount carrier Frontier, thanks to its paltry on-time record, fell to last place. The carrier also scored low due to run-of-the-mill cabin features, a tendency to bump paying passengers, and a high rate of customer complaints.

      Affordability: Combing through airline financials, websites, Department of Transportation files, fees, customer ratings, and other metrics, the formula TPG created found that Spirit Airlines had the best ratio of fare cost-per-mile. “On average, Spirit passengers only paid about $1 per mile flown in base fare for every $2.60 that Delta flyers paid,” was TPG’s analysis. “If you can avoid the plethora of fees, Spirit can be a bargain.”

      Regarding ancillary fees -- those nasty charges for every little thing the passenger wants to bring or do onboard -- Southwest Airlines got the prize for not penny-pinching its passengers. Of course, free is hard to beat, and with Southwest allowing fliers to check two bags for free and not charging to change a flight, it was pretty much a shoo-in in that metric.

      IIf fees are a turn-off, you might want to avoid Hawaiian Air. The airline charges an acceptable $30 for a checked bag but an astronomic $300 for flight changes, making it the study’s worst value for fees. You may also want to double-check your wishlist against what Delta is going to charge you for seatback screens, extra legroom, and the like.

      On-Time Performance: Hawaiian Airlines had the fewest delayed flights or cancellations and Frontier had the most delays -- an eye-popping 24.6 percent of its flights.

      Comfort: It makes economic sense that fare price and comfort go hand-in-hand. But for fliers who concern themselves with legroom and free Wi-Fi, here’s the takeaways:

      • JetBlue and Southwest tied for the most generous seat pitch in coach, at 32.9 inches on average, while Spirit’s 28-inch average seat pitch is the least-giving.

      • Hawaiian and Frontier have the widest seats on average at 18 inches. Alaska has the narrowest seats at 17 inches.

      • Alaska is the only airline that has power outlets at every seat.

      • JetBlue wins the Wi-Fi battle with free Wi-Fi on every plane.

      Customer Satisfaction: TPG took into account the number of passenger complaints against each airline filed with the DOT and the number of lost luggage complaints. The winner? Southwest Airlines.

      ConsumerAffairs reviewers give Southwest positive ratings, and TPG’s survey takers seem to agree.

      “Southwest has a reputation for great service and loyal customers, and it showed,” wrote TPG. “Frontier, on the other hand, racked up nearly the same number of complaints as airlines that flew 10 times as many people. If you check bags, you have the most reason to worry if flying American, while Spirit flyers can probably rest easy.”

      On the opposite end of the satisfaction spectrum were Frontier with a jumbo jet-sized number of complaints. American’s baggage handling took a hit for misplacing 3.8 bags per every 1,000 passengers compared to Spirit, which only lost 1.7 bags per 1,000 passengers.

      American fliers have weighed in on their favorite airlines, and Delta, Alaska, and Southwest Airlines rule the roost, according to a new study by ThePoints...
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      San Francisco considers ban on sale of e-cigarettes

      The measure would block sales in stores and online

      San Francisco city officials have introduced a measure to ban the sale of e-cigarettes within the city until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can rule on their safety.

      It’s the first U.S. city to consider outlawing the sale of the electronic nicotine-delivery devices, which have come under fire because of their growing popularity among teens. The city has already outlawed the sale of flavored e-cigarettes because they are believed to be more popular with young people.

      If the proposed ordinance is adopted in San Francisco, it would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes within the city limits, either in retail stores or online. The measure was announced Tuesday by the city attorney, Dennis Herrera, and Supervisor Shamann Walton.

      “San Francisco has never been afraid to lead and we’re certainly not afraid to do so when the health and lives of our children are at stake,” Herrera said.  E-cigarettes have wiped out the hard-fought gains we have made in curbing youth tobacco use. Today we are taking action to protect our kids.”

      Would require FDA review

      Herrera said the law requires a new tobacco product, before it goes on sale, to be reviewed by the FDA for its impact on health.

      “Inexplicably, the FDA has failed to do its job when it comes to e-cigarettes,” Herrera said. “Until the FDA does so, San Francisco has to step up. These products should not be on our shelves until the FDA has reviewed the threat they pose to public health.”

      Walton singled out Juul, an e-cigarette maker owned by Altria but based in San Francisco,  claiming it is contributing to increased numbers of people addicted to nicotine.

      “Banning vaping products that target young people and push them towards addiction to nicotine and tobacco is the only way to ensure the safety of our youth,” he said.

      ‘Modern day prohibition’

      In an interview with USA Today, Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, pointed out that actual tobacco products, such as cigars and cigarettes, are still legally sold in the California city.

      "No youth should vape, but no politician should try to enact modern-day prohibition," Conley told the newspaper. "It is hard for San Francisco to get even more absurd, but this proposal and the rhetoric around it is absolutely insane."

      If the San Francisco action weren’t bad enough for Juul and its parent company Altria, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb disclosed that his meeting last week with Altria officials to discuss its e-cigarette business was “difficult.”

      Gottlieb said the meeting left the firm impression with him that Altria’s decision to invest in the e-cigarette maker last year was purely a business decision and not an effort to offer a tobacco substitute.

      San Francisco city officials have introduced a measure to ban the sale of e-cigarettes within the city until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can rul...
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      Netflix says it won’t be part of Apple’s new TV app

      MoviePass is back with a $9.95 subscription plan

      Competition continues to heat up in entertainment media with Apple’s expected announcement next week that it is launching a video streaming service.

      The company has an event scheduled for March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif., and it has done nothing to temper expectations. The tagline on the event announcement was “It’s show time” and featured a film-inspired countdown.

      While it’s not clear what programming will be available, it is known that Netflix content will be absent. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has confirmed that Netflix won’t participate in Apple’s venture, saying he prefers that people watch Netflix content on the Netflix platform.

      Netflix entered the conversation because it is believed Apple will offer subscriptions to other video content channels through its app. Meanwhile, 9to5Mac reports Apple has signed a number of deals to produce original content, including with Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Anniston,  Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, as well as with directors J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg.

      Users reportedly will be able to subscribe to Apple’s content and use the app to watch other content they subscribe to, such as HBO.

      A premium price

      An analyst at Goldman Sachs told Bloomberg News that he expects the Apple Video subscription to cost about $15 a month. That’s slightly more than both Netflix and Amazon Prime.

      While Apple is gathering content for the small screen, MoviePass is launching a limited-time promotion for big screen content. It’s offering an “uncapped” subscription plan for $9.95 a month for a limited time if the subscriber pays for a full 12 months. Those who prefer to pay monthly will pay $14.95, $5 off the regular price.

      “We are – and have been – listening to our subscribers every day, and we understand that an uncapped subscription plan at the $9.95 price point is the most appealing option to our subscribers,” said Ted Farnsworth, Chairman and CEO of MoviePass’ parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc.  

      Farnsworth says the company has had to modify its service a number of times in order to “continue delivering a movie-going experience to our subscribers.” The company changed its subscription plan at least twice in 2018.

      Competition continues to heat up in entertainment media with Apple’s expected announcement next week that it is launching a video streaming service.The...
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      GM recalls GMC Sierra 3500 and Chevrolet Silverado 3500 trucks

      The rear fuel tank may overfill the front tank.

      General Motors is recalling 18,574 model year 2016-2018 GMC Sierra 3500 and Chevrolet Silverado 3500 trucks equipped with gasoline engines and dual fuel tanks.

      The fuel-level sensor in the front tank may stick in a low-level position, allowing the rear tank to overfill the front tank.

      If the front tank overfills, the excess pressure may cause the front tank to expand and contact the driveshaft, possibly resulting in a hole in the tank. The hole will leak fuel, which in the presence of an ignition source, can increase the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      GM has notified owners, and dealers will replace the rear-tank fuel-pump module, inspect the front tank and, if necessary, replace the front tank free of charge.

      Owners were mailed interim notices informing them of the safety risk on March 5, 2019. Owners will receive a second notice when the remedy becomes available.

      GM's number for this recall is N182204190.

      General Motors is recalling 18,574 model year 2016-2018 GMC Sierra 3500 and Chevrolet Silverado 3500 trucks equipped with gasoline engines and dual fuel ta...
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      North Country Smokehouse recalls pork sausage

      The product contains wheat, while the package says the product is gluten-free

      North Country Smokehouse of Claremont, N.H., is recalling approximately 9,000 pounds of pork sausage.

      Although the front of the label says the product is gluten free, it contains wheat.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of this product.

      The following ready-to-eat item, produced from January 28 through February 25, 2019, is being recalled:

      • 12-oz. vacuum-sealed packages containing 4 pieces of “NORTH COUNTRY SMOKEHOUSE NATURAL IRISH BRAND BANGER SAUSAGE” and use by dates from 3/30/19 through 4/30/2019, represented on the packaging.

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “EST. 5390A” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to distribution and retail locations nationwide.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Alicia Baker at (603) 543-0234 Ext.214.

      North Country Smokehouse of Claremont, N.H., is recalling approximately 9,000 pounds of pork sausage.Although the front of the label says the product i...
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      Tech Gear 5.7 recalls Performance Heated Socks

      The lithium-ion battery can overheat, melt or ignite

      Tech Gear 5.7 of San Marcos, Calif., is recalling about 4,000 pair of Mobile Warming Performance Heated Socks.

      The lithium-ion battery can overheat, melt or ignite when charged with a charger other than the one provided with the product, posing fire and burn hazards to the user.

      The firm has has received four reports of batteries overheating, melting or igniting, resulting in minor property damage in two instances, and melting of the battery case in the others. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves Mobile Warming Performance Heated Socks sold with lithium-ion batteries. Only socks with serial number MW18A04-17-14, MW18A04-17-15, MW18A04-M4-10/W6-11 and MW18A04-M10-14 are included in the recall.

      These socks are gray and made of a poly-cotton blend in men’s and women’s size 6-10 and 10-14. The socks heat when the battery is connected and is in the on position. The heating on/off is controlled through the battery switch or the phone app when a phone is paired.

      The socks, manufactured in China, were sold at Scheels and other sporting goods, workwear and farm supply stores nationwide and online at www.mobilewarming.com and www.Amazon.com from September 2018, through November 2018, for about $130.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled socks, remove the battery and contact the firm for instructions on how to receive a free replacement pair of socks with battery or a full refund.

      Consumers may contact Tech Gear 5.7 toll-free at (888) 908-6024 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday, by email at cs@techgear5-7.com or online at www.mobilewarming.com and click on “Recall Information” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Tech Gear 5.7 of San Marcos, Calif., is recalling about 4,000 pair of Mobile Warming Performance Heated Socks.The lithium-ion battery can overheat, mel...
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      Carnivore Meat Company recalls beef and pork sausage boerewors

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

      Carnivore Meat Company of Franklin, Tenn., is recalling approximately 379 pounds of raw ground beef and pork sausage boerewors.

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

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

      The following raw ground beef and pork sausage items, produced on January 8, 28, and February 7, 2019, are being recalled:

      • 1 and 2-lb. vacuum sealed plastic packages of “Beef Boerewors, South African Farm Sausage.”
      • 1 and 2-lb. vacuum sealed plastic packages of “Traditional Boerewors, South African Farm Sausage.”

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 45742” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail locations in Florida and Georgia.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Carnivore Meat Company at (615) 614-3134, or by email at info@carnivoremeatco.com.

      Carnivore Meat Company of Franklin, Tenn., is recalling approximately 379 pounds of raw ground beef and pork sausage boerewors.The products contain soy...
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      Model year 2017-2019 Lincoln Continentals recalled

      A door latch may not fully engage

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 27,609 model year 2017-2019 Lincoln Continentals.

      The door latch pawl motors may not function properly, possibly resulting in a door latch not fully engaging.

      A door latch that is not fully engaged may result in a door opening while the vehicle is being driven, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the latch assemblies on all four doors free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin in March 2019.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 19S03.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 27,609 model year 2017-2019 Lincoln Continentals.The door latch pawl motors may not function properly, possibly resulti...
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      Twitter testing ‘subscribe to conversation’ tool

      The feature would let users follow a thread without liking it or commenting on it

      Twitter, which has for the past year been striving to improve the user experience on its platform, has confirmed that it’s testing a new conversation “subscription” feature. The feature would enable users to follow a tweet thread without liking or replying to it.

      After a prototype of the feature was spotted by a user in the Android version of the app, Twitter quickly confirmed that it was working on the tool with the goal of making Twitter more “conversational.”

      To subscribe to a conversation, users will soon be able to simply click a button at the top right corner of a thread of interest. Users will then be notified when additional tweets are added to the thread. The company didn’t say when it would launch the feature.

      Testing other features

      In recent years, Twitter has made several efforts to try and facilitate “healthy” conversations on its platform. Earlier this month, the platform confirmed that it’s testing a way to let users hide and unhide replies to their tweet instead of blocking or muting them.

      “With this feature, the person who started a conversation could choose to hide replies to their tweets. The hidden replies would be viewable by others through a menu option,” said Michelle Yasmeen Haq, a senior product manager at Twitter.

      “We think the transparency of the hidden replies would allow the community to notice and call out situations where people use the feature to hide content they disagree with. We think this can balance the product experience between the original Tweeter and the audience.”

      Last summer, Twitter announced that it would begin automatically demoting replies that its system deemed to be from so-called “troll” accounts as part of a larger effort to curb abuse on its site.

      In February, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the company was “looking at” possibly launching a clarification tool that would let users edit their tweets within a five to 30-second window while still keeping the original version of the tweet publicly viewable.

      At the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival recently, Twitter unveiled a new in-app camera function that lets users take and post photos and videos.

      “We’ve really intentionally tried to make the images and footage that are captured on the ground at an event look different than other images and videos that you might attach to a tweet,” said Keith Coleman, Twitter’s head of consumer product.

      Twitter, which has for the past year been striving to improve the user experience on its platform, has confirmed that it’s testing a new conversation “subs...
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      Southwest and its mechanics union agree on tentative new contract

      The five-year agreement would give mechanics a 20 percent raise effective April 1

      Over the weekend, Southwest Airlines and its mechanics union reached a tentative agreement for a new contract. The proposed agreement comes more than six years after the carrier began negotiations with the union representing its roughly 2,400 mechanics.

      The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned recently that the airline’s contentious relationship with its mechanics was to blame for an “unprecedented” number of canceled flights.

      Southwest said its mechanics were forcing unnecessary flight cancellations by flagging minor maintenance issues, such as missing seat row numbers and other issues not related to the safety of its planes.

      The new contract, if approved, would give mechanics $160 million in retroactive pay, an immediate 20 percent pay hike, and 3 percent annual increases each August, according to a statement from the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) and Southwest.

      “Our mechanics certainly deserve a new contract, and this industry-leading agreement in principle addresses our employees’ interests,” said Russell McCrady, Southwest’s vice president of labor relations.

      The five-year accord must still be voted on by the mechanics.

      Last month, Southwest was forced to issue a “state of emergency” due to the higher-than-usual number of delayed and canceled flights. The carrier attributed it to an “uptick in maintenance items.”

      Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the hundreds of flight cancellations cost the airline millions of dollars weekly.

      Over the weekend, Southwest Airlines and its mechanics union reached a tentative agreement for a new contract. The proposed agreement comes more than six y...
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      ‘Similarities’ cited in Ethiopian and Lion Air 737 Max crashes

      An investigation is focusing on automatic flight control software

      From the first moments following this month’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet, suspicion centered on the aircraft itself -- a new Boeing 737 Max 8 jet. Five months earlier, a Lion Air 737 Max 8 had crashed into the sea.

      On Sunday, the Ethiopian Minister of Transport announced that a preliminary investigation had found “similarities” between the two disasters. The aircraft has been grounded worldwide while the investigation continues.

      Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating the approval process for the Boeing 737 Max aircraft type and whether there were “lapses” in that process.

      Ethiopia’s top transportation official reports that all relevant data from the Ethiopian Airlines jet has been obtained from the aircraft’s flight data recorder and is being closely analyzed. Without elaborating further on what has been found, Dagmawit Moges said the data would receive additional study.

      Similarities?

      In the Lion Air crash, which occurred in October, the open investigation focused on a sensor located on the outside of the aircraft that monitors the plane’s angle of attack. When it determines the angle is too steep and could cause the craft to stall, it triggers an automated function that brings down the nose of the plane.

      If the sensor transmits faulty data during the plane’s take off, the automatic software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) could force the nose of the plane down at a critical time when it should be climbing.

      In the case of the Lion Air crash, the flight crew reported difficulty controlling the aircraft shortly after take off, with the plane rising and then falling several times before plunging into the ocean. Both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes occurred just minutes after taking off, when the aircraft was supposed to be climbing.

      Investigating the approval

      In Washington, the Transportation Department is reportedly focused on how government regulators approved the 737 Max aircraft type for use by the world’s airlines. According to The Journal, the probe began last year shortly after the Lion Air crash.

      In its report Sunday, the newspaper said a grand jury in Washington has now issued a subpoena  to at least one person who was said to be involved in the development of the Boeing 737 Max. The report says investigators want to see relevant documents associated with the approval of the aircraft.

      The Boeing 737 Max 8 is the fourth generation of the 737, entering service in 2017. According to Boeing, it is the “fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history with about 5,000 orders from more than 100 customers worldwide.”

      From the first moments following this month’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet, suspicion centered on the aircraft itself -- a new Boeing 737 Max 8 jet....
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      Model year 2018 Chrysler Pacificas and Pacifica hybrids recalled

      The right front lower control arm may separate from the steering knuckle.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 47,771 model year 2018 Chrysler Pacificas and Pacifica hybrids.

      The right front lower control arm may separate from the steering knuckle, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the right front knuckle and lower control arm for damage, replacing the components as necessary.

      The right front lower control arm knuckle pinch bolt will be replaced with a larger-diameter pinch bolt free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin April 19, 2019.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is V15.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 47,771 model year 2018 Chrysler Pacificas and Pacifica hybrids.The right front lower control arm may separate from t...
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      American Health Packaging recalls Valsartan tablets

      The product contains trace amounts of NDEA impurity

      American Health Packaging is recalling one lot of Valsartan tablets, which are used to control high blood pressure and for the treatment of heart failure.

      Trace amounts of an unexpected impurity, N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) -- a probable human carcinogen – have been found in the product.

      There are no reports of injury or adverse events to date.

      The following product, which was distributed nationwide, is being recalled:

      Product DescriptionAHP Lot No.Expiration Date

      Valsartan Tablets USP 160 mg

      100 count Unit Dose Blisters
      Carton NDC#: 60687-139-01
      (Individual Dose NDC: 60687-139-11)

      1797913/31/2020

      What to do

      Patients should continue taking their medication, as the risk of harm to their health may be higher if the treatment is stopped immediately without any alternative treatment. Patients should contact their pharmacist or physician who can advise them about an alternative treatment prior to returning their medication.

      Consumers who have the recalled product should call (877) 475-5864 to receive a return packet.

      American Health Packaging is recalling one lot of Valsartan tablets, which are used to control high blood pressure and for the treatment of heart failure....
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      Fullei Fresh recalls organic bean sprouts

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Fullei Fresh of Miami, Fla., is recalling Organic Bean Sprouts that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There are no reports of any illnesses associated with this recall to date.

      The recalled product, packaged in 4-oz., plastic clamshells, has a lot code 041, a sell by date of February 28, 2019, and the UPC code 017442052108, was shipped to Whole Foods Markets in Florida and Freedom Fresh (a Miami distributor) on February 18, 2019.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but discard it.

      Consumers with questions may call (305) 758-3880 Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM (EST).

      Fullei Fresh of Miami, Fla., is recalling Organic Bean Sprouts that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.There are no reports of any illness...
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      Ford recalls model year 2019 Rangers with 10-speed automatic transmission

      The transmission shift lever can be moved from the "Park" position without the brake applied

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,992 model year 2019 Rangers equipped with 10-speed automatic transmissions.

      The transmission shift lever in some vehicles can be moved from the "Park" position without the key in the starting system and without depressing the brake pedal.

      If the vehicle can be shifted out of Park without the brake applied, the vehicle may move unexpectedly, increasing the risk of injury or crash.

      What to do

      Ford has notified owners, and dealers will inspect and repair the transmission floor shift selector interlock assembly, as necessary, free of charge.

      The recall began February 22, 2019.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 19C02.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,992 model year 2019 Rangers equipped with 10-speed automatic transmissions.The transmission shift lever in some vehic...
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      SEC accuses Volkswagen of ‘massive fraud’ on U.S. investors

      VW and its former CEO have been charged with deliberately concealing its emissions scheme while selling billions in bonds

      The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday charged Volkswagen and its former chief executive Martin Winterkorn with defrauding U.S. bond investors by not informing them of the scope of its diesel emissions scheme sooner.

      "Volkswagen hid its decade long emissions scheme while it was selling billions of dollars of its bonds to investors at inflated prices," said Stephanie Avakian, the co-director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement, in a press release.

      The “Dieselgate” scandal, in which the German automaker was found to have used illegal software to cheat U.S. pollution tests, first came to light in 2015.

      Between April 2014 to May 2015, Volkswagen “issued more than $13 billion in bonds and asset-backed securities in the U.S. markets at a time when senior executives knew that more than 500,000 vehicles in the United States grossly exceeded legal vehicle emissions limits, exposing the company to massive financial and reputational harm,” the SEC said.

      By keeping the emissions scheme under wraps for so long, Volkswagen was able to reap “hundreds of millions of dollars in benefit by issuing the securities at more attractive rates for the company,” the complaint said.

      VW responds

      Volkwagen called the new charges "legally and factually" flawed. VW says it didn’t know it would face billions of dollars in fines and other penalties because other companies had paid lower penalties for engaging in similar schemes, Reuters reported.

      "The SEC has brought an unprecedented complaint over securities sold only to sophisticated investors who were not harmed and received all payments of interest and principal in full and on time," VW spokesman Christopher Hauss said in a statement.

      Hauss added that Volkswagen intends to defend itself against the SEC action “vigorously."

      The diesel emissions scandal has reportedly cost the company about $32 billion. In the wake of the scandal, Volkswagen has started investing heavily in electric vehicles which don’t produce emissions.

      The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday charged Volkswagen and its former chief executive Martin Winterkorn with defrauding U.S. bond...
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      Gas prices gain upward speed in the last week

      The national average price of regular has risen seven cents

      Spring is approaching -- and with it, higher gasoline prices. Supplies were down again last week while demand was up.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gasoline is $2.53 a gallon, seven cents higher than last Friday. It’s almost exactly the same price as a year ago at this time. The average price of premium is $3.06, also seven cents a gallon higher than last week. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.01, just a penny higher than a week ago.

      Prices are moving higher as refineries curtail operations for annual maintenance. Over the next few weeks, they’ll begin the switch to production of summer blends, which will also reduce output.

      Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports motorists are driving more. Last week, demand rose by more than 9 million barrels a day, which drained the domestic supply by 4.6 million barrels.

      “As demand strengthens and gas stocks tighten, pump prices will likely follow suit and continue to increase,” AAA said in its latest market update. “Since Monday, the national average for unleaded regular gas has increased a nickel.”

      In the last week, several states saw large price increases. Illinois and Michigan moved into the top 10 states with the highest gas prices. The statewide average jumped 14 cents a gallon in both states.

      Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, reports that the average price has risen 34 cents per gallon in Minnesota over the last month and is 32 cents a gallon higher in Illinois and Iowa.

      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 ($3.34)

      • California ($3.33)

      • Washington ($2.93)

      • Nevada ($2.85)

      • Oregon ($2.83)

      • Alaska ($2.82)

      • Pennsylvania ($2.70)

      • Illinois ($2.63)

      • New York ($2.62)

      • Michigan ($2.62)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Arkansas ($2.28)

      • Missouri ($2.30)

      • Mississippi ($2.26)

      • South Carolina ($2.29)

      • Alabama ($2.27)

      • Texas ($2.29)

      • Utah ($2.29)

      • Louisiana ($2.30)

      • Virginia ($2.31)

      • Colorado ($2.31)

      Spring is approaching -- and with it, higher gasoline prices. Supplies were down again last week while demand was up.The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows th...
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      Butterball recalls 39 tons of ground turkey

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella Schwarzengrund

      Butterball of Mount Olive, N.C., is recalling more than 78,000 pounds of raw ground turkey.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella Schwarzengrund.

      Five illnesses have been reported in two states.

      The following prepacked items, produced on July 7, 2018, are being recalled:

      • 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (85% LEAN/15% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188, and UPC codes 22655-71555 or 22655-71557 represented on the label.
      • 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (93% LEAN/7% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 22655-71556 represented on the label.
      • 16-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (85% LEAN/15% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 22655-71546 represented on the label.
      • 16-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (93% LEAN/7% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC codes 22655-71547 or 22655-71561 represented on the label
      • 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “Kroger GROUND TURKEY FRESH 85% LEAN – 15% FAT” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188, and UPC code 111141097993 represented on the label.
      • 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “FOOD LION 15% fat ground turkey with natural flavorings” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 3582609294 represented on the label.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. P-7345” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to institutional and retail locations nationwide.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may call (800) 288-8372.

      Butterball of Mount Olive, N.C., is recalling more than 78,000 pounds of raw ground turkey.The products may be contaminated with Salmonella Schwarzengr...
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      Kawasaki USA recalls utility vehicles

      Fuel may leak, posing a fire hazard.

      Kawasaki Motors of Foothill Ranch, Calif., is recalling about 2,600 Kawasaki Mule Pro-MX off-highway utility vehicles.

      The vehicle’s oil cooler hoses can separate and the fuel tank cap gasket can crack allowing fuel to leak, posing a fire hazard.

      The company has received seven reports of vehicles catching on fire and being damaged. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves 2019 Mule Pro MX utility vehicles, models 700 EPS, 700 EPS LE and 700 Camo EPS.

      The four-wheel, off-highway utility vehicles were sold in camo, green, red and white. They have side by side seating for two people and automotive style controls. Mule Pro MX is printed on the right and left front fender. Kawasaki is printed on the cargo box.

      The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is located on the steel frame between the right, front lower A-arm mounts.

      Model

      Model Codes

      Vin Range

      MULE PRO-MX EPS

      KAF700BKF/L

      RGSW643AXKB120101 through RGSW643A2KB130153

      MULE PRO-MX EPS LE

      KAF700CKF/L

      RGSW643A0KB140101 through RGSW643AXKB150182

      MULE PRO-MX EPS Camo

      KAF700DKF/L

      RGSW643A1KB160101 through

      RGSW643A2KB170135

      The utility vehicles, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold exclusively at Kawasaki dealers nationwide from August 2018, through February 2019, for about $12,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled utility vehicles and contact a Kawasaki dealer to schedule a free repair. Kawasaki is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Kawasaki toll-free at (866) 802-9381 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.Kawasaki.com and click on “Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Kawasaki Motors of Foothill Ranch, Calif., is recalling about 2,600 Kawasaki Mule Pro-MX off-highway utility vehicles.The vehicle’s oil cooler hoses ca...
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      Ford recalls Mustangs and Lincoln Nautilus and Navigator vehicles

      The Instrument Panel Cluster Assembly may not function upon start-up

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 4,212 model year 2019 Ford Mustangs and Lincoln Nautilus and Lincoln Navigator vehicles.

      At vehicle start-up, the Instrument Panel Cluster Assembly (IPC) may not function, showing a blank display.

      A blank instrument cluster will not show important information like vehicle speed, fuel or temperature level, or safety system warnings. Driving with an inoperative cluster can increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Ford has notified owners, and dealers will reprogram the Instrument Panel Cluster Assembly (IPC), free of charge.

      The recall began March 8, 2019.

      Owners may contact customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 19C03.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 4,212 model year 2019 Ford Mustangs and Lincoln Nautilus and Lincoln Navigator vehicles.At vehicle start-up, the Instru...
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      BMW recalls model year 2018-2019 X1 vehicles

      The taillights may loosen and detach from the vehicle

      BMW of North America is recalling 5,920 model year 2018-2019 BMW X1 sDrive28i and X1 xDrive28i vehicles.

      Contaminated hardware may cause the attachment brackets of the taillight housings to crack, causing the lights to loosen or possibly detach from the vehicle.

      If a taillight detaches from the vehicle, it would no longer provide the required lighting to following traffic, or it may become a road hazard, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will properly secure the taillights free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin March 15, 2019.

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

      BMW of North America is recalling 5,920 model year 2018-2019 BMW X1 sDrive28i and X1 xDrive28i vehicles.Contaminated hardware may cause the attachment...
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      Expressing gratitude in the workplace has positive health benefits

      Researchers suggest the practice could improve work satisfaction

      Saying “thank-you” is habit for many consumers as they go about their day-to-day routine, but expressing gratitude while at work could come with a number of positive benefits, according to a new study.

      Researchers from Portland State University say that being thanked in the workplace can lead to improved mental and physical health for employees.

      A study of nurses

      The researchers chose to focus their study on a group of nurses, who often work long hours and feel run down after shifts.

      “Nurses tend to have a thankless job,” said researcher David Cadiz. “It’s very physical, and they’re often being screamed at by patients who are at their lowest. When nurses receive gratitude, it boosts them.”

      Nearly 150 nurses were involved in the study, and they completed weekly surveys for 12 weeks  which asked them to describe their experiences at work, their overall health, and both positive and negative events that occurred over the course of the week.

      The outcome was clear: when the nurses were thanked more for their work, they experienced several physical and mental benefits.

      The researchers explain that the nurses felt better about themselves and the work they do after receiving gratitude, which improved their quality of care with their patients and also led to healthier eating habits, better quality of sleep, and fewer headaches.

      “This type of study helps us understand how to keep nurses in the workforce in a healthy way,” said Cadiz. “Nurses strongly align their profession with their identity and often look out for patients more than themselves. The gratitude matches up with their identity, gives them satisfaction in a job well done, and ultimately increases self-care.”

      Cadiz suggests that corporations work to incorporate gratitude into their day-to-day routines as a means of keeping morale up with employees and creating a more positive culture in the workplace.

      “Employees that receive positive feedback are healthier, and that can impact the bottom line,” Cadiz said. “Preventing headaches and other stress-related symptoms means fewer sick days, and, in this case, cuts down the cost of replacement nurses and overtime pay.”

      Effective in the home

      As effective as expressing gratitude can be in the workplace, a recent study found that teaching children and teens to foster a mindset of gratitude can be just as beneficial.

      Researchers suggest that parents help their children and teens stave off materialism by focusing on being grateful for the things and people already in their lives.

      “Our findings show that it is possible to reduce materialism among young consumers, as well as one of its most common negative consequences (non-generosity) using a simple strategy -- fostering gratitude for the things and people in their lives,” wrote researcher Lan Nguyen Chaplin.

      Saying “thank-you” is habit for many consumers as they go about their day-to-day routine, but expressing gratitude while at work could come with a number o...
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      Claire’s Stores recalls three make-up products

      The products may contain asbestos fibers

      Claire’s Stores is recalling Claire’s Eye Shadows, Claire’s Compact Powder and Claire’s Contour Palette.

      Testing by the Food and Drug Administration indicates the possible presence of asbestos fibers in product samples from one lot of each product. Inhalation of asbestos over time has been linked to serious adverse health consequences.

      Claire’s says it is not aware of any adverse reactions, injuries or illness.

      The following products, sold in Claire's stores nationwide from October 2016 – March 2019 and online, are being recalled:

      • Claire's Eyeshadows, UPC #888711847165, SKU #84716, Lot No. 08/17
      • Claire's Compact Powder, UPC #888711839153, SKU #83915, Lot No. 07/15
      • Claire's Contour Palette, UPC #888711401947, SKU #40194, Lot No. 04/17

      The SKUs and UPCs can be found on the price tickets affixed to the products, and all batch numbers are shown on the back panels below the ingredient lists.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should discontinue their use and return them to a Claire’s store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Claire’s at (800) 252-4737, option 2, from 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. (EDT).

      Claire’s Stores is recalling Claire’s Eye Shadows, Claire’s Compact Powder and Claire’s Contour Palette.Testing by the Food and Drug Administration ind...
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      Model year 2013-2016 Audi A8s and S8s recalled

      The fuel supply line for the high pressure fuel pump may leak

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 8,985 model year 2013-2016 Audi A8s and S8s.

      The fuel supply line for the high pressure fuel pump may become porous and leak fuel.

      Fuel leaking in the presence of an ignition source increases the risk of fire.

      What to do

      Audi has notified owners, and dealers will install a fuel pressure damper free of charge.

      The recall began February 21, 2019.

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

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 8,985 model year 2013-2016 Audi A8s and S8s.The fuel supply line for the high pressure fuel pump may become po...
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      Southwest Airlines gives waivers to passengers nervous about flying on the Boeing 737 MAX

      Checking whether you’re booked on one of those jets is a simple procedure

      Only a few days ago, Southwest Airlines was celebrating its inaugural flight to Hawaii. Now, in the midst of the global problems with the Boeing 737 MAX 8 -- a model it has more of than any other airline -- Southwest says it’ll offer waivers for any flier too nervous to board one of those jets.

      “As the investigation of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 progresses, we are staying in close contact with Boeing, the FAA, and other airlines to learn the cause of the accident,” a Southwest spokesperson told ConsumerAffairs.

      “We operate 34 MAX 8 aircraft in our fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737s. We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of the MAX 8. We don’t have any changes planned to our MAX 8 operations.”

      Southwest is doing something that the other carriers haven’t seen the public relations value in yet: it’s giving passengers assigned to those planes the opportunity to change to another, non-MAX, flight.

      “Additionally, we are not issuing refunds of non-refundable fares, but we are working with Customers individually who wish to rebook their flight to another aircraft type.”

      How can you tell if your Southwest flight is on a Max 8?

      In ConsumerAffairs research on routes where Southwest typically uses the 737 MAX, here’s a sample of the routes we found:

      • Las Vegas (LAS) -- Houston Hobby (HOU)

      • Washington Dulles (IAD) -- Denver (DEN)

      • Milwaukee (MKE) -- Phoenix (PHX)

      • Phoenix (PHX) -- San Francisco (SFO)

      • Phoenix (PHX) -- Cleveland (CLE)

      • Nashville (BNA) -- Phoenix (PHX)

      • Dallas Love Field (DAL) -- Denver (DEN)

      • Denver (DEN) -- Sacramento (SMF)

      It’s not a certainty that Southwest uses the MAX on all flights for those itineraries, however. To check if a particular flight uses a Boeing 737 MAX, simply click on the flight number in the flight search results. You’ll find the aircraft type under “aircraft information” in that pop-up.

      Only a few days ago, Southwest Airlines was celebrating its inaugural flight to Hawaii. Now, in the midst of t...
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      Republicans reject Democrats’ net neutrality bill

      During a House hearing, Republicans called the bill ‘extreme’ and overly partisan

      Republicans are pushing back against the Save the Internet Act, a bill announced last week by Democrats. The bill, which was introduced in both the House and Senate, would reinstate net neutrality regulations by codifying the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2015 Open Internet Order into law.

      In a hearing on Tuesday before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee House, Republicans called the bill "extreme,” the Hill reported.

      "Instead of engaging with us to try to solve the problem, my colleagues have retrenched back to the most extreme position in this debate," said Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), a ranking member on the committee. "[The bill] has no chance of even passing the Senate or being signed into law."

      Partisan issue

      Democrats have argued that internet service providers (ISPs) should be classified under portions of Title II of the Communications Act, a section that allows the FCC to protect consumers against unfair internet traffic practices such as blocking, speeding up, or slowing down access to specific online services.

      Republicans disagree that the “Title II” classification is necessary. At the hearing, Republicans promoted three bills recently introduced by Reps. Latta, Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) that would reinstate some net neutrality protections without reimposing the Title II classification.

      Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle, D-Pa., who sponsored the legislation, said at the end of the hearing that the bill will continue the committee process in the House.

      Doyle said the legislation would “restore popular, bipartisan, common sense net neutrality protections–and put a cop back on the beat to protect consumers, small businesses, and competitors from unjust and unreasonable practices by Internet Service Providers.”

      Republicans are pushing back against the Save the Internet Act, a bill announced last week by Democrats. The bill, which was introduced in both the House a...
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      FDA proposes tougher rules for flavored e-cigarettes

      The federal agency has decided to take enforcement actions while reviewing the products

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a new set of rules that would restrict sales of flavored e-cigarette products as part of its larger goal to counter the rise in teen vaping.

      As flavored e-cigs have been shown to appeal to youth, the FDA has proposed prioritizing enforcement on sales of flavored products (other than tobacco-, mint-, and menthol-flavored).

      “For instance, we’ll consider whether the products are sold under circumstances, whether at retail or online, without heightened age verification,” outgoing Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in a statement.

      In its draft guidance, the FDA also said it would be moving up the deadline to submit market applications to August 8, 2021.

      “This is an important change in our expectations and enforcement priorities,” Gottlieb wrote of the new deadline, which is a year earlier than stated in a previous proposal.

      “For all flavored ENDS [electronic nicotine delivery system] products, including any that continue to be offered for sale under circumstances involving heightened age verification, the FDA expects manufacturers to prepare and submit applications that demonstrate these products meet the public health standard by Aug. 8, 2021.”

      Gottlieb, who announced recently that he plans to step down next month, has previously singled out Juul for offering fruity flavors that tend to appeal to underage users and contributing to “epidemic” levels of teen use.

      He said the agency would consider taking further action if youth demand for “plain” e-cigarettes rises following the adoption of stricter rules for flavored products.

      The proposal is open for public comment for the next 30 days.

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a new set of rules that would restrict sales of flavored e-cigarette products as part of its large...
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      FDA approves new generic version of valsartan

      A previous version of the blood pressure drug was recalled after an impurity was found

      The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new generic version of the blood pressure drug valsartan, which is also sold under the trade name Diovan. Valsartan is a widely used angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) that doctors prescribe for high blood pressure and heart failure.

      The approval was placed on the FDA fast track after the agency confirmed the presence of an impurity in several lots of the medicine last year. Researchers detected a trace amount of an unexpected impurity -- N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). NDMA has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

      The discovery led to major recalls of existing forms of valsartan, which in turn led to shortages of the drug.

      “To address the public health consequences of these shortages, we've prioritized the review of generic applications for these valsartan products,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “When faced with a drug shortage situation, the FDA employs a number of strategies to help mitigate the effects of the shortage on patients. As part of that work, we look at where we may be able to prioritize review of pending generic applications of the medicine in shortage, or similar products.”

      Gottlieb said he is hopeful the approval of the new generic will quickly alleviate the valsartan shortage. Meanwhile, he says the FDA will step up its efforts to keep impurities out of approved prescription drugs.

      Suspected human carcinogen

      Valsartan began disappearing from pharmacies in the middle of last year after a Chinese company reported the presence of NDEA in several batches of its valsartan API. It was of special concern since NDEA is a suspected human carcinogen.

      The FDA began its tests after the Chinese report and resulting recalls. The FDA probe, completed in September, not only found the impurity in the Chinese company's product, but also in Torrent Pharmaceutical’s valsartan 160mg (lot BV47D001) and 320mg (lots BV48D001 and BV48D002) tablets.

      The discovery of a potential carcinogen in a prescription drug may well have been a wakeup call for the agency, It says it has conducted a major investigation to address the presence of nitrosamine impurities in certain generic ARB products.

      The FDA says it has also worked with companies to move quickly to remove any products with unacceptable impurities from the U.S. market.

      The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new generic version of the blood pressure drug valsartan, which is also sold under the trade name Dio...
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      How consumers can make the most of sit-stand desks

      Consumers should study up if they want to see the most health-related benefits

      Consumers who spend their days in an office also spend most of their days sitting. But with many workplaces implementing sit-stand desks (SSDs), consumers may be able to reverse that trend.

      Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh are currently exploring how consumers can make the most of their sit-stand desks, as much recent research has presented conflicting evidence.

      “There has been a great deal of scientific research about sit-stand desks in the past few years, but we have only scratched the surface of this topic,” said Dr. April Chambers. “With my background in occupational injury prevention, I wanted to gather what we know so far and figure out the next steps for how we can use these desks to better benefit people in the workplace.”

      Staying standing

      Dr. Chambers and her team evaluated over 50 recent studies that examined the ins and outs of sit-stand desks to see how they affected consumers on several different levels: posture, work performance, behavior, discomfort, psychological, and physiological.

      According to fellow researcher Dr. Nancy A. Baker, the studies proved that the “strongest changes” were seen in behavior and discomfort, while “the study found only minimal impacts” on any of the other potential factors.

      Based on the studies, many sit-stand desk users were disappointed that the device didn’t help them shed excess weight.

      According to the researchers, SSDs were initially touted as a tool to aid in fighting obesity, as it would get workers out of their chairs more. While they were effective to that end, and in giving consumers the freedom to move around and be more comfortable during their workdays, losing weight was not a factor here.

      Though not effective in tackling obesity, the researchers did note that sit-stand desks were helpful to consumers’ health in that they aided in easing lower back pain and even incrementally lowered blood pressure.

      “Though these are mild benefits, certain populations might benefit greatly from even a small change in their health,” said Dr. Chambers.

      The researchers want to encourage workplaces to provide their employees with proper training and direction to not only properly use their sit-stand desks, but ensure that doing so will leave them with as many benefits as possible.

      “Many workers receive sit-stand desks and start using them without direction,” Dr. Chambers said. “I think proper usage will differ from person to person, and as we gather more research, we will be better able to suggest dosage for a variety of workers.”

      The researchers note that there are many factors at play, including how much time is spent standing, how tall consumers’ computers are, how tall their desks are, and if consumers were properly trained in how to operate their SSDs. Ticking off each of those factors would allow consumers to maximize the benefits.

      Conflicting advice

      While Dr. Chambers and her team are adamant that employees can benefit from their SSDs with the proper training, much of the previous research done on the topic has been conflicting.

      While some researchers have found negative consequences associated with prolonged sitting, others have found risks associated with prolonged standing. However, one study suggests that working standing up could be the best thing for consumers’ production. That study focused entirely on work outcomes and found that completing assignments while standing led to much stronger cognitive abilities.

      “Test results indicated that continued use of standing desks was associated with significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities,” said Ranjana Mehta, PhD. “Changes in corresponding brain activation patterns were also observed.”

      Consumers who spend their days in an office also spend most of their days sitting. But with many workplaces implementing sit-stand desks (SSDs), consumers...
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      AurobindoPharma USA recalls Amlodipine Valsartan and Valsartan tablets

      The product contains trace amounts of NDEA impurity.

      AurobindoPharma USA and Acetris Health are expanding an earlier recall of Valsartan and Amlodipine and Valsartan tablets, which are used to control high blood pressure and for the treatment of heart failure.

      Trace amounts of an unexpected impurity, N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) -- a probable human carcinogen – have been found in the product.

      The following products, packaged in bottles, are being recalled:

      NDCTypeCountLot numberExpiry

      ACETRIS LOTS

      52343-

      122-

      30

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 40mg

      30

      470170

      038A

      19-Oct

      52343-

      122-

      30

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 40mg

      30

      470180

      010A

      20-Feb

      52343-

      122-

      30

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 40mg

      30

      470180

      012A

      20-Mar

      52343-

      123-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 80mg

      90

      471170

      019A

      19-Oct

      52343-

      123-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 80mg

      90

      471180

      006A

      20-Mar

      52343-

      123-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 80mg

      90

      471180

      007A

      20-Mar

      52343-

      123-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 80mg

      90

      471180

      016A

      20-May

      52343-

      124-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      005B

      20-Feb

      52343-

      124-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      011A

      20-Apr

      52343-

      124-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      012A

      20-Apr

      52343-

      125-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 320mg

      90

      473180

      007A

      20-Mar

      52343-

      125-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 320mg

      90

      473180

      008A

      20-Mar

      52343-

      125-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 320mg

      90

      473180

      011A

      20-Apr

      52343-

      125-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 320mg

      90

      473180

      020B1

      20-Jul

      52343-

      125-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 320mg

      90

      473170

      019B

      19-Oct

      AUROBINDO LOTS

      65862-

      570-

      30

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 40mg

      30

      470180

      008A

      20-Feb

      65862-

      570-

      30

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 40mg

      30

      470180

      014A

      20-Mar

      65862-

      570-

      30

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 40mg

      30

      47018

      0016A

      20-Mar

      65862-

      571-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 80mg

      90

      471170

      015A

      19-Sep

      65862-

      571-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 80mg

      90

      471180

      004A

      20-Feb

      65862-

      571-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 80mg

      90

      471180

      005A

      20-Feb

      65862-

      572-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      001A

      20-Jan

      65862-

      572-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      002A

      20-Jan

      65862-

      572-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      003A

      20-Jan

      65862-

      572-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      004A

      20-Jan

      65862-

      572-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      007A

      20-Mar

      65862-

      572-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      008A

      20-Mar

      65862-

      572-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      009A

      20-Mar

      65862-

      572-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP 160mg

      90

      472180

      010A

      20-Mar

      65862-

      572-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP

      160mg

      90

      47218

      0013A

      20-Apr

      65862-

      572-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP

      160mg

      90

      472180

      014A

      20-Apr

      65862-

      573-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP

      320mg

      90

      4731800

      04A

      20-Feb

      65862-

      573-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP

      320mg

      90

      473180

      005A

      20-Feb

      65862-

      573-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP

      320mg

      90

      473180

      006A

      20-Mar

      65862-

      573-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP

      320mg

      90

      47318

      0017A

      20-May

      65862-

      739-

      30

      Amlodipine

      and

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP

      10mg

      /160mg

      30

      VFSA17

      007-A

      19-Oct

      65862-

      570-

      30

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP

      40mg

      30

      470180

      032A

      20-May

      65862-

      573-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP

      320mg

      90

      473170

      019A

      19-Oct

      65862-

      573-

      90

      Valsartan

      Tablets

      USP

      320mg

      90

      473180

      016A

      The recalled products were distributed nationwide.

      What to do

      Patients should continue taking their medication, as the risk of harm to their health may be higher if the treatment is stopped immediately without any alternative treatment. Patients should contact their pharmacist or physician who can advise them about an alternative treatment prior to returning their medication.

      AurobindoPharma is notifying its customers by phone and in writing and arranging for return of all recalled products. Instructions for returning recalled products are given in the recall letter.

      Consumers with medical questions regarding this recall may contact AurobindoPharma at (866) 850- 2876, Option 2 or by email at pvg@aurobindousa.com.

      AurobindoPharma USA and Acetris Health are expanding an earlier recall of Valsartan and Amlodipine and Valsartan tablets, which are used to control high bl...
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      FAA declines to ground Boeing 737 Max 8s in wake of Ethiopian Airlines crash

      Regulators say they still have confidence in the aircraft

      The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has declined to ground U.S.-based Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in the wake of the second fatal crash of the aircraft in five months. However, some other countries have taken that step.

      Chinese regulators have ordered the country’s domestic airlines to suspend all 737 Max operations. Cayman Airways is also among the international carriers that have grounded the 737 Max 8 aircraft until more details are known about Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet that killed all on board.

      In a notice issued late Monday, the FAA said the 737 Max aircraft type is airworthy, but then went on to say that it expects it will require Boeing to make design changes to some of the aircraft’s systems no later than next month.

      The FDA reacted in the wake of widespread concern because Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 came just five months after a Lion Air Max 8 also crashed on takeoff.

      Investigation just beginning

      “External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018,” the FAA said in its notice. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date, we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.”

      The FAA’s decision drew immediate criticism of Paul Hudson, president of the consumer group FlyersRights.org.

      "The FAA's 'wait and see' attitude risks lives as well as the safety reputation of the US aviation industry,” Hudson said. “Even assuming this design defect should not by itself take the aircraft out of service, the failure to warn airlines and pilots of the new feature, and the inadequacy of training requirements, necessitate an immediate temporary grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8."

      In the United States, American and Southwest fly some of the 737 Max 8s. United flies a larger version of the aircraft, the 737 Max 9.

      American operates 24 Boeing 737 Max 8s and the union representing American flight attendants issued a statement Monday saying that any flight attendants who are uncomfortable working on the aircraft can work on another flight.

      In a statement to the media, American said it is working closely with regulatory authorities and “has full confidence in the aircraft.” Southwest Airlines, which flies 34 Max 8s, said it plans no changes in its operations because of Sunday’s crash.

      "We have been in contact with Boeing and will continue to stay close to the investigation as it progresses," the company said in the statement.

      Focus of the investigation

      The investigation into Sunday’s crash is just beginning, but the Lion Air crash in October has focused attention on a new flight control system called MCAS. Though the investigation of the Lion Air crash is ongoing, investigators have suggested the system pushed the nose of the plane down when it was supposed to be climbing.

      In the wake of the Lion Air accident, the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive after an analysis by Boeing showed that “if an erroneously high single angle of attack (AOA) sensor input is received by the flight control system, there is a potential for repeated nose-down trim commands of the horizontal stabilizer.”

      It not addressed, the FAA said that could cause the flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane, and lead to excessive nose-down attitude and significant loss of altitude.

      Travelers booked on a flight can find out if their scheduled plane is a Boeing 737 Max 8 by entering the flight information here.

      The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has declined to ground U.S.-based Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in the wake of the second fatal crash of the aircraft in...
      Read lessRead more

      Inflation remains tame in February

      The outcome likely means that the Federal Reserve won’t be hiking interest rates

      The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the government’s primary inflation gauge, rose 0.2 percent in February after being flat the month before. In the last 12 months, the CPI is up 1.5 percent, well below the Federal Reserve’s inflation target.

      The means the Fed is even more likely to hit the pause button on additional interest rate hikes for the rest of 2019. Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, says the numbers were up but not as much as expected.

      “Inflation doesn’t appear to be heating up enough to trigger the Fed to raise interest rates, and it also shows that increases in wages aren’t pushing up prices much,” Frick said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “No Fed action, tame inflation, and a good wages and jobs situation mean we remain in the Goldilocks zone for American workers and consumers.”

      Some rising costs

      Despite the low numbers consumers faced higher costs last month for housing, food, and gasoline. Food costs were up 0.4 percent, their largest monthly increase since May 2014, as both the food at home and food away from home indexes increased.

      The index tracking the cost of gasoline rose 1.5 percent in February, following three consecutive monthly declines. That pushed the overall cost of energy up 0.4 percent despite declines in the electricity and natural gas indexes.   

      While it’s always good for consumers when prices remain stable, the best news in the report is the influence on the Fed’s interest rate policy. The Fed’s discount rate directly correlates to credit card interest rates.

      If the Fed holds off on rate hikes for the rest of 2019, it means consumers’ interest rates on their credit card balances won’t be going up.

      The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the government’s primary inflation gauge, rose 0.2 percent in February after being flat the month before. In the last 12 mo...
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      Honda recalls 1.1 million vehicles with airbag inflator issue

      The driver front airbag inflator may explode

      American Honda Motor Co., is recalling 1,108,939 of the following vehicles:

      • model year 2003 Acura 3.2CLs,
      • model year 2013-2016 ILXs,
      • model year 2013-2014 ILX Hybrids,
      • model year 2003-2006 MDXs,
      • model year 2007-2016 RDXs,
      • model year 2002-2003 3.2TLs,
      • model year 2004-2006, and 2009-2014 TLs,
      • model year 2010-2013 ZDXs,
      • model year 2001-2007 and 2009 Honda Accords,
      • model year 2001-2005 Civics,
      • model year 2003-2005 Civic Hybrids,
      • model year 2001-2005 Civic GX NGVs,
      • model year 2002-2007 and 2010-2011 CR-Vs,
      • model year 2003-2011 Elements,
      • model year 2007 Fits,
      • model year 2002-2004 Odysseys,
      • model year 2003-2008 Pilots, and
      • model year2006-2014 Ridgelines.

      The vehicles received a replacement driver airbag inflator as part of a previous Takata inflator recall remedy or a replacement driver air bag module containing the same inflator type as a service part.

      Due to a manufacturing error, in the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver front airbag, these inflators may explode.

      An explosion of an inflator within the driver front airbag module may result in sharp metal fragments striking occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver's airbag inflator free of charge.

      Owners will be notified of the recall beginning on April 17, 2019; however, dealers are ready to begin repairs immediately.

      Honda owners may contact customer service at (888) 234-2138. Honda's number for this recall is O41. Acura owners may contact customer service at the same number. Acura's number for this recall is U40.

      American Honda Motor Co., is recalling 1,108,939 of the following vehicles: model year 2003 Acura 3.2CLs, model year 2013-2016 ILXs, model year 2...
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      Washington Beef recalls ground beef chubs

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials

      Washington Beef of Toppenish, Wash., is recalling approximately 30,260 pounds of ground beef chubs.

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials -- specifically hard plastic and metal.

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

      The list of items being recalled, produced on December 27, 2018, with a “Use or Freeze by” date of 01/20/19, can be found here:

      The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 235” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

      The recalled products were shipped 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 about the recall may contact Jay Theiler at (855) 472-6455.

      Washington Beef of Toppenish, Wash., is recalling approximately 30,260 pounds of ground beef chubs.The products may be contaminated with extraneous mat...
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      American Airlines implements new service and emotional support animals policy

      Since policies continue to be in flux, it’s smart to check with the FAA to see where things stand

      After nearly a year of testing out its service and emotional support animal program, American Airlines is refashioning its policies and procedures.

      “The goal of these changes is to protect customers who have a legitimate need as well as the team members who work every day to keep all customers safe,” the airline said in a news release. The new changes will be effective for travel starting on April 1.

      Complaints about service and emotional support animals have doubled in the last three years. The extremes of in-flight situations -- biting, urinating, or defecating -- set off a maelstrom of policy changes as major U.S. airlines wrestled with finding the perfect way to handle the situation. Even airports got on the bandwagon, going to the extent of creating pet-relief stations and roaming space for pets to frolic.

      Miniature horses?

      American laid out its new credo -- some with direct consumer implications:

      1. American supports the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with a legitimate need for a trained service or support animal. Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for team members, customers and working service and support animals onboard aircraft.

      2. American surveyed 10,400 team members and 18,000 customers about these issues and used their feedback to enact these new policies. The results of this survey, along with additional comments from the airline, were submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The airline’s comments focus on a variety of pet-centric issues ranging from the limitation of species to how it will handle itineraries that include “code-share” partners.

      3. Effective for travel on or after April 1, a traditional service animal may be a dog, a cat or, in some limited circumstances, a miniature horse. Emotional support animals are limited to either a dog or cat only; a customer may only bring one emotional support animal onboard aircraft.

      4. American will require a Veterinary Health Form, along with immunization details, for emotional support animals. Details regarding all of these updated changes and forms, as well as the advanced notice and pre-clearance policy, are available here.

      5. Animals under four months of age will no longer be permitted to travel as service or support animals. Animals under this age usually have not received the necessary vaccinations that protect team members and customers.

      What’s next?

      It’s too early for consensus on whether American’s new plan will stick or if it’s just another step in toward finding the perfect groove.

      If the last year is any indication, other major airlines are likely to follow suit and implement changes from the experiences they’ve encountered with their new policies.

      If the question of service or emotional support animals impacts you as a consumer, it’s always smart to get caught up on the current policy of the airline you’re flying with. If you’re flying internationally, policies and the required paperwork can vary greatly from what domestic carriers and the U.S. requires. As an example, foreign airlines are only required to recognize service and support dogs at the present time. One good resource ConsumerAffairs found for international pet travel policies is BringFido.com.

      Fliers with pets are always wise to check with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) to review its latest updates on the matter. You can find the FAA’s current stance on the situation by clicking here. The agency has also produced this video to give consumers a broad overview.

      After nearly a year of testing out its service and emotional support animal program, American Airlines is refashioning its policies and procedures.“The...
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      Ethiopian plane crash focuses attention on the Boeing 737

      It was the second crash of the aircraft type in five months

      An Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed on takeoff Sunday from Addis Ababa and all 157 people on board were killed.

      Air crashes have become a rarity in recent years, but the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane follows the October crash of a Lion Air jet that killed 189 passengers and crew. The fact that both planes were Boeing 737 Max 8s may be a coincidence -- after all, the Boeing 737 is the most widely used aircraft type for commercial aviation.

      Even so, both recent crashes occurred shortly after the planes took off so investigators may take a closer look at the aircraft and its safety features.

      ‘Almost unheard of’

      In both recent crashes, the jets were fairly new, having been placed into service just months before. John Cox, a senior crash investigator and former airline pilot, told CNBC that “it’s almost unheard of” for two new airliners to have fatal crashes so close together. He points out, however, that there doesn’t appear to be any evidence the two planes suffered the same failure.

      Boeing says it has assembled a crew that will travel to Ethiopia to assist in the crash investigation.

      “Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane,” the company said in a statement. “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.”

      While plane crashes were tragic but regular occurrences in the past, they seem almost shocking now. Commercial aviation safety hit an all-time high in 2017 when the Aviation Safety Network (ASN) reported just 10 fatal commercial aircraft accidents resulting in 79 deaths. None of the accidents occurred in the U.S. or involved U.S. airlines.

      At the time, ASN President Harro Ranter told ConsumerAffairs that years of learning from accidents and worldwide knowledge-sharing likely contributed to the improved safety record.

      Nearly two decades without a major crash

      The U.S. has been at the forefront of improved flight safety. Since November 12, 2001, when American Airlines flight 571 crashed on takeoff in a Queens, N.Y. neighborhood, there has been no major passenger jet crash among U.S.-chartered airlines.

      During that time there were fatal crashes involving commuter aircraft in Charlotte, N.C., Lexington, Ky., and Clarence, N.Y. In 2013, an Asiana Airlines jet crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport, killing two passengers.

      Last year, a passenger aboard a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 was killed when an engine exploded and flying metal broke a window. The woman sitting next to the window died after the loss of pressurization nearly pulling her out of the aircraft. An investigation attributed the engine failure to metal fatigue.

      Southwest Airlines’ fleet is mostly made up of Boeing 737 aircraft.

      An Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed on takeoff Sunday from Addis Ababa and all 157 people on board were killed.Air crashes have become a rarity in recent...
      Read lessRead more

      Vaping linked to depression, heart attacks, and strokes in new study

      The paper adds to a growing body of research suggesting that e-cigarettes are a health hazard

      In case you had any optism left that vaping could be a healthy alternative to smoking, a new study of nearly 100,000 Americans adds to the growing pile of evidence that e-cigarettes hurt smokers more than they help.

      The new research, set to be presented next week at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session, is based on data about 96,467 people that was collected by the National Health Interview Survey, a federal government program that falls under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

      According to the findings, Americans who reported smoking e-cigarettes in the survey were 56 percent more likely to have a heart attack, 30 percent more likely to suffer a stroke, 10 percent more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease, and twice as likely to report depression or anxiety.

      "These data are a real wake-up call and should prompt more action and awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes," author Dr. Mohinder Vindhyal, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita, told Environmental Health News in a statement.

      “When the risk of heart attack increases by as much as 55 percent among e-cigarettes users compared to nonsmokers, I wouldn't want any of my patients nor my family members to vape," he added.

      Mounting evidence

      Experts say that the synthetic chemicals that create the seemingly harmless “puff” of fake smoke are the likely culprit.

      The study follows three others published in recent years suggesting a link between e-cigs and cardiovascular problems and strokes. This particular report is significant because it also detected a link between e-cigs and circulatory problems, according to Dr. Stanton Glantz, a University of California, San Francisco researcher who has studied the dangers of smoking regular old cigarettes for decades, as well as e-cigarettes more recently.

      On his website, Glantz writes that e-cigarettes are also harmful because they don’t actually encourage people to quit their cigarette addictions.

      “Of course, most smokers who use e-cigs continue to be dual users, he writes, (i.e., continue using both products at the same time),” he writes, “which is substantially more dangerous than using either product alone.”

      In case you had any optism left that vaping could be a healthy alternative to smoking, a new study of nearly 100,000 Americans adds to the growing pile of...
      Read lessRead more

      Drinking moderately could contribute to high blood pressure

      Cutting back can help consumers avoid hypertension, researchers say

      Recent studies have noted the health risks associated with consuming alcohol -- even in moderation. Now, consumers can add blood pressure to the list of potential issues.

      According to a new study, consuming as few as seven to 13 drinks per week can lead to high blood pressure.

      “I think this will be a turning point for clinical practice, as well as for future research, education, and public health policy regarding alcohol consumption,” said researcher Dr. Amer Aladin. “It’s the first study showing that both heavy and moderate alcohol consumption can increase hypertension.”

      Moderation is still a risk

      To gauge the relationship between alcohol consumption and blood pressure, the researchers utilized six years worth of data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES).

      The researchers included over 17,000 participants in the study, dividing them into three groups based on how much they drank: one group for those who never drank, another group for those who drank moderately (seven to 13 drinks per week), and a third group for heavy drinkers (14 or more drinks per week).

      The researchers evaluated blood pressure using the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2017 guidelines, which lowers the barometer for what was traditionally considered hypertensive to 130/80 mm Hg, and places a normal blood pressure at 120/80 mm Hg.

      The biggest takeaway from the study was that the more the participants drank on a weekly basis, the greater their likelihood of developing stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension. Heavy drinkers were the most affected, as the researchers found that these participants had a nearly 70 percent chance of developing stage 1 hypertension. They were also nearly 2.5 times as likely to develop stage 2 hypertension.

      Moderate drinkers fared only slightly better, showing an over 50 percent risk of stage 1 hypertension and double the risk of developing stage 2 hypertension. The researchers hope these findings are beneficial for consumers moving forward, and that they pay close to attention to both their blood pressure readings and alcohol intake in the future.

      “This study is not only large, but diverse in terms of race and gender,” Dr. Aladin said. “The results are very informative for future research and practice. If you are drinking a moderate or large amount of alcohol, ask your provider to check your blood pressure at each visit and help you cut down your drinking and eventually quit.”

      Maintaining healthy blood pressure

      Keeping blood pressure within a healthy range can be difficult for many consumers, but researchers have figured out several ways to make the process a bit easier.

      Researchers recently found that both blueberries and napping can be effective for lowering blood pressure. Laws that regulate smoking indoors have also been linked to lowering blood pressure.

      Recent studies have noted the health risks associated with consuming alcohol -- even in moderation. Now, consumers can add blood pressure to the list of po...
      Read lessRead more

      Chrysler recalls model year 2017-2019 Fiat Spider 124s

      The vehicle may downshift unexpectedly and decelerate abruptlyThe vehicle may downshift unexpectedly and decelerate abruptly

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 8,933 model year 2017-2019 Fiat Spider 124s equipped with automatic transmissions.

      Due to incorrect programming of the Transmission Control Module (TCM), certain conditions may cause the vehicle to downshift unexpectedly and decelerate abruptly, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will update the TCM software, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin March 27, 2019.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is V20.

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 8,933 model year 2017-2019 Fiat Spider 124s equipped with automatic transmissions.Due to incorrect programming of th...
      Read lessRead more

      Torrent Pharmaceuticals recalls Losartan Potassium and Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide tablets

      The products contain trace amounts of an unexpected impurity

      Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited is recalling 60 lots of Losartan potassium tablets and 54 lots of Losartan potassium/ hydrochlorothiazide tablets

      The products, used to treat high blood pressure, contain trace amounts of an unexpected impurity, N-Methylnitrosobutyric acid (NMBA), that are above the acceptable daily intake levels released by the FDA.

      There are no reports to date of adverse events related to this recall.

      The following products are being recalled:

      NDCFinished Product Strength
      and Package Count
      Batch NumberExpiration Date
      13668-113-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 25mg,
      90 count
      4DU1E0051/31/2021
      13668-113-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 25mg,
      90 count
      4DU1E0061/31/2021
      13668-113-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 25mg,
      90 count
      4DU1E0081/31/2021
      13668-113-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 25mg,
      1000 count
      4DU1E0071/31/2021
      13668-409-30Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      30 count
      4DU2D07710/31/2020
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      90 count
      4DU2D08710/31/2020
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      90 count
      4DU2E0231/31/2021
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      90 count
      4DU2E0241/31/2021
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      90 count
      4DU2E0261/31/2021
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      90 count
      4DU2E0271/31/2021
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      90 count
      4DU2E0281/31/2021
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      90 count
      4DU2E0291/31/2021
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      90 count
      4DU2E0201/31/2021
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      90 count
      4O50E0078/31/2021
      13668-409-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      90 count
      4O50E0088/31/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D0679/30/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D0699/30/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D0639/30/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D0649/30/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D0659/30/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D0669/30/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D08410/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D08510/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D08310/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D08210/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D07210/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D07710/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D07810/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D07910/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D08110/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D08010/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D07010/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D07310/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D07410/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D07510/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D08610/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D08810/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2D08910/31/2020
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0191/31/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0211/31/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0221/31/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0251/31/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0322/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0332/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0342/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0352/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0362/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0372/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0382/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0392/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E0412/28/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E1036/30/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E1016/30/2021
      13668-409-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 50mg,
      1000 count
      4DU2E1026/30/2021
      13668-115-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 100mg,
      90 count
      4DU3E0141/31/2021
      13668-115-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 100mg,
      90 count
      4DU3E0151/31/2021
      13668-115-90Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 100mg,
      90 count
      4DU3E0657/31/2021
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 100mg,
      1000 count
      4DU3D01811/30/2020
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 100mg,
      1000 count
      4DU3E0626/30/2021
      13668-115-10Losartan Potassium Tablets,
      USP 100mg,
      1000 count
      4DU3E0636/30/2021
      13668-116-30Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      30 count
      BEF7D0176/30/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF7D0104/30/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF7D0114/30/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium /Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF7D0186/30/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium / Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF7D0094/30/2020
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      4P02E0021/31/2021
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      4P02E0031/31/2021
      13668-116-90Losartan Potassium / Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      4P02E0041/31/2021
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      1000 count
      BEF7D0084/30/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      1000 count
      BEF7D0228/31/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      1000 count
      BEF7D0124/30/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      1000 count
      BEF7D0134/30/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      1000 count
      BEF7D04911/30/2020
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      1000 count
      4P02E0051/31/2021
      13668-116-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 50mg/12.5mg,
      1000 count
      4P02E0061/31/2021
      13668-117-30Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      30 count
      BEF8D05811/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0234/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0244/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0254/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0093/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0103/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0113/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0123/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0133/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D05410/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D05510/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D05610/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D05711/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0073/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0083/31/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0204/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0214/30/2020
      13668-117-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/12.5mg,
      90 count
      BEF8D0224/30/2020
      13668-118-30Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      30 count
      BEF6D0384/30/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D0304/30/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D0314/30/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D0477/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90count
      BEF6D0487/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D0497/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D0507/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D0517/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D08210/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D08310/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D08410/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D08510/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D08610/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      BEF6D08710/31/2020
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      4P04E0031/31/2021
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      4P04E0041/31/2021
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      4P04E0051/31/2021
      13668-118-90Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      90 count
      4P04E0061/31/2021
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      1000 count
      4P04E0071/31/2021
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      1000 count
      4P04E0081/31/2021
      13668-118-10Losartan Potassium/ Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets,
      USP 100mg/25mg,
      1000 count
      4P04E0091/31/2021

      The recalled products were distributed nationwide to Torrent’s wholesale distributor, repackager and retail customers

      What to do

      Patients who are taking the medications should continue to do so, as the risk of harm to their health may be higher if the treatment is stopped immediately without any alternative treatment.

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

      Torrent is arranging for return of all recalled products to Qualanex. Instructions for returning recalled products are given in a letter being sent to all customers.

      Consumers with medical questions regarding this recall may contact Torrent Pharmaceuticals at (800) 912-9561 from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (ET) or by email at Medinfo.Torrent@apcerls.com

      Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited is recalling 60 lots of Losartan potassium tablets and 54 lots of Losartan potassium/ hydrochlorothiazide tabletsThe pr...
      Read lessRead more

      Dynamic recalls Sailun tires

      The Tire Identification Number on the tire sidewall is incomplete

      Dynamic Tire Corp., is recalling 130 Sailun tires, S698 157/154 L PR20, size 315/80R22.5, produced June 18, 2018 – June 25, 2018.

      The Tire Identification Number (TIN) on the tire sidewall is incomplete and does not include the date of manufacture.

      Tires with an incomplete TIN and subject to a safety recall would be impossible to identify as being affected by a safety recall. Using tires affected by a safety recall can increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Dynamic Tire has notified owners, and dealers will reimburse the purchase price or replace the tire, free of charge.

      The recall began February 12, 2019.

      Owners may contact Dynamic Tire customer service at 1-905-595-5558.

      Dynamic Tire Corp., is recalling 130 Sailun tires, S698 157/154 L PR20, size 315/80R22.5, produced June 18, 2018 – June 25, 2018.The Tire Identificatio...
      Read lessRead more

      Volvo recalls model year 2018-2019 Volvo XC60s

      The tailgate lifting arms may freeze

      Volvo Car USA is recalling 45,990 model year 2018-2019 Volvo XC60s.

      Under certain conditions and cold temperatures, the tailgate lifting arms may freeze which may cause them to separate from the vehicle.

      If the tailgate lifting arms separate, they could project rearward with significant force, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Volvo has notified owners, and dealers will replace the tailgate lift arms with an improved design free of charge.

      An interim notification was mailed on January 31, 2019 to notify owners of the issue. A second letter will be sent once remedy parts are available.

      Owners may contact Volvo customer service at 1-800-458-1552. Volvo's number for this recall is R89910.

      Volvo Car USA is recalling 45,990 model year 2018-2019 Volvo XC60s.Under certain conditions and cold temperatures, the tailgate lifting arms may freeze...
      Read lessRead more

      Labor Department proposes changes to overtime eligibility rule

      The new rule would bring overtime eligibility to 1.1 million additional workers

      The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday unveiled a proposal that would make more workers eligible to receive overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

      The proposed rule rewrites the Obama administration’s “overtime rule,” which was adopted in 2016 but never took effect because it was blocked by a federal judge just a week before it was slated to take effect.

      The new rule, if enacted, would mandate that workers who earn less than $35,308 a year ($455 to $679 per week) would be eligible for time-and-a-half pay for all hours worked beyond 40 in any given week. The current threshold is set at $23,660.

      “The Department proposes to rescind formally the 2016 rule and propose a new rule that updates the minimum weekly standard salary level to reflect growth in wages and salaries, and allow the inclusion of certain nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments to count towards up to 10 percent of the standard salary level,” the DOL said in its proposal.

      Instead of allowing the threshold to rise automatically with inflation, the new rule would require that the DOL update the threshold at its discretion every four years.

      “This would provide clarity and help workers and employers by having a regular and orderly process for future changes,” the DOL wrote.

      Expanding overtime eligibility

      The proposal would bring overtime eligibility to 1.1 million additional workers. By comparison, the rule proposed by former President Barack Obama that was invalidated by a federal judge would have have brought overtime eligibility to 4.2 million workers.

      "Our economy has more job openings than job seekers and more Americans are joining the labor force," Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said in a news release. "... Today's proposal would bring common sense, consistency, and higher wages to working Americans."

      In a statement, Heidi Shierholz, the DOL's chief economist under former President Obama and current director of policy at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, criticized the Labor Department’s weakened criteria for overtime eligibility.

      "This administration is effectively turning its back on millions of workers. Trump and his cabinet are again siding with corporate interests over those of working people,” Shierholz wrote.

      The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday unveiled a proposal that would make more workers eligible to receive overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards A...
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      IIHS names the Honda HR-V as its Top Safety Pick for 2019

      The small SUV has made numerous advances from last year

      Honda’s small SUV, the HR-V, is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick for 2019, with a few caveats. IIHS researchers specify that the car needs to be equipped with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights.

      Honda has refreshed the HR-V model for 2019, and IIHS says those changes have been big improvements when it comes to keeping occupants safe. Updates to the vehicle’s structure improved frontal crash performance, as demonstrated in the IIHS' small and moderate front overlap tests.

      Another safety feature, Honda Sensing, is now standard on EX and above trims. It includes Forward Collision Warning; Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) incorporating Lane Departure Warning (LDW); Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS); and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).

      Swept the crashworthiness tests

      With these improvements, the HR-V won the highest possible rating of "Good" in all six crashworthiness tests and a "Superior" rating for its available Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS).

      Kelley Blue Book’s (KBB) review of the Honda HR-V shows an MSRP range of between $21,515 and $29,535. The editor’s review calls it a small SUV that’s big on interior room, style, and safety.

      “For those seeking compact-car dimensions, price, and fuel economy in a SUV-like form, the 2019 Honda HR-V pushes all the right buttons,” the reviewer writes. “Loaded with features and now with more trim choices and options, the HR-V offers more passenger volume than the Mazda CX-3, better fuel economy than the Chevy Trax or Jeep Renegade and, unlike the Nissan Kicks and Toyota C-HR, the option of all-wheel drive.”

      Introduced in 2016 model year

      Honda introduced the HR-V in the 2016 model year as an option for consumers looking for an entry-level SUV. It has a 1.8-liter I-4 rated at 141 hp engine under the hood. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional on all trim levels.

      The 2019 HR-V was given an acceptable headlight rating for the LED reflector headlights on its Touring trim. However, the HR-V's base halogen headlight received a poor rating because IIHS said they provide inadequate visibility in multiple headlight test scenarios.

      The HR-V made up for it with its showing in the driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests, as well as a good or acceptable rating in the passenger-side small overlap front test.

      IIHS said those are key elements to making it as the organization’s Top Safety Pick.

      Honda’s small SUV, the HR-V, is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick for 2019, with a few caveats. IIHS researchers specify...
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      Gas prices continue their march higher

      Prices are climbing at an orderly pace, matching the increase from two weeks ago

      Gasoline prices rose again in the last week, but the price action, for the most part, has been smooth without huge spikes that sometimes occur this time of year.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gasoline is $2.46 a gallon, up four cents since last Friday. But even though prices are moving higher, the average price is still eight cents less than a year ago.