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    Ford recalls model year 2019 Rangers

    The Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning blower motor may short circuit

    Ford Motor Company is recalling 17,965 model year 2019 Ranger vehicles.

    The Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) blower motor may electrically short, increasing the risk of a fire.

    What to do

    Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the HVAC blower motor production date, replacing it as necessary, free of charge.

    The recall is expected to begin November 4, 2019.

    Owners may contact Ford customer service at (866) 436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 19S34.

    Ford Motor Company is recalling 17,965 model year 2019 Ranger vehicles.The Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) blower motor may electrical...
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    FTC report suggests older consumers are still very vulnerable to scammers

    Keeping your network of friends in the know may be the best way to keep a lid on fraud

    ConsumerAffairs recently took a first look at a new report the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) presented to Congress -- Protecting Older Consumers 2018-2019 -- and it showed that the world of senior scammers is alive and well. In fact, the older demographic is as vulnerable as ever, reporting a median loss of $1,700 -- four times greater than the median loss of consumers in their 20s and 30s. 

    Taking a deeper dive into the report, ConsumerAffairs found some realities older consumers should pay even closer attention to. In particular, it appears that many scammers are masquerading as government officials to great effect.

    “First, and not surprisingly, the fact that the scammers presented themselves as representing a federal agency made a difference in how the consumers reacted,” the report said. “The consumers said they believed they were less likely to be scammed by a person from a government source as opposed to a company. Some scammers went to great lengths, making up details about the FTC, to make themselves seem authentic.”

    “Second, even after conversation with real FTC staff, many of these consumers still wondered whether the person who had called them was, in fact, an FTC employee. Further conversation was required in many cases to help them understand that the calls – and the information the scammer had provided – were false.”

    “Third, consumers reported that these types of scams were often a long, drawn out process. In numerous instances, the scammers contacted the consumers daily, building relationships and creating trust. Frequently, large money losses occurred through multiple contacts over the course of weeks or months.”

    Feeling lonely?

    The report found that fraudsters find particular joy in ripping off seniors who might be looking for a little romance. 

    “In fact, consumers in their 60s reported far higher aggregate losses on romance scams than on any other fraud in 2018, and the vast majority of those dollars were sent by wire transfer,” the report found. 

    Wire transfers also took home the prize as the top payment method for sweepstakes and lottery frauds, and it also had the highest aggregate reported losses for consumers 70 and older. 

    Why reporting fraud is important

    As the older adult segment continues to grow, so does the FTC’s pursuit of the scammers. The agency says sharing any fraud-related information with friends is more important than ever. Why? Because people are much less likely to lose money on a scam they encounter if they’ve heard about it before. 

    To that end, the FTC has created the Pass It On campaign, which focuses on helping older adults protect themselves and their network of friends. The FTC explains the essence of the effort in the video below.

    ConsumerAffairs recently took a first look at a new report the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) presented to Congress -- Protecting Older Consumers 2018-2019...
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    GM says six-week strike cost it about $2.9 billion

    The company’s third-quarter earnings still beat analyst estimates

    General Motors (GM) said Tuesday that the worker strike that idled production for 40 days will cost it about $2.9 billion. 

    The strike started in mid-September after contract negotiations reached an impasse, and it ended just a few days ago after an acceptable deal was hashed out. Under the new deal, workers will get increased annual raises or lump-sum bonuses. The contract also sees to it that temporary workers are offered a shorter path to achieving permanent positions. 

    While roughly 50,000 hourly workers were out of work during the strike, GM was unable to build any cars at U.S. factories. However, the automaker said it was able to rely on an inventory of vehicles it had already built up to keep supplying dealers with vehicles during the strike. 

    Lost money

    The company said it still lost money because dozens of its factories were closed down for nearly six weeks. GM estimates that the total loss from the walk-out will come out to $2 a share, or about $2.9 billion.

    In a statement, GM expressed optimism about its ability to bounce back from the financial impact of the strike. Although the strike erased about $1 billion in profit from the company’s third quarter earnings, GM still posted a $2.3 billion profit for the quarter. 

    “Our underlying third-quarter performance demonstrates the ongoing resilience and earnings power of our company,” GM Chief Financial Officer Dhivya Suryadevara said in a statement.

    The automaker said the new four-year labor contract with its workers “maintains our competitiveness, preserves our operating flexibility and allows us to continue improving our quality and productivity.” 

    General Motors (GM) said Tuesday that the worker strike that idled production for 40 days will cost it about $2.9 billion. The strike started in mid-Se...
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      Amazon Fresh now free for Prime members

      Consumers who use the service can have groceries delivered within two hours

      Amazon announced on Tuesday that it’s giving Prime members free grocery delivery through its Amazon Fresh service, which previously cost $14.99 per month. 

      The food delivery service is currently offered in 2,000 cities, and Amazon says “even more cities” will get the service in the near future. Prime members who use it get fresh groceries -- including produce, meat, snacks, and household essentials -- delivered within a two-hour window. 

      Going forward, the service will be free for those who pay $119/year for Amazon Prime. Initially, Amazon will be launching the free program on an invite-only basis, beginning with Prime members who already use Amazon Fresh or who have previously ordered deliveries from Whole Foods. Other Prime members can gain access by requesting an invitation.  

      “Prime members love the convenience of free grocery delivery on Amazon, which is why we’ve made Amazon Fresh a free benefit of Prime, saving customers $14.99 per month,” said Stephenie Landry, VP of Grocery Delivery. “Grocery delivery is one of the fastest growing businesses at Amazon, and we think this will be one of the most-loved Prime benefits.”

      Amazon, which acquired Whole Foods in 2017, has been striving to grow its network of grocery stores in the U.S. through the launch of a new line of grocery stores separate from Whole Foods. The company has also been speeding up its delivery times, which has prompted competitors like Walmart and Target to follow suit. 

      Amazon announced on Tuesday that it’s giving Prime members free grocery delivery through its Amazon Fresh service, which previously cost $14.99 per month....
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      Drivers are more likely than vehicles to take the fall in autonomous vehicle mishaps

      Researchers found that consumers are more likely to blame other people instead of the cars

      Though consumer confidence around autonomous vehicles has been shaky, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Exeter found that a change of heart could be possible. The findings revealed that drivers are more likely than their autonomous vehicles to get the blame in instances where both have made mistakes. 

      “We find that when only one driver makes an error, that driver is blamed more regardless of whether that driver is a machine or human,” the researchers wrote. “However, when both drivers make errors in cases of human-machine shared-control vehicles, the blame attributed to the malfunctioning is reduced.” 

      Ultimately, the researchers believe that these findings are important, as they could shape the future of autonomous vehicle manufacturer regulations or potential liability outcomes in court cases.   

      Pointing fingers

      As autonomous vehicle technology continues to advance, the researchers conducted this study to get a better gauge on how consumers would respond to hypothetical scenarios involving a combination of human drivers and autonomous vehicles. For the purposes of this study, the researchers associated autonomous vehicles as ones that had human drivers but were controlled and maneuvered by a setting similar to autopilot on airplanes. 

      The researchers posed several scenarios to consumers and asked them to consider who would be at fault in various instances. In some cases,  the drivers were at fault; in others, the cars were at fault; in still others, both were at fault. Many of these hypotheticals could be expected with the introduction of semi-autonomous vehicles. 

      Ultimately, the researchers learned that consumers are more willing to place the blame for accidents or mishaps on human drivers over autonomous vehicles, particularly when both had messed up. These findings are interesting because several recent studies have touted consumers’ skepticism surrounding autonomous vehicle technology, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in this most recent study. 

      In instances where both drivers and cars made mistakes on the road, the study participants pointed fingers at the human drivers more often and let the autonomous vehicles off the hook. According to the researchers, this could potentially affect future safety features on these vehicles and sway the public perception should cases like these be put in front of a jury. 

      “It seems like if we leave it to the general public, they may unintentionally go soft on [autonomous vehicle] manufacturers to improve their safety standards,” said researcher Dr. Edmond Awad. 

      Though consumer confidence around autonomous vehicles has been shaky, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Exeter found that a chang...
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      Jenny Craig to open stores in some Walgreens locations

      The pharmacy is also closing some walk-in clinics

      Jenny Craig (an Authorized Partner) is raising the profile of its weight-loss program by teaming up with Walgreens to offer products and services within select Walgreens locations.

      Initially, the two companies said there will be a Jenny Craig (an Authorized Partner) presence in 100 Walgreens stores before the end of January 2020. The store locations will offer private one-on-one consultations, a customized menu plan, and meal delivery.

      It will be the first time the diet-control company will use a national drugstore chain as a venue and the first time Walgreens will offer a weight control program as part of its health services.

      “Jenny Craig (an Authorized Partner) has a long-standing history of changing lives through personal one-on-one support and lifestyle management,” said Jim OConor, senior vice president of neighborhood health destination at Walgreens. “We found Jenny Craig (an Authorized Partner) to be a strong fit with our shared mission to provide trusted, proven, and personalized care.”

      The first 100 Jenny Craig (an Authorized Partner) Walgreens locations are in 20 states in markets that include Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, among others. Once they are open, the companies have left open the possibility of other potential in-store and digital initiatives.

      Walk-in clinics are closing

      At the same time, Walgreens is closing and scaling back its walk-in clinics located in some Walgreen stores. The move is aimed at trimming costs.

      In some locations, the pharmacy retailer will turn over clinic operations to third-party providers. For example, in the Cincinnati market, Walgreens has signed an agreement with TriHealth to operate seven of its in-store clinics. TriHealth is a comprehensive not-for-profit health system with six hospitals and 130 sites of care.

      "Today's announcement demonstrates our ongoing commitment to collaborate with community health systems, like TriHealth, to offer convenient access to affordable healthcare services while helping to ensure a true continuum of care for our patients," said Dr. Chet Robson, Walgreens acting chief medical officer. "We look forward to working with TriHealth as it shares our commitment to delivering exceptional and personalized patient care."

      TriHealth CEO Mark Clement says the deal with Walmart will allow it to meet the evolving needs of healthcare consumers by offering care “when, where and how consumers are seeking it.”

      Jenny Craig is raising the profile of its weight-loss program by teaming up with Walgreens to offer products and services within select Walgreens locations...
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      Popeye’s chicken sandwich returns to the menu Nov. 3

      The wildly-popular sandwich sold out in two weeks in August

      If it’s possible to be a victim of one’s own success, Popeye’s chicken sandwich might be a prime example.

      When the sandwich debuted in August, consumers went wild for it, causing most stores to quickly sell out. Popeye’s suspended the menu item two weeks later. Now, the Popeye’s chicken sandwich is returning Sunday, Nov.3, and the fast-food chain says it’s better prepared this time.

      In August, company officials had no idea how popular the fried chicken sandwich would be. The company had what it believed to be the ingredients for three months worth of these sandwiches. 

      But when consumers took to social media to rave about the product, Popeye’s locations were overrun by customers ordering not one, but multiple chicken sandwiches. According to Business Insider, most restaurants were understaffed at the time and the workers were overwhelmed. One employee reportedly quit in the middle of a shift.

      Industry sources report that Popeye’s traffic increased 100 percent during the month of August. When the company recently reported its third-quarter earnings, it said same-store sales increased by nearly 10 percent.

      “This has been the biggest launch in the history of Popeyes, if not QSR,” Popeyes America’s President Felipe Athayde previously told Yahoo Finance in an interview. “It’s going to be a cultural phenomenon. We just launched the iPhone of chicken sandwiches.”

      Just a sandwich?

      What’s behind the craze? After all, it’s just a sandwich. According to Reader’s Digest, the sandwich starts with “perfect buns” and adds a special sauce on top of a fried chicken filet that many consumers describe as juicer than the chicken offered at rival Chick Fil A.

      Indeed, the competition with Chick Fil A may have something to do with the hype surrounding the so-called “chicken sandwich wars.” Chick Fil A has been wildly popular for years, and Popeye’s undoubtedly sees its chicken sandwich as a way to score points with consumers and grab some market share. 

      The two companies traded jabs on social media during those hectic two weeks in August. The fact that Popeye's sandwich returns on a Sunday may be no accident since Chick Fil A famously closes its stores on that day.

      Will the competition remain as heated now that the Popeye’s sandwich is returning, or will it become a victim of the internet’s short attention span? We’ll soon find out.

      If it’s possible to be a victim of one’s own success, Popeye’s chicken sandwich might be a prime example.When the sandwich debuted in August, consumers...
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      Bitcoin rallies 25 percent in a matter of days

      Comments from China’s president reportedly fueled the sharp increase

      As the stock market reaches new highs, Bitcoin has mustered an impressive rally, rising 25 percent since last week. 

      On Friday, the digital currency traded at close to $7,500. By Monday, it surged past the $9,300 mark after briefly topping $10,000 over the weekend. It’s far from the high for the year -- Bitcoin hit $12,000 back during the summer.

      And therein lies the attraction -- and the danger -- of Bitcoin. It is extremely volatile and can make investors rich very quickly and poor just as fast.

      Analysts suggest this latest rally has to do with growing optimism that the currency will be exposed to new markets in the months ahead. Over the weekend Chinese President Xi Jinping said China should “seize the opportunity” to adopt blockchain, which sent the message that bitcoin could gain a stronger foothold in the world’s most populous country. 

      Also last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg alluded to the same thing. In an appearance before a hostile House committee, Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s proposed Libra venture, saying if Facebook didn’t do it China probably would.

      None of this means China is poised to back the digital currency. In fact, the government has not encouraged its use. For China, investing in blockchain might have other uses, motives, and objectives.

      Other uses for blockchain technology

      In his speech, Xi praised blockchain as a way to enhance a number of industries, such as finance, health care, and education. Bitcoin uses blockchain as a way to maintain a record of financial transactions but the technology has other applications.

      To date, China has viewed cryptocurrency with much the same skepticism Congress has shown toward Facebook’s Libra project. Governments fear the possibility of systemic risk they don’t control, as well as untraceable financial transactions.

      However, in recent months, China’s People’s Bank of China has reportedly been researching the possibility of launching its own digital currency. The bank’s efforts reportedly increased after Facebook rolled out its Libra project.

      As the stock market reaches new highs, bitcoin has mustered an impressive rally, rising 25 percent since last week. On Friday, the digital currency tra...
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      Children who experience trauma are more likely to get bullied or bully others

      But having a solid support group can be effective in overcoming these challenges

      A new study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children who experience traumatic events, known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), are more likely to either get bullied or bully others. 

      While this can be challenging to deal with when children are younger, the researchers also found that having a supportive family unit that can help reduce this bullying risk. 

      “Bullying is a widespread problem, especially among children experiencing other forms of trauma,” said researcher Elizabeth Li. “It can lead to mental health problems later on, affecting those who are bullied, those who do the bullying, and those witnessing it.” 

      Family resilience helps counter bullying

      To get a better understanding of ACEs and how bullying can manifest in young children, the researchers looked at responses from the National Survey of Children’s Health. 

      Analyzing responses from the 2016-2017 iteration of the survey, the researchers were able to assess parents’ response to their child’s home life, school atmosphere, physical and mental health, and participants’ relationship with health care. 

      The researchers learned that while traumatic events during childhood can increase the likelihood of getting bullied or bullying others, they also determined that home and family life can be a big indicator of how children handle adversity after trauma, which the researchers classify as “family resilience.” 

      Family resilience has four primary components, which are most effective in helping children overcome traumatic moments when used in combination with each other: 

      • Reminding children to stay hopeful, despite difficult times; 

      • Solving problems together by reinforcing that children aren’t alone in their struggles; 

      • Having children call on their strengths by naming them and reminding them to always remember them during hard times; and 

      • Keeping an open conversation with children about what to do. 

      When parents incorporated these components into children’s daily lives, they effectively reduced the likelihood that their children bullied others. With these things in mind, it’s important for parents to remember how their actions and comments can affect children and just how influential they can be in their kids’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. 

      “Parents should be aware of how they handle adversity and consider both the direct and indirect impact these events may have on their children,” said researcher Dr. Andrew Adesman. 

      A new study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children who experience traumatic events, known as adverse childhood experiences (AC...
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      Flavored e-cigarettes make teens more likely to keep vaping, study finds

      Researchers found that teens are tempted to stick with the habit because of the flavors

      E-cigarettes have dominated the headlines recently, as more and more consumers are being diagnosed with vaping-related illnesses that healthcare professionals have been struggling to get to the root of. 

      Health experts have pointed to additives in electronic cigarettes that can cause any number of health issues, and the sale of flavored e-cigarettes has been halted. However, the vaping death toll only continues to rise, and many young consumers continue to use e-cigarette devices.

      Now, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California discovered that teens are more likely to stick to their vaping habits because of flavored e-cigarettes. 

      “While many children try e-cigarettes, not all become regular users,” said researcher Adam Leventhal. “Teens who use e-cigarettes may be more inclined to continue vaping rather than just temporarily experiment with e-cigs. Whether or not children continue vaping is important -- the longer and more frequently you vape, the more you’re exposing yourself to toxins in e-cigarette aerosol and put yourself at risk of nicotine addiction.” 

      How flavors play a role

      The researchers created a survey to gauge teens’ vaping habits. They surveyed nearly 500 tenth graders every six months through their senior years of high school to see what changes -- if any -- took place over that time span. 

      While a large majority of the students reported vaping at some point over the course of the study, the fruity or candy flavored e-cigarettes proved to be more popular and were often successful at getting students to stick with the habit long-term. While under 43 percent of students who vaped with the regular tobacco flavor continued the habit for an additional six months, over 64 percent of vapers who opted for sweeter flavors did the same. 

      Overall, the researchers learned that 90 percent of the students had taken advantage of the wide variety of flavors available for e-cigarettes, and doing so often upped their typical day-to-day vaping habits. 

      Federal regulation needed

      As e-cigarettes remain unregulated by the government, the researchers are calling for federal intervention in an effort to keep young people healthy and reduce overall e-cigarette usage. 

      “Regulations that reduce youth exposure to flavored e-cigarettes may aid in preventing young people who try e-cigarettes from becoming long-term e-cig users, and also from inhaling more aerosol into their lungs,” said Leventhal. “Regulations like these could also encourage the millions of U.S. adolescents who already use e-cigarettes to quit vaping, especially if they can no longer access e-cigs in the flavors they like.” 

      E-cigarettes have dominated the headlines recently, as more and more consumers are being diagnosed with vaping-related illnesses that healthcare profession...
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      UAW plans to negotiate with other automakers following GM strike resolution

      The GM deal has opened the door to negotiations with Ford and Fiat Chrysler

      Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union reached an agreement with General Motors on Friday, putting an end to a strike that idled vehicle production for 40 days. The organization now says it will use the GM deal as a template for negotiations with Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler, CNBC reports. 

      The new four-year deal includes a mix of wage increases and one-time bonuses, as well as a shorter path for temporary employees to achieve permanent positions. It also involves the shuttering of four U.S. facilities. 

      The deal is expected to add around $350 million in annual labor costs by the end of the contract. Because Ford and Fiat Chrysler will likely have a harder time dealing with such a steep increase, the two automakers are expected to push to lower costs elsewhere. 

      "Ford and Chrysler are going to think this is a little expensive," Arthur Schwartz, president of Labor and Economics Associates in Ann Arbor and the former general director of labor relations at GM told The Detroit News. "But the UAW's been known to adjust."

      Analysts say Fiat -- which has more temporary workers than Ford -- may “push back on GM’s commitment to ensure all ‘in-progression’ workers achieve top pay in the next four years instead of eight,” according to CNBC. Meanwhile, Ford is expected to push to resolve issues related to health care costs, among other things. 

      “We can confirm the UAW today notified Ford it plans to negotiate with us next,” Ford said in a statement. “As America’s No. 1 producer of vehicles and largest employer of UAW-represented autoworkers, we look forward to reaching a fair agreement that helps Ford enhance its competitiveness and preserve and protect good-paying manufacturing jobs.”

      Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union reached an agreement with General Motors on Friday, putting an end to a strike that idled vehicle production...
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      Uber launches ‘Uber Money’ feature to support drivers

      The financial service helps drivers track their earnings, manage their money, and more

      Uber announced on Monday that it’s delving deeper into the financial services sector through the launch of a new division called Uber Money

      Peter Hazlehurst, who’s heading up the new team, said Uber Money will be dedicated to handling all financial products and technologies designed to support drivers. Initially, the division will focus on expanding Uber’s efforts to give its drivers access to a mobile bank account so they can get paid quickly, track their earnings, and manage their money. 

      “Instead of waiting for weekly payments or cashing out through Instant Pay, drivers and couriers will have real-time access to their earnings after every trip through the Uber Debit account,” Hazlehurst wrote in a blog post. 

      “With Uber Wallet, earners and spenders will now be able to easily track their earning and spending history, manage and move their money, and discover new Uber financial products all in one place,” the post continued. 

      Uber Wallet will start rolling out in the Uber Driver app “in the coming weeks” before being integrated into the Uber and Uber Eats apps. Eventually, Uber may expand the service to include a bank account for riders as well, Hazlehurt said. 

      Expanding financial offerings

      The ride-hailing giant is currently exploring different ways to achieve profitability while dealing with competition from new ride-sharing firms. By bolstering its financial services offerings, Uber is likely aiming to maintain driver and rider loyalty. 

      However, the addition of Uber Money won’t do anything to mitigate the current dispute over whether drivers should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. Some drivers have lamented the lack of benefits offered to them under their status as a gig worker, but Uber has said it doesn’t believe its drivers should be classified as employees. 

      CNBC notes that Uber’s latest payment innovations “highlight the reality that many in the gig economy are struggling to make ends meet.” Hazlehurst told the publication that riders may also one day be offered an account to manage their money. 

      “The reality is that the needs of our partners in the U.S. and in Brazil and in Australia and in India mirror in many ways the needs of consumers as well, particularly in the cash-heavy economies,” he said. “And the opportunity that we have is to expand to help all of those people have access to financial services.”

      Uber announced on Monday that it’s delving deeper into the financial services sector through the launch of a new division called Uber Money. Peter Hazl...
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      iPhone 5 owners must update software to avoid losing web browsing, email, and other functions

      Users are being urged to update to iOS 10.3.4 before November 3 to maintain normal phone functionality

      Apple is urging all iPhone 5 owners to update their device to the latest software within the next few days or risk losing core online features, including web browsing, email, and more. 

      In full-screen alerts on the devices of affected owners, as well as in a support document on its website, the tech giant advised iPhone 5 owners to update to iOS 10.3.4 before 12AM UTC on November 3 in order to “maintain accurate GPS location and to continue to use functions that rely on correct date and time including App Store, iCloud, email, and web browsing.” 

      Apple added that the update requirement stems from a GPS time rollover issue that began affecting GPS-enabled products from other manufacturers on April 6 of this year. 

      Users who don’t update their device by the specified date will no longer be able to get over-the-air software updates or use iCloud backup, so they will need to connect to a computer to restore. 

      To verify that a device is up to date, users can tap on Settings and then on Software Update. 

      Problems reported among new iPhone owners

      Apple's warning to iPhone 5 owners comes on the heels of user complaints from those who downloaded the company's iOS 13.1.2 update for their newer iPhone, iPad, and iPod. 

      While the software update was supposed to fix a number of issues, users complained of issues ranging from battery drain, call dropping, and web pages shutting down for no apparent reason. 

      “This 13.1.2 version is a disaster,” posted one Facebook user. “[It] has ruined the ease of correcting text character by character. Have had to reboot twice to attempt to correct.” Singing to the choir of disgruntled users, another wrote “Apple iOS 13.1.2 downloaded, and I regret it. Very little seems to work right.” 

      Users who hadn't yet installed the update were urged to hold off on downloading it, while those who had already downloaded it were left simply to wait for Apple to roll out a fix for the issues.

      Apple is urging all iPhone 5 owners to update their device to the latest software within the next few days or risk losing core online features, including w...
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      Rolling back environmental regulations could endanger consumers' health, researchers say

      A study warns consumers about the environmental dangers they could face in the near future

      As new reports continue to reveal the potential environmental threats consumers could face if real change isn’t made, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have conducted a study that predicts what could happen if regulations designed to protect the environment are reversed. 

      The researchers focused on the fight against ozone, which is incredibly harmful to consumers’ breathing and overall respiratory health. They found just how difficult it would be to reverse the effects of perpetuated environmental damages if current regulations were rolled back. 

      “Ozone can occur hundreds of miles away, so if controls are loosened in one state to save industry money there, a state downstream may have to spend even more to try to meet ozone targets,” said researcher Ted Russell. “You transfer the problem and the costs. Most U.S. cities are already not in attainment, and this will likely make it harder for them to get there.” 

      The wide-reaching effects of ozone

      The researchers’ study is thorough in identifying the wide range of effects that increased ozone can have on the environment and consumers’ health more generally. The research team says prominent policy decisions are at the core of these negative consequences. 

      For starters, they explain how the struggle between government officials to get on the same page about climate change, and implement policy that reflects those attitudes, has the potential to derail positive efforts. Specifically, they point to attempts by the Trump Administration to pass legislation that would make it easier to burn fossil fuels, while also continuing to fight regulations that would reduce the overall ozone production. 

      Moreover, governmental incentives to go green -- like opting for solar panels or using more wind-powered energy sources -- are being cut, which can contribute to an increase in pollution while also making it harder for consumers to do their part for the environment. 

      “Incentives are being retired like production and investment tax credits, which have been very influential in solar and wind,” said researcher Marilyn Brown. “The Investment Tax Credit gives a 30 percent tax reduction for investments in solar or wind farms or the purchase of solar rooftop panels by homeowners. The Production Tax Credit for utilities reduces tax liabilities by 23 cents for each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by solar, wind, or other renewable energy sources.” 

      The researchers used this information to create a model that predicts how different parts of the world would be affected by rising ozone levels. They project that rising temperatures worldwide and the continued production of fossil fuels will cause ozone levels to continue to rise. The cost of caring for such side effects may also increase, while the overall health of consumers is projected to worsen. 

      “Additional ozone is tough to control technologically,” said Russell. “The costs would be very high -- tens of billions of dollars. In the meantime, more people than would die than otherwise would have.” 

      As new reports continue to reveal the potential environmental threats consumers could face if real change isn’t made, researchers from the Georgia Institut...
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      U.S. budget deficit closing in on $1 trillion

      Left unchecked, economists warn it could lead to higher interest rates

      The U.S. government’s budget deficit is on a path to reach $1 trillion, according to a statement from the Treasury Department.

      The deficit -- a measure of how much more the government spends than it takes in -- reached $984 billion for the fiscal year that ended September 30. That’s an increase of $205 billion over the previous fiscal year.

      The Washington Post reports the federal deficit has risen 50 percent since President Trump took office, as Republicans in Congress joined Democrats in voting for large spending increases ranging from the military to social programs. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggests the big spending increases are temporary.

      “In order to truly put America on a sustainable financial path, we must enact proposals—like the President’s 2020 budget plan—to cut wasteful and irresponsible spending,” Mnuchin said.

      Easier said than done

      But that’s easier said than done. There have been many attempts over the years to rein in government spending, such as House Republicans’ effort in 2011 to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

      In the latter half of the Obama administration, the president appointed a deficit commission to find ways to slow the growth in the government’s debt but little came of it. The deficit was $665 billion in 2017 after peaking at $1.4 trillion in 2009 as the nation was dealing with the financial crisis. The most recent deficit is the largest in seven years.

      The deficit adds to the government’s total national debt each year, which is now more than $21 trillion, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The government has been able to finance that debt thanks to extremely low interest rates. Because there is so much demand for U.S. Treasury bonds the yield, or interest rate, is very low.

      The threat from deficits

      If demand for these bonds were to decline, those interest rates would rise, leading to higher rates throughout the banking system. Economists have warned in the past that rising deficits increase the threat of waning enthusiasm to invest in U.S. debt.

      So far that hasn’t happened, but some in the financial industry worry that the ongoing issues in the “repo” market, requiring the Federal Reserve to pump billions of dollars into the overnight lending market to stabilize interest rates, could be the first sign of trouble.

      The overnight lending market relies on bond dealers to purchase bonds to provide capital for overnight loans. Starting last month, banks and dealers have been buying fewer of these bonds, requiring the Fed to step in to make up the difference. So far, the Fed has pumped more than $180 billion into the system.

      The U.S. government’s budget deficit is on a path to reach $1 trillion, according to a statement from the Treasury Department.The deficit -- a measure...
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      George's Prepared Foods recalls pork and turkey patties

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella

      George’s Prepared Foods of Caryville, Tenn., is recalling approximately 6,444 pounds of ready-to-eat pork sausage patty and turkey sausage patties.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

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

      The following ready-to-eat items, produced on April 19, 2019, April 27, 2019, May 7, 2019, and May 9, 2019, are being recalled:

      • 24.92-oz. packages containing “Great Value Fully Cooked Original Pork Sausage Patties” with use by date of 10/16/19 and lot code 1091971894.
      • 24.92-oz. packages containing “Great Value Fully Cooked Original Breakfast Turkey Patties” with use by date of 10/24/19 and lot code 1171971897.
      • 35.6-oz. packages containing “Family Size Great Value Fully Cooked Original Pork Sausage Patties” with use by date of 11/03/19 and lot code 1271972894 or use by date 11/05/19 and lot code 1291972894.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. M2206T or P-2260T” printed on the package, 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 may contact George’s Prepared Foods’ customer care line at (800) 471-9665.

      George’s Prepared Foods of Caryville, Tenn., is recalling approximately 6,444 pounds of ready-to-eat pork sausage patty and turkey sausage patties.The...
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